Health

Caregiving Challenges

Stroke Risk Hepatitis C Facing Alzheimer's Quality of Your Tap Water Meat Nutrition IQ Get Your Kids Vaccinated Indoor Air Quality

Meeting Caregiving Challenges

(NAPSI)—In today’s world, many women find themselves facing the consequences of an aging population and for good reason. The profile of the average U.S. caregiver will be familiar to many: a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends nearly 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother for nearly five years.1

Given these competing responsibilities, many caregivers are absent from work more often than their noncaregiving counterparts, missing between eight and 12 workdays per year.2 As caregiving duties intensify (as dementia worsens, for example), even more time at work may be lost. Nearly 70 percent of those who provide 21 or more hours per week of hands-on care report having to make accommodations in their work schedules, such as arriving late or leaving early and cutting back on hours, as well as changing jobs or leaving the workforce entirely.1

In addition, the obligations faced by working caregivers can take their toll in other ways. Caregivers in every age group score themselves lower in emotional and physical health than their non-caregiving colleagues, and the deficits are especially pronounced for working caregivers under the age of 44.3 Their reported anxiety, depression and injuries result in an inability to concentrate and greater conflict with supervisors. In short, caregiving can affect the bottom line. The associated decrease in productivity among full-time workers is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $33.6 billion, with a cost per full-time employed caregiver of $2,110.1

What May Make A Difference

Federally employed women who have already experienced or witnessed the consequences of a long-term care event in their family or circle of friends may recognize the value of participating in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). The coverage is designed to reimburse for long-term care services in a variety of settings—at home or in a facility such as an assisted living facility, an adult day care or a nursing center—and can lessen or eliminate an individual’s reliance on a working family member to provide hands-on care.

Federally employed women may also want to explore the benefits of having their qualified relatives apply for coverage as a way to minimize their own future caregiving obligations. The eligibility list is broad and includes spouses and same-sex domestic partners, parents and parents-in-law, and adult children older than age 18. Qualified relatives can apply even if the employee they’re related to does not.

Expert Care Coordination

Most people have little knowledge of or experience with long- term care decision-making. It’s not something you learn about until the need exists in your own family or circle of friends, often when it’s an emergency. The program’s care coordination services offer enrollees information and advice on long-term care resources, such as local care providers and relevant community programs. With just a toll-free call, enrollees can get professional input to help guide decision-making, reduce uncertainty and lower stress. Having access to a team of experienced insurance professionals can help you make an informed decision about which provider is best for you or your loved one. This expertise is available not only for FLTCIP enrollees, but also for their qualified relatives even if that relative isn’t enrolled in the program.

It’s a valuable resource for federally employed caregivers.

The Next Step

To learn more about the FLTCIP’s comprehensive benefits and features, you can register for an upcoming webinar or view the existing library of on-demand topics at www.LTCFEDS.com/webinar.

For personalized assistance, you can call (800) LTC-FEDS [(800) 582-3337)] / TTY: (800) 843-3557 to speak with a program consultant. They are available to answer any questions you may have and can walk you step by step through the plan design and application process.

More About the FLTCIP

Established by an act of Congress in 2000 and overseen by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the FLTCIP is designed to meet the specific needs of the federal family. The FLTCIP provides industry-leading benefits and offers flexible options that allow enrollees to tailor coverage to meet their needs.

Certain medical conditions, or combinations of conditions, will prevent some people from being approved for coverage. You need to apply to find out if you qualify for coverage under the FLTCIP.

The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program is sponsored by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, offered by John Hancock Life & Health Insurance Company, and administered by Long Term Care Partners, LLC.

1 AARP Public Policy Institute. “Valuing the Invaluable: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving,” http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/ltc/i51-caregiving.pdf (accessed March 2014).

2 National Institutes of Health. “Construct Validity of the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire across Informal Caregivers of Chronically Ill Older Patients,” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3040443/ (accessed March 2014).

3 Gallup. “In U.S., Caregivers Suffer From Poorer Physical Health,” www.gallup.com/poll/145940/Caregivers-Suffer-Poorer-Physical-Health.aspx (accessed March 2014).

