St. George Village Blog
Tag Archive: seniors
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 14, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
St. George Village residents turned out to cheer on the Gwinnett Braves in their game against the Norfolk Tides on July 11, 2013. The outing was one of SGV’s Thursday trips — organized day travels to fun and interesting sites and events around the north Georgia area. (By the way, the G-Braves bested the Tides in a 10-4 rout!)
Posted on July 8, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you’re ever invited to a free seminar that promises to teach you about investing or managing money in retirement, and that comes with a free meal, there may be a few facts you should digest first.
Research by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that 64 percent of Americans age 40 and older have been invited to so-called “free lunch” seminars. While a free meal or prize might be enticing, in many cases the goals of these seminars are to recruit new clients and sell products.
“Even when described as purely educational, free-meal seminars typically have one aim and that’s to sell you something,” said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. “That ‘something’ might be a book, a particular product or financial services. But just because someone buys you a meal doesn’t mean you have to swallow any pitch—that day or days down the road.”
Securities regulators such as FINRA conducted more than 100 examinations of free-meal seminars. In half the cases, invitations and advertisements contained exaggerated or misleading claims, and 12 percent of them appeared to involve fraud.
If you decide to attend a free-meal seminar, be cautious and informed:
• Watch out for conflicts of interest. Even if the people who host a seminar or speak at the event are industry experts, they might not be the ones actually paying for it. At times, insurance companies or mutual funds finance these seminars, expecting the speaker to drive sales of their products.
• Do your homework before the seminar. You can verify that the salesperson is licensed and the investment is registered at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s website.
• Ask questions while you’re there. What are the risks of this investment? How much does it cost initially to purchase the investment? For what type of investor is this investment a good idea? For what type of investor is this investment a bad idea?
• Don’t buy anything or open an account on the spot. The seminar might be intended just to introduce you to the product, with a hard sell later. After the event, do some research on your own. Understand the risks. While the prospect of high rates of return might sound tempting, remember that there may be additional risks or costs associated with the product.
• Savvy investors refuse to be rushed. A good investment will be available tomorrow or next week or next month when you’re ready and understand where your money is going. Rarely, if ever, do you have to invest your money on the spot.
For resources that can help you avoid investment fraud, visit the FINRA Foundation’s website.
Posted on June 22, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
In honor of the onset of summertime, we at St. George Village share this poem and wish you all the fun and joy of the warmest season of the year.
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.
Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.
Posted on May 27, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Today, Memorial Day, we remember our nation’s fallen heroes, the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and preserve our freedom.
Every spring, St. George Village holds a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association — residents, their families and SGV staff members can “Sponsor a Flag” for $5.00, in honor or memory of a loved one. Each sponsored flag is planted on our front campus during Memorial Day weekend, and a list of those who sponsored flags and the people they honor is on display.
This year, SGV raised $1,395 for Alzheimer’s research and 279 flags were placed on the front lawn during the dedication service.
We thank our friends at Roswell Funeral Home, who generously donate the flags for our annual Memorial Day service!
Posted on May 10, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
As you get older, your risk for health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, increases. You also have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes if you have a family history of the disease. But it’s never too late to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Research shows that modest weight loss through healthy eating and being active can help to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in people over age 60.
If you are overweight, losing 5 to 7 percent of your current body weight can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means a weight loss of about 10 to 14 pounds. Talk to your doctor about setting safe weight loss goals and ways to be more active.
Once you set your goals, decide what small steps you will take to get started. For example, you might say, “I will walk for 10 minutes after lunch to be more active each day” until you reach at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Be active, move more and sit less to help yourself lose weight or stay at a healthy weight and be more flexible and strong. Ask your health care provider how you can safely start to be more active. Before being active, be sure to warm up to get your body ready. Shrug your shoulders, swing your arms, or march in place for three to five minutes before you begin any activity.
There are many ways you can get active at little or no cost, such as walking or doing chair exercises. Find an activity you can enjoy so you can stay at it. This will make it easier to stick to your plan and reach your goals. Try these ideas:
• Around the House. Things that you do every day can help you be more active. Stand up from a chair and sit down again without using your hands. Rise up and down on your toes while standing and holding on to a stable chair or countertop. When you watch TV, stretch and move around during commercial breaks. You can also walk around the house when you talk on the phone. Follow along with a video for older adults that shows you how to get active.
• Around Town. Being more active can also be a great way to meet friends. Join a local walking group. Always walk in safe places such as the mall, museum or a community center. Wear shoes that fit your feet and provide comfort and support.
• While Running Errands. Make getting active a part of your regular day. If it is safe, park the car farther away from stores or restaurants. If you take the bus or train-and the area is safe-get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
• With Your Family. Get your family involved to make being active more fun. Teach the younger people in your life the dances you enjoy. Plan a trip to the local pool and go for a swim together. Moving around in the water is gentle on your joints.
• Get Outside. When you can, get active outside. Take care of a garden or wash your car. Enjoy a brisk walk with friends or family around a park, museum or zoo.
