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Diabetes and Older Adults

Diabetes is a serious disease. People get diabetes when their blood glucose level, sometimes called blood sugar, is too high. Diabetes can lead to dangerous health problems, such as having a heart attack or stroke. The good news is that there are things you can do to take control of diabetes and prevent its problems. And, if you are worried about getting diabetes, there are things you can do to lower your risk.

What Is Diabetes?

Our bodies change the food we eat into glucose. Insulin helps glucose get into our cells where it can be used to make energy. If you have diabetes, your body may not make enough insulin, may not use insulin in the right way, or both. That may cause too much glucose in the blood. Your family doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in taking care of people with diabetes, called an endocrinologist.

Types Of Diabetes

There are two kinds of diabetes that can happen at any age. In type 1 diabetes, the body makes little or no insulin. This type of diabetes develops most often in children and young adults.

In type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin, but doesn’t use it the right way. It is the most common kind of diabetes. You may have heard it called adult-onset diabetes. Your chance of getting type 2 diabetes is higher if you are overweight, inactive, or have a family history of diabetes.

Diabetes can affect many parts of your body. It’s important to keep type 2 diabetes under control. Over time it can cause problems like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and circulation problems that may lead to amputation. People with type 2 diabetes have a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Pre-diabetes

Many people have “pre-diabetes.” This means their glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a serious problem because people with pre-diabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If your doctor says you have pre-diabetes, you may feel upset and worried. But, there are things you can do to prevent or delay actually getting type 2 diabetes. Losing weight may help. Healthy eating and being physically active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week is a small change that can make a big difference. Work with your doctor to set up a plan for good nutrition and exercise. Make sure to ask how often you should have your glucose levels checked.

Symptoms

Some people with type 2 diabetes may not know they have it. But, they may feel tired, hungry, or thirsty. They may lose weight without trying, urinate often, or have trouble with blurred vision. They may also get skin infections or heal slowly from cuts and bruises. See your doctor right away if you have one or more of these symptoms.

Tests For Diabetes

There are several blood tests doctors can use to help diagnosis of diabetes:

  • Random glucose test—given at any time during the day
  • Fasting glucose test—taken after you have gone without food for at least 8 hours
  • Oral glucose tolerance test—taken after fasting overnight and then again 2 hours after having a sugary drink
  • A1C blood test—shows your glucose level for the past 2–3 months

Your doctor may want you to be tested for diabetes twice before making a diagnosis.

Managing Diabetes

Once you’ve been told you have type 2 diabetes, the doctor may prescribe diabetes medicines to help control blood glucose levels. There are many kinds of medication available. Your doctor will choose the best treatment based on the type of diabetes you have, your everyday routine, and other health problems.

In addition, you can keep control of your diabetes by:

  • Tracking your glucose levels. Very high glucose levels or very low glucose levels (called hypoglycemia) can be risky to your health. Talk to your doctor about how to check your glucose levels at home.
  • Making healthy food choices. Learn how different foods affect glucose levels. For weight loss, check out foods that are low in fat and sugar. Let your doctor know if you want help with meal planning.
  • Getting exercise. Daily exercise can help improve glucose levels in older people with diabetes. Ask your doctor to help you plan an exercise program.
  • Keeping track of how you are doing. Talk to your doctor about how well your diabetes care plan is working. Make sure you know how often to check your glucose levels.

