Suicide Prevention Week: 4 Things You Need to Know About Crisis Intervention & Support

Suicide Prevention Week: 4 Things You Need to Know About Crisis Intervention & Support

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Note: If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week, which is why we’re outlining a few tips for how you can help prevent suicide throughout the year.

1.    Know the Warning Signs

While there’s no single cause for suicide, there are prominent warning signs to look out for if you suspect someone might be suicidal.

  • Negative talk, including making comments about wanting to die, expressing overwhelming hopelessness, stating that they have no reason to live, expressing concern that they’re a burden to others, or referring to unbearable pain
  • A sudden change of behavior, including increased drinking and drug use, researching methods for suicide, preoccupation with violence and death, withdrawing from people and activities, sleep pattern changes, doing risky or self-destructive things, giving away prized possessions, contacting people to say goodbye
  • Moodiness or frequently displaying negative emotions, including depression, anxiety, irritability, shame, anger, or sudden improvement or relief
  • Environmental and historical factors, including prolonged stress, financial crisis, exposure to another person’s suicide, previous suicide attempts, a family history of suicide, or childhood abuse

2.  Ask Hard Questions

If you suspect someone might be suicidal, one good course of action is to ask them if they are considering suicide. By being direct, you’ll communicate that you’re willing to discuss suicide in a supportive, unbiased, and non-judgmental way. You can also ask the individual how they’re hurting and how you can help. While it can be hard to hear about other’s pain, it’s important to listen to their specific answers and help them focus on their own reasons for living, not your personal reasons for living.

3.  Remove Immediate Threats

Once you know that someone is suffering from suicidal ideation, it’s important to find out if they’re in immediate danger. You can do this by asking if they’ve already done anything to try to kill themselves, if they’ve determined how they would kill themselves, if there is a specific time they’re planning on doing it, and if they’ve already taken steps toward this goal. Studies have shown that if you can reduce a suicidal person’s access to their intended method, you can drastically decrease their chances of killing themselves by that method, and even other methods.

4. Provide Helpful Options

For many, financial hardship or a lack of insurance creates another barrier for seeking help. If someone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal ideation, try providing a list of therapy options or detailed information about anti-depressants that might benefit their condition. Even small barriers, like having to make a phone call to schedule the appointment, might prevent them from seeking help. So, if you’re able, offer to do so for them.

Financial concerns can be another barrier to seeking help. At Simplefill, we’re committed to making prescribed medications more affordable to our members. Some Simplefill eligible medications, including Cymbalta, Pristiq, Trintellix, Biibryd, Fetzima, and Symbyax can be helpful in treating depression. Just knowing how Simplefill works can help reassure individuals who are afraid they shouldn’t seek treatment because it isn’t financially viable.

 

A Hard-Fought Battle with Ovarian Cancer

A Hard-Fought Battle with Ovarian Cancer

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Shared with our friends over at consumersafety.org

Ovarian cancer affects thousands of families each year. And despite the fact that this ailment is usually found in older women — over the age of 65 — in the case of Megan Santa Croce, it has been a devastating battle since the age of 15. Diagnosed with a sertoli-leydig tumor in her abdomen attached to one ovary, she spent months undergoing chemotherapy. And in spite of the odds, she miraculously was able to overcome her illness. But, by the age of 22, she had begun her second battle with the disease, and currently has no ovaries, fallopian tubes or uterus. Megan once described her chemo as “a full-time job.” She went on to say that “when [she] was 15, [she] had five days straight of chemo, 8–5, and the doctors had [her] on hydration 24/7 through that entire five-day period.” Regardless of her hardships, she has a message for women of all ages and demographics that are fighting their own battle with ovarian cancer. “Be positive.” Powerful words that emulate her as a ray of light through even the darkest of times. Megan continues to fight on and is truly an inspiration to women everywhere.

In honor of Megan, as well as every other woman battling ovarian cancer, it is important to share the cold hard facts about a widespread condition that, if caught in the early stages, is treatable. We want to hear more inspiring stories like Megan’s and beat the odds this September, which has been designated as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

The Facts 

Ovarian cancer has recently been ranked as one of the top five most deadly cancers for women in the world. And as unfortunate as that is, most women are unaware that they have ovarian cancer or do not seek medical help until the cancer has spread and become hard to manage. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there were 22,240 new cases in the United States last year alone. By being aware of the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer, we can help to raise the survival rate of this serious disease, giving women everywhere a fighting chance after being diagnosed.

Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors for ovarian cancer are uncontrollable such as age, race, genetics, and ethnicity. Additionally, there are several lifestyle related causes including obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.

Environmental Risk Factors

The use of oral contraceptives such as birth control pills have been shown to decrease a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer for those who do not have direct family members who have at some point been diagnosed. While on the other hand, there are certain medications and even household products that may be tied to ovarian cancer due to long term use. Talcum powder, for instance, has recently been proven to be a contributing factor to a California woman’s cancer diagnosis. Johnson & Johnson was found liable of toxins found in their talcum powder to cause mutated genes in a woman’s genital area due to decades of use. Other environmental factors include herbicides and pesticides.

To Decrease Your Risk
  • Stop smoking.
  • Eat a healthy diet every day.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits.
  • Maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise.
  • Check personal hygiene product labels for talc and other toxins. 
Prevention is Key

Having regular screenings for ovarian cancer is one of the most powerful weapons for prevention. Although many tests are unable to catch early, onset ovarian cancer development, blood tests are the best way to catch the disease.

Conclusion

Following the guidelines mentioned above is the first step in halting what has become one of the most common cancers in women around the world. The more knowledgeable one is about an ailment such as ovarian cancer, the easier it is to spot symptoms early, making treatments much more successful and increase survival rates worldwide.

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation

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Are you raising your own children and caring for aging parents? If so, you are part of an ever-growing group called the Sandwich Generation. The sandwich generation is typically people in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children while at the same time, responsible for the care of their aging parents.  While this generation is probably well-versed in summer camps, daycares, and immunization schedules, they may also be familiar with topics like Medicare, Long-Term Care Insurance, or how to prepare for a decline in their parents’ independence. If thinking about all of that is enough to send you running for the hills, don’t. Knowledge, in this situation as in most every situation, is power and peace of mind.

The Sandwich Generation is rapidly growing as the number of people over the age of 65 is set to double over the next 25 years. Being a member of that generation means you are taking care of the people in your life who matter the most, but it comes at a cost, both financial and personal.

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for this potential situation and to reduce your stress load.

Take care of yourself. You need to sleep, eat well, exercise, and remember to laugh. Caretaking takes a heavy toll and if you are taking care of your kids as well as your parents, you’re getting hit by a double whammy.

If your parents are still able to manage their finances, you don’t know that they always will be. Talk with them about their finances and be sure to understand what they have, how they have it managed, and if they will need long-term care, how it will be paid for.

Educate yourself about Medicare. It’s an alphabet soup with Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D and you’ll want to know what your parents have and what they don’t.

  • Part A covers hospitalization, some skilled nursing facility and home health care, and hospice. Both your parents get this coverage free even if only one of them worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years.
  • Part B covers doctor’s care, lab tests, screenings and preventive services. Your parents will usually pay a monthly premium for this coverage.
  • Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, consists of Medicare-approved plans offered by private insurers that include Medicare Part A and Part B coverage in one package. Some plans also include coverage of prescription drugs.
  • Part D is the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan that your parents can purchase if they are eligible for Medicare. 
The need for help with transportation, growing hospital and medication expenses, and extra homecare increases substantially as we age. Learn about programs that are available for people juggling caretaking on both ends. 
  • Getting Around: Sometimes your aging parent just needs help getting around. Well, there’s an app for that and an app you are most likely familiar with—UBER or LYFT.  If you’re shuttling kids from soccer practice to friends’ houses, you probably can’t take your parent to every appointment. The use of these ride services among seniors is steadily increasing and helping many seniors get to doctor appointments, the grocery store, or invaluable social time with family or friends. One of the worst things for an elderly person’s state of mind can be feeling isolated or stuck. Ride services like Uber or Lyft can help alleviate that isolation and the pressure on the caregiver. See this article on senior.com about using Uber to care for elders.
  • Affording Medications: Getting sticker shock at the pharmacy when picking up your folks medications? Simplefill , the leading prescription assistance company, is here for you. As we age, our medication needs can grow exponentially and managing costs can be overwhelming for the entire family. A prescription assistance company like Simplefill helps patients find ways of affording their increased medication expenses. Simplefill is a service that is easy to use is well known for their customer care. Just call to talk to a service representative and she will walk you through the process.
  • Home Care or Assisted Living: There are reputable companies that can give you help in the home if your parent isn’t ready for a nursing home yet. Home Instead and A Place for Mom are two companies helping the sandwich gen care for their parents.

