Tag Archives: Seniors

Care for Pets in Holidays and Hard Times

Vantage Point: Fur Babies

November, where did you come from? I swear it was just yesterday that I was stressing out about what I was going to buy to contribute for Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Full disclosure, I’m not a very good cook.

During the holidays, most of us get lists ready of everything we would like to accomplish before the festivities begin. Along with those lists, we still have to do our daily tasks, like taking care of our families and our pets. These four-legged children are a part of our families, and we want them to feel loved during the holidays and for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, the holidays mean a stressful financial burden for many people. It never fails that life happens and that bad situations happen all at once. When dealing with your four-legged children, they might need some care during this busy season and cause extra expenses you are not expecting. Thankfully, our community has different resources to help support those unexpected situations.

The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society has many programs that can assist during the difficult times. One of the programs they offer is Pets for Life, which has the intent of “keeping people and pets together during the times they need each other most.”

This program can help board pets without cost if the owner can’t afford to do so. Typically, our seniors use this program when they need to be admitted for inpatient care and don’t have anybody to watch over their pets. Pets for Life can also help with the financial burden if your pet needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian, and it can also help supply food for your pets.

Another wonderful program the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society offers is a low-cost spay and neuter program to help low-income citizens spay or neuter their pets at a very low cost. If you or anybody you know could use these services, call the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society at 509-662-9577 or stop by.

Knowing that we have such an amazing place that can help with our pets offers peace of mind to get geared up for our busy season. The holidays are intended to be full of love and joy and spent with everyone you care about. This includes our pets, and thanks to the assistance of this organization, we can feel comfortable that our pets will be by our side.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Hunger Action Month

Hunger Action Month

It’s Hunger Action Month, and in 2018, 40 million Americans are dealing with hunger. 12 million of those are children, and more than 5 million are seniors. Help make a difference.

Americans and Food Safety

 

1 in 6 kids in America don’t always know where they’ll get their next meal. Free breakfast and lunch programs at school can make a huge difference in their lives.

 

The Importance of School Meals

 

Children facing hunger are more likely to struggle in school, repeat a grade, have developmental impairments, have social and behavior problems, or have health conditions.

Kids and Hunger

 

Some senior citizens are having to choose between medical care and food because of costs. Those struggling with hunger are also more likely to have chronic health conditions.

2.4 million people who live in rural communities face hunger and food deserts, and 86% of the counties with the highest rates of children facing hunger are rural.

Rural Food Deserts

 

Three-quarters of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in rural areas, and mobile pantries that distribute food are one of the best ways to help.

Improving Food Insecurity

 

Those dealing with hunger and food insecurity also struggle to get enough food to support a healthy life and are more likely to spend money on heavily processed foods based on cost and convenience.

Healthy Food = Healthy Life

Cataract Awareness Month

Cataract Awareness Month

June is Cataract Awareness Month, and you can learn more about them with us. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S.

Cataracts, which are clouding of the lens of the eye that prevents light passing through, affect 24 million Americans over the age of 40.

Catching Cataracts

 

Cataracts are often simple to treat with cataract surgery where a surgeon removes the lens and replaces it with an artificial lens.

Cataract Surgery

 

3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year, making it one of the most common surgeries in the U.S. The whole outpatient procedure only lasts about 20 minutes and has a 95% success rate.

Cataract Treatment

 

A healthy lifestyle can help slow the progression of cataracts. Avoid smoking and exposure to UV rays and eat healthy foods to help prevent them.

Preventing Cataracts with Lifestyle

 

While cataracts normally affect seniors, heredity, disease, eye injuries, and even smoking can cause them in younger people.

Cataracts in Young People

 

Wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injuries and sunglasses or glasses with UV protection in the sun can help you avoid cataracts.

Protecting Your Eyes from Cataracts

Making Holiday Memories Together

Vantage Point: Making Precious Holiday Memories

Holiday memories can be such a precious thing for so many people. I have fun and fond memories of numerous holiday eves and mornings with my family. When I was growing up, the night before a holiday consisted of sharing the holiday evening at a relative’s house, surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and maybe other family members, if they were able to attend.

When a holiday eve memory conversation starts up, we still to this day like to remind our parents how us 2 older kids (my cousin and myself) were always last to open presents, and how much we objected to that rule.

My holiday memories, however, are an ‘80s throwback when I recall them. I would often wake up before my parents (Hello! What kid didn’t do that!?), and spy on all my presents. I would then run into their room and wake them up, bursting with anticipation because I couldn’t wait to open my presents. This gleeful anticipation then turned into longing as I waited for my dad to put together “The Camera.”

“The Camera” was the typical, large and in charge, RCA camera of the ‘80s. We are talking VHS recording here. It often reminded me of a news camera, complete with the giant, blinding light. It seemed like it would take my dad literally forever to set this up in order to film my holiday morning memories.

My mother would finally call my name, after waiting what seemed like forever, and I had to play it like I had just woken up to a holiday present wonderland. (And like the camera had been placed there, all put together, from Santa himself…) So not only did I get to open presents (Finally!), but I also got this great memory of the most ‘80s camera, which we still laugh about.

Memories are so individualized to us, and not everyone has the same experience. This time of year, it’s important to look out for those who need a helping hand when resources may be tight and food insecurity is high.

There are food programs available in the area for seniors here in the Yakima Valley, such as Meals on Wheels. They have many site locations throughout the Valley. You can help give the gift of great holiday memories.

The holidays make me want to share my memories of holiday fun with family, snow, presents, and a large camera with a bright, white light that could probably land planes in our living room if we tried. I know that it’s a rather odd and really random memory, but it’s my family’s, and I still giggle over it to this day.

Now that I have kids, I hope that their memories are as fun and silly and original as mine, and that they look back on them with fondness. What fun holiday memories have you made or would like to make in the future?

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

A Healthy A1C Level

Long View: What Does A1C Mean to Me?

Our community liaison team has never met a health fair or expo they didn’t love! Health fairs and expos are great places to learn about the abundance of services available in our communities to support seniors and their families.

With brightly colored, free shopping bags in hand, visitors gather pens, lip balms, and hand sanitizers, along with informational brochures and contact information for everything from beautiful, new living communities to financial planning. I’ve never seen so many butterscotch hard candies in one place since my grandmother’s candy dish in the 1970s.

Many health fairs and expos offer free checkups for various parts of your body and health. Participants aren’t the only ones taking advantage of a little free TLC. So far this summer, I’ve had the kinks rubbed out of my neck, the skin on my face analyzed for sun damage, and my blood pressure checked.

But one of the most interesting tests I’ve done recently came from my friends at Memorial Hospital in Carthage, IL. They measured my A1C level.

“What is A1C?” I asked, with a donut in one hand and a cup of coffee with cream in the other.

A1C is the measurement of the average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months, they told me. “Oh no,” I said. “I can’t get that done today. I’m eating a donut!”

The kind nurses assured me to sit down and relax. No fasting is required. In the blink of an eye, my finger was (painlessly) pricked, and a small amount of my blood slipped into a tiny little tube. The tube took a 5-minute spin in the centrifuge, and bingo, my A1C for the past 3 months is…. I’ll keep you in suspense until the end.

The National Diabetes Education Initiative recommends that diabetics have the A1C measurement taken at least twice a year. Everyone else should measure A1C once every 3 years. The nurses from Carthage recommended that most people should have measurements below 5.7%, since measurements between 5.7 and 6.4% indicate a greater risk for becoming diabetic.

The daily measurement of glucose levels is very important for diabetics who need to keep their levels within healthy ranges. Knowing your 2- to 3-month average can help you determine your overall glucose health, which in turn can help you make healthy choices throughout each day, like about sleeping, playing, working, eating, and more.

