Monday, December 29, 2014

Recipe for a Mentally Healthy Community

Recipe for a Healthy Community: Serving size - entire community, especially the 1 in 5 who live with addictions and mental illness: 1# - Prevention; 2 bottles – Mental Health First Aid; 8 ounces – 24 hour Crisis Services; 1 quart – Same Day Access; 1 bushel – Treatment for Mental Illness and Addictions; ½ cup – Trauma Informed Care; 4 cans – Primary Care; 1 box – Criminal Justice Diversion and Re-entry; 1 gallon – Housing; 3 bunches – Supported Education and Employment. Directions: Line pan with Prevention, so fewer children and adults suffer; Begin with Mental Health First Aid, so everyone can recognize and help people in need; Add in 24 hour Crisis Response and Same Day Access to services to save lives; Mix with Treatment to promote recovery; Pour in Primary Care to improve health; Fold in Criminal Justice collaborations, keeping people and communities safe; Add in Housing so everyone has a place to live; Blend in Education and Employment to build a strong economy; Sprinkle with Trauma Informed Care to ensure respect for all; Blend well and properly plate with adequate funding. ENJOY A HEALTHY COMMUNITY! This recipe is printed with permission from National Council for Behavioral Health. I hope everybody has a happy, healthy holiday season and 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Year End Thank You

As the year ends and we celebrate the holidays – I wish each of you a joyous and healthy holiday and a happy new year. And, on behalf of The Dale Association and all charitable organizations in our community thank you for your kindness and seemingly endless generosity this past year. The end of the year is a good time to look back and reflect on those things we are thankful for. I’d like to say thank you to all of the people who have donated time, money, and/or items that support our fundraising efforts – those fundraising efforts help pay for the things we do, and therefore help us fulfill our mission in this community. Our mission statement… “To provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for Adults in Niagara and neighboring counties with enhance their health and Wellness and empower them to strengthen bridges to their communities.” … it serves as a reminder of the reason The Dale Association exists in this community. And therefore, the reason we do the things we do – it may be supporting older individuals with our senior services… it may be assisting seriously and persistently mentally ill adults achieve mental wellness and to stabilize their emotions… it may be enriching the lives of people through our educational classes and volunteering programs… or it may be supporting caregivers by providing resources that help them be better caregivers …or it may be assisting older adults with vision and/or hearing impairments maintain their independence. Whatever the service, all focus on believing each person has value and we hope to enhance their potential to live their life to the fullest. Regardless what your charity of choice is, it is probably their mission and what they do that you believe in. Almost certainly, I can speak for all charitable organizations when I say that we are so grateful for the generosity of this community, our community, when it comes to delivering each of our missions. All fundraising activities support programs of charities and as I said above, it is what is accomplished with the money and donation of time that really defines each of our purposes. The purpose of fundraising is more than about the money – it’s about the results accomplished by our use of the money. It is through our donors and volunteer supporters and what they give that enables us to make a difference. Fundraising is at its best when we can match our need for donations with your desire to support organizations that have made a difference in your life or the lives of family and friends. Many non-profit charitable organizations all across the nation rely more and more on fundraising as a means to support their mission and the Dale Association is no different. You may be astonished to know that we need to raise over $300,000 to continue to serve the adults of this community. This past year, many of you have supported Dale Association fundraising efforts by making a gift to the Annual Giving Campaign, by pledging at our Dale Hearts and Caring People fund, through general donations, by attending events, by becoming a sponsor, or by making a charitable gift through you estate planning. The money raised helps us sustain our mission in this community. To all of you – THANK YOU! And thank you on behalf of all the charities you support all year long.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Medication Management

“Medication Management” is a simple phrase that refers to an often complicated family caregiver task. It may mean ordering and picking up prescriptions, setting up a pill box, reminding a family member to take their pills or even giving injections. The task variables usually are defined in terms of the complexity of the task itself – not taking into consideration if the care recipient is able and willing to cooperate. Caregivers for those with dementia know how big a difference in cooperation can make. A recent article written by a caregiver noted, “Medicine time with my dad has become one of the greatest difficulties, often taking an hour or more as we cajole, distract and sweet-talk him into swallowing pills or liquid medications. He doesn’t understand why he should do so.” When an otherwise straightforward task turns into an emotional battle of wills, it means more stress for already stressed caregivers. This is an important finding in a recent study. The study found that 61% of family caregivers caring for somebody with both cognitive or behavioral condition as well as chronic physical condition felt stressed “sometimes to always”. Nearly half reported feeling depressed within two weeks of completing the survey. This rate is significantly higher than the rate reported by family caregivers caring for someone with a chronic physical illness but no cognitive or behavioral condition. A majority of the dually challenged caregivers were women between the ages of 50 and 79 and about half lived with the person needing care. Most had provided care for several years. While it is well recognized that people with cognitive or behavioral conditions may act in ways that make them hard to care for, the report found they also are less healthy than care recipients without these conditions. Nearly 90% of such people also had higher rates of chronic medical diagnoses, such as stroke or hypertension, arthritis or osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes. These conditions are commonly treated with many medications that require frequent monitoring and different forms of administration. Most (84%) family caregivers for people with both kinds of conditions assisted with the medication management, along with providing personal care and managing household tasks. They were two and a half times as likely as other caregivers to say it was hard because their family member did not cooperate. As a result, they found medication management time consuming. When asked what would make the task easier, almost one-third said, “more cooperation from their family member.” Strikingly, two-thirds of these caregivers reported they had little or no training, learning how to administer at least some of the medications on their own. Family caregivers need a lot of help. Family caregivers need training and support that help them understand the sources of someone’s resistance to care and provides effective ways to respond. Making sure your loved one takes their medications and cooperates should be a routine part of loving care, not a constant source of conflict.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holiday Stress

