(Family Features) Furry friends can play a significant role in pet owners’ lives. The old saying goes, “dogs are man’s best friend,” and research shows they may be more than that. In fact, they just might be the key to keeping seniors active.
According to a study conducted by the University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University in collaboration with Mars Petcare Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, dog owners 65 and older were found to walk over 20 minutes more a day than seniors who did not have canine companions at home.
The study documented three key conclusions:
“Older adult dog owners are more active than those without dogs and are also more likely to meet government recommendations for daily physical activity,” said Nancy Gee, human animal interaction researcher at Waltham. “We are learning more every day about the important roles pets play in our lives, so it’s no surprise that pets are now in more than 84 million households. It’s great to recognize how pets can help improve seniors’ lives.”
Walking with your pup can help both the pet and owner get in shape. Pets can keep older adults active and even help them meet the recommended public health guidelines for weekly physical activity. According to the study, on average, dog owners more often participated in 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity and achieved 2,760 additional steps.
However, the benefits of pet ownership go beyond physical activity. It’s no secret that pets provide companionship. From reducing rates of stress, depression and feelings of social isolation, pets can play a significant role in improving people’s lives, which ultimately can make pet owners happier and healthier.
Not only do pets serve as companions in their own right, studies have shown that dog owners can get to know their neighbors through their pets. Pets can even help facilitate the initial meeting and conversation, which may come as no surprise for many dog owners who have chatted with others while walking their dogs. For older adults who live alone or in a group facility, having a pet is also a great way to build relationships with others.
As senior citizens are celebrated on upcoming days that acknowledge older adults, it turns out living with a pet can be a healthy choice for seniors in more ways than one.
For more information on the benefits of pet ownership, visit bettercitiesforpets.com.
Photo courtesy of Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com
(NAPS) - As cheerful and joyous as the New Year can be, it can also be a trigger for stress and depression for some people—but there is hope. There are many resources for people who feel wrung out ringing in the New Year.
For example, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) can help. MFTs are licensed mental health professionals who work with individuals, couples (married or not), families of all types, and groups to cure or relieve mental, emotional and relational concerns of all kinds.
How To Recognize Depression
To help you tell if you or someone you care about is suffering from depression, the experts at the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) offer these warning signs:
• Feeling sad and/or irritable
• Changes in weight or appetite
• Difficulty sleeping
• Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
• Inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide.
How To Handle Depression
If these symptoms look familiar, here are some things to do right now:
• Recognize depression early. Depression can happen to anyone. It’s not a character defect, a weakness or a shameful condition. It’s a serious disorder that no one is immune to.
• Engage in your life. If you are depressed, you may feel like you don’t have an ounce of energy or motivation to tackle depression. Recovery, however, requires your active participation. Be willing to take the first step, even though it’s not easy.
• Build your skills. Learn why you’re vulnerable to depression and specific ways to become more resilient by breaking unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. Developing good coping and relationship skills can reduce both the frequency and severity of depression episodes.
• Find the right therapist. Talking through one’s stressors and understanding the underlying causes is a proven way to effectively treat depression. Look for therapists with training and experience in treating depression, as well as someone who is warm, supportive and goal oriented. Use short telephone interviews to find a good fit with potential therapists. Ask about how they approach problems like yours.
• Be optimistic. You have every reason to believe you can get better with effective treatment. While anti-depressants are not a cure, they can be very helpful to some people in managing depression. Whether or not you choose to use medicine to manage your symptoms, therapy can give you the long-term skills you need to live a productive, fulfilling life.
How To Learn More
For further information about how to find a therapist, visit www.CounselingCalifornia.com.
Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Who says shopping for things such as compression socks, knee braces, walkers, canes or crutches has to feel clinical and impersonal?
Vanesa and Kevin Grenyion, the husband and wife owners of HealthQuest in Fair Oaks, have done everything possible to make the experience of shopping for medical equipment and supplies a much kinder, gentler one. In short, they hope to turn the industry on its head by providing a fresh approach to the physical space in which these products are sold, supported by a suite of services that include educational seminars, custom fittings, and an emphasis on “wellness,” as well as recovery.
“Two things were very important to me when I was researching the plans for opening the store,” says Vanessa. “First, I wanted to make sure that we treat every single person who walks through those doors like a human being, not a dollar sign. Second, I wanted the space to feel open, warm and well lit, so that the experience for everyone was pleasant and not so clinical.”
HealthQuest, which will be celebrating its first year in business July 18, offers a vast, top-of-the-line inventory of pain management, diabetes support, bath and safety accessories including walk-in tubs and raised toilet seats, scooters, walkers and rollators, a large selection of lift chairs, orthopedic braces, high-quality closed shoes and sandals for men and women, facial and “beauty” products, even a mothering section that includes breast pumps and pregnancy aids.