Your doctor may want you to see other healthcare providers who can help manage some of the extra problems caused by diabetes. He or she can also give you a schedule for other tests that may be needed. Talk to your doctor about how to stay healthy.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Have yearly eye exams. Finding and treating eye problems early may keep your eyes healthy.
  • Check your kidneys yearly. Diabetes can affect your kidneys. A urine and blood test will show if your kidneys are okay.
  • Get flu shots every year and the pneumonia vaccine. A yearly flu shot will help keep you healthy. If you’re over 65, make sure you have had the pneumonia vaccine. If you were younger than 65 when you had the pneumonia vaccine, you may need another one. Ask your doctor.
  • Check your cholesterol. At least once a year, get a blood test to check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. High levels may increase your risk for heart problems.
  • Care for your teeth and gums. Your teeth and gums need to be checked twice a year by a dentist to avoid serious problems.
  • Find out your average blood glucose level. At least twice a year, get a blood test called the A1C test. The result will show your average glucose level for the past 2 to 3 months.
  • Protect your skin. Keep your skin clean and use skin softeners for dryness. Take care of minor cuts and bruises to prevent infections.
  • Look at your feet. Take time to look at your feet every day for any red patches. Ask someone else to check your feet if you can’t. If you have sores, blisters, breaks in the skin, infections, or build-up of calluses, see a foot doctor, called a podiatrist.
  • Watch your blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked often.

Be Prepared

It’s a good idea to make sure you always have at least 3 days’ worth of supplies on hand for testing and treating your diabetes in case of an emergency.

Medicare Can Help

Medicare will pay to help you learn how to care for your diabetes. It will also help pay for diabetes tests, supplies, special shoes, foot exams, eye tests, and meal planning. Be sure to check your Medicare plan to find more information.

For more information about what Medicare covers, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit their website, www.medicare.gov.

For More Information

Here are some helpful resources:

American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
1-800-342-2383 (toll-free)
www.diabetes.org

National Diabetes Education Program
One Diabetes Way
Bethesda, MD 20814-9692
1-888-693-6337 (toll-free)
www.ndep.nih.gov

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
1 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3560
1-800-860-8747 (toll-free)
1-866-569-1162 (TTY/toll-free)
www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

For more information on health and aging, contact:

National Institute on Aging
Information Center

P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
1-800-222-2225 (toll-free)
1-800-222-4225 (TTY/toll-free)
www.nia.nih.gov
www.nia.nih.gov/espanol

Visit www.nihseniorhealth.gov, a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This website has health and wellness information for older adults. Special features make it simple to use.

Todays blog is from the National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Death and the Warm Fuzzies – Not.

By Kim Sabella, CFSP, Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer; Owner of Wolfersberger Funeral Home, O’Fallon, Illinois

sabella

 

I’ll be the first to admit that considering my own death doesn’t exactly give me the warm  fuzzies. Even for me, where caskets, funerals, burials, and embalming are common topics at the dinner table (yes…for me these are common topics), while I find ease in the discussion; I still find great distress in considering my OWN demise. The older I get, the more obvious my mortality is becoming.

As a Licensed Funeral Director with over 25 years’ experience working with and guiding people through the various choices and paths when a death has occurred, I have yet to hear someone ever say “Gosh, I wish Dad hadn’t done all this work for me ahead of time.” Overwhelmingly, when faced with the reality of a death, those left behind are very grateful to learn that someone has taken the time to pre-plan their own funeral. Sometimes, the details are relatively simple; others are more complex. But all are appreciated.

I work with my husband. That means we spend a lot of time together—let’s say approximately 23 hours a day. We work at a funeral home. We talk about funerals. We attend them almost daily. We reflect on them often. Sometimes, when evening comes on, as we wrap up the workday, we conclude, “That was a good funeral.” I said that to a friend once, who chided me that certainly I must be kidding. After all, there are no GOOD funerals. Well, I’m here to say if you’ve ever seen a BAD funeral, then you know when you see a GOOD funeral.

So, the next obvious question: What makes a GOOD funeral?
In my opinion, planning is the key to a good funeral. An effective funeral director can help with ideas, can offer tips on how to make it more personal, and can assure the family of sound judgment, while offering accommodations that help make this happen. Most funerals occur within 3-4 days after death; in these few short days we often can provide a meaningful experience, but just think how much more meaningful it could be had we had a little head start.

Funerals are important; our society values the way in which we care for our dead. Our friends want and need a place to come—a place to offer kindness to the survivors, a place to sit and ponder the life that was lived, a place to feel secure to express one’s grief. We plan ahead for many big events in our lives; we plan for our wedding, buying our first home, our children’s education, family vacations and other significant life events. We even plan for unexpected traumatic events by purchasing home, auto, and medical insurance. Understanding the benefits of planning ahead has prompted many to take the next step in consulting a Funeral Director for guidance.

