Friday, April 20, 2018

Canes and Walkers

The feeling of freedom to walk safely to your kitchen, make yourself a cup of coffee and independently manage around the house is priceless. When your cane or walker is fitted properly, you’ll feel safer and more stable. The correct cane length is the key to safe use and better mobility. Many models of canes are adjustable, but it is still helpful to know what the proper length should be. 1. Obtain measurements while wearing regular walking shoes. 2. Standing upright, allow arms to relax (with normal bend at the elbow) at your sides. 3. Have a second person measure the distance from your wrist joint down to the floor. This number is the right length of cane for you. An estimate of the proper cane length can be made by dividing an individual’s height by two. For most persons, the right sized cane is within one inch of half their height. This guideline can be applied if the user is not available for an actual measurement. To walk safely with a cane on level surfaces: 1. Hold the cane in the hand on your “good” side so that it provides support to the opposite lower limb 2. Take a step with the “bad” leg and bring the cane forward at the same time. Move the cane and affected leg forward together. 3. Lean your weight through the arm holding the cane as needed 4. Always have the bad leg assume the first full weight-bearing step on level surfaces 5. The cane should be moved the distance of one average step forward with each move. You should not feel that you are stretching to catch up to the cane or stepping ahead of it. If you are using the cane for general mobility rather than an injury, hold the cane using your dominant hand and bear weight on this side of your body. If you are working with a physical therapist due to an injury, he or she may have a specific cane-walking plan different from this one. To properly ascend stairs, it is “up with the good.” While holding onto the rail with one hand, advance the stronger leg first placing it on the step above where you are standing. After this good leg is appropriately placed on the step, advance the weaker leg up to the same step that the stronger leg is on. If there is no rail to hold on to, the cane is placed on the upper step at the same time or after placement of the weaker leg. To properly descend stairs, it is “down with the bad.” While holding onto the rail with one hand, advance the weaker leg first placing it on the step below where you are standing. After this affected leg is appropriately placed on the step, advance the stronger leg down to the same step that the weaker leg is on. If there is no rail to hold on to, the cane is placed on the lower step at the same time or after placement of the stronger leg.

Caregiving Good

This week I am sharing the results of a survey that is the first one I’ve seen that contradicts previous survey results about the detrimental side of caregiving, for some people. Previously, several reports have stated that the stress of caring for a loved one can be bad for your health, if you are a caregiver. The latest findings indicate that caregivers may actually benefit from providing care under some circumstances. This latest report from the University of Michigan shows a positive outcome of helping someone you love – and I’m glad to share it with you. According to the study from the University of Michigan, older adults who care for an ill spouse for at least 14 hours each week have a longer lifespan. Researchers used data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement study. They analyzed seven years worth of information on 1,688 Americans over the age of 70, who live independently. "Previous studies have documented negative effects of caregiving," said an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and faculty associate at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. "But the current results show that it is time to disentangle the presumed stress of providing help from the stress of witnessing a loved one suffer," she said. In the study, which began in 1993, the participants were asked how much help they were given by their spouses in activities of daily living. Eighty-one percent of the participants reported that they did not receive any help from their spouse, 9 percent received less than 14 hours of care, and 10 percent received more than that, according to the study. By the end of the study, 27 percent of the population had died and the researchers found that the spouses who provided at least 14 hours of care were less likely to have died during the study than those who did not spend time caring for their spouses. It is believed that the findings correspond with the theory that evolutionary forces guide humans to altruism in these cases. "We don’t know yet exactly how caregiving motivation and behavior might influence health, but it could be that helping another person — especially someone you love — relieves some of the harmful stress effects of seeing that person suffer," according the researchers. Research continues on this subject. I hope you find joy in helping somebody you love and beat the (previous) statistics. If you are a caregiver, be sure to attend an upcoming Caregiver Resource Fair on May 22nd at The Dale Association from 12:30 – 3:30 pm, 33 Ontario St., Lockport, NY 14094

