Special Interests

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

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This month our blog is devoted to combating loneliness. December is a particularly hard month for those who are lonely, especially if they are isolated. This week our focus will be special interests such as current hobbies and/or learning something new.

Hobbies are wonderful at fighting loneliness because people who spend time on hobbies are genuinely interested in whatever they are doing. Whether it is collecting stamps, cooking, traveling, woodworking, singing, or square dancing, a hobby helps you focus your attention on something outside of yourself. Often you can find local groups or clubs who share your love and can talk for hours about collecting or whatever your fancy is. You can learn from others, or perhaps share your knowledge. You may even be able to enter your item into contests such as at the state fair. There are few things as satisfying as having someone with your same passions look over your work and declare it a blue ribbon winner. Even people with mobility issues can find friends with shared interests who can come by to visit, or talk to you over the phone or via the internet. An added benefit is that hobbies help keep your mind sharp, and some can even increase your exercise which is always good for you.

Another option is to take a class. You are never too old to learn an instrument, tackle an art or cake decorating class, enroll in ballet or boxing, or learn a new language. Studying something new, essentially taking up a new hobby, will introduce you to a new group of friends and help you develop new brain synapses which can help ward off dementia. Added benefits include things like being able to play music for friends and family or painting them a picture of a wonderful memory you have of them.

If you don’t have a hobby, start one. They can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. Many schools offer discounts or free classes for seniors. Check with your local library or parks and recreation department. Look for something that will get you involved with others, rather than something that will isolate you further. Coin collecting is fun, but only works against loneliness if you know other collectors and can talk shop with them.

Sign up for a class to learn something new. Many universities have courses seniors can take for free or for a nominal fee. You may be surprised where you can find a reasonably priced or free class. For instance, most fabric stores offer free sewing and/or quilting classes. Just ask around. You never know, just asking might help you make a new friend and that is what our blog this month is about.

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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Puppy Love

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

Doggy

Loneliness kills. Studies show lonley people suffer more anxiety, end up in the hospital more frequently, and live shorter lives than people who have regular lives. Never is lonliness felt more strongly than around the holidays. Therefore this month our blog will be devoted to ways to help you combat loneliness.

One of the fastest ways to counter lonliness is to adopt a dog. Canines come in all shapes and sizes, breeds and mixes, and you can find them in all age ranges. It’s best to find one appropriate for your abilities and lifestyle. For instance, a smaller dog is better if you live in an apartment. They are great for getting you out and about for their daily walks giving you multiple opportunities to meet other people. Plus the exercise will do you both good. You might also take them to a doggy park where other dog lovers hang out and meet people that way. Dogs are great ice breakers.

If you have mobility problems, you can find a quieter dog that is well trained. Perhaps you can install a doggy door to help out. In fact, you may find an animal who can help you with your physical needs. There are many working dogs ready and willing to love and help their owners.

If you have allergies or hate pet hair there are also dogs who don’t shed and are considered hypo-allergenic. They usually require frequent grooming. The love and devotion of your pet will be well worth it.

Finally, if you are more of a cat person then I encourage you to get a feline instead. We don’t usually walk cats, but they can be walked in special carriers or with special training if you want the exercise. Cats require more daily cleaning with litter box care, but less grooming and attention in general. A cat’s purr is very calming and restful. Few things are quite as sweet as a cat who is showing you affection.

Any pet that you can shower attention on and share your thoughts and feelings with will help ease your lonliness. Pets can give you common ground with others and open friendships. Cats are warm and sweet. Dogs are loyal and devoted and will love you no matter what.

Shelters are full of pets waiting for someone to love them and save their lives. Do a good thing and save a life today. Find some puppy love. Perhaps in the end the life you save will be your own.

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.

Gratitude

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

Flowering plant, Arches National Park, Utah, U.S.

Growing up you were probably taught to be grateful. We learn to say, “Thank you,” to “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” and to give thanks daily for our food and shelter. Showing gratitude is not only good manners, it makes you more likely to be socially acceptable so wonderful people will want to be friends with you. Virtually every religion teaches thankfulness.

Self-help gurus also teach us to be thankful. They suggest keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’ where you write down the things you are thankful for every day. Some suggest starting your day with at least three things you are thankful for so you can start your day happy and maintain your mood throughout the day.

