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June 13 Illinois Aging Network Alert

  Illinois Aging Network Alert

 A weekly report on the impact of the state budget crisis on Illinois seniors and community programs on aging
From I4A – Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Week of June13, 2016
Contact: Joy Paeth 618-222-2561 or Jon Lavin 708-383-0258

 When Will Reason Prevail?

 This morning several Directors of Illinois area agencies on aging informed the Illinois Department on Aging that they have developed plans to close down their region’s community senior services network this summer. This information was provided during a phone call where the Department explained that federal funding would stop after reimbursements covering the month of June.  Unless there is a court order or an enacted state appropriation, no federal funds will be processed  for July, August or September. Not all area agencies on aging are in the same situation this summer (AgeOptions would not have federal funding for community based organizations, but will continue state funds for home delivered meals, about half of the meals, if the Court Order continues into July, August and September).  It is clear that many of Illinois’ 230 community senior service agencies will desist operations without federal support.

The biggest problem is that the federal dollars are in jeopardy that come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Community Living under the U.S. Older Americans Act. The federal appropriation is on a fiscal year that begins October 1, 2015, and concludes September 30, 2016. Under Illinois law, that funding will end on June 30. The Department stated that June reimbursement will come through in early July and then no additional funding is anticipated following that date unless there is a Court order or a state appropriation.

Federal Older Americans Act resources require state match. That match is combined with federal funds to process payments under the Beeks Consent Decree for meals.  Home Delivered Meal funding alone is problematic since it may not be used for administrative purposes.  Area agencies administer the court ordered dollars with their federal dollars and state match under Planning and Service Area Grants to Area Agencies on Aging. Not a penny of Planning and Service Area Grants has been provided this year.

Without the federal and state funding, there will not be a viable Aging Network. Federal law requires that the Illinois Department on Aging send the federal and state matching resources to the 13 designated area agencies on aging for distribution to community service provider agencies. It may not be proper under federal guidelines for the Department on Aging to send the court-ordered Home Delivered Meal funding directly to community agencies. Those agencies have contracts with area agencies on aging, and no contract with the Department. This is a legal, moral, practical, administrative and human mess! When will reason prevail and Illinois act responsibly to pass an agreed budget with adequate resources to meet its legal obligations under the Illinois Constitution?

If no federal dollars are released and no state administrative support to area agencies on aging is provided, the high stakes game of chicken being played out by elected leaders will result in the loss of independence, health and lives of older persons. It is time for politics to be put aside and for leadership and governance to prevail.

 

Distributed for I4A by:

Jonathan Lavin

Let’s Add Chicken Soup Back to Medicine

“Traditional” and “non-traditional” medicines are often at odds with one another, and have been ever since the scientific method took hold in the Renaissance. In general, that has served humanity well. Science has slowly and steadily teased out the true causes of disease and their treatments, and pushed aside the myths and fabrications of pre-evidence-based health care.

But now, I believe, it is time for reconciliation. Rather than butting heads, “establishment” practitioners and technologies need to collaborate with so-called alternative or allied health providers. Doing so will deepen the care narrative and improve patient experiences.

Traditional medicine is based on scientific discovery. Where once, the ill and infirm would pay good money for Dr. Smith’s Magic Elixir only because Dr. Smith said it work, science helped determine if Dr. Smith’s cure-all really did cure all – or if the alcohol in the magic elixir just made you not care.

However, it is dangerous to think that science itself is a magic elixir. Scientific discovery is still fraught with bias and poor study design. And alternative medicine may not be alternative at all, just based on older teachings that, though not scientifically proven (usually because there is no money to be made by studying them), may be just as valid.
As we all know, patients have been returning to some of those teachings in droves over the past few decades. Take chicken soup. Grandmothers have been touting the healing properties of chicken soup for generations, and a recent study proved your grandmother was right. It really is a time for both the old and the new.

We also need to look at how we got to modern medicine. What was left behind may have been due to political or religious pressure rather than science. The use of silver in medicine is a good example. Once a common remedy in the physician’s black bag, it became too expensive with the advent of photography. Maybe we might come back to it?

In all things there needs to be a balance. Healing cannot occur without a compassionate understanding of the power of the mind. We cannot underestimate that power. I am disappointed that traditional medicine has called this “the placebo effect.” That demeans and diminishes this important healing power rather than really using the mind’s ability and desire to cure the body to its fullest advantage. After all, “science” has proved that 30% of people will have a beneficial effect from a treatment if they believe that it will help. Having healthcare that is in alignment with our belief system is important for that reason.

That’s why I believe we need to add allied health to our practices. We also need to do it right. I am not advocating moneymaking “medi-spas.” I am advocating for the use of real healing massage, real counseling about optimizing diet and exercise, real skin and body care that checks for moles along with providing facials. We need healing foods, healing music, healing movement.

