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Will County Health Department offers dental tips – The Herald

JOLIET – The Will County Health Department’s Dr. Sangita Garg, chief dental officer for the Community Health Center offers tips for good dental health.

“The mouth,” Garg said in a news release, “is the gateway that bacteria can use to reach the rest of your body. For example, if you develop gum disease, that bacteria can get into your bloodstream. Then it can contribute to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease or even premature births for pregnant women.”

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She recommends 30 seconds for flossing before brushing, followed by two minutes for brushing and then 30 seconds to clean the tongue with a tongue scraper. Some toothbrushes have these built-in, she said.

Rinse with water when done scraping. Garg and finish with an anti-cavity rinse. Regular mouthwash is good for other times, she said. In the morning, Garg said, one should brush after eating, not before eating.

“If you did the full routine before going to bed, your mouth shouldn’t feel that bad in the morning,” Garg said in a news release.

In addition to the risk of cancer, smoking remains a problem for maintaining oral hygiene. Garg recommends stopping smoking.

Garg the main dentist on the Community Health Center’s mobile dental van and is out and about on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays with dental assistant Lendita Istogu.

“We are scheduled for various shelters, rehab centers and school and daycare centers. I give a lot of credit to Lendita for her handling of the contacts and scheduling,” Garg said in a news release.

In fact, Istogu said they would love to bring the Mobile Dental Van to more patients, especially children.

It also is important to note that wherever the mobile dental van is parked, such as at Stepping Stones or Frankfort Terrace, any resident can come in for service, and will be seen if time permits.

“Sometimes we see 12 to 16 patients in one sitting,” Istogu, who also drives the mobile van, said in a news release. “You just do whatever it takes, and you want to succeed.”

For information about the dental van, call 815-546-4090. Adults who wish to schedule an appointment at the Community Health Center dental department, call 815-774-7300.

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3 Health Tips That Actually Changed My Life

Whats Good WeeklyHealth tips are everywhere, but most of the time I ignore them.

They don’t make sense, their timing is all wrong, or they just aren’t for me.

Every now and then, though, the right health tip comes at the right time and right place just for me… and it changes something I do forever. Here are my three favorite examples:

1. Add cinnamon to your coffee.

Coffee is amazing, and the overwhelming scientific consensus is that it’s good for almost everyone… unless you fill it with sugar, cream, and then more sugar, like most people.

But I didn’t like the taste of coffee for a long time, so I drank venti chai lattes every day (every day!!!) and thought I was doing it right. I obviously wasn’t. Please don’t drink those every day.

Then someone suggested I try black coffee with cinnamon (available at almost every coffee shop), and it changed everything for me.

Cinnamon’s super healthy, sure, but that wasn’t actually the point. I just liked black coffee with it more—cinnamon cut the sharpness a bit, making every cup taste like glorious sweater-weather fall. I’ve never looked back and I can’t imagine how many unnecessary calories I’ve saved because of it.

This small cinnamon-for-cream-and-sugar swap actually empowered me to look for others like it.

The moment someone realizes they can swap the default side of French fries with veggies, for example, they become healthyish. They’re in control now and can choose better whenever they want to, not just do whatever someone else wants them to.

2. Don’t snooze.

People love snoozing. In fact, more than half of Americans regularly hit the snooze button.

I did too once long ago. But then I read something surprising: Those extra minutes in the morning after the snooze button are the least good sleep you can get. Sleeping is amazing and important… but only if you get deep sleep. And waking up and then snoozing cuts down on that precious time.

Some science says snoozing can actually make you more tired (especially if you wake up at the wrong time in your sleep cycle)—and that’s been my experience at least.

Anyway, my solution was simple: I put my alarm clock (mobile phone) in another room and jacked up the volume so I had no excuse. And I set my alarm to the actual time I want to wake up, no snooze time included.

Every morning I jump out of bed and I’m up and at ‘em, full of energy!

3. Fully dry your hands.

Recently I discovered I’d been thinking of washing my hands all wrong.

