The Pain of Arthritis

Renea Dennison, Contributor

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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.

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Tips for a Safe and Happy 4th

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By Renea Dennison, Contributor

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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.

Medicare vs. Medicaid

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

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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

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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

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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.

Breathe Easy

pexels-photo-321576.jpegBy Renea Dennison, Contributor

This is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. We put them in the same month because they both impact breathing, and both are inflammatory illnesses. Inflammation is the enemy of wellness, especially if it becomes chronic.

Asthma can be described as airway inflammation marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs. It causes difficulty in breathing, and is sometimes misdiagnosed as COPD in the elderly. Asthma has a better prognosis if treated properly, so a correct diagnosis is very important.

Asthma is reported in 8-10% of the population, and though most people associate it with youngsters, anyone can develop asthma and older adults are particularly at risk. People with asthma may experience chest tightness, shortness of breath, or cough, and episodic wheezing. Short term prescriptions, such as steroids, are effective but prescribing them can be problematic with senior patients who often have multiple medications already.

In addition, older adults having mild asthma symptoms may have the same level of breathing difficulty as children experiencing a severe attack which complicates both diagnosis and treatment. Asthma in seniors rarely goes into remission, and is much more likely to become a potentially dangerous, if not disabling disease. Asthma episodes may be induced by physical activity or exposure to irritants that trigger allergies.

Allergies can be a serious issue for seniors. Like asthma, treatment can be troublesome due to other medications you may be taking. Also, physicians may overlook your allergic reactions since they are looking at bigger issues you may be experiencing. Therefore it is important to tell your doctor when you are having allergic reactions to things indoors or outdoors. Further, you should avoid traditional antihistamines unless specifically prescribed by your doctor. They can be dangerous to seniors as their side effects include confusion, drowsiness, and dizziness.

You can minimize your allergic reactions by controlling your environment. If you have seasonal allergies, check the pollen count on your weather forecast and avoid the outdoors on the worst days. You should also keep you windows closed if possible when pollen counts are high. If you do go out, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. When you get home, wash your hands, shower, and change your clothes. If you go to bed after being outdoors without showering, change the pillowcase before retiring the next night. Make sure your air conditioner unit is serviced regularly, and your vents cleaned annually to avoid mold and dust allergies.

Asthma and allergies are nothing to sneeze at, but there are steps you can take to reduce the rate and strength of incidence. If you think you may have asthma or allergies talk to your doctor. Understanding your health situation, avoiding triggers and being prepared are the best ways you can combat these illnesses and breathe easy.

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.

Engage at Every Age

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

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May is when we observe Older American’s Month. The Administration on Aging has announced the 2018 theme to be Engage at Every Age. (The Administration on Aging is part of the Administration for Community Living and can be reached at www.acl.gov. )

This month we celebrate the many ways seniors add value to the lives of others. Of course, people of any age can take part in the activities planned. The website claims the theme, “emphasizes that you are never too old (or too young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being and celebrates the many ways older adults make a difference in our communities.”

This blog frequently encourages a healthy lifestyle including physical, mental and emotional wellness. During May we are reminded of all the wonderful ways seniors influence and mentor younger adults and children. Older people set an example every day by keeping active, being in emotional control, eating right, and seeking help when something is wrong.

It’s true that when we get older we tend to begin to feel forgotten. We often move slower, which causes us to fall behind. Frequently we are last to be waited on, and are sometimes ignored at service counters. We can begin to feel invisible. In addition, we can’t always participate in fun activities or helping others the way we did when we were younger. We need to remember though, that we still have loads to offer. We have so much experience in the world! We have learned heaps and earned every wisdom (gray) hair on our heads. This knowledge needs to be shared and handed down to younger generations.

Don’t worry if their interest doesn’t coincide in a timely manner with your desire to share. You can still write it down, record it, or better yet, make a video and post it for your family in social media. Tell them about your family history, or some experience you had that really taught you something. Did you lock yourself out three times in one week (like me) and learn to always have a spare? Did your grandmother tell you a story about walking across the prairie with no one in sight? Do you know a trick to folding sheets or the best way to make gravy?

You probably have many interesting tales to tell, and lots of wisdom to impart. Celebrate this month by remembering all you have given and all you still have to give. Check your local Aging agency for any events you can participate in. For Topeka, you can contact the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging or the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability. You still have so much to offer, and nothing is more rewarding than helping and giving to others.

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.