For many, the holidays are a time for families and friends to gather and for joyous celebrations. Even though the holidays are enjoyable, they can be demanding. For some, the added stress can lead to emotions that sneak up on you and pull you down when you least expect it. The holidays are not as joyful for some as they are for others. Maintaining good health throughout stressful times is directly linked to a positive mind set. Improving your mood need not be time consuming or expensive – try these simple strategies to distract your attention from the hectic pace of life around you and restore the energy you need. Make sure you are well rested. According to the National Institute on Aging, an estimated 30 percent of middle aged Americans don’t get enough sleep. Factors that can help you get a good night’s sleep are sticking to a regular bedtime, sleeping in a cool and dark room and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine after mid-afternoon. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Moderate exercise is an activity that leaves you feeling warm, but still able to talk. And don’t forget routine activities like mopping the floor and raking leaves are considered moderate exercise. Music has the ability to alter your mood. If you want to relax, listen to slow, soothing classical music. To energize yourself, pick something that is faster such as jazz or pop. Or consider making your own music by playing a musical instrument. Bringing a little creativity into your life can improve your sense of well being; it could be something as simple as trying a new recipe. By making a difference in the lives of others and becoming active, you generate positive feelings in your own life. Volunteering will fill your heart and let goodness shine in your life. Studies show that people who volunteer as little as two hours per week improve their own health. Worries drift away when you focus on others. Caregiving responsibilities layered on top of keeping up with holiday traditions can take its toll on dementia families, especially the caregiver. The person with dementia may also feel a sense of loss during the holidays. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can be filled with joy and magical moments to cherish forever. Adjust your expectations No one, including yourself, should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event. • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage • Choose holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you • Host a small family dinner instead of a throwing a big holiday party • Consider serving a catered or takeout holiday meal. Many grocery stores and restaurants offer meals to go. • Start a new tradition. Have a potluck dinner where family or friends each bring a dish Involve the person in the festivities There are many manageable activities the person and you can do together, such as: • Wrap gifts • Bake favorite holiday recipes together. The person can stir batter or decorate cookies. • Set the table. Avoid centerpieces with candles and artificial fruits and berries that could be mistaken for edible snacks. • Talk about events to include in a holiday letter • Prepare simple foods such as appetizers • Read cards you receive together • Look through photo albums or scrapbooks. Reminisce about people in the pictures and past events. • Watch a favorite holiday movie • Sing favorite carols or read biblical passages When the person lives in a care facility A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together: • Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities • Bring a favorite holiday food to share • Sing holiday songs. Ask if other residents can join in. • Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud I hope this makes your holidays a little less stressful.

Medicare for 2015

Medicare's annual open enrollment period ends December 7th. This is the time of year when everyone with Medicare can join or change their health and prescription drug plans for 2015. This includes anyone using traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage. Depending on our needs, you can switch coverage from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa. You can also switch your Part D plan, which pays for medications. Any changes you make will take effect January 1st, as long as the plan gets your enrollment request by December 7th. Medicare beneficiaries should have received their Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Coverage from their existing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers. People should review plan changes as soon as they receive information from their providers. Changes could include costs such as premiums, deductibles and co-pays, as well as changes to covered procedures, tests and other provisions. Take time to review the information you received and look at all of your Medicare options; you may find more affordable coverage through a different combination of plans. Keep in mind that you may see a lot of ads for Medicare plans, but there could be a plan that's perfect for you that isn't getting a lot of attention with ads and mailers. This is an important opportunity to make sure you are getting the most from your Medicare benefits. Every year, Medicare plans change and so do your needs. It’s worth the time to shop around to see if the coverage is still the best for your situation. If you have not yet made your decision for 2015, representatives will be on hand at The Dale Association to provide information to help you make this important decision. Medicare Insurance Company Representatives will be at 33 Ontario Street, Lockport on the following schedule: Fidelis Care: Monday, November 24th from 10:00am – 1:00pm Independent Health: Wednesdays and Fridays in November and until December 5th from 9:00am – 3:00pm BlueCross and BlueShield: Tuesdays in November and December 2nd from 9:00am – 4:00pm United Health Care: Monday, December 1st from 10:00am – 12:00pm

Monday, October 20, 2014

Housing Resources for Baby Boomers

Imagine if you were someone who has lived in his or her current home for decades, or even half a century, or more. Any lifestyle change is difficult; making a housing change for someone who has lived in the same neighborhood for many years can be especially hard. Add to that the broad range of different housing options and varying costs and any decision to move can become overwhelming. The Dale Association is pleased to present a comprehensive housing resource fair and presentation on Friday, October 24, 2014 from 12:30 – 3:30pm at our program building, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Guest panelists and resource vendors will share information to help attendees make informed decisions about the following topics: If I choose to remain at home: Are there any simple home modifications that may make it safer to stay in the home? How to increase home safety, accessibility, and affordability. Options to finance renovations. What supports are available to remain independent at home? If I need to downsize: What to do with excess furniture, etc. Gifting to family, donating, and/or holding an estate/garage sale. Finding other housing options: If you come to the time when you or your loved one can no longer live safely on their own, there are many options to choose from. A simplistic overview of the housing option terminology and what to consider – current and future needs; definitions of the various levels of care from independent living through nursing home care; subsidized options; non-subsidized options throughout Niagara County. Other important topics include: facilitating a smooth move and helping to alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed by the idea of the move. The keynote speaker, Tom McNulty will be discussing, “Planning for the next phase of life”. Tom McNulty is owner and president of Success Stories, Inc, a management and marketing consulting firm, award winning photographer, film producer, and host of “Spotlight on Health” on 96.1 Joy FM since 2003. The guest panelists include: Susan Christian, Niagara County Office for the Aging – speaking on support for independent living, meal delivery, transportation, home care, etc. Beth Donner, M&T Bank – discussing understanding your financial options, exploring a Reverse Mortgage as a way to finance home renovations and other things. Larry Raines, Caring Transitions – information on downsizing, cleaning out home, relation, and de-cluttering. Debbie Mathur, Brookdale Living – understanding the various levels of care. Barbara Jacobs, People Inc – subsidized housing criteria and options. Informational displays will also be set up showcasing the following vendors: Belmont Housing, Heritage Manor of Lockport, Lockport Presbyterian Home, Consumer Credit Counseling Services, Conjerti Movers, Lockport Home Medical, Estate and Household Liquidation, Niagara County Office for the Aging, People Inc Senior Apartments, Caring Transitions of Buffalo, The Dale Association, Brookdale Living, M&T Mortgage Division, DeGraff Medical, HANCI/Complete Senior Care, Elderwood Senior Care Housing, Lighthouse Guild, Weinberg Campus. The presentations and resources are geared toward older adults and their family members. Adults of all ages are welcome to attend. Whether you have decided it’s time to move or are looking for ways to stay safely in your home a little longer, or are looking for information to help somebody you know make those decisions, I’m sure the Housing Resource Fair will have something for you. Doors open at 12:30pm, with information available from the various displayers. Tom McNulty and the guest panelists will speak from 1:00pm – 3:00pm, with time for questions and answers. And, from 3:00 – 3:30pm the vendors will again be available for attendees to visit and gather information. For more information or to RSVP please call 433-1886.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A rich musical history: Theatre Organ Society