It turns out the most important part of hand washing isn’t scrubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds while humming the chorus of Pharrell’s “Happy” in your head (just me?). It’s making sure your hands are dry after washing them. Wet hands may even be worse than not washing in the first place!


So now instead of skipping those annoying hand dryers, I take my time with them. I don’t wipe off my hands on my jeans. I take extra paper towels (even science prefers paper towels to hand dryers BTW). The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: a review of the evidence. Huang C, Ma W, Stack S. Mayo Clinic proceedings, 2012, May.;87(8):1942-5546.

Yes, I still judge the heck out of people who don’t wash their hands in public bathrooms (monsters).

Since I started committing to properly drying my hands, I’ve gotten sick way less often.

Here’s my puppy of the week:

Puppy riding on the back of a huge turtle

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6 tips to help you have a healthy holiday season

For anyone navigating a path for a healthier lifestyle, the holidays can make for difficult maneuvering. The weeks that stretch from Halloween to the beginning of 2018 promise hurdle after hurdle for wellness-minded people. It’s enough to make some want to sit out the race completely this time of year.

“I think a lot of people sort of give up altogether during the holidays,” said Kerri Kempfert Davis, a personal trainer and owner of Fit To You in Wilmington. She suggests her clients instead set realistic exercise and eating goals. “If you can maintain during the holidays, you’re doing good,” she said.

Dr. Tom Mathew, a psychiatrist with Trinity Wellness Center in Wilmington, offers an acronym protocol that can help in a number of stressful situations. It’s DRESS, which stands for diet, reduce (or opting for more minimalist choices), exercise, sleep, and stress reduction. “Doing these things is a good way to manage many challenges,” he said. Here are a few more of their suggestions for dealing with holiday hurdles.

Staying on track at the holiday party

“This is always a big one,” Davis said. To keep post-party regret to a minimum? “Limit alcohol,” she said. For every drink, alternate with a glass of water. “The more you drink, often the more you eat because you lower your inhibitions. Plus, there are the calories in the alcohol.” Other than that, you should plan what you want to eat, within reason. “If it’s a buffet, take a look at everything before you load your plate. If there’s something you really love, have a bit of those,” she said. If there’s an unhealthful dish that you could do without, leave it alone. “Also, eat healthy the rest of the day, so you’re not starving when you get to the party.” Her favorite pre-game snack is an apple with a bit of peanut butter. “It’s got a lot of protein and fiber, but you won’t be stuffed.”

Stop stress while shopping

This is one area where it can really help to manage your expectations, Mathew said. He suggests taking a hard look at your holiday to-do list and seeing if it can be pared down. “You really don’t need to buy all the gifts and send all the cards,” he said. “There really is a tendency to overdo it this time of year. Eat too much, drink too much, spend too much.” He suggests opting for simplicity whenever possible, and to consider spiritual traditions, no matter what your faith, rather than materialistic ones. When you do make your shopping trip, make sure to pack snacks like nuts, bananas and apples to help you avoid succumbing to decadent treats in a fit of stress-inducing eating.

Eating well on the way to Grandma’s house

If your holiday travel plans include a road trip, Davis suggests doing some research prior to departure. “I would look at menus online before you go,” she said. Many roadside chains post extensive health information on their websites, so you can better choose which meals fit into your plan. “In general, I would say that the salad isn’t always the best choice,” she said. Often, they come with high calorie additions and/or dressings with lots of fat or sugar. If you do get a salad, leave off some of the extras and opt for a low-fat dressing, she said. And sometimes a grilled chicken sandwich is a better choice.

Avoiding the family break-down

Mathew said there can be a lot of pressure to have certain kinds of social interactions during the holidays. “I would encourage people to have a broader definition of family,” he said. People should make plans and spend time with the family they choose. “Meaningful friendships can really help you through difficult times,” he said. When you are obligated to attend events with challenging family members, try to avoid talking about politics, religion or other stress-inducing topics. “You can have a reasonable, pleasant conversation with people you don’t agree with,” he said. “Just keep in mind that you’re not going to change anyone’s mind over dinner.”

