web analytics

Archive | Health

Affordable health screenings 

 

May 2, at Solon Center Wesleyan

Residents living in and around the Cedar Springs, Michigan can learn about their risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and other chronic, serious conditions with affordable screenings by Life Line Screening. Solon Center Wesleyan Church will host this community event on Monday, May 2. The site is located at 15671 Algoma in Cedar Springs.

Screenings can check for:

The level of plaque buildup in your arteries, related to risk for heart disease, stroke and overall vascular health.

  • HDL and LDL Cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes risk
  • Bone density as a risk for possible osteoporosis
  • Kidney and thyroid function, and more

Screenings are affordable, convenient and accessible for wheelchairs and those with trouble walking. Free parking is also available.

Packages start at $149, but consultants will work with you to create a package that is right for you based on your age and risk factors. Call 1-877-237-1287 or visit our website at www.lifelinescreening.com. Pre-registration is required.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Health, NewsComments Off on Affordable health screenings 

Allergy Woes: Downside of Good Hygiene?

HEA-Allergy-woesBy Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

LANSING, Mich. – All the runny noses and itchy eyes tell us it’s allergy season in Michigan. From April to June, grass pollen creates problems for many. In autumn, ragweed and other pollen-shedding plants cause misery. If it seems that more people have allergies than ever, that indeed is the case.

Dr. Bill Miller, an author and blogger who studies the causes of allergies, said one problem is that many Americans are too clean; researchers call it the hygiene hypothesis. Miller said we’ve upset the balance of internal germs in our bodies by protecting ourselves more than our ancestors did.

“They had the cows and the goats, and all the pigs and everything,” he said. “The family unit lived right on top of the farm animals. Kids used to roll in the dirt. Kids spent almost all their day outside. Now, in our modern society, we live indoors.”

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has cited research that suggests early antibiotic use changes the bacterial flora, which affects the development of allergic diseases, including asthma. Other studies suggest we may be using too many products such as acetaminophen to treat children.

Miller said people need to back away a little from the use of hand sanitizers and antibiotics.

“Are antibiotics the problem? No, they’re wonder drugs,” he said. “They’re one of the greatest inventions in all of world history but we’re using them so commonly that we’re having unintended side effects.”

Miller said we’re upsetting the natural balance in our bodies, and that doctors need to stand their ground and not give out prescriptions so easily.

“I was taught to use antibiotics when you should,” he said. “But, that said, as a front-line physician, I can tell you that there’s a lot of pressure on doctors to offer antibiotics to patients or parents for their young children, because there’s such a profound belief that they do the trick.”

Miller stressed that children should play with other children and have pets early in life because exposure to other germs can help them avoid allergies later in life.

More information on and from Miller is online at TheMicrocosmWithin.com/author.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Allergy Woes: Downside of Good Hygiene?

A Gift for families: financial planning at the end of life

Financial worries compound the stress that families feel when a loved one is dying. Judy Trepeck of the Michigan Association of CPAs led efforts to provide resources to help families be financially prepared for the end of life.

Financial worries compound the stress that families feel when a loved one is dying. Judy Trepeck of the Michigan Association of CPAs led efforts to provide resources to help families be financially prepared for the end of life.

Every day, when Judy Trepeck goes to the mailbox, she wonders if she’s going to find another bill she has to pay. That’s been pretty much the norm since her stepfather died four months ago, and she stepped in to manage his financial affairs.  She’s working through her grief and a myriad of issues related to settling his estate.

Our job as a survivor begins the day a loved one’s life ends,” said Trepeck, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer for the Michigan Association of CPAs. “What I’m learning now, for example, is that you have to give notice to creditors for four months in case someone has a claim against the estate. There’s a process that starts after death that needs to be managed, but nobody tells you about that.  Who knew?”

 Trepeck’s colleagues at MICPA knew. In fact, they convened a task force of certified public accountants from across the state to address the matter. After nine months of work, including some long nights during tax season, the organization produced Financial Affairs at the End of Life” for Hospice of Michigan patients and families.

The booklet, which can be downloaded at www.micpa.org, provides a wealth of assessment and planning tools designed to ensure families can be financially prepared for the end of life.  Sections range from caring for dependents to advanced directives to estate planning with a single goal in mind: Providing objective financial information and resources.

We had been talking at a Hospice of Michigan board meeting about the fact that social workers were often asked about financial issues for a family and didn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to answer those questions,” said Trepeck, who also serves on HOM’s board of directors. “We saw the need at MICPA to give social workers the objective information they needed to provide to the families from an honest broker standpoint, if you will. Our goal was to be a resource book that has all the information on the various things that families should think about, then gives them phone numbers or points them to websites.”

