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Healthy Living: Sleep, Don’t Count Sheep!

Smiling baby girl lying on a bed sleeping on blue sheets

SLEEP AWARENESS MONTH

Ahhhh, sleep! Restful, peaceful and restorative slumber is something we all crave. Have you ever noticed how refreshed you feel after a good night’s sleep? Not surprisingly, many of us have issues that prevent us from getting the full night’s sleep that we need to feel rested. Quality sleep is necessary for the body to recover, detox and rejuvenate each night and when we don’t get a solid night’s rest, our health can suffer.

With the return of Daylight Save Time this month, many people will experience disrupted sleep. While it seems minor, a one hour change in the local time can rather dramatically affect folks’ sleep-wake cycles for several days.

SLEEP HYGIENE

There are several things you can do to create a restful environment conducive to a good night’s sleep. Practicing effective sleep hygiene is part of a healthy lifestyle, much like exercising and eating a well-balanced diet. Making a few simple changes can quickly help you to feel refreshed and ready to face another day. Incorporate the following tips, as appropriate:

  • Eliminate caffeine six hours before bedtime
  • Discontinue alcohol use at least three hours prior to bedtime
  • Observe a bedtime routine that includes going to bed and rising at the same time each day
  • Avoid naps during the day
  • Prepare a quiet, cool, dark and serene sleeping environment in your bedroom
  • Avoid reading or watching TV in bed
  • Get regular exercise
  • Go to bed when you are truly tired
  • Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable
  • Limit the number of trips to the restroom at night by managing your evening water intake

BARRIERS TO SLEEP

There are several sleep disorders and conditions that impact your quality of sleep. Some sleep disorders can be serious, but anything that prevents you from getting restful sleep most nights is a cause for concern. Here is a short list of some of the main reasons for sleep problems:

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormal sleep behavior disorders (sleepwalking, nightmares, sleep talking, etc.)
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Shift work disorder
  • Jetlag/changing time zones/time change
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression

WHEN TO SEEK HELP

If you are experiencing anything more challenging than occasional sleep challenges, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor to eliminate a more serious condition. Your physician may order a sleep study which may provide insight to help you get back to having a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

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Confident Steps Fall Prevention Program: Designed to Keep You on Your Feet

Recover Health’s Confident Steps Fall Prevention Program: Designed to Keep You on Your Feet

When you were a kid, wasn’t falling fun? Remember what it was like to be silly and feel your body free-fall as you tumbled to the ground, only to quickly get up, squealing with delight, and do it all over again?

For older adults, however, falling is no laughing matter.

Unfortunately, falling is very common. In fact, one-third of Americans aged 65 and over experience an episode of falling each year, resulting in more than 2.4 million injuries annually.

Falling, and the fear of falling, keeps many older adults sidelined from the activities they would like to participate in. Studies show that remaining active and vital is the key to aging well and living a long, meaningful life.

Research overwhelmingly demonstrates that falls are often the result of a combination of factors or conditions that make the possibility of a fall greater. Therefore, to prevent falls its critical to identify risks and make every effort to reduce and eliminate potential perils as they are identified.

PREVENTION
The key to avoiding fall-related injuries is prevention. There are numerous steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of falls. Keeping floors free of tripping hazards, ensuring adequate lighting, and installing handrails and grab bars in restrooms will prevent many accidental falls. Another important factor to help prevent a fall is to make sure you have good fitting footwear that provides good support and has non-slip soles.

STAY ACTIVE
Other ways to prevent falls include staying active and doing exercises that help maintain balance and build muscle strength, especially in the legs. Activities like walking and stretching and other forms of exercise can boost self-confidence and help to reduce your risk of falling.

VISIT YOUR DOCTOR REGULARLY
Regular doctor visits are another important part of a falls prevention plan. Be sure to have your hearing and vision checked annually. Report any falls or dizziness to your doctor. It’s also important to review medications, as its been shown that people who take four or more medications are at greater risk of falling than those who take fewer medications.

FALLS ARE COSTLY
Falls are costly, financially, of course. But they are also costly psychologically. People who have fallen once are twice as likely to experience another fall. Being gripped by the fear of a fall can be crippling. Adults who fear falling may withdraw from social engagements, and not want to exercise or even perform simple errands for fear of falling.

IF YOU FALL…
If you do fall, tell your doctor even if you are not injured. There may be an underlying reason that caused you to fall. If the reason can be identified and resolved, it may prevent you from having a more serious fall in the future. Older adults tend to experience more serious injuries from falls plus they typically heal slower. Therefore, prevention is always the key to success.