While in the air

Plane travel, and the long waits and that come before, can bring along a number of health concerns. Some tips to keep these problems at bay? Wear loose and comfortable clothing, get up and walk around frequently, wash your hands often, eat meals with lots of protein and vegetables, and those who tolerate it should take a baby aspirin 30 minutes before take-off, according to Harvard Health. Anytime you’re traveling, by trains, planes or automobiles, Davis suggests bringing snacks and lots of water with you. “It’s important to stay hydrated,” she said. “Often, we think we’re hungry, but we’re just thirsty.” Snacks like almonds or fresh fruit are also good to keep you from eating less healthful options.

Being active with the couch potatoes

If your family is the kind to sit around watching TV when they get together, it can be hard to get in your daily fitness. “But you can be the one to suggest doing something,” Davis said. “Get everyone together for a walk after dinner or initiate doing something else active.” She’s also a big believer in exercise bands. They are light-weight and extremely packable. “They make it easy to exercise anywhere,” she said. Often, when one of her clients is planning a trip, she’ll help them devise a work-out plan using the bands. Mathew said that he makes sure to make exercise a priority during the holidays, and is a part of the men’s fitness group F3 Cape Fear ( There is also a similar women’s group. “We have a commitment to get together every week, no matter what the weather,” he said. “It’s a great way to stay active during the holidays.”





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Medicare open enrollment: Tips on updating your health care …

Most beneficiaries have from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 to decide on drug coverage and whether to switch from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.

Older or disabled Americans with Medicare coverage have probably noticed an uptick in mail solicitations from health insurance companies, which can mean only one thing: It’s time for the annual Medicare open enrollment.  

Most beneficiaries have from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 to decide which of dozens of private plans offer the best drug coverage for 2018 or whether it’s better to leave traditional Medicare and get a drug and medical combo policy called Medicare Advantage.

Some tips for the novice and reminders for those who have been here before can make the process a little easier. 

Pay Attention To The Mail  

If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or drug plan, carefully read the “annual notice of change” or “evidence of benefits” letter from the insurer. It is not another sales pitch or more insurance mumbo-jumbo. That required letter highlights the cost and benefit changes in store for next year. Ask the insurer for another copy if you can’t find it. 

“Some people just tend to get that mail and throw it all in the trash, but it’s really important that they read it,” said Francine Chuchanis, director of entitlement rights at Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging Disabilities, an Ohio group that assists older adults and people with disabilities.  

Choosing Between Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage

The open enrollment period is your opportunity to switch plans, including moving between the government-run traditional Medicare program and Medicare Advantage. 

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers, which receive payments from the federal government to help cover the costs of beneficiaries. They restrict members to their network of doctors and hospitals and a list or formulary of covered drugs. With some rare exceptions, you cannot leave the plan midyear — even if the plan drop drugs from the formulary or your hospitals, physicians, specialists or medical equipment suppliers leave the plan. 

But unlike traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans often cover dental, hearing and vision care, and they cap your out-of-pocket expenses. Once you reach that limit, the insurer pays for covered services, and you pay nothing. But details of these plans — such as the caps on member spending, the premium prices and service areas — can change from year to year. 

On the other hand, with traditional Medicare, patients can go to any provider who participates in the program, and most providers do. Because there is no limit on the share of medical expenses beneficiaries pay, most purchase “Medigap” supplemental policies or have other insurance to lower those costs. 

Check Your Plan’s Network

If you choose Medicare Advantage, contact your doctors, hospital and other providers directly to find out if they are in the plan’s network.

Be sure to give the office the plan’s full name, not just the name of the insurance company since insurers offer multiple plans that may have similar names, said Gina Upchurch, executive director of Senior PharmAssist in Durham, N.C.

If you have the plan’s code numbers, she said, those can help the doctor’s office check. 

Confirm Where Your Drugs Are Available

When choosing a drug plan, also known as Medicare Part D, the total costs are most important. Consider factors beyond the premiums. You will pay different amounts when the plan first begins each year, than when you’re in the coverage gap called the doughnut hole and after you get out of that hole.

