Category Archives: Health

The Signs And Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome

If you have restless leg syndrome (RLS) you know it. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep because of an odd tingly feeling in your legs and a feeling that you simply can’t lie still, chances are you may be dealing with RLS.

What is restless leg syndrome and who gets it?

It is a condition, that unfortunately, isn’t always easy for your doctor to diagnosis and that’s because the symptoms manifest when you’re in bed at night and are hard to replicate in the doctor’s office. Many people who deal with RLS find that it’s worse if they’re pregnant, have arthritis, diabetes or anemia. The condition can effect individuals without these health issues as well and the causes of RLS are unknown.

Those who suffer this condition describe the feeling as:

  • Itching
  • Pulling
  • Crawling
  • Gnawing
  • Tugging

Regardless of the label you put on it, it is more than annoying and can also negatively impact your sleep. The symptoms of RLS make it difficult or impossible to not only fall asleep, but to stay asleep. Those who have RLS may also have periodic limb movements (PLM) and that can occur every 30 seconds or more and can also lead to sleep disruption.

One of the ways that sufferers get relief is to move or shake their legs, but again, when you’re doing this, you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. Even the act of moving your legs will only alleviate the issue for a brief time.

How to treat RLS

While there is no cure for restless leg syndrome there are medications that may treat the symptoms and you may be able to get a better night’s sleep. You may also find relief if you:

  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Walk every day
  • Drink beverages that have quinine (tonic water has quinine)
  • Take iron supplements if you are anemic

If you feel you’re suffering with RLS, talk with your doctor and also make note of when the symptoms are at their worst and what, if anything, you have done to alleviate the symptoms.

 

Steps To Prevent Prostate Health Issues

Elderly HealthWhile there is no surefire way to prevent any kind of cancer, including prostate, there are steps that individuals can take to protect themselves and enhance their overall health which, in turn, might help prevent certain types of cancer. Physicians in several studies agree there are specific choices that individuals can make to lessen their risks of this, and other types of cancers and other preventable illnesses and they include:

  1. Eating a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber. High fat foods include nuts, oils, dairy products and meat. There is no clear correlation between a high fat diet and prostate cancer, but a low fat, high fiber diet is beneficial for everyone. When you’re eating “fats” look for those that come from plants, not animals. Plant based fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts, etc. Meat based fats include meat and butter.
  2. Your dinner plate should be comprised of more fruits and vegetables than meats – at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and nutrients and are low in fats. Filling up on these foods will satiate your appetite and make you less hungry. Reach for a piece of fruit when you’re craving a snack. Tomatoes, because they are high in lycopene, may lower the risk of prostate and other cancers.
  3. Fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna have been shown to lower your risk of prostate cancer. Up your fish intake. You can also add flaxseed to meals to obtain more omega 3 fatty acids.
  4. It’s been shown that men who eat more dairy products are more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who eat a diet that is lower in dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
  5. Keep a healthy weight. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you and ask him for advice on attaining that weight. Chances are he will recommend a more plant based diet and increased activity.

Before you begin any diet or exercise routine, it’s always best to check with your physician. Your personal physician will have all the best information to help you navigate your health.

 

Maintain Youthful Looking Skin

No one really wants to age, right?  As we age, wrinkles start to form (some like to call them “smile lines”) and our skin is less supple and resilient.  However, there are things we can do, at any age, to keep skin vibrant and youthful looking.

Quit Smoking

Smoking takes years off your life and damages collagen and elastin in the skin. These two keep the skin flexible and firm so eliminating something that damages them is a smart, healthy thing to do! Smoking also decreases blood flow to the skin making it harder to receive enough oxygen to maintain health. Wrinkles form more easily from pursing the lips together as you smoke as well as from squinting to avoid getting smoke in your eyes.  Stop smoking and watch your skin begin to improve!

Drink More Water

When you’re dehydrated, any available water is diverted to the heart and liver – organs that need it the most.  Skin is not on the priority list when you’re dehydrated so it doesn’t receive the hydration needed for cell renewal. Drink the recommended six to eight glasses of water per day to ensure your body is getting enough water to maintain all the organs, including the skin.

Exercise

What does exercise have to do with your skin, you might ask?  When you engage in cardiovascular exercises, you encourage blood flow and nutrients to the skin’s surface. This helps to create more youthful looking appearance and glow. Exercise also helps to relieve stress – which leads us to the next point……

Avoid Stress

Easier said than done! However, reducing stress can change your outlook and appearance. Stress causes us to frown, squint, sleep less (which creates undereye bags) and all of these can Youthful Skinaffect the appearance of your skin.  Stress makes it harder for your body to function properly so do what you can to avoid stress whenever possible.

