Archive for the ‘Healthy Living Newsletter’ Category
Friday, February 28th, 2014
Is it a Cold or the Flu? Understanding the Differences
It’s cold and flu season, and while both illnesses share some symptoms, it is the differences in their severity that can help you determine which one you have:
Fatigue - The flu usually hits with exhaustion that can last up to three weeks. You may feel tired when you have a cold, but you can generally carry on with your normal activities.
Fever - It’s rare to experience a fever with a cold, but it is a common flu symptom. Fevers with the flu can be high and persist for a few days.
Headache - While headaches occur rarely with colds, they are a common symptom of the flu.
Body aches - These are common with the flu and often severe, but they rarely occur with a cold.
Sore throat - A cold can include a sore throat but it is not a common flu symptom.
Tightness in the chest and/or cough - These symptoms tend to be mild to moderate with colds, but they can be severe with flu.
What to do if you suspect the flu
If you think you have the flu, contact your physician right away and ask if you should get an antiviral medication. They can help, but must be taken in the first couple of days to really be effective. Both colds and flu are caused by viruses so antibiotics are useless. See your physician if you have a high fever, experience difficulty breathing or if symptoms worsen.
Prevent the flu
It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine and they are widely available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
Understanding Congestive Heart Failure and How to Manage the Condition
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart cannot adequately pump oxygen through the body.
It is estimated that close to six million people in the United States have CHF and more than 650,000 are diagnosed each year.
CHF is caused by medical conditions or events that weaken the heart such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and others.
Symptoms of CHF can vary in intensity and frequency and include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough or wheezing
- Swelling in the arms, ankles and feet
- Fatigue, weakness and/or dizziness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Confusion or memory problems
- Nausea and/or lack of appetite
While some of the conditions that cause CHF cannot be reversed, CHF can be controlled with treatments that can manage symptoms and lifestyle changes that can improve quality of life:
- Have all medical conditions monitored by a health care team
- Carefully follow medication orders
- Quit smoking
- Be physically active
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a heart-healthy diet
- Track fluid intake
- Monitor blood pressure
- Manage stress
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Less Daylight Can Lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression people experience at the same time of year, typically in the winter months. While the exact cause of SAD is unknown, many experts believe that what triggers this condition is the lack of exposure to sunlight.
Less daylight tends to interrupt the body’s natural clock (circadian rhythms) and disrupt wake/sleep cycles (in winter months, people tend to wake in the dark and darkness returns many hours before normal bedtimes). SAD is more common in people in northern regions where winter days are much shorter than those of other seasons.
As in other forms of depression, there are a range of symptoms associated with SAD that can vary in duration and severity. Common SAD symptoms include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or anxiety
- Weight gain
- Loss of interest in activities, hobbies and social opportunities
- Inability to concentrate
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, evaluation by a physician is critical. While SAD is usually short-lived, people with depression of any kind should see a physician for treatment.
For mild cases of SAD, there are lifestyle changes that can help improve or alleviate symptoms:
- Get outdoors during the daytime, within two hours of waking is optimal. Exercise regularly.
- Bring as much sunlight indoors as possible. Open all blinds and curtains. Sit closer to windows at home and at work.
Make efforts to engage in social activities. See friends as often as possible
Monday, October 21st, 2013
While coming down with a cold can certainly be an unpleasant experience, contracting influenza (flu) can make you feel miserable. For some, the flu is a serious illness and may lead to life-threatening complications.
Like common colds, the flu is caused by a virus and is contagious. It is a respiratory illness that infects the lungs, nose and throat. Its symptoms include:
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Take steps to protect yourself and your family from the flu with these prevention measures and improve your odds of enjoying a flu-free year.
While there is no vaccination to protect ourselves from colds, there are vaccinations for flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.”
The CDC recommends everyone, aged six months and older, be vaccinated, especially people in certain populations such as the very young, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular disorders. Consult your physician if you have questions about receiving a flu vaccination. Vaccines are available through physicians, pharmacies and local health departments.
Cleanliness is Critical!
Personal care and healthy habits are important to avoiding the flu. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before eating. If you have small children, help them wash up and teach them how to do so properly to instill a lifelong habit. Use antibacterial wipes to disinfect commonly-touched items such as door knobs, faucets and shopping cart handles.
