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Six Causes of Bad Breath

September 19th, 2017

Sumitted by: Christine Stone, RN

There are many reason for having bad breath and while most are innocuous and treatable, bad breath can be a sign of something more serious! According to the American Dental Association, 50% of adults have bad breath. Here are six causes of bad breath of which you should be aware.
1. Bacteria – There are hundreds of (good) bacteria that are normal in the human mouth. These bacteria help start the process of food digestion, but can also contribute to dental plaque formation. Without good dental hygiene these bacteria can cause bad breath.

2. Dry Mouth – is the absence of saliva in the mouth and can be caused by many medications, problems with the salivary glands, or simply from mouth breathing. Saliva has many anti-bacterial properties and without sufficient saliva bacteria can flourish in the mouth and cause odors.

3. Gum Disease – Bacterial plaque causes gum disease. Bad breath can be one of the subtle warnings signs for gum disease.

4. Food – Aromatic compounds in foods like onions and garlic are eliminated through the lungs, not the digestive tract! No matter how much you brush your teeth or use mouth wash these food will cause breath problems. In addition these compounds are eliminated through sweat glands. A double-whammy of bad smell!

5. Smoking – Smoking causes bad breath as well as a whole host of other potentially serious health problems like gum disease and cancers (lungs, mouth, throat). Smoking also affects your ability to smell and taste.

6. Medical Conditions – Bad breath can result from sinus problems, liver or kidney diseases, gastric reflux, or a host of other causes. In the absence of obvious causes see your doctor ASAP.

It’s important to have regular dental check ups and maintain good oral hygiene – brush and floss regularly.

Ticks!!!  

August 31st, 2017

Submitted by Christine Stone, RN     Clinical Liaison

To me, ticks seem more plentiful this year (20170 compared to past years.  Just thinking of them makes me feel itchy.  All I have to do is walk outside, and I find a tick on me.   Fortunately, the ticks had not yet attached to my skin.   I’ve done some reading on the subject of ticks, the diseases they can transmit to humans and animals, and some ways to prevent and treat tick bites.  Here’s a summary of my readings:

Ticks love to hide in grassy, wooded and leaf covered areas.  They crawl, rather than fly, or fall from trees.  By just walking across your lawn, ticks can land on you.  Not all ticks carry the dreaded Lyme disease, but there are a number of different diseases they can carry.   If ticks feed on infected mice, they can transmit the diseases to humans and animals.   When the tick attaches itself, it “salivates” into the human body – this makes me itchy

Always check yourself and for ticks when you come in from the outside – hair, under arms, groin, under your waistband.  Check your pets too.  If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, there are very specific ways to remove the insect.   Pay no attention to all those “folklore remedies” which recommend using peppermint oil, nail polish, petroleum jelly, apple cider vinegar, or heat.  They don’t work, and you’d be wasting precious time.   Instead, grab the tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, pull straight up with steady pressure.  Then thoroughly clean the area (and your hands) with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.   To get rid of the tick, flush it down the toilet, or place in a sealed plastic bag.

Other measures you can take to minimize ticks include:

  • Keep grass mowed, remove tall grass/brush and leaves so ticks don’t have dark, wet places to hide.
  • Use wood chips or mulch as a barrier around trees and bushes.
  • Spraying insecticides is probably the least environmentally-friendly option. Some communities offer neighborhood spraying.   Stay indoors when spraying is being done.
  • Rather than spraying, treat clothing with chemicals that kill or repel ticks such as DEET or permthrin. This can keep ticks from landing on you and biting.
  • Throw clothing in the dryer on high heat after coming inside.
  • When walking or hiking, wear light-colored clothing so the ticks can be easily seen. Stay in the middle of the trail
  • Check with your veterinarian for appropriate tick and flea treatment for your pet.

If you develop a rash or a fever, seek medical attention right away.   Early recognition and treatment can decrease the risk of serious complications later on.

Is Volunteering Right For You?

August 10th, 2017

Submitted by Christine Stone, RN Clinical Liaison

Youngsters are not the only ones who can benefit from volunteering. Studies show that older people can greatly benefit from volunteer work. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 20 million older adults contributed in excess of three billion hours of community service between 2011 and 2013. And while there are many individual reasons to volunteer, the overall reason is the increased sense of purpose.

If you want to volunteer, but don’t know where to start, it’s important to find the right “fit.” Look for opportunities to best utilize your interests, skills and experience. Here are some things to consider when venturing into volunteerism.