For MICPA, which has nearly 18,000 member-CPAs statewide, the opportunity to fill an educational need was motivation for the project.  For Hospice of Michigan, the largest non-profit provider of hospice and palliative care services in the state, the resulting booklet filled a gap.

We walk alongside patients and families during one of the most stressful times of life,” said Robert Cahill, president and CEO of Hospice of Michigan. “Financial worries compound that stress and magnify it. We are grateful to the MICPA for giving our social workers and clinicians a valuable tool for their toolboxes with ‘Financial Affairs.’

The booklet, which has gone through multiple revisions and updates, encourages families to start by gathering detailed information on their assets and liabilities.  Sections detail what kinds of information is needed, right down to the location of safety deposit boxes and a list of employer fringe benefits.

The Planning section focuses on family, offering lots of questions to prompt discussion before decisions are made when it comes to guardians, property and advanced directives. Whom does the patient trust? Whom do the children love and trust? Is this what the patient wants? Important but difficult conversations to have.

The section also covers the basic financial tools including life insurance, pensions and other retirement accounts, as well as basic estate planning including wills, probate and trusts.

An extensive “Meeting Financial Needs” section provides an overview on short-term and long-term expenses and commitments, which often undergo a significant shift during a prolonged illness or death. Accessing resources, managing affairs and handling funeral expenses are all covered at length.

The third and final section is the one Trepeck finds herself referring to a lot: “Survivor’s Issues.” It offers a practical timeline and checklist of tasks immediately after death, two weeks after, and a month after, detailing the types of benefits from Social Security, life insurance and retirement accounts that are available.

It’s a gift for people to be able to leave their families with detailed financial information and end-of-life directives,” Trepeck said. “While they may not be easy conversations to have, they are essential to a family’s peace of mind because during a serious illness or after a death, you’re not going to be able to get this information, let alone be in a frame of mind to process the conversation.

 

MICPA developed “Financial Affairs at the End of Life” for Hospice of Michigan patients and families. The booklet can be downloaded free of charge, along with the organization’s Financial Inventory, at https://www.micpa.org/resource-center/resources-for-the-public/financial-literacy.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on A Gift for families: financial planning at the end of life

Unleash happiness: Tips for living your happiest life

HEA-Unleash-HappinessWeb(BPT) – Are you living your happiest life? How does your mood affect your health? Is happiness contagious? Researchers are finding these questions are worth asking, and multiple studies show happiness dramatically improves health, productivity, family bonds and even life expectancy. So it’s no surprise that the impact happiness has on people has spawned an initiative to spread happiness throughout the world.

So what can you do to live your happiest life? Researchers say it starts with choosing happiness. Making a conscious choice to be happy positively affects a person’s mood, and over time, can reset a person’s default happiness level, according to two recent studies published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.

Here’s a look at several ways to choose to be happy, including:

Savor happy moments, in the moment. An individual’s brain is hardwired to remember bad experiences more than good ones as a basis for survival. When something good happens, stopping to savor that moment helps to solidify it in the brain and re-wire it for happiness, according to Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness.

Connect with happy people. To be happy, spend time with happy people. It may seem like common sense, but researchers from Harvard found over the course of a 20-year study, the happiness of one person can increase the happiness of others in their network by an astounding 25 percent.

“In my job, I see firsthand how easily happiness spreads from one person to the next,” says Courtney Gastelo, a bartender at RA Sushi, which has several locations across the U.S. “That’s why RA Sushi’s Happy Hour is so popular – we bring our guests together in a fun atmosphere where they can relax and enjoy great food and drinks with their friends.”

Gastelo recommends not waiting for the weekend; invite friends out for sushi and enjoy Happy Hour any day of the week. Doing so will positively affect the mood of everyone involved, “and science says it’s good for humanity,” she says.

Choose experiences over things. The value of new life experiences also creates happiness. That’s the finding of research from San Francisco State University, which shows that having a new life experience outweighs material purchases when it comes to long-term impact on happiness.

New life experiences don’t have to be expensive trips to exotic locations; they can be as simple as taking a dance class, mastering a cooking skill, trying a new food or learning how to speak another language.

Exercise. Hitting the road or the weights can turn a bad day into a good one. Research from the University of Bristol shows exercising on workdays has an even bigger impact on mood. It’s because exercising releases endorphins that have a powerful effect on happiness.

