Did You Hear?

Our ability to hear is one of our most important senses as it connects us to the world around us. With masks and social distancing thrown in the mix, COVID has made communication even more challenging. For those of you who missed the Health and Wellness Committee’s recent speaker, audiology professor Dr. Tricia Dabrowski, A.T. Still University Audiology Department has kindly provided Beatitudes Campus with the following helpful tips to improve communication with hearing loss.

Let’s start with the Listener.

  1. Don’t be embarrassed by your hearing loss. Explain, or remind speakers, that you have difficulty hearing, and describe the best way for the Speaker to communicate in order for you to understand.
  2. Pay attention to the speaker’s face and gestures while they speak.
  3. Don’t bluff! Pretending that you heard something never results in a solution to your communication troubles.
  4. Provide feedback after the communication so the Speaker knows how well they are doing.
  5. Arrange for frequent breaks during long discussions.
  6. Set realistic goals about what you can expect to understand.

Now let’s consider some things the Speaker can do which will help a great deal:

  1. Get the person’s attention before you begin to speak.
  2. Always face the listener and do not put obstacles in front of your face (unless you need to be wearing a mask).
  3. Speak into their “good ear” if they have one.
  4. Use facial expressions and gestures to help convey the meaning of your words.
  5. Speak slightly slower and louder and be sure to enunciate. Pause briefly after key words in the phrase to increase the likelihood that the Listener will understand the communication the first time around.
  6. Speak to the listener in a well-lit place, so they can read your lips as you speak.
  7. Give a clue of some kind when the topic is changing.
  8. If the listener does not understand something you’re trying to say after the second attempt, try using different words.
  9. When you’re in a difficult listening environment simplify the conversation.
  10. When in doubt, ask the Listener what you could do to help.
  11. Before parting ways, always leave a thorough note of any important facts, dates, times, etc. that were discussed in the conversation, so the listener can correctly recall important details.

Don’t expect any of these strategies to work 100% of the time. Both the Listener and Speaker must maintain a positive attitude, be patient, and relax! Now let’s consider how you might change the Environment to increase the likelihood that communications will be understood.

  1. Recognize that noise is your enemy! For the hearing impaired, modest amounts of background noise mask the important speech sounds they are trying to hear and can make communication very challenging.
  2. The ideal listening distance is 4-6 feet. This will allow the Listener to observe your facial expressions, gestures, and optimize the volume of soft speech sounds.
  3. Lighting that is too dark will make it difficult for the Listener to view the Speakers facial expressions and lips (be aware of glare from shiny surfaces obstructing views, as well).

Another way to improve communication is to ensure that your ears, eyes, and hearing aids are working properly. Remember to visit your audiologist and optometrist annually!

Leave Stress Behind with Mindful Walking

Ever wish you could leave stress behind? You can, and you don’t have to travel very far to do it.

Perhaps the easiest of all the techniques I teach is mindful walking. Although remarkably simple to do, it’s a very powerful form of walking meditation that can defuse stress within minutes. Mindful walking relaxes the body by channeling anxiety and nervous energy into physical activity and calms the mind by promoting focused awareness. And it’s versatile: You don’t need to put on hiking boots, leave civilization, or climb a mountain to experience this restorative power of walking. You only need a few minutes of time and some room to walk, as long as you’re willing to change your state of mind. The goal is to use walking meditation to gently shift the focus of your attention from worrying about the past or the future, and to focus on what is actually happening in the present moment.


Here is a simple mindful walking exercise you can practice whenever you need it:

  1. While walking, pay attention to your breathing. Use this focus on the breath as an anchor to stabilize your attention.
  2. Next, allow yourself to notice any sights, sounds, or physical sensations that may come up as you walk. Rest your awareness for a moment on that sight, sound, or sensation, then return your awareness to your breathing.
  3. If persistent thoughts distract you from your mindful awareness, simply notice them, then return your awareness to your breathing.

