Older Adults at High Risk for Flu, a Leading Cause of Hospitalization and Even Death for Those 65 and Over
(NAPSI)—Over the next decade, millions of baby boomers will begin their well-earned transition into retirement. This unique stage in life allows retirees time to do more of the things they love like enjoy time with friends and family, but it also comes with the added responsibility of keeping a closer eye on health to maintain an active lifestyle.
It may then come as a surprise to learn that despite the fact that older adults are over 16 times more likely to be hospitalized due to the flu and its related complications than younger adults, nearly 30 percent of Americans age 65 and older remained unvaccinated this past flu season.
As people age, the immune system weakens, which puts adults 65 and older at increased risk for flu. In fact, each year in the United States, more than nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and six out of 10 flu-related hospitalizations occur in adults 65 and older. Annual flu vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect against the flu each season.
To help increase awareness about the dangers flu poses to older adults, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has launched the Flu + You campaign. This educational program aims to educate older Americans, their caregivers, and family members about the seriousness of influenza in older adults, the importance of annual vaccination, and the available vaccine options for adults 65 and older.
A recent survey of middle-age and older adults found that almost 90 percent would seek vaccination after getting information from their doctor and two-thirds also noted that friends and family could influence their vaccination decision.
To help bring a health provider’s perspective, Dr. Carolyn B. Bridges, Associate Director for Adult Immunizations at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has joined the Flu + You campaign to emphasize the importance of annual vaccination for older adults.
“A flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older,” said Dr. Bridges. “It’s critical for adults 65 and older to get vaccinated because they are at greatest risk for developing severe complications of influenza when they get infected. Adults in this age group have two available options—the traditional flu shot and a higher dose flu shot, which is designed to address the decline of the immune system with age. Both of these vaccines are covered by Medicare.”
The higher dose shot triggers the body to produce more antibodies against the flu virus than would be produced by the traditional shot. Antibodies are the soldiers of the immune system that help respond and protect against infection.
“No matter how healthy or youthful you may feel or appear, older adults are highly susceptible to the flu,” said Richard Birkel, PhD, MPA, acting senior vice president of Healthy Aging and director of NCOA’s Self-Management Alliance, while stressing the specific danger the flu poses to older adults. “NCOA hopes that through education, older adults will realize how serious the flu is and make vaccination a priority.”
Speak with your health care provider about the dangers of the flu, the benefits of vaccination, and the best vaccine option to meet your needs. And remember, getting your flu vaccination not only helps protect you, but helps to prevent the spread of the flu to friends and family.
To learn more about these important health messages, please visit www.NCOA.org/Flu where you’ll find access to more information on the Flu + You campaign, as well as educational materials available for download. Flu + You is a program of the National Council on Aging in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur.
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Help You Can Trust
(NAPSI)—Charlotte Elliott of Georgia is a widow whose beloved husband of 40 years, Glen, passed away from brain cancer five years ago.
Living alone and with limited family in the area, Charlotte was looking for help that she could trust.
Fortunately, after receiving a piece of mail from Solutions for Caregivers, a benefit of Glen’s retirement package as a ranger chief for the Georgia Forestry Commission, Charlotte placed a call to the program and was immediately connected with Kris, a Solutions for Caregivers care coordinator. “Kris jumped right on my case. She spent time with me and helped me feel better about my situation. Kris identified caregiver resources in my area to help me with day-to-day living,” said Charlotte.
With assistance from Solutions for Caregivers, Charlotte was directed to “wonderful people” who have been able to more effectively address her needs as a diabetic and amputee. Solutions for Caregivers has provided “all kinds of diet guides and information that has put me on the right path. Eating better is getting my diabetes under control.” Charlotte adds, “It makes me feel good that someone cares about me and is willing to help. We need to get the word out about Solutions for Caregivers. There are other people who need caregiver help.”
Solutions for Caregivers provides care planning and care coordination services designed to support the overall well-being of the person receiving care and help alleviate stress for you and your family. Services are available in all 50 states and can be tailored to your needs. You can get the support you need today.