Going for a walk or hike outside has the added benefit of sunshine and fresh air, too. For an even more powerful happiness boost, researchers suggest finding an exercise buddy.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on Unleash happiness: Tips for living your happiest life

Overcoming your fear of donating blood 

"I have never been a fan of needles, which is why it took me so long to become a donor. Even though I was scared, I gave it a chance because my son received blood when he needed it. It's worth a little discomfort to give back and help those in need." Sommer Deering, blood donor and mother to son who is a blood recipient

“I have never been a fan of needles, which is why it took me so long to become a donor. Even though I was scared, I gave it a chance because my son received blood when he needed it. It’s worth a little discomfort to give back and help those in need.”
Sommer Deering, blood donor and mother to son who is a blood recipient

Sommer Deering faces her fear for the sake of her son

From Michigan Blood

When Traverse City residents Sommer and Mike Deering met at the county fair as teenagers, they hit it off right away and bonded over their hobby of raising pigs. They had no idea that their summer meeting would change the course of their lives forever. They fell in love, have been married for 15 years and have two sons.

When their youngest son, Cam, was an infant, he became very sick. The family brought him to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Baby Cam was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH), which is a disorder that causes an overproduction of cells that can form tumors or damage organs. During his week in the hospital, he needed a blood transfusion to survive.

“It was a super scary time for my husband and me,” says Sommer. “But having blood available when we needed it most was very comforting.”

Cam and his family made numerous trips to the hospital for more treatments. Sommer and Mike continued to notice several bags of blood hanging from the IV stands of other sick children.

“It really made me think about how giving blood could be such an incredible help to these little ones going through such tough times,” adds Sommer. “I wanted to start donating blood after witnessing this. I wasn’t sure when I would make that commitment because I am scared of needles and blood—but I knew I wanted to someday.”

Beginning last year, Sommer decided to make good on her promise to donate blood in honor of her son. She was afraid, but gave it a chance because she was so grateful for the donors who saved her son’s life through blood donations.

“Even though I am scared, I get through the process by not looking at the needle or the blood, and then I am just fine! I keep going back—it’s worth a little discomfort in order to give back and help those in need. It makes me happy,” exclaims Sommer.

Michigan Blood thanks the Deering family for their dedication to the mission of saving lives through blood donation, and joins them in their challenge to others to overcome their fear of donating by giving it a chance. What better way to ease someone else’s pain than by facing your fears and donating to help save a life?

Michigan Blood is the sole provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. Donations given outside of Michigan Blood do not have direct local impact. Donating blood with Michigan Blood helps save the lives of patients in Michigan hospitals. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate. Blood donors should bring photo ID. There is an urgent need for O-Negative blood donors. Donors with type O-Negative blood, or new donors who do not yet know their blood type, are encouraged to visit their local blood donation center. For additional information on donating blood, and to make an appointment, visit www.miblood.org.

Grand Rapids Donor Center is at 1036 Fuller Ave NE, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, noon to 7 p.m.; Tuesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to  3:30 p.m.; and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The next blood drive at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church will be Tuesday, April 19, from noon to 7 p.m..

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on Overcoming your fear of donating blood 

Spring chicks may carry salmonella

HEA-Spring-chicks_FCOfficials at the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Health and Human Services are warning parents about the potential for baby poultry to carry Salmonella; a common bacteria found in the droppings of poultry which can cause illness in people.

“Washing your hands before and after handling chicks and other poultry is not only important for your bird’s health, it protects both you and your family from the risk of Salmonella,” said MDARD State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill. “Even birds appearing healthy can carry bacteria which can make people sick.”

“People enjoy raising baby chicks and having fresh eggs from their own birds,” said Eden Wells, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive. “Though keeping chickens can be fun and educational, poultry owners should be aware that chickens and other birds can carry germs and other viruses that can impact human health.”

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days or more.

People should always assume baby chicks carry Salmonella and should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:

Children younger than five-years-of-age, older adults or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching the birds or anything in their environment. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

Do not kiss the chicks.

Do not touch your mouth, smoke, eat, or drink after handling poultry.

Frequently clean all equipment such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials associated with raising or caring for poultry.

For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellababybirds/

Posted in HealthComments Off on Spring chicks may carry salmonella

Health Department cautions travelers about Zika virus

 

Spring break is the time of the year when many in West Michigan choose to travel and make memories with their friends, families, or loved ones. Unfortunately, this year, many of the foreign destinations favored by sun seekers are also those areas that are affected by the Zika virus. Because of the potential link between Zika and birth defects, the Kent County Health Department is urging pregnant women in any trimester to reconsider travel to those areas. Anyone travelling to an affected area is urged to take precautions against mosquito bites.