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Stroke Risk

(NAPSI)—Sebastian Baker felt funny. He looked in the mirror and his reflection was off. Suddenly, he crashed to the floor and realized his left side was numb.

Baker, 46, had suffered a stroke. Like many of the 795,000 Americans who have a stroke each year, high blood pressure was the culprit.

“Uncontrolled blood pressure is the No. 1 reason people have strokes,” said Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D., professor of Neurology and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s important to check your blood pressure regularly and talk to your doctor about your numbers.”

While up to 80 percent of strokes may be prevented, everyone needs to learn the stroke signs and what to do during a stroke emergency. Bystanders are often the ones who need to call for help.

Through the Together to End Stroke initiative, sponsored by Covidien, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. for stroke recognition:

• F—Face Drooping

• A—Arm Weakness

• S—Speech Difficulty

• T—Time to call 9-1-1

Additional stroke signs include: sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding. If someone experiences any of these symptoms, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.

“Prevention is the best cure, but in the event of a stroke, quick recognition and treatment may have a dramatic impact on the outcome,” said Mark A. Turco, M.D., chief medical officer, Covidien Vascular Therapies.

For Baker, treatment combined with therapy and hard work paid off. He’s made a joyous return to a fulfilling life.

For more information, visit www.StrokeAssociation.org.

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Baby Boomers At Risk For Hepatitis C

(NAPSI)—Millions of Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus and many of them do not know it. In fact, it is possible for someone to have hepatitis C without showing any symptoms for decades while the infection silently causes damage to the liver. Hepatitis C can be effectively treated but it has to be detected first. By screening people who have the highest risk of infection, up to 15,000 deaths caused by hepatitis C may be prevented each year.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) recently recommended that adults born between 1945 and 1965 be screened for hepatitis C virus infection. So why is screening recommended for these baby boomers? Because three out of four people who are infected with hepatitis C were born during this time period. They likely became infected during the 1970s and 1980s when hepatitis C infection rates were the highest. Additionally, the Task Force recommends that anyone—including baby boomers—who is an active or past intravenous drug user or had blood transfusions before 1992 (before blood was properly checked for the virus) undergo screening. This recommendation applies to adults who have no signs or symptoms of hepatitis C virus infection and no prior diagnosis of liver disease or liver function problems. By successfully screening people who are at risk, hepatitis C can be identified and treatment can begin, possibly preventing damage from the infection and subsequent liver disease.

Who Should Be Tested?

The Task Force recommends that all baby boomers should be screened once for hepatitis C virus infection. There are other factors that may put a person at risk for acquiring the virus, and these people should receive screening, too. For example, people who use or have used intravenous drugs, had a blood transfusion before 1992, have multiple sex partners, or received a tattoo in unsterile conditions are at increased risk of being infected with hepatitis C and should be screened. While the Task Force recommends that baby boomers and others without ongoing risk factors only need to be screened one time, people who continue to engage in activities that increase their risk of hepatitis C, such as those who use injection drugs, should be screened regularly.

Hepatitis And Your Liver

Hepatitis C progresses slowly, meaning symptoms may take years to appear or may never develop. Even though there may be no signs of infection, hepatitis C is a serious and potentially deadly virus. Because hepatitis C attacks the liver, it can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, end-stage liver disease, and liver cancer.

Screening And Treatment Can Save Lives

Screening is a two-phase process that starts by testing blood to identify if hepatitis C is present and how much virus is in the blood. Once hepatitis C is detected, health care providers can prescribe medications that rid the body of the virus and prevent long-term damage to the liver. People who test positive for hepatitis C virus infection but do not have signs of liver damage can be monitored, and treated only if the virus becomes active.

“Millions of people in the United States are infected with hepatitis C, and many are unaware of their condition because they may not have any symptoms,” says Task Force co-vice chair Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D. “Hepatitis C infection is a leading cause of liver damage, liver cancer and liver transplants in the United States. Screening for hepatitis C may help people who are infected to avoid these complications.”

Recommendations To Protect Your Health

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. People who may be at risk for hepatitis C should share questions with their doctor and possibly explore getting tested. Recently, the Task Force examined the scientific research on screening for hepatitis C virus infection and issued specific recommendations.

