St. George Village Blog
Posted on September 27, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you or someone you know is on blood thinners and tired of traveling to a clinic for a clotting time test, you may be relieved to learn about a much more convenient option: testing yourself at home, on your fingertip.
Many people with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat, known as “AFib”) or other conditions that can lead to blood clots have to be on lifelong treatment with anticoagulant medications such as Coumadin (warfarin) to help “thin” their blood. Since diet, stress and other factors make patients react differently to warfarin, they need to have their clotting time tested regularly. That can involve a lot of time and hassle to travel to a lab, clinic or doctor’s office.
The easy alternative—testing less often than your doctor recommends—is not a good or safe option. Checking your clotting time at regular intervals allows your doctor to make sure you are on the right dose of warfarin: Too low and it might not effectively prevent clots; too high and your blood could get too thin. Both can lead to serious complications, such as a stroke or uncontrolled bleeding.
So it’s essential to have a regularly scheduled test that measures the time it takes for your blood to clot (Prothrombin Time, often reported as an International Normalized Ratio; hence the moniker “PT/INR test”).
The real question is: where?
The traditional way to get a PT/INR test is to have your blood drawn at a clinic or doctor’s office and sent to a lab, which may take several days. Now, however, there’s Patient Self-Testing (PST). You can test at home, at work or wherever you happen to be, right on your fingertip. You simply prick your finger, place a drop of blood on a test strip and wait about a minute for a small handheld meter to give you the result.
Your health care team will still be closely involved with your care and anticoagulation treatment. You call in your results or enter them online right after you test, and you make office visits as directed by your doctor to monitor your testing and make therapy adjustments.
But PST offers so much more flexibility and convenience that it can make a world of difference in how you feel about testing. In one study, 77 percent of the warfarin patients preferred the convenience of self-testing over testing at a clinic.
Studies also show that patients who self-test tend to test more often, so they stay in the proper therapeutic range longer than patients who are monitored less often by a doctor. The longer you stay in range, the lower your chances of having an adverse event, like a stroke or even death.
If you’re considering PST for yourself or someone you care for, talk with your doctor to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your lifestyle. You should be motivated to test, physically able to perform the test (after training), and responsible to follow your doctor’s orders for how often to test and how to report your results.
The next step will be for your doctor to write a prescription and connect you with a PST service provider that can supply the meter and the necessary face-to-face training from a certified professional. The provider can also help you with ordering supplies, reporting results and filing insurance paperwork, and can even send you gentle reminders to help you stay on your testing schedule and keep your therapy on track.
The costs associated with self-testing may be reimbursable through Medicare or a private insurer, depending on your diagnosis and medical coverage.
Research shows that nearly two out of three AFib patients who are not testing at home don’t even know it’s an option. So friends and family can be a big help by sharing this information. To request a PST patient information kit or to learn more about potential coverage for PST through Medicare or private insurance, call (888) 601-0229 or visit www.TestWithCoaguChek.com.
Posted on September 20, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
A delightful way to enjoy wholesome eating can start with your packing your plate with produce, including a dynamite little fruit—the Concord grape. Concord grapes are bold in taste and pack quite a nutritious punch. They can be enjoyed as 100% grape juice or in simple, healthy and flavor-packed recipes.
Thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice can help support a healthy heart. According to Alton Brown, spokesperson for Welch’s and Food Network star, food historian and scientist, “Welch’s presses the entire Concord grape, skin, seed, pulp and all, and that releases heart-healthy plant nutrients called polyphenols.”
Many of the polyphenols in Concord grapes are the same as those found in wine. In fact, you can even use 100% grape juice instead of sweet wine in a variety of recipes.
There are many ways to get your share of the goodness of Concord grapes. 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes can be enjoyed in a glass as a nutritious beverage and can easily be incorporated into recipes for desserts, low-fat salad dressings, marinades and more. This tasty ingredient may not only enhance the flavor of your favorite dishes, it can add a boost of heart-healthy purple fruit to your day.
Here’s one easy (and delicious) way to add this one-of-a-kind fruit to your menu:
Poached Pears in Grape Juice
1-½ cups Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes
2 cinnamon sticks
2 strips of orange rind
4 pears, peeled with stems remaining
• In a medium saucepan, bring grape juice, cinnamon and orange rind to a boil.
• Place pears standing in saucepan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
• Turn or spoon juice over pears as they simmer. Remove pears and let cool.
• Reduce sauce by boiling down to about 1⁄3 cup.
• Spoon sauce over pears and keep chilled.
• Serve pears by themselves or with light whipped cream.
You can find more facts, tips and recipes to share the goodness of Concord grapes with your family at www.welchs.com.
(Courtesy of Welch’s)
Posted on September 13, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
In addition to significant health insurance changes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included tax law changes. Several of those changes will impact 2013 federal tax returns, due April 15, 2014.