I also believe that we need healing therapies that are specific to our individual heritages. Before humanity was so mobile, it was fine for local and traditional medicine to address those local or regional illnesses. But today, our culture is no longer local. It is multiethnic, multicultural and global. We should have – in fact, we need – care that reflects that diversity of needs and beliefs. We need care that is specific, not one-size-fits-all.

This is not to say that we should embrace all allied health practitioners out of hand. I think we should work with those who have proven their worth over time, culture and, yes, scientific inquiry. There is still a lot of bad, incorrect and downright dangerous information out there, and patients have access to it in unprecedented ways. Doctor Google has been wonderful because it allows patients to feel they have more control, to get a variety of opinions and multiple sources of data. It allows them to ask smart questions, to learn the language, to be involved and to process. However, in the Internet age of the three minute YouTube video or 140-character Tweet, they don’t get the whole story. There is no filter, no expert to confirm to them if that bump on their nose really is –according to whatever source they stumble upon – a spider bite, a pimple or cancer. That is why we must work with allied, alternative practitioners, not against them.

I also advocate for educating these allied health professionals in how to look for diagnostic clues, so that they can then alert the patient/client’s physician. Think about this: A massage therapist likely sees more of the patient than the primary care physician, and is thus more likely to notice darkening of the skin, loss of eyebrows, skin tags, varicosities, joint pain or other signs of disease.

So let’s make use of it. Let’s add chicken soup back to medicine.

AgeSmart Community Resources would like to thank Dr. Teresa L. Knight for this month’s article.  Dr. Knight is the CEO at Women’s Health Specialists of Saint Louis.

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Pneumonia Vaccines for Seniors- What you need to know

Pneumonia vaccines are designed to prevent disease caused by various serotypes or strains of the bacteria streptococcus pneumonia. The recommendations for use of these vaccines recently changed, and what to do can sometimes be confusing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised their recommendations for pneumonia vaccines in August of 2014. While I find discussing the vaccine very interesting, if you do not, just skip to the last paragraph of this blog, and you will have the basic facts you need to know!
First, let’s talk about pneumococcal disease, a serious infection that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections. Each year about 1 million adults in the USA get pneumococcal pneumonia, and 5-7 per cent of those die from it. The death rates are considerably higher for those over 65 years of age. The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can include high fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and disorientation. This type of pneumonia can progress to a serious infection very rapidly. While antibiotic treatment is often successful, the best treatment for this problem is to prevent it. There are about 90 serotypes of streptococcus pneumonia identified, but only a few of these cause the majority of serious pneumococcal disease.

There are currently 2 pneumonia vaccines recommended for adults over age 65. The first is pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), commonly known as Pneumovax. This vaccine has been around for years, and is recommended as a routine immunization for adults age 65 and over. It protects against 23 of the serotypes of pneumococcus bacteria, and is usually given just once. There are special circumstances where a physician might advise a second PPSV 23, but that is not usually the case. About half the people who get this vaccine have mild side effects such as redness or soreness at the injection site. Less than 1% develop fever, muscle aches, or more severe local reactions.

The second pneumonia vaccine now available is Prevnar-13 (PCV13). As of August, 2014, the CDC recommends that all adults age 65 and over receive 1 dose of this vaccine as well. PCV13 protects against 13 serotypes of pneumococcus, and is quite effective against the serotypes that cause half of the serious pneumococcal infections in adults. Its potential side effects are similar to those of PPSV23.

The CDC recommends that PCV13 be given first if a senior has never had either of these vaccines. If someone has already had the PPSV23, the PCV13 can successfully be given later. These 2 vaccines should not be given together. Until recently, Medicare Part B would pay for only one vaccine, but the good news is that both vaccine doses are now covered as of February 2, 2015. It is important to note that PCV13 and PPSV23 must be given at least 12 months apart in order to have them be both effective and covered by Medicare.

Influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as either of the pneumonia vaccines, but they should then be given in opposite arms. If a person has had a serious reaction to a vaccine in the past, they should discuss with their physician the decision of whether or not to take the pneumonia vaccine. Keep in mind that pneumonia vaccines prevent only the types of pneumonia caused by streptococcus pneumonia, not all kinds of pneumonia, and they are not substitutes for a yearly influenza vaccine. The PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines are available though many local health departments, immunizing pharmacies, and primary health care providers. If you have had 1 pneumonia vaccine, it is very important to know which one you had in order to know which one to get next.