You can learn more at www.WhatIsSolutionsForCaregivers.com or by calling (877) 765-4473.
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Hepatitis C: What You Need To Know About This Silent Killer
(NAPSI)—Nearly 5 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, but 75 percent of people with the disease don’t even know they have it because it is often symptomless for decades.
Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease spread through infected blood. It is the leading cause of liver failure, liver cancer and liver transplants and contributes to up to 15,000 deaths a year in the U.S.
But—there is good news. For many people, hepatitis C can be cured.
Boomers Most at Risk
Eighty-two percent of people with hepatitis C are baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965) but, alarmingly, almost three-quarters (74 percent) of boomers have never been tested or are unsure if they’ve been tested for the disease, according to a new survey. Even more alarming, 80 percent do not consider themselves at any risk for the disease.
The findings of the survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive as part of I.D. Hep C, a national American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) campaign intended to educate the public about hepatitis C, raise concern because they show a widespread lack of knowledge about the disease.
Those at risk for hepatitis C include:
• People who had blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992;
• People with tattoos or body piercings;
• People who used intravenous drugs, even once;
• People who work in a health care setting;
• People with HIV.
African Americans and Hispanics are also affected at a significantly higher rate than the general population.
Screening Is Key
Hepatitis C is diagnosed with a simple blood test, but screening is not currently part of routine testing. This means you may think you have been tested, but chances are you haven’t.
As part of the I.D. Hep C campaign, the AGA is urging baby boomers and others at risk to talk to their health care providers about being tested. By visiting www.IDHepC.org, people can learn more about hepatitis C and how to get tested. The AGA is also encouraging people to visit the website and take a virtual pledge to get tested and spread the word. I.D. Hep C is sponsored by Vertex.
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Small Adjustments Can Make A Big Difference
(NAPSI)—Here’s news many parents may care to keep an eye on: At schools around the country, teachers are increasingly incorporating 3-D imaging, digital devices and the latest computer applications into their teaching tools. What’s more, according to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) latest American Eye-Q survey, 60 percent of parents estimate their child spends up to four hours a day looking at the screen of a computer, video game, MP3 player or handheld electronic device.
Unfortunately, prolonged use of these technologies can cause eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, burning or tired eyes, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain. The AOA calls this condition computer vision syndrome (CVS).
What To Do
Parents and teachers can help students avoid CVS by encouraging them to follow the 20-20-20 rule. When using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. Studies show that people need to rest their eyes to keep them moist. Plus, staring off into the distance helps the eyes from locking into a close-up position.
Additional ways to reduce CVS include:
• Position the computer monitor or handheld device slightly below eye level. Ideally, a screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about four or five inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
• Avoid screen glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows.
• Blink frequently to keep the front surface of the eye moist.
• Most importantly, students should see a doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination prior to or early in each school year to ensure their eyes are healthy and functioning properly. Early detection and treatment are key in correcting vision problems and helping students see clearly.
To find a nearby optometrist and for additional information on children’s vision and the importance of schooltime eye exams, visit www.aoa.org.
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Help For Kids With Sensory Processing Disorder
(NAPSI)—If you’ve ever watched a child throw a tantrum in the grocery store, or witnessed a child slam into things, seemingly oblivious to pain, you may have seen the symptoms of sensory processing disorder (SPD). This condition affects 5 to 10 percent of children. Many parents whose children exhibit these and similar behavioral problems may be relieved to know that they are not alone. There may be a medical reason—and effective treatment is available.
Whether you’re eating, walking or reading, your ability to do so requires the integration of sensations. SPD occurs when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. This makes everyday tasks difficult, even though most individuals with SPD are just as intelligent as their peers and many are intellectually gifted.
Signs of SPD
A person with SPD may exhibit such symptoms as:
• Overly sensitive to touch, noises, smells or movement
• Floppy or stiff body; clumsy, poor motor skills
• Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping or toilet training
• Frequent or lengthy temper tantrums
• Easily distracted, fidgety, withdrawn or aggressive
• Craves movement
• Easily overwhelmed.