Here is a variation of mindful walking that uses your breathing to consciously connect you to the vast web of life on planet Earth:

  1. As you focus on your breath, following the instructions above, remember that plants release the oxygen that you’re breathing into your lungs, and that, in turn, you breathe out the carbon dioxide that the plants take in.
  2. In your mind’s eye, follow your breath as you exhale. Imagine that you can see the carbon dioxide molecules leaving your nose or mouth and flowing into the leaves on the plants nearest you as you walk.
  3. As you breathe in, envision yourself inhaling the oxygen that the plants are giving off. Picture the trails of oxygen flowing from the trees, grass, flowers and shrubs into your lungs. Take note of how your visualization of this very natural process affects your sense of the world around you.

Holiday Blues?

The holidays can be a tough time of year. If they are for you, please know you aren’t alone. The holidays can be a particularly stressful time. In a blog by Kouris Kalligas, found at https://psychcentral.com/blog/avoiding-the-holiday-blues/ and last updated July 8, 2018, “the Holiday Blues are defined as temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays, and though they differ from clinical anxiety or depression, they should still be taken seriously as they can lead to long-term mental health conditions. In a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it showed that 64 percent of people are affected by the Holiday Blues and 24 percent say they are affected a lot.

I hope that if you experience any holiday sadness you might follow some of the tips given in the following article written by Michael Kerr and medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PMHNP-BC that was posted on March 21, 2016 and can be found on the website https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/holidays.

“Holiday Depression

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for some people they are anything but.

Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.

Why Is Depression So Common During the Holidays?

There are several reasons why you may develop depression during the holidays:

Social Isolation

Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays.

Some people may have a small social circle or lack opportunities for socialization. People who have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often makes the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression worse.

These individuals may see other people spending time with friends and family, and ask themselves, “Why can’t that be me?” or “Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?”

One of the best ways to deal with social isolation is to reach out to friends or family for support. You can also try talking to a therapist. They can help you figure out where your feelings come from and develop solutions to overcome them.

Grieving During the Holidays

Some people may be keenly aware of the loss of a loved one during the holiday season. Here are several ways to stave off the holiday blues that may descend at this time:

1. Begin a New Tradition

Try planning a family outing or vacation, instead of spending the holidays at home.

2. Don’t Give In to Holiday Pressures
Feel free to leave an event if you aren’t comfortable. Be willing to tell others, “I’m not up for this right now.”

3. Volunteer
Helping others can also be very helpful for you, too. For example, you might try:
-working at a soup kitchen
-organizing a gift drive
-helping your neighbor with a yard or house task

4. Get Back to Nature
Going for a walk in the park or the woods helps many people relax and feel better when they are feeling overwhelmed.

Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern is a type of recurrent depression that is caused by the seasons changing. Many people with this disorder develop depression symptoms during the fall, and continue to feel sad throughout the winter. Most people stop having symptoms during the spring and summer. However, some people experience seasonal depression during the spring and summer. This disorder is treated with light therapy, antidepressants, and talk therapy.

Dealing with Holiday Depression

Talk to your doctor if you are feeling sad for long periods of time. They can refer you to a mental health specialist. If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately:

Call 911.

Go immediately to a hospital emergency room.

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

You can improve your mood by practicing self-care during the holidays. Eat a healthy diet, and maintain a regular sleep pattern and exercise program.According to the kept Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, as little as 30-minutes of cardiovascular exercise can provide an immediate mood boost similar to the effects of an antidepressant medication.Joining a support group where you talk to people with similar experiences to yours can also help.“

Please don’t forget, you are not alone this holiday season. In addition to resources listed above, you may reach out to Chaplains Andrew Moore x18481 and Peggy Roberts x16109, Josephine Levy, Resource Navigator x16117 or any staff member as we are all here and willing to help. Happy Holidays!

Come to the Quiet

Sometimes we don’t realize how noisy our world is until we escape to a place of quiet.  The Desert Mothers and Fathers believed that silence and quiet prevents us from being suffocated by our wordy and noisy world.  They believed that there is more to silence than not speaking; it is more than the absence of sound.  It is that space we create within, that portable cell, of rest and peace that can stay with us wherever we go.  Madeleine L’Engle wrote a book called A Circle of Quiet in which she described how every so often she needed out—away from all those people she loved most in the world in order to regain a sense of proportion.  Her special place was a small brook in a green glade, a circle of quiet: “I go to the brook because I get out of being, out of the essential.  If I sit for awhile, then my impatience, crossness, frustration, are indeed annihilated, and my sense of humor returns.”

