The Pain of Arthritis

Renea Dennison, Contributor

brown and white bear plush toy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Arthritis is a big subject. According to www.mediinenet.com, 350 million people worldwide suffer from this disease. 40 million are in the US, with more than 250,000 being children. The numbers are staggering at first, but when you consider the term covers more than 100 types of joint (bone or attached tissue) problems, the numbers makes more sense. Arthritis is common, and the term is well known. Unfortunately, the disease is not clearly understood, which makes it harder to diagnose properly and treat appropriately.

Osteoarthritis arthritis, the most common type, is degenerative. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage between bones wears away causing bone on bone friction. This rubbing causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time joints can lose strength and pain can become chronic. Risk factors include age, family history, being overweight and some injuries. The best way to avoid this kind of arthritis is to maintain your weight, stay active, and avoid injury. Mild to moderate symptoms can be managed by regular physical activity, strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support, using hot and cold compresses, over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines and/or pain relievers. Finally, balance activity with rest and avoid excessive repetitive movements to help manage your symptoms.

Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid or psoriatic, is when your immune system goes awry and attacks joints with inflammation in an attempt to get rid of perceived infection. This type of arthritis not only erodes the joints, but can also attack internal organs, the eyes and other parts of the body. Risk factors include environment (such as smoking) and genetics. With this type of arthritis, early diagnosis is critical. Early treatment with DMARDs (a class of drugs) will help put the disease into remission and reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further damage.

Infectious arthritis can be caused by bacteria, fungus or a virus which enters the joint. Sources include food poisoning such as salmonella, contamination such as shigella, hepatitis C, and certain sexually transmitted diseases. Again, early diagnosis is critical. Antibiotics may clear the infection, but in some cases the arthritis can still become chronic.

Metabolic arthritis, also known as gout, is when excess uric acid builds up in the joints. The uric acid crystalizes in the joint and causes sudden pain, or a gout attack that can come and go. This arthritis can be treated by reducing the uric acid in your system, but it may become chronic causing continued pain and disability.

The most critical aspect of arthritis is early diagnosis. Treatment with medications, appropriate activities, and other treatments up to and including surgery for joint replacement, always start with a diagnosis with your primary care physician. Advanced arthritis may eventually result in consulting specialists such as ophthalmologists.

The second biggest factor is activity. There are many, many types of exercise you can do to reduce joint pain, improve flexibility, and prevent joint damage. Here is an article with 16 exercises for people who suffer from arthritis. You can choose one, or several, and change your life.

If you suspect you have arthritis consult your physician. Some joint damage cannot be reversed so early treatment is vital. In the meantime, remember to live a healthy, active lifestyle with lots of love and fun built in. There is no better prescription for a healthy, happy life.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Advertisements

Tips for a Safe and Happy 4th

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

silhouette of people beside usa flag

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

One of the highlights of summer is our annual celebration of Independence Day every July 4th. The holiday is good old-fashioned family fun, with food, parades, games and for the finale, beautiful and exciting fireworks.

When you are young and energetic, you hardly notice the heat and half-expect to get sunburned. Swimming in the lake or running through the sprinklers to keep cool is part of the fun. Adults expertly work at keeping the young safe from burns, etc. because we all know their limitations and work to avoid problems.

To no one’s surprise, seniors are not as energetic so will most likely skip the sprinklers. You might think since they are not running around heat is not a problem. This is not true. Seniors have more trouble regulating body temperatures and are therefore much more likely to succumb to heat stroke.

If you have a senior at your celebration, or if you are the senior, please make sure to keep the following practices in mind:

  • Stay out of direct sun as much as possible. Sit somewhere cool and shady. Use sunscreen liberally and a wear hat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. The longer you are out, the more you should drink.
  • Stay near a restroom for frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Make sure chairs are cushioned and comfortable.
  • Have a light jacket and/or blanket for after dark activities.
  • If possible, have a cool and quiet place to retreat for brief periods of time such as indoors or inside a running air conditioned car.

