It’s officially time for summer fun, which means lots of outdoor activities. But it’s important to protect yourself in the summer heat.
In 2014, 244 people died in the U.S. from excessive heat exposure, and these problems are avoidable.
You can help yourself avoid heat-related illnesses by drinking more liquid than you think you need and avoiding alcohol.
Wear loose, lightweight clothing, hats, and plenty of sunscreen on any exposed skin. Sunburns affect your ability to cool down.
If you’re sweating a lot, replace lost salt and electrolytes by drinking juice or sports drinks.
Avoid spending time outside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the hottest part of the day, and try not to over-exert yourself.
Babies, the elderly, pets, those with heart problems, and people who exercise or work outside are at the highest risk of heat-related issues.
If you think someone is experiencing heat exhaustion or cramps, move them to the shade or AC, give them water, use wet towels to cool them down, and if you’re worried or symptoms don’t ease, call 911.
A beloved family member is aging rather rapidly, not that we’d mention it of course. He already has arthritis in both knees and his left hand. His vision is not as good as it used to be, and we notice his agility just isn’t there anymore.
The problem is that his home has incredibly steep stairs, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are on the second floor. The furnace is in the cellar, which is only accessible through heavy metal doors and down another steep flight of stairs. And of course, the front door has stairs, too. The bathroom needs a lot of work. There’s no shower, just a huge slippery clawfoot tub. Home modification would be great, but a hundred-year-old house will always have its challenges.
These days, some builders are making structures with Universal Design, which focuses on providing maximum accessibility, regardless of a person’s ability to maneuver. Wider doorways, flat thresholds, and grab bars are a few of the tools that can make a home or commercial building more convenient for all of us.
My friend Therese Cardosi is the executive director of the Options Center for Independent Living in Bourbonnais. The mission of these centers (there’s also a location in Watseka) is to provide services, support, and advocacy to enhance the rights and abilities of people with disabilities in order to help them more actively participate in their communities and live self-determined independent lives.
“We are all in the process of creating the future for ourselves and our children, “ Therese said. “We don’t know what that future will bring, but we can predict that many of us will eventually need accessible places to live. The statistical projections are staggering.”
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s mission is to “build the capacity of our members so they can help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.”
Sadly, their many services can’t make up for a home that doesn’t accommodate someone with limited mobility or sensory loss. For those of you who haven’t figured it out, I am the “beloved family member” mentioned at the beginning.
There seems to be some movement in the right direction, but will it be enough or fast enough to support the statistical crush of the Baby Boomers? Probably not, but at least some folks are starting the conversation, and I want to be a part of it.
Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.
An excerpt from North Central Washington Museum’s “The History of a Thriving Anomaly” describes how the local community thought the Wenatchee Valley Clinic, which opened on April Fools’ Day 1940, wouldn’t last 6 months. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
The tiny clinic was founded by a surgeon, Albert Donald Haug, a radiologist, Lloyd Smith, and an internist with a knack for keeping patients happy, Lumir Martin Mares, and it brought together specialists at a time when most doctors worked alone.
Haug and Mares believed that their little clinic could meet the same standards as those in the East, and they brought together a range of specialists and cutting-edge equipment and training to become the second-largest clinic in the region.
“We knew it would grow,” Dr. Smith said, “but none of us had any idea it would grow to what it is now.”
The clinic brought together its doctors then, and it brings together patients and doctors now. Because of their dream, its nearly 170 doctors treat people from around the world today.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy decided that every May, we would honor older Americans and their contributions to our communities and country. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” celebrates older adults who are taking charge of their health, engaging in their communities, and positively impacting the lives of others, just like Wenatchee Valley Clinic’s remarkable founders.
Health Alliance will honor older Americans this month by partnering with Confluence Health to hold an educational event about the treatment and prevention of hypertension and strokes on May 25 and by teaming up with community agencies and businesses in planning the 3rd annual senior-focused health fair at Pybus Public Market on June 4.
Health insurance can be challenging, but as I think about those trailblazing doctors, I remember that hard work, progressive thinking, and the camaraderie of partners like you can help turn the dream of making a positive impact through quality care within this wonderful place we all live a reality.
Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.
There are few things more exciting in this world than the arrival of a grandchild. The anticipation to see if the baby has your son’s eyes, the enjoyment of picking out all of those adorable baby clothes, and those precious weekends at grandmas!
New grandparents should also remember the importance of protecting their grandchild from preventable illnesses by understanding vaccines. Vaccines are not just important for the newborn, but also for you.
- Vaccines Are Safe and Effective
The medical community is in agreement that vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause serious harm to children. Vaccines are the single most important method to prevent diseases like polio, whooping cough, and the measles. Vaccines go through rigorous testing, and children are far more likely to be harmed by illnesses, like whooping cough and the flu, than by the vaccine itself. The World Health Organization has a useful website debunking myths about vaccines.
- Whooping Cough’s On the Rise
Do you think whooping cough is an extinct illness from your childhood? Sadly, because people haven’t been vaccinating their kids, illnesses that were once very rare thanks to high vaccination rates are now reappearing. Whooping cough (pertussis) is one illness that is especially dangerous to newborns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2014, there were 32,971 reported cases of whooping cough, a 15% increase compared to 2013!
- Time for a Booster?
You may be thinking, “Wait! I was already vaccinated against whooping cough when I was a child.” But the CDC recommends you get a Tdap shot, the vaccine that protects against whooping cough, every 10 years or if you’re 65 or older and in close contact with infants. Don’t forget about your annual flu shot either.
Dr. John Beck, Health Alliance vice president and senior medical director, puts the importance of vaccines into perspective. “Most adults were vaccinated as children against pertussis, but protection wears off over time. Babies are able to catch pertussis from family members, including grandparents, who may not know they have it. Grandparents should consider getting a Tdap booster after discussion with their physician,” he said.
Don’t forget to take steps to protect the health of you and your grandbaby. Making precious memories with your new grandchild will be more enjoyable with that peace of mind.
Chris Maxeiner is a community liaison with Health Alliance. His background is in the fields of healthcare and government programs. His favorite superhero is Batman, and he is an avid Chicago sports fan (Bears, Bulls, and White Sox).
This month is Glaucoma Awareness Month, which is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the U.S.
Glaucoma affects more than 3 million in the U.S., and the National Eye Institute expects that to increase by 58% by 2030.
Glaucoma typically has no symptoms, and once your sight is gone, it’s permanent.
As much as 40% of your vision can be lost without you noticing as your optic nerve is damaged.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but medication or surgery can slow or stop vision loss.
Those over 60, of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent, diabetics, and the severely nearsighted are at risk for glaucoma.
Early detection through regular eye exams is key to protecting your sight from glaucoma.