For more information on the Task Force and to read the full report on hepatitis C, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

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Spend The Longest Day Honoring Those Facing Alzheimer’s

(NAPSI)—Across the U.S., more than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease every day and more than 15 million Americans are their caregivers. On June 21st, the longest day of the year, everyone can show those facing Alzheimer’s that they are not alone.

Here’s How

The Longest Day is a sunrise-to-sunset challenge to raise funds and awareness to fuel the care, support and research programs of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The event challenges people to choose an activity they love—running, knitting, cooking—and complete 16 hours of it as a team. For example, last year more than 160 American Contract Bridge League clubs participated in the event and raised more than $575,000.

The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on people around the world to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s by getting involved in The Longest Day. Participants in The Longest Day are part of a movement to raise funds and awareness for the cause during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June—an opportunity to hold a global conversation about the brain, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and is the nation’s sixth leading cause of death. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. On June 21st, participants of The Longest Day complete a day filled with activity to honor those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

The Association provides care and support across the country through a free 24/7 Helpline and website, educational sessions and support groups. The organization also advocates for people facing Alzheimer’s, helping to pass landmark legislation such as the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. As the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, the Association has been part of every major research advancement over the past 30 years.

Start a Team

To start or join a team, visit www.alz.org/thelongestday. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit alz.org or call (800) 272-3900.

Get Involved

On June 21, 2014, participants in The Longest Day will raise funds to fuel the care, support and research programs of the Alzheimer’s Association. To learn more, visit alz.org/thelongestday or facebook.com/fightalz.

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Improving The Quality Of Your Tap Water

(NAPSI)—While health and wellness experts urge consumers to drink more water, doing it safely isn’t as easy as it sounds: tap water might not be as clean as you think. It could contain contaminants that are potentially harmful to your health, such as chemical by-products, heavy metals, and microbial cysts. In fact, according to research supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there may be as many as 16 million waterborne illnesses in the U.S. each year.

An easy solution for consumers to enjoy clean, great-tasting water for drinking and cooking is to filter water at-home.

One filter system to consider is PUR, which removes contaminants that other systems, including Brita, could leave behind. PUR Faucet Mount Filters re_duce 61 contaminants found in drinking water such as lead, heavy metals, agricultural pesticides, industrial pollutants, pharmaceuticals, mi_crobial cysts, and chlorine.

PUR pitcher filters are certified to reduce 2x more contaminants than Brita pitcher filters, while PUR Faucet Mount Filters reduce 10x more contaminants than Brita pitcher filters.

Beyond the superior filtration technology of PUR, the filters come in many styles and finishes, such as the new Stainless Steel Style Faucet Mount.

Another one of the latest additions to the PUR family of filters is the 11-Cup Pitcher. It is de_signed to offer a more convenient way to filter drinking water by reducing the frequency of re_fills. The pitcher base also uses the same footprint as a gallon of milk to save space in the refrigerator.

To learn more, visit www.purwater.com.

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Take This Quiz To Check Your Meat Nutrition IQ

(NAPSI)—Many are surprised when they learn that they underestimate the nutritional value of meat and poultry in a balanced diet.

Recent polling shows many consumers aren’t aware of the important nutritional benefits that meat and poultry can offer when included in a balanced diet. That’s the word from the experts at the American Meat Institute Foundation.

Here is a short quiz that can give you an idea how your meat nutrition IQ stacks up.

Question 1: Which food group is the only group consumed in the proper amount among Americans?

Only one in three consumers recognized that the protein category is the only food category consumed at the proper levels, according to federal data. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend two to three three-ounce servings of protein. A three-ounce serving of meat is approximately the size of a deck of cards. American men eat 6.9 ounces of meat, poultry and seafood per day and women, on average, eat 4.4 ounces.

By contrast, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are underconsumed, while discretionary sugars and fats are overconsumed by Americans. This means that when it comes to meat and poultry, most consumers should continue consuming the amount of meat and poultry they currently enjoy but pair meat and poultry with more vegetables and enjoy fruit for desserts, sides or snacks. Add a whole grain bun to a burger and sip on an unsweetened beverage.

Question 2: From which food does the body absorb the most iron?

While the No. 1 answer for many consumers was spinach, kale and leafy greens, the correct answer is meat, poultry and fish. While greens such as spinach are high in iron, greens contain a type called “non-heme iron” that is not absorbed by the body as readily as heme iron, which is found in meat, poultry and fish.