Here on the campus we searched a long time for that circle of quiet, that place to gather thoughts and create that space to help us regain perspective.  Thanks to the inspiration and persistence of some of our residents, we created such a space but it remains yet undiscovered by many.  Irene Cool has helped shepherd the creation of our Quiet Place and I share with you her invitation to visit it.

“Come to the Quiet, Bring Thoughts That You Gather.  This is our Quiet Place at the east-side front of the Life Center and across from Ms. Kimberly’s office. It is there for you and me and all others to go to be still, away and alone or with another. It is there for us to pray, say or simply listen. Our room is there for us to rejoice, to sing, to weep but mostly to just be somewhere and away…from noise, from chatter…a free place to speculate or fret.  Fragrance fills the silence and helps to call on memories and allows our imaginations of happy times and remembrances of comforting places. Soft aromas can calm, purify our souls and heal our bodies.

The fountain of running water, a gentle mantra, assures us of the power of life…a continuum. A great purifier calms our anxieties.  Candles may be seen as a focal point for silence and we can increase our focus and concentration by simple candle gazing…to be mesmerized. The Himalayan salt lamp gives off a soft pink light which brings again the peace of the room to the soul.  So all of you who live here, caregivers and others…when you will sometime want a minute to rest…come to the quiet and find your peace.”

Bad For Your Health

I noticed an article the other day, “In Later years, Your House May be Bad For Your Health.”  Of course I had to read more.  It cited recent results of the first of a five-year study being conducted by Chicago-based Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging and Northwestern University which found that nearly 70% of Life Plan Community (also known as Continuing Care Retirement Community) residents stated that moving into such a community, “somewhat or greatly improved their social wellness.”

We are consistently interested in what distinguishes Beatitudes Campus from other senior living options.  What we experience here seems to track with what the study was finding.  Including more than 5,000 residents in 80 Life Plan Communities across 29 states, the study survey found that residents of the communities (which typically offer independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing in a single location) scored higher across five of six recognized facets of wellness than about 1,000 peer group older adults living in the community at large—including greater emotional, social, physical, intellectual and vocational wellness.

Focusing on just assisted living, a 2018 study of residents in just over 20 communities operated across four states by New Jersey-based Juniper Communities, found that hospitalizations of residents were half that of peer group seniors living at home. Juniper in turn estimated that such reductions are saving Medicare between $4 and $6 million each year and would save between $10 and $15 billion annually if applied across the similar larger population of Medicare beneficiaries.

While both studies are essentially conducted by senior living organizations, they reflect what has been intuitively suggested by not only professionals, but residents within senior communities for years. Specifically, that living within a community setting, with daily access to friends as well as personal health assistance, dining, wellness and social programs, housekeeping, maintenance, and transportation services – may not only improve quality of life for individuals age 75+, but add to it. I hear this from our Ambassadors time and again as they speak to prospects considering Beatitudes Campus as their home.

To be clear, more, longer and larger studies are needed. And there is no industry-wide research indicating all assisted living communities could produce the same health outcomes as Juniper, considered by many to be among the best in the industry. Still, surveys have consistently shown that as high as 90+% of senior housing residents and family members are satisfied with their experience.

Which leads to the question of why approximately 90% of Americans age 75+ are choosing to remain at home. Yes, many are still physically and socially independent, but data suggests more may be able to benefit from the services and care senior living offers than are accessing such communities.

Consider:

Lack of socialization is a major source of depression, with nearly half of women age 75+ living alone. The National Institute of Mental Health has declared depression among older adults a major public health issue.

44% of older adults 75+ report having at least one physical disability that impairs their ability to live independently.

14% of adults age 71+ and 32% of adults age 85+ suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementia.

Drivers age 80+ have the highest rate of fatal crashes per miles driven of any age group.

