Wellness Wednesday: Living Well as You Age

May is Older Americans Month. People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many older adults live active and healthy lives. But there’s no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change.

Logos2Though there are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age, it is important to understand what to expect. Some changes may just be part of normal aging, while others may be a warning sign of a medical problem. It is important to know the difference, and to let your healthcare provider know if you have any concerns.

As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower, and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

Two senior women having fun painting in art classEngaging in social and productive activities you enjoy, like taking an art class or becoming a volunteer in your community or at your place of worship, may help to maintain your well-being.

Research tells us that older people with an active lifestyle:

  • Are less likely to develop certain diseases. Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, including dementia.
  • Are more happy and less depressed. Studies suggest that older adults who participate in what they believe are meaningful activities, like volunteering in their communities, say they feel happier and more healthy.
  • Are better prepared to cope with loss. Studies suggest that volunteering can help with stress and depression from the death of a spouse. Among people who experienced a loss, those who took part in volunteer activities felt more positive about their own abilities.
  • May be able to improve their thinking abilities. Another line of research is exploring how participating in creative arts might help people age well. Other studies are providing new information about ways that creative activities like music or dance can help older adults.

For more information about healthy aging, visit these websites:

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/category/healthyaging.html
https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/older-adults
https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/index.html
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seniorshealth.html

Sources: Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health and the Administration on Aging

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Wellness Wednesday: The Dangers of UV Exposure

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, so Mercy Health System encourages you to be safe in the sun.

blazinghotsunExposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is linked to getting severe sunburns, especially at a young age.

Every year, there are 63,000 new cases of and 9,000 deaths from melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Ultraviolet (UV) exposure is the most common cause of skin cancer. A new CDC study shows that the majority of Americans are not using sunscreen regularly to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

In fact, fewer than 15% of men and fewer than 30% of women reported using sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when outside for more than 1 hour. Many women report that they regularly use sunscreen on their faces but not on other exposed skin.


Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Yet most skin cancers can be prevented.


What are your family’s risks from exposure to powerful UV rays? Consider these facts and statistics.

The Dangers of UV Exposure

  • You can sunburn even on a cloudy day.
  • On average, children get 3 times more exposure than adults.
  • Concrete, sand, water and snow reflect 85% to 90% of the sun’s UV rays.
  • Depletion of Earth’s ozone continues to increase your exposure to UV rays.

Skin Cancer

  • In some parts of the world, melanoma is increasing at rates faster than any other cancer.
  • More than 1.2 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the US.
  • Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills one person every hour.
  • One blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.

Visit the American Cancer Society website and take their sun safety quiz to see how much you know about staying safe in the sun.

Source: www.sunsafetyalliance.org


More Information:

Protect Your Family from Skin Cancer

Suncreen: The Burning Facts

FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens

NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Sun Exposure

Wellness Wednesday: Environmental Wellness

In the spirit of conservation, this is a recycled (and updated) version of a post from last year at this time (see what I did there?)


With Earth Day approaching, this week’s Wellness Wednesday column will focus on environmental wellness.

April-earthday2Environmental wellness refers to your relationship with your immediate surroundings and expanding to nature and the world around you. It refers to becoming aware that we are all a part of nature and recognizing that we need to take steps towards maintaining a lifestyle that maximizes harmony with the earth’s nature environment. It’s also to gain an understanding how your behavior and interactions affects and impacts your surrounding environment.

Relax. This isn’t about hugging trees, holding hands and singing Kumbayah.

But unless NASA finds a practical way for humans to get to and live on another planet—without being left behind like Matt Damon—Earth is our only home. And we need to take care of it in order for it to provide what we need to survive.

It stands to reason that if our surroundings are clean and well-cared for, we will benefit. There are many ways we can help in our own small part of the world that collectively will have a greater impact on the overall health of our environment.

Recycle and Reuse

  • Use paper, glass and aluminum recycling bins in your home and community.
  • Take your own bag to the grocery store.
  • Use a reusable water bottle, preferably stainless steel, which helps prevent ingesting toxic chemicals from plastic bottles
  • Use recyclable materials.

Conserve

  • Save water. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing the dishes.
  • Turn off the television, computer, tablets and other electronics when not in use.
  • Conserve on gas.
  • Improve your home’s energy efficiency with newer appliances.

Clean Green

  • Use natural or home-made cleaning products and pesticides.

Enjoy and Respect Nature

  • Enjoy, appreciate and spend time outside in natural settings.
  • Do not pollute the air, water or earth if you can avoid doing so.

Doing our part to preserve the wellness of our environment contributes directly to our own wellness.


Did You Know?

Here are some interesting facts about the environment and recycling.