Not everyone with these symptoms has SPD and not everyone with SPD has all these symptoms, but if your child has many of them, it may be time to see a doctor.
The Good News
Fortunately, once children have been accurately diagnosed, explains Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR, occupational therapy can help them participate in normal activities—playing with friends, enjoying school, eating, dressing and sleeping.
The Bad News
SPD is frequently misdiagnosed or confused with ADHD and other conditions.
The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation provides information at www.SPDNow.org and (303) 794-1182.
Note to Editors:October is National Sensory Awareness Month but this article can benefit readers at any time.
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Tips For Parents: Discussing Underage Drinking
(NAPSI)—There’s welcome news for parents who have yet to have a discussion with their son or daughter about underage drinking.
There’s a free program that’s designed to help parents begin the conversation and maintain an ongoing dialogue with their kids.
According to a recent study, 67 percent of parents feel that they have influence on their teens’ decisions about underage drinking and they think their teens listen to what they have to say. Additionally, the parenting poll revealed that parents who’ve already talked to their teens about underage drinking this back-to-school season believe they’re getting through to their kids, with 88 percent saying their teens were receptive. The survey was conducted by Impulse Research for Anheuser-Busch.
A Program to Help Parents
First launched more than 20 years ago, Family Talk was revamped in 2011 and now focuses on parenting stages—teacher, facilitator and coach—that help parents use and adapt their influence to help prevent underage drinking as their children grow and mature.
The program was recently renovated and expanded with help from certified parent coach MJ Corcoran to be a comprehensive resource for parents of kids of all ages.
The program guide, which can be downloaded for free from the program’s Facebook page, offers parents a number of tips for having more meaningful conversations with their children about drinking, including:
• Asking open-ended questions, such as “If there’s drinking at the party, what will you do?” or “What do you think about kids who drink?”
• Listening with an open mind. In other words, stay focused on what your child is saying right then, not on what he or she has said in the past, or what parents think their child should be saying.
• Setting consistent, clear boundaries.
In addition to downloading the guide, when visiting the Facebook page, parents can interact with a parent-coach expert and other parents to share tips and advice on handling real-world situations.
Maintaining a Dialogue
“Our Family Talk About Drinking program is designed to help parents begin the conversation and maintain an ongoing dialogue, whether their child is in elementary, middle or high school, or even headed to college,” said Kathy Casso, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility for Anheuser-Busch.
To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/ABFamilyTalk.
Note to Editors: The online poll was conducted in July 2012 with a sample of 1,022 U.S. parents (men and women) with teenagers enrolled in high school or college. Poll participants were selected to closely match U.S. population demographics. The overall sampling error rate for this poll is 3 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.
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What To Do If You Or A Loved One Is Diagnosed With A Brain Tumor
(NAPSI)—Hearing that you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a brain tumor is life-changing news. It is common for new patients to feel they have more questions than answers, and the one place many people with brain tumors turn to is The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Here is some guidance for both patients and caregivers from Franco DeMonte, M.D., professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Neurosurgery and specialist at the Brain and Spine Center.
Take A Deep Breath
According to DeMonte, it can be natural to feel frightened, disoriented and confused; however, he believes it is important to stay calm. He says that patients often report that they feel better once they take a few steps back, process what they have just heard and start to research their options.
Knowledge Is Power
Reliable information is key for patients. Established websites, such as the American Brain Tumor Association and the American Cancer Society, can provide you with information that can be ammunition in your battle with a brain tumor.
This applies not just to patients, but caregivers as well. “Caregivers see things from a different perspective, so it is important for them to be informed and learn as much as they can,” DeMonte explains.
Get A Second Opinion
Ask your doctor if you have time for a second opinion because chances are, you do. “We encourage second opinions, because if you are the patient, you have to be comfortable with your decision,” DeMonte says.
He also advises that as you talk with different doctors, it is important to ask the same questions so you can compare their answers. DeMonte suggests that you ask physicians about their experience with brain tumors, how often they see cases like yours, how soon treatment can begin and whether or not they work on a multidisciplinary team.