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Talking with the Doctor

There is much to be gained by improving communication with health care professionals, especially physicians. Positive outcomes include: better care for the patient, less stress and illness for the caregiver, more efficient use of doctors’ time, reduced cost for the health care system, and more satisfaction for all concerned. Here are some tips for improving communication with your doctor. Try them on your next visit. Write questions down so you won’t forget them. Think about the main reason for your visit and what you expect from the doctor as you prepare for your visit. Making a list in advance increases the likelihood your office visit will meet your needs. Be clear about what you want to say to the doctor. Try not to ramble. Discuss your main concerns first. This is important because if you wait until the end of your appointment there may not be time to properly deal with the main reasons for your visit. If you have lots of things to talk about, make a consultation appointment, so the doctor can allow enough time to meet with you in an unhurried way. Educate yourself about your disease or disability. With all the information on the Internet it is easier than ever before. Learn the routine at your doctor’s office and/or the hospital so you can make the system work for you not against you. Introduce yourself to the doctor’s office staff. Getting to know the staff often means better service. Recognize that not all questions have answers – especially those beginning with “why”. Separate your anger and sense of importance about not being able to help your loved one as much as you would like from your feelings about the doctor. Remember, you are both on the same side. Appreciate what the doctor is doing to help and say thank you from time to time. Every doctor visit and treatment presents you with choices; here are some common situations and tips for responses: The doctor has prescribed a specific treatment for your condition, but you aren’t feeling much better. Maybe it’s the wrong treatment for you, or maybe you’re taking the right treatment in the wrong way. Ask about alternatives for any treatment you find burdensome, such as a medication that must be taken in the middle of the night. Ask for clarification about the diagnosis and treatment plan and the reasons the doctor recommends it, what the treatment will accomplish, and restrictions on activities, food, or driving the and reasons for the restrictions. Find out about recovery and how long it will take to get back to normal, not just to feel better. The side effects seem worse than the cure. If you’re concerned about the side effects of medication on your health or well-being, let your doctor know. Perhaps there is a different treatment that is just as effective without the side effects. Don’t keep quiet about it – your health may suffer. A recommended treatment makes you uneasy. Don’t rush into important health decisions. Usually there will be time to carefully examine your alternatives. Ask, “Why do I need this surgery?” or “Are there any alternatives to this treatment?” or “What are the risks and benefits?” Get a second opinion if necessary. Remember, there is a better chance of getting a second opinion of you ask for it than if you don’t ask. Get your questions answered. Ask about tests and treatments and the reasons for them. What do you expect to learn from the test? When can I expect to hear the results of the tests? How will I feel afterward? Are there any other options to having this test? You want to build a partnership with the physician and other health care providers. I hope these tips help you improve your comfort when talking to your doctor.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Calling all Caregivers!

Millions of Americans are providing care and support for a parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor – who need help because of a limitation in their physical, mental, or cognitive functioning. Not enough attention is given to family caregivers who provide 85% of all care to the frail and disabled. At least 17.7 million individuals in the United States are family caregivers of someone age 65 and older who has a significant impairment. Are you one of them? The circumstances of individual caregivers are extremely varied – they may live nearby or far away from their loved one; they may provide care occasionally, daily, or for a long duration; they may help with household tasks or self-care activities, or they may provide care for complex medical conditions; or they may be responsible for all of these activities. The impact of caregiving on families cannot be ignored. Current research is finding that taking care of tired caregivers could be as important as providing care for their loved ones. Caregivers often completely change their lifestyle to take care of those they love. It is well known that caring for a family member with a chronic illness such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or other diseases is stressful and can take an enormous physical and emotional toll on caregivers. Are you feeling stretched caring for a loved one? Did you know that over a six week period you can take part in a training program designed with you, the caregiver in mind? Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself. You will learn to: Improve confidence as a caregiver Better communicate Reduce stress Increase your ability to make tough decisions Locate helpful resources Balance your life The classes are offered on Wednesdays beginning April 4th and running through May 9th from 1:00 pm – 3:30pm. Sessions will be held at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY 14094. Two experienced class leaders will conduct each session. Interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming will help you take the “tools” you choose and put them into action for your life. The cost for the six-week program is $25 and includes a copy of The Caregiver Help book, but is covered in full for members of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of WNY and Independent Health. Pre-Registration is required - Call Erie County Senior Services at (716) 858-2177 or email caregiver@erie.gov for more information and to register. Additional classes are also being scheduled; additional classes can be found at www2.erie.gov/seniorservices. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is co-sponsored by The University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions and the Erie County Caregiver Coalition.