It’s stressful answering the needs of young children or teenagers while juggling the needs of an aging parent. It can feel like a never-ending battle. Remember to take joy in having your family around—at whatever stage of life. Know that you are able to give back to your parents all the love and support they gave to you. And know that you’re teaching your own children that we do what we can for our family.

The Cost of Diabetes

The Cost of Diabetes

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With over 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, we all know someone living with the disease. For me, it’s my mother and a younger cousin. My mother was diagnosed with Type 2 when she was in her mid-50s. My cousin was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was eight or nine. The first signs for both of my family members? Lethargy, the constant need to urinate, and extreme thirst. My mother has adjusted and manages her disease well; she’s now the grandmother of eight and doesn’t let her disease slow her down. My cousin, now a woman in her mid 20s, was a young child when she was diagnosed and had to adjust to giving herself daily blood tests, and learn to deal with the discomfort—physical and social—of wearing an external constant glucose monitor. No matter your age or the type of diabetes you might have, the diagnosis always comes with a period of adjustment, but it also comes with a significant cost.

There’s no way around it—the cost of diabetes is staggering. And it’s a problem on many fronts. The financial realities of treating diabetes and diabetes-related diseases can add up. According to the American Diabetes Association, health care costs for individuals with diabetes can run 2.3 times higher than for a person without diabetes and average nearly $17,000 in annual medical expenses. And it’s not just the individual patients impacted by the costs. Diagnosed diabetes costs America $327 billion per year—up 26% in a five-year period—including $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity.

With approximately 4,000 Americans being diagnosed daily with diabetes and 84 million with “prediabetes,” these costs are just going to keep going up.

The good news is that there are effective medications to help manage diabetes and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. There are also companies like Simplefill whose mission is to help their members afford their treatment.

Understanding The Two Types of Diabetes

Both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way a body regulates glucose or blood sugar. Glucose fuels our bodies cells but needs insulin to work. People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin. People with Type 2 diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or don’t respond to insulin as well as they should. Both types of diabetes may lead to chronically high blood sugar levels and can lead to many ancillary diabetes complications.

Understanding What Is At Risk

Hypoglycemia: Since diabetes is essentially a condition that makes it hard to regulate blood sugar levels, people with diabetes often experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. Skipping a meal or taking too much insulin can lead to hypoglycemia. Symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, shaking, rapid heartbeat, and headache.

Ketoacidosis: Ketoacidosis is a condition that results from the body’s inability to use glucose due to lack of insulin. When cells are starved for energy, the body begins to break down fat and, when this persists, ketone bodies—potentially toxic acids that are byproducts of fat breakdown—build up in the body. Symptoms include dehydration, abdominal pain, and breathing problems.

Diabetic Kidney Disease: Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage the kidney’s ability to flush waste from the body. It can also cause protein and other substances not filtered through urine to be released. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and if kidney disease isn’t treated, it will lead for the need for dialysis. A year of dialysis can cost between $53,000 to $80,000.

Eye Problems: Since diabetes can damage the vessels in the eyes, people with diabetes might develop:

  • Cataracts: People with diabetes are 2 to 5 times more likely to develop cataracts than people without diabetes. Cataracts cause the eyes lens to cloud and can be treated Mild cataracts can be treated with sunglasses and glare-control lenses. Severe cataracts may be treated with a lens implant.­
  • Glaucoma: People with diabetes are 2 times as likely to develop glaucoma, a condition that results from pressure building up in the eye and restricting blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. Glaucoma causes gradual loss of eyesight.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: This is a catch-all phrase that describes any problems of the retina caused by diabetes. The early stages are defined by the capillaries in the back of the eye being enlarged and forming pouches. The ensuing swelling and bleeding can distort vision. In advanced forms of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels of the retina are so damaged that they close off and force new blood vessels to form. These new vessels are weak and bleed. This stage of retinopathy can lead to vision loss.
  • Macular Endema: Caused by diabetic retinopathy, macular endema is the result of fluid leaking into macula (the area of the eye that enables us to recognize faces and read). Left untreated, macular endema can lead to vision loss. Treated promptly, the condition can be mitigated.