“Online tax preparation solutions like TaxACT will cover all the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act plus hundreds of other tax law changes,” said TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. “All you have to do is answer simple questions. The program does the math and completes the tax forms for you.”
The tax law changes in the health care act, also known as “Obamacare,” for 2013 returns include:
• Reporting health insurance premiums, flexible spending beyond payroll deductions and other premiums paid by employees and their employers. “Simply enter the amount in Box 12 with Code DD on your Form W-2 when prompted by the tax program,” said Dolmage. “You’re providing information only; it won’t change your taxable income.”
• Higher threshold for deducting medical expenses. The threshold for itemizing medical expenses increases to 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). The threshold for taxpayers age 65 and older remains at 7.5 percent. Tax software will calculate the deduction based on medical expenses entered.
• 3.8 percent tax on net investment income. Individuals and heads of household with an AGI of $200,000+, married couples filing separately with an AGI of $125,000+, and couples filing jointly with an AGI of $250,000+ must pay the tax. Answer a few questions about investment income and your tax program will do the rest.
• Additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages and compensation in excess of $200,000. Taxpayers in those same AGI ranges are subject to the additional Medicare tax. It’s automatically withheld from employee wages, with the total amount provided in Box 6 of Form W-2. The tax is calculated for business owners or self-employed using figures on Schedule SE.
The health insurance requirement begins to have implications on 2014 income tax returns (due April 2015). If you have health insurance, your online tax solution will guide you through the simple process of reporting it on your tax return. If you don’t have health insurance for a total of three or more months in 2014, you may pay a penalty that’s reported and calculated on your return. Tax programs will calculate the amount based on the number of uninsured individuals in your household and household income.
Uninsured individuals can shop and apply for health insurance through online “marketplaces,” also called “exchanges,” starting October 1, 2013. States will have their own marketplaces, use the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, or have a hybrid of the two. Enrollment closes March 31, 2014.
If you don’t have access to minimum required employer-provided insurance and purchase insurance through a marketplace, you may qualify for a tax credit. The money can be used to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. Eligibility and amounts are based on the cost of marketplace premiums and your household size and income. The credit will be paid directly to the health insurance company. If you elect to receive a lesser credit or no credit at all, you can claim the refundable credit on your 2014 tax return.
Whether you have a simple or complex situation, TaxACT makes it easy to navigate the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act anytime, anywhere. Prepare, print and e-file your federal taxes free at www.taxact.com/afford able-care-act. Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace for information about insurance options.
Posted on September 9, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Audrey Hall says that her children are to thank for her ability to hear these days.
“The kids were wonderful — they made me do it!” she laughs. But Audrey has no regrets when she talkes about the hearing devices that allow her to once again actively participate in the world around her.
Audrey found herself in a growing number of situations where she could not hear, such as being at a meal in the dining room with friends. And her children finally convinced her that she was missing out on a lot by not being able to hear.
“Being able to communicate is so important,” says Audrey’s daughter, Cindy Grey, who took her mother to be evaluated by an audiologist.
Audrey was fitted with Lyric® extended wear hearing aids. Placed deep in the ear canal where they are virtually invisible to others, the devices are worn 24 hours a day for months at a time, even during activities like showering, exercising and sleeping. This type of device works well for Audrey, who also has macular degeneration, which is responsible for her declining vision.
“The Lyric hearing aids are wonderful for someone who can’t see well and would have trouble replacing batteries in another type of hearing aid,” she explains. “I never take these out of my ears.”
Audrey has enjoyed her Lyric hearing aids for the past two years. She goes in to the audiologist’s office about every three months for replacements, but doesn’t have the daily hassle of remembering to put her hearing aids in, nor does she have to worry about replacing the batteries.
With a family that includes her two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren as well as a host of friends at St. George Village, Audrey is pleased to be able to communicate and enjoy hearing them again.
“I can’t say enough [good things] about my hearing aids,” says Audrey. “You just get to the point where you have to hear.”
If you believe you have hearing loss, consult an audiologist. Audiologists hold graduate or
doctorate degrees from accredited universities, are licensed, and are trained to detect, diagnose, manage and nonmedically treat hearing disorders.
To learn more about Lyric Extended Wear Hearing Aids, call 1.866.964.8450 or visit Lyric.
Posted on August 23, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
What did you say? Can you repeat that, please? Hearing loss makes communication a challenge, which, unfortunately, may put relationships in peril. Feelings of anger, frustration and resentment are often experienced by those suffering from hearing loss, as well as by spouses, family members and friends who are constantly barraged with requests to repeat themselves or talk louder.
With millions of people affected by hearing loss, according to the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), there are, no doubt, a significant number of relationships suffering from a lack of communication. And while the best way to treat hearing loss is with a hearing aid, the AAA also cites that only one out of every five adults who needs a hearing aid actually wears one.