Recover Health, a regional full-service home health care provider, offers our Confident Steps Fall Prevention Program which is aimed at helping older adults break the fall cycle.

 

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Medication Therapy Management in Home Care

    Imagine waking up in the morning and remembering that it is time to take your morning pills. You open your pill box and look at a handful of pills, mostly white, with a few peach or blue ones mixed in. Some of the pills are prescribed by your cardiologist, some by your endocrinologist, a few by your psychiatrist, and the rest by your primary care doctor. You wonder if all these medications are okay to take together, and if each of your doctors knows what the others are prescribing, but you take your morning handful anyway. Two hours later, as you are getting out of the shower, you suddenly feel light headed and the next thing you know you’re waking up on the floor of the bathroom with a tremendous pain in your hip and leg. How could you have helped prevent this from happening?

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    Recover Health’s Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is a program that is designed to make sure that you are taking the best possible medications to treat your conditions. It allows a patient to talk with a clinical pharmacist who is an expert in drug therapy and interactions and discuss all of the medications that you take, prescription and over the counter, as well as vitamins and supplements. This is called a Comprehensive Medication Review, or CMR.
    During your CMR, the clinical pharmacist will review all of your medications with you and ensure that you are taking them as prescribed, then look for interactions or side effects of medications that may cause problems, such as falls. Our pharmacists also check to see how well conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and others are controlled by asking about your symptoms and checking your medical records. Our pharmacists also ensure that every medication that you are taking is necessary, as sometimes medications are left active when they are no longer needed.
    At the end of your CMR, the clinical pharmacist makes recommendations to your doctors, and also provides you with some information that you can use to better manage your medications. We also share this information with your Recover Health nurse, which allows us to better provide care to you.
    Recover Health has committed to offer this important service to our home health care patients in order to ensure that patients are taking the best medications possible, while decreasing the risk of side effects and interactions. MTM has been shown to be associated with less hospital readmissions, better management of chronic health conditions, and even lowering mortality. We are focused on providing the best possible care to our patients, and this program is another example of how we are always looking for new ways to be a leader in home health care.
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National Nutrition Month – Healthy Eating Made Simple!

HEALTHY EATING MADE SIMPLE – NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

 

Does it seem like every time you turn on TV or read something about nutrition you get conflicting information? Do you ever feel like whatever you eat or drink is going to be eventually identified as “bad” for you? Sometimes, trying to make healthy food choices can feel like a no-win game – which can be very frustrating!

 

DO YOU KNOW WHAT ARE YOU EATING?

Too many Americans live on the SAD diet to the detriment of their health. An unflattering acronym for the Standard American Diet, the SAD diet is not a healthy diet, by any means. Comprised mostly of highly processed junk foods, fast food meals, added sugars, salt and fat, it is the type of diet that enables lifestyle diseases to manifest.

 

Because our bodies need actual nutrients to function properly, it is vital to fuel up on real foods. Due to the food industry intentionally working to confuse consumers, people often think they are making healthy food choices when, in fact, they are not. So, what to do? How can you make healthy food choices without becoming a nutritionist? Eating healthy foods is much easier than the experts would have you think. By using your common sense and these tips below, you will be on your way to making informed decisions about the foods you prepare for your family.

 

10 TIPS TO HEALTHY EATING

  • Shop the perimeter of the store. The unhealthy processed foods are located largely on the interior aisles, where you can easily avoid them!
  • Eat a mostly plant-based diet. Consuming lots of fruits and veggies will provide the fiber and nutrients your body needs to function properly.
  • Choose organic produce versus non-organic/GMO produce. It is worth the extra cost to avoid the pesticides that are used in conventional farming. Also, organic produce is of significantly higher quality and is better tasting!
  • Eat several servings of dark leafy greens (like kale, spinach, swiss chard, etc.) each week. These foods are chock full of the vitamins your body needs and craves.
  • Real, whole foods don’t have ingredients. You can rest assured that any food that has added ingredients has been processed in some manner.
  • Prepare your meals from scratch. A pre-packaged meal that you add a couple of ingredients to does not count as cooking, because it is still processed chemical-laden food.
  • Read labels. Any ingredient that your mother or grandmother would not recognize as food is a clear indication of processing and chemicalization of the food.
  • Eliminate all foods with added sugar or artificial sugars. Added sugars don’t increase the nutritional value and seriously interrupt your metabolism.
  • Add legumes and other fibers to your diet. The added fiber in legumes and beans will keep you full for several hours after eating.
  • Learn to make smoothies and prepare a tasty meal loaded with nutrition. Invest in a good quality smoothie maker/blender (like a NutriBullet or Ninja) that is easy to clean and begin enjoying smoothies on a regular basis!