We believe it is important for EVERYONE to have a plan-no matter your age or your health status. For some, pre-paying for one’s funeral offers significant benefits as well. Please consider your preferred funeral director, give her a call and plan to spend a few minutes learning how you can have a GOOD funeral.

Suggested reading:
When the Sun Goes Down – A Serendipitous Guide to Planning Your Own Funeral by Betty Breuhaus (“A surprisingly delightful book on planning that final celebration of your life”)
The Good Funeral – Death, Grief, & the Community of Care by Thomas G. Long & Thomas Lynch

Getting Started- Living Healthy

Living healthy is a way of life, not a “quick fix” that can be bought at a local supplement store. There are many advertisements that lead you to believe their product will help you take-off weight and keep it off. If it were that easy wouldn’t we all be at our desired weight? When thinking of diets, individuals usually have an end goal in mind, such as hitting a goal weight; but when this goal is reached the diet usually ends. After the diet is over, we tend to return to eating the same way we did before and the weight gets put back on. This is one of the differences between being on a diet and healthy living. When an individual is focused on living healthy it is not all about weight loss, it is about maintaining a healthy lifestyle; weight loss is a product of changing your diet and increasing exercise.

The moto that I have adopted towards my diet is, “moderation, variety, and balance.” Cutting out the foods that we love, makes them even more desirable. So, instead of cutting them out, eat them in moderation. We get the same great food, just not as much of it. Variety is also important when planning your diet. Getting a variety of different fruits and vegetables ensures that the body has the vitamins and minerals that it needs to perform at its highest level. Last but not least, is balancing your plate with all of the food groups; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy. MyPlate.gov is a great resource to identify different alternatives for each food group and to identify serving sizes. Eating healthy and exercise go hand in hand when talking about living a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise seems like a big leap if it is not already part of our routine. When starting out, doing anything is better than doing nothing. Taking a short walk or taking the stairs instead of the elevator are two great options to get started out. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, for adults. This is just a little over 20 minutes a day, seven days a week. They also recommend strength training activities on two of those days for optimal benefits. While this is ideal, it may not be everyone’s starting point.

Making these changes may seem intimidating, especially if there is no end in sight, but these changes can start out small. It may be as simple as watching portion sizes and taking the stairs when you can. Make it something that is easy to fit into your daily routine or eating habits. The more easily the change fits into your already hectic life, the more likely the healthy habit will be continued. Remember it is not all about weight; it is about being healthy and maintaining that lifestyle.

 

This week’s blog is from Ashley Duffie.  Ashley is the Nutrition/Wellness and Transportation  Specialist at AgeSmart Community Resources.

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BEWARE: JOINT ACCOUNTS WITH YOUR CHILDREN CAN BE TRICKY!

Good estate planning should account for every possibility both prior to death and as a result of death. For example, what happens if the father dies first and mom is in a coma; what happens if both parents die at the same time, and then the minor children die; or just one parent plus the kids die or one child dies before the parent? There are all sorts of terrible tragedies and bad estate planning will compound any tragedy for a family.

There are advantages to having your children as joint owners of investment and bank accounts, as well as, real estate deeds. One advantage is on the death of one of the joint owners, the account or property automatically passes to the other joint owner thus avoiding probate and delay in access to the accounts. Additionally, in the event the parent becomes ill, suffers from dementia or incapacity, the child as joint owner would be able to pay bills and manage investments. Often the addition of children to bank accounts and real estate is for convenience, however the exposure to liability has greatly increased, with the addition of their name to the account.

There are several disadvantages to joint ownership in financial accounts and real estate property. First, the money in a joint account is now owned equally by the parent and child which means the child can draw out the entire balance of the account at any time for any reason. As much as parents trust children, circumstances in life may arise where the child uses the money in an unintended way, thereby putting their parent at risk.

