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October 2, 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is breast cancer awareness month and the pink ribbons are flying. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be close to 252,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and over 63,000 cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS), the earliest form of breast cancer, diagnosed in 2017. In addition, almost 41,000 women will die from breast cancer this year. Survival rates, however, are on the rise. Currently, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Understanding the risk factors and receiving screening is the key to survival. According to the American Cancer Society, risk factors fall into two major categories: 1) risk factors not related to personal choice (no control) and 2) life-style related risk factors. Risk Factors Not Related to Personal Choice (those things we have no control over) Simply being a woman. Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than in men. This is most likely due to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone in women. Growing old. Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. Most breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older. Genetics. About 5-10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, the direct result of a gene defects inherited from a parent. Family history of breast cancer. Have one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk. Having two first-degree relatives increases her risk 3-fold. Overall, less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease. Personal history of breast cancer. A woman diagnosed with breast cancer has an increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. Race and ethnicity. White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women. However, in women under age 45, breast cancer is more common in African American women. Dense breast tissue. Women with more glandular and fibrous tissue in their breasts and less fatty tissue are said to have dense breasts. Women with dense breasts on a mammogram have a breast cancer risk that is 1.5 to 2 times that of women with average breast density. Early periods and late menopause. Women who have had more periods because they started menstruating before age 12 or went through menopause after age 55, have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. Radiation exposure. If a woman received radiation treatments to her chest as a child or young adult, her risk of breast cancer is increased. Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). From the 1940s through the early 1970s, some pregnant women were given an estrogen-like drug called DES because it was thought to lower their chances of miscarriage. These women have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. Lifestyle-related risk factors Having children. Women who have never been pregnant or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk overall. Birth control. Women who use birth control pills have a greater risk of breast cancer than women who never used them. Some studies found that women using birth control shots (Depo-Provera) seem to have an increase in breast cancer risk. Hormone therapy after menopause. Studies indicate that using combined hormone therapy (estrogen and progesterone) after menopause increases the risk of getting breast cancer. Breastfeeding. Some studies suggest that breastfeeding may slightly lower the breast cancer risk, especially if it is continued for 1 ½ to 2 years. Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Those who have 2 to 3 drinks daily have about 20% higher risk compared to women who do not drink alcohol. Being overweight or obese. Being overweight after menopause increases the breast cancer risk. Before menopause, ovaries produce the majority of estrogen. After menopause, most of a woman’s estrogen comes from fat tissue. Higher amounts of fat may lead to elevated estrogen levels and put a woman at greater risk for cancer. Physical activity. A Women’s Health Initiative study suggested that as little 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 18%. Walking 10 hours per week reduced the risk even more. Besides knowing your personal risk factors, it is also important to be screened for breast cancer. To screen for breast cancer, health care providers use mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and breast MRIs. While there is not complete consensus in the medical field regarding at what age to start screening, many recommend age 40 including the Mayo Clinic and UR Medicine Noyes Health. Discuss all your risk factors with your doctor to determine the right screening and age for you. For more information about breast cancer risks, symptoms, screening, and treatments, connect with the American Cancer Society at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast or the National Cancer Institute at http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, contact Lorraine at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