By employing these simple tips you will soon feel empowered to make healthy food choices and take control of your health. As an added benefit, as you begin to eat more real foods, you will most likely notice that you feel better and have more energy! Eating healthy, whole foods is a win-win for you and your body!

 

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Staying Fit & Healthy During Winter: Tips for Seniors

STAYING FIT & HEALTHY DURING WINTER: TIPS FOR SENIORS

    For older adults, inactivity can increase the possibility of falling. The risk of taking a tumble can be exacerbated during winter, as inclement weather, snow and ice can lead to reduced physical movement. As a result, the incidents of falls can rise sharply in spring, as seniors increase their activity with the return of pleasant weather.
    To reduce the risk of a fall, there are several preventive measures that can be taken to put the odds in your favor. Staying active is critical. As many physical therapists and chiropractors will tell you: motion is lotion. Moving your body regularly helps keep your joints lubed and your muscles toned, which leads to improved overall health.
    Joining a health club, senior center or signing up for community education classes can introduce you to new friends and lots of activities.

 

Tips to keep active during winter:

  1. Walk indoors at a mall or school. Most malls allow walkers access to the mall before the shopping center is open for regular business hours. Additionally, many schools open their hallways for walkers in the evening on certain nights of the week during the fall and winter.
  2. Swim. Take a water aerobics class or enjoy open swimming at a local indoor pool.
  3. Aerobics. Get your heart pumping and shrug off winter’s chill.
  4. Indoor walking track or treadmill. Most health clubs, many senior centers and retirement communities have walking tracks, treadmills or elliptical machines.
  5. Yoga. If you’re not familiar with yoga, sign up for a beginner’s class and find out what you’ve been missing!
  6. Weightlifting. You can use small 1-2 pound dumbbells to carry when you walk. You can even begin with a can of soup in each hand. The added weight will help you to build muscle and help prevent injuries.
  7. Dancing. Moving your body to music is fun and good for you. Enjoy!
  8. Tai Chi. A low-impact and exceptionally beneficial form of exercise, Tai Chi is great for pain management and stress reduction.
  9. Get outside. On pleasant days, when it’s not icy, walk outside, even if it’s only for a few minutes – just to get the fresh air.
  10. Get an exercise video. There are many videos that require no gym equipment, but offer a good overall workout.

Other things you can do to improve or maintain your health:

  1. Eat a healthy diet. A plant-based diet is probably the single-most important thing you can do for your health. Remember: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Think smoothies, salads and lots of fresh delicious veggies!
  2. Stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated in the winter because the dry air makes us feel hydrated. As a minimum, plan to drink half your weight in ounces, per day.
  3. Get plenty of rest. This seems obvious, but you can’t be at your best if you are tired. Go to bed and rise at the same time every day and resist the urge to nap (which feeds the vicious cycle of not being able to sleep at night).
  4. Meditate. Clear your mind, focus on the present and get in touch with your higher self. There is absolutely no down-side to meditation.
  5. Sit in a sauna several times a week. Infrared saunas help you sweat out toxins and provide relief to aching muscles and joints. In addition to the amazing relaxation benefits of regular sessions in a sauna, frequent users have reported improvement from numerous medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
  6. Keep up your social activities. Social isolation is a very real issue in the winter months. Attending classes, joining a health club, going to church and keeping up with friends is integral to maintaining feelings of being involved with something bigger than yourself.

Incorporating several of these tips will help you stay healthy, get ready for spring and help reduce your risk of a fall.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder, not just the winter blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a sub-type of depression only symptomatic during certain months of the year. SAD is primarily attributed to the winter months; however, in rare cases can have an impact during the summer months as well. SAD can affect anyone but among those with a greater chance of experiencing it are women and people with a family history of depression. It’s most common in people between the ages 15 and 55 as the chances of experiencing the disorder decrease with age. Also, people living far from the equator are at a higher risk due to the decreased number of daylight hours in the winter.

    Though the cause is unknown, experts believe SAD is directly related to a lack of sunlight which disrupts sleep patterns and creates serotonin deficiencies in the brain. Symptoms for SAD include: decrease in energy, frequent thoughts of death or suicide, irritability/agitation, fluctuations in weight, loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed, etc. The major symptomatic differences between winter SAD and summer SAD are: oversleeping and overeating in the winter as opposed to under eating and weight loss in the summer.
    Light therapy, medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy are the most common treatment methods. Despite limited research, light therapy remains the most widely used clinical method of treating SAD and experts believe it resets your biological clock. The process uses a special type of indoor light bulb that mimics sunlight therefore correcting the serotonin (the chemical in the brain associated with mood) deficiency. Results are usually seen after a few days, sometimes taking up to two weeks.
    Anti-depressant medication can be used in addition to or alongside light therapy and is recommended for people with severe depression. Though not approved by the FDA, people have also reported positive results using the over the counter supplements St John’s Wart, SAMe, and Melatonin.