Another disadvantage, includes creditors of all joint owners have access to these funds held in these accounts, as well as, the ability to place liens on real estate property jointly held. Therefore, putting a child’s name on a deed potentially opens your property, investment and bank accounts up to all current and future creditors of a child, including bankruptcy.

Another obstacle with joint ownership is how a parent intends to distribute the inheritance to their children after their death. If there is only one child and the parent’s desire is for the child to inherit everything, then joint accounts and joint ownership in real property would allow for easy transition of property and asset management. However, still taking into consideration the risk of your child’s creditor’s having access to these accounts and property while the parent is still alive. But if there are multiple children that a parent wants to inherit their estate equally, then you would have to put the children equally on all the accounts and property, again increasing the overall exposure to liability for the asset. The parent would need to be vigilant to ensure that each account is equal and this is next to impossible when you factor in unexpected future healthcare and long term care costs.

Therefore, planning for the unexpected, minimizing risk to seniors for their care needs and asset management and distribution is best done by utilizing a wide variety of planning tools such as durable powers of attorney, a revocable living trust, last will and testament and financial planning. Relying on joint ownership of property and assets by adding a child’s name to a deed, investment and banking accounts has limited advantages, increased risk and unexpected consequences of final distribution. Consulting with an Elder Law Attorney to assist in future planning for the unexpected is the best way to preserve your current and future assets.

AgeSmart would like to Thank Anita Ewing for this weeks blog.  Anita Ewing is an attorney with Harter, Larson & Dodd LLC whose offices are in Belleville and Mascoutah. The firm has an emphasis on intergenerational estate planning for people of all ages, and for the concerns of elders, those with special needs, and their families. This article is for information only and is not to serve as legal advice.

From the Collinsville Faith in Action Director’s Chair

Traveling for Pizza
By Lori Fry

A past episode of the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” featured two main characters traveling a good distance to purchase pizza on a whim. When my hometown pizza restaurant closed due to retirement of the owner, I believe the show’s antics gave me the start I needed to embark on my own pizza journey. I can’t say I traveled as far as the main characters, but I did make a memorable trip to Southern Illinois.

My pizza place was one of those single owner with a dream kind of places. Every small town has one or maybe two. I am sure everyone in town was related to someone who worked there, the owner, or had some other direct connection to the restaurant. My connection was the owner was a friend’s uncle and we all heard about the place daily at school. My real reason for visiting the place so regularly was much more direct. I am sorry to say my mother was a terrible cook and we had a standing order for two large pizzas every Friday night to avoid the kitchen.

As in many small towns, any member of my family could walk in and pick up the pizza with or without cash. They knew us by sight. Record keeping was informal. The owner knew someone would come in eventually and pay the bill – or bills. A bad week found me there two or three times for comfort food. I could say it was my second home, but that would be stretching the truth. It was certainly my hideout from the world.

When I heard the place was closing, I spent a good deal of time on Facebook with high school friends determining the final day and who was available to meet me for dinner. I anguished for a week to make time for the “road trip”. The thought of missing out on one last pizza was pretty daunting. I am embarrassed to say I lost a little sleep mentally moving my schedule to fit this dinner in.

In the end, I made it there for one last pepperoni, mushroom and onions. My husband, mother and brother were with me for this milestone. I took pictures to paste online for my many friends too far away to make the trip. The longtime waitress, Ruthie, remembered me vaguely and was shocked that we had driven “from St. Louis” to eat pizza. Hometown folks were coming and going with their carry outs and I saw several customers that I knew. All in all it was a good day.

I can’t help but wonder why I put so much effort into some pizza. We have pizza of some sort at many restaurants in Collinsville. The pizza wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered it. The folks I ended up eating with I see regularly. I visit my hometown and friends there fairly often – so that’s not it.

