Tag Archives: education

National Liver Awareness Month

National Liver Awareness Month

October is National Liver Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to learn more about liver disease and cancer.

Inflammation is an early sign of liver disease that points to the body fighting an infection or healing. Treatment at this stage can prevent worse problems.

Liver cancer is one of the deadliest kinds of cancer, and it’s one of the only cancers that’s on the rise. Hepatitis B or C virus (HBV or HCV) infections are the most common cause of liver cancer.

Fighting Hepatitis B and C Infections in the Liver

 

Liver cirrhosis has been tied to liver disease, cancer, and failure. Cirrhosis is when liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue. It’s most often caused by alcohol abuse or HBV and HCV infections.

Causes of Liver Cirrhosis

 

Another cause of cirrhosis that damages the liver is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is when fat builds up in the liver. Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure and cholesterol can all cause this issue.

Obesity-Related Diseases and Your Liver

 

If not properly treated, liver disease can lead to liver failure, which is life-threatening. Doctors have to try to save what they can of the liver, or else a liver transplant would be required.  

The Dangers of Liver Failure

 

Unfortunately, there’s no standard screening to catch liver cancer early, although for people at higher risk, doctors sometimes use ultrasound exams.

Diagnosis: Liver Cancer

 

Learn more about liver issues, find support, or help further research and treatment.

Make a Difference in Liver Health for All

National Depression Education & Awareness Month

National Depression Education & Awareness Month

It’s National Depression Education & Awareness Month, and depression affects over 19 million people in the U.S.

There are several types of depression, but the most common one is major depression. Symptoms of major depression stop you from enjoying your daily life for at least 2 weeks straight.

Major Depression

 

Postpartum depression affects mothers after giving birth and can make it difficult to bond with or even care for their new babies.

Postpartum Depression

 

Seasonal affective disorder is a common kind of depression where your mood is affected by the changes in the seasons, and the colder months of the year drain you of energy.

Fighting SAD

 

Depression can be caused by genetics, trauma, stress, brain structure, brain chemistry, substance abuse, and even other conditions like sleep issues, ADHD, and chronic pain.

Reasons for Depression

 

While symptoms can vary, adults suffering from depression usually feel overwhelmed with sadness. Children and teens are more likely to be irritable. Women also tend to note anxiety, while men report aggression.

The Differences in Depression Symptom

 

80 to 90% of those who seek depression treatment will get the help they need. Antidepressants are a powerful treatment, and there are more treatment options than ever, from therapy to meditation and yoga.

How Treatment Can Help Depression

 

Depression is tied to a higher risk of suicidal behavior. If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to talk to a doctor.

If you need to talk to someone immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Getting Help for Suicidal Thoughts

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Millions struggle with substance abuse, including underage drinking, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug use. It costs our communities an estimated $193 billion. Learn more with us for National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Caring adults that children can trust and talk to can make all the difference in helping prevent substance abuse in young people. Support the young people in your life.

Supportive Adults and Substance Abuse

 

Self-confidence, self-image, and self-control are all key qualities that can help individuals avoid substance abuse, especially in young people.

Self-Confidence and Substance Abuse

 

Being comfortable in social situations can help you avoid substance abuse too. Having the confidence and ability to tell people no, avoid peer pressure, and make responsible choices in social situations is very important to never trying drugs or abusing alcohol.

Making Smart Social Choices

 

Don’t become isolated. Make sure you build a community of support for all things in your life. Not only is this an important factor in reducing symptoms of depression, but it’s also a key factor in preventing substance abuse.

Build Community to Prevent Substance Abuse

 

Some people may be predisposed toward substance abuse based on genetics and heredity. Know your family’s history and keep this in mind when talking to your doctor about prescriptions and making personal choices around substances like alcohol.

Family History and Substance Abuse

 

Opioid use is on the rise, and back pain is a leading cause of it. Learn more about avoiding substance abuse while treating your pain.

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

Making Sense of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement

Vantage Point: Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage? What’s the Difference?

Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or family member where you were both thinking that you’re talking about the same thing, but then you realize (usually after much confusion and the conversation has drifted a bit), that you’re in fact not talking about the same thing?

The conversation comes to the point where you find that you’re talking about two different things, an “apples and oranges” conversation.

I think that there are a lot of “apples and oranges” conversations when it comes to what Medicare Supplement and  Medicare Advantage plans are. We’re talking about insurance with both, but they are different things.

Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, work with Original Medicare, which is Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage. They help pay for all or part of the 20% that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for, depending on what plan you choose. Medicare Supplement plans do not include prescription drug coverage, so if you want that, you’ll have to pick up a prescription drug plan separately.

Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, are plans where a private insurance company replaces Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans have the same Part A hospital coverage and Part B medical coverage that you’d get with Original Medicare. (Remember, you’d still pay your Part B premium if you get a Medicare Advantage plan.) Plus, Part D prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans. That means you’d have hospital, medical, and drug coverage together in one plan. Medicare Advantage plans may come with extras as well.