Neuropathy: Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in the body including the nerves that control automatic processes like digestion as well as nerves in the extremities (feet, hands, etc). Symptoms of neuropathy include: tingling, numbness, pain, and burning sensations.

Foot Problems: People with diabetes are more likely to have foot issues because of the nerve and blood vessel damage which leads to limited blood flow to the extremities. Small sores or breaks in the skin may turn into deep skin ulcers, which, if left untended, can grow larger and deeper. Gangrene and amputation of the foot may be necessary. In fact, each day, 295 Americans will undergo a diabetes-related amputation.

These are  the physical risks that diabetics need to be aware of. However, Americans with diabetes also need to be prepared for all of the financial hardships that can occur from a lifetime disease.

How To Prepare For Diabetes, Financially

Manage your finances well: Cut down on unnecessary expenses, especially when it comes to items that impact your health. One tip would be cutting down excess junk food and sugar. It has been revealed that consuming even two sugary drinks per week could increase your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. By cutting down on such unhealthy dietary habits, you improve your health and also save money.

Buy health insurance: While you may not have health issues right now, it does not mean you should not add a layer of protection. Diabetes is an expensive disease. In order to stay healthy, you could need regular medicinal supplies such as insulin, oral tablets and test strips. You will also need to get periodic check-ups at the hospital. All of this can cost a lot of money. Health insurance is the best way to ensure that these expenses do not dent your savings account.

Create an emergency fund: Save, save and save more! The one guarantee in life is that you will have ups and downs. You never know when you will face a hardship and often times it comes with a price tag.

Contact companies that are built around helping patients:  Simplefill works with many diabetes patients and can help you navigate the costs of insulin and other medications needed for the diabetes related complications. Our representatives are available to help you find a low-cost plan for your diabetes medications. Apply now or call us at 1-877-386-0206 Ext. 1.

The Lives You Could Save

The Lives You Could Save

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June 14 is World Blood Donor Day. Donate Blood, Save Lives.

She was a two-year-old with leukemia and lymphoma who needed frequent blood and platelet transfusions while she was being treated for her illness—three bone marrow transplants, seven rounds of chemotherapy, and surgery to remove her spleen. All told, she received 77 units of blood from over 70 strangers. Today, she is happy, healthy, and at times, according to her mother, mischievous. But neither she nor her parents will ever forget the impact that strangers  can have. “They saved her life,” says her mother. “It’s as simple as that.”

He was a 31-year-old who nearly died in a motorcycle accident. 200 units of blood later, he is thriving and now the father of two. His kids are too young to know this, but without the 43 strangers who donated blood, their father would not have survived and they would never have been born.

She was a young mother who needed a high-risk emergency cesarean to deliver her premature son. Uterine hemorrhaging threatened her life when she lost half of her blood after giving birth to her third son. After receiving nearly 30 units of blood, platelets, and plasma, this young mother was able to return home and raise her sons.

4.5 million Americans will need a blood transfusion this year. In fact, every two seconds, someone will need blood. The demand is high, but less than 10 percent of Americans donate blood annually. There are millions of other sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers out there who will need blood because of an accident or an illness.

Kindness and generosity always have a ripple effect. But the effect of donating blood is immeasurable. In honor of World Blood Donor Day (June 14), the SimpleFill team would like you to consider donating blood and saving some lives.

Are There Health Benefits To Donating Blood?

Absolutely! Not only do you do good for others, but you also do good for you. Read on to learn how you can benefit while saving lives.

  • Peace of mind. You get a mini check-up when you donate blood. Your blood is tested for 13 different diseases including West Nile and HIV. If you test positive, you’ll be notified immediately. This is no reason to skip your annual exam, but you can gain some peace of mind about your health
  • Altruism is good for your health. A study in Health Psychology found that people who volunteered for altruistic reasons has significantly reduced risk of mortality four years later than those who don’t exercise altruism.
  • Helps prevent heart and liver ailments caused by iron overload. Donating blood can help regulate your iron levels.
  • Reducing iron levels in the body can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
  • After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and, in turn, helps in maintaining good health.