Rather than stuffing these items onto metal shelves in a crowded space where volume overshadows service, Vanessa and Kevin, both trained pharmacists who, by the way, met in pharmacy school in Massachusetts, have created something more akin to boutique for medical supplies, with categories of products grouped into their own “departments,” each designated with bright, painted signage, soft wood wall décor and inviting displays that strip the sterile right out of the experience.
“We want the experience of shopping in our store to be calming and supportive,” says Kevin, an air force veteran who still works as a pharmacist at Mather Air Force Base while sharing responsibilities for managing the new business. Vanessa, the face of HealthQuest, says she and Kevin considered opening their own private pharmacy, but competition from chain stores, as well as concerns about being targeted by thieves put that idea to bed. Instead, the couple, both born and raised in Jamaica, decided to parlay their experience in the pharmacological field with a strong interest in serving others through wellness and health services.
With the help of a VA loan, the couple were able to invest roughly $200,000 into their new venture. The first year has had some challenges, but with any small business, marketing has been key. Vanessa has spent the last year nurturing relationships with home-health care providers, assisted living facilities, pharmacies, chiropractors, physical therapists and other ancillary businesses to ramp up visibility for the new store and exposure to service providers who, like Kevin and Vanessa, want a better experience for their clients and patients.
“We have worked hard this last year to build relationships in the community, to let people know we are here and it is starting to come through for us,” Vanessa said. “This last month alone was a really strong indicator of how things are beginning to really start to shift into gear.”
The store also has partnered with at least two elder care organizations, the Older Adult Collaborative (OAC) and the Elder Society Network (ESN) to provide on-site seminars and workshops at facilities across the community to educate both care providers and the patients themselves.
“We think of ourselves as a resource center, as well as a retail store,” says Vanessa. “This is a business that relies on the needs of those in care facilities and the caretakers themselves, but it’s also here for anyone who wants a more personal experience shopping for items for themselves or their loved ones, or those in their care.”
The store offers senior discounts of 10% every Monday, as well as loyalty customer discounts of 5% off all purchases of regularly priced items.
In recognition of its first year in business, the store will be having an open-house from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18. All are invited.
Advanced Home Health, Inc. today announced it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Home Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective care.
Advanced Home Health, Inc. underwent a rigorous onsite survey. During the survey, compliance with home care standards reflecting key organization areas was evaluated, including the provision of care, treatment and services, emergency management, human resources, individual rights and responsibilities, and leadership. The accreditation process also provided Advanced Home Health, inc. with education and guidance to help staff continue to improve its home care program’s performance.
Established in 1988, The Joint Commission’s Home Care Accreditation Program supports the efforts of its accredited organizations to help deliver safe, high quality care and services. More than 6,000 home care programs currently maintain accreditation, awarded for a three-year period, from The Joint Commission.
“When individuals engage a home care provider they want to be sure that provider is capable of providing safe, quality care,” said Margherita Labson, RN, MS, executive director, Home Care Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission. “As the home care setting becomes increasingly popular, it is important that home care providers are able to demonstrate that they are capable of providing safe, high quality care. Accreditation by The Joint Commission serves as an indication that the organization has demonstrated compliance to these recognized standards of safe and quality care.”
Advanced Home Health, Inc. is pleased to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” added Angela Sehr, RN “Staff from across our organization continue to work together to strengthen the continuum of care and to deliver and maintain optimal home care services for those in our community.”
The Joint Commission’s home care standards are developed in consultation with health care experts, home care providers and researchers, as well as industry experts, purchasers and consumers. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help organizations measure, assess and improve performance.
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith reported today that the state is experiencing widespread influenza activity that is more severe than last year. CDPH has also received the first report of a death associated with influenza in a child younger than 18 years of age. The death occurred in Riverside County.
“This is a tragic reminder that the flu is a serious illness for people of all ages and kills thousands of Americans each year,” said Dr. Smith. “If you haven’t been immunized yet this season, getting flu shots for you and your family now can still help protect you this winter.”
CDPH disease monitoring indicates widespread flu activity across the state that is more severe than last year. Since the beginning of the influenza season, CDPH has received reports of 14 influenza-associated deaths, including the child in Riverside. This count represents a fraction of the total flu deaths statewide because only deaths in people younger than 65 are reported to the state and not all influenza-related deaths are easily attributable to influenza.
Hospitals statewide have been impacted by a surge in influenza patients, and hospitalizations for pneumonia and influenza at Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California during the week ending January 7 reached 10.2 percent, the highest level recorded in 10 years. “We are closely monitoring the impact of influenza on health care facilities,” said Dr. Smith. “Some acute care hospitals in California are full and have diverted patients to other facilities.”
For anyone who has not yet received a flu shot this season, it is not too late. Influenza activity usually continues for several months, and it is still early in the season. CDPH recommends all Californians aged six month and older, including pregnant women, should get the annual flu vaccine. The flu virus circulