Medical News

Flu Season is here, Your Best Shot is the Flu Shot

With fall approaching, it is a sure bet that cold and flu season will soon follow bringing the risk of flu illness. Some people will only be mildly sick or miserable for a few days, but for some, flu can be very serious and may even result in hospitalization or death.  Flu shots are highly recommended for Seniors 65 and older.

Flu viruses infect the nose, throat, and lungs and can cause a wide range of complications. Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu. Pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either flu virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis), and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Flu virus infection can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Over the past six flu seasons, the U.S. has experienced several flu seasons with high rates of hospitalization and severe disease.

Flu vaccination can help keep you from getting sick from flu. Protecting yourself from flu also protects the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. People at increased risk of flu complications include older adults, people with chronic medical conditions, and children younger than 6 months old.

CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. While the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, it is the best tool modern medicine currently has to prevent infection with influenza viruses. CDC estimates that for the 2015-2016 influenza season only about 45% of the population were vaccinated. Still, influenza vaccination prevented approximately 5.1 million influenza illnesses, 2.5 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 71,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations. CDC experts calculated that a 5 percentage point increase in vaccination rates could have prevented another 500,000 influenza illnesses, 230,000 influenza-associated medical visits, and 6,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations across the entire population.

We have stated above that flu illness can be serious and that flu vaccine can prevent illness. There are other misconceptions that discourage people from getting vaccinated. To clear those up:

  1. A flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was given, fever, and/or muscle aches. These side effects are NOT flu. If you do experience side effects, they are usually mild and short-lived, especially when compared to symptoms from a bad case of flu.
  2. Flu vaccines are among the safest medical products in use. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years. There has been extensive research supporting the safety of flu vaccines. CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor the safety of vaccines approved for use in the United States.

What vaccine to get this season:

CDC recommends use of injectable influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines) during 2017-2018. Similar to last season, the nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) is not recommended for the 2017-2018 flu season. Both trivalent (three-component) and quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines will be available. There is no preferential recommendation for any of the licensed and recommended vaccines this season.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop protection against flu. Take your best shot in the fight against flu! Protect yourself and your loved ones, and get a flu shot by the end of October, if possible.

If you have questions, talk to your doctor or other health care professional about the benefits of flu vaccination. Along with CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, and many other professional medical groups recommend an annual influenza vaccine. While there are many people who skip getting a flu vaccine, thinking that they do not work, or that the flu shot will give them the flu, there is a lot of research that disproves these misconceptions.

Source CDC

Top Health Benefits of Vitamin D

What exactly does vitamin D do for us and why should we be motivated to get enough of it? Luckily, 10-15 minutes in the sun each day can give us an ample dose, but sometimes, we don’t have time. According to an article by Health Remedies Journal, here are some of the top health benefits of vitamin D.

  • Lowers Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis
    Taking vitamins can prevent all different types of problems including a painful condition called rheumatoid arthritis. Eating organic eggs, mushrooms, and getting daily sunlight can help keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of getting this uncomfortable disease. As you age, your body really starts to need regular vitamin intakes because it will break down faster. If you take care of your health while you’re younger, you can avoid the onset of these painful conditions. Look at how much you’re supposed to get on a daily basis and, if it helps, keep a checklist of all the vitamins you get so you don’t forget. Because arthritis has the “-itis” suffix, it means it is an inflammatory disease and remember vitamin D is able to reduce the amounts of CRP which causes a lot of inflammation.
  • Boosts Your Immune System
    Vitamin D is another incredible, natural booster for our immune system. We rely on our immune system to protect us from a wide range of infections and bugs and, without it, we’d die. Vitamin D can boost immunity by providing immune cells with the energy they need to work efficiently.
  • Reduces Painful Inflammation
  • Inflammation is the root of some cancers!  The science shows that vitamin D helps lower the amount of C-reactive protein in your body which is responsible for painful inflammation. Abbreviated CRP, this compound is actually reduced by one third when you consume vitamin D. It’s great to know you can reduce your inflammation through getting a vitamin instead of taking a medication that has potentially harmful side effects and drug interactions.
  • Helps You Stay Mentally Alert and Emotionally Stable
    Even if you’re not struggling with a serious health problem, you may struggle with feeling mentally alert and keeping your emotional state positive. Most don’t realize how much of it has to do with the chemical processes in their body that can be regulated with a healthy diet and exercise. The older you get the more important this becomes. But, no matter what age you are, the healthier you Vitamin D helps your brain create positive neural connections that keep your mind sharp. This vitamin is known to help prevent Alzheimer’s as well.
  • Reduces Risk of Cancer
    Cancer is not a complete mystery anymore. We do know many of the reasons it develops and most of it comes from an unhealthy lifestyle (your body is constantly constipated, inflamed, or dehydrated). If you give yourself the proper nutrients, you greatly lower your risk of developing cancer. If you exercise regularly, you’ll allow those nutrients to do their jobs as well. Vitamin D can help reduce the growth of cancer cells and is an important part of the healing process of cancer.
  • Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
    If you are pre-diabetic, you should start making sure you get your full vitamin spectrum every day. Vitamin D helps to regulate insulin levels by helping your body secrete the chemical. Even if you are hyperglycemic, vitamin D will be helpful for you. If you want to avoid having to take insulin shots or medication, start getting your daily dose of sunshine.
  • Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
    Because the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, it’s extremely important to mention that Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. There are many different types of heart disease that can come on slowly with symptoms that are very hard to detect. Many people don’t even realize they have a problem until it’s too late. Science has proven that people who don’t get adequate vitamin D are at a higher risk for these life-threatening conditions. Remember, you can always combine a supplement to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and other nutrients if you don’t get a balanced diet. It’s always better to get nutrients in your food, but that’s what supplements are designed to make up for.
  • Helps Keep Your Bones Strong
    Many young people are known to live for the moment and eat what they love, not what they think is best for their health. This habit stays on as they age because it’s hard to make health food palatable once the taste buds are addicted to artificial flavors added to processed foods. The sooner you switch to a clean healthy diet, the stronger your bones will stay as you age. The healthier your diet, the lower your risk of developing painful and high risk conditions such as osteoporosis. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in the body, so get your vitamin D and calcium on a daily basis and put your mind at ease.

There are many other benefits to Vitamin D so ensure you are getting enough. It’s always better to get nutrients in your food, but if you’re not getting enough you can always add dietary supplements to make up for it.  Good nutrition plays a vital role for healthy living.

 

Therapy dogs can improve the quality of life for those who live alone

Having just adopted a cute little puppy (and possible therapy dog), I was inspired to share what I know about pets, especially dogs, assisting those who are mostly immobile or homebound. Not everyone of course enjoys animals, but for those that do…

Therapy Dogs’ owners are dedicated to providing services to individuals living at home through “Home Visit Programs”. The goal is to help people in need maintain and enhance the best possible level of independent living.

Whether a hospice patient, an aging patient or a disabled individual, Dog Therapy Associations hope to improve their quality of life by bringing Therapy Dogs to their homes where they feel most comfortable. Often, the dogs add a sense of normalcy. Their visits help people feel as if their lives are a little better and at times, more complete. Life may seem more manageable, especially to one who has to stay in bed, if they spend some time with Therapy Dogs. The visits help to promote healing because the patient is able touch and pet the dog. This allows them to feel like everyone else and their happiness and contentment helps them to do better.

Families are often the primary caregivers for a person who requires care at home. While the dogs are visiting, the caregiver has some time to rest or do necessary chores as the dog provides the love and companionship to the patient.

Studies have proven that human or animal touch, hugs and love go far to improve the quality of life for those who live alone, whether a spouse has passed on or one has remained single over the years.

A number of condo associations state a policy of no pets allowed. But by law, a “Service Dog” is allowed everywhere! There is a difference between a “Therapy Dog” and a “Service Dog”. But a dog can be both! If you would like more information on Therapy Dogs, please visit “TDI”, “Therapy Dogs International”

Just an additional note: This is Maddie, a potential Therapy Dog in some future day. She first has to stop chewing furniture and learn puppy dog kisses on command only! She is 7 weeks old.

How Cardiac Rehabilitation Can Help Heal Your Heart

If you have a heart attack or other heart problem, cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is an important part of your recovery. Cardiac rehab can help prevent another, perhaps more serious, heart attack and can help you build heart-healthy habits. Learn more about who needs cardiac rehab and how it can help your recovery.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehab is a program for someone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care.

Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes physical activity, education about healthy living, including healthy eating, and counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health.  You may seek assistance from your health care team, which includes exercise and nutrition specialists, physical therapists, and counselors or mental health professionals.  These may be in hospital or in-home services depending on the patients needs.

Who needs cardiac rehabilitation?

Anyone who has had a heart problem, such as a heart attack, heart failure, or heart surgery, can benefit from cardiac rehab. Studies have found that cardiac rehab helps men and women, people of all ages, and people with mild, moderate, and severe heart problems.

But certain people are less likely to go to or finish a cardiac rehab program. These include:

  • Women. Studies show that women, especially minority women, are less likely than men to go to or complete a cardiac rehab program.  This may be because doctors may be less likely to suggest cardiac rehab to women.
  • Older adults. Older adults are also less likely to join a cardiac rehab program following a heart problem.  They may think they are unable to do the physical activity because of their age, or they may have other conditions that can make exercising harder, such as arthritis. This makes cardiac rehabilitation especially useful for older adults, since it can improve strength and mobility to help make daily tasks easier.

One of the benefits of cardiac rehab is building healthier habits, such as finding a physical activity that you enjoy, to help you stay heart-healthy for life.

How does cardiac rehab help?

Cardiac rehabilitation has many benefits to your health in both the short and long-term, including:

  • Strengthening your heart and body after a heart attack.
  • Relieving symptoms of heart problems, such as chest pain.
  • Building healthier habits, including getting more physical activity, quitting smoking, and eating a heart-healthy diet. A nutritionist or dietitian may work with you to help you limit foods with unhealthy fats and eat more fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Improving your mood. People are more likely to feel depressed after a heart attack. Cardiac rehab can help prevent and lessen depression.
  • Increasing your energy and strength, making daily activities easier, such as carrying groceries and climbing stairs.
  • Making you more likely to take your prescribed medicines that help lower your risk for future heart problems.
  • Preventing future heart problems and death. Studies have found that cardiac rehab decreases the chances you will die in the five years following a heart attack or bypass surgery by around 20% to 30%

Where can I get the care needed?

Some programs are done in a hospital or rehabilitation center, while some programs can be done in the patient’s home. Cardiac rehab may start while you are still in the hospital or right after you leave the hospital.

Cardiac rehab programs usually last about three months but can range anywhere from two to eight months.  If you or a loved one in South Florida need in home care please call Home Care One.

Source: CDC

Unknown Health Conditions Linked to Poor Oral Health

Oral health is much more important than you may have thought.  Aside from  cavities, gum disease and even oral cancer, there are a number of health problems you may not have realized can be traced back to having poor dental hygiene or damaged and missing teeth. Here are some less known conditions that can be caused by skipping the dentist.

  1. Weight Gain or Obesity
    Damaged or missing teeth can mean you’re not chewing your food properly, or you’re limiting the types of food you can eat. People may be partial to foods that are easier to chew, which include high-fat options like fast food. Foods that are nutritious and high in fiber (fruits and vegetables) aren’t as easy to chew and swallow when your teeth aren’t up to the job.
  2. Higher Risk of Diabetes
    According to the UK’s Daily Mail, tooth loss has been connected to a higher chance of developing diabetes—an 11-percent higher risk, to be more precise. This is due to inflammation in the bloodstream. Diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate its blood sugar, which can lead to more major health problems.  To make matters worse, once you have diabetes, your chance of developing more serious oral health issues actually increases as well.
  3. Greater Chance of Heart Disease
    You may not believe there’s a link between your teeth and your heart, but the American Dental Association (ADA) says a number of studies link poor oral health with poor heart health, although the reasons aren’t yet exactly known.  While there is no hard scientific evidence to support whether bad oral hygiene contributes to a weaker heart, the ADA says you should still regard your teeth and gums as the gateway to diseases including those affecting your heart. Further studies are being performed by various groups to prove the link.
  4. Risk of Low Birth Weight
    If you’re a pregnant woman, having poor oral health or gum disease can not only affect you, but also your next generation, according to Health Canada.  The Canadian government body states that studies are currently underway to link poor oral health to premature births as well as low birth weight. Pre-term babies are at a higher risk of facing development barriers, infections, abnormalities and even infant death, according to Health Canada.
  5. Weakening of the Bones
    Osteoporosis is a serious condition that causes your bones to become brittle, so you are much more likely to suffer a serious injury due to a fall or even from carrying out your daily routine.
    The Mayo Clinic says there may be a link between osteoporosis—which affects your entire body—and the loss of teeth and periodontal bone that supports the teeth. Several studies support the fact that people with tooth loss and periodontal bone deficiencies also tend to show signs of a weakening skeleton in other parts of the body.
  6. Possible Respiratory Complications
    Health Canada attributes some breathing problems with gum disease, which is caused by plaque that is actually a layer of bacteria that isn’t friendly to your mouth. Health Canada notes that bad bacteria can actually make its way from your mouth to your lungs, which is bad news for those with existing respiratory ailments and also for those with previously healthy lungs.
    The respiratory difficulties from poor oral health particularly affects the elderly, but that doesn’t mean people of any age can be left gasping for air due to complications from gum disease that has gone untreated. If you’re having a hard time catching your breath lately, you may also want to see your dentist after consulting your physician.
  7. More Chance of Developing Dementia
    That’s right, even your mental health can be negatively affected without the regular supervision of a dentist. The Alzheimer’s Society points to the importance of maintaining your oral health to help stave off the effects of Dementia, which causes confusion and memory loss. For those reasons, it’s also much more difficult for those with Dementia to maintain a proper oral care routine.  The University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry also conducted a study that pinpointed bacteria from gum disease in the brain. The study found that of the 10 people with Dementia (and 10 without), almost half of those affected with the mental disorder had a particular type of bacteria, called Porphyromonas gingivalis, show up in their brains.