September 22, 2017

Prostate Cancer Awareness

Approximately 161,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and almost 27,000 will die. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men. Prostate cancers, however, usually grow slowly and most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years and do not die from the disease. Because of its slow growth, lower mortality rate, and serious treatment side effects, screening for prostate cancer is controversial. The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate, and testicles. The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). It produces fluid that makes up a part of semen. As a man ages, the prostate tends to increase in size. This can cause the urethra to narrow and decrease urine flow. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, and it is not the same as prostate cancer. According to the CDC, the following are risk factors for prostate cancer: Age: The older a man is, the greater his risk for getting prostate cancer. Family history: Certain genes (passed from parent to child) that you inherited from your parents may affect your prostate cancer risk. Currently, no single gene is sure to raise or lower your risk of getting prostate cancer. However, a man with a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer is two to three times more likely to develop the disease himself. Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men. It tends to start at younger ages and grow faster than in other racial or ethnic groups, but medical experts do not know why. Like so many cancers, symptoms vary from person to person. Some men experience no symptoms. In general, however, a man may experience one or more of the following symptoms if he has prostate cancer: Difficulty starting urination Weak or interrupted flow of urine Frequent urination, especially at night Difficulty emptying the bladder completely Pain or burning during urination Blood in the urine or semen Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away Painful ejaculation Two common screening tests for prostate cancer are: Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: Measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate. As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. However, many factors, such as age, race, medical procedures, medications, an enlarged prostate, or infection can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others. Because so many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. Only a biopsy can diagnose prostate cancer for sure and even then, your doctor may not recommend treatment. If the cancer is small and low risk, you and your doctor may decide on active surveillance, which means closely monitoring with PSA tests and biopsies over time to see if there are any changes. As mentioned, most prostate cancers found by screening are small and slow growing and may not be fatal. In addition, the side effects from radiation and/or surgery may include impotence, loss of bladder control, and problems with the bowels. Due to these serious side effects and the fact that most prostate cancers are not fatal, medical groups do not agree on screening recommendations. Many believe screening is not necessary for most men. Others believe a baseline PSA level should be measured and looked at over time. The CDC indicates that the decision to be screened is a personal one. Men should work with their doctors to understand the benefits and harms of screening. Keep in mind that if a man chooses not to be screened, he can always change his mind in the future. In addition, if a man is screened and cancer is found, it does not necessarily mean immediate treatment. It is important to have these discussions with your doctor so he or she can discuss your risk factors and determine if screening is right for you. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

September 18, 2017

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, 90,000 to 100,000 women are diagnosed with gynecologic cancer and almost 30,000 die. Vagina, uterus, cervix, vulva, and ovary – not exactly dinnertime conversation vocabulary. Nonetheless, these words are particularly important to every woman. They are body parts just like an arm, leg, shoulder, or knee and need proper medical care and consideration. The female reproductive system is complex. Being in tune with it and one’s health in general is crucial for overall wellbeing and early diagnosis of cancer should it appear. There are five major types of gynecologic cancer are: Cervical cancer: Begins in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (or womb). Ovarian cancer: Begins in the ovaries, located on each side of the uterus. Uterine cancer: Begins in the uterus, the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant. Vaginal cancer: Begins in the vagina, the hollow tube-like channel between the bottom of the uterus and the outside of the body. It is also called the birth canal. Vulvar cancer: Begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female genital organs, which includes the inner and outer lips of the vagina, the clitoris, and the opening of the vagina and its glands. Signs and symptoms of each type of gynecologic cancer vary. The following is a list of symptoms typically associated with gynecologic cancers: Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating Pelvic pain or pressure More frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation Bloating Abdominal or back pain Itching, burning, pain or tenderness of the vulva Changes in vulva color skin, such a rash, sores, or warts According to the CDC, there is no way to know which women will get gynecologic cancer. Each type has unique risk factors. However, HPV infections that do not go away increase the risk of getting several types of gynecologic cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Any woman who has ever had sex is at risk for getting HPV. Women are more likely to contract HPV if they started having sex at a young age or if the woman or her partner have had sex with multiple people. There is no known way, however, to prevent gynecologic cancers. Nonetheless, there are some things your can do to lower your chance of cancer or to catch it early when treatment will be most effective. The CDC recommends the following: Pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. If you have any abnormal vaginal bleeding, or if you have any other signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancer for two weeks or longer and they are not normal for you, talk to a doctor right away. Make healthy lifestyle choices. For overall good health, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; exercise regularly; maintain a healthy weight; avoid smoking; and practice safe sex. Know your family health history. Share it with your doctor. Get the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for preteens (both boys and girls) aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given as early as age 9 and until the age of 26. Get regular Pap tests. Pap tests (or smears) are one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available. Pap tests can find precancerous changes on the cervix that can be treated so that cervical cancer is prevented. A Pap test can also find cervical cancer early when treatment is most effective. The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical cancer. Get the HPV test if your doctor recommends it. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