  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.
  • During the time it takes you to read this sentence, 50,000 12-ounce aluminum cans are made.
  • An aluminum can may be recycled ad infinitum (forever!).
  • Every day, American businesses generate enough paper to circle the earth 20 times!
  • Only 1% of the world’s water supply is usable, 97% are the oceans and 2% is frozen.
  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • An automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand, an average of six gallons less per cycle, or over 2,000 gallons per year.
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • A modern glass bottle takes 4000 years or more to decompose.
  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, most of which are thrown away!

 

Wellness Wednesday: Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing a person′s environment so that it facilitates the highest level of function. A person′s work environment should fit his or her capabilities as a worker.

Business woman with neck pain sitting at computerGood ergonomics prevent injury and promote health, safety, and comfort for employees.

The use of ergonomics principles can increase worker productivity and quality. Employers can implement a program that includes guidelines for employees to follow, contributes to an efficient work environment, prevents injuries and the development of chronic medical conditions, and helps employees return to work after an injury has occurred.

Occupational therapy practitioners are trained in the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury. They also can determine how the components of the workplace can facilitate a healthy and efficient environment or one that could cause injury or illness. An occupational therapist can help employers identify hazards that may contribute to on-the-job injury, and determine how it can be eliminated.

What can an occupational therapist do?

  • Identify and eliminate accident and injury risk factors in the workplace, such as actions associated with repetition, force, fixed or awkward postures, poorly designed tool handles, heavy loads, distance, vibration, noise, extreme temperatures, poor lighting, and psychosocial and other occupational stresses.
  • Analyze job functions and job descriptions based on job tasks.
  • Design pre-hire screenings to determine a candidate’s suitability to a particular job.
  • Modify tools and equipment so that they do not enable injury or illness.
  • Provide education and training on injury prevention, workplace health and safety regulations, and managing job-related stress.
  • Determine reasonable accommodations and worksite accessibility that is in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • Recommend changes employers can take to minimize injury and accident risk factors.

What can a person do to employ good ergonomics in the workplace?

  • Take a proactive approach to preventing injury in the workplace.
  • Follow guidelines set forth by employers that may prevent injury and illness.
  • Report hazards or poor work conditions or employee behavior that may contribute to illness or injury in the workplace.

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping both adults and children with a broad range of physical, developmental, and psychological conditions. Practitioners also help clients and their caregivers with strategies that can prevent injury and secondary complications, and support health and well-being.

Copyright 2004 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Wellness Wednesday: Eighty by 2018

Mercy Health System has joined with more than 1,000 organizations who have pledged to work together to increase the nation’s colorectal cancer screening rates and embrace the goal of reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

eightyby201880% by 2018 was developed through the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative with the goal of screening 80% of those aged 50 and older for colorectal cancer by the year 2018. The NCCRT was co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How did the NCCRT settle on the ambitious goal of 80% by 2018?

GetTestedIn 2013, the member organizations of the NCCRT were challenged to develop a goal to advance colorectal cancer screening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already had an 80% goal for its Colorectal Cancer Control Program. Massachusetts, the first state to have health reform, was already at 76%. And most importantly, college graduates are already over 80% screening rate.

How Colorectal Cancer Survivors Can Help

As a cancer survivor or family member, the most important thing you can do to support 80% by 2018 is to share your story. You have the power to make screening relevant and personal.

People who have not been screened for colorectal cancer are much less likely to have had a close friend or family member with cancer than those who have been screened. Those who have not gotten screened don’t really understand the significance of the disease or think that they are at risk.

When survivors share personal stories, it helps put a face on colorectal cancer and conveys the necessity for screening.


If we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 fewer people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 203,000 lives will be saved by 2030.


eightyby2018_emblem-01

Progress is Being Made

Colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. in the last decade among adults 50 and older. In the simplest terms, this means people aren’t developing colorectal cancer at the same high rate as in the past, because more people are getting screened.

There’s Still Work to Do

While colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped , it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Across the country, approximately 1 in 3 adults, around 23 million people aged 50 and 75 years old are not getting screened for colorectal cancer as recommended. Within the Mercy Health System service area alone, 33% of adults have not received colorectal screenings in the past 10 years.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More Information

NCCR: 80% by 2018

Colorectal Cancer Screening Fact Sheet

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Vital Signs: Colorectal Cancer Tests Save Lives

Wellness Wednesday: Take Care of Your Kidneys

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine.

o-KIDNEY

Each kidney is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. A nephron has two parts. The glomerulus strains blood cells and large molecules from the toxins and fluid. The fluids and toxins that pass through then go through the tubule. The tubule collects minerals that the body needs and puts them back into the bloodstream and filters out more toxins. The final product becomes urine.