About Donating Blood

  • It’s a simple process and you can either donate through your local Red Cross chapter or a local hospital.
  • The Red Cross supplies nearly 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.
  • Eighty percent of the blood donations given to the Red Cross are collected at blood drives set up by community organizations, companies, high schools, colleges, places of worship or military installations. The remaining 20 percent are collected at Red Cross blood donation centers.
  • Blood donation is a four-step process that, from start to finish usually takes just over an hour: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation, and refreshments. The actual donation part takes about 15 minutes.
  • The average adult has 10 pints of blood; roughly 1 pint is given during donation.
  • There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate. Each pint donated usually yields two or three of these products meaning that your donation can save up three lives.
  • A healthy donor may donate every 56 days.

O! The Lives You Could Save!

  • Type O blood is the universal blood type (meaning it can be given to any blood type), and is needed in emergency situations before a patient’s blood type can be determined. Only about 7 percent of Americans have Type O blood.
  • Type AB blood is the only universal plasma type and only about 4% of the population has Type AB blood.

Why is Plasma So Important? Lives depend on plasma protein therapies.

Plasma can help people with bleeding disorders whose blood will not clot properly. A minor injury for these patients can result in internal bleeding, organ damage, and death.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy or IVIG—There are more than 150 primary immune deficiency disorders (PID) and people suffering from these diseases need IVIG to fight off infections because they have improperly functioning immune systems, and they do not respond to traditional antibiotics. Without IVIG, they are exposed to frequent and often serious infections.

People with the following conditions benefit from IVIG treatments that depend on plasma.

 

You may know someone who has needed blood. Or someone who loves a person who has needed blood. You may need blood someday. Either way, it only takes an hour of your time and the good you can do is limitless. Be a hero and donate blood.

To learn more about blood donation and the Red Cross, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Living With A New Reality

Living With A New Reality

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Written by Ryan Waterfield

After the Parkinson’s Diagnosis

My family is living with a new reality and it looks something like this:

Two years ago, my 72-year-old father and I were hiking 3,000-foot mountains together. One year ago, my dad was having trouble with his balance. Instead of hiking trails, we were taking long walks out dirt roads. Today, my father can’t walk without a walker, and even when assisted, he goes no farther than from the bed to the bathroom—that’s about 15 shuffling steps if you’re counting.

My father—the CEO of a public company, a beautiful public speaker, a community leader, a hands-on father of four and grandfather of eight, the man who taught my three siblings and me how to shoot a basketball, how to play defense, and how to make a mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwich—can’t bathe himself, or dress himself, or put on his own shoes. His speech is slurred. His facial expression is flat.

The reason behind this decline? Parkinson’s Disease. But we didn’t figure that out until the disease had taken its insidious hold; we operated for too long under the impression that his problems had to do with his back, and he went in for back surgery. After the surgery, my dad’s mobility and ability to take care of himself sharply declined and he has needed 24-hour care since.

Now that we have the accurate diagnosis, we are told that, with dopamine-boosting medication such as Levodopa or Ropinirole, he might improve. We’re told that, with the right sort of physical therapy, he could gain some of his mobility and some of his independence back. But we’re just getting used to this. The diagnosis is only a few months old.

Since the diagnosis, my family and I have been in a crash course in elderly care, patient advocacy, and self-awareness. Since the diagnosis, we’ve been learning to live with a new reality, and we’ve been trying to help my father learn to live with it as well. Part of that new reality is a regimen of pills, some for pre-existing conditions, and some to deal with the dopamine deficiency, the anxiety, and the depression that often comes with Parkinson’s. Not only can being dependent on so many medications overwhelm the patient and the caretakers, it can overwhelm the wallet. SimpleFill’s prescription assistance program helps us manage the stresses of this new reality.

After the diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s,  it’s only natural to second guess the doctors. To run back over all the signs that we—his family, his doctors, and his physical therapists—missed for months, for years. It’s only natural to want to place blame on someone including ourselves. After we got past the what-if’s, we learned to arm ourselves with knowledge; we have become frequent visitors to sites like the Michael J. Fox Foundation  and the National Parkinson’s Foundation  in an effort to become an expert on something that prior to the diagnosis we only had a passing familiarity with.

According the doctors and the websites, the progression of Parkinson’s varies from individual to individual. But there are some factors that can accelerate the disease. My father experienced all of them: psychological stress, physical traumas (like back surgery), and going under general anesthesia.