More than 34 million Americans are serving as unpaid caregivers for an older adult parent, spouse, other relative, friend or neighbor, the majority of whom are age 75+, for an average of 24 hours per week.

Perhaps the largest factors inhibiting utilization of senior housing are cultural and based on stereotyped perception. In the first case, the current “Silent Generation” of older adults (born during the Great Depression) were raised on the idea of putting a roof over their heads and never giving it up, along with an ingrained responsibility to never be a burden on anyone. In the second case, many older adults continue to assume that a senior living community is a place for “old people” and represents the institutional “nursing homes” of yore – even as the studies above indicate otherwise.  Just today, I spoke with a fellow whose mother lives close by in our neighborhood and he remarked how much he knew she would benefit from the “purposeful living” about which we center so much of what we do at Beatitudes.  He will be by soon with her to see the campus and I can’t wait to have her experience what so many of you delight in communicating to our visitors – our mission and philosophy of the campus and the effect on superior senior living!

 

Healthy Holidays

The holidays are often a time of joyful experiences, but they can also bring about unique health challenges. During the season of giving, it’s still important to take care of yourself; we hope to provide a few tips to stay healthy this winter.

Be Mindful of Medications: With winter cold and flu season upon us, be mindful of over the counter medications, which can have unintended side effects. For example, medications that have sedating or pain mediating effects, such as decongestants and cough syrups, can lead to confusion. Consult your doctor before taking beginning new over the counter medications for cold symptoms, and always being aware of multi-symptom products that treat coughing, sneezing, pain, etc. These medications can contain similar ingredients to medications you are already taking, which can put one at risk of overdose.

Healthy Healing Alternatives: Try alternatives to over the counter cold and allergy medications, such as resting, drinking more fluids, saline nasal sprays, and drinking honey in your tea for coughing.

Winter Workouts: It’s easy to fall away from your usual exercise routine during the holidays, but maintaining an exercise regime for 30 minutes a day helps boost your mood and energy levels. Try to carve out regular time for yourself to prioritize exercise even on busy days.

Seasonal Schedule: Keeping a usual medication and sleep schedule, especially if you are travelling, also boosts your immune system and energy levels. Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, and be consistent in taking your medications on time. If traveling, have an updated copy of your medication list with you, along with your labeled medications and pill organizer. Before you leave for a trip, make sure you have enough medications for the duration of the trip and for the days after you return, so you won’t need to rush to refill medications.

Holiday Food and Spirits: Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging during the holidays, but it is important to stick to your regular diet as closely as possible. It’s okay to treat yourself, but eat rich, fatty and sugary foods in moderation and add more vegetables to your holiday plate. This season is also a time when people are more likely to drink alcohol at parties and gatherings. Studies show that regular drinkers have a tendency to over-imbibe during the holidays, while many holiday drinkers who do not drink regularly need to be aware of their lower alcohol tolerance. Be mindful of the risk of confusion and falls when drinking, and ask your physician or pharmacist about how alcohol interacts with your specific medications.

Keep these tips in mind and
enjoy a happy, healthy holiday
season this winter!! *

 

Success Matters 2018 Year In Review

This year kept us busy—join us on a tour of highlights below:

We welcomed Occupational Therapy interns from A.T. Still University and NAU. Laura Milligan, Brian Keene, and Courtney Ramos each contributed to our Campus in their own ways. An extra “thank you” to Campus Residents for welcoming these young professionals into your homes and your lives.

We joined forces with Resident Services and Comfort Matters in our five-part Summer Series “Behind the Curtain”, which benefitted greatly from resident input.

We travelled to San Francisco for the American Society on Aging Conference.

Jessica participated in the leadership training with the Nollau Institute, and continues to be involved with the Caregiver Support Group; Better Breathers; Low Vision Support; Grief Support; and Accessibility Committee.

Josephine continues volunteering as a Medicare counselor with Area Agency on Aging, and completed her Assisted Living Manager Certification.

We continued our own staff training with our SimulAge experience, expanding it to quarterly trainings with new staff from across Campus.