Take Care of Yourself!
Keep yourself in good general health by eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and seeing your physician for well checks and recommended health screenings.
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
News from ComForcare – Jacksonville
In conjunction with the North and Central Florida chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, ComForcare continues to train our caregivers (Home Health Aides and Certified Nurse Assistants) on the latest information and techniques to successfully work with clients with dementia. This allows our clients to remain as independent as possible and stay at home for as long as possible. This is a dream come true for many families, especially for couples so that they may remain together in the home. Call us for more information.
We are available to speak with you seven days a week.
How Can We Help YOU?
In addition to providing unparalleled care in the home, we are available to professionals and community groups to speak about Caring for a Loved One at Home; Transitions of Care: Preventing Hospital Readmission; Dementia and You – How You and Your Family Can Cope and Thrive; Stress Management – The Key to Maintaining Your Health and Well-being; and a number of other topics.
If you are a veteran or the widow or widower of a veteran – you may qualify for assistance. Call us for more information.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
ComForcare was recently awarded a $3,500 corporate wellness grant to work with nationally-recognized Health Designs in Ponte Vedra to create and implement a wellness program for the staff of ComForcare. Thirty volunteers – both administrative and field staff – have started a year-long journey to wellness by engaging in activities to promote health and wellness and improve overall health status in the company.
Anita Leverett, Operations Director said:
“With our home health aides and certified nurse assists helping people in their homes, it is a challenge to build a cohesive program but we are doing it. By having team captains to communicate the program and be a resource for the field staff, we are committed to showing overall improvement in weight management, blood pressure and diabetes control. We are excited and fired up to be the healthiest work force we can be!”
Staying Active with Arthritis
Exercise Can Alleviate Symptoms
Many think of arthritis as a condition that only affects older adults, and while it is true that many seniors do live with a form of the disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation, two-thirds of the people with arthritis are under the age of 65.
There are two common types of adult arthritis:
Osteoarthritis – the most common form in which joint cartilage breaks down.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints.
Arthritis symptoms often include joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Treatment plans may include medication, physical therapy and exercise.
Exercise can be helpful in controlling arthritis pain and stiffness and improving muscle strength, mobility and range of motion. It also helps with weight control and stress reduction.
Walking, swimming and programs that focus on balance and gentle stretching such as yoga and tai chi are effective forms of exercise that are easy on the joints.
Walking requires just comfortable clothing and supportive shoes. It can be done outdoors when the weather permits and indoors at a gym or shopping mall in inclement weather.
Yoga and tai chi also only require something comfortable to wear and shoes are usually optional. Many community centers offer affordable classes or these exercises can be done at home with a DVD.
Most communities have a public pool where people can swim laps or take aqua aerobics classes. Most large fitness centers have pools too. Of course, before starting any exercise routine, everyone with a chronic illness or condition should have it approved by their physician.
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Every year since 1963, May is proclaimed Older Americans Month throughout the nation and each year the President signs a proclamation in celebration of the achievements and contributions of the nation’s older persons.
This year’s national theme is ‘Unleash the Power of Age’. Cities across the country are celebrating seniors in their own way. There are speaker series, fairs, awards ceremonies, public events and honor ceremonies for our older veterans. In Jacksonville, Wednesday, May 15 and Thursday May 16 the annual Senior Expo takes place at the Prime Osborn Center downtown feting seniors with rows and rows of booths and tables with information about area services for seniors and lots of pampering, education and giveaways to help celebrate.
Last year, ComForcare co-hosted with the Carriage Club a wonderful Celebration of Centenarians featuring 12 distinctive guests ranging in age from 98 years young to the age of 107. This wonderful panel shared with us their insights into growing well into older age with the adage – ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’. All of us in attendance benefitted by being in the presence of these esteemed citizens and they were equally honored to be admired by an adoring audience and to be asked to share with us their stories.
The history of Older Americans month begins in 1963. At the time, there were only 17 million living Americans reaching their 65th birthday. President John F. Kennedy met with what was then the National Council of Senior Citizens, and acknowledged that the status of our seniors at the time was poor. In fact, about 1/3 of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs and concerns.