Music grabs our emotions instantly in a way few other art-forms can. This week I’m writing about a topic that is one of the best kept secrets in Lockport – the Lockport Theatre Organ Society and their concerts. The group has an interesting history and offers an affordable evening of entertainment – right inside The Dale Association building at 33 Ontario Street in Lockport. Here is the most interesting history of the group and how their organ came to be located at The Dale Association – its fifth location. Originally, it was built and shipped from the Wurlitzer factory in North Tonawanda to Picadilly Theatre in Rochester, NY in the year 1919. Shortly after being installed in the Picadilly, at the request of the theatre owners, a change was made to the pipes. Wurlitzer removed the instrument from the Picadilly and in early 1933 it was reinstalled in the Northeast Temple Masonic Lodge in Buffalo, NY. The organ was used extensively at the lodge until the late 1960’s. Time and use took its toll and by that time it needed an extensive rebuild. The cost of the rebuild was too costly for the lodge and the decision was made to scrap the Wurlitzer. In 1969, Mr. Harold Hontz, a retired theatre organ hobbyist residing in Williamsville, NY got word that the organ was available from the temple and purchased it. With the help of some fellow hobbyists, he had the Wurlitzer moved, set up and playing in his home basement within 10 days. After a number of years at this location, the Wurlitzer was once again put up for sale. About that same time, having recently formed the Lockport Theatre Organ Society, a group of local individuals were in search of a theatre pipe organ to install in Lockport’s Palace Theatre. Hearing about the instrument, the membership of the Society secured a demand note from a local bank and purchased the organ. On Easter Sunday weekend in 1979, early members of the society began to disassemble and move the organ from its home in Williamsville to its new home at The Palace. Pickup truck load after pickup truck load of organ parts were loaded, transported and unloaded until nothing was left in Mr. Hontz’s basement and the stage was full at the Palace. While installation of the organ progressed, negotiations regarding the ownership of the instrument and its use continued between the Theatre Organ Society and the building owner. It was decided that a search for a new home should begin again. In the meantime, the bank holding the note on the loan for the organ demanded their money. Several club members, who truly believed in the project, loaned the club money out of their own pockets to payoff the loan and keep the project afloat. Club member Harold LeValley was also an active participant in activities at the Dale Association’s Senior Centre and suggested that the society look at the large room at The Dale Association as a possible new home for the organ. Records from the Theatre Organ Society show that Bette Dale and members of the board bent over backwards for the group and were enthusiastic to have the Centre be home to the organ. Installation at The Dale Association’s Senior Centre began in January 1981. The formal dedication concert was held on October 26, 1983 with Mr. Harold LeValley serving as Master of Ceremonies. Rev. Otto Struckmann gave the invocation and Bette Dale delivered the dedication liturgy. During the organ’s installation, over 15,000 man hours were spent rebuilding, refinishing and installing the organ in its new home, with all work being performed by volunteers. Many changes were made to both the console and the “works” to allow the organ’s sound and ease of operation to be improved over that of the time that is was built in 1919. Next time you are at The Dale Association’s Centre, I hope you notice the organ and have an appreciation for its beauty and recognize it as the jewel it is. Better yet, come out and enjoy a concert. Music engages us on all sorts of different levels. The next concert is scheduled for Monday, October 20th at 7:00 pm. Admission is $6.00. The Lockport Theatre Organ Society presents A Gospel Favorites Performance featuring Tim Schramm and Dennis Overholt on the Mighty Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ and Wurlitzer grand piano with special guests on the guitar and saxophone. A native of Rochester, Tim Schramm started playing the piano at age 5. At 10 years old, he was introduced to the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. At a young age, he was the accompanist for the Harmonairs Gospel Quartet playing southern gospel music. He is currently the accompanist for the Rochester City School district. He is also director of music ministries at St. Michaels Roman Catholic Church in Newark, NY. Also playing will be Dennis Overholt on the Wurlitzer grand piano, Tim Burdick on saxophone, and Chuck Cupp on bass guitar. Tickets are available in advance or at the door at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Proceeds from the concert on October 20th benefit The Dale Association’s Centre.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Caregiving Attitude of Gratitude

Current research is finding that taking care of tired caregivers could be as important as providing care for their care-recipients. And by simply listing what you, as a spousal caregiver, are grateful for can provide you with the much-needed "tender loving care" that you are providing for your spouse -- and that you are typically not receiving from any other source. So the question that I have for you is: "How is your 'attitude of gratitude'?" As we all know, we are often stressed out by the various caregiving activities we perform for our spouses. Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in Baylor University's department of psychology and neuroscience, theorized that something as simple as writing about gratitude will help relieve that stress. Specifically, in order to show the link between gratitude and health, she is analyzing just how gratefulness impacts the lives of men and women who care for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease. "Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Tsang, "is a prime example of unlimited love. There is a lot of sacrifice involved, a lot of cost, and no reward." While her research is focused on Alzheimer's caregivers, the results of that research can be extrapolated to all caregivers -- especially spousal caregivers. In order to better understand how to help caregivers, Dr. Tsang had half of the research group fill out what she called "gratitude journals" in which the participants listed what they were grateful for each day. The other half of the research group filled out what she called "hardship journals" in which the participants listed the hardships incurred each day. Both groups wrote in their journals for two weeks. While the data has not been statistically analyzed yet, Dr. Tsang theorizes that those who completed the gratitude journals will have increases in their respective psychological well-being, general health, and life satisfaction. Previous research with college students found that gratitude had improved their physical and cognitive health. Since caregivers are dealing with much more serious issues, an emphasis on gratitude could conceivably help them cope with their daily problems more effectively. Dr. Tsang is modeling her research after other studies regarding gratitude and well-being that were conducted by University of California at Davis, and University of Miami in Florida. Both found that people who kept weekly gratitude journals felt much better about their lives as a whole and were much more optimistic about the upcoming week than people who recorded life's hassles or various neutral life events. According to the study, "gratitude journals increased (people's) awareness of gratitude-provoking circumstances in their lives." Dr. Tsang thinks that there may be a correlation between gratitude and religion. "The different world religions tell people that they should be grateful, or religious people have more practice being grateful," she said. Therefore, the concept of gratitude journals may help religious caregivers to better provide care for their loved ones. The Davis campus at the University of California is also conducting a series of experiments that suggest that "counting your blessings leads to improved physical and mental functioning." According to the study, "When people consciously practice grateful living, their happiness will go up and their ability to withstand negative events will improve as does their immunity to anger, envy, resentment, and depression." I have a GREAT "attitude of gratitude" -- how about you?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fall Prevention

