Fall Prevention

Stay Safe When Walking in Winter Weather

Many older adults fear falling, according to The National Institute on Aging. And with good reason: Falls can lead to broken bones and other serious injuries. But don’t let fear make you a prisoner in your own home.

What are the dangers of falling?
If you have osteoporosis, a fall is more likely to result in a broken bone. But even if your bones are strong, a fall could result in another injury, including a head injury.

Are there conditions that make falling more likely?
There are medical conditions that may increase your risk of falling. If you have any such condition, take extra care and talk to your doctor about what affect your condition could make and what steps you can take to reduce your risks. Some of these conditions include poor eyesight and hearing, poor balance and muscle weakness. Certain medications that make you sleepy or disoriented can increase the risks, as can alcohol.

How can I safely go outside in winter?
Be aware of your limitations and take whatever precautions are reasonable. For some, that is choosing non-slip footwear, while for others, it might mean waiting until a helper is available to accompany you. Brace yourself exiting cars by holding on to the door fully as you step out. Use handrails when available for additional stability.

What precautions can I take?
Assistive devices such as canes or walkers can help. Change your environment if necessary, eliminating items like rugs in your home. Outside, ice and snow add to the danger. Arrange to have your porch and sidewalk areas cleared and salted.

What if I do fall?
It’s a very good idea to consider carrying a phone on your person or wearing an emergency response device on a necklace or bracelet if you’re at risk and live alone. If you fall, assess whether you are able to get back up without assistance or if you need to call for help.

The Importance of Proper Car Seat Installation

You know how important it is that children be protected in car seats. But just having a car seat isn’t enough: It’s vital that you install the seat correctly.

What are the available types of car seats?

There are several types of car seats:

  • Infant car seats
  • Convertible seats
  • All-in-one seats
  • Boost seats

Where can I get more information?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has lots of information on car seat safety, including a handy chart that tells you what kind of seat is appropriate for your child depending on age and weight. But even the right seat does little good if it’s not installed correctly.

Read the car seat manual!

This may sound obvious, but even if you’ve installed seats before, take the time to read the manual to be sure you’re following the manufacturer’s directions. Read the car seat information section in your vehicle owner’s manual as well. Each seat is different, and not every seat is appropriate for every vehicle.

How do I know if the seat is correctly installed?

If the seat is easy to move back and forth or forward and backward, it’s too loose. If there’s a tether strap, and the car has a tether anchor, use it. Make certain you install a rear-facing seat at the correct recline angle. Look for a built-in angle indicator.

Is there someone who will check my installation?

Yes! We have staff at the Taylor Clinic who are certified car seat installers and will be glad to perform a car seat installation check for you. In addition, the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Program offers CPS technicians who can help. Click the link to find a certified technician who can check your installation and offer help if you need it.

How do I put my child in the seat?

Once the seat is installed correctly, make sure you adjust your child correctly every single time you go somewhere. Harness straps must be flat. Buckle the harness, situate the chest clip at armpit level, and tighten.

What about winter coats and car seats?

A puffy coat can prevent the car seat from being tight enough. To prevent this, cover the strapped-in child with a blanket instead. Consumer Reports offers more information on how to safely use a car seat in winter.

When Do You Need to See a Doctor for a Prescription Refill?

Many wonder why a physician requires an office visit when they need their prescription renewed – especially if they have been taking the drug for a while with no problems – but there are times when an office visit is required for the patient’s safety.

While patients often prefer having their physicians renew prescriptions without question or an office visit, that may not result in the best care. Typically, if you haven’t been seen for a while – or if the doctor is new to you and hasn’t examined you before – an office visit will be necessary. This is to assure your safety – many things can be discovered during an office visit that might not be obvious to you.

  • Your doctor may need to check whether this specific drug still makes sense for you, or if the dosage should be changed.
  • New symptoms might arise that indicate further diagnostics, resulting in a different drug that would fit you better.
  • You may have side effects without realizing their connection to your current prescription.
  • A new drug, not on the market at the time the previous drug was prescribed, might now be a better choice.
  • You may have developed new medical issues that require a change of medication.
  • Your condition may have improved, and you may be able to decrease the dosage or discontinue the drug altogether.
  • You may have begun taking an additional medication prescribed by another doctor, and that may affect whether the existing drug is still right for you.

So, while an automatic prescription renewal may be more convenient, remember that your physician recommends an office visit to assure you are taking the medications that are best for you. Of course, if you have any concerns about your prescriptions, it’s always best to give your healthcare provider a call.

Healthy Holiday Desserts

The holidays are often a time of excessive eating and drinking. But the holidays don’t have to derail your healthy habits. You can eat your favorite holiday cookies, cakes and pies without gaining weight – just indulge sensibly. Here are a couple of healthy desserts that feel like a spurge but are actually healthy.

Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Classic lemon squares can contain up to 36 grams of sugar per piece. By putting a tangy cheesecake spin on ours, we’ve cut the sugar down to only 6 grams per pop. Your sweet tooth will agree that these bars are good enough to enjoy year-round.

View Recipe: Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Reminiscent of classic popcorn balls, these salty-sweet treats make for awesome low-fat snacking. Make a batch to enjoy throughout the week.

MarshmallowPopcorn Treats with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

Reminiscent of classic popcorn balls, these salty-sweet treats make for awesome low-fat snacking. Make a batch to enjoy throughout the week.

View Recipe: Marshmallow Popcorn Treats with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

Almond Butter and Yogurt-Dipped Fruit

Almond butter and Greek yogurt create one protein-packed combination when it comes to sweet treats. Dip your fresh fruit of choice into the yogurt mixture and eat right away or freeze the fruit to create a shell similar todark chocolate covered strawberries.

View Recipe: Almond Butter and Yogurt-Dipped Fruit

Ginger Angel Food Cake

This light, airy cake from Food Network Magazine is flavored with fresh ginger and topped with a lime-spiked raspberry sauce.

View Recipe: Ginger Angel Food Cake

Recipes provided by My Recipes, Food Network and Cooking Light. Click on any of the links to find more healthy holiday desserts. 

Stay “Happy” During the Holidays

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. But for some people, they can be a time of sadness and longing as old memories return… reminders of good times past and loved ones who are no longer with them. And the feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming. Those adjusting to life after a recent move can face even more challenges. But there’s no reason to feel alone – help is available.

Tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  • Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Live and enjoy the present.
  • Volunteer.
  • Limit your drinking.
  • Try something new.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  • Make time for yourself!
  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  • Keep track of your holiday spending.

If none of these tips help with your feelings of depression, seek professional help with Cathy Rigg and the counseling services available at the Taylor Clinic. There is a wide array of treatment options available and sometimes just talking to someone is help enough.

Breathe Easier and Get Relief from Lung Disease Right Here

Suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or (COPD), can feel like there’s an elephant right on your chest. COPD – a collective term for progressive lung disease including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma and some forms of bronchiectasis – can also put a huge weight on families.

More than 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from COPD – and estimates say more than half of them don’t know it. Don’t let COPD take over your life – get screened before you lose lung function.

“If you start finding yourself susceptible to respiratory infections or you’re having shortness of breath regularly, it may be time to consider the risk factors and symptoms to see if you are at risk,” says Pradeep Kulkarni, MD, Pulmonary Clinical Care & Sleep Specialist.

Should I get tested?
“People who have smoked for more than 10 years should always consider themselves at risk for COPD,” says Dr. Kulkarni. A simple, non-invasive spirometry test will measure how well your lungs are working.

You may also have COPD and should get tested if you:

  • Have a history of smoking
  • Have long-term exposure to air pollutants (including pollution and second-hand smoke)
  • Have frequent chronic coughing with or without sputum
  • Experience a tightness in the chest
  • Cannot keep up with people your own age
  • Have a history of COPD in your family
  • Have wheezing
  • Have shortness of breath that has become worse over time

Heredity can play a role… even if you’ve never smoked or been exposed to irritants at work. Emphysema2 is connected to common genetic risk factor, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD). If you don’t have enough Alpha-1 Antitrypsin protein in your bloodstream, white blood cells begin to harm the lungs, and your lungs begin to deteriorate.

Why should I get tested?
It’s important to find the right treatment. “Not all shortness of breath is COPD, and not all shortness of breath in smokers is COPD,” says Dr. Kulkarni. Untreated COPD symptoms often get worse faster than if they are treated with the right therapy or medication. You can’t get lung function back once it’s lost and there is no cure for COPD, but there is hope for a better life with early treatment and screening.

What can I do about COPD?
If you’re diagnosed with COPD, your doctor will work with you to design a treatment plan around your unique condition. That may include oxygen therapy, medication, breathing techniques, pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise, tips for staying healthy and improving the air quality at home. Above all, quit smoking. “Specialty clinics go a long way in helping patients quit smoking,” says Dr. Kulkarni. “A specialty clinic can educate you about the disease, as well as clarify the diagnosis and any misconceptions.”

Watch for Unwanted Guests – Head Lice

If you have children in the house, especially young ones, it’s time to watch for head lice. Although these pests are fairly harmless, parents never like finding them on their children.

What you should know

Lice are more easily spread during cooler weather because children are typically closer to one another. When children share infested winter coats and hats or combs, brushes and hair ornaments, lice can spread more readily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 6 to 12 million cases affect U.S. children ages 3-11 each year.

Easily mistaken for dandruff, head lice are tiny parasites that are the size of a sesame seed. The nymphs are even smaller and more difficult to see. Because lice are small, move around and flee light, they aren’t easy for an inexperienced person to identify. On closer inspection, however, you may find the tiny nits (eggs) cemented to the hair within a quarter-inch of the base of the hair shaft. If your child complains of an itchy scalp, or you see him or her scratching more than usual, take a closer look. Concentrate on the hair at the back of the head and behind the ears. Sometimes a severe infestation can extend to the eyebrows and eyelashes. If you discover lice, it’s time to spring into action.