Science has hopped on the band wagon and proven that grateful people are not only happier, they are healthier. I found the following facts in articles on Today.com and Forbes.com (paraphrased): Gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. The University of San Diego’s School of Medicine found people who are more grateful have better heart health (less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms). Universities in Utah and Kentucky observed optimistic students had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies. Having a gratitude journal can reduce dietary fat intake by as much as 25 percent and stress hormones like cortisol as much as 23 percent. Grateful people have more empathy, less aggression, and have strong psychological health. Daily gratitude practice could reduce the effects of aging to the brain.

I know personally that being grateful makes me feel better as a human being. I hadn’t realized it helped my health. Like most people, I have good and bad days. Keeping a gratitude journal can train the ungrateful to be more thankful, and teach those who are only appreciative part of the time, to learn to be grateful on a daily basis. I believe it is time to start my own gratitude journal and begin recording all the people and things I am thankful for in my life, including you Dear Reader. I recommend you do the same.

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.

Diabetes and Aging

HibiscusBy Renea Dennison, Contributor

Diabetes is a growing problem in the U.S., especially among older adults. 25% of Americans over 60 have diabetes. I find this number staggering.

Diabetes is basically a shortage of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. It turns glucose (the food you eat turned into sugar) into energy in your cells. Without insulin our bodies build up glucose in our sytems which ultimately damages our heart, kidnes, eyes and even our feet. Diabetes can be controlled with diet, exercise and medication. Left on its own, diabetes kills.

The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 (you produce little or no insulin) and Type 2 (you produce insulin, but not enough). As we age, our risk for diabetes increases. And for those with Type 2, the risk to become Type 1 increases.

Older people are more susceptible to the ravages of diabetes because aging causes other issues. Uncontrolled diabetes can do even more harm. Your organs may already be worn to some extent, and older people tend to be slower to heal. The elderly are often subject to lonliness and depression so less likely to make sure they eat healthy foods and follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise may be difficult due to other health issues or functional impairments. Sometimes, they forget their medications which only compounds an already trying situation.

Like most other health issues, the key to fighting this disease involves a healthy lifestyle:

  • Stay active and exercise.
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stop smoking
  • Take your medications as directed
  • If you have been diagnosed, monitor your blood sugar closely.

Though the figures are staggering, the good news is that we do have control here. We can control the amount of sugar we eat. We can control the amount of exercise we get. We can control our smoking, our medications, and monitor our blood sugars if already diagnosed. A positive note for the future is the changing research regarding sugar in the western diet. For decades Americans have favored low fat high sugar foods. New research has implicated sugar as the force behind rising obesity and diabetes among Americans. Let’s get back to more natural, less sugary foods and a more active lifestyle. We can reverse the current diabetes trend. Let’s start today.

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.

Fall Prevention

By Renea Dennison, Contributor

Sun lighting the wayWhen we were toddlers we could fall often and usually with little damage. The ground was close and our bodies pliable. As we grow older, our bodies become less and less able to handle the impact of slamming into the floor. In addition, recovery involves more than just a kiss on the knee.

Unfortunately, the changes brought by growing older make the liklihood of falling greater. Here are some reasons why:

  • Physical changes – some may find, especially those who become more inactive, their steps become shorter, they are becoming less flexible, and they may have balance and coordination issues.
  • Medications – sometimes the prescriptions and other drugs we take can cause dizziness, dehydration or interact with each other.
  • Vision – eyes receive less light so we are more likely to miss seeing some of the hazards and obstacles that can trip us up.
  • Physical conditions – illness and chronic conditions may increase your risk of falling due to medications or loss of function.

To add to this conundrum, most older people who fall will find themselves falling again. And again. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of falling.

  • Talk to your doctor – they can access your risk factors and suggest help if you need it.
  • Talk to your loved ones – they may be able to adjust your living space to make it safer by adding lighting, stair rails, shower chairs, etc.
  • Get an eye exam – make sure your vision and any prescription glasses are best suited for you.
  • Take your medications correctly – set a timer if you have to but take your medications on time and in the right amounts. This may be another area your loved ones can help.
  • Take care of yourself generally – eat healthy (and avoid unhealthy) foods, drink plenty of water, stay physically active as much as possible, and keep your social connections up to date as well as making new ones. I’m not suggesting you try to run a marathon here, but joining a Tai Chi or Yoga class can make a huge difference in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, how many friends you can make, and the difference it can make in your fall rate.