1. Know your schedule. Write down your known commitments and daily schedule. Use this to determine how much free time you have to volunteer. Some volunteer opportunities have greater time requirements than others.
2. Consider your experience. Remember that you have a lifetime of knowledge to offer. Sharing the experience from your professional life can provide a sense of purpose that will make you feel like you’re still actively involved in your industry.
3. Consider all the possible volunteer opportunities. Volunteers offer their time because they have a passion to help others – and that can be given in many different ways.
4. Leave time for the rest of your life. Volunteering is a selfless act and oftend the backbone of charitable organizations. You need to leave time for the rest of your life as well. Leave time for your own hobbies and personal interests. Don’t over-extend yourself to the point where you (or your family) resents your volunteerism.

Finding the right volunteer opportunity can make all the difference for older men and women who want to give back to their communities.

Ideas for Easier Everyday Living with Arthritis

August 1st, 2017

Submitted by Christine Stone, RN Clinical Liaison – LifeQuest Nursing Center

Living every day with the aches and pains of arthritis can be challenging. The tasks you used to do easily and without second thought now seem impossible or may make you avoid activities altogether. If your pain is unbearable, always notify your healthcare practitioner. But here are a few ideas to make living with arthritis easier.
1. Plant a portable garden or a raised-bed garden. If you want to grow small patches of flowers, herbs or veggies, make it easier by planting them in a bucket with a handle or in a small pot. Consider placing the pots on small tables with wheels – at knee height. The benefit? No more bending! In addition you’ll be able move the pots around to sun or shade as needed.
2. Replace doorknobs with handles. There are lever-style adapters that fit over doorknobs if you don’t want to get into complete doorknob replacement. Handles or lever let your elbow and forearm to all the work rather than your hand, wrist, and fingers.
3. Buy cooking pots with two handles. Using two handles distributes the weight more evenly between your hands and wrists.
4. Sleep better by using pillows. Place pillows under or between your knees to help relieve pressure. Special cervical (chiropractic) pillows can help for arthritis of the neck. Some people will place 6-8 inch blocks under the head of the bead to relieve arthritis in the spine. This may also help with symptoms of gastric reflux (heartburn). Just make sure you’re able to safely get in and out of the bed if you raise the head a few inches.
5. Worry-free walking & hiking. Invest in a good pair of rubber-soled shoes which provide a firm grip and secure traction. Walk on the grass if the gravel is wet. Walking in sand can be hard on the feet and ankles. Consider using (lightweight) trekking poles to keep you balanced and stable. Remember – it’s better make these easy adjustments and to give up walking altogether.
6. Love to knit? Rather than metal knitting needles, use birch or bamboo needles – they’re lighter and warmer. Consider using wool or wool blend yarn rather than cotton or other yarn fibers. Wool / wool blends are lighter, more pliable and easier to work with.

How to Spot a Stroke

July 14th, 2017

Submitted by: Christine Stone, RN Clinical Liaison

It cannot be overstated enough – every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. There is, however, an easy way to learn and remember the early warning signs of a stroke. Use the acronym “BEFAST.” If one or more of the symptoms is present – seek immediate medical attention. The sooner treatment is started the greater the chance of minimizing permanent neurological damage.

Balance     Loss of balance, dizziness or headache.
Eyes           Blurred vision, loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Face           One side of the face is drooping. Try to smile – if the face looks “lopsided.”
Arms         Arm or leg weakness or numbness. Feeling “uncoordinated.”
Speech      Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said to you.
Time         Time to call 911 immediately for an ambulance. Never drive yourself to the
                  hospital.

Adopting a Dog or Cat Later in Life

July 5th, 2017

Submitted by:     Christine Stone, RN   Clinical Liaison LifeQuest (and cat lover) 

I LOVE my cat. I can’t imagine living without a cat (pet) – – their companionship and unconditional love is irreplaceable.

It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel lonely or depressed when they retire. Their children have moved away or they’ve lost a spouse or close friends.   The American Humane Society states studies show pets help seniors overcome loneliness and depression by providing affection, company and entertainment.   Pets also provide much-needed mental and stimulation, and pets can also help their owners to remain physically active.

Seniors who adopt pets may also feel a sense of purpose (the “need to be needed”) when helping animals who might not have anywhere to live. This is particularly true with older companion animals which may not appeal to younger families with children. Mature pets are a great fit for seniors.   Adult pets may already be housetrained or litter box trained.