Get Your Vitamin D More Safely

After a long winter, cloudy days or a vacation on the beach, the sunshine is simply joyful and appealing! But, it isn’t your skin’s best friend! Excessive exposure to UV rays can damage your skin and cause it to prematurely age. Wear sunscreen and reapply it often to prevent burns.   However, don’t avoid the sun altogether as Vitamin D received from the sun is good for you!

 Improve Your Diet

Did you know that skin is actually an organ?  Omega-3 fatty acids such as flax and fish oil or walnuts are great for you skin because the support health cell membranes. Anti-oxidants (Vit. A&C) fight free radicals.  Eat a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet, which really isn’t a diet at all but a way of eating.  To learn more about the Mediterranean Diet, click here.

Moisturize

Using a moisturizer daily with SPF in it for the day and serums with vitamins, anti-oxidants and botanicals at night will improve the look and feel of your skin while also protecting it. Night serums are especially helpful because your skin has many hours of protection when there is no wiping or touching the skin.  This allows the product to penetrate the cells and do their magic.

Lastly, Get Enough Rest

Work, home, kids, errands, caregiving, commitments, groceries….they all take time and sometimes there simply isn’t enough time. However, a regular routine of going to bed at the same hour and rising at the same time each day will improve your alertness, reduce fatigue and help you be more clear-headed during the day.

While certain things work better for some people than others, these basic things will help you achieve more youthful looking skin!

 

Diagnosis Cancer

The word “cancer” may easily be the one the worst words a person can hear.  Suddenly everything about life is seen through a new set of lenses – lenses that magnify things, make others blurry and some impossible to see.  As the initial shock wears off, one is faced with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges before them.

Patients respond to this news differently. Some strongly rise to the challenge and refuse to lose while others feel a tremendous sense of loss and inability to fight. As all of this turmoil surrounds them, it is also time to develop a plan to fight the cancer.

Every journey is unique but here are some ideas on steps you can take to manage your life after a cancer diagnosis:

  • Don’t go it alone. Find someone to share the journey with. It may be a spouse, family member or close friend and it should be someone you feel you can talk openly with.
  • Research and learn. Take the necessary steps to learn all you can about your cancer diagnosis and treatment options.  Sometimes too much information creates an overload that causes more stress and remember, not everything you read on the internet is the gospel truth. Begin with the web sites for the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute and take it at your pace.
  • Consider getting a second, perhaps even a third, opinion. Different doctors and cancer treatment centers have different philosophies and approaches. A second opinion can help you feel more confident in your treatment plan.
  • Use trusted sources for additional information. Your aunt, cousin, neighbor or friend may have known someone with cancer and offer you an opinion. Remember, they are trying to help so hear them out and gently tell them that you appreciate their concern but each diagnosis is unique.
  • Get organized. Start a notebook or binder to coordinate appointments, doctors’ phone numbers, and the information you collect along the way. Take it to your appointments and use it to make lists of questions you want to ask your doctors on your next visit.

No one will fully understand what you’re going through but tackling this with someone at your side will be a bigger help than you may realize.

 

Improve Your Health

Caregivers may groan when they read this because they are so busy caring for their families, working a full time or a part time job and helping to take care of mom and dad. The idea of thinking about getting healthy might seem a bit daunting. Another way to think about a healthy lifestyle is that the state of being healthy will help you face the day and your tasks with a much lighter step and will help you feel even more effective and happier!

Getting in, and staying in, shape doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. Your health and a healthy lifestyle requires thought, work and making healthier choices. What does a healthy diet look like?

  • Fewer processed foods
  • More fruits and vegetables
  • Foods low in saturated fatsHealthy Eating Habits
  • Cutting back on sweets and refined sugars in snacks and beverages
  • Foods that are high in fiber

If you’re a fast food junkie it may take some planning to overcome the urge – and frankly the ease – of going through a drive-through for dinner. Believe us, we know how hard it is at the end of the day to go home and put together a healthy meal that everyone will love.

Pre-planning is essential. Talk with your family and make a weekly menu so that you know in advance what you’re having and you can have other members of your family help with the meal prep. If you’re the primary caregiver for aging loved ones it’s up to you to reach out to other family members – especially those that live in your house – to help share the load. When you’re in the midst of cooking and your belly is growling, make sure you have quick and easy access to cut up chunks of fruits and veggies that you can nibble on while you cook.

In addition to eating healthier you need to be active. You may be thinking, “I’m working. I’m taking care of my family AND I’m taking care of mom and dad… I am active.” You may be active when you’re doing all of this, but chances are you’re not taking time to be active for yourself. This means carving out time during your day to take a walk or to go to the gym or even take an aerobics class. Take time during the day to get up and move every hour – walk in place 500 steps an hour; you will be surprised how much it will add up! Take a dance class with your significant other or go on a bike ride with the family. It may seem as though you simply don’t have the time to add one more task to your day, but taking care of yourself and being active will benefit both you and your family in the long run.