More: FAQ: The shrinking Medicare doughnut hole

More: The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit

Find out whether the lowest price is available at your favorite pharmacy or if you must travel elsewhere to get that price. Most plans offer their lowest prices only at their preferred, in-network pharmacies. 

Also, ask what other restrictions apply. For example, do you need prior authorization or have to try another drug first before you can get the one your doctor prescribed? Also, will the price vary depending on the frequency or the quantity of your prescription? 

“You can save thousands of dollars just by switching pharmacies,” said Christina Dimas-Kahn, director of the San Mateo County office of the California Department of Aging’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program.

That’s because drug plan prices can depend on whether a drugstore is a preferred pharmacy within the plan’s network. She helped a senior reduce his drug bill last year from $119,000 to $18,000 after changing pharmacies. 

Do You Qualify For A Subsidy?

Low-income people can qualify for the “extra help” subsidy that pays for the premiums of certain drug plans and other costs. They may also be eligible for assistance to reduce their share of medical costs in traditional Medicare.

Premiums and subsidy amounts can change each year, so if you already have the subsidy confirm that it is enough to cover the plan’s premium next year. Otherwise, you can be billed for the difference. 

Check The Calendar 

There’s a lot to consider and only seven weeks to do it. And remember, this enrollment period is different from the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace enrollment, which begins Nov. 1 and lasts through Dec. 15. 

Federal officials have granted seniors who live in areas affected by this year’s hurricane damage — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — or depend on caregivers in those areas until the end of December to make their choices. 

Getting Help

Individual assistance is free from the federally funded Senior Health Insurance Information Program, the Medicare Rights Center (800-333-4114 and its website Medicare Interactive as well as from Medicare’s plan finder website and helpline (800-633-4227). 

Studies have shown that most Medicare beneficiaries don’t switch plans. 

“They are likely to stay with whatever plan they’re in because they are afraid to make a change,” said Bonnie Burns, a consultant for California Health Advocates. 

Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.






Health care is critical but the quality varies by state.


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Larry Lamb on how to love old age

When it comes to healthy ageing, a quick internet search will throw up all sorts of complicated suggestions as to how to keep yourself looking and feeling young. However, according to Eastenders and Gavin Stacey actor Larry Lamb, 69, the answers to this time-old question are pretty simple.

Here, he calls upon first-hand experience to give us his own top tips for staying ship-shape as you age.

1. Exercise regularly

Don’t use getting older as an excuse to become less active. Indeed, it is arguably more important than ever to stay active as you approach middle-to-old age, as Larry has discovered.

“Exercise every day is really important. Mostly I go walking or running, and recently I’ve been doing much more cycling… I started running about eight years ago and I love it, exercising regularly helps keep me energised as well as keeping me in shape.”

2. Eat well

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet becomes more and more important as we age, as unhealthy eating habits have the potential to lead to all sorts of issues – such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes and even cancer.

“Watch what you eat, and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum! My diet has always been relatively healthy. Not much meat meat or fatty foods, and plenty of fruit and vegetables, and I start each day with a litre of water.”

3. Don’t ignore health problems

Research shows that men are up to 20% less likely to visit their doctor then women – despite the fact that they have shorter life spans. But, Larry says, ignoring a problem in the hope that it’ll just go away will only make matters worse.

“My joints had always been good but I found my knees were creaking a lot in my early to mid-sixties and I had really bad hip and knee pain. Like most I ignored it at first, however my knees were becoming increasingly painful and stiff and I couldn’t run, so I knew I needed to do something about it.”

4. Find what works

What works for someone else’s body might not necessarily work for you. If you’re suffering with a long-term problem, then take some time to examine the treatments available before settling on the most effective.

“Initially, I turned to a natural supplement with evidence to show it can be used for long term joint health. I was taking dry pressed fish oil then cod liver oil but that didn’t ease the pain. I then started using GOPO® Joint Health every day and now, two years on, I don’t suffer with creaks or pain or anything at all.”

5. Act your age

Last but not least, Larry says that embracing ageing as a positive process is the key to staying happy and healthy.