Evaluate Your Options
When it is time to make a decision, DeMonte thinks there are specific things to look for, such as patient volume and the types of brain tumors treated.
He also feels that finding a center with clinical research programs, support programs and brain tumor specialists (neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, neuro-radiation therapists and pathologists) can be a plus.
DeMonte believes that patients should become their own advocates and ask for digital copies of all records, including MRI and CT scans.
For further facts on brain tumors, visit MDAnderson.org/Brain.
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Psst …Quit Smoking? Then Pass “Quit” On!
(NAPSI)—When it comes to good health, peer pressure can be a positive thing. For example more than 55 percent of smokers who quit have influenced someone else to quit.1
Former smoker Dan N.*, from Wyoming, says that since quitting he can’t help but tell smokers his quitting story. Dan finds that being a non-smoker is liberating.
Another former smoker, Joe M.* from New Hampshire, was influenced by his wife to quit. She quit three years before Joe did and was committed to making their home smoke free. Out of respect for his wife, Joe stopped smoking in the house, but the smell followed him inside. Finally, he realized that since his wife was no longer his smoking partner, it was time for him to quit.
It’s not generally easy but it can be done: The average smoker tries to quit six to nine times in their lifetime.2 In fact, Dan had multiple quit attempts, but was only able to quit smoking after seeking help from his doctor and being dedicated to making a lifestyle change. Dan found that he benefited from a prescription medication, a quit-smoking support program, and counseling.
If you are a smoker who has tried to quit, or have a friend or family member whom you would like to encourage to quit, you may be glad to learn there’s help online. One website, called “PassQuitOn,” which is sponsored by Pfizer, provides useful tools to help jump-start a smoker’s quit plan and offers resources for friends and family members to encourage smokers to quit. It also offers information on a prescription treatment option and money saving offers.
On PassQuitOn.com, a free “Quit Kit” is provided for smokers, which includes motivational videos and a customizable quit plan. The kit is designed to help smokers stay motivated through their journey. The quit plan includes:
• Tips on how to increase a smoker’s chances of quitting by using “quit cards”
• Quit plans which help map out a smoker’s day-to-day activities and awareness of times during the day that are most risky for them and why
• Encouragements for smokers to allow them to track their successes
Quitting can be particularly tough for those who have been smoking for a large part of their life. Joe’s wife had a powerful ability to inspire and encourage her husband to quit. You can also inspire loved ones by encouraging them to visit the website. Joe quit smoking after almost five decades with the encouragement of his wife and the help of his doctor. Now, Joe says that he loves that he is able to go out and travel more with his wife without having to plan around smoke breaks.
You can also try to help by suggesting these five common quit strategies3:
1. Identify Smoking Risk Situations—Part of preparing to quit smoking is knowing what these situations may be. Be aware of specific times of day, people, places and feelings that may trigger an urge to smoke.
2. Create a Cigarette-Free Zone—Go through every place cigarettes may be kept in the home and get rid of them. Check the kitchen, bedroom, laundry room, garage, and living room for cigarettes. Also, be sure to clean the house to remove any smell of smoke.
3. Get Past Urges—Some simple ways to create distractions at times when someone would normally smoke, include playing a game on a cell phone or calling a friend, organizing one’s wallet or desk, taking a quick walk or writing a letter to someone.
4. Create an Emergency Kit—A kit is something to turn to help make healthier choices if there is an urge to smoke. Some things to pack in the emergency kit are: a small bottle of water, a pack of sugarless gum, a small pack of toothpicks or coffee stirrers to chew on and a healthy snack.
5. Add Up Successes—Calculate the money and time saved since being smoke free.
So remember, if you are or know a smoker, you can take a step toward committing to a smoke-free lifestyle by visiting www.PassQuitOn.com. This article was sponsored by Pfizer Inc.
* These patients have agreed to share their quit stories, in response to a request by Pfizer for patients to share their story.
1Data on file Pfizer.
2US Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; 2001.
3PassQuitOn.com Quit Cards.
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