We’ve also learned that there are significant non-motor symptoms that go along with Parkinson’s even though it’s mostly known for its impact on a patient’s motor functions. These non-motor-related symptoms include depression, anxiety, sleep behavior disorders, constipation, loss of a sense of smell, and cognitive impairment. We’re learning that the depression and anxiety can be as debilitating as the motor symptoms.

The doctors we have talked with have emphasized how hard this disease is to diagnose; especially the early stages of Parkinson’s. My father’s physical therapist says that she sees many patients whose first signs of trouble presented as back issues. There are some key physical signs to watch for. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these, please bring it to the attention of a doctor.  The earlier you can start treating Parkinson’s, the better.

  • Tremor, mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands. Other forms of tremor are possible.
  • Slowness of movements (bradykinesia)
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems. Doctors have coined the term “Parkinson’s Gait” to describe the shuffling walk that many Parkinson’s patients, including my father, develop.
  • A “flat” face or slack expression
  • Slurred speech

Because my father’s symptoms generally affected one side of his body, we thought he’d had a stroke. Once he was cleared from that possibility, we didn’t ask the next question before going ahead with his back surgery. We didn’t ask what else could be causing all of these symptoms if not the back issue and if not a stroke. That was our first hard lesson in the importance in advocating for the patient and empowering the patient to advocate for himself. Trusting your doctors does not mean relinquishing all responsibility. I’ve learned that it’s important to trust your own instincts and educate yourself.

Parkinson’s by itself is not fatal. But finding a way to help my dad get back a life he recognizes is key to his survival—and ours. We’re two months into it and we’re just learning what it means to live with Parkinson’s. Working  our way to the right doctors and physical therapists. Learning the right questions to ask, the right strategies for coping.

If we can help my father feel engaged rather than isolated, relevant even though he can’t contribute in the ways he used to, and independent even though he has to ask for help, I think we’ll be on the right track. My dad and I can’t spend our time on the trail together anymore, but we’re certainly climbing another sort of mountain now.

Are you an Informal Caregiver?

Are you an Informal Caregiver?

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What is an Informal Caregiver?

When a disease or disability makes it impossible for a person to live on their own, they require round-the-clock assistance for their health and safety. The people that provide this assistance are called caregivers. While some people opt for formal caregivers — trained professionals hired to help with day-to-day assistance — most people cannot afford such care. Most rely on a spouse, partner, family member, or friend to provide informal caregiving. In order to be there in case of emergency day or night, many informal caregivers either move in with their loved one or bring them to their own home.

You Are Not Alone

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child while about 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. The value of services provided by informal caregivers is more than $470 billion annually — almost as much as WalMart makes in a year.

Caregiver Stress Syndrome

The terms “caregiver syndrome” or “caregiver stress” refer to the exhaustion, anger, rage or guilt that result from unrelieved caring for a dependent. Illness and injury have a way of making a person feel out of control of a difficult situation. The demands of caring for someone dealing with a serious illness or injury can quickly grow overwhelming. Eventually, some people experience extreme burnout, leaving them unable to care for themselves, let alone another person.

Signs of caregiver stress syndrome include:
  • Uncontrollable irritability
  • Overreacting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Depression
  • Issues with concentration
  • Growing feelings of resentment
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Destructive behaviors
  • Poor eating habits
  • Loss of interest in leisure activities
  • New or worsening health problems
Self-Care for Preventing Burnout

Taking time to care for yourself is the best way to prevent burnout. It may seem selfish to put your needs first when your friend or loved one is sick, but if you work yourself into the most extreme symptoms of caregiver stress syndrome, you won’t be able to help anyone. Prioritizing your health and wellbeing isn’t selfish at all– in fact, it’s necessary for the both of you.

