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Get the Heart Facts

Get the Heart Facts

You know that a bad diet and too little exercise can hurt your ticker. But there are lots of sneaky sources of heart disease that you may not be aware of. Here are some you need to know about, and heart-smart steps to help you keep healthy.

Dental problems

Need extra motivation to brush and floss every day? People with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease, too. The connection isn’t not clear, but some experts think bacteria from your gums may move into your bloodstream, leading to inflammation of the blood vessels and other heart problems. See your dentist every 6 months for checkups. Make an appointment right away if you spot redness or soreness on your gums, or changes in your teeth.

Shift Work

Working at night or irregular hours raises your risk of a heart attack, according to a recent study from Western University in Canada. Researchers say shift work has a bad impact on the body’s circadian rhythm (a.k.a. your “internal clock”), and they think that harms your heart. So if you don’t work regular day hours, take extra steps to lower your risk of heart disease: Get exercise, eat a balanced diet, and see your doctor for regular checkups.

Traffic Delays

Anyone who’s ever been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic will tell you it’s stressful. That may be why research links spending a single hour in traffic to higher odds of having a heart attack. High noise levels — like the kind you hear on a freeway — are also linked to heart disease. If you can’t avoid traveling during rush hour, squash stress by listening to relaxing music. Or share the ride and chat with your fellow passenger.

Early Menopause

If you’re a woman and you go into menopause before you turn 46, your odds of having a heart attack or stroke may be twice as high as those who go through it later. A drop in estrogen, a hormone with ticker-friendly effects, may play a role. Ask your doctor to test you for heart disease risk factors (like high cholesterol).

Snoring

If your partner says you regularly snore or you sound like you’re gasping for air while sleeping, see your doctor. You might have a serious condition called apnea. It can happen when your airway is partially blocked and it causes you to have pauses in your breathing. The disorder is linked to high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, strokes, and heart failure. Treatments can help you breathe easier and lower your risk for heart disease, too.

Hepatitis C

If you have this liver infection, you’re more likely to have low cholesterol and low blood pressure than people who don’t have the disease. But even so, you still have a higher risk of heart disease. Researchers think hep C may cause inflammation of the body’s cells and tissues, including those in the heart. Work closely with your doctor to keep tabs on any heart symptoms.

Not Getting Good Sleep

When you routinely get less than 6 hours of shut-eye a night, you raise your risk of higher blood pressure and cholesterol. It increases the odds you’ll become obese and get diabetes, too (both of which can hurt your heart). That doesn’t mean you should sleep your way through the day. When you spend more than 9 hours horizontal on a regular basis, it raises your odds of getting diabetes and having a stroke — major risk factors for heart disease. Baby your brain, body, and heart — aim for 7 to 9 hours of slumber a night.

An Unhappy Marriage

A good match makes your heart happy and healthy. Older adults who are content in their unions have a lower risk of heart disease than those who aren’t, according to a recent study from Michigan State University. The likely cause? Stress. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to make bad diet choices and do other things that can hurt your ticker, like drink too much alcohol. What’s more, stress hormones may have a negative effect on the heart. So consider seeing a couples’ therapist or clergy member together if your marriage isn’t a happy one.

Lonelines 

When you spend time with loved ones, it thwarts stress and helps you stay active. Lonely folks may be more likely to have heart disease. If you’re not near family or close friends, get connected by helping someone in need, or adopt a dog or cat. Volunteers and dog owners might enjoy better heart health and live longer, to

Belly Fat

Any extra weight is hard on your heart, but the kind around your midsection is especially dangerous. It may trigger your body to make hormones and other chemicals that can raise blood pressure and have a bad effect on your blood vessels and cholesterol levels. If you’re a woman and your waist is more than 35 inches around, or 40 inches if you’re a man, talk to your doctor about a diet and exercise plan. Research shows that yoga and short bursts of high-intensity exercise are great ways to whittle your middle.

Too Much Tube Time

Couch potatoes, stand up! People who park themselves in front of the television a lot are more likely to get heart problems than those who limit their TV time. Every hour you spend watching TV on a daily basis may increase your risk by almost 20%. Sitting is the most likely culprit; it’s linked to problems like high blood pressure. Until researchers know how and why TV and heart trouble are connected, try to limit your time in front of the tube.

Too Much Exercise All at Once

Exercise is great for your heart. But if you’re out of shape or only work out occasionally, start slowly and build your endurance. When you exercise too long or too hard, it may put you at risk for heart attack and other problems, research shows. Not sure what’s safe for you? Start with a gentle exercise like walking. If you have a high risk of heart disease, talk to your doctor, and consider using a heart monitor while working out.

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What are Cataracts?