“I have never been concerned about getting older as it’s one of life’s inevitable aspects, there’s nothing you can do but embrace it and enjoy every second. Personally, I find age-denial rather sad, and silly really. As I approach my seventies, I’m excited for another 30 years of good health!”

Larry is an ambassador for GOPO® Joint Health, available from supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide, priced at £18.99 for 120 and £28.49 for 200 capsules.

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Expert tips to knock that festive weight off

You knew it was coming. The festive season (It starts with Diwali, but really lasts all the way until the New Year) is a time for meeting, partying, rejoicing with family, and of course indulging in the rich food typical of cool-weatther merrymaking. How will you cope this year?

Experts know exactly how temptation works. They know how hard it is to resist a barfi, or a second helping of a lovingly cooked festive meal. It’s time to get smarter about what you consume this season.

What’s for dinner?

If you’re eating out, pick Japanese cuisine, says experts. The island nation has more than raw fish and sushi. Most items on a Japanese menu are light, made with less oil and using healthy cooking techniques. “Cuisines from places such as Japan and Korea use a lot of seaweed and low-calorie veggies,” says Ritika Samaddar, regional head of dietetics at Max Healthcare. This makes it good news for those with heart ailments, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.

Mediterranean cuisine also finds favour with dieticians. The food uses olive oil and garlic, and includes a good deal of seafood and green leafy vegetables. “Olive oil, nuts and fish are healthy sources of fat,” says Neha Arora, Delhi-based nutrition consultant. “Mediterraneans have less red meat and sugar in their food and that makes it healthier.”

If the cuisine is from Italy, watch out for heavy pastas, cooked in loads of white sauce or butter. A tomato-based wheat pasta will shave off the calories. And Italian food is big on salads, which add bulk to a meal without the alarm bells.

If you can’t control the cuisine, at least identify the healthiest item on the menu. In an Indian restaurant, “pick a paneer tikka or the tandoori platter,” recommends Arora. “In a south Indian menu, instead of fried vadas, order steamed idlis.”

Switching from fried items to grilled, sautéed, stewed or steamed food can easily lighten up a meal. Similarly picking foods made with whole wheat instead of refined flour can bring down the calories.

Sooner or later, someone will suggest Chinese. Instead of refined flour noodles order whole wheat noodles, most Chinese restaurants have it on their menu. Steamed or brown rice is a healthier option to fried rice. And skip the gravy for a drier main course, it will be lower on fat.

And of course, try to make it through the season by refusing cola and packaged sugary fruit juices. Fresh lime juice, coconut water or fresh fruit juices will keep you from piling on the kilos.

What’s your body telling you?

Experts say you can lose 3-5 kg and shed an inch or two from your waist in about six weeks in a healthy manner. All you have to do is watch what you eat, and pack in 40 minutes of exercise daily.

First check your triggers. Do you tend to snack or overeat out of boredom, politeness, because everyone else is eating, to take a break from a task, or because you’re stressed? Find your reasons and work on eliminating the triggers or keeping healthier food around when they strike.

Avoid skipping meals, especially the breakfast as it is likely to be your healthiest meal of the day. It should be a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

At lunch, have the usual roti, subzi, daal and curd (non-vegetarians can add lean meat such as chicken or fish).

The crucial period is between 5pm and 7pm, when people tend to snack in the long gap between lunch and dinner. Have a cup of green tea with a light snack such as a couple of biscuits or roasted gram. “Do not munch on calorie-dense items such as a pizza, burger or mayonnaise-laden sandwich,” says Arora.

Dinner should not be beyond 9pm and avoid late-night snacking. “If at all you feel hungry, drink a cup of hot milk, or chamomile tea or have a fruit to curb the sudden craving but no mid-night snacking. If one follows these tips accurately, there is no need for crash dieting to lose weight,” Arora says.

Do you need a special diet?

Many people tend to go on a “No Carb” diet, and eat only fruits and vegetables. Avoid this, as carbohydrates are essential for energy. “Include whole grains and cereals like jowar, bajra, ragi, amaranth, quinoa or barley in meal,” says Indrayani Pawar, clinical dietician and diabetes educator. “They will keep you full for longer.”