Did you know? • Falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits, and death from an injury among people age 65 and older. • Each year 1 out of 3 older adults will experience a fall. • Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes. • Of those who fall, 20 – 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries that reduce mobility and independence and increase the risk of premature death. • 20% of older people who break a hip from falling die within a year of their injury. • Falls are not inevitable. According to the National Safety Council, most falls are preventable. Older adults are more prone to become the victim of falls and the resulting injuries can diminish the ability to lead active, independent lives. Risk factors include physical hazards in the environment, age-related issues and health conditions. Reduce your risk and find fall hazards in your workplace and home to prevent injuries and keep others safe round the clock. Falls are by far the leading unintentional injury accounting for more than 8.7 million emergency room visits each year in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following tips can greatly help older adults prevent falls, but are beneficial to those of all ages. • Stay active: Chances of falling can be reduced by improving strength and balance. Examples of activities include brisk walking, tai chi and yoga. Research has shown that falls reduction programs that include exercise are most effective for reducing falls risk. It is often assumed that these programs are effective because they improve physical performance, such as greater muscle strength and balance. A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia propose a different explanation for the effectiveness of exercise for falls reduction. They hypothesize that the improved cognitive function that can result from exercise has a greater role in falls prevention than do balance and strength. • Fall-proof your home: This includes removing all tripping hazards. • Review your medications: Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medications you take both prescription and over-the-counter. Some medications or combination of medicines can make you drowsy or light-headed, which can potentially lead to a fall. • Check your vision: It’s best to have your vision checked at least once a year to make sure you have the best prescription for your glasses. Poor vision greatly increases your risk of falling. The growth in the aging population, the desire of mature adults to remain independent, and the rising cost of health care and long term care make preventing and reducing falls a paramount importance in promoting healthy aging. My hope in providing this information is that older adults will have fewer falls and fall related injuries – thus maximizing their independence and quality of life.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

Feeling stretched caring for an older adult? 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 takes an enormous physical and emotional toll on caregivers. The Dale Association has received training to conduct a six part training program to enable caregivers to better care for themselves by improving their own self-confidence and problem solving skills. This program has been tested and evaluated through a grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself. This program will help family caregivers: reduce stress, improve self-confidence, better communicate your feelings, balance your life, increase ability to make tough decision and locate helpful resources. Current research is finding that taking care of tired caregivers could be as important as providing care for their care-recipients. The class is being offered on Thursdays beginning October 9th and running through November 13th, from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm 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 Helpbook, 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 for more information and to register.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Walking For Fun and Good Health!

Running approximately 2400 miles long from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 passes through the heart of the United States. It was one of our country’s first transcontinental highways. Though it is no longer a main route across the country, Route 66 has retained its mystique and is now designated Historic Route 66. The romance of Route 66 continues to captivate people from all over. It is also the inspiration for Route 66 Walking Challenge, locally. “Route 66 Walking Challenge” is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield and offered through The Dale Association with the hope that a group of people will walk the equivalent of 2400 miles. Teams of two people each will accumulate walking miles over six weeks towards the 2400 goal. Pedometers will be given out to keep track of the miles. Teams can sign up together or individual people can sign up and will be partnered with another individual. Scheduled group walks will help maximize weekly steps or individuals and teams can walk on their own time. Teams will compete against other teams for total distance walked. Recognition prizes will be given out at a celebration at the end of 6 weeks. The walking challenge is free, fun, and healthy. A walking kick off meeting is being held on July, 8, 2014 at 2:00pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. The walking challenge starts July 14th with the six weeks of walking ending on August 24th. A celebration party is Tuesday, September 3rd. Registration in advance is required; please call 433-1886 or stop at 33 Ontario Street to register. Walking may be the single best — and easiest — exercise you can do to improve your health. Not only will going for a daily walk help you feel better now, it will help you maintain your independence and ability to do daily tasks as you age, according to a health professionals. Research also has shown that walking regularly can help protect the aging brain against memory loss, dementia, help cut the risk of heart disease, reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults by a whopping 60 percent. And we're not talking marathon walking. The peak benefits come from 30 minutes of exercise several times a week, say experts. Most of us do need to move more: Only 30 percent of people ages 45 to 64 say they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity, and that drops to 25 percent for those 65 to 74, according to the National Institute on Aging. As the song says, “Get your kicks on route 66” and get up and walk.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Power of a Positive Attitude - Mind, Body & Spirit

If there is power in positive thinking, you will feel the energy when Mary Anne Cappellino walks in the room. Bring a friend and learn how to harness the power of positive thinking to enhance your mind, body and spirit. For more than 20 years, audiences of all ages have learned, laughed and been inspired by Mary Anne’s creative and unique presentations. What: Women’s Health - Better Than Ever: Mind Body and Spirit Presented By: Mary Anne Cappellino When: Thursday, June 26th Time: 9:00am – 11:30am Where: The Dale Association 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY Mary Anne’s presentation is sure to be lively, informative and thought provoking. She has an engaging style and contagious personality that relates to all attendees. Mary Anne speaks from the heart and her positive attitude shines through. Among her many certifications, Mary Anne holds credentials from the American Association for Fitness and Aerobics, the Cooper Aerobic Research Institute, Zumba Fitness, Body Recall Older Adult Exercise and Silver Sneakers Health Care Dimensions. She’s also received the New York State Physical Activity Coalition Chairman’s Award. Mary Anne actively promotes good health – appearing on TV and radio and inspiring thousands through her seminars and presentations. As a fitness coach, Mary Anne preaches the benefits of an active lifestyle and the importance of a fit mind. The public is invited to this free event, sponsored by BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York. A light breakfast will be provided and each attendee will receive a complimentary duffel bag (one duffel bag per person, while supplies last). Mary Anne will speak to the group using her creative and unique style, and then guide the group in some gentle exercises. If you’d like to participate in some gentle exercises, make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Additionally, information will be available from BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York about Silver Sneakers, Medicare Advantage Plans, wellness, prescriptions, health coach, and disease management. This event is for educational purposes. Please RSVP online at or by calling 1-800-248-9296 (TTY 711)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dementia Risk and a Woman's Body Clock

A woman’s “body clock” might affect her dementia risk according to a new study. The timing of an older woman’s sleep/wake cycle (also known as circadian rhythms) and the levels of daily physical activity was also linked to odds for mental decline, the study found. It found that the risk of dementia or "mild cognitive impairment" (a state that sometimes precedes dementia) was higher in older women with weaker circadian rhythms who are either less physically active or more active later in the day, compared to those who have a stronger circadian rhythm and are more active earlier in the day. "We've known for some time that circadian rhythms, what people often refer to as the 'body clock,' can have an impact on our brain and our ability to function normally," lead author and scientist said. Findings suggest that future interventions such as increased physical activity or using light exposure to influence body clock cycles could help influence cognitive mental health in older women. Data was analyzed from almost 1,300 healthy women, over age 75, who were followed for five years. At the end of that time, 15 percent of the women had developed dementia and 24 percent had some form of mild cognitive impairment. Women with weaker circadian rhythms who had lower levels of physical activity or who were most active later in the day were 80 percent more likely to develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment than those with stronger circadian rhythms who were active earlier in the day. "To our knowledge this is the first study to show such a strong connection between circadian activity rhythm and the subsequent development of dementia or mild cognitive impairment," researchers said. The finding marks an association only, however, and cannot prove cause-and-effect. "The reasons why this is so are not yet clear," he added. "The changes in circadian rhythm may directly influence the onset of dementia or mild cognitive impairment, or the decrease in activity may be a consequence, a warning sign if you like, that changes are already taking place in the brain. Identifying what the reason is could help us develop therapies to delay, or slow down, the development of brain problems in the elderly.

