St. George Village Blog
Tag Archive: wellness
Posted on December 5, 2014 by Stacy Anthony
Santa’s Little Helpers know how important it is to stay active and eat well in order to stay healthy during the holiday season! Pictured here are some of the elves who live at St. George Village, getting in their workout (and having a good time doing it) at our indoor pool. Water aerobics, lap swimming or simple water-walking are all great ways to get in shape (or stay that way) at any age.
Kris Kringle himself would do well to follow the St. George Village Elves’ example!
Posted on December 23, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Many older adults have found benefit from the centuries-old Chinese martial arts tai chi and qigong. “Chi” or “qi” (chee) means “life energy.” “Qigong” (chee-goong) literally means “life energy cultivation.” Tai chi consists of a series of flowing movements while qigong focuses on the repetition of isolated movements and breathing.
For example, Robert Johnson, M.D., Kaiser Permanente Chief of Palliative Care in Walnut Creek, Calif., has practiced tai chi and qigong since the 1970s. He believes these mind-body exercises promote good health, flexibility, strength and balance, which help reduce the risk of falling among seniors.
Each year, one out of three adults, age 65 and older, falls due to lack of balance or other reasons. Consider that a record 11,000 baby boomers turn 65 and become Medicare eligible every day, and that can add up to a lot of falls and serious injuries.
“We spend most of our day in sedentary jobs. Many of us sit in front of a computer or television for hours at a time,” Dr. Johnson said. “To age well, we need to move, stretch and keep our joints lubricated and flexible. Otherwise, our muscles, joints and tendons become stiff and brittle, and that can lead to falls and disabilities.”
Dr. Johnson recommends moving the joints in a circular motion. For example, place the hands on the knees and rotate the knees together in a clockwise and then counterclockwise motion. Also, try sitting in a squat position and stand up slowly to strengthen the quadriceps.
By clicking here, you can view a short video in which Dr. Johnson demonstrates a few basic exercises and explains why they’re helpful.
Along with doing exercises that promote flexibility, seniors can also help prevent falls and serious injuries by taking a few simple precautions at home:
• Reduce tripping hazards such as throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds, or loose carpet.
• Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.
• Add grab bars where necessary—in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.
• Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
• Improve lighting throughout the house and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms.
• Keep a phone and flashlight by the bed.
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 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 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 February 22, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
The next time you have a pain in the neck or back, your arthritis is acting up, you are recovering from surgery or any of the countless other conditions affecting your ability to move freely within your daily life, a physical therapist can probably help. Physical therapists can even help fight complications from diabetes, such as loss of movement.
And, physical therapy is a covered benefit under Medicare and most commercial insurance plans.
Physical therapists are highly trained clinicians and more than 75 percent have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The discipline can trace its roots back to Hippocrates, father of Western medicine, who advocated “hands on” treatment, including massage, manual therapy and hydrotherapy for the ancient Greeks.
“Most people only think about physical therapy for help with orthopedic issues, such as a bad knee or shoulder, or in relation to sports injuries, but physical therapy is much more than that—it is a key component in the treatment of the full range of neuromusculoskeletal diseases and conditions,” said Matthew R. Hyland, PT, Ph.D. and president of the New York Physical Therapy Association. “Physical therapy can help people walk after suffering a stroke, help people with rheumatoid arthritis complete everyday tasks such as cooking or writing, and help people regain their stamina after a heart attack.”
Physical therapy is a cornerstone in the treatment of many musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, from arthritis to vertigo and from sprains, strains and fractures to stroke. It uses a variety of therapeutic techniques including manual therapy, exercise, balance training and patient education to relax, strengthen and heal muscles.
Its primary goal is to help maintain, restore or improve motion and mobility that has been impaired by disability, injury or disease. It can also help eliminate pain in tendinitis, bursitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, offering an alternative to costly medications and injections. Plus, by eliminating pain and restoring mobility, it can often help avoid the need for surgery.
To find out more about physical therapy and how it can help you, go to www.moveforwardny.com.