N-Health-dept-Zika-americas_02-29-2016The Zika virus is spread primarily by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The disease has not been found in mosquitoes in the United States, but has been found in Puerto Rico, Mexico and much of Central and South America. (SEE MAP). The most common symptoms of Zika are mild and may include a fever, rash, joint pain and red itchy eyes. These symptoms usually last just a few days. The virus can also be spread sexually from infected men. Most people who get the virus will never experience any symptoms. Currently, no vaccine or cure exists for the Zika virus.

“For people who are travelling in those areas, avoiding mosquito bites is the best prevention against this virus,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with the Kent County Health Department. “We encourage women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to consider postponing their trips out of an abundance of caution. Anyone who has travelled to one of these areas and experiences symptoms either while on the trip or within about a week of being home should contact their doctor.”

The CDC recommends using mosquito repellants that contain DEET or other EPA approved repellants. Use only as directed and reapply often. Dress in long, loose and light colored clothes while outside, especially during the day. The mosquito that spreads Zika is an aggressive day biter. Travelers going to an affected area can further protect themselves by choosing lodging with air conditioning or screens to keep mosquitoes out and by staying indoors during daylight hours.

More Information about Zika is available by going to https://accesskent.com/Health/CommDisease/zika.htm

Posted in Health, NewsComments Off on Health Department cautions travelers about Zika virus

Six things that raise your blood pressure

Read about things that raise your blood pressure at www.heart.org/ bpraisers.

Read about things that raise your blood pressure at www.heart.org/bpraisers.

(NAPS)—Keeping blood pressure under control can mean adding things to your life, such as exercise, that help lower it. But you may not realize that it also means avoiding things that raise it.

If you or someone you care about is among the one in three U.S. adults—about 80 million people—with high blood pressure, you need to be aware of these six things that can raise blood pressure and thwart your efforts to keep it in a healthy range.

1. Salt. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people aim to eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. That level is associated with lower blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Because the average American’s sodium intake is so excessive, even cutting back to no more than 2,400 mg a day can improve blood pressure and heart health.

2. Decongestants. People with high blood pressure should be aware that the use of decongestants may raise blood pressure. Many over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu preparations contain decongestants. Always read the labels on all OTC medications. Look for warnings to those with high blood pressure and to those who take blood pressure medications.

3. Alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. If cutting back on alcohol is hard for you to do on your own, ask your health care provider about getting help. The AHA recommends that if you drink, limit it to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.

4. Hot Tubs & Saunas. People with high blood pressure should not move back and forth between cold water and hot tubs or saunas. This could cause an increase in blood pressure.

5. Weight Gain. Maintaining a healthy weight has many health benefits. People who are slowly gaining weight can either gradually increase the level of physical activity (toward the equivalent of 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity) or reduce caloric intake, or both, until their weight is stable. If you are overweight, losing as little as five to 10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure.

6. Sitting. New research shows that just a few minutes of light activity for people who sit most of the day can lower blood pressure in those with type 2 diabetes. Taking three-minute walk breaks during an eight-hour day was linked to a 10-point drop in systolic blood pressure.

For more information about blood pressure management, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org/hbp. Bayer’s Consumer Health Division, maker of Coricidin® HBP, is a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure website.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Six things that raise your blood pressure

Urgency or Emergency?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

How to pick where to go for medical attention

Family Features 

When unexpected health mishaps arise, many people’s first reaction is to head to an emergency room. But when those illnesses and injuries aren’t true emergencies, not knowing the best option for care can end up costing both time and money.

So how can you know where to go when medical attention is needed?

Urgency or emergency?

Urgent care centers provide a way to keep up with patients’ daily healthcare needs, serving as a vital link between the emergency room and primary care physicians.

“Urgent care is growing across the country because it provides patients with an alternative to the emergency room, which can be too costly and time-consuming for situations like common illnesses and minor injuries,” said Dr. Robert Kimball, president of the board of directors, Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA). “While ERs are best equipped to handle life-threatening illnesses and injuries, it’s important that patients are aware that there are more affordable options available for less serious situations.”

Due to shorter wait times – 90 percent of urgent care centers offer a wait time of 30 minutes or less, according to the 2015 UCAOA Benchmarking Survey – and much lower prices, urgent care centers are a more convenient and affordable option than, but not a substitute for, an emergency room.