Remember change takes time and you want to implement these lifestyle changes a little at a time in order to make them a part of your everyday living.

 

Protect Yourself From Diabetes: Tips For Caregivers And Seniors

One of the most common and most prevalent forms of diabetes is Type 2 (formerly called adult-onset and/or non-insulin dependent diabetes). This form of diabetes impacts close to 95% of the 26 million Americans that have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Adults don’t have to look at a diagnosis if diabetes as an inevitable product of aging. If you want to prevent diabetes, taking care of yourself and living a healthy, active life can go a long way in keeping it at bay. Your doctor will also tell you that monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure levels is also critical to a healthy life and avoiding diabetes.

Here are some other steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes:

Eat nuts daily. Almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts have been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Even eating peanuts – a legume, not an actual nut – can be beneficial. Eat only the recommended daily amount.

120px-Cup_of_coffee_5084862159Enjoy your coffee! Increasing your coffee consumption by one cup a day over what you typically drink can provide a close to 10 percent decrease in developing diabetes as compared to those individuals who didn’t make any changes to their coffee drinking habits.

Take a walk after you eat. Getting up and moving, especially after a meal, will lower your risk. Also, it’s been shown that people who sit for more than eight hours a day are more likely to develop diabetes than their more active counterparts. Start lifting weights – resistance training can keep blood sugar levels in check in ways that even aerobic exercise cannot.

Cut back on alcohol consumption. Drinking more than four alcoholic beverages within a two hour time frame can increase the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes because alcohol interferes with insulin in the brain. Drinking soda, whether it’s sweetened or unsweetened, can increase your risk of developing diabetes by more than 25 percent.

Cutting back on the consumption of red meats can also decrease your chances of developing diabetes. Processed meats should also be eaten in limited quantities as well. Eating fish, poultry and whole grains and low fat dairy are much healthier for you overall and as a way to prevent diabetes.

Caregivers should be looking at living a healthier lifestyle – which we understand is not always the easiest when you’re helping take care of aging parents – but these tips are ideal for both caregivers and their relatives to consider.

So you want to be a Centenarian!

Living to be 100-years-old or even more is a possibility in today’s era of medical advances. If you’re hoping to live to be that age, you want to make certain you are healthy and happy enough to enjoy it. Also, if you’re a caregiver, you want to help your parents, or other 100relatives, enjoy their Golden Years in comfort and as good a health as possible.

How can you do that and how can you make aging in place well into your 100s a possibility? Here are some tips for living better as you live longer because it isn’t all in your genes (lifestyle plays a major role):

 

Eat well

  • Stay active and have a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce your stress
  • Be involved in loving relationships (yes, healthy relationships can enhance your life)

There are certainly genetic factors that could lead to health issues but there are many steps anyone can take to live a healthier life. Also, as you’re looking at living to be 100, you want to make certain that your mind is as healthy as your body and toward that end, it’s crucial that you keep it active, alert and always learning. A healthy lifestyle will also lead to a healthy, vital mind.

What happens if you haven’t always been as active as you’ve wanted to be or as you should be? There is no reason you can’t start now, even if you have to take baby steps to get active and start eating more healthful meals. If you’re a caregiver, find ways to keep your aging loved ones active and involved by helping them get out of the house and get involved in activities, taking walks or even tending a small backyard garden.

If your relatives are healthy enough to live alone, but if you worry about them being alone in the home in case a medical emergency arises, you can talk to them about installing a home medical alert system. These devices are ideal for offering peace of mind to both the user and his or her family and assures that if a medical need arises, help is a mere push of a button away.

Will The Affordable Care Act Impact Medicare Coverage?

Keeping track of the Affordable Care Act and wondering how, or if, it will impact an individuals’ Medicare or Medicaid coverage is a sometimes confusing maze.

One of the most pressing questions seniors and baby boomers have is “Will the Affordable Care Act impact my Medicare coverage?” and the answer to that is a confusing “maybe.” Because the Affordable Care Act is still a program that is in flux, and because its purpose was to provide healthcare coverage to those who didn’t have it, the way it could potentially impact Medicare and Medicaid have not been fully determined.

Some of the questions that have been raised include:

  • Will I have to switch doctors?
  • Will it cost me more to pay for a policy under the Affordable Care Act than I am paying now?
  • Does this mean that the Medicare program will no longer be in effect?
  • If I use a home medical alert device, will that have any impact on the fee I pay for it?
  • How will my prescription medications be impacted?

Here are some of the positives that appear to be a part of the Affordable Care Act provisions:

  • The money you spend on prescription drugs may be less than you’re paying now
  • You should be able to keep your same physician
  • Medicare coverage will not go away even if you’re covered under the Affordable Care Act policies. As a matter of fact, the Affordable Care Act law prohibits any cuts to Medicare coverage benefits.
  • Annual, free wellness exams will be provided.
  • The Affordable Care Act will effectively put an end to the “donut hole” that many individuals found themselves in as it relates to out of pocket costs for prescriptions.