Maybe it was just the memory of something good – happy times. I wonder how often simply getting out and about can bring up memories long forgotten. I’ve said for the last year that the Elder Connection “just ate at restaurants this year”. After this trip, I can’t help but remember all the stories Elder Connection members were telling over dinner -all the happy times. I guess I shouldn’t say the Elder Connection “just ate out”. I should say they made memories in the midst of old ones. I finally get why eating out together is so important. Let’s get some pie together. I bet one of us has a story to go with it.

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Glaucoma Awareness Month

awareness_logo

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease.  Thanks to the Glaucoma Research Foundation for providing all of the valuable information in this blog.  You can learn more about the Glaucoma Research Foundation at www.glaucoma.org.

Currently, more than 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.

Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

Over 2.7 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

Help Raise Awareness

In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness. Here are three ways you can help raise awareness:

  1. Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret. Let your family members know.
  2. Refer a friend to our web site, www.glaucoma.org.
  3. Request to have a free educational booklet sent to you or a friend.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages.

Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called normal tension glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Regular Eye Exams are Important

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.

The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. And among Hispanics in older age groups, the risk of glaucoma is nearly as high as that for African-Americans. Also, siblings of persons diagnosed with glaucoma have a significantly increased risk of having glaucoma.

Risk Factors

Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

Learn more about Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, today’s blog has important information about HPV and Cervical Cancer prevention from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition ( a program of the American Sexual Health Association).

What is HPV?

HPV is human papillomavirus. HPV is a common virus–more than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time. At any time there are approximately 79 million people in the U.S. with HPV.

Some types of HPV may cause symptoms like genital warts. Other types cause cervical lesions which, over a period of time, can develop into cancer if undetected. However, most people have no symptoms of HPV infection, which means they have no idea they have HPV. In most cases, HPV is harmless and the body clears most HPV infections naturally.

HPV and Cervical Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed cervical cancer this year and about 4,000 of these women will die. Most women with an HPV infection will not develop cervical cancer, but it’s very important to have regular screening tests, including Pap and HPV tests as recommended.

Cervical cancer is preventable if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early, before cervical cancer develops. Cervical cancer usually takes years to progress. This is why getting screened on a regular basis is important; screening can usually catch any potential problems before they progress.

What is the difference between PAP and HPV tests?

A Pap test is a test to find abnormal cell changes on the cervix (cervical dysplasia) before they have a chance to turn into cancer. A small brush or cotton tipped applicator will be used to take a sample of cervical cells. These cells are examined for abnormal cell changes. Experts recommend that Pap tests begin no earlier than age 21.

Unlike Pap tests, which look for abnormal cervical cell changes, an HPV test can detect “high-risk” types of HPV. “High risk” types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer and this test helps healthcare providers know which women are at greatest risk. Experts recommend using both the HPV test and Pap test with women ages 30-65. (HPV tests can also be used with younger women who have unclear Pap test results.) For women with normal Pap/HPV test results, co-testing should be repeated once every five years.

HPV Vaccines

Two HPV vaccines are currently on the market and both are approved for use with girls and young women.  One vaccine is also approved for use with boys and young men.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccination for males and females ages 11-12, with “catch up” vaccination for those ages 13-26.

Taking charge of your health

A majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer either have never had a Pap test or did not have one in the previous five years. Cervical cancer is completely preventable if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early, before cervical cancer develops. Regular Pap tests, supplemented by HPV testing, will detect virtually all precancerous changes and cervical cancers.

Learn more about HPV and Cervical Cancer 

www.nccc-online.org

www.asexualhealth.org

newnccc_logo_outlines

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Assistive Technology

Assistive technology refers to any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. These items can be those purchased commercially, modified or customized for the individual.

According to the Centers for Disease Control it is estimated that:
• One in five Americans has a disability of some kind, this is approximately 53 million people.
• 33 million Americans have a disability that makes it difficult for them to carry out their activities of daily living; some have challenges with everyday activities, such as attending school or going to work, and may need help with their daily care.
• 2.2 million people in the United States depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility.
• 6.5 million people use a cane, a walker, or crutches to assist with their mobility.