Every day, the kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side of the bladder. The bladder stores urine. The muscles of the bladder wall remain relaxed while the bladder fills with urine. As the bladder fills to capacity, signals sent to the brain let a person know it’s time ‘to go’. When the bladder empties, urine flows out of the body through a tube called the urethra, located at the bottom of the bladder. In men the urethra is long, while in women it is short.

The kidneys also make hormones. These hormones help regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and promote bone health.

Problems with your kidneys can be short-term or long term concern. From kidney stones to kidney failure, it’s important to know more about healthy kidney function.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form inside your kidneys. The stones are made of mineral and acid salts. Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid — than the fluid in your urine can dilute.

Nephritis

Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney, usually due to a bacterial infection. In the majority of cases, the infection starts within the bladder and then migrates up the ureters and into the kidneys.

Interstitial nephritis is when the spaces between the kidney tubules become inflamed. This inflammation causes the kidneys to swell.

Glomerulonephritis produces inflammation in the glomeruli. Damaged and inflamed glomeruli may not filter the blood properly.

Nephrosis

Nephrosis is any degenerative disease of the renal tubules. Nephrosis can be caused by kidney disease, or it may be secondary to another disorder, particularly diabetes.

Renal (Kidney) Failure

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys fail to adequately filter waste products from the blood. Kidney failure can be divided into two categories: acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease.

Acute kidney injury (AKI), previously called acute renal failure, is a rapidly progressive loss of renal function. AKI can result from a variety of causes. Dialysis may be necessary to bridge the time gap required for treating these fundamental causes.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) develops slowly and, initially, shows few symptoms. CKD can be the long term consequence of irreversible acute disease or part of a disease progression. The most common causes of CKD are diabetes mellitus and long-term, uncontrolled hypertension. Polycystic kidney disease is another known cause of CKD. The majority of people afflicted with polycystic kidney disease have a family history of the disease. Other genetic illnesses affect kidney function, as well.

Chronic kidney failure is measured in five stages, which are calculated using a patient’s GFR, or glomerular filtration rate.

  • Stage 1 is mildly diminished renal function, with few overt symptoms.
  • Stages 2 and 3 need increasing levels of supportive care from their medical providers to slow and treat their renal dysfunction.
  • Stages 4 and 5 usually require preparation of the patient towards active treatment in order to survive.
  • Stage 5 is considered a severe illness and requires some form of dialysis or kidney transplant.

Keep your kidneys healthy

kidneymonthKeep fit and active: Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.

Keep regular control of your blood sugar level: About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.

Monitor your blood pressure: Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.

Eat healthy and keep your weight in check: This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with CKD. Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (around a teaspoon).

Maintain a healthy fluid intake: Although clinical studies have not reached an agreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day. Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which, in turn, results in a “significantly lower risk” of developing chronic kidney disease.

Do not smoke: Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.

Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis: Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly. Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.


Sources:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Mayo Clinic
Healthline

Wellness Wednesday: Portion Control is Key to Healthy Eating

Plate SlickMarch is National Nutrition Month and eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This means not just watching what you eat, but how much of it you eat. Portion control is the key to a healthy plate. The type of calories you consume can either give you energy or take it away. So before you ‘super size’ your next meal, here are some tips on how to keep your plate healthful.


The Vegetable Group

Fill half your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eat something from the five veggie groups every day. A diet rich in vegetables helps reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers.myplate_blue_vegetables

  • Dark green
  • Red and orange
  • Peas and beans
  • Starches
  • Other

The Fruit Group

Eat whole fruit more often than you drink 100% fruit juice. Fruits are an excellent source of fiber, water, vitamins and phytochemicals. Most fruits are low in sodium, fat and calories, and all of them have no cholesterol whatsoever.

myplate_green_fruitsTry a variety of different fruits every day!

  • Stone fruits
  • Berries
  • Fleshy fruits
  • Pome fruits
  • Melons

The Grain Group

myplate_magenta_grainsMake sure half the grains you eat are whole grains. Processed grains aren’t nearly as good for you.

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal

The Protein Group

Keep your portions lean and on just a quarter of your plate. All these foods are part of the protein group. Protein is a macronutrient that your body needs in order to function.

  • myplate_yellow_proteinMeat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans and peas
  • Processed soy
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds

The Dairy Group

Keep your portions small and low in fat. There really can be too much of a good thing, especially with the dairy group. All foods in the dairy group are good sources of calcium, which helps build and maintain bone health.

myplate_yellowThe dairy group includes…

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Milk-based desserts
  • Natural cheeses
  • American cheese

More Information:

Portion Distortion

ChooseMyPlate.gov

MyPlate, My Wins Tipsheet

MyPlate Daily Checklist

Focus on Fruits

10 Tips: Build a Healthy Meal

10 Tips: Enjoy Your Food But Eat Less

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