Sweets are impossible to avoid during the next few weeks. “Choose from nuts, dried fruits or mixed mithais”, says Zubeda Tumbi, nutritionist. ”Rasgulla and rasamalai is a smarter pick than gulab jamun or balushahi. Baked or roasted chivda are more calorie-conserving than fries, gathia or corn chivda.”

A word of caution: do not over eat. “Ideally, eat small meals every 3-4 hours,” says Tapasya Mundhra, Delhi-based nutritionist and health coach.

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6 tips to keep you fit at the SC State Fair

Let’s be honest. No one goes to the fair to count calories. But if you did you’d be counting pretty high. A recent study published in the journal “Appetite” (appropriately named) analyzed the range and average calories consumed at the Minnesota State Fair. It found that those interviewed ate between 15 and 6,072 calories (!) and only 1/3 of them actually made healthy changes to their diet to compensate for the extra intake. There were even fewer who made changes to their physical activity levels.

And since we’re just a hop, skip and a few weeks away from the unavoidable indulgences of the holidays, I spoke with Brie Turner-McGrievy, an associate professor in USC’s Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior department to find out what tips she’d recommend for eating “healthy” at the fair…if there is such a thing. And turns out, there is!

1. Eat before you go

“You never know what’s there and its hard when you’re tempted and have an empty stomach.”

2. Stay hydrated

“Its way hotter than it normally is this time of year and way more humid, so make sure you drink plenty of water before you go. And when you’re there continue to drink non-caloric beverages. If we get dehydrated we often interpret that as hunger so we end up eating even though we’re actually just thirsty.”

3. Aim for fruits and vegetables

“Anything fruit or vegetable based is going to set you up ahead. Sometimes they’ll have fruit on a stick but also dipped fruit, like candied apples or frozen bananas. They’re actually not that high in calories and will give you your sugar fix. Also look for baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes. As long as you’re not dousing them in bacon and sour cream that could be a good choice as well.” (And before you make the argument, french fries do not count as a vegetable.)

4. Go for higher fiber foods

“That’s going to make you feel fuller on fewer calories so you’re not as tempted. Corn on the cob is always a really good choice. Peanuts and popcorn or kettle corn are really high in fiber and they also take longer to eat.”

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for things to be customized

“You can always leave off toppings to save calories and ask for more vegetables.” For example: you can ask for a veggie burrito.

6. Sharing is caring

“If there’s that one food that it wouldn’t be going to the fair without it, consider splitting it among several of your friends and family. So you get the taste but you’re not eating an entire something.”

If you go: This year’s 148th anniversary S.C. State Fair will run Oct. 11-22. Details:

Related stories from The State

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Stopping stress: DOH issues tips to boost mental health | Headlines …

MANILA, Philippines — Pending approval of the mental health bill, the Department of Health (DOH) issued 12 anti-stress tips to encourage the public to maintain and promote mental health. 

On its Facebook account, the DOH said there are “12 S” or intervention strategies that could enhance mental health. 

First, an individual must have self- awareness or develop a habit of paying attention to his thoughts, emotions and behavior in order to know himself or herself better, according to the DOH.

“The more you know yourself or get in touch with your feelings and being open to
 experience, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs,” the agency said.

“Scheduling or time management and taking siesta are important to achieve gratifying results and help relax the mind and body muscles, respectively,” it said.

Siesta means taking a nap or short rest, a break or “recharging of battery” in order to improve productivity.

Speak to someone when you feel overwhelmed or unable to deal with stress on your own. Venting can help you unload unwanted feelings.

Sounds and songs can relieve depression and increase self-esteem, while sensation techniques or massage can soothe away stress, unknot tense and aching muscles and relieve headaches and sleep problems, the agency said.

 “Do stretching or simple movements to loosen muscles. Lubricated joints increase body’s oxygen supply. Socially engaging in fruitful activities that will develop your ability to deal with other people can also help,” it said.