We provided resident driver screenings with the help of NAU OT students, partnered with AARP to offer the Safer Driving Course, and presented Down the Road: Driving Decisions and  Alternate Transportation Options.

We partnered with the Health Services Advisory Group to offer a Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) for residents, staff, and community members.

Educational offerings this year included Safer Stepping; A Matter of Balance; Financial Resources 101; Scam Awareness; Life Planning Documents; National Healthcare Decision Making Day; Medicare ABCs; and GoGo Grandparent / Transportation Alternatives.

We spoke at the Desert Christian Fellowship Luncheon about services on and off Campus.

We presented to Valley Leadership members about aging issues and how businesses might  address them.

We were hosted by Plaza South at their Spring Party, and had a great evening visiting with our 19North neighbors.

We hosted the Crisis Network to educate employees about how Network services can aid residents and staff.

Health and Wellness Committee partnerships included Blue Zones for Healthy Living; End of Life Planning Panel; and treating pain with Alternative/Integrative Medicine.

Thanks to the residents who work so closely with the Spay/Neuter Hotline to identify and trap cats on Campus.

We are looking forward to 2019 and the joy of the coming year!

Interested in getting monthly email updates from Success Matters, or in sharing our news with family? Send or call Josephine with the email address you would like added to our list! *

GET YOUR VACCINES!

The second flu shot + clinic will be held:
Friday, December 7th from 9 to 11AM
Agelink Great Room (AGR)

By popular demand, besides Flushots, you will also be able to receive vaccines for Pneumonia, Shingles(finally available in less limited quantities) and Tetanus.  You must pick up a consent form at the Welcome Desk in the Administration building. To receive the Tetanus shot, check mark “other” and indicate Tetanus. 

Please refer to the November 12th Roadrunner issue for more specifics on each vaccine.

It is important you list your Medicare and other insurance numbers on the consent form for billing purposes.  Please also bring your insurance cards to the clinic in case there are any questions. Not all shots are covered by Medicare and you may incur charges for different vaccines!

Sign up early! Completed consent forms must be returned to the Welcome Desk by no later than November 30.  For any questions,please contact Gabi Holberg at ext. 18490. *

We Are Here For You

Beatitudes Home Health has a wonderful new program that allows 1:1 Speech Therapy in your home, for those experiencing memory or communication problems. The Cognitive Communication Program is designed to detect possible cognition and or communication problems and offer retraining, strengthening and helpful strategies to improve skills and overall cognitive communication abilities. The skills include: speech/articulation skills, word finding skills, swallowing issues, memory skills for immediate, short term and long term memory; and cognitive skills that can include retraining and strengthening for organization, problem solving, decision making, reasoning, sequencing and attention. This program may also assist with function skills such as; self-awareness, self-motivation, initiation, goal setting, planning and mental flexibility.
Those clients that would likely benefit from this program have a medical diagnosis of any of the following; dementia, aphasia, dysarthria, dysphasia, stroke, apraxia, TIA, hard of hearing, Parkinson’s, cardiac arrest, COPD, hypoxia, aneurysm, hypertension, poor eating and drinking habits and cerebral hemorrhage. This program is covered under your Medicare benefit as well as United HealthCare. This can also be provided on a private pay basis. If you think you may be a candidate for this program, please call us at 602-544-5000 for more information.
As a reminder, Beatitudes at Home also offers a case management program. The wellness nurse case manager would be available to you, on a private pay basis (unfortunately it is not covered under your medical insurance), either monthly or weekly to discuss upcoming procedures, managing a new diagnosis, assessments, crisis intervention, medication management, care coordination and so much more.
You will be gain an advocate, as well as emotional support, with the knowledge and clinical skills of the nurse. All too often, we see residents/clients that have a primary care physician, along with multiple specialty doctors, and few if any of those physicians are communicating with one another. This unfortunately, may lead to medical errors. Having someone assist in coordinating your care can ensure that new medications, or any other concerns are being relayed across the continuum as needed. If you would like to discuss becoming a client, please call us at 602-544-8527. We would love to assist you.*

Flu and Pneumonia

I So far this flu season, Arizona has seen “sporadic” activity since the flu season began on September 30, 2018.  There were 41 cases confirmed during the week of 10/14/18 through 10/20/18 for a total of 91 so far according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.  This is up from 26 confirmed cases the week before.  You may track the flu season activity at website:  https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/flu/index.php#surveillance-home

Each year we want to make sure that you have flu and pneumonia prevention tips readily available.