For more tips to help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, download or order the “It’s Not Too Late to Prevent Diabetes. Take Your First Step Today” tip sheet or “Small Steps. Big Rewards. Your Game Plan to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Information for Patients” booklet from the National Diabetes Education Program or call 1-888-693-NDEP (6337).
—From The National Diabetes Education Program
Posted on March 29, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
An active lifestyle contributes to a healthy body and mind — staying active enhances the immune system and helps prevent illness, improves memory, reduces stress and increases your sense of well-being. St. George Village resident Mary Ann Hearn is the embodiment of an active lifestyle.
When Mary Ann moved to SGV, she was pleasantly surprised to find the extensive list activities offered by the community.
“I’d visited one retirement place in Florida [where I was living at the time] and knew it was not for me,” she recalls. “But my daughter and her husband had been looking at continuing care communities here in Atlanta and when they saw St. George Village, they knew this was the right place.”
Mary Ann says she’s always been physically active and attributes that activity to her continued good health and mental sharpness. The former Miss America contestant and dancer enjoys the many fitness classes offered at SGV, such as stretching, strength training, Tai Chi and yoga.
“Whenever they offer an exercise class, I take it,” she laughs. “Tai Chi is wonderful for my posture and balance. And I particularly love the yoga class!”
Mary Ann says that participating in classes or other activities such as gardening and serving on SGV’s Election Committee have not only helped her stay physically and mentally sharp, but also helped her meet people and make new friends. She encourages fellow seniors to participate in activities they enjoy and to occasionally try something unfamiliar.
“It’s always good to try something new,” she says. “Or else you’ll never know. You may really like it!”
Posted on March 15, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans with a new Medicare card, you may take a healthy interest in how best to benefit from it.
One of the first and most important things to consider now that your new plan is in effect is prescription drug coverage. Perhaps the best way to save on medication costs is to utilize a pharmacy that’s within your Part D plan’s preferred network. Walgreens, for example, is a part of preferred networks with some of the nation’s largest plans, such as Coventry, Humana, SmartD Rx and UnitedHealthcare.
The benefit to beneficiaries is not only convenience, but cost savings. By using a preferred network pharmacy, you can recognize significant savings on prescription co-pays and medication expenditures.
It’s also important to understand the preventive health services you may need, what’s covered by Medicare and where you can go for these and other services. Medicare covers an annual wellness visit at your doctor’s office. In addition, immunizations, health tests and annual medication and plan reviews may also be available at your local pharmacy, so talk with your pharmacist or plan provider if you have questions on these or other services.
If you take multiple medications, many Medicare Part D plans will cover face-to-face annual checkups as well. Your pharmacist will review all your medications, vitamins and supplements, see if there are lower-cost alternatives and make sure you’re taking everything in the right way to get the best possible results. The pharmacist can then call your doctor to discuss any recommended changes, and you’ll receive a Medication Action Plan that you can share with your doctor.
Medicare Wellness benefits provide discounts on medications and services including immunizations, screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease. However, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, only 6.5 percent of eligible seniors have utilized this benefit. That’s where your pharmacist can be a great resource to help understand what services are covered.
Visit www.medicare.gov to learn more about how to make the most of Medicare and your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
Posted on March 1, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Older Americans should know that while financial abuse is believed to cost seniors an estimated $3 billion annually, you can help prevent it and protect yourself.
Signs To Watch For
• You, family, friends or your bank notice financial activity you don’t recall, that is not consistent with your financial history or that is beyond your means.
• Your caregiver or beneficiary refuses to use your funds for necessary care and treatment or is threatening to place you in a long-term care facility unless you give him or her control of your finances.
• It appears that food or medication has been manipulated or withheld so you become weak and compliant.
Steps You Can Take
• If you feel threatened and believe you are in immediate danger, contact law enforcement.
• Talk with family members, friends and trusted professionals to plan your financial future. If managing your daily finances is difficult, consider engaging a money manager.
• Talk with a lawyer about creating a durable power of attorney for asset management, a revocable or living will, trust and health care advance directives.
• Never send anyone personal information to collect a prize or reward.
• Don’t be pressured or intimidated into quick decisions by a salesperson or contractor.
• Don’t sign any documents you don’t completely understand without first talking it over with an attorney or a family member you trust.
• Never provide personal information (Social Security, credit card, ATM PIN number) over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.
• Tear up or shred credit card receipts, bank statements, solicitations and financial records before disposing of them.
• If you hire someone to help you in your home, be sure that person has been properly screened, with criminal background checks completed.
• If you suspect you or someone you know is being exploited, call (800) 677-1116 to get connected with the state Adult Protective Services or other appropriate aging resource.
For more information on financial exploitation, you can request a free brochure from the Eldercare Locator, “Protect Your Pocketbook: Tips to Avoid Financial Exploitation.” Call (800) 677-1116; the brochure can also be downloaded at www.eldercare.gov. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).