Category Archives: Health

“Heat-related health dangers for older adults soar during the summer”

National Institute of Health tips help reduce risk of hyperthermia.

As we age, our ability to adequately respond to summer heat can become a serious problem. Older people are at significant increased risk of heat-related illnesses, known collectively as hyperthermia, during the summer months. Hyperthermia can include heat stroke, heat edema (swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot), heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat), heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.

HEAT

Experts at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, say knowing which health-related factors may increase risk could save a life. Those factors include:

  • Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands
  • Heart, lung, and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever
  • High blood pressure or other conditions that require changes in diet, such as salt-restricted diets
  • Reduced sweating, caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure drugs
  • Taking several drugs for various conditions (It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.)
  • Being substantially overweight or underweight
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Being dehydrated

Lifestyle factors can also increase risk, including extremely hot living quarters, lack of transportation, overdressing, visiting overcrowded places, and not understanding how to respond to weather conditions.

Older people, particularly those at special risk, should stay indoors on particularly hot and humid days, especially when there is an air pollution alert in effect. To stay cool, drink plenty of fluids and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics. People without fans or air conditioners should keep their homes as cool as possible or go someplace cool. Senior centers, religious groups, and social service organizations in many communities provide cooling centers when the temperatures rise. Or visit public air conditioned places such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or libraries.

Heat stroke is a severe form of hyperthermia that occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and unable to control its temperature. Someone with a body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit is likely suffering from heat stroke. Symptoms include fainting; a change in behavior (confusion, combativeness, staggering, possible delirium or coma); dry, flushed skin and a strong, rapid pulse; and lack of sweating. Seek immediate medical attention for a person with any of these symptoms, especially an older adult.

If you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:

  • Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke.
  • Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned or other cool place. Urge them to lie down.
  • If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water and fruit or vegetable juices, but not alcohol or caffeine.
  • Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits, and groin. These are places where blood passes close to the surface of the skin, and a cold cloth can help cool the blood.
  • Encourage the person to shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water if it is safe to do so.

If you are having a hard time paying for home cooling and heating costs, there are some resources that might help. Contact the National Energy Assistance Referral service(link is external), your local Area Agency on Aging(link is external), senior center, or social service agency.

To learn more, go to Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults. Free publications on hot weather safety and other healthy aging topics in English and Spanish are available from the NIA website or by calling NIA’s toll-free number: 1-800-222-2225.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

“Sepsis is the third leading cause of death. Can a new blood test change that?” – STAT

SepsisRonnie Roberts spends his spare time handing out leaflets on the dangers of sepsis. He lost his fiancee, Dorice Broughton, to sepsis in 2015. Aram Boghosian for STAT

In his spare time, when he feels up to it, Ronnie Roberts walks through hospital parking lots slipping informational flyers onto every windshield.

“Roberts wants people to know the signs of sepsis, the body’s overwhelming response to a blood infection, which can lead to organ failure and even death. If he had known the signs and insisted that his fiancee was treated appropriately, he believes she’d still be alive.

“Sepsis kills over 250,000 people a year in the United States — more than any cause other than cancer and heart disease. But still, many people have never heard of it. And hospitals often fail to notice the warning signs when a patient is spiraling downward.”

Read this article in at STAT.

 

“The latest blood pressure guidelines: What they mean for you” – The Conversation

new blood pressureNew blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association. CC BY-SA

by John Warner

Updated blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association mean that many more Americans, notably older people, are now diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension. This may sound like bad news, but the new guidelines highlight some important lessons we cardiologists and heart health researchers have learned from the latest blood pressure studies. Specifically, we have learned that damage from high blood pressure starts at much lower blood pressures than previously thought and that it is more important than ever to start paying attention to your blood pressure before it starts causing problems.

“High blood pressure accounts for more heart disease and stroke deaths than all other preventable causes, except smoking.”

Read this article in its entirety at The Conversation.