Now that the Annual Enrollment Period is here, you’ll be better equipped to have the “apples and oranges” conversations if they come up. If you still want more direction when it comes to your options, there’s a great local service available called SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors). SHIBA is a free service of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Consumer Protection Division and can be reached at 509-902-1114 or 1-800-562-6900  It has great volunteers who can help you.

You can also come into our local office in Creekside Business Park, and we can go over anything you’re confused about in person, bit by bit.

We at Health Alliance Northwest in Yakima are here to help our community learn what the various parts of Medicare are to help each person make informed decisions that are the best for them. (The best choice might not be us, and we’re okay with that!)    

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Helping Your Loved Ones with Advance Directives

Long View: Helping Your Loved Ones Even After You’re Gone

I have been very self-directed for quite some time, which is one of the reasons I recently got all my advance directives in place. It took some education and investigation, but I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made. I was relieved to be done with it until a longtime friend asked, “Hey, what about your obituary?”

Ok then. It took some consideration, but I started to realize it was my opportunity to share what was important in my life — the special people I have known and loved and what I was passionate about. Maybe everyone didn’t know my favorite color was orange but might think it’s okay if they found out after the fact.

This was also my opportunity to suggest where donations, if any, should go and why I felt a particular charity warranted their attention. Many of you can guess it would be food-focused in nature.

I would also get to share all the places I have lived, including Mobile, AL, Eugene, OR, and Perth, Western Australia, among others. Listing these remote locations would make it seem that I was slightly more fascinating in life than most people would have suspected.

I also made arrangements to have my earthly remains (ashes) sent to family in Mobile to be scattered into the Gulf of Mexico, which is close to the place where I was born. I understand there may be laws that prohibit this activity, but my family is resourceful and will honor my wishes I am sure.

In short, I am comforted to know that my wishes will be known and respected after I am no longer concerned with such issues. These types of directives are most useful to those we leave behind. Relieving a little of the burden from your loved ones is probably one of the kindest actions you can take now. All it takes is a little planning, information, and forethought.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. He is known for his inability to parallel park, and if you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange (and he paints!)

Changing with the Seasons for AEP

Covered Bridge: It’s That Time Again: AEP

There is a lot of publicity to remind folks to check their smoke detector batteries when daylight saving time is over. It makes sense to tie that chore to something that occurs on a regular basis (why not Valentine’s Day?), but I almost always forget to do it.

It seems there are always other more pressing duties on the to-do list, like finishing up in the yard, switching out those summer clothes, or putting up the storm windows (if you are unlucky enough to still have storm windows).

Another reminder comes along this time of year. Medicare-eligible individuals’ mailboxes are bombarded with mail for the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). While it can be annoying and overwhelming, it’s incredibly important for them to review their healthcare coverage every year to see if their current plan still meets their needs. The days of one-size-fits-all are over.

If you are a caregiver, a change in your loved one’s situation may indicate the need for different coverage. Have they started traveling more? Less? Have their medication needs changed, like new prescriptions or treatments for a chronic illness? Did their primary care provider retire or relocate? Did their current plan change, and does it still suit their needs? It’s time to explore their options.

We know you are busy, so let’s look at a few resources.

A great one is Medicare.gov. This site is easy to navigate and packed with information. You can check the plan’s Star Rating while you’re at it.

Another great resource is your state’s Department on Aging. It offers impartial counseling services for people who are Medicare-eligible.

Your local Area Agency on Aging is a gold mine. Find one near you at n4a.org.

HealthAllianceMedicare.org is also easy to navigate and gives a nice overview of the options we offer in your county.  

The AEP for 2019 is October 15 through December 7. The sooner you review your needs and gather information, the better equipped you will be to make an informed choice. When you’re done, you can move onto something really important, like cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen (like that’s going to happen).

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Avoid Food Waste

Tips to Fight Food Waste

We now produce enough food for everyone in the world, but 1 in 3 of those food calories are wasted – enough to feed 10 times the population of the United States.

This week in food, learn more about how you can do your part to fight food waste.

The Problem with Food Waste

 

Before you meal plan, take inventory of what you already have at home, especially fresh produce. Make your meal plan around the ingredients you already have to avoid wasting any of them.

Smart Meal Planning

 

Make smart choices at the store. Don’t buy a lot of something just because it’s on sale unless you’re sure you’ll use it all.

Shopping to Avoid Food Waste

 

Learn about how to store your produce the right way for that particular item to make it last as long as possible.

Food Storage Done Right

Keeping Things Fresh

 

One spot or bruise doesn’t mean the whole fruit or veggie is ruined. You can cut off the bad spot and still use the rest in many cases.

Cook without Waste

 

Use your scraps, like carrot peelings, onion skins, and tops of celery to make homemade veggie stock, chicken bones or meat scraps for meat stocks and broth, or start a compost to put waste to good use in your garden.

Using All of your Ingredients

 

Make the most of your freezer. Freeze leftover fruits and veggies, soups, and even some meals to use later in a hurry for smoothies, dinners, and more.

Make the Most of Frozen Ingredients