Smile releases stress and calms down a person, aside from making the person attractive and others happy. 

Engaging in spiritual activities, devoting time to connect with yourself and with God can also help prevent stress.

The DOH said undergoing stress debriefing or submitting oneself to a brief crisis intervention and talking about one’s feelings and reactions to a critical incident could keep stress away.

 “Engage in sports like basketball, tennis, etc. to clear your mind and relieve stress.”

Last week, the House committees on health and appropriations approved on second reading a bill seeking to provide comprehensive national mental health care program and its integration with the country’s primary health care delivery system.

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Health Tips : 4 ways to use pineapple as medicine

Health Tips
4 ways to use pineapple as medicine

Pineapple is the only major dietary source of bromelain.

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Caregivers learn tips to take those with Alzheimer’s to ‘happy place’ – Charleston Gazette

A handful of people sat around a table in Charleston about a week and a half ago to talk about how their family members had changed.

“It’s just different every day,” one of them said.

The West Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association runs support groups throughout the state for family members of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Support groups are held twice monthly at the Charleston office.

The group talked about practical matters, like incontinence and urinary tract infections. They talked about the guilt that comes with putting a loved one in a nursing facility. They also talked about communicating.


One woman talked about an older male relative who can be mean at times. She’ll use her most authoritative voice, and he’ll back down. She had to use that voice once when he tried to drive his truck to the store. He had the pedal to the floor but he didn’t have it in gear.“What they want is things that make them feel like themselves,” said Lisa Gwyther, director and founder of the Duke Alzheimer’s Family Support Program. She knows a man with dementia who used to volunteer for Meals on Wheels. His wife does the driving now, but he still goes to the door.

“They want to feel like they’re making a contribution, just like they did before,” she said.

Members of the support group also talked about relatives who “swoop in.” Some families call them the “seagulls.”

“These are relatives who fly in to visit the family for a short visit, for what some families call tea and criticism,” Gwyther said. After a loved one loses their drivers’ license, “They look at mom and say, ‘Well mom if I was here, this never would have happened to you.’ ”

“The issue for many families is that the primary caregiver is always going to be more involved,” Gwyther said. “They may not know how to ask for help. They may not know that other family members may not recognize how much help is needed, because the person in brief encounters looks great.

“Families have to figure out how they can engage other relatives in ways that are possible and meaningful for them and how they can best explain the person’s behavior changes in a way that will encourage other relatives to come forward, and a lot of families have to do that on their own, and they have to make it personal and relevant to them,” she said. “In other words, they have to say, ‘Dad still loves to go to the children’s ball games. Can you take him and give me a break?’ ”

In North Carolina, where Gwyther works, the state-funded program, initially paid for with a federal grant, offers families respite vouchers and individualized consultation. The consultations, she said, “help the family deal with whatever is most problematic for them right now.”

“People with Alzheimer’s need to feel included and valued and appreciated for what they can still contribute,” she said, “and families need a break too, and they need to be able to have a community that will listen to them without trying to fix it or sort of offer offhand suggestions that trivialize how significant this responsibility is.”


One woman, who was new to the support group, said it had been a “long, very rough road” with her mother. “She’s at the point where she’s not understanding what I’m asking her,” she said.Nancy Cipoletti, director of Alzheimer’s programs for the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, developed a training course in the early 2000s for in-home workers, still used by senior centers in the state. Part of the training focuses on communication.

“Body language speaks volumes sometimes, without saying a word,” she said.

“In addition to that, when you’re speaking to someone with dementia, you need to make eye contact. Keep that person focused on you. Keep it simple, clear and sincere. Have respect for that person. Remember, this is an adult with a history … One thing I always tell folks is to get low and go slow. Don’t position yourself sitting over them or standing over them. A great way to communicate with anyone is touch — not necessarily what you would be comfortable with, but what the other person would be.

“Smiling — that’s another way you can communicate with anybody anywhere. Maybe you’ll get a smile in return. Maybe you won’t, but it certainly gives that person the impression that you’re happy to be with them.”

“Music is the universal language,” she added. “Maybe she can’t get to church anymore, but she can listen to some of the old hymns.”