“Will We Still Be Relevant ‘When We’re 64’?” – Kaiser Health News

when I'm 64Click here to listen to The Beatles song, “When I’m Sixty-four” while you read this article.

by Sharon Jayson

“A gnawing sense of irrelevancy and invisibility suddenly hits many aging adults, as their life roles shift from hands-on parent to empty nester or from workaholic to retiree. Self-worth and identity may suffer as that feeling that you matter starts to fade. Older adults see it in the workplace when younger colleagues seem uninterested in their feedback. Those who just retired might feel a bit unproductive.

New research suggests this perception of becoming irrelevant is very real. And that’s why some seniors are determined to stay social, remain relevant and avert the loneliness often linked with aging.

“As people get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to feel like they make a difference and matter … ”

Click here to read this Kaiser Health News article in its entirety.

“Opiate addiction and the history of pain and race in the US” – The Conversation

painPain of the sick: ‘Anatomy of Expression,’ by Sir Charles Bell, 1806. Wellcome Collection

“‘I have had little or no sleep, owing to the tooth ache or rather stump ache,’Elizabeth Drinker wrote in her diary one night in 1796. ‘One of my Eye teeth very sore, my face much swelled and painful.’

“Drinker, a white woman from a prominent family in Philadelphia, filled her diary with comments like this. Disease was rampant in those days, and injuries often didn’t heal properly. Food was frequently spoiled, leading to painful stomach problems. Cavities and severe gum disease were common. These and other problems meant that pain – severe, intractable pain – was an ordinary part of daily life.

“Of course, many people suffered far more than Elizabeth Drinker. Slaves, in particular, were forced to perform long hours of grueling work, and their injuries and illnesses were often left untreated. They also suffered from brutal physical punishment.”

Click here to continue reading this article at The Conversation.

 

SAMHSA announces $930 million funding opportunity to combat the opioid crisis

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is now accepting applications for $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants. SAMHSA will distribute funds to states and territories in support of their ongoing efforts to provide prevention, treatment and recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder.

The State Opioid Response Grants aim to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment, reducing unmet treatment need and reducing opioid-related overdose deaths. “This large new grant program reflects President Trump’s deep commitment to fighting the opioid crisis, and will provide extra support for the hardest-hit states,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “It demonstrates the emphasis we place on expanding access to treatment that works, especially medication-assisted treatment with appropriate social supports.”

The grants will be awarded to the states and territories using a formula specified in the funding announcement. Fifteen percent of the total funds will be set aside to provide extra support to states that have been hardest hit by the crisis. States and territories will use the grants to design plans and conduct activities across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, and recovery.

These prevention, treatment, and recovery activities represent a comprehensive response to the opioid crisis and include action at the federal, state and local levels. “The State Opioid Response Grants were designed to meet the specific needs of communities within each state and territory,” explained Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz. “The grants will expand capacity to provide much needed evidence-based care to people who haven’t yet been reached.”

Under President Trump, in April 2017, HHS unveiled a new five-point Opioid Strategy. The Strategy prioritizes efforts in five areas: 1) Improving access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services, including medication-assisted treatment; 2) Promoting the targeted availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; 3) Strengthening public health data reporting and collection; 4) Supporting cutting-edge research on addiction and pain and 5) Advancing the practice of pain management. Over fiscal years 2017 and 2018, HHS will invest over $4 billion in opioid-specific funding, including funds to state and local governments as well as tribal, public, and nonprofit organizations to support treatment and recovery services, target availability of overdose-reversing drugs, train first responders and more.

 

For more information on how to apply, see https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/ti-18-015.

Falls Prevention Conversation Guide for Caregivers

falls prevention guide

“Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans, but most falls can be prevented. This resource highlights fall risk factors and ways that caregivers can work with loved ones to develop a falls prevention action plan.

“The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) has partnered with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to create this resource highlighting fall risk factors and ways that caregivers can work with loved ones to develop a falls prevention action plan. This resource provides a guide for starting conversations about falls with loved ones. It also outlines specific falls prevention action steps and highlights additional resources which may helpful.”

Click here to download the Falls Prevention Conversation Guide.