Here are just a few ways caretakers should practice self-care.
Reduce Clutter, Reduce Stress: We can’t always help the ways life stresses us out, but we can control our environment and align it in a way to reduce things we recognize as triggers. If you want to reduce stress in your household, go through room by room and throw out all the excess items and trash. Clutter is a significant source of stress in life. It bombards the senses, distracts, and inhibits mindfulness. Throw out things you don’t use or need — only keep things you can tuck in places out of sight and out of mind.
Ask for Help: Caregivers are just that, giving. But giving people often make the mistake of thinking they have to do everything on their own. Don’t get caught in the thought that you don’t deserve help in areas where you need it. If it costs a little bit of money, it is worth it if it contributes to the preservation of your sanity. Look into services that can provide household help with chores from dusting to dog walking. When you outsource daily chores, use the free time to do something simple for yourself.  
Spend Time Outdoors: Being cooped up indoors all the time is incredibly stifling for both the body and mind. Humans need fresh air and sunshine. Just being outside helps to regulate blood pressure, reduce cortisol in the body and clear the mind. Make time in nature a priority for both you and the loved one you are caring for. Reap the physical and mental benefits of the outdoors.

***

When disease or disability leaves a person unable to care for themselves independently, they often turn to a friend or loved one to become an informal caregiver. Caregiving is a noble thing, but it can cause a lot of stress and health problems that accompany stress. That’s why it is so important for these caregivers to practice self-care by doing things such as reducing stress in their life, asking for help and being proactive about spending time outdoors.

This blog post was written by Harry Cline, creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

The Facts About Colorectal Cancer

The Facts About Colorectal Cancer

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By Ryan Waterfield

Colorectal cancer (the term used to describe both colon and rectal cancer) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer death (excluding skin cancers). The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2018, and it’s expected to cause about 50,630 deaths this year.

Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors for colorectal cancers are outside of our control including age, race (African Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than other races), inflammatory intestinal conditions, genetics, and radiation therapy directed at abdomen. Other risk factors are lifestyle related such as low-fiber, high-fat diets, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.

To Decrease Your Risk

  • Exercise most days of the week.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Practice moderation in alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid red meat.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Prevention is key

Regular screening for colorectal cancer is one of the most powerful weapons for prevention. The most common and effective form of screening is colonoscopy—especially for those with a family history or other high-risk factors.

To learn about screening options (in addition to colonoscopy) for colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/screening-fact-sheet

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms that might indicate colorectal cancer:

  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or you have signs or symptoms that may indicate colorectal cancer, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection means a higher likelihood of survival.

To learn about the stages of colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/staged.html

Treatment Options

There are a number of treatment options for colorectal cancer including: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy—a form of treatment that uses monoclonal antibodies to help treat metastatic (cancer that spreads) colorectal cancer.

Medications such as Xeloda, Avastin, and Cytoxan are commonly prescribed to help fight the spread of colorectal cancer. If you need prescription assistance to help afford the cost of Xeloda, Avastin, or Cytoxan, contact a SimplFill representative. Simpelfill provides expert patient assistance and helps patients and their families understand and access the appropriate medications.

Call Simplefill at 1.877.386.0206 or go to www.simplefill.com to start the application process online.

 

 

 

Top 10 Medical Issues for Baby Boomers

Top 10 Medical Issues for Baby Boomers

blog Help My Meds Prescription Assistance Program

By Ryan Waterfield

Baby Boomers are a powerful demographic group

About 76 million people were born during the baby boom years—1946-1964. As more Baby Boomers are leaving the work force and enrolling in Medicare for their insurance needs; healthcare providers are focusing on the most common health concerns this generation is facing. Here’s the lowdown:

Certainly, the risk of chronic illness increases with age, but there are behavioral factors that can mitigate many of these issues. A healthy diet, physical activity, and avoiding tobacco use are three key factors in reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with aging.

Many of these illnesses require a plethora of medications. Simplefill’s Prescription Assistance programs can help you get the right medications for the right price. There’s no need to overspend on your medications. Simplefill will make the process easy, advocate on your behalf, and give you peace of mind.

The more aware you are of the potential health risks that you face as you age (and their potential costs), the more proactive you can be about preventative care and seeking medical attention when you show signs or symptoms. So, here’s to knowing what might ail you.

1.TYPE 2 DIABETES: In a 2011 study by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that people ages 65-74 were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 13 times more often than people 45 years or younger. Because Diabetes increases the risk of other serious health problems, it is of significant concern. Other problems include: high blood pressure, vision loss, nerve damage, foot problems, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.

2. HEART DISEASE: is the leading cause of death for both men and women over the age of 60. Coronary artery disease (when the arteries that deliver the blood to the heart are narrowed or blocked) is the most common type of heart disease. How do you avoid heart disease? Avoid tobacco, control your blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise and eat a low-fat, low-sodium diet. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also important.