September 8, 2017

Understanding Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a sneaky thing. It does not happen overnight, there are no symptoms, and unless you get a blood test, there is no way to know if you have it. However, it can lead to heart disease the number one killer in the U.S. People with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk for heart disease as people with optimal levels. Overtime, too much cholesterol in your system clogs the arteries, narrows the channel for blood flow, and puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. More than 102 million American adults (20 years or older) have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL, which is above healthy levels and an additional 35 million have levels of 240 mg/dL, which puts them at risk for heart disease. Moreover, many factors potentially affect cholesterol such as genetics, diet, activity level, and other chronic diseases. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found naturally in our bodies and in many foods, like meat and dairy products. Your body, mainly your liver, produces 75 percent of your cholesterol and your small intestine aids in both the creation and absorption of cholesterol. In addition, your diet can add 300 to 500 mg or more of cholesterol. A simple blood test called a lipoprotein profile can measure your total cholesterol levels, including LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol), HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol), and triglycerides. LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is “bad” cholesterol because high levels lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. HDL is “good” cholesterol because high levels reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Because high cholesterol has no symptoms, it is important to go to the doctor and get blood drawn for the lipoprotein profile. If you are 20 years or older and have not been diagnosed with heart disease, the CDC recommends your cholesterol be checked every 5 years. All children and adolescents should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 years, and again between ages 17 and 21 years. People of any age (including children) who are overweight/obese, have a family history of high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or certain chronic conditions (chronic kidney disease, chronic inflammatory diseases, congenital heart disease, and childhood cancer survivorship) should be checked more often. When the bloodwork results are in, your numbers will fall somewhere in this chart: Total Cholesterol Level Category Less than 200mg/dL Desirable 200-239 mg/dL Borderline high 240mg/dL and above High LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level LDL Cholesterol Category Less than 100mg/dL Optimal 100-129mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal 130-159 mg/dL Borderline high 160-189 mg/dL High 190 mg/dL and above Very High HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level HDL Cholesterol Category Less than 40 mg/dL A major risk factor for heart disease 40—59 mg/dL The higher, the better 60 mg/dL and higher Considered protective against heart disease Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Doctors, however, look at more than just the cholesterol numbers. Your physician will look at other risk factors for heart disease such as cigarette smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), low HDL (good) cholesterol, family history of premature heart disease, fasting blood glucose level, gender, and age. Combining all these factors, your doctor will determine if you need a therapeutic lifestyle change (TLC) including diet, weight management, and increased physical activity or if you need TLC with medication to control your cholesterol. To maintain healthy cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease, the CDC and the American Heart Association recommend the following: Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit. For help quitting, call the NYS Smoker’s quit line at 1-866-697-8487 or visit www.nysmokefree.com. Locally, call UR Medicine Noyes Health at 585-335-4327 or email lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org. Know what NOT to eat. What you eat can affect your LDL cholesterol. Avoid or limit foods high in saturated or trans fats. The majority of saturated fat comes from animal products such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, butter, cream, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or 2 percent milk. Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils." Trans fats are in many fried foods and baked goods such as pastries, pizza dough, piecrust, cookies and crackers. Avoid fast food. One should also eliminate or severely limit all sugary drinks including soda, fancy coffee drinks with added sugar and dairy, and fruit juice. Know what to eat. The vast majority of your diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains (oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, popcorn, whole-wheat crackers, pasta, or tortillas), low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts. Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Adults should be physically active for at least 2 ½ hours each week – that breaks down to about 20 minutes a day of walking, biking, dancing, running, yoga…you choose! Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 31, 2017