Monday, May 5, 2014

National Decision Making Day

The New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section is sponsoring National Healthcare Decision Making Day 2014. What is National Healthcare Decision Making Day? It is a volunteer, public-service project which will involve attorneys speaking on topics relevant to older New Yorkers, their family members and caregivers. The National Healthcare Decision Making Day initiative is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations committed to ensuring that all adults with decision-making capacity in the United States have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. Despite recent gains in public awareness of the need for advance care planning, studies indicate that most Americans have not exercised their right to make decisions about their healthcare in the event that they cannot speak for themselves. The National Healthcare Decision Making Day will help people understand that making future decisions includes much more than deciding what care they would or would not want; it starts with expressing preferences, clarifying values, identifying care preferences and selecting an agent to express healthcare decisions if patients are unable to speak for themselves. According to a recent research study: 71% of Americans have thought about end-of-life treatment preferences, 95% have heard of a living will, but only 29% have a living will. The public is invited to attend a free session of National Healthcare Decision Making Day 2014, which is being held locally on May 14, 2014, from 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Local attorney, Patricia George will be the speaker. The program will include a question and answer session, and a “legal checklist” with an overview of legal documents every New Yorker should be aware of. Topics will include: Health Care Proxies Powers of Attorney Wills DNR Organ Donations Probate What are healthcare proxies and powers of attorney? How do they differ? How can these documents help avoid problems regarding guardianship, DNR orders and organ donation requests? Why do I need a will? What insurance, pension and financial documents should I have? What must be done to complete and maintain these documents? It is important for everyone to understand the importance of having these documents in order, it doesn’t matter what your age is. When people are unprepared, it can be emotionally devastating, financially costly, and an obstacle for people to take care of everyday dealings. For more information or to register for the session, please call 433-1886.

Invitation to Learn at Annual Senior Forum

What do Financial Security and Benefits for Persons over 60 in a Tight Economy, Balancing a Healthy Budget on a Limited Income, EPIC, Chronic Illness Strategies in the Elderly, Diabetes Self Management, How the 2013-2014 NY State Budget Will Affect Seniors, Hoarding, and the Affordable Care Act all have in common? These topics are of interest to older adults and the opportunity to hear directly from a panel of experts on these subjects is coming up on Friday, May 16, 2014 from 1:00 – 3:00pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Additionally, service providers will be on hand with helpful information and displays from 12:30 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 3:30pm The Senior Forum is open to the public and free to attend. Angie Blackley, The Dale Association employee and coordinator of the forum is encouraging the public to attend. She says, “It is important for people to stay abreast of the issues that affect seniors. People can attend and hear directly from the decision makers about topics that are of such significance.” She goes on to say, “The panel will also have the opportunity to hear vital opinions from people who are affected by the policies and decisions being made. We are glad to bring together important groups of people around topics that are critical to each constituent.” Guest panel members will include: New York State Senator George Maziarz New York State Office for Aging Executive Deputy Director, Greg Olsen Chris Collins, Congressman 27th Congressional District EPIC Outreach Representative Gabrielle Dotterweich Associate State Director AARP Bill Armbruster Corrine Tracey, RN Niagara County Public Health Nurse Lisa Frankenberger, Certified Financial Counselor for Consumer Credit Counseling Services Miriam Callahan, Project Coordinator Caregiver Resources for Erie County Senior Services I hope the public will attend and hear first hand what is happening with issues affecting seniors locally. Please call 433-1886 to reserve your seat. Refreshments will be served.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Caregiving in Crises

Family caregivers are reminded to practice four self-care strategies to keep safe during various caregiving crises. Crises in caregiving can be brought on by things like: • Conditions: Broken hip, blindness, stroke, cancer, a rare disease, or chronic illness • Decisions: Take away car keys, move to assisted living, begin hospice, or remove a breathing tube • Conflicts: Doing enough, doing the right thing, or balancing work and caregiving responsibilities Caregiving crises develop when health conditions change, difficult decisions must be made, or conflicts arise. Overwhelming, they disrupt daily routines, demand a response, and can drastically change lives. As the caregiver, you must find ways to live through caregiving crises. It’s impossible to predict exactly how or when they’ll end. But you can count on anxious moments and debates about what to do. Post-crisis, life is different. Sometimes the changes are minor, sometimes significant. Whatever the outcome, there is always relief when the storm has passed. To stay safe in the storm, practice self-care: • Stay calm. Anxiety, fear, and panic block logical decision making. These emotions are contagious and can raise fears in those around you. Calm yourself by breathing slowly and deeply. Affirm your strength and capacity to handle adversity. Envision positive resolutions. Distract your mind from worry by focusing on topics or activities that aren’t related to the crisis. Do what works best to help you relax. • Create a plan. Don’t waste time and energy focusing on things you don’t control. Identify ways to improve your situation: what you can influence, improve, decrease, or eliminate. When making plans, be specific by defining who will do what. Set a time for each action. Make sure actions are achievable, and assignments are reasonable and within people’s abilities. Get agreement with others on the plan. Then take action and follow up to check progress. • Connect with others. It’s awful to feel alone in a storm or crisis; it’s always easier to bear with the support of others. Discuss the situation and how you feel about it. Ask for, and offer, a helping hand or words of encouragement. Seek advice from experts or from others who have had similar experiences. If you are a caregiver, you will at some point be faced with a crisis – I hope these tips help.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wellderly Week