Monday, January 29, 2018

No Age Limits for Fun & Good Health

DID YOU KNOW The Dale Association started in 1951? Yes, we were founded when the social workers and clergy in this area knew the benefits of being around others. Our agency was born and has been a community gathering place ever since. DID YOU KNOW The Dale Association is for adults of all ages? Not a week goes by that people are surprised to learn this. The agency started out exclusively for adults 50 and over, but no longer has an age requirement. It’s true - adults of all ages are welcome. If you like to think of yourself as ageless, a senior in training or among the mature portion of the population –all are welcome at The Dale. DID YOU KNOW individuals who maintain an active and fun lifestyle are healthier than those who don’t? (That’s proven by a Harvard study). The Dale Association encourages a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and wellness education; health screenings; exercise; wellness activities; cooking classes and so much more. With the new-year, why not challenge yourself to try something new and make some new friends at The Dale Association? Upcoming cooking classes may be a good place to start – we all have to eat after all. The monthly cooking classes are fun, interactive, and participatory. Bring your own containers and an appetite, we’ll supply the ingredients and supplies. Sign up with a friend or by yourself and make new friends – the classes will be fun for people of all ages. Wednesday, February 21st at 5:00pm, come learn to cook quick scrumptious weeknight recipes with Quick Weeknight Meals. This will be great for people who have limited time during the week. These recipes are easy and will satisfy even the pickiest person at the table. If you are crafty, or want to learn how to be more crafty, you may prefer hand-on craft night. Each month you will have the opportunity to create a trendy new craft. Again, you can sign up with your friends or sign up alone and make some new friends. Along with bringing your creativity, bring a snack to share and pass. All supplies will be included. Tuesday, February 27th at 6pm, you will learn how to make a Bless You Jar. These are cute tissue holders that are unique and trendy. Made in one evening, you will take home your finished product. Pre-registration is required for classes. For more information or to register, call 433-1886 or go on-line to www.daleassociation.com and register safely through PayPal. The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 66 years. I hope you will consider joining us for one of the Enrichment activities.

Chronic Disease Self-Management

A growing number of persons suffering from major chronic illnesses face many obstacles in coping with their conditions. Chronic diseases are conditions that are usually not immediately life threatening, however they place substantial burdens on the health, economic status and quality of life of individuals, families and community. People with chronic conditions must deal not only with the disease(s), but also with the impact on their lives and emotions. According to a recent study, 79% of non-institutionalized older adults report having at least one of the most chronic conditions affecting this age group. Those conditions include: Arthritis Hypertension Heart Disease Diabetes Respiratory Disease Stroke Pain Evidence suggests that a program to help individuals, family members, friends, and care-givers through a self-management program can help improve health. Locally, an educational program is being offered – with an aim to increase the knowledge of people living with chronic conditions and teach them the skills to better manage those conditions. The program provides information and teaches practical skills. All individuals, who participate in a chronic diseases self management program, will learn about the following subjects: Discussing problems common to individuals suffering from chronic diseases Coping strategies Problem solving techniques Treatment decision making Cognitive management of pain, stress, anger, depression and other negative emotions Communication with family, friends and physicians Nutrition and development of a long-term exercise program A study of past program participants found that hospital stays were reduced; communication with physicians was improved; and participant energy and confidence in their ability to manage conditions improved. This program will not conflict with existing programs or treatments. It is designed to enhance regular treatment and disease specific instruction. Enthusiasm is growing for the role of a self management program in controlling and preventing chronic diseases. If you are dealing with pain, arthritis, lung conditions or anything that affects how you live your daily life or are caring for someone with the above conditions, I encourage you to please register for the free workshop. It is a 6 week workshop series for adults with ongoing health conditions and/or their caregivers. Along with great information, participants receive a free “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” book, a free relaxation CD, and other free giveaways throughout the workshop. The six week workshop begins Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:30pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY 14094. For more information or to register, call Niagara County Department of Health Public Health Nursing at 278-1900 or Niagara County NY Connects at 438-3030 or https://compass.qtacny.org/find-a-workshop.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Eating Healthy through the Holidays

Is it even possible to eat healthy during the holidays? Yes! You are invited to “Healthy Sweets and Treats” to learn how to enjoy the holidays without some of the traditional holiday indulgences. The program will take place on Wednesday, December 13th at 12 noon at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Marla Guarino, RDN, CDN, SNAP-Ed Nutritionist from Cornell Cooperative Extension will present the program and take a look at holiday recipes and ways to use delicious alternatives in each food group. There will be ideas for healthy sweets followed by sweet treat samples. The cost is free and the public is invited. Also, On Monday, December 18th at 10:30am, Jennifer Johnson, Health Promotion Coordinator from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York will present “Nutrition Jeopardy”. It is a fun competition based on everyone’s favorite game show that will put your knowledge to the test. This fun activity is also free and will take place at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. I hope these workshops will help you stay healthy and mindful as you celebrate the holidays with friends and family. You can eat well and be well this holiday season!