3. CANCER: Once you hit a certain age, it seems like some type of cancer is affecting someone you know or love. And no wonder, it is the second-leading cause of death for people over 65. Cancer screenings and early detection can save lives so don’t avoid tests like colonoscopies and mammograms.

4.DEPRESSION: More than 6.5 million Americans 65 or over are affected by depression. While depression is not a typical process of aging, there are many realities about getting older that can lead to depression: changes in work status, changes in family dynamics, health concerns/struggles etc. It is important to know that it is not a sign of weakness to seek help for depression and baby boomers are a generation less likely to admit to feeling depressed than many of the generations that follow. If you are feeling down, lethargic, sad, talk to your doctors, they can help you get the treatments you need.

5.ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: The sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is most common in people over 65, but people can experience symptoms in their 40s or 50s. Recent studies have shown that there is a connection between the general health of the heart and blood vessels and the health of the brain. Avoid tobacco, eat a healthy diet, and stay physically active.

6.ARTHRITIS & JOINT PAIN:  Much of the joint pain that people over 60 experience is due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. When the cartilage breaks down, bones rub on bones and that causes swelling, pain, and stiffness called osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases the stress on joints and physical actively like walking, yoga, swimming can keep joints flexible.

7. CAREGIVER STRESS: As partners take ill with chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases, the spouse becomes the caretaker. Baby Boomers are also sometimes caring for their aging parents and can be susceptible to caregiver stress in that relationship. Being a caregiver will often redefine the roles in a marriage or long-time family relationship. Those suffering from chronic and incurable illnesses will see a significant change in quality of life that is recognized and often treated as part of the overall medical treatment plan for the illness; but the quality of life of caregivers also drastically changes and they are often isolated in their ability to talk about the changes. It is important for caretakers to care for themselves as well, seek treatment if depression develops, and seek a community of others dealing with the same caregiving issues.

8. EYE ISSUES:  In our 40s, many people recognize that they need a little help seeing the words on the page and they find their way to the readers in the pharmacy. But by the time you hit 65 or older, the eye problems can be much more severe. Cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye) affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and over and the likelihood of developing cataracts increases significantly over 60 years of age. By the age of 80, over half of all Americans are dealing with cataracts. The science and surgical techniques have improved the surgeries to make them more efficient (less time in surgery) with quicker recovery times. All of that equals more successful surgeries. Macular degeneration (a progressive disease of the eye) is the leading cause of blindness for people over 55. Annual eye exams help catch vision issues before they get too bad. With treatment, the progression of macular degeneration can be halted or slowed.

9. OBESITY: Americans in particular struggle with obesity. Diet, exercise, sleep, and healthy lifestyle choices (limiting alcohol, limiting the amount of screen time) can help people lose weight, but it takes commitment and educating oneself on risks and consequences of dietary and lifestyle choices. Doctors like to begin intervention in patients who are overweight, not yet obese. One is considered “overweight” with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9; intervention at this stage can help prevent the development of obesity and reduce risk factors for many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, sleep apnea, etc. A person with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

10. HEPATITIS C:  Baby boomers born between 1945 through 1965 are five times more likely than other adults to be infected with this virus. People infected with Hepatitis C may not even be aware they have it. Hep C can cause liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. If you test positive for the virus, there are treatments that can cure you.

People who are at risk of getting or having hepatitis C and who should be tested include:

  • Those who currently share or have shared needles in the past.
  • Anyone who received a blood transfusion, blood product, or donor organ prior to the availability of screening in the United States in 1992.
  • People who are on kidney dialysis.
  • Anyone who received tattoos or body piercings with non-sterile instruments.
  • People infected with HIV.
  • Anyone who was ever in jail or prison.
  • Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis C.
  • Anyone who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987.
  • Healthcare workers who have been accidentally stuck with a contaminated needle

 

Most of these illnesses require a number of expensive prescription medications and treatment. Simplefill is a full-service prescription assistance company dedicated to helping our members get their medicines at affordable prices. Call Simplefill today to speak with one of their friendly representatives who can discuss your situation in detail and guide you through all of your options.

 

Call Simplefill at 1.877.386.0206 or go to www.simplefill.com to start the application process online.