When care is needed for true emergency situations, such as heart attacks, strokes, major bleeding or severe burns, it’s vital to go to an emergency room immediately, as urgent care centers are not equipped or designed to treat life- or limb-threatening conditions.

Dollars and sense

When patients visit an emergency room for a non-emergency, they risk incurring a substantial financial loss. Emergency rooms are more expensive, charging an average of $1,300 for treatment of non-life-threatening situations, while urgent care centers charge an average of just $150, according to a Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Plus, 27 percent of all emergency room visits could take place at an urgent care center, which would save American consumers approximately $4.4 billion annually, according to “Health Affairs.” Additionally, many insurance plans feature lower co-pays for urgent care services than treatment in an emergency room.

Understanding the options

“With a growing variety of facilities available, patients need to take care to understand their options,” Kimball said. “The rise of free-standing emergency rooms is especially concerning because they look like urgent care centers. While they may seem convenient at the time, the emergency room prices can cause sticker shock for patients who aren’t aware of the distinction.”

Free-standing emergency rooms are not physically connected to a hospital and are located in areas similar to urgent care centers, so it can be easy to confuse the two. A free-standing emergency room will offer emergency care – and charge emergency room prices. Patients should be sure to confirm the type of facility they’re visiting, as treatment at a free-standing ER may cost thousands of dollars more than an urgent care center.

To find a conveniently located urgent care center near you, visit whereisurgentcare.com.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on Urgency or Emergency?

Family Conflict at End-of-Life

HEA-Hospice-Family-conflict-at-the-end

From Hospice of Michigan

When a family’s loved one is near the end of life, it can force everyone to endure financial and emotional strain, creating the perfect environment for new conflicts to arise and old ones to resurface.

Ramona Hancock, a Hospice of Michigan social worker, explains that the stress of losing a loved one, coupled with family disagreements, caregiver demands, financial struggles, cultural beliefs or the fear of death, can ignite a fuse.

As a social worker, one of Hancock’s many roles is often to help patients and their families resolve conflicts.

“In hospice, a social worker is the go-to person for anything not related to symptom management,” Hancock says. “That often means performing the role of a counselor to patients and their caregivers, although given the time frame, solving conflict at end-of-life is a lot more like crisis management than long-term counseling. Our goal is to help both the patient and the caregiver find peace and allow the patient to die comfortably.””

Hancock explains that conflict during a patient’s final days can make the dying process more challenging. And unresolved issues typically lead to a more difficult grieving process for family members. These are just some of the reasons it’s important to solve family conflict before death.

“One of the most common conflicts I see is when the family and patient are in a different place,” Hancock notes. “The patient has decided to forego medical treatment and has accepted life is nearing the end but the family isn’t ready. Another common conflict that arises is when the patient’s primary caregiver feels burned out or taken advantage of. The caregiver may direct anger at other family members who haven’t ‘stepped up.’ Sometimes the frustration is directed at the patient and, in these cases, anger is typically accompanied by guilt.”

Hancock says that regardless of what is causing the conflict, the first step in solving it is typically to listen to the patient and the family.

“While every situation is different, when I recognize conflict affecting a family, the first thing I usually do is talk to the patient and the family,” she explains. “I offer support, but let them determine what that support is. Often, people just want to talk. I try to remind the patient and family members to recognize and consider what the other person is feeling. That simple step often goes a long way in bringing the family together. When recognition and consideration of feelings aren’t enough, we can arrange a family meeting, which might even involve the nurse and social worker.

“At the end of the day, we try to remind the patient and family members the end-of-life transition is a meaningful time. It’s important for the family to be on the same page so the focus can be placed on spending quality time together in the time that’s left.”

Hancock explains that while HOM does everything in its power to bring a patient peace as the final days draw near, unfortunately, some conflicts are deeply rooted and too complicated to resolve.

“We walk into a small window of our patients lives. It’s important to recognize that there may have been a long history before we stepped in and events will continue to unfold after we’re gone,” Hancock adds. “While we do all we can to help the patient and family find peace, we must recognize that there are some things we just can’t fix. In these situations we focus on listening to our patients and helping them find acceptance.”

March is National Social Workers Month, and the theme this year is “Forging Solutions out of Challenges.”Hospice of Michigan would like to thank and acknowledge the important role that social workers play in hospice and palliative care. For more information on Hospice of Michigan and its services contact 888-247-5701 or visit www.hom.org. For more information on Social Workers Month and the value social workers provide in healthcare, visit www.socialworkers.org.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Family Conflict at End-of-Life