Have you ever heard of Wellderly Week? Wellderly is a blend of the words “well” and “elderly”. The third week of March is set aside to celebrate and recognize senior citizens who are young at heart. During the week, I hope you will select your own Wellderly activity and celebrate in style. Here are some great ideas about how to celebrate being young at heart. Take a class – Find a cooking class or some other type of class that you are interested in. Not only is it a great chance to continue to grow and learn, it also gives you the opportunity to meet and engage with new people. The more you branch out of your comfort zone, the more you gain from the experience. Give Back – volunteer. By giving back to your community, not only are you rewarded with the sense of accomplishment and goodwill, but you’re changing the lives of those around you. Nothing puts your world back into perspective than seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes. Exercise – I’m not suggesting you run a marathon (unless that is already your style). What I’m suggesting is to stay active. From gardening to dancing to yoga or Qi Gong , there are a variety of ways t keep your body limber and moving. Whatever you do, don’t stop moving. Go on a date – whether it’s with your longtime spouse or the cutie from the center, take a special night to show how you care. Appreciate all the ways they have helped you feel young. Throw a party – get together with friends. This is a great time to celebrate life. And, add balloons and a cake – just to make it a real party! You may have your own ideas about how to celebrate being well and elderly – just celebrate!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Drug Use and Dementia

Many people are unaware that dozens of painkillers, antihistamines and psychiatric medications — from drugstore staples to popular antidepressants — can adversely affect brain function, mostly in the elderly. Regular use of multiple medications that have this effect has been linked to cognitive impairment and memory loss. The drugs block the action of the chemical messenger in the brain, which is responsible for a range of functions in the body - including memory production and cognitive function. The difficulty for patients is the cumulative affect. Doctors are not always aware of all of the medications their patients take. It’s a particular problem for older patients, who are more vulnerable to the effects of these drugs and who tend to take more medicines over all. New research studies have focused on these types of medicines (called anticholinergic drugs). Researchers found that those taking more than one scored lower on tests of cognitive function than those who were not using any such drugs, and that the death rate for the heavy users during the course of the study was 68 percent higher. “These are very, very common drugs; that’s a scary finding,” according to one of the lead researchers from the study. The researchers go on to say that they suspect these drugs take a toll on bodily organs and systems like the cardiovascular system, although there are no studies confirming this. The same types of drugs have also been implicated in the delirium that intensive-care patients frequently develop in the hospital. “Clinicians don’t think of them nearly as often as they should as a potential cause of cognitive problems,” said another professor who studied the deficits that occur after intensive care hospitalization. Of the 36 million Americans 65 and older, at least 20 percent take at least one medication that affects the chemical messengers in the brain. A study of nearly 4,000 older adults found that those who had been using three or more such drugs consistently for 90 days or longer were nearly three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment as those who had not taken any. “If you were taking one of the drugs we know is definitely an anticholinergic for 60 days, you doubled the odds of developing mild cognitive impairment” compared with a patient taking none” researchers said. The aim of studies like these is to evaluate the magnitude of the effects of different drugs, to determine whether there are safe thresholds for their use and to learn whether the effect is transient and reversible. Studies from large clinics that treat people with memory disorders have shown that up to 25 percent of the patients who seek help have reversible disorders, including those caused by taking a combination of medications. Even so, why do physicians prescribe medications that alter chemical messengers in the brain to elderly people, who may be using them regularly for many years? Not only are doctors often unaware of all the medicines their patients are taking, but the list of drugs is a long one. So what’s a patient to do? If you or an elderly relative take one or more drugs on a regular basis, ask your primary care physician to evaluate the cumulative anticholinergic burden of all them (as well as other potential interactions and side effects). The patient is critical in triggering that kind of discussion. It may not be automatic, but if in fact the patient asks for it, it’s much more likely to be done. Remember to tell your physician about drugs prescribed by other specialists, as well as nonprescription or alternative medicines you take. This review should be done once a year. Do not stop medications on your own without medical supervision.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hearing, and The Value of Hearing Screenings