Heath Resources for Palm Beach County Seniors and Broward County Seniors.

New Film Series Emphasizes Vital Role of Good Nutrition for Healthy Aging

Washington, D.C., March 8, 2016 –Constant exposure to our environment, the things we eat, and stresses from both inside and outside our bodies all cause us to age over time. Although scientists have not yet found a way to delay the biological processes of aging, they are learning more about how healthy behavioral practices, such as maintaining a well-balanced diet, are critical to fostering good health throughout our lives.

While eating a nutritious diet overall is essential, the specific amounts and types of nutrients we need and the body’s ability to process them can change with age and with personal health status.

During National Nutrition Month, the Alliance for Aging Research, in partnership with the Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, has released three animated “pocket films” that explain the role of nutrition in healthy aging and highlight some of the latest findings in nutrition research. These pocket films offer an easy-to-understand, concise introduction to nutrition that both consumers and health educators can take with them anywhere on their smart phone or tablet. The films are available for viewing here and for direct download here.

“We are pleased to release these films during National Nutrition Month as a way to educate seniors, and consumers of all ages, about how good nutrition can help them maintain and improve their health, add vitality to their years, and potentially reduce their risk of disease,” says Alliance Vice President of Health Programs Lindsay Clarke.

 

The films look at nutrition in three parts: nutrition and the process of aging, essential nutrients and safely turning to supplements, and improving cardiovascular health with nutrition.

The films cover a number of topics, including:

  • The biological processes of aging and the importance of nutrition in promoting healthy aging
  • An overview of essential and non-essential nutrients
  • What the latest research tells us about bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, phytosterols, and flavanols and how they may improve aspects of health
  • When and how to consider and choose dietary supplements
  • Advances in nutrition and cardiovascular health

“We are very excited by this collaboration with the Alliance for Aging Research and the launch of these educational films, “explains Daniella Foster, Director of Science Communications and Corporate Affairs, Mars Symbioscience. “We have spent more than two decades committed to pioneering innovative fundamental nutrition research to maintain and improve human health. And through our Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, we are dedicated to sharing our research outcomes and advancing people’s understanding of the inherent link between nutrition and healthy aging. These films offer an engaging, consumer-friendly way to do just that.”

For a press kit about the films, please go here.

The Alliance offers a complete library of short, animated “pocket films” on a wide range of health conditions and topics from sepsis to atrial fibrillation to safe medication use, many with an emphasis on older adults.

For more information, please contact Noel Lloyd, communications manager, at 202.370.7852 or through email.

About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit www.agingresearch.org for more information.

About Mars Center For Cocoa Health Science
For more than 20 years, and based on collaborating with a multidisciplinary group of international experts, Mars, Incorporated has been conducting comprehensive and innovative research with a network of scientific collaborators around the world to advance the understanding of cocoa flavanols and their health benefits for the purpose of improving human health. The Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science (MCCHS) was formally established in 2012 as a Center of Excellence to pioneer, capture and share the latest scientific research in the field. MCCHS provides access to more than 20 years of gold standard research, over 140 published peer-reviewed scientific papers, educational videos, slides and other information that Mars, Incorporated and its collaborators have developed to advance cocoa flavanol understanding. For more information, please visit http://www.marscocoascience.com.