A dog or a cat? Which to choose?

Nothing against dogs, but a cat may be a better fit to a senior’s lifestyle. Cats are usually less active and don’t need to be walked or played with as much as dogs.   Cats are often content to spend hours sleeping on their owner’s lap.   I joke that my cat “sleeps 23 hours per day.” This is probably an exaggeration – but not by much!   Small dogs that can be active in the house might be a good choice – especially for seniors with mobility issues. Keep in mind that a larger dog would need to be walked and exercised several time a day. Small dogs and cats are easily transported to and from the veterinarian,

Other considerations:

Seniors who frequently travel or have medical care issues that require them to be away from home for extended periods of time should carefully weigh the benefits of adopting a pet.   It’s a good idea to have a pet care “back up plan.” Make sure a child, friend or neighbor knows about the pet and has a key to the house or apartment.

Also make sure there’s adequate money to care for the pet – food (and cat litter), medicines and vaccinations, veterinary bills.

Pets and companion animals bring joy to their owners – no matter what age. Careful choice of your pet will certainly bring years of happiness to you and your chosen “best friend.”

Driving at Night

May 31st, 2017

Driving at Night – Some Solutions and Suggestions
Christine Stone, RN

Clinical Liaison, LifeQuest
Does it seem like driving at night is getting harder and harder?   The problem may NOT just be with your eyes.
Yes, older eyes need more illumination to see. It can take up to 10 minutes longer than younger eyes to recover from the so-called “bleaching effect” caused by the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
Rather than limiting your nighttime driving, some solutions and suggestions include:

  • Asking your optometrist about night driving glasses. These will help reduce glare and increase contrast.
  • When cars approach, get to the far right and look at the lines in the road, rather than at the oncoming headlights.
  • Have your mechanic check the headlights on your car. Most standard car headlights fail to adequately illuminate to road ahead of you.   The plastic cover on the headlights could be foggy or scratched. This could interfere with the headlight clarity.
  • Don’t hesitate to use your high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic.  

Carbon Monoxide – The Invisible Killer

May 3rd, 2017

Christine Stone, RN May 3, 2017
Clinical Liaison for Lifequest Nursing Home

Carbon Monoxide – also known as CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without specialized equipment. For that reason, it’s been called “The Invisible Killer.”   About 400 people die each year from CO2 poisoning. Another 200,000 people are sickened and require hospital treatment.

CO2 can be produced by fuel-powered devices in the home – like stoves, furnaces, water heaters, dryers, broilers, and lanterns, wood-burning stoves, charcoal grills, and generators.   Ask yourself: do you have any of these in your home or apartment? If your answer is “Yes”, then please read on.

The reason CO2 is so dangerous is that it replaces oxygen in your blood.   When you breathe in CO2 in an enclosed or poorly ventilated space, your body becomes “starved” for oxygen in less than three minutes.   Cells will begin to die, and permanent damage begins.

This all sounds very dire, but there is an easy, relatively inexpensive solution.   Much like a smoke detector, the CO2 detector sounds an alarm when unsafe levels of the gas are detected. CO2 detectors can be battery operated or can connect directly into electric outlets.   In many states and counties, CO2 detectors are required by law, and should be placed on each level of the home (including basement, attic, garage and other work rooms). At minimum, there should be a CO2 detector placed outside each bedroom.

Other steps to keep your family safe include:

  • Check the CO2 detectors monthly to make sure they’re working and have functional batteries. Keep an extra supply of fresh batteries on hand.
  • When using the fireplace, keep the damper wide open and keep it open until the ashes have completely cooled.
  • Never use your gas stove or oven to heat a room.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house. Generators should be kept outside at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Never use a charcoal or propane grill inside the house.

Know the signs and symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion

If you suspect that you or a family member has CO2 poisoning – immediately go outside for fresh air and then call 911.

KEEPING THE HAPPY IN “HAPPY HOLIDAY’S”

November 30th, 2016

By Wendy Hildenbrandt
December 2016

For all the joy the holidays bring, the season can also deliver a hefty helping of stress-only to be magnified when families have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related illness. Many of the elements people look most forward to such as large gatherings of people, twinkling holiday lights, piles of presents, a break from everyday routines can be over-stimulating for people with the illness and overwhelming for caregivers.