Today, there are more than 41 million Americans over the age of 65 – that is one in every eight people in our nation. In the 85 and older group, we have more than 5 million Americans. For many, their economic, social and health status have greatly been improved.
How will you celebrate Older Americans month? Just reading this article and having a greater awareness of our venerable seniors is a start. Say thank you to a senior citizen in your community, sit down with an older veteran and ask him or her to teach you about the years in the service or what it was like growing up in their era, attend a rally in their honor, and be sure to start making plans to hold an event or activity for next year’s Older Americans Month celebrations -
it’s not too early to start planning for May 2014!
Monday, January 28th, 2013
Five Tips to Improve Eye Health
As we age, changes in vision are common and our risk of developing vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increases.
If you are one to make New Year’s resolutions, considering adding this one to your list: “take good care of my eyes.” Your vision is priceless and you should take steps to protect it:
Have regular eye exams -
Even if you are healthy and have no vision problems, regular exams can help detect the early signs of eye disorders and damage. People with certain medical conditions and those a family history of eye problems may need more frequent exams. Consult your physician about recommendations for the appropriate screening intervals for your age and health.
Protect your eyes from the sun’s rays - Always wear large sunglasses that filter UV rays and wear a hat with a wide brimfor extra protection.
Eat a healthy diet - There are many health benefits to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. When it comes to your vision, some of these foods include vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may promote good eye health. See the recipe below for more details.
Give your eyes a break and avoid eyestrain - Read or work in a brightly-lit space. We tend to blink less frequently when we focus, so look up or away about every 10 minutes when reading or working at a computer and about every 30 minutes when watching TV. Get enough sleep at night to rest your eyes.
Don’t ignore any warning signs - Consult a physician right away if you experience symptoms such as blurred or cloudy vision or eye pain. Many eye problems can be treated if diagnosed in the early stages.
Company Wellness Benefits Help Employees Lead Healthier Lives
Losing weight and getting fit may be as easy as participating in the wellness programs your employer offers.
Many companies are introducing health and fitness initiatives or adding to their existing wellness programs to improve employee health and reduce health care costs.
By encouraging employees to increase their physical activity and make better food choices, employers hope to help them lead healthier lives and prevent disease.
In January 2012, the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management, conducted its annual survey to gather information on the types of benefits employers offer to their employees.
The survey revealed that more than one-third of companies offered incentives for completing certain health activities. About 20% provided a discount for not using tobacco products, 15% offered discounts for participating in a wellness program and 9% provided health care premium discounts for participating in a weight-loss program.
According to a Health Affairs report on U.S. workplace wellness and disease-prevention programs, every dollar spent by employers on wellness programs resulted in a reduction of medical costs by $3.27 and absenteeism costs by $2.73.
Ways Companies are Promoting Employee Health
Weight Loss Programs – Companies subsidize all or part of the cost of weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers® and/or host on-site meetings before or after hours or during lunch. Employees report they enjoy the camaraderie of attending the meetings and losing weight together.
Low-calorie Lunches and Snacks - Whether its once a week or every day, companies have their food service vendors feature low-calorie, low-fat menu items. They also work with their vending machine suppliers to stock healthier options.
Smoking Cessation – Employers encourage employees to stop smoking and support their efforts by offering assistance such as telephone-based counseling services, subsidized access to online smoking cessation support and providing self-help materials.
On-site Fitness Centers – Companies create on-site fitness centers with treadmills, stair climbers and free weights. Many offer fitness classes such as aerobics and yoga and access to personal trainers.
Employers also offer additional programs and benefits to help with preventable and chronic conditions. These include hosting seasonal flu vaccination clinics and providing screening programs for high glucose or high cholesterol levels.
If your employer offers wellness programs, take advantage of them and if it does not, talk to your human resource representative about the benefits of these types of programs to both employee health and the company’s bottom line.
Exercise Can Lower the Risk of Diabetes in Overweight Children
Yet another study has reinforced the message that children should spend less time in front of the TV and computer and more time exercising.
According to a study published in the September 19 issue of theJournal of the American Medical Association, regular aerobic exercise can help overweight children reduce their risk of diabetes.