Seniors, especially those with dementia issues, are not always aware of the danger they are in. If you have a senior with you, watch over them carefully. Do not push them past their limits. Remember, admitting you cannot keep up is a difficult thing to do.

You might also consider changing up some of your activities. For instance, during the hottest part of the day you might watch a patriotic themed movie. How about patriotic themed karaoke or sing-alongs? Many seniors also love to play board and card games. Go to a cemetery and place small flags on the graves of veterans. Seniors have many stories to tell about past glories and the history of the country. They’ve lived it! You might even film them talking about past celebrations or the moments in history that really impacted them.

There are many ways to safely enjoy the 4th of July this year. You do not have to let go of all the old ones, but safety involves keeping in mind the limitations of seniors as well as little ones. Follow the above guidelines for the safety of all concerned. Start some new traditions this year to add to your old ones to keep your seniors safe. After all, everyone, regardless of age, should be able to enjoy Independence Day. Be creative! Be safe! Happy 4th to you and yours!

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

MACRA

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Bob Evenson, Contributor

blue and silver stetoscope

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) changes the availability of certain Medicare supplement plans beginning January 1, 2020. Specifically, MACRA prohibits Medicare supplement plans to cover the Part B deductible of Medicare after that date.

The goal of MACRA is to reduce overall Medicare spending by requiring beneficiaries to pay a small portion of the costs (the deductible) each year. However, only individuals who become Medicare eligible on or after January 01, 2020 will be affected. Those entitled to Medicare prior to this date can keep their current Medicare supplement plan. The Part B deductible is $183.00 in 2018.

If you are Medicare eligible prior to January 01, 2020, all Medicare supplement plans will still be available to you. If you are already enrolled in a Supplement Plan C or F, you can keep your plan. You may even change to another carrier that offers a Supplement Plan C or F after January 1, 2020, although medical underwriting may be required.

If you become Medicare eligible January 01, 2020 or later, Supplement Plans C and F will no longer be available. Plans C and F are being replaced by Plans D and G. Under the new plans, you will be responsible to pay the Medicare Part B deductible.

In summary, if you are a Medicare beneficiary prior to January 1, 2020, the new law will not affect you. If you become eligible on or after that date, you will choose from different plans requiring you to pay the annual Medicare deductible. The new law pertains to supplement plans only, and will not affect Medicare Part A or Part B, Part C Medicare Advantage Plans, or Part D prescription drug plans.

Finally, remember all Medicare supplement plans have exactly the same benefits as required by CMS. Those identified by the same letter have the same benefits. In other words, Plan G benefits are the same regardless of which insurance company you use. The only difference is the insurance company and the price you pay for the plan. Shop before you buy, or talk with a licensed expert to help you make the right selection of Medicare coverage for your circumstances.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Medicare vs. Medicaid

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

apple bright close up color

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do you ever find yourself confused about Medicare vs. Medicaid? Many people think they are the same thing, but they are not. This was brought to my attention with a recent article by our own Bob Evenson.

One can see why many might believe they are the same thing. First, the names are very similar. They are both federal programs created in 1965, and they are both designed to help pay for health care. Still, they are not the same.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program designed for eligible adults age 65 and older, and anyone under 65 who has a severe disability. Medicare has 4 parts. Part A covers hospitalization, except for long term care, and is paid through payroll deduction by everyone who works or has their own business. It is free to the participant. Part B covers doctor and outpatient visits. Participants pay premiums through Social Security deduction. Part C works through private carriers in a PPO or HMO type arrangement. Part D covers medications. Part C and Part D premiums are paid directly to the private carrier by the participant.

Medicare is funded by the premiums mentioned above and by general revenues in the federal budget. Besides age and/or disability, you must have 40 quarters of income reported to Social Security to be eligible for Medicare. Because Medicare is a federal program, the same requirements for coverage stay the same from state to state. The only difference pertains to insurance covered by private carriers which may impact deductibles and co-insurance on Parts C and D.