BUT TAKE HEART! THERE AE SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO ADAPT THE CELEBRATIONS SO THEY ARE CALM AND ENJOYABLE FOR EVERYONE

Be Open
Inform family and friends of your loved ones condition so they know what to expect, as well as recognize that get-togethers might need to change or be more flexible to accommodate the situation. Include younger children in the discussion-to an appropriate degree so they better understand why a loved one may be acting differently.

Celebrate in Small Doses
Since changes in routine, noise and crowds can increase confusion and upset individuals with dementia, opt for several smaller gatherings instead of having one huge one. These “small dose” parties can extend the celebration, offering more opportunities for socialization-a key factor in improving quality of life for people with the disease.

Be realistic About Traveling
With the excess traffic on the road and large crowds at transportation hubs this time of the year, as well as your loved ones mental and possibly physical decline, traveling to holiday gatherings may no longer be possible. Ask the doctor what is doable and make arrangements accordingly (e.g., bringing a companion).

Bring the Party to the Person
For families with loved ones living in long-term care residences, coordinate social calls to help ensure the holiday season is filled with visits from special guests. Find out whether visitors can attend the facility’s holiday events. Also ask whether talented family members- a grandchild who sings, for example can spread some holiday cheer at the event. In addition, some settings have a private dining area where resident’s families can gather.

Unlock Memories
Plan holiday related activities in which your loved one can participate and that may help recall memories. Was your mom the “Queen of Cookies” in her prime? Invite her to help cut and decorate cookies or roll out pie crust, for example. Other activities that can stir up happy memoires and appeal to family members of all ages include listening to music, looking through photo albums and giving handmade, personal gifts.

Your Flu IQ!

September 22nd, 2016

By Christine Stone, RN, BSN

Just like clockwork, the influenza virus starts showing up every October. And it makes millions of people miserable until sometime in May.   Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue.   These are all annoying in and of themselves. But did you know that flu can be deadly?   Each year the flu and related symptoms send 200,000 plus people to the hospital. And if left untreated some people can die!   It’s estimated that 400,000+ deaths have been prevented thanks to the flu vaccine (between 2005 – 2014).

So What Can You Do?

It’s easy – get the flu shot!   It’s the single best way to protect yourself.   Even if you do get the flu (yes it is possible!) your symptoms will be much less severe and serious.

How Does The Flu Shot Work?

The vaccine triggers your system to produce flu-fighting antibodies.   This year (2016) there is high-dose vaccine which is 24 percent more effective. The high dose vaccine is recommended for those over age 65.

If you are one of the many people who fear needles, ask your doctor about an option for a “jet injector” which delivers the vaccine via a narrow stream of liquid.   Call your doctor’s office ahead of time to see if they provide this option.

“I Got The Flu AFTER Receiving the Flu Shot”

Is this possible? Unfortunately yes it’s possible, but NOT a good enough reason to NOT get a flu shot. Why?

  1. You may have already been exposed to the flu virus BEFORE receiving the flu shot.
  2. You may have become ill from other (non-flu) viruses or bacteria which cause cold-like symptoms or GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms.
  3. The protection from the flu shot can vary widely depending in your general health and age.

Who Should NOT Get the Flu Shot?

Any person with a severe egg allergy should not receive the flu shot.

What Else Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your hands – frequently. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a good quality hand sanitizer.  Look for hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Keep a bottles of hand sanitizer in your car, in your purse, and around your house.
  2. Use the sanitizing wipes provided in supermarkets to cleanse the handle of the shopping cart.   Keep a package of sanitizing wipes at your desk or work station.   Wipe down your phone and keyboard first thing before beginning your work day.
  3. Stay away from sick people.   People with the flu are contagious for 5 – 7 days after getting sick. Sick people should NOT go out in public until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
  4. Stop touching your face!   Studies have shown that the average person touches their face (mouth and nose) 3 – 4 times per hour.   When you touching a contaminated surface (doors, handles, doorknobs) then touch your face, you’re hanging out a “welcome sign” for flu viruses and other bacteria.
  5. If you think a friend or co-worker is sick, express your concern and suggest they go home and take care of themselves.

Finally, always check with your primary health care provider to make sure you should receive the flu shot.

If you’re worried about the cost, more than likely it will be covered by your medical insurance.

Just about every hospital, pharmacy and supermarket will be providing FREE flu shots through the fall months. Check your local newspaper for listings of locations, dates and times of free immunizations.   And if by some chance you didn’t get your shot in the fall, January is not too late to protect yourself against the flu for the new year!