Below are excerpts from an article published on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website about flu and pneumonia prevention last updated November 6, 2017. 

Pneumonia Can Be Prevented—Vaccines Can Help

“Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year. Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Lower your risk of pneumonia with vaccines and other healthy living practices.

Globally, pneumonia kills nearly 1 million children younger than 5 years of age each year. This is greater than the number of deaths from any infectious disease, such as HIV infection, malaria, or tuberculosis.

Pneumonia isn’t just a public health issue in developing countries though. Each year in the United States, about 1 million people have to seek care in a hospital due to pneumonia. Unfortunately, about 50,000 people die from the disease each year in the United States. Most of the people affected by pneumonia in the United States are adults.

Vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals) could prevent many of these deaths—globally and in the United States.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Older Adults:

CDC recommends 2 pneumococcal vaccines for adults 65 years or older.

Get a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) first. Then get a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) at least 1 year later.

If you’ve already received PPSV23, get PCV13 at least 1 year after receipt of the most recent PPSV23 dose.

If you’ve already received a dose of PCV13 at a younger age, CDC does not recommend another dose.

Lower Your Risk with Vaccines

In the United States, vaccines can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia:

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Influenza (flu)

Measles

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Pneumococcal

Varicella (chickenpox)

These vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. See the vaccine information statements for each vaccine to learn more about the most common side effects.

Protect Your Health with These Healthy Living Practices

Try to stay away from sick people. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible to keep from getting them sick. You can also help prevent respiratory infections by:

Washing your hands regularly

Cleaning surfaces that are touched a lot

Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve

Limiting contact with cigarette smoke

Managing and preventing conditions like diabetes

Pneumonia Affects the Young and Old

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Common signs of pneumonia can include cough, fever, and trouble breathing.

Some People Are More Likely to Get Pneumonia:

Adults 65 years or older

Children younger than 5 years old

People who have chronic medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)

People who smoke cigarettes

Encourage friends and loved ones with certain health conditions, like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated.

Causes and Types of Pneumonia

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus). However, clinicians are not always able to find out which germ caused someone to get sick with pneumonia.

Community-acquired pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia in the community (not in a hospital). Healthcare-associated pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia during or following a stay in a healthcare facility. Healthcare facilities include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and dialysis centers. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is when someone gets pneumonia after being on a ventilator, a machine that supports breathing. The bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in healthcare settings.”

It is important to remember that keeping your hands clean through hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. Also, if you are experiencing flu like symptoms, please contact your physician and try to stay away from others to stop the spread.  If you have not yet received your flu or pneumovax shot, please contact your physician to see if one may be a good idea for you.*

Easing Arthritis Pain

According to mayoclinic.org, arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide, but there are a variety of approaches to minimize the effects.  Recently, NAU occupational therapy instructor and certified hand therapist, Dr. Ivy, Cindi, presented an educational seminar on hand arthritis treatment and management.  Because the hand arthritis event was so well-received and not everyone was able attend Dr. Ivy’s seminar, Dr. Ivy will be available for individuals to drop in and learn personalized tips for hand arthritis management on August 31st from 1:30-2:00PM in AgeLink 1

For those who experience arthritis in any form, Success Matters would like to offer you four general tips to reduce the pain and stiffness:

Warm up: Warm up before doing an arduous activity with the affected joints. This can be done by using heat (heating pad, warm shower, or Beatitudes hot tub) to begin warming up the joints, followed by gently stretching and moving the joint through its full range of motion several times.  After a proper warm-up, your joints will be ready for activity with less pain and stiffness. 

Protect your joints: Joint protection involves using the bigger muscles to do challenging or repetitive tasks.  For example, carry objects close to the body so less stress is put on the smaller joints, use proper posture, and use simpler push/pull movements rather than twisting movements whenever possible.  Additionally, wearing a brace, such as a back brace or wrist brace, during activities can help ensure proper body mechanics and joint support.