And if you don’t have diabetes, knowing if you have a higher than average A1C level can be a valuable piece of information to help you make healthy changes to curb your chances of getting diabetes at some point in your life.

Those who are already diabetic should strive to lower their A1C to at least 7% when possible. This could be a struggle for those who suffer from the disease, but the research points toward a much lower risk of developing diabetic complications like eye, heart, and kidney disease the closer you can get to 7%.

To tell you the truth, waiting for my blood to spin around for those 5 minutes in the centrifuge had me sweating a little. This could be the year my chickens come home to roost. I’ll be having one of those special birthdays next year where everyone wears black. I’m not exactly the healthiest eater. Leggings and stretchy-fabric pants have become my best friends.

This A1C measurement was an important wake-up call for me. The good news is that I measured well below 5.7%.

While I could have spiked the football, declared myself invincible, and grabbed a second donut, I didn’t. I decided to really pay attention to this information and be grateful for my health today, maybe take an extra walk around the block every week. Next year, I’m setting my sights on something in the high 4s.

Pass the kale.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Safe Bathroom Play

National Bath Safety Month

January is National Bath Safety Month. Bath safety for kids and seniors is key.

Never leave children under 4 years old alone in the tub. Accidents can happen in an instant.

Protecting Little Ones at Bath Time

 

Always wait until the tub is finished filling before putting your child in because the temperature can change as it fills.

Safe Bath Temps

 

Beware of sharp edges, especially with kids. Use a rubber cover for the faucet and avoid hard bath toys.

Bathrooms are one of the places seniors suffer the worst falls. Prevent them with no-slip strips or mats in the bottom of your shower.

No Slipping in the Shower

 

Install safety handles in the tub or shower and by the toilet to make getting up and down easier.

Simple Bath Safety Hacks

 

Keep a no-slip rug or bathmat beside the bathtub or shower to avoid falls.

Preventing Slips

 

Vision issues increase your fall risk, so make sure you have bright lighting that’s easy to reach.

Bright, Safe Bathrooms

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Fight Caregiver Fatigue

Long View: Nobody Is an Island – Recognizing and Addressing Caregiver Fatigue

The holidays are supposed to be a time for family gatherings, parties, traveling, and opportunities to laugh and relax with the ones you love. For some, though, the holidays have different associations, like stress, anxiety, and isolation.

Caregivers can often feel stressed during the holiday season. While others are enjoying this time of year, caregivers may feel isolated as they focus on the care of a loved one. Caregivers selflessly provide around-the-clock, unpaid care to seniors and people with disabilities. They are tasked with accompanying their loved one to medical appointments, managing their medications, and handling their financial affairs, all while balancing their own obligations.

Caregivers also often overlook their own mental, emotional, and physical health. As a result, they can feel a sense of isolation, like they’re alone on an island. This feeling is called caregiver fatigue.

Mitchell Forrest, a social worker at Central Illinois Agency on Aging in Peoria, provided insight into caregiver fatigue. “Caregivers who feel a sense of hopelessness, are socially withdrawn, not sleeping, and experiencing illness and weight loss, may be suffering from caregiver fatigue and should seek out supports to help them manage their stress,” he said.

If left untreated, caregiver fatigue can take such a physical and mental toll that they can no longer care for their loved one.

But caregivers can find a network of encouragement through support groups. National organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association, offer local support groups for caregivers of people with different diagnoses.

Respite services can be another vital resource. For a fee, nursing homes and adult day services offer a safe, supportive environment where the loved one will be in trusted hands for a few hours or longer, so the caregiver can rest. In-home personal aides can also provide additional assistance to the caregiver.

While no resource is a remedy for the anxiety of caring for a sick loved one, caregivers should know that they are not alone. Talking to someone is invaluable, and there are many counselors who specialize in the needs of caregivers.

Area Agencies on Aging offer resources and referrals to support seniors, people with disabilities, and their caregivers. If you feel alone on the island, send a signal and help will find you.

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, Blackhawks, and White Sox).