Cataracts are protein deposits that, as they grow larger, cloud the lens of the eye and impair vision.

They can affect one or both eyes. They develop up to twice as frequently in the presence of diabetes.

They also tend to develop at a much younger age and progress more quickly. If you do develop

cataracts, they are typically treated surgically. While diabetic cataracts can be more complicated than

other types, the results are typically quite good. Symptoms to look out for: Blurred, clouded or

worsening vision, sensitivity to light or glare, halos around lights.

Types of cataracts include:

 Age-related cataracts. As the name suggests, this type of cataract develops as a result of

aging.

 Congenital cataracts. Babies are sometimes born with cataracts as a result of an infection,

injury, or poor development before they were born, or they may develop during childhood.

 Secondary cataracts. These develop as a result of other medical conditions, like diabetes, or

exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light,

or radiation.

 Traumatic cataracts. These form after injury to the eye.

Other factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing cataracts include cigarette smoke,

air pollution, and heavy alcohol consumption

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

Cataracts usually form slowly and cause few symptoms until they noticeably block light. When

symptoms are present, they can include:

 Vision that is cloudy, blurry, foggy, or filmy

 Progressive nearsightedness in older people often called “second sight” because although their

distance vision is deteriorating, they may no longer need reading glasses.

 Changes in the way you see color because the discolored lens acts as a filter.

 Problems driving at night such as glare from oncoming headlights.

 Problems with glare during the day.

 Double vision while looking through the eye with a cataract (like a superimposed image).

 Sudden changes in glasses prescription.

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Canadians to government: Help keep seniors at home

home care london ontario

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Canadians want to stay at home when get older, and they want the government to help.

The vast majority, 93%, of Canadians believe the country should adopt a national health-care strategy to keep seniors at home as long as possible, found a Canadian Medical Association report. And they say that strategy should involve lightening the burden on hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities by keeping seniors at home longer.

“The results of this year’s CMA report card send a clear and direct message to policy-makers and public office holders that all levels of government need to act to address the demographic tsunami that is heading toward the health-care system,” said CMA president Dr. Anna Reid in a press release.

What’s more, most people think the country currently is doing a poor job at taking care of its seniors and isn’t ready for the growing population of elderly Canadians.

Less than half, 41%, believe facilities in their areas can handle the number of seniors who can’t stay at home.

Canadians are worried about their own futures, with 83% saying they’re concerned about health care in retirement, and 77% saying they’re worried about having access to high quality home care and long-term care.

“The anxiety Canadians have about health care in their so-called golden years is both real and well-founded,” Reid added. “Let there be no doubt that a national strategy for seniors health care should be a federal priority.”

The CMA surveyed 1,000 Canadians over 18 between July 17-26, with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

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CCAC health professionals are on strike Friday morning across Ontario, including London

A strike by nurses who co-ordinate home care has pushed overcrowded Ontario hospitals into uncharted waters that could strand patients in wards and backup emergency rooms, a leading hospital official says.

“We’re kind of entering unknown territory,” Windsor Regional CEO David Musyj said. “Extra minutes turn into extra hours, hours turn into half-days — it starts to add up.”

Windsor is part of the broad sweep of Ontario that may feel the squeeze of a strike that began at midnight Thursday and left nearly 3,000 health-care workers on the picket line at nine of 14 community care access centres (CCAC) across the province.

Such a strike hasn’t occurred since Ontario Liberals began steering money away from hospitals and toward cheaper home care. Hospitals have since used home care as a pressure valve to quickly and safely discharge patients to the community.

But with the strike, that pressure valve may jam shut, and hospital officials won’t know how bad it might be until it happens.

“A week from now, I don’t know,” Musyj said.

Some nurses, social workers and therapists with CCAC are normally stationed weekdays in hospitals and ERs to quickly find home care for those who need it. Hospitals discharge most patients on weekdays and not at night or on weekends. In Windsor, those CCAC staff help discharge 50 patients a day.

But with the strike, there will be no one from CCAC in hospital, leaving hospital staff to fax requests to CCAC offices to a skeletal staff of managers and those not in the nurses’ union.

The London-based agency acknowledges the strike by 450 of its workers may cause delays for people seeking new or expanded home care.

“There may be delays in responding to patients with less urgent needs,” Southwest CCAC spokesperson Andria Appeldoorn wrote in a media release Friday.

A spokesperson for CCACs provincewide went even further, saying the strike robs the agencies of the majority of staff and will cause some delays.

“People will not come on to (home) service as quickly as if we didn’t have a strike,” said Megan Allen-Lamb, who is also CEO of North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC.

Those delays could be made worse because hospital wards and ERs are already filled to the rafters, Musyj said.

