Monthly Chatterbox

Oct’s Chatterbox

October is Health Literacy Month, but what does that mean ? Choosing a healthy lifestyle, knowing how to seek medical care, and taking advantage of preventive measures require that people understand and use health information. The ability to obtain, process, and understand health information needed to make informed health decisions is known as health literacy. Given the complexity of the healthcare system, it is not surprising that limited health literacy is associated with poor health. Health information can overwhelm even persons with advanced literacy skills. Only 12 percent of adults have Proficient health literacy, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. In other words, nearly nine out of ten adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease. Strategies to promote health literacy by helping patients more easily obtain, process, and understand health information to be able to make informed decisions ultimately supports patient safety. The health system must promote better communication of health information while also simplifying the demands it places on patients. However, patients and families must also recognize their roles and responsibilities to be informed and vigilant in protecting their health. A safer health care environment can only be achieved if patients are included as active participants and health care providers and systems clearly communicate their expectations.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 325,000 people each year. That’s more than the total death rate for breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined. During SCA, heart function ceases abruptly and without warning. The general public and media often mistakenly refer to SCA as a “massive heart attack.” SCA is an electrical problem, whereby the arrhythmia prevents the heart from pumping blood to the brain and vital organs. There is an immediate cessation of the heart. In most cases, there are no warning signs or symptoms. A heart attack is a “plumbing” problem caused by one or more blockages in the heart’s blood vessels, preventing proper flow, and the heart muscle dies. Symptoms include chest pain, radiating pain in left arm, between shoulder blades, and/or jaw, difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and sweating. In some cases, a heart attack may lead to a sudden cardiac arrest event. When someone collapses from SCA, immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) are essential for any chance of recovery. SCA can strike persons of any age, gender, race, and even those who seem in good health, as evidenced by world class professional athletes at the peak of fitness. About 80 percent of SCA victims have signs of coronary heart disease. Leading a heart healthy lifestyle is important in preventing coronary artery disease and other heart conditions.

Remember the 3 R’s for Safe Medication Use 1. All medicines, prescription and nonprescription, have RISKS as well as benefits. You need to weigh these risks and benefits carefully for every medicine you take. 2. Respect the power of your medicine and the value of medicines properly used. 3. Take Responsibility for learning about how to take your medication safely

The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year. An annual flu vaccine is necessary because flu viruses are constantly changing. (It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year.) The flu vaccine is formulated to keep up with the flu viruses as they change from year to year.

Most older Americans (8 out of 10) take at least one medication and many older adults take three or more medications each day.  Older adults comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but account for 34% of all prescription medicine use and 30% of all over-the-counter (OTC) medicine use. Changes in body weight can influence the amount of medicine you need to take and how long it stays in your body. The circulation system may slow down, which can affect how fast drugs get to the liver and kidneys. The liver and kidneys also may work more slowly affecting the way a drug breaks down and is removed from the body. This means medicines may stay in the body longer and cause more severe side effects if doses are not properly adjusted and monitored. Because of these and other changes in our body as we age, there is also a higher risk of drug interactions in older adults.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country.Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.

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Fire Prevention Week is the time to check the batteries in the smoke detectors in your homes but it shouldn’t be done just during Fire Prevention week it should be checked once a month. Here are some tips/step to help prepare and prevent a home fire: Never smoke in bed, Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters, Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep, Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. Your local Fire Department can help with changing your smoke detector batteries, making sure that they in the correct area and help do a Fire plan.

Positive Attitude Month is an annual designation observed in October. A positive attitude is the best trait you can carry with you, because it makes any difficult or frustrating situation a lot easier to deal with. If you look at most scenarios as “glass half empty,” now is the time to change that! Looking at things with a “glass half full” perspective is a small thought process that makes a big difference. It is possible to wake up each morning and look forward to the day. Having a positive attitude not only allows us to enjoy life more, it can improve our health and relationships with others.

The annual Medicare Open Enrollment will run from October 15, 2019, to December 7, 2019. During the annual enrollment period (AEP) you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage. Review your current Medicare health and drug coverage. If you are dissatisfied with your coverage for next year, make changes during Fall Open Enrollment. If you have Original Medicare, take a look at next year’s Medicare & You handbook to know your Medicare costs and benefits for the upcoming year. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D plan, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from your plan. Review these notices for any changes in the plan’s costs, benefits, and/or rules for the upcoming year. Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare coverage, look at other Medicare options in your area that may better suit your individual needs in the upcoming year. For example, check to see if there is another plan in your area that will offer you better health and/or drug coverage at a more affordable price. Research shows that people with Part D could lower their costs by shopping among plans each year. There could be another Part D plan in your area that covers the drugs you take with fewer restrictions and/or lower prices. You can get help at Medicare.gov, the SHINE program at 1-866-531-8011, Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)