    Seasonal Affective Disorder often goes undiagnosed for a lifetime due to people dismissing it as the “winter blues”. Left untreated, SAD can fester and grow into a life-threatening substance abuse problem due to self-medicating. Implement lifestyle changes like more exercise and more outdoor activities. If you or someone you know is suicidal, call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.

Recover Health, a regional full-service home health care provider, works in collaboration with health care providers by providing a variety of home health care services to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and healthcare journey.

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COPD Awareness: Spotlight on Prevention & Disease Management


COPD AWARENESS: SPOTLIGHT ON PREVENTION & DISEASE MANAGEMENT

    Over 11 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COPD. The disease impacts not only the person suffering from the disease, but family members and caretakers are affected.

WHAT IS COPD?

    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic lung disease that is often preventable. Frequently referred to as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, it damages the lungs and worsens over time. The disease affects your ability to work, sleep and perform your normal activities of daily living. COPD most frequently affects smokers and former smokers over the age of 40.

 

PREVENTION

    The good news is that COPD is preventable. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, so quitting smoking is the single biggest preventive measure you can take. Other contributing factors for COPD include exposure to secondhand smoke, fumes from chemicals, dust and air pollution.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF COPD

    Unfortunately, most people don’t notice any symptoms of COPD until the disease has become advanced. The most common symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath during daily activities, fatigue, blue lips/fingernails, wheezing, tightness in the chest area, or a lingering cough that produces phlegm. Other symptoms include frequent respiratory infections.

LIVING WITH COPD

    At this time, there is no cure for COPD. Therefore, it is helpful to reduce lung irritants by quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, fumes and dust.
    After being diagnosed with COPD, your life will change. You will experience physical and emotional challenges. You may experience anxiety, depression or stress. As you learn to manage the COPD, your quality of life will improve. Be sure to see your doctor regularly and take your medications as prescribed. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and get emotional support.

RESOURCES – HELP IS AVAILABLE

    Because of the nature of this disease, it is very important that you understand the disease, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and take your medications as prescribed. Joining a support group, or other supportive environment, will help deal with your emotions as you learn to live with this disease.

Recover Health, a regional full-service home health care provider, works in collaboration with health care providers by providing a variety of home health care services to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and healthcare journey.

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Mental Illness Awareness Week

MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS: SHINING THE LIGHT ON MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES 

Mental illness affects many people, and unfortunately it’s an illness that people seldom discuss openly. Cloaked in shame and embarrassment, many people fear seeking help because they may not want to be thought of as “different” from others. WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS?

    Mental illness covers a broad spectrum of conditions related to mental and emotional health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines mental illness as, “a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feelings or mood.” The most common conditions are anxiety, depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia.

COMMON MALADY

    If you do not have a mental illness, chances are you have had a mental illness in the past or you know someone struggling with a mental illness. In fact, 43.8 million adults experience a mental illness each year. That’s a lot of people. When you add friends, family members, and caretakers, the number of people impacted by mental illness is staggering.

REMOVING THE SHROUD OF SHAME

    Many people with a mental illness suffer in silence and do not seek help. Unfortunately, approximately 60% of adults and 50% of youth (ages 8-15) do not get the care they need. Many times, the reason people don’t get help is because there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and they don’t want to be labeled in a negative manner. However, because mental illness is exceedingly common, it is becoming a more mainstream topic of discussion. As a society, we can continue to work toward eliminating the stigma of mental illness by talking about our personal experiences with mental illness, not judging others, or making them feel inferior or inadequate because they have a mental illness. Most importantly, we must recognize that mental illness is just that – an illness.

RESOURCES – HELP IS AVAILABLE

    If you or someone you know is suicidal, call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. Know that help and hope is available, even though that’s very difficult to see in the midst of a crisis. If the situation is not critical, make an appointment with a physician or a mental health therapist, to get the help needed. Either way, know that mental illness is manageable and, with proper treatment, most people can mitigate their symptoms and regain a sense of hope, dignity, and normalcy in their daily lives.

Recover Health, a regional full-service home health care provider, works in collaboration with health care providers by providing in-home assessments of a client’s unique needs, monitoring compliance with prescribed medications, and alerting health care providers of changes observed in the client’s condition.