In the past seven days at London’s University and Victoria hospitals, there have been more patients than staffed beds planned for each day, with capacity ranging between 102% and 113%, according to the hospitals.

Officials at London Health Science Centre (LHSC) didn’t agree to an interview Friday, instead issuing a short media release.

Carol Young-Ritchie, LHSC vice president, wrote that the CCAC has a plan to minimize disruption to patients.

“We don’t anticipate any changes to ongoing provision of priority services to patients,” she wrote. As to patients who need home care but are not deemed a priority, Young-Ritchie was silent.

Nurses at CCAC, and to a lesser extent social workers and therapists, serve as gatekeepers to those seeking new or expanded home care or a place in a nursing home.

The strike means some calls for help will be fielded by people who aren’t part of a regulated health profession such as nursing — but the CCAC says they will only assist those making decisions about access to care.

“Non-union staff members have been trained to support patient services during this labour disruption,” Appeldoorn wrote.

But though hospitals and the CCAC expect some delays, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins didn’t acknowledge that as even a possibility.

“We understand that the CCACs have developed contingency plans and are working with all of their partners to ensure patients continue to receive the care they need,” he wrote in a media release.

Neither the CCAC nor the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) has publicly disclosed their contract demands, but it’s clear their disagreement is more to do about how pay will be boosted than about how much. Nurses want annual raises of at least 1.4% to keep pace with ONA colleagues in hospitals and nursing homes. The CCAC previously agreed to deals with other unions to pay about that amount but with some coming as lump sums that wouldn’t automatically be applied to future contracts.

Other CCACs on strike Friday were North East, North West, Central East, Central, North Simcoe Muskoka, Waterloo Wellington, South East, and Erie St. Clair. “Your employer has drawn a line in the sand . . . Their actions are wrong, mean-spirited and disrespectful,” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud wrote to members.

Both sides accuse the other of walking away from the bargaining table. READ MORE


 

 

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What are Home Care Services?

Home Care Service – At White Wings, this service includes personal care (“Hands-on” services such feeding, bathing and dressing, oral hygiene and grooming, range of motion exercises, assistance with toileting, transferring in and out of chair and bed, and medication reminders), companionship, light housecleaning, cleaning kitchen and bathroom, changing linens, laundering and ironing, grocery shopping and preparing nutritious meals, running errands and transportation.



Dementia Care Do’s & Don’ts: Dealing with Dementia Behavior Problems

By Sarah Stevenson

Alzheimer’s behavior, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, dementia care

Mid-to-late stage dementia and Alzheimer’s patients often present challenging behavior problems for their caregivers.  The anger, sadness, paranoia, confusion, and fear they’re experiencing can result in oppositional, aggressive and sometimes violent speech or actions.  Read about some things people with dementia say, understand why they’re saying it and learn which strategies are most effective in dementia behavior management.

Communication difficulties can be one of the most upsetting aspects of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia—and it’s frustrating for the patient as well as for loved ones. Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia they act the way they do, the explanation is attributable to their disease and the changes it causes in the brain. One concrete step you can take to make communication easier is to familiarize yourself with some of the common situations that arise when someone has dementia, so that if your loved one says something shocking or puzzling, you’ll know how to respond calmly and effectively.

Common Situation #2: Aggressive Speech or Actions

Examples: Statements such as “I don’t want to take a shower!”, “I want to go home!”, “I don’t want to eat that!” may escalate into aggressive behavior.

Explanation: The most important thing to remember about verbal or physical aggression, says the Alzheimer’s Association, is that your loved one is not doing it on purpose. Aggression is usually triggered by something—often physical discomfort, environmental factors such as being in an unfamiliar situation, or even poor communication. “A lot of times aggression is coming from pure fear,” says Tresa Mariotto, Family Ambassador at Silverado Senior Living in Bellingham, WA. “People with dementia are more apt to hit, kick, or bite” in response to feeling helpless or afraid.

Ann Napoletan, who writes for  Caregivers.com, is all too familiar with this situation. “As my mom’s disease progressed, so did the mood swings. She could be perfectly fine one moment, and the next she was yelling and getting physical. Often, it remained a mystery as to what prompted the outburst. For her caregivers, it was often getting dressed or bathing that provoked aggression.”

DO:  The key to responding to aggression caused by dementia is to try to identify the cause—what is the person feeling to make them behave aggressively? Once you’ve made sure they aren’t putting themselves (or anyone else) in danger, you can try to shift the focus to something else, speaking in a calm, reassuring manner.

“This is where truly knowing your loved one is so important,” says Ann Napoletan. “In my mom’s case, she didn’t like to be fussed over. If she was upset, oftentimes trying to talk to her and calm her down only served to agitate her more. Likewise, touching her–even to try and hold her hand or gently rub her arm or leg–might result in her taking a swing. The best course of action in that case was to walk away and let her have the space she needed.”