One of the major disadvantages found in the new program is that it will cause a reduction in Medicare spending by more than $700 billion. What does this mean? Some worry that the reduction in Medicare spending could lead to a reduction in coverage standards, however assurances have been made that it shouldn’t. It’s believed that any potential cuts in Medicare will not impact the healthcare quality a patient receives but could be in the form of the way providers receive reimbursement from Medicare.

The Affordable Health Care Act won’t likely make any changes to coverage of or payment for home medical alert devices. In some instances, though, the new coverage may provide a provision for the payment of this medical alert equipment. It’s always best to contact your insurance carrier to gain a clear understanding of the type of coverage you may be eligible for as it relates to this equipment.

Answers to specific questions about coverage and its provisions are best answered by your individual insurance provider or by contacting a Medicare or Medicaid representative.

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Steps To Wake Up Energized

Everyone has had those days when you get up and truly feel more tired than when you went to bed the night before. Did you know there are steps you can take to prevent that from happening so that you wake up with energy and vigor and are ready to face the day?

As we age, it’s not as easy to fall and stay asleep but a good night’s sleep goes such a long way in shaping both our mental and our physical health that it’s crucial that you sleep as well as you can. Here are our tips for getting the best night’s sleep you can and facing the day with enthusiasm and energy:

 

  1. Refrain from drinking coffee, wine or other alcohol a few hours before bedtime. Caffeine will make it difficult to fall asleep; alcohol makes it difficult to stay asleep.
  2. Sleep in a room that is cool and dark. If your bedroom is cool your body goes into sleep mode. Having a dark room without distractions such as a television or radio can make falling asleep easier.
  3. Don’t exercise close to bedtime. Exercise in the morning, around lunch or right after dinner. Exercise raises the heart rate and that will make it hard to fall asleep.
  4. Staying away from the computer, or even the television, for an hour prior to bedtime will make it easier to fall asleep. Your brain equates the flickering screens with daytime and will keep you awake.
  5. Resist the urge to sleep in. Getting up at the same time, even on the weekends, gets your body into a sleep/wake routine and the consistency will help you fall asleep.
  6. If you hit the snooze button, you will condition yourself to fall into a fitful sleeping pattern in which it is on alert, waiting for the next time the alarm goes off. If you do need an alarm, put the clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  7. Drinking water, rather than your usual cup of coffee, as soon as you wake up with help rehydrate you; because dehydration can make you feel tired, getting fluids back into your system will wake you up.
  8. Light will help you wake up and stay awake. If you live in an area of the country that sees minimal light during the winter months you may want to consider purchasing an alarm that has a light on it that turns on slowly to ease you into wakefulness. Opening the curtains and letting in natural light will also help revive you. If you feel sluggish and tired during the winter talk to your doctor and ask about getting an artificial sunlight lamp that simulates natural light.
  9. Eating a high protein breakfast is the best way to start the day. Because the protein contained in eggs or meat will be converted in your body into dopamine you will feel energized. Ingesting carb-heavy meals or sugar and processed foods will make you feel tired.

Eating healthy meals and exercising will help keep you healthier longer and allow you to better age in place.

 

 

 

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Stay Healthy Naturally

Nobody enjoys catching a cold or coming down with the flu. The symptoms are miserable and an illness usually means that the patient has to miss work or school as a result. But there are steps that you can take to protect yourself naturally from cold and flu germs throughout the year so you can stay healthy and on top of your game.

Eat a healthy diet all year long and if you really want to boost your immune system and stave off those nasty germs, increase your intake of green tea. Green tea contains an antioxidant which reduces the risk of illnesses. Add some fresh garlic to your diet as the sulfur compounds will kill virus germs. Ginger contains antiviral compounds so steep it in tea to help keep flu and cold germs away.

Wash your hands frequently, especially if you are around people who are sniffling and sneezing. Your hands are usually your first point of contact with viruses so make sure you wash them with soap and water foregoing antibacterial washes. They do little to kill virus germs on your hands.

Try to keep your hands away from your face especially your eyes, nose and mouth. If you have germs on your hands and touch these parts of your face, the germs will have a quick entry point. If you are sharing a phone with others, wipe it down frequently. Do not share cups or utensils.

Use a humidifier in your home to keep your nasal passages from drying out. Change the water daily.

Get plenty of exercise throughout the year to boost your immune system which will fight germs naturally. If you feel a cold or flu symptoms creeping up on you, pop some zinc lozenges or use some zinc nasal gel as both have been known to reduce the length of cold and flu.

Doing these things doesn’t guarantee you will miss cold and flu season but they are certain steps to help fight off germs.

 

Related articles:

http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Family/Features/2013/07/19/Go-organic-one-step-at-a-time.aspx