Medicaid is a health insurance program designed for people with low income. The program is funded by both state and federal governments. The federal government sets up parameters for states to follow, and reimburses states based on those guidelines. States, however, decide how to administer and fund the program. Not all states use all the funding available from the federal government because they do not want to participate in all the requirements. These reasons are why Medicaid varies from state to state.

Eligibility for Medicaid is not based on age or illness, but rather income. Families, children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly can all qualify for Medicaid if they meet the low income threshold. Medicaid will also pay premiums and other out of pocket expenses Medicare charges to anyone enrolled in both programs. About 15% of Medicare participants are also on Medicaid.

While Medicare and Medicaid are two different programs, they are both social programs designed to help those who might otherwise be unable to get insurance. Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions about Medicare vs. Medicaid.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Yoga for Seniors

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

calm daylight evening grass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This blog has promoted yoga as a healthy practice on a number of occasions. Recently, I came across an article specifically directed towards the advantages of yoga for seniors. The columns’s good points made me realize it was time to write about yoga again and share this important information. You can read the item here.

Specifically, the story addressed three major benefits of yoga for senior health. In fact, that was the title, “3 Benefits of Yoga for Senior Health.” How perfect is that?

Here are the 3 major benefits as described in the piece:

  1. Improves sleeping habits – yoga helps relieve tension. After a yoga workout you will probably feel less anxious which leads to more sleep.
  2. Improves mood – it is a genuine mood booster and those who practice it have a lower risk for depression
  3. Reduces aches and pains – the breathing techniques aid in eliminating the stress that makes pain worse. Moreover, the movements will assist to decrease joint swelling, and increase joint and muscle strength. It aids in increasing functionality as well as flexibility. People who do yoga fall less, and are able to move more easily. Incidentally, less pain also promotes more sleep.

Yoga improves flexibility and balance while helping you stay in shape. Not many exercise plans can make the same claims. What is particularly great about yoga for older adults is that it is a Practice. New practitioners do not have to force themselves into awkward twisted shapes or uncomfortable poses. Everyone starts where they are, and by continual practice (at least 3 times per week), they improve muscle tone, flexibility, and strength over time. Each person goes at their own pace.  My favorite yogi is Adriene Mishler whom I follow on YouTube and Twitter.  She says repeatedly that we should, “Do what feels good.”  She means do what you can, but it should feel good and not painful.

Yoga helps regardless of physical limitations. Even those who are wheelchair bound can perform yoga. Just check out the videos by David Procyshyn if you don’t believe me. You can find a great list of David’s videos and the best order to go through them, as well as a long list of yoga benefits here.

If you are very active, workout regularly, and play sports so you keep fit, I salute you. Even you, however, can gain from yoga. If you are one of the millions who have difficulty keeping in shape, or even walking, then check out David’s videos. You will be amazed at what 3 days a week of yoga can do for you.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

 

 

 

Scam Alert!

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

blur close up fingers focus

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you or a loved one been a target of a crook recently? Studies show a growing problem with thieves stealing health, dreams and life savings, especially among our aging population.

Scams come in all sizes and designs. The elderly are particular favorites for these selfish creeps. Seniors are often a favorite quarry because older people tend to have more money than younger adults, are less likely to report a theft, tend to trust ‘authority’ figures more, are frequently isolated, and can be more susceptible due to changes in the brain.

Scammers love to find a wealthy and trusting victim, playing on their emotions without a shred of conscience. For instance, a current popular scam is to call and start the conversation with, “Grandma!” The unsuspecting prey responds with a grandchild’s name like “Mike?” and the scammer starts his con. He claims he is in jail somewhere and begs for help without letting his parents know. An amazing number of people have forked over thousands of dollars because they love and want to protect their grandchildren who were, as it happens, nowhere near a jail.