Tips for a Healthy, Successful School Year

Healthy habits at home and school success go hand in hand. Numerous studies have linked good academic performance with healthy habits, regular routines, and communication skills. Setting the scene in early childhood and working together as a family team ensures a solid foundation for both good health and grades. The American Academy of Pediatrics and HealthierUS.gov offer the following tips for setting your child up for success this school year. Create a Healthy Home Life for a Successful School Life Decide on a bedtime that will give your child plenty of rest. 3-6 Years Old: 10 - 12 hours per day 7-12 Years Old: 10 - 11 hours per day 12-18 Years Old: 8 - 9 hours per day Provide a healthy breakfast every morning. Start the day with vegetable or fruit juice. Slice fruit on top of whole grain cereal or yogurt. Cook up some eggs with fruit and whole grain toast. Pack a healthy lunch. Include fruits, veggies, whole grain bread and a good protein like chicken, turkey, or hummus. Water or low-fat milk are good drinks. Avoid soda and salty snacks like potato chips. Limit screen time and music listening to one to two hours (including screen time at school) per day. Encourage outdoor play and sports. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity (running around being kids) every day. Be a good role model and play with your child. Adults need play and exercise time, too! Wash hands and use hand sanitizer. The best way to keep students healthy during the school year is to make sure they wash their hands before meals, after bathroom use, nose blowing, or playground use. When a sink and soap are not available, hand sanitizer is a great option. Sneeze and cough properly. Teach your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of his or her elbow. (Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then washing hands is best but not always possible.) Stick to a routine (as much as possible). Most children thrive on structure and routine. They like to know what to expect. Set up a morning, afternoon, and evening schedule that includes when to play, when to eat, and when to do homework. Be organized. Set up a single place in the home to put backpacks, jackets, shoes, lunchboxes, and school projects each day. Everyone is stressed less when everything can be easily grabbed going out the door in the morning. Set up a homework zone. A designated homework space makes it easier and more fun for kiddos to complete their homework. A desk or stretch of kitchen counter with a basket full of necessary supplies works beautifully. Note: Children should not do homework in front of the TV, as it is distracting. Read to your kiddo every day. Reading is the single best indicator of academic success. Reading well is necessary for every subject matter and comprehension. Try to sit down and read with your child for at least 15-20 minutes per day. This should be a fun time of reading together. Go to the local library and let your child pick out books he or she likes. Learn and teach. Most of life does not involve research papers but it does involve cooking, cleaning, buying, and selling. Incorporate math, science, and reading into everyday life with your child. If you are cooking, read the recipe together, measure the ingredients, and of course, sample the product! Talk often. Give your little one a chance to talk. Ask open-ended questions such as “What was the best part of your day?” “What was the worst part of your day?” “What was the grossest thing that happened today?” By asking questions and listening, you will learn about your child’s likes, dislikes, anxieties, excitements, and disappointments. Get involved. Meet the teachers and stay in regular contact with them via phone or email. Ask questions, offer encouragement, and listen to their comments. Eat dinner together. Whenever possible, eat dinner together at the dinner table with all electronics put away (TV and smartphone). Children of families who eat together are more likely to succeed in school. It is also a great time to reconnect as a family and communicate about the day. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 25, 2017

Screen Time – Not So Good For a Lifetime

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend. She recounted her visit the previous weekend to a large metropolitan museum. As she and her husband wandered about the dinosaur, mummy, and gem exhibits, they saw several families with children. The overwhelming majority of the kiddos’ eyes were glued to smartphones and tablets. This was true for toddlers in strollers and hunched over, bored to be with mom and dad, teens. My friend’s description of the modern day scene made me think of my weekly trips to the grocery store. I routinely see toddlers in grocery cart seats swiping their pudgy fingers across a screen oblivious to the real world around them. It begs the question, what is all this screen time doing to our children? To us? While the jury is out about all the long-term ramifications, the evidence is mounting that early childhood screen time literally can affect the brain for life and continued use upsets healthy social, emotional, and physical development. The rapidly growing brain is very sensitive to input and interaction between birth and the age of three. During this critical period, the child needs lots of interaction with the world to develop all the various parts of the brain. Playing, reading, talking, singing, and exploring are crucial for the development of problem solving, attention span, imagination, and positive social interactions. According to Liraz Margalit, in her article, “What Screen Time Can Really Do to Kids’ Brains,” tablets and iPhones are exactly what the brain does not need – too many fast-paced actions all at the same time. Margalit comments, “Tablets are the ultimate shortcut tools: Unlike a mother reading a story to a child, a smartphone-told story spoon feeds images, words, and pictures all at once to a young reader. Rather than having to take the time to process a mother’s voice into words, visualize complete pictures and exert a mental effort to follow a story line, kids who follow stories on their smartphones get lazy. The device does the thinking for them, and as a result, their own cognitive muscles remain weak.” Victoria Dunckly, M.D., author of Reset Your Child’s Brain, goes so far as to say screen time is disturbing physiological development that in turn creates mood disturbances. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, she writes that whether there exists a true underlying diagnosis (depression, bipolar, ADHD), “successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics for several weeks to allow the nervous system to reset.” Dr. Dunckley lists the following six physical reasons electronics tend to produce mood disturbance: 1. Screen time disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock. Because light from screen devices mimics daytime, it suppresses melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. In addition, high arousal does not permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal. 2. Screen time desensitizes the brain’s reward system. Many children are “hooked” on electronics, and in fact, gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. However, when reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. This sets the scene for addiction. Meanwhile, dopamine is also critical for focus and motivation. Even small changes in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions. 3. Screen time produces “light-at-night.” Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression, even when the animal is not looking at the screen. 4. Screen time induces stress reactions. Screen time whether it be the news or a violent video game can cause acute stress (fight-or-flight) and chronic stress. Stress produces changes in brain chemistry and hormones that can increase irritability. Cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, seems to be both a cause and an effect of depression—creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, both hyper-arousal and addiction pathways suppress the brain’s frontal lobe, the area responsible for keeping mood steady. 5. Screen time overloads the sensory system, fractures attention, and depletes mental reserves. Experts say that what is often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. By depleting mental energy with high visual and cognitive input, screen time contributes to low reserves. One way to temporarily “boost” depleted reserves is to become angry, so meltdowns actually become a coping mechanism. 6. Screen-time reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time.” Research shows that time outdoors, especially interacting with nature, can restore attention, lower stress, and reduce aggression. Electronics do just the opposite and reduce our exposure to a world that naturally puts you in a better mood. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 18, 2017