Find the right tool for the job: Built-up tools (pictured) create a larger surface area, which puts less stress on the fingers and wrist.  Other practical tools, such as reachers or long handled tools, help users avoid strain from bending or reaching, and some tools like the bottle opener pictured, allow for a push/pull movement rather than a twisting movement.

Move it or lose it: The most important principle of arthritis management is to keep the joints moving.  While our instinct can be to avoid using a joint when we have pain or stiffness, over time, this will lead to muscle loss, increased stiffness, and as a result, more pain.  It’s important to interrupt this cycle by incorporating the appropriate amount of activity, stretches, and exercises to keep the joints strong and mobile for the long-term. 

We hope you’ll use these tips to minimize the effects of arthritis, and consider dropping by Age Link Classroom1 on August 31st from 1:30-2PM for hand arthritis advice from guest Dr. Cindy Ivy.*

Beware; You Need to Be Aware

For those of you with Medicare Part A and Part B insurance, the following may come as a surprise to you.  What I am referring to is, over the last few years, there had been an increase in the hospital admission practice of admitting patients under an outpatient “observation” status versus an “inpatient” status.  While we don’t see this happening as often, it is still something to be aware of and keep fresh in your mind.

Some Medicare patients have found that after being admitted into the hospital for a few nights, they were then discharged to a skilled nursing facility and that their stay was not going to be covered under their Medicare Part A benefits because when they were admitted to the hospital, they were admitted under an outpatient “observation” status.

The difference between an outpatient “observation” status and “inpatient” status according to Medicare.gov, is that an “inpatient” status means you are formally admitted to the hospital per a doctor’s order.  An “observation” status means a doctor has not written an order to admit you to the hospital.  This may be the case if you are getting emergency care, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab test, x-rays, etc. Medicare.gov also states, “The decision for inpatient hospital admission is a complex medical decision based on your doctor’s judgment and your need for medically necessary hospital care. An inpatient admission is generally appropriate when you’re expected to need two or more midnights of medically necessary hospital care, but your doctor must order such admission and the hospital must formally admit you in order for you to become an inpatient.”

What does all of this mean? If you have been admitted as an “inpatient”, Medicare Part A will cover your hospital services after you have met your deductible as well as will cover eligible drugs administered as part of your inpatient treatment during a covered stay.  Medicare Part A will also cover 100% for the first 20 days in an approved skilled nursing facility or rehab if the patient had spent at least three midnights in the hospital admitted as an “inpatient”.  If you were classified as “observation”, Part A will not cover the services.  Medicare Part B can cover your hospital services; however, a copay is required and varies depending on the service.   Additionally, prescription drug coverage during an outpatient “observation” stay is not covered by Part A or Part B potentially leading to more out of pocket expenses.   Medicare Part B may be used in skilled nursing facilities to cover the physician visits as well as the rehabilitative therapies prescribed.

What can you do to avoid this type of situation?  AARP offers the following tips:

  1. Ask about your admission status each day you are in the hospital as it may change.
  2. Ask the hospital doctor to reconsider your case if you were admitted under an “observation” status.
  3. Ask your own doctor whether “observation” status is justified. If not, ask him/her to call the hospital to speak with the hospital doctor for an explanation.

For more detailed information on how Medicare covers hospital services, including premiums, deductibles, copayments, or any other questions you have about Medicare, you may reach out to Josephine Levy, our Success Matters Resource Navigator who is also a Medicare State Health Insurance Program Counselor, at x16117.  You may also visit Medicare.gov/publications to view the “Medicare & You” handbook or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.*

6 Ways to Feel Happier Instantly

Don’t wait for a bad mood to pass. Lift yourself up with these strategies.

  1. Step Outside

Enjoying nature is a great way to put some pep back in your step. Living near green spaces is associated with better mental health. Even just looking at images of nature scenes can reduce anger, fear, and stress and stimulate the parts of your brain associated with happiness, positivity, and emotional stability.