Centers offer the training on an as-needed basis. Cipoletti said people who aren’t in-home workers could attend. The Bureau of Senior Services, which can be reached at 304-558-3317 or 877-987-3646, also offers state-funded respite and in-home help programs through senior centers.

“I think there are a number of families in the state of West Virginia who don’t know these programs exist,” Cipoletti said.


After the meeting, one of the women — the one with the older relative who tried to drive his truck — talked about how his old personality comes out now and then. “He’s still funny,” she said. “He flirts with the nurses.”The other day he asked, “Do they still have those margaritas?” If so, he wanted one.

She told him that at his age, he could have anything he wanted.

J.T. Hunter, the support group facilitator, talked about when he crossed his ankles and his relative with dementia saw his argyle socks. “Oh how fancy!” she said.

“You’re taking them to that happy place,” he said.

“I would love for your readers to know that even in the end stages, you can still read their face,” said Ruth Drew, Alzheimer’s Association director of information and support services. “You can still bring things that can liven things up. Maybe they love a certain color, maybe a blanket that feels soft. Think of the five senses.

“Is this a person who loved the outdoors? Is there a way to spend some time outside? Or if you can’t be outside, is there a window with a view or can you bring the outdoors in?”

She knows a woman with dementia whose two favorite foods have always been cheese and cashews.

“Her teeth failed so cashews were off the table but she could still eat cheese, so anytime they visited, they would always bring cheese,” Drew said. “Not only would she eat the cheese and really enjoy the cheese, but she would insist that everyone else there enjoy the cheese. She felt like a hostess. It was empowering to her.”

Drew also knows of a man with Alzheimer’s who has two daughters. One lived out of town and would come to visit.

“Afterwards, she’d say, ‘He’s so bad. It’s just awful.’ She really didn’t have that kind of connection and satisfaction you want to have,” Drew said. “What she was doing was she would go and try to give him current event updates. The other sister would go and check in with him. His eyes would light up with her.

“She would talk to the person he was but she would also take her cue from him … she also knew his life story so she would play or sing his favorite songs or read passages from books that had been important to him.”

She’s heard families say, “I see her, but it’s like she’s not not there anymore.”

“I’m here to tell them she’s still there,” Drew said. “She has a damaged brain. It’s hard for her to communicate in ways she used to, but there are still ways to have meaningful communication. She has a damaged brain, but you’ve got a healthy brain, so who of the two people needs to be flexible?

“Imagine you have difficulty getting your point across and people, instead of talking to you, talk about you in front of you and other people are deciding when you get up, when you go to bed, what you eat, dressing you, bathing you, checking your pants, taking you to the toilet. That’s not an easy thing to have to accept.”

She suggested imagining another person “talked at eye level, talked calmly and kindly … took their cue from you, noticed if you seemed to be happy or sad, helped you without just grabbing you, helped you do it yourself. How would that improve your life? It is life-changing. It is life-affirming to treat people this way.”

If you aren’t treated that way, “How would you act?” she said.

“Would you act out? Would you get mad? Would you lash out?”


The support group members shared contact information at the end of the meeting. “I thought I was on an island by myself,” a new member said.The Alzheimer’s Association estimates about 37,000 people in West Virginia had Alzheimer’s in 2017. They estimated there were about 107,000 Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in 2016.

“These families face so much isolation because people don’t know how to act around people with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Carolyn Canini, program director of the West Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It’s part of our role to educate them and let them know these families still need your support, even if you’re just acquaintances.”

“Take them a meal,” she said. “Offer to sit with the person an hour while they run and get their haircut.”

The Alzheimer’s Association holds Effective Communication workshops for family members and friends of people with dementia. They operate a Helpline (1-800-272-3900) and can meet with people individually. They also offer free community workshops. The Charleston walk is planned for Oct. 21 at Appalachian Power Park. The phone numbers for the offices are: Charleston: 304-343-2717; Parkersburg, 304-865-6775; Morgantown, 304-599-1159; Eastern Panhandle, 304-671-3077.

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