DON’T: “The worst thing you can do is engage in an argument or force the issue that’s creating the aggression,” Ann says. “Don’t try to forcibly restrain the person unless there is absolutely no choice.” Tresa Mariotto agrees: “The biggest way to stop aggressive behavior is to remove the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary.”

Common Situation #2: Confusion about Time or Place

Examples: “I want to go home!”, “This isn’t my house.”, “When are we leaving? Why are we here?”

Explanation: Wanting to go home is one of the most common reactions for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient living in a memory care facility. Remember that Alzheimer’s causes progressive damage to cognitive functioning, and this is what creates the confusion and memory loss. There’s also a psychological component, says Tresa: “Often people are trying to go back to a place where they had more control in their lives.”

DO: There are a few possible ways to respond to questions that indicate your loved one is confused about where he or she is. Simple explanations along with photos and other tangible reminders can help, suggests the Alzheimer’s Association. Sometimes, however, it can be better to redirect the person, particularly in cases where you’re in the process of moving your loved one to a facility or other location.

“The better solution is to say as little as possible about the fact that they have all of their belongings packed and instead try to redirect them–find another activity, go for a walk, get a snack, etc.,” says Ann Napoletan. “If they ask specific questions such as ‘When are we leaving?’ you might respond with, ‘We can’t leave until later because…’ the traffic is terrible / the forecast is calling for bad weather / it’s too late to leave tonight.”

“You have to figure out what’s going to make the person feel the safest,” says Tresa Mariotto, even if that ends up being “a therapeutic lie.”

DON’T: Lengthy explanations or reasons are not the way to go. “You can’t reason with someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia,” says Ann. “It just can’t be done.” In fact, says Tresa, “A lot of times we’re triggering the response that we’re getting because of the questions we’re asking.”

This was another familiar situation for Ann and her mother. “I learned this one the hard way. We went through a particularly long spell where every time I came to see my mom, she would have everything packed up ready to go–EVERYTHING! …Too many times, I tried to reason with her and explain that she was home; this was her new home. Inevitably things would get progressively worse.”

 

Common Situation #3: Poor Judgment or Cognitive Problems

Examples: Unfounded accusations: “You stole my vacuum cleaner!”

Trouble with math or finances: “I’m having trouble with the tip on this restaurant bill.”

Other examples: unexplained hoarding/stockpiling, repetition of statements or tasks

Explanation: The deterioration of brain cells caused by Alzheimer’s is a particular culprit in behaviors showing poor judgment or errors in thinking. These can contribute to delusions, or untrue beliefs. Some of these problems are obvious, such as when someone is hoarding household items, or accuses a family member of stealing something. Some are more subtle, however, and the person may not realize that they are having trouble with things that they never used to think twice about.

According to Ann Napoletan, “There came a time when I began to suspect my mom was having problems keeping financial records in order. At the time, she was living independently and was very adamant about remaining in her house. Any discussion to the contrary, or really any comment that eluded to the fact that she may be slipping, was met with either rage or tears. It was when she asked me to help with her taxes that I noticed the checking account was a mess.”

DO: First you’ll want to assess the extent of the problem. “If you’re curious and don’t want to ask, take a look at a heating bill,” suggests Tresa Mariotto. “Sometimes payments are delinquent or bills aren’t being paid at all.” You can also flip through their checkbook and look at the math, or have them figure out the tip at a restaurant.

The Alzheimer’s Association says to be encouraging and reassuring if you’re seeing these changes happen. Also, you can often minimize frustration and embarrassment by offering help in small ways with staying organized. This is what Ann did for her mother: “As I sifted through records to complete her tax return, I gently mentioned noticing a couple of overdraft fees and asked if the bank had perhaps made a mistake. As we talked through it, she volunteered that she was having more and more difficulty keeping things straight, knew she had made some errors, and asked if I would mind helping with the checkbook going forward. I remember her being so relieved after we talked about it.” From there, over time, Ann was gradually able to gain more control over her mother’s finances.

DON’T: What you shouldn’t do in these circumstances is blatantly question the person’s ability to handle the situation at hand, or try to argue with them. “Any response that can be interpreted as accusatory or doubting the person’s ability to handle their own affairs only serves to anger and put them on the defensive,” says Ann.

Are you a caregiver or family member of someone with dementia? Do any of these situations sound familiar? We want to hear your stories, too—please feel free to share them in the comments.

Dementia Care Dos & Don’ts: Dealing with Dementia Behavior Problems by Sarah Stevenson

Sarah J. Stevenson

http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-02-08-dealing-with-dementia-behavior/

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