Do you or someone you know show any of the signs below? Hearing loss could be affecting your relationships:
• Your hearing is muffled and you ask your family members or friends to repeat constantly.
• Your other half is covering his or her ears because the TV is too loud and you still can’t hear it.
• You have difficulty understanding what your partner is saying in public spaces.
• When there are competing voices or background noise, you cannot distinguish the specific words.
• You have begun avoiding conversation and social interaction.
All of the above situations can cause depression and isolation. A good course of action to pursue is a hearing test and trying a hearing aid to be sure the depression is not hearing-related.
For more information on hearing loss, try these online resources:
Posted on August 18, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
“I like the companionship. You always feel like you have friends here,” says Mary Shern, who moved to St. George Village in 2006. “It reminds me a little bit of living in the dorm in college — you can borrow whatever you need!”
That youthful college spirit is still quite evident in Mary’s vivacious, enthusiastic personality. The nonagenarian makes use of SGV’s indoor pool as often as possible, serves on the community’s food committee, has produced a couple of the Villagers shows and participates in the Great Decisions program…and also has just completed a soon-to-be-published book on the subject of being 90!
Mary’s life is a testament to the term “active aging.” Growing up in New York, she began working when she was just a teen.
“I started out in show biz, acting on radio soap operas. My first role was on the show, ‘Pepper Young’s Family’ — Burgess Meredith was Pepper! Later, I had a role on ‘When a Girl Marries,’” she says. “Then, I did an interview show for a while and years later, when I was living in Hawaii, I had a real estate show on Sunday afternoons called ‘The House Detective.’”
It was in New York as a young woman that Mary met and married her husband, a real estate developer…and that led to her second career as a realtor and a side job as an author.
“I was a real estate broker with my own company, teaching the business to agents who needed their licenses. I had my own style of teaching, so I wrote my own textbooks,” she explains. “I published three of those.”
She also wrote a novel that she says was “just happenstance. The Women’s Real Estate Association wanted me to write about how a housewife could get into the real estate business once her children were in school.”
Mary lived in Hawaii for 18 years before moving to Atlanta, where two of her children live, and where she continued working in real estate.
“At that time, the market in Atlanta was still pretty good,” she says. “I ran a real estate school and did a lot of speaking engagements and traveling.”
Finally, at the age of 90, Mary decided to retire. But that didn’t mean she retired to an easy chair. She wrote an autobiography just for her family, and then moved on to write the new book in progress.
“The books weren’t a big part of my career; they were more like an ancillary occupation at the time. But writing did become a kind of compulsion for me,” she laughs. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll do it, though.”
Posted on August 11, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Should you be taking the medications you’re taking? If you’re 65 or older, that’s an important question to ask yourself and your healthcare provider. Why? Because some commonly prescribed medications can actually be harmful for older adults.
As you get older, your body changes. These changes can increase the chances that you might have side effects from certain drugs. For example, your liver or kidneys may not function quite as well as when you were younger, so your body can’t process medications in the same way. This can lead to a build-up of the drug in your system, which can increase the risk of side effects such as falls, a drop in blood pressure or heart rate, drowsiness, or confusion.
Many older adults have two or more health problems that require multiple medications and treatments. Because of this, older adults are more likely to experience potentially harmful interactions between their prescriptions. In fact, every year, one in three adults 65 and older has one or more harmful reactions to medications they are taking.
“Older adults and their caregivers need to take an active role in managing their medications,” says Cathy Alessi, M.D., a physician who specializes in the care of older adults and is the president of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). “They need to ask questions of their doctor, nurse, physician assistant, or pharmacist, and read the information that comes with their medications. All medications have side effects, even those sold over-the-counter. That’s why patients should discuss the risks and benefits of any medication with their healthcare provider before deciding which ones are right for them.”
What should you do to lower your odds of having harmful medication side effects or drug interactions? Here are five tips from the American Geriatrics Society:
1. Bring a list of all the medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter drugs you’re taking to every medical appointment. The list should include the dosages you take and how often you take them. Be sure your emergency contact person or caregiver has an up-to-date copy of the list.
2. If you notice a new health problem or symptom after starting a new medication, you may be having a harmful drug reaction. Tell your healthcare provider right away. If you have a serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing or swelling in your throat, call 911 and go to the emergency room immediately.
3. Fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy and get to know your local pharmacist. Your pharmacist’s job is to be aware of all the medications you’re taking. Most pharmacies use computer systems that alert the pharmacist to possible drug interactions.
4. Once or twice a year, ask your primary healthcare provider to review your list of medications, supplements, and vitamins. Ask whether you still need to take each one, and at its current dose. There may be times when your provider will decide to stop some of your medications or adjust the doses. Just remember, though, that you should never change the dose or stop taking any medication without first consulting your provider.