Falling can be more than painful. For some it can lead to long term health issues; others may never recover. You are in charge of your life so take charge and stop falling. In other words, be a stand up person.

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.

Nightmare

NIGHTMARE ON “MEDICARE” STREET

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By Bob Evenson, Contributor

One word can make you cringe. One word can make you scared! One word can make you frightened…is that word “Halloween”? No, that word is MEDICARE! Yes, Medicare insurance will bring out fear and cause anxiety for many people. It can be complicated and difficult to understand. It can be scary and intimidating, but should bring peace of mind when it is needed most.

This fall offers another annual election period for Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) and Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plans). Do not be afraid to understand your Medicare insurance options! With the assistance of a trained and certified insurance agent, Medicare can be less frightening and understandable.

The annual election period for Medicare Part C and Medicare Part D is from October 15, 2017 through December 07, 2017. Due to regulatory and industry changes, annual reviews are necessary to maintain an affordable and effective health insurance plan. Insurance contracts have annual rate and benefit updates. The provider and pharmacy networks can change as well as the prescription drug list or formulary. The worse time to learn about these changes is after you have incurred a claim.

This Halloween, conquer your fear of Medicare by working with a trained insurance professional at Century Health Solutions. Our staff will take the time to explain your coverage options and the plans available to meet your needs and fit your budget. After enrollment, we continue to answer your questions or assist you with claims. With our services and support, having Medicare does not have to be a scary experience!

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka, and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars to the community. We are your local expert in Medicare planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation.

FREE MEDICARE EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS

Upcoming seminars are held at Cotton O’Neil 823 Mulvane, the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center at 929 Mulvane, or Cotton O’Neil North Clinic at 4505 NW Fielding Rd in Topeka.

10/19/17       2:00 p.m.         929 Mulvane

10/31/17       2:00 p.m.         929 Mulvane

11/02/17       2:00 p.m.         929 Mulvane

11/07/17       6:30 p.m.         4505 NW Fielding Rd

11/09/17       2:00 p.m.         929 Mulvane

11/14/17       2:00 p.m.        929 Mulvane

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.

You may also go to http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Shingles

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By Renea Dennison, Contributor

A couple of months ago I found myself at Urgent Care seeking help for some serious abdominal pain. Over the next few days I underwent several tests and took medication, but received no relief. We were totally clueless as to what could be happening, even after a CAT scan, until the dreaded rash began to appear on my back and side nearly a week into my illness. I had shingles. It presented itself as another illness, and worked its way to the surface until it finally appeared as a rash.

When diagnosed, I was in complete shock. You see, I did not have Chicken Pox as a child. One of my children has managed to avoid it too. I assumed we were naturally immune and the shingles vaccine was unnecessary. I was wrong. Apparently you can still be a carrier, and carriers can get shingles.

One out of three people over the age of 60 will get shingles, and 50% will experience it by age 80. Worse, you can have it more than once. Shingles is a painful, itchy and burning rash that can cover a large portion of your body. You can also get it on your face or other areas, and if it gets near your eyes it can be quite dangerous.

Many people don’t realize that while you are in a blister breakout, you are contagious. That is, you can give the Chicken Pox to others who have not had it or the vaccine so you must stay quarantined until all your blisters have opened and stopped seeping. Quarantine is no fun, though less unpleasant than the rash.

Your doctor can give you anti-viral, nerve, and perhaps pain prescriptions. Even with these the illness will last 2-4 weeks and perhaps even longer. The only other thing I found for relief was ice packs and cool showers. Ointments and lotions did not help.

Believe me, this is something you want to avoid. Because you can have them over and over again, I will get the vaccine soon. I understand it’s possible to still get shingles even after you have received the vaccine, but if you do your illness is significantly less severe. So if your doctor has told you it’s time for you to get the shingles vaccine, do so. Take it from me, do it soon! Don’t wait!

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.