Community HealthChoices “delivery of service coordination”

chc delivery of services.jpg

Though the counties in Service Area 13 — Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon — are not impacted until January 2019, we wanted to share this information.

REMINDER: Many of our partners in Service Area 13’s footprint will be attending the special Community HealthChoices seminar on June 18.

In preparation for the launch of Community HealthChoices (CHC) in the Southeast region, the above CHC Fact Sheet explains the delivery of service coordination through the program. Under CHC, service coordination is a function of the managed care organizations (MCOs). A service coordinator is the MCO’s designated, accountable point-of-contact for each participant receiving long-term care services, their person-centered service plan, and service coordination. Therefore, the Office of Long-Term Living sees the service coordinators as part of the MCO under CHC.

Trainings | In addition to the fact sheets, the department has developed short, easily digestible overview trainings on CHC that can be found here. We encourage everyone to take the time to review the training and increase their knowledge in anticipation of the Southeast rollout and to familiarize themselves with the program.

Additional resources | To assist stakeholders in finding answers to questions more quickly, we recently consolidated all FAQs into a single CHC Questions and Answers Document.  The new document is in searchable PDF format and contains a table of contents that allows the user to easily move to different sections within the document.

The CHC Questions and Answers Document can be found on both the Participant and Provider sections of the CHC website by clicking on “View CHC Publications” or by following this link:

http://www.healthchoices.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_274784.pdf

Please note: | The individual FAQ documents have been removed from the CHC website.  All questions and answers are now on one document.

CONTACT:  If you have any questions, please visit www.HealthChoices.pa.gov or submit comments electronically to RA-PWCHC@pa.gov.

A listserv has been established for ongoing updates on the CHC program. It is titled OLTL-COMMUNITY-HEALTHCHOICES, please visit the ListServ Archives page at http://listserv.dpw.state.pa.us to update or register your email address.

Please share with other members of your organization as appropriate. Also, it is imperative that you notify the Office of Long-Term Living for changes that would affect your provider file, such as addresses and telephone numbers. Mail to/pay to addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers may be updated electronically through ePEAP, which can be accessed through the PROMISe™ provider portal. For any other provider file changes please notify the Bureau of Quality and Provider Management Enrollment and Certification Section at 1-800-932-0939 Option #1.

To ensure you receive email communications distributed from the Office of Long-Term Living, please visit the ListServ Archives page at http://listserv.dpw.state.pa.us to update or register your email address.

“For those who receive — and deliver — Meals on Wheels, more than nutrition is on the menu” – The Boston Globe

meals on wheelsJessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff – Vito LaMura makes a Meals on Wheels delivery to Sally Neale in Lexington.

LEXINGTON — It’s a Tuesday ritual that Vito LaMura holds dear.

“On that day, the 71-year-old retired teacher drives from his Bedford home to Lexington Community Center, where he picks up more than a dozen Meals on Wheels packages. LaMura carefully lays out the bagged containers in his Mazda hatchback. Then he’s off on an 8-mile route — delivering food to housebound seniors who get by on Social Security, daily routines, and memories.

“The modest meals are crucial for those who receive them. So is the emotional nourishment. The state and federally funded Meals on Wheels program provides a daily visit for about 75,000 people over age 60 in Massachusetts. Many are hungry, isolated, and living in or near poverty. It’s a human connection to an outside world that can recede from view in later years. Many Meals on Wheels volunteers are retirees like LaMura. Some aren’t that much younger than the folks they visit. But most of them are focused on navigating their routes rather than peering into what could be their future. As he makes his rounds, it’s clear the program benefits LaMura as much as it does the recipients, whom he calls ‘my people.’ Their conversations come easily.”

Click here to continue reading this Boston Globe article.

BERKS COUNTY MEALS ON WHEELS INFORMATION

LANCASTER COUNTY MEALS ON WHEELS INFORMATION

LEBANON COUNTY MEALS ON WHEELS INFORMATION

 

 

Friday Wrap-Up, April 6, 2018 | a message from the Secretary of Aging

Each week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth. Click here download the newsletter as a .pdf file.