Spending time in the great outdoors also exposes you to sunlight, which can help your body produce vitamin D. Low levels of the nutrient have been linked to depression, but soaking up even 15 minutes of sun per day can lift your spirits in the present and over the long term.

  1. Have an Attitude of Gratitude

Think about or write down what you’re thankful for. Even if there’s not time to write down everything, simply expressing gratitude creates an instant mood boost.

For a longer-term lift, Gielan suggests a 21-day gratitude challenge: Try to make thank-you emails, handwritten notes, or genuine compliments a practice for three weeks straight. “Your brain quickly starts to recognize how much social support you have in your life,” she says. And social support is the best proven predictor of happiness.

  1. Pass on Some Wisdom

“As we age, giving back one’s knowledge, wisdom, and experience is a great source of joy,” says Prudence Hall, M.D., founder of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California. “Whether it’s sharing with grandchildren or the world at large, giving back and being in service is a natural evolution of who we are and brings almost instant belonging and happiness.”

If you’re a lawyer, for example, look for pro bono opportunities in your community. A therapist? See if there’s a health or community center that might need counseling services. Share a physical feat like taking a dance class with a friend, or spend time teaching your grandchildren to read, Dr. Hall suggests. “Become a person who is respectful, awe-inspiring, and loving. What returns to you is respect, inspiration, and love.”

  1. Think and Act Creatively

Negative thoughts have a way of spiraling, leading you to contemplate all of the ways a setback is going to bring you down. This detrimental practice is called brooding, and according to a Georgia Institute of Technology study, it sends you into a black hole of negativity.

The better option: self-reflection, or pondering an issue and taking positive steps to address it. This not only leads to feeling empowered, but it also sparks creativity. Why is that a good thing? When researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro contacted people throughout the week, those engaging in creative activities—crafting recipes, making art, or writing—were much more likely to report being happy.

  1. Do Something Nice for Someone

The fastest way to find happiness yourself? “Create it in others,” Gielan says. Being kind rewards the human brain with a release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin. Her challenge: “Do one small meaningful act for someone else each week to brighten their day.”

Surprise your spouse with a cup of coffee in the morning, hold the door for the person behind you, or find a book a friend might enjoy. Any small action counts—and comes with big mood-boosting rewards.

  1. Focus on the Here and Now

Studies find the best way to stay cheerful is to stay centered in the present—even when it’s not all that pleasant. In contrast, a wandering mind and daydreaming can bring people down.

The best way to re-center? Sit quietly for a few minutes, and try some deep, calming breaths. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your body, and gently guide attention back if your mind starts to wander.*

Holiday Weight Loss Tips

Tips for surviving the holidays without sacrificing your weight-loss goals

No one wants to be a killjoy at a Christmas party or a family get-together. But when it comes to dealing with the temptations of the season’s high-calorie bounty, you don’t have to be a Grinch.

You do need a plan, says Susan J. Bartlett, Ph.D., an associate director of clinical psychology at Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore and a specialist in weight and eating disorders. Last year, she led a small group at the center through the following eat-right strategies. Her expertise and her students’ experiences provide practical lessons for anyone to try.

SOME TIPS

  • Weight specialist Susan Bartlett suggests the following ways to keep your caloric count in check at a big event:
  • Don’t arrive hungry; eat something before you go.
  • Pass up peanuts, pretzels, chips, and other everyday snacks. Spend your calories on the special treats you really want.
  • Wear a form-fitting outfit, with a belt if possible.
  • Make socializing, rather than food, the focus of the event.
  • Keep your portions in check — to keep calories under control.
  • Plan how much alcohol you’ll drink. It loosens your inhibitions and contributes to calorie consumption.
  • Don’t stand near the buffet table. In fact, keep your back to it, so you won’t even see it!
  • Make a deal with yourself that you will learn something new about someone you don’t know at the party.
  • Wear a special piece of jewelry — a sparkly bangle or big ring — as a visible reminder to yourself to eat in moderation.
  • Practice saying “no, thank you.” It’s okay to turn down invitations or tell a pushy host you don’t want seconds.