Consumers may also not realize that when meat and vegetables are consumed together, the heme iron in meat actually helps the body absorb the non-heme in vegetables more readily.

Iron deficiency is a serious matter. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. It can reduce the ability of adults to work at capacity, increase fatigue, and impact motor and mental development in children and adolescents. It affects 2 percent of all females 12 to 69.

Question 3: What is the only natural source of vitamin B12, which keeps the body’s nervous system healthy?

If you said cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, you are in good—but mistaken—company with 20 percent of consumers.

Only 12 percent correctly answered “animal products.” Animal products are, in fact, the only natural source of the important nutrient B12. Nutritionists recommend that adult men and women consume 2.4 micrograms of B12 per day. While some foods, such as cereals, are fortified with B12, animal products are rich in B12 naturally.

For a complete, dietitian-authored brochure about the role that meat and poultry can play in your balanced diet, send a self-addressed, 4.5” x 6” envelope with 69 cents postage to American Meat Institute/Nutrition Brochure, 1150 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036. You may also download the brochure on the home page of www.meatami.com.

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Get Your Kids Vaccinated Over The Summer

(NAPSI)—School will be out soon, and many families will be getting ready for summer vacations, camps and other fun activities. Before you start your summer, make an appointment for your preteen’s vaccinations. Making these appointments now will allow you to beat the back-to-school rush at the end of the summer vacation before school starts.

Vaccines help your kids stay healthy, and many states require certain vaccinations before school starts in the fall. While your kids should get a flu vaccine every year, there are three other vaccines for preteens that should be given when kids are 11-12 years old. All these vaccines are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The vaccines for preteens and teens are:

• HPV vaccine for both boys and girls, which protects against the types of HPV that can cause cancer. HPV, short for human papillomavirus, affects over 79 million people in the U.S. and can cause several types of cancers and genital warts. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective.

• Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis, or whooping cough, can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks. It can also be spread to babies; pertussis is especially serious and sometimes deadly for young children.

• Meningococcal vaccine, which protects against meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis—a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord.

• Influenza (flu) vaccine, be_cause even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be serious. All kids, including your preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, wants parents to know that “The vaccines for preteens and teens help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community and other family members, from preventable diseases that could make them seriously ill. There are several opportunities when you can make sure your child gets the vaccines he or she needs—at any health care visit, including ones for sports or camp physicals.”

So get a head start on your child’s health this summer, and get your boys and girls vaccinated soon. To learn more about the vaccines for preteens and teens, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/TeenVaxInfo.

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Get The Dirt Out Of Your Indoor Air—And Save

(NAPSI)—If your house is like most in America today, you and your family create up to 40 pounds of dust a year, just through everyday living. In addition, high temperature and humidity can also increase concentrations of some pollutants. So can not getting in enough outdoor air, which can happen, especially with modern homes designed to minimize air “leaks.”

Through normal occupation in a home, people generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust and chemicals. These are pulled into the HVAC system and recirculated several times a day. Over time, this causes a buildup of contaminants in the ductwork.

Your Health

Dirty ducts can harbor contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory problems, autoimmune disorders or allergies.

Health effects from indoor air pollutants may include irritated eyes, nose and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Symptoms of asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever may also come from exposure to some indoor air pollutants.

To protect you from this pollution, your heating and cooling system acts as the lungs of your home. The system takes air in and breathes air out. A good rule of thumb: If your ducts look dirty, they probably are and should be inspected by a reputable, certified HVAC professional.

Your Wealth

In addition to better air, clean ducts can mean saving money and energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and wear out sooner. Even with filters, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use. A clean system uses less energy for more cost effectiveness.

Who Can Help

A good way to get your ducts properly cleaned is to have them done by a professional who belongs to NADCA, a trade association of companies in the HVAC inspection, maintenance and restoration industry that have signed the NADCA Code of Ethics and invested time and resources into industry-related training and education.

Members possess general liability insurance and will clean and restore your heating and cooling system in accordance with NADCA standard and guidelines.

Learn More

For further facts and to find a nearby association member, go to www.nadca.com.

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