Some disabilities are quite visible, and many others are “hidden.” Most disabilities can be grouped into four major categories 1:
• Cognitive disability: intellectual and learning disabilities/disorder, distractibility, reading disorders, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information
• Hearing disability: hearing loss or impaired hearing
• Physical disability: paralysis, difficulties with walking or other movement, inability to use a computer mouse, slow response time, limited fine or gross motor control
• Visual disability: blindness, low vision, color blindness

Mental illness, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, and psychosis, for example, is also a disability.

Hidden disabilities can include some people with visual impairments and those with dexterity difficulties, such as repetitive strain injury. People who are hard of hearing or have mental health difficulties also may be included in this category.1

Some people have disabling medical conditions that may be regarded as hidden disabilities—for example, epilepsy; diabetes; sickle cell conditions; HIV/AIDS; cystic fibrosis; cancer; and heart, liver or kidney problems. The conditions may be short term or long term, stable or progressive, constant or unpredictable and fluctuating, controlled by medication or another treatment, or untreatable. Many people with hidden disabilities can benefit from assistive technologies for certain activities or during certain stages of their diseases or conditions.1

People who have spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, osteogenesis imperfecta, multiple sclerosis, demyelinating diseases, myelopathy, progressive muscular atrophy, amputations, or paralysis often benefit from complex rehabilitative technology. This means that the assistive devices these people use are individually configured to help each person with his or her own unique disability.2

For more information about conditions that can often be helped with assistive technology:
• MedLine Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine, provides information about assistive devices for various conditions.
• The Paralysis Resource Center provided by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation explains some of the different paralytic conditions that can benefit from assistive technology.
• The public television station WETA offers information on the use of assistive technologies for children with learning disabilities.

The following are types of assistive devices that individuals can utilize:
• Mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, crutches, prosthetic devices, and orthotic devices, are used to enhance mobility. Lightweight, high-performance wheelchairs have been designed for organized sports, such as basketball, tennis, and racing.
• Hearing aids
• Cognitive assistance, including computer or electrical assistive devices, can help people function following brain injury.
• Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement applications, help people with mobility and sensory impairments use computer technology.
• In the classroom and elsewhere, assistive devices, such as automatic page-turners, book holders, and adapted pencil grips, allow learners with disabilities to participate in educational activities.
• Closed captioning allows people with hearing impairments to enjoy movies and television programs.
• Barriers in community buildings, businesses, and workplaces can be removed or modified to improve accessibility. Such modifications include ramps, automatic door openers; grab bars, and wider doorways.
• Adaptive switches make it possible for a child with limited motor skills to play with toys and games.
• Many types of devices help people with disabilities perform such tasks as cooking, dressing, and grooming. Kitchen implements are available with large, cushioned grips to help people with weakness or arthritis in their hands. Medication dispensers with alarms can help people remember to take their medicine on time. People who use wheelchairs for mobility can use extendable reaching devices to reach items on shelves.

Resources and more information can be found at :
• Local Center for Independent Living:
o For the Illinois Counties of St. Clair, Monroe and Randolph: LINC, Inc., 15 Emerald Terrace, Swansea, IL 618-235-9988, TTY 618-235-0451, Video Phone 618-310-0054.
o For the Illinois Counties of Bond, Madison, Jersey, Macoupin, Greene and Calhoun: IMPACT CIL, 2735 E. Broadway, Alton, IL. 618-462-1411, TTY 618-474-5333
o For the Illinois Counties of Clay, Clinton, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Hamilton, Jasper, Jefferson, Marion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne and White: Opportunities for Access, 4206 Williamson Place Suite 3, Mt. Vernon, Illinois. 618-244-9212, TTY 618-244-9575, V/TTY 800-938-7400.
The following sites provided information for this blog:
National Institute of Child Health and Development http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/pages/need.aspx