If you’re not sure, see a doctor for a diagnosis.

How lice are treated

Once lice are discovered, it’s important to check everyone in the household, along with anyone who may be in close contact with your children. Some experts believe all household members should be treated at once to avoid spreading these parasites. A doctor can offer the best insight for your family. Some preparations kill the eggs and may require only one application, while others must be repeated after all eggs have been hatched but before the young lice can produce more eggs. Follow the package directions and your doctor’s instructions. Check the hair regularly for several weeks after treatment to be sure all lice are gone.

Visit cdc.gov.parasites/lice/head for more information.

Give Diabetes a Holiday by Putting Prevention at the Top of Your List

At many holiday celebration, sweet treats and big eats traditionally come into play – a contributing factor for diabetes and a minefield for those already dealing with the disease. Healthy eating is one of the most important prevention steps in lowering your risk for diabetes, a challenge any time of the year that’s made even more difficult during the holidays.

As with any food choices, moderation is key. Try these simple tips to prevent sabotaging yourself during the holiday season:

  • Prevent overeating by eating a healthy snack before the event.
  • Potluck? Bring a better-for-you option – many delicious recipes are out there!
  • Check the menu ahead of time so you can make your choices before you go.
  • Make a one-trip limit, especially at buffets.
  • Make healthy choices – water and unsweetened or diet drinks; limit heavy holiday traditions like glazed ham, turkey with gravy, etc.
  • Watch out for butter-laden side dishes, fried foods or marshmallow toppings.
  • Look for low sugar or carb options.
  • Minimize alcohol intake.
  • Manage your portion sizes.

One of the best ways to keep both temptation and diabetes at bay? Keep moving. Staying active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week offers benefits for your heart and bones, lowers stress, improves circulation – and that’s on top of reducing your risk for diabetes. Don’t let chilly weather and gray skies be an excuse for being a couch potato. Enjoy a brisk fall walk or run, and when it’s too cold to be outside, look for other options like a mall or health club. Do stretches or other exercises at home and consider incorporating strength training or light weights into your routine for bone building and other benefits.

By incorporating these and other tips into your lifestyle, you can prevent diabetes – and live longer and healthier! For more ideas on how to prevent diabetes, talk to your doctor or visit www.diabetes.org.

 

 

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Your throat is scratchy. You feel tired. You can’t stop coughing. Do you have a case of the common cold, or could it be the flu?

Both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses. Though the cold and flu can feel very similar at first, colds tend to be minor and not a major disruption to your life. However, flu symptoms tend to be more severe, and the flu can become dangerous in some cases.

Common cold symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mild fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat

Because the two illnesses can seem so similar, if you’re at high risk for flu complications and develop a fever accompanied by other flu symptoms, call your doctor. How do you know if you are high risk? The list includes the elderly, children, pregnant women, those with a weakened immune system because of cancer treatment or HIV/AIDS or any other condition, people with a chronic lung or heart condition, those with asthma, diabetes, anemia or kidney disease, those who are morbidly obese, nursing home residents, or anyone who has chronic health problems or who has been advised by their physician that they are at risk of flu complications.

Keep Your Illness to Yourself

Colds are contagious the first few days, so if you can stay home and rest, you can help prevent transmitting your illness to others. Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Nothing has been proven to “cure” the common cold, but treatment of symptoms with over-the-counter medications can help you feel less miserable. Do not give any aspirin-containing medication to a child with cold or flu symptoms, as it can cause a potentially fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome. Do not ask your doctor for an antibiotic; antibiotics treat only bacterial infections, not viral infections like colds and flues. For a cold, rest, drink lots of fluids and wait for the cold to run its course, about two weeks.

If it’s the flu, however, three FDA-approved antiviral treatments can help: Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab. These drugs can help prevent certain flu complications, including pneumonia. However, you need to start them within the first 48 hours of getting sick for them to work most effectively. That reinforces how important it is to contact your doctor immediately if you are at risk of flu complications. Two of the drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, can be taken by children, so call your child’s doctor right away if you suspect your child has the flu.

Prevention

For the common cold, there’s little to do except to try to keep yourself healthy, avoid sick people and wash your hands often. For the flu, medical authorities recommend an annual flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lots of information about this year’s vaccine at ccdc.gov.

October Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Millions of Americans are living with a mental health condition. Mental illnesses affect everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends and coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also widespread.

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. will experience a serious mental illness that interferes with one or more major life activities.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition are receiving mental health services.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14.
  • Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

Knowing the warning signs can help you determine if you need to speak to a professional. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  •  Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could include medication, therapy or other lifestyle changes.

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step. Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/country mental health authority for more resources.

If you or someone you know needs help now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.