5. Whenever a healthcare professional prescribes a new medication, changes a dosage, or stops prescribing a drug you’ve been prescribed, ask for an explanation. It’s important that you understand these changes in your care.
To help healthcare providers care for older adults who take multiple medications, the AGS has published a list of medications that may cause harmful side effects in older people when taken alone or in combination. In the healthcare industry this list is known as the “Beers List,” or “Beers Criteria,” and is named after the late Dr. Mark Beers, a geriatric medicine specialist who originated the list in 1991.
For more information about how to safely manage your medications, visit www.healthinaging.org, the website of the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging.
Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider About Your Medications:
• Why are you prescribing this particular medication?
• Are there other medications that might be safer or more effective?
• What are the potential side effects? Which ones are serious enough to call you or 911?
• How will I know if the medication is working?
• Does this medication interact with any other drugs I’m taking?
• Are there any dietary restrictions I should follow?
Posted on August 2, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Della Westerfield enjoys being creative… and it shows in her dedication to her role as Assistant Activity Coordinator for The Springs, Treasures of Lakeview and Friendship House communities at St. George Village.
Della calls on her background in community service and dance and exercise instruction when she plans activities for residents, such as storytelling, bowling, dancing, nature walks or special programs like the monthly “Love and Kisses” show.
“I bring in different individuals and groups to entertain — we’ve had everything from dance troupes and musicians to singers and comedians doing monologues,” she says. “The program started out in the lounge of The Springs, but it’s grown so much that we moved it to the auditorium. A lot of our independent living residents love the show, too!”
Della has a lifelong love of dance and performing. Her dream is to one day open a studio that teaches a wide variety of cultural dance, such as Irish, West African, Mexican Folk and more.
“I’d like to provide an opportunity for kids to learn about different cultures through dance,” she says, adding that “it could bridge the gap of understanding.”
Recently named SGV Care Partner of the Quarter, Della says she loves working at St. George Village because of the friendly, family-oriented atmosphere.
“Everyone is so helpful to each other — staff and residents. Everyone is doing their part,” she says. “I find that really nice. You feel welcome here.”
Posted on July 28, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
by Gary Player
As a professional golfer, it has always been important to me to stay in shape—and you can do so, too. As a matter of fact, my commitment to health and fitness has been a big part of my success in golf, winning tournaments over the course of five decades. However, as I get older, I realize that it takes a little bit more stretching, a little more training and a little more recovery time to keep in shape.
Most older people face such struggles, no matter how athletic they have been throughout their lives.
Staying fit is extremely important at any age, and not just for athletes. It can lead to improved sleep, weight control, concentration and mood.
It’s important for you to keep active as you get older to help stave off high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as other medical conditions that seniors often face, such as osteoporosis and depression.
Keeping in shape can also reduce the likelihood of falls and help you remain independent for years to come. For instance, regular jogging increases men’s life expectancy by 6.2 years and women’s by 5.6 years, the Copenhagen City Heart Study found.
Fortunately, you can get in shape at just about any age. Consider the more than 10,000 adults over the age of 50 who participate every two years at the National Senior Games presented by Humana. They’re an excellent example of people who not only recognize the importance of fitness but excel at multiple athletic activities.
You don’t need to be a super-athlete to stay in shape, but it’s important to get out there and do something. Here are three tips to help you keep fit:
• Fitness Classes. Many health plans offer fitness classes—such as SilverSneakers through Humana Medicare Advantage—or yoga to give older individuals a fun, easy way to stay in shape. Staying fit in a group setting can be motivating and help you stay social.
• Health Screenings & Annual Physicals. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all Medicare members now have access to one free annual wellness visit. Many preventive screenings, including type 2 diabetes and various cancers, are now also covered. Meeting with your primary care physician will give you more detailed, personalized information on what you can do to get and stay in shape.
• Exercise Like a Kid. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t exercise like a kid. After all, a recent American Cancer Society survey found that women are more likely to be physically active if it feels more like play and less like work. Simply jump on a bike or play an interactive video game, such as Wii bowling or—my favorite—Wii golf. You can also find multigenerational playgrounds across the country to help stay in shape.
Posted on July 22, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Outdoor dining recently became a reality at St. George Village with the completion of the new Pavilion on the dining room patio.
A dedication service for the new structure was held on July 2, which included a blessing by Monsignor Peter Rau from St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church. More than 50 residents attended the service and then enjoyed mimosas, coffee and doughnuts in the new outdoor dining space.
Additionally, an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by SGV care partners from administration, the dining rooms and maintenance, was held on July 8.
St. George Village is so pleased to offer this new outdoor addition and hopes residents will enjoy dining al fresco.