Fall Prevention

An older adult falls every second of every day. Those falls are the number one cause of death from injury and injuries among older Americans. Every year, more than 27,000 die because of falls – that is 74 older adults every day. As we age, we are more likely to fall. The percentage of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 that report a fall is 27% versus 37% for folks 85 years and older. Educating older adults, their families, and friends about the importance of fall prevention is paramount in keeping older Americans safe and containing healthcare costs. With over 10,000 people in the U.S. turning 65 every day, the healthcare burden is ever increasing. Falls and fall injuries cost over $31 billion per year. The financial costs and the impact on families will continue to rise unless preventive measures are adopted. Falls are not just a normal part of getting older – they are preventable. The CDC recommends the following simple steps for staying independent as long as possible. Speak Up. Talk openly with your doctor about fall risks and prevention. Tell your doctor right away if you have fallen, if you are afraid you might fall, or if you feel unsteady. Work together, review all of your medications, and discuss any side effects like feeling dizzy or sleepy. See if taking vitamin D supplements for improved bone, muscle, and nerve health is right for you. Keep Moving. Activities that strengthen your legs and help your balance (like Tai Chi or even walking on a regular basis) can help prevent falls. Check Your Eyes. Have your vision checked once a year and update your glasses as needed. Make Your Home Safe. Most falls happen at home. Keep your floors clutter free. Remove small rugs, tape them down, or secure them. Add grab bars in the bathroom. Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases in and outside the home. Make sure your home is well lit with plenty of lights in every room of the house. Take a class and learn about fall prevention. Locally, the 4th Annual Fall Prevention Workshop will be held on Friday, September 15, 2017 from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm at the Lakeville Training Grounds, 5939 Stone Hill Road in Lakeville. Speaker topics at the free workshop will include: Talking with Your Doctor Medications that Impact Your Fall Risks Your Eyes Help Keep You on Your Feet Home Safety and Medical Services In addition, all participants will: Learn strategies and skills to prevent falls in the home. Connect with available local fall prevention resources such as agencies, exercise and strengthening classes, and home safety. Be able to review medications with a local pharmacist A complimentary lunch will be served to all workshop attendees. This event is free but registration is required. To reserve your spot, contact Noyes Community Outreach Services by September 8. Call 585-335-4359 or email lifeline@noyeshealth.org. The event is sponsored by the Genesee Valley Health Partnership in collaboration with UR Medicine Noyes Health, Wegmans, the Livingston County Department of Health, and the Office for the Aging. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 17, 2017

Sheriff’s Office expands drug drop box program

The Livingston County Sheriff's Office has added additional drug drop box locations in Caledonia and Dansville... Read More