Illinois Assistive Technology Program- http://www.iltech.org/

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1. CANnect. (2012). Assistive technologies and what they do. Retrieved August 12, 2012, from http://projectone.cannect.org/online-education/assistive-technologies.php
2. National Center for Assistive and Rehab Technology. (2009). What is complex rehab technology? Retrieved August 11, 2012, from http://www.ncart.us/advocacy/what-is-complex-rehab-technology

Home for the Holidays

It is said that love is the greatest gift of all. As many families gather together during the holiday season, it may provide a good opportunity to express how much care through frank and open discussion with older relatives about their wellbeing. If you are not living in the same town as your older relatives it is easy for you to see changes in health status. This is a good time to begin the discussions. As we age and live longer, financial, legal, health care and long term care issues affect the whole family not just the older person. AgeSmart links older consumers and their families to aging series. Below are some ways that you might be able to initiate conversations.
•Find out what financial benefits are provided by your parents Social Security and pension. Determine if they are eligible for other financial programs.
• Be certain that each family member has a living will. Know where you parents’ insurance policies, wills, trust documents, tax returns, investment and banking records are located. “Thirty percent of adults do not know where their parents keep important papers such as their health insurance care, financial statements or will.” – Family Circle and Kaiser Foundation
• Understand that Medicare generally does not cover long term care (e.g. nursing home or extended home care), and Medicaid pay for only low-income individuals.
• Investigate what type of long term care insurance coverage may be best for you.
• Identify what community services are available that can help your parents maintain independence in the home for as long as possible, such as home modification programs that can install assistive devices. Learn whether housing options are available to meet their changing needs.

 

Families may avoid potential problems and be in good position to deal with later life needs by understanding and being prepared to face the following issues: Financial Organization, Legal Preparation, Health Insurance and Community Services. These conversations may seem difficult but be brave and start them. It will make everything easier should you have to find out this information during a crisis.

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Healthy Eating for Thanksgiving

It is the holiday season once again; which means loads of tasty food. Thanksgiving only comes around once a year and often we over indulge. So, what is the harm in splurging, right? According to WebMD the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. While this seems like a minimal amount, without increased exercise it does not get taken off throughout the year. With a small amount of planning, the guilt and worry of over indulging can be significantly minimized; and without cutting out the foods that we love.

Some foods only come around during the Thanksgiving season such as pumpkin pie or green bean casserole, and it is hard to resist taking more then we need. While taking large portions is easy to do, sticking to smaller portion sizes can allow us to enjoy all of the delicious specialties, and not feel stuffed after we are done. It is reasonable to enjoy a variety of different choices, just be mindful of how much you need to feel satiated. This is a simple step, but is hard and takes a lot of self-awareness to know when you are full.

Along with smaller portions, eating slowly can also influence the amount of food that we eat. Eating slowly gives the body a chance to respond to what we have just put in it, allowing the “full” feeling when the body has had enough to eat. When an individual eats too fast this “full” feeling can be overlooked. Another way to reduce over eating is leaving the dinner table after everyone has finished. By visiting with food on the table it encourages more eating. Instead initiate the clean-up; this will take stress off of the host and allow for everyone to have more time together.

Thanksgiving has good food and it is hard to stop with just one small helping. Using low-fat and no sugar options are a great way to cut out calories without taking away from the amount eaten. Not everyone will use these options, but by bringing one of your own it can take a large chunk out of caloric intake at the Thanksgiving meal. While many may think that saving up our calories for the big meal is advantages, experts say that eating a well-rounded breakfast in the morning can help give you more control over your appetite. This could be something as simple as an egg, whole wheat toast, fruit, and a glass of milk. Putting something in your stomach will stop you from being starving when you arrive at the gathering.

Healthy eating during the holidays does not mean you have to watch everything you eat. Being mindful of your portions, eating slowly, choosing low-fat and no sugar substitutes, and eating a well-rounded breakfast are a few options to decrease caloric intake. Eating healthfully is not always easy during the holidays, but choosing one or a few of these options can help. It is easy to over indulge, but with some planning it can be avoided. So, have a plan in place and enjoy the food, friends, and family; most of all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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