Here is the bottom line. The pneumonia vaccines are quite safe, and they are very helpful in preventing potentially life threatening disease. They are recommended for virtually all adults age 65 and over. If you have never had a pneumonia vaccine, you should get the Prevnar-13 (PCV13) first, and then the Pneumovax (PPSV23) at least 12 months later. If you have already had the PPSV23, get the PCV13 at least 12 months later. Let’s work to prevent this disease rather than waiting to take our chances in treating it!

 

AgeSmart would like to thank Dr. Thomas Dawdy for this week’s blog.

Aging and Your Eyes, from the National Institute on Aging

Steps to Protect Your Eyesight

Have your eyes checked regularly by an eye care professional—either an ophthalmologist or optometrist. People over age 65 should have yearly dilated eye exams. During this exam, the eye care professional should put drops in your eyes that will widen (dilate) your pupils so that he or she can look at the back of each eye. This is the only way to find some common eye diseases that have no early signs or symptoms. If you wear glasses, your prescription should be checked, too. See your doctor regularly to check for diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases can cause eye problems if not controlled or treated.

See an eye care professional right away if you:

  • Suddenly cannot see or everything looks blurry
  • See flashes of light
  • Have eye pain
  • Experience double vision
  • Have redness or swelling of your eye or eyelid

Protect your eyes from too much sunlight by wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside. Healthy habits, like not smoking, making smart food choices, and maintaining a healthy weight can also help protect your vision.

Common Eye Problems

The following common eye problems can be easily treated. But, sometimes they can be signs of more serious issues.

  • Presbyopia (prez-bee-OH-pee-uh) is a slow loss of ability to see close objects or small print. It is normal to have this problem as you get older. People with presbyopia often have headaches or strained, tired eyes. Reading glasses usually fix the problem.
  • Floaters are tiny specks or “cobwebs” that seem to float across your vision. You might see them in well-lit rooms or outdoors on a bright day. Floaters can be a normal part of aging. But, sometimes they are a sign of a more serious eye problem such as retinal detachment. If you see many new floaters and/or flashes of light, see your eye care professional right away.
  • Tearing (or having too many tears) can come from being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes, or having a condition called dry eye. Wearing sunglasses may help. So might eye drops. Sometimes tearing is a sign of a more serious eye problem, like an infection or a blocked tear duct. Your eye care professional can treat these problems.
  • Eyelid problems can result from different diseases or conditions. Common eyelid problems include red and swollen eyelids, itching, tearing, and crusting of eyelashes during sleep. These problems may be caused by a condition called blepharitis (ble-fa-RI-tis) and treated with warm compresses and gentle eyelid scrubs.

Eye Diseases and Disorders

The following eye conditions can lead to vision loss and blindness. They may have few or no early symptoms. Regular eye exams are your best protection. If your eye care professional finds a problem early, there are often things you can do to keep your eyesight.

  • Cataracts are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens causing blurred or hazy vision. Some cataracts stay small and don’t change your eyesight a lot. Others become large and reduce vision. Cataract surgery can restore good vision. It is a safe and common treatment. If you have a cataract, your eye care professional will watch for changes over time to see if you would benefit from surgery.
  • Corneal diseases and conditions can cause redness, watery eyes, pain, problems with vision, or a halo effect of the vision (things appear to have an aura of light around them). Infection and injury are some of the things that can hurt the cornea. Some problems with the cornea are more common in older people. Treatment may be simple—for example, changing your eyeglass prescription or using eye drops. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
  • Dry eye happens when tear glands don’t work well. You may feel itching, burning, or other discomfort. Dry eye is more common as people get older, especially for women. Your eye care professional may tell you to use a home humidifier, special eye drops (artificial tears), or ointments to treat dry eye.
  • Glaucoma often comes from too much fluid pressure inside the eye. If not treated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. People with glaucoma often have no early symptoms or pain. You can protect yourself by having regular dilated eye exams. Glaucoma can be treated with prescription eye drops, lasers, or surgery.
  • Retinal disorders are a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Retinal disorders that affect aging eyes include:
    • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD can harm the sharp vision needed to see objects clearly and to do common things like driving and reading. During a dilated eye exam, your eye care professional will look for signs of AMD. There are treatments for AMD. If you have AMD, ask if special dietary supplements could lower your chance of it getting worse.
    • Diabetic retinopathy. This problem may occur if you have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy develops slowly and often has no early warning signs. If you have diabetes, be sure to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year. Keeping your blood sugar under control can prevent diabetic retinopathy or slow its progress. Laser surgery can sometimes prevent it from getting worse.
    • Retinal detachment. THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. When the retina separates from the back of the eye, it’s called retinal detachment. If you see new floaters or light flashes, or if it seems like a curtain has been pulled over your eye, go to your eye care professional right away. With surgery or laser treatment, doctors often can prevent loss of vision.