August 13, 2017

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

About 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older each year. The caregiving can be exhausting and leave an individual stressed and worn out. The physical and emotional strain takes its toll. In 2011, the American Psychological Association conducted the Stress in America survey. They found that on a scale of 1 to 10, caregivers mean level of stress was 6.5 compared with 5.2 among the public. Fifty-five percent of those folks said they were overwhelmed by amount of care they must provide. Caregivers are among the three most-stressed groups in the country, according to the 2012 Stress in America Report. Some researchers call the unique stress experienced by family caregivers a form of posttraumatic stress syndrome. According to caring.com, as many as 70 percent of family caregivers show signs of depression -- far higher rates than for peers who are not in a caregiver role. Signs and symptoms of caregiver stress include: feeling overwhelmed, feeling alone and isolated, sleeping too much or too little, gaining or losing a lot of weight, feeling tired most of the time, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, often feeling worried or sad, and often having headaches or body aches. With the average duration of care lasting four years, it is understandable that caregivers may feel worn out. However, in many cases, caregiver stress goes beyond fatigue and actually affects the individual’s health. Long periods of caregiving can lead to depression and anxiety, a weak immune system, obesity, and a higher risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or arthritis. It is vital for caregivers to practice good self-care and learn about community help. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests these tips to prevent or manage caregiver stress: Take a caregiver class Find caregiving resources in your community to give you a break. Ask for and accept help. Make a list of way others can help you, such as getting groceries or sitting with the person while you do an errand. Make to-do lists and set a daily routine. Stay in touch with family and friends, and do things you enjoy with your loved ones. Take care of your health. See your doctor for checkups, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, choose healthy foods, and get enough sleep. To walk alongside and help local caregivers, the Noyes Caregiver Resource Center and the Livingston County Office for the Aging are offering a free program called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. It is a six-week class for family and friends caring for older adults suffering with long-term illnesses. The class provides the skills and confidence people need to better care for themselves while caring for others. In the six weekly sessions, caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to: reduce personal stress, change negative self-talk, communicate their needs to family members and healthcare or service providers, communicate more effectively in challenging situations, recognize the messages in their emotions, deal with difficult feelings, and make tough caregiving decisions. Class participants also receive a copy of The Caregiver Helpbook developed specifically for the class. Past Powerful Tools for Caregivers participants had the following comments: “I’m a better person for the classes.” “Every topic was helpful.” “I will take better care of myself for my husband.” “Made me realize there are better ways of being a caregiver without being angry all the time.” “I loved the whole program. It can be applied to all aspects of life.” “Makes me feel better about being a caregiver.” “Caregiving is a journey, not a job.” Powerful Tools for Caregivers will meet 1:00-2:30 pm, six Thursdays, September 14 through October 19. Classes will be held at the Dansville Public Library, 200 Main Street, Dansville, NY. The class is free but seating is limited. To register call 585-335-4358 or email caregiver@noyeshealth.org. A companion volunteer may be available to stay with your loved so you can attend. Require about availability when you register. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 6, 2017

Playing It Safe Preventing Sports Injuries

If you go into my attic, you will find a pair of crutches. For years, they have been used on and off for every member of the family. A broken leg, a torn ACL, a bad ankle sprain, and painful tendonitis are but a few of the injuries in the Wichtowski household. It seemed that at least once a year, one of my kiddos had an injury, usually from a sports practice or game. As it turns out, our household is rather typical. Every year, over 36 million children play an organized sport and 2.6 million of those youngsters will visit the emergency department for a sport or recreation related injury. Injuries vary from run of the mill scrapes and bruises to serious brain and spinal cord injuries. Most, however, fall into the musculoskeletal category. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most frequent types of sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments connecting two or more bones), strains (injuries to muscles), and stress fractures (injuries to bones). Not all these injuries will show up on an x-ray but they do cause pain and discomfort. Many of these injuries will respond to the RICE treatment – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Other treatments may include crutches, cast immobilization, or physical therapy. Get professional medical care if the injury is severe. The National Institutes of Health defines severe as an obvious fracture, dislocation of a joint, prolonged swelling, or prolonged and/or severe pain. It is important for children (and their parents) to be active. The benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk for injury. Exercise reduces the chance for obesity and the risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, it helps build social and leadership skills. Not to mention, sports are fun! Nonetheless, injuries happen. With a little planning and good habits, many injuries may be avoided. The American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 Sports Injury Prevention Tip Sheet offers the following advice: Take time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover. Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will prevent all injuries while performing more dangerous or risky activities. Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play. Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan. Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season. Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness. Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and checking (in hockey) should be enforced. Do not play through pain. In addition, do not play when very tired, as reflexes and coordination will not be optimal. Avoid heat illness by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play. Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games. For example, drink 8 to 16 ounces of water, 15 to 30 minutes before exercising, 4 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes while playing, and 16 to 20 ounces after play to rehydrate. Plain water usually suffices; however, sports drinks may prove beneficial for prolonged or intense exercise or warm to hot and humid conditions. Decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing. If children are jumping on a trampoline, a responsible adult should supervise them, and only one child should be on the trampoline at a time; 75% of trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is jumping at a time. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or more information, contact Lorraine at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or (585)335-4327. ... Read More

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