Because hearing loss is often gradual, you may not realize that your hearing has declined. Many people lose some hearing by age 30 or 40, and hearing loss typically increases as a person gets older. The following signs indicate that your hearing may be damaged: People sound like they’re mumbling, especially when you’re in a crowd. It’s difficult to understand human speech, and consonants are particularly difficult to hear. You hear ringing in your ears. Sensory changes that people experience as part of the aging process are often misunderstood and lead to false stereotyping or labeling of a person as confused or failing. If you are an individual with reduced hearing, my hope is that this information will provide some tips to aid you in your daily functioning, happiness, and independence. If you are family or friend of a person with reduced hearing, my hope is that you too will gain some ideas about how to help your relatives and/or friends with their hearing loss. And, free hearing screenings will be offered for individuals who are interested. Be aware that as people age, there is a decline in their ability to hear. This age related hearing loss is usually greater for men than for women. The reason for this is unknown, but it is suspected that men have been exposed to more damaging noise during their lifetimes in the military service or in their jobs. People with hearing losses must depend upon others to speak clearly to them because they cannot compensate for their hearing loss themselves. When speaking to a hearing impaired individual, speak clearly and slowly and do not change the topic abruptly. Be sure to face the person at eye level and have light on your face so lip reading is possible. Ask the person what you can do to make hearing easier. People with normal hearing have a wide range between the quietest sound they can hear and the loudness which will be painful or irritating. For the hard of hearing, this range will be much smaller. Sounds may have to be quite loud to be heard, but if the sounds are even a little louder they may be too loud and become painful. Hearing loss is worse for high frequencies; some sounds will be heard while others will not. Sounds may be distorted, heard incorrectly, or misinterpreted. Talk to hard of hearing people to find out what tone is best to use with them. Do not assume that simply making things louder will resolve the problem. Try not to allow your voice to become high and shrill – women should be especially careful about this. When there is a sound system being used for music or an oral presentation of any kind, it should be adjusted so that the base and lower tones are predominant. This will make it easier for hard of hearing people to enjoy the music or understand what is being said. Hearing loss is greater for consonants than for vowels. S, Z, T, F, and G are particularly difficult to tell apart, causing difficulty in hearing words correctly. Similar words such as cat and sat can be difficult to discriminate. People should be aware that even if the sounds can be heard, they might not always be heard correctly. It is helpful to choose a quiet private place with out background noise for conversations. Some hearing deficits can be helped by the use of hearing aids. They must be worn and adjusted correctly in order to help. And, select a seller who promptly responds to your concerns and works with you to resolve fitting and volume adjustment problems. Look for a seller who will teach you how to use the device and be available to service it. Some hearing deficits cannot be helped by hearing aids and the hearing is so poor that verbal communication is difficult. In this case, encourage use of nonverbal communication such as big smiles, waving or demonstrating. Provide items which can be seen and handled as conversation starters. Also, do not overlook the potential for writing to communicate. Provide opportunities for people to participate in activities that are enjoyable but require little conversation; playing cards, doing puzzles, preparing food and taking walks for example. When people cannot hear what is being said, be sure that they know what is going on and what the conversation is about. If there is a conversation that does not concern them, tell him/her the topic so that he/she will not feel left out or talked about. Hearing is important to more than communication. It is also a way of getting signals from the surroundings and therefore relates to safety. People who work or live with a hard of hearing person should keep this in mind. People in the community should also consider that an older person crossing the street may or may not hear a car horn. Hearing loss affects several aspects of a person’s life and the lives of their family and friends. Learning how to handle the hearing loss can be beneficial to everyone. If you or somebody you care about would like a free hearing screening, appointments are now being scheduled for March 12th and March 26th from 12:00 noon – 2:30pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. The screenings will be done by Mr. David Pucci, an audiologist with Niagara Cerebral Palsy. Appointments are necessary, so please call 433-1886 to register.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How Old Is Your Heart?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It has been estimated that up to 40 percent of the general population underestimates their risk of cardiovascular disease, with women exhibiting more of this “optimistic bias” than men. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80 percent of cardiovascular disease-related premature deaths could be avoided if healthier habits in diet, exercise, and smoking were adopted. Yet the public health challenge remains: how to communicate risks of heart disease in a way that can produce behavior changes that lead to reduced cardiovascular risk. Recently, an online tool called Heart Age ( was developed to communicate risk for cardiovascular disease in a novel, easy-to-understand way. Rather than communicating the risk in conventional ways, this short survey of health factors related to risk of cardiovascular disease assesses risk, which is then communicated as your “heart age.” The heart age uses the normal, modifiable risk factors of someone at a given age as a baseline. The heart age given to an individual using this tool then indicates the impact of various risk factors compared to what is normal for an individual of that age. For example, if a 65-year-old female has more risk factors than an average female her age, she would have a heart age of over 65 years. The risk factors measured by Heart Age are age, gender, height, weight, waist circumference, family medical history of heart problems, cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes. By the way, I completed the on-line tool at and it was easy! I was honest because there is a history of heart disease in my family. This type of tool can be reassuring, too. I encourage you to try it if you have a computer with internet access. The effectiveness of this Heart Age tool was compared to that of conventional medical advice, as well as a traditional percentage risk-based tool for communicating cardiovascular disease risk factors. The group receiving conventional health advice was given recommendations common to an annual health checkup, including general guidelines on a healthy lifestyle. The traditional tool for communicating heart disease risk gives a patient the probability of developing a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years. In this study, 3,153 adults were studied and after 12 months, risk scores were compared. At the start of the study, the following measurements were obtained for all participants: weight, height, waist circumference, self-reports of physical activity, blood pressure and blood levels of cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides. These measurements were then also taken one year later. Those participants who were only given conventional health advice had increased blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels when they were measured a year later. This group also gained weight during that period, and had increased rates of smoking, due to relapses of ex-smokers. Overall, men in this group had greater increased risk from baseline than women. By contrast, the study group who used the on-line tool had decreased blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels compared to one year earlier. The group also showed weight loss and a decrease in the number of smokers during this period. This research suggests that Heart Age’s simplicity and use of concepts familiar to the general population make it a more effective intervention tool for communicating the cardiovascular risks associated with modifiable behavior. Learning about cardiovascular risk framed as heart age not only prevented the deterioration seen in the conventional health advice group, but it also led to an improvement in measured heart age over baseline that was significantly greater than the improvement from learning about the risk framed as a risk of a heart event in 10 years. This data shows that presenting risks in clear, easy-to-understand ways not only impacts intention to change unhealthy habits, but also changes behaviors in ways that lead to a measureable decrease in the risk of heart disease. Not only does this make Heart Age a valuable health education tool, but it also suggests the importance of finding ways of presenting health-related data in ways that are meaningful and motivating for the target audience.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Adversity and Human Resilience

A recent study lends a fresh perspective to the famous quote, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” The authors of this study examined the relationship between cumulative lifetime adversity and human resilience. By analyzing a nationally representative sample of the population, the authors found that individuals who experienced a moderate amount of adversity during their lifetimes had higher levels of mental health and wellbeing than (a) people with an extensive history of adversity and (b) people without any history of adversity. Taken at face value, these results seem to contradict prior research which has consistently found the experience of adversity to be positively correlated with poor mental and physical health. That said, the authors of the current article emphasize that this is the first study to examine cumulative life adversity—compared to prior research which has historically analyzed individual events or singular categories of events. In other words, in the past, researchers have either studied the occurrence of a single event in a person’s life (e.g., asking a person to describe one adverse event that occurred during their lifetime), or a single category of adverse events that can be experienced by many people. This study took a novel approach by to the topic of adversity by combining both of these methodological techniques to assess the cumulative effects of multiple events affecting the same individual across multiple categories of adverse events that tend to affect different individuals. If both the prior findings and the current study are valid, this would suggest that the experience of adversity, can produce both a debilitating effect in the immediate time-frame in which the event occurs, and a toughening (i.e., overall strengthening) affect over one’s entire life time. Consequently, this accrual of lifetime toughness would continue to bring new perspective to one’s future appraisals by placing them in a position of greater wisdom via the confidence stemming from the knowledge that they have successfully dealt with past experiences of adversity. In short, if aging is defined by the wisdom and strength that comes from it, then what doesn’t kill us may actually make us stronger—in moderation.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Overeating and Cognitive Impairment

Here’s something to think about before you hit the all-you-can-eat buffet: Mayo Clinic researchers found that overeating doubles the risk of memory loss in those age 70 and over. The study looked at 1,200 adults, ages 70 to 89, none with dementia, but 163 with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers found that those who ate more than 2,142 calories a day had nearly twice the risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to those who ate fewer than 1,526 calories a day, according to study author. The researchers also observed that the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of mild cognitive impairment, noting that dietary intake has been associated previously with cognitive impairment, but the role of daily energy consumption has not been clear. The findings may have clinical implications, as doctors and patients discuss the links between common healthy living practices and overall cognitive function. People with mild cognitive impairment are not regarded as having dementia, but they have cognitive deficits that appear to precede the development of such diseases as Alzheimer's. To understand the links between caloric intake and cognitive impairment, the study asked a random sample of 1,233 non-demented study participants, ages 70 trough 89, to fill out a food frequency questionnaire for the year preceding an interview. The volunteers included 1,070 cognitively normal people and 163 with mild cognitive impairment, as determined by an expert panel. The volunteers were divided into three groups, based on the caloric intake derived from their questionnaire answers. The group with the highest daily calorie consumption was associated with a greater chance of having mild cognitive impairment. One implication of the study might be that "cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age, the study suggests.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Glaucoma the "Sneak Thief of Sight"