Low Vision

Low vision means you cannot fix your eyesight with glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. Low vision affects some people as they age. You may have low vision if you:

  • Can’t see well enough to do everyday tasks like reading, cooking, or sewing
  • Have difficulty recognizing the faces of your friends or family
  • Have trouble reading street signs
  • Find that lights don’t seem as bright

If you have any of these problems, ask your eye care professional to test you for low vision. Special tools can help people with low vision to read, write, and manage daily tasks. These tools include large-print reading materials, magnifying aids, closed-circuit televisions, audio tapes, electronic reading machines, and computers with large print and a talking function.

Other things that may help:

  • Change the type of lighting in your room.
  • Write with bold, black felt-tip markers.
  • Use paper with bold lines to help you write in a straight line.
  • Put colored tape on the edge of your steps to help you see them and prevent you from falling.
  • Install dark-colored light switches and electrical outlets that you can see easily against light-colored walls.
  • Use motion lights that turn on when you enter a room. These may help you avoid accidents caused by poor lighting.
  • Use telephones, clocks, and watches with large numbers; put large-print labels on the microwave and stove.

Remember to ask your eye doctor if your vision is okay for safe driving.

For More Information

Here are some helpful resources:

National Eye Institute
Information Office
31 Center Drive MSC 2510
Bethesda, MD 20892-2510
1-301-496-5248
www.nei.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine
MedlinePlus
www.medlineplus.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

American Optometric Association:   http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/adult-vision-19-to-40-years-of-age/adult-vision-41-to-60-years-of-age?sso=y

2015 Healthy Living Expo

Have Fun and Get the Facts at the 2015 Healthy Living Expo! – May 29th
8:00 – 12:00 p.m. at the Southwestern Illinois College
Varsity Gymnasium 2500 Carlyle Ave. Belleville, IL

Join us as we discover ways to Head to Toe wellness. The Healthy Living Expo will take place on Friday, May 29th 2014 from 8:00 – 12:00 p.m. Gain information and enjoy great entertainment with hands on activities.

Visit the interactive stations at the Expo and find out what is hiding in the piles of paper in your house with Habits for a Healthy Home. Learn a new exercise or the benefits of therapeutic drumming. Find out how you can add more water into your daily routine or how to make a healthy fruit smoothie. Participants can also bring in their smart phones or tablets and questions they may have about how to operate them.  For more detailed information on stations please see below.

The event also offers health screenings including: balance and fall risk assessment, blood pressure screenings, glucose testing, and hearing assessments. The highlight of the event is over 100 exhibit tables. Family members and caregivers are also encouraged to attend. This event is open to the public, and all activities are free.

Major sponsors of the event include: AARP, Direct Medical, O’Fallon Apartments, Reliant Health Care, SWIC- PSOP, St. Clair County Office on Aging, and Visiting Angels.

This free event is hosted by AgeSmart Community Resources. The mission of the Healthy Living Expo is to provide informational, educational and social activities for older adults, their family and friends in a half-day event. Additional information is available at www.AgeSmart.org or by calling 618-222-2561.

 

Interactive Stations

Habits for a Healthy Home
Sponsored by Tranquil Transitions

What’s hiding in those piles of paper? When was the last time you vacuumed under the couch? Why is it important to keep your clutter to a minimum? Join Tranquil Transitions for information on keeping your home clean, organized and decluttered to improve your health and wellness.
Motivation Station
Sponsored by

Research shows us the therapeutic benefits of ancient rhythm techniques. Drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, and a release of emotional trauma. Join Christopher Sutton as he shares some of the benefits of drumming.

Exercise! It is never too late. Join Lucas Hale and Ashley Duffie as they demonstrate the Strong for Life Exercise program. Strong for Life is a strengthening exercise program designed by physical therapists for home use by older adults to improve strength, balance and overall health.
U + H20 = a healthier you!
Sponsored by Hospice of Southern Illinois

The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water depending on body size. A rule of thumb, 2/3 of the body consists of water, and it is the main component of human body. Did you know that your tissues and organs are mainly made up of water? Here are the percentages:
• Muscle consists of 75% water
• Brain consists of 90% water
• Bone consists of 22% water
• Blood consists of 85% water
The functions of water in the human body are vital. Every cell in your body needs water from “Head to Toe”!
Technology Station
Sponsored by Joe’s Technology

“Joe’s technology will help keep you connected to your world”

Enjoy a Healthy Fruit Smoothie
Sponsored by Buena Salud11

Our health embraces so much more than just our body, but encompasses our mind and spirit too…reaching well beyond today’s pains or pleasures! Come join Certified Health Coaches Derek and Christina to explore daily habits that promote wellness and mental clarity for life’s journey ahead and enjoy a fruit smoothie while you learn.

MiniHLE15

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

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

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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