Scammers also come in the guise of business people, assisting you to file your disability or health claims (and stealing millions from the government). They can pretend to be in-home health services where they get paid while you are left without the services. Some do enough service to gain trust and scam your savings while you are thinking the person is there to support you. They take money to supposedly aid you with phony credit companies, set up pretend non-profits to care for others while milking you for donations, and even take money for funerals which the recipient never gets. Some people have even been hurt or died due to the neglect of a facility or home-health scam who received money without actually helping the patient. Others have had their dreams smashed when the person they thought would love them for the rest of their lives was actually just bilking them of their life savings. And don’t forget the worker scam where the bill seems to spiral out of control. The list and types of scams are only limited by the creativity and depravity of the scammer.

How can you avoid losing money, and possibly your health, to someone so unscrupulous? I hate to tell you to be less trusting, but we must all be on our guard against such cheaters. Check out the latest senior scams regularly by going to the website for the National Center on Elder Abuse so you are less vulnerable to a new scheme. Maintain up to date contact information on your family members and the professionals who help you, and keep those lines of communication open. You want to feel like you can easily call to check a story out or discuss something with someone in case you are making a mistake. Further, your family can vet your professionals and workers (such as plumbers) for you. They can also watch for changes in memory or math skills which make you more susceptible to fraud.

Finally, increase your financial knowledge. Continue to learn by taking classes, reading or watching relevant programs. These skills not only help you recognize a scam sooner, but can keep your brain functioning at a higher level for longer.

The best advice to avoid a scam is to simply stay alert. Don’t let yourself be lulled into thinking you are safe because of your experience, or past being a target because of your age or level of wealth. Even people with low incomes can have their identities stolen and find themselves facing hungry debt collectors. Keep your dignity and the money you earned. Keep alert!

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Blood Pressure – Part 1

black and white blood pressure kit

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

Your blood cells provide oxygen and nutrition while removing waste. Those same blood cells rush through a complex structure made up of veins and arteries known as the circulatory system. Your circulatory system provides every organ in your body, including the heart which keeps it moving, life.

You might think as long as the blood is flowing without obstruction everything should be fine and you are healthy. However, there is another important factor to consider. How much force, or pressure, is the moving blood placing on the walls of the arteries as it goes through? This is an important question. High blood pressure (HBP) damages organs and can cause stroke, kidney failure, and heart attacks. Unfortunately, you cannot feel this pressure. Usually, all seems ordinary whether your blood pressure (BP) is high or normal. That is why HBP, or hypertension, is known as the ‘silent killer’.

When you go to the doctor someone takes your BP. It doesn’t matter what your symptoms, if you are age 3 and older and go to the doctor’s they will take it. They do so at every opportunity because using the cuff and measuring is the only way to know if you have developed HBP.

While at the doctor’s, you may wonder what your medical professional is doing when they pump air into the cuff and then listen through a stethoscope tucked under the cuff. They pump enough air to provide more pressure than your systolic (top) number and then wait for the whooshing sound to get your top number. When they cannot hear the pressure any more, they have the diastolic (bottom) number. So for example, they will say you have 120 (top) over 80 (bottom) also written as 120/80.

Did that sound like gibberish to you? (It used to sound like it to me.) Let me explain. The systolic, or top number represents the pressure on your artery walls when your heart is beating. That is, when your heart is squeezing blood forcefully through your body. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). I don’t know why, except that is how they first figured it out and they are still doing it the same way today. Anyway, this is the number that is given most attention. I remember it by thinking of the S in systolic. To me it means stress or strain as in the pressure the squeezing heart puts on the walls of your arteries. People with good BP always have a systolic number under 120.

We call lower number the diastolic number. It is based on the pressure in your arty walls when your heart is not beating. That is, when it is resting, filling with blood and taking in oxygen. I remember this number by thinking of the D in diastolic and relating it to the word downtime. Don’t get me wrong, you can still be diagnosed with HBP even if your systolic number is under 120 if your diastolic number is high enough. It is just not very common. A normal healthy person will have a diastolic number under 80.

Next week we will talk a little more about the numbers and what it means to have HPB. In the meantime, eat right, exercise, and keep a happy attitude.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.