Today, one-third of elementary school-aged children in the United States are overweight or obese. Children who are obese are at risk of developing serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes.
The study assessed more than 200 inactive, overweight or obese children (average age of 9.4 years) and looked at how different amounts of aerobic exercise affected the following:
- Diabetes risk factors, such as insulin resistance
- Levels of overall body fat
- Levels of abdominal fat
Researchers randomly assigned some children to the “low” aerobic training group (20 minutes per day) and some to the “high” aerobic training group (40 minutes per day). These children participated in aerobic training five days a week for an average of 13 weeks. They were then compared to a control group of kids who maintained their normal level of physical activity.
Children in both the low and high group experienced greater reductions in insulin resistance and overall body fat and abdominal fat than those in the control group.
This news points out the importance of daily exercise for healthy, fit children. Making exercise a regular habit for children is easy and fun when the family plays together. Parents can encourage daily aerobic exercise by:
- Designating one evening as family fitness night. Each week, a different person chooses a “workout” everyone will do together. Whether it’s swimming, rollerblading or disc golf, everyone gets a chance to pick an activity he or she enjoys and exercise is never boring.
- Taking their kids for brisk walks or bike rides in the neighborhood or at a local park.
- Putting on some upbeat music and holding a dance party in the living room.
- Shooting hoops with their kids.
- Going for a family bike ride.
- Playing soccer in the front yard.
- Spending TV time with their kids playing a fitness video game - not watching a show!
Be Sun Safe to Prevent Skin Cancer
By taking precautions to protect yourself from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, you lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States and it estimates there will be more than 76,000 new cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, this year alone.
While skin cancer can often be treated successfully when caught early, it is best to prevent exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by taking these steps:
- Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun when its rays are strongest – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Cover up as much as possible when you know you will be outdoors. Wear long pants, shirts with long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats.
- Keep an umbrella handy. They are not just for rainy days, they are great for blocking the sun too.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater and apply it generously. It takes approximately one ounce (about a shot glass full) to cover the arms, legs, neck and face of the average adult.
- Apply sunscreen to allexposed areas at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or more often if swimming or perspiring. Always apply sunscreen before makeup or insect repellent.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
And remember these four words whenever you are about to step outside for some fun in the sun: “Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap!”
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
- Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wrap on sunglasses.
Like other form of cancer, early detection is key to the successful treatment of skin cancer.
Have your physician check your skin during visits and be vigilant about self-examining your skin once a month. Note any new moles, changes to existing moles or anything about your skin that concerns you and notify your physician.
Monday, June 18th, 2012
There is Help for Leg Pain
Leg pain is a common, yet often unreported, condition. The severity of the pain can range from mild to agonizing, and for some, it can make everyday activities such as walking and standing difficult.
While healthy habits such as getting regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent leg pain, there are conditions that cause pain that require medical evaluation and treatment:
Varicose veins - Often an inherited condition, varicose veins are enlarged veins that appear under the surface of the skin. These veins are typically large with a twisted, bulging appearance and can cause pain and/or heaviness in the legs.
Arthritis - This is a degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis typically develops over time from the normal “wear and tear” of cartilage, the coating on the ends of bones that allows the bones of joints to slide over each other. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Both types cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) - PAD is a condition in which fatty deposits narrow the arteries and reduces blood flow to the limbs. While the symptoms of PAD can be mild or not even noticeable, people with PAD often experience leg pain when walking that lessens or disappears when resting. The calf is the most common location for the pain.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - This is a potential life-threatening condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein, most often in the leg. It can happen at any age, but is most common in those over age 60. There are many risk factors for DVT and the condition can occur after long periods of inactivity such as extended bed rest or during long car or plane trips. According to the Mayo Clinic, about half of DVT cases occur without symptoms. In other cases, there may be pain, tenderness, swelling and sometimes redness or warmth over the affected area. Immediate medical attention is required to treat DVT. Left untreated, the blood clot could move to the lungs or other part of the body and cause serious complications or death.
There are treatments for these conditions. If you are experiencing pain in one or both legs, consult your physician for diagnosis and to discuss your options.