There are many good reasons to get an eye exam each year, and perhaps one of the most important is to find out if you have indications of glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that can lead to blindness. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. This can serve as a public service to people of all ages to get a comprehensive eye exam. While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments available to preserve sight. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Some estimates state there are over 60 million people worldwide with suspected glaucoma. The Glaucoma Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma, states that there are currently 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 with glaucoma. The National Eye Institute is projecting that there will be a 58% increase in this number by 2030. There are risk factors for glaucoma. Glaucoma can strike at any age, from newborns to elders; everyone is at risk for glaucoma. However, certain groups are at a higher risk that others. People over age 60 are at a higher risk (you are six times more likely to get glaucoma if you are over 60 years), as are family members of those who have glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma is hereditary; family history increases risk of glaucoma four to nine times), and people with diabetes. People who are severely nearsighted are also at risk for glaucoma. Some evidence links high doses of steroid use to glaucoma. Eye injuries may cause glaucoma, also. This type of glaucoma can occur immediately after the injury or years later. Glaucoma is sometimes called the “sneak thief of sight” because often there are no symptoms of the disease and once vision is lost it cannot be regained. The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. If you receive a diagnosis of glaucoma, it is important to know what it may mean. First, it does not necessarily mean that you will go blind. Blindness from glaucoma is a relatively rare occurrence. Sight impairment from glaucoma occurs in about 10% of patients. Glaucoma can be controlled with treatments for life – eye drops, laser treatment or surgery – and these treatments may be able to help prevent additional vision loss. Is it time for your annual eye exam? It may be a good time for you to schedule your eye exam for 2014.

Healthcare System Facing Many Challenges

Up to a fifth of Americans over 65 years old have mental-health or substance-abuse conditions, according to a report released by the Institute of Medicine, an independent government-advisory group. According to this study, at least 5.6 million up to as many as 8 million older adults in America have one or more conditions, which present unique challenges for their care. And, the health-care system isn’t set up to adequately address their concerns. With the number of adults age 65 and older projected to soar from 40.3 million in 2010 to 72.1 million by 2030, the aging of America holds profound consequences for the nation. Substance abuse appears to be a growing problem among Baby Boomers, and there’s no reason to believe the trend will stop. Between 2002 and 2007, the percentage of people aged 50 to 59 nearly doubled to 9.4%, and non-medical use of prescription drugs also increased substantially to 4% from 2.2%. Also, of particular concern are depression and dementia-related behavioral or psychiatric symptoms. Some of this may be brought on by the events more commonly experienced later in life, such as the death of loved ones. Another factor in the looming increase in demand on the mental health-care system is simply a larger number of aging Americans. However, older people are less likely to seek psychiatric treatment compared with younger ones, and the availability of services and professionals geared to treat this population is lacking, according to the report. Many older people with mental-health problems also have physical ailments, so clinicians have to be especially careful to avoid unsafe drug interactions. An older person’s goals for mental-health treatment also may be different than a younger patient’s. Instead of a total cure, an older individual may just want to function better while reducing the amount of needed medications. For decades, policymakers have been warned that the nation’s health care workforce is ill-equipped to care for a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse population. In the specific disciplines of mental health and substance use, there have been similar warnings about serious workforce shortages, insufficient workforce diversity, and lack of basic competence and core knowledge in key areas. An expert committee assessed the needs of this population and the workforce that serves it. The breadth and magnitude of inadequate workforce training and personnel shortages have grown to such proportions, says the committee, that no single approach can adequately address the issue. Overcoming these challenges will require focused and coordinated action by all.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Healthy You Resolutions

As we start the New Year, many people make resolutions; often times it is to be healthier. What are some of the lifestyle changes that can lead to a more healthy life – and not fade away as the idea of making resolutions wears off? A balanced diet and participation in regular exercise are paramount in maintaining a healthy life for people of all ages. Routine exercise and healthy diet can have an even more noticeable impact on our general well being. Different people prefer different types of exercise. Whether you are looking for exhilarating work out such as Zumba or are trying to ease into a lifestyle change and are looking for exercise that would be beneficial but gentler – several options are available for your level. A few examples follow: Chair Exercise Class – chair exercise increases strength, flexibility, balance and endurance to those individuals with mobility limitations, arthritis and a decreased level of functioning. Classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 – 11:30. Meditation – Discover a new level of peace with yourself. Dress comfortably, bring a towel or mat to sit on and learn the basics of meditation. Thursdays for 4 weeks starting January 16th at 7:00pm. Qi Gong – Low impact exercise that can be practiced standing or sitting. Promotes relaxation, balance, and coordination with the use of gentle, fluid movements. Each class is 30 minutes. Wednesdays at 9:00am. Yoga – this relaxed, open class is offered ongoing for all levels. Come as often as you like and work at your own pace. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a yoga mat. Mondays from 10:00 -11:30AM. Zumba Fitness – feature exotic rhythms set to high energy Latin and international beats. Zumba is easy to do, effective and totally exhilarating. Mondays for 6 weeks beginning January 13th from 8:15 – 9:15am. Zumba Gold – modifies the moves and pace of Zumba to suit the needs of the active older participant, as well as those just starting their journey to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Wear comfortable clothes and good sneakers. Fridays for 6 weeks beginning January 16th from 8:15 – 9:15am. All of the above take place at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Please call 433-1886 for additional information, costs, and to register. As always, be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program. Many diseases in adulthood may be preventable or at least slowed down as a result of healthy lifestyle. Osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia and depression are some of the common conditions that can be positively modified through diet, exercise, and other simple lifestyle changes. A free diabetes prevention program is being offered on Thursdays, starting January 23rd at 10:00am. The workshop is being presented by Niagara County Department of Health, Nursing Department. This interactive and empowering program is for adults with pre-diabetes and diabetes. For more information or to register for this program, please call 297-1900. Workshop will take place at 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY. Also, Let’s talk about Cholesterol – is a free health seminar being offered on Thursday, February 13th at 10:00am at 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Participants will learn about cholesterol and how it affects your body. Find out the difference between good and bad cholesterol, and discover how diet and exercise can help control cholesterol. Tips about eating healthier will also be provided. This free workshop is being presented by BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York. The public is invited to attend and reservations can be made by calling 433-1886. A Parkinson’s Disease or a Movement Disorder Support Group meets the first Friday of every month at 12:30pm. This support group welcomes all. Please call Beth at 433-1886 for information or questions. Memory Minders is a social day program for people with mild memory impairment and welcomes new participants to the program on Mondays and/or Fridays from 10:00am – 2:00 pm. Participants enjoy activities and support designed to slow the further deterioration of mild memory loss. To schedule a pre-screening and for additional information, please call Angie at 433-1886. Some other important lifestyle modifications include: smoking cessation, going to your primary care doctor routinely, reviewing your list of medications with your doctor, visiting the dentist annually, following up with your eye doctor and engaging in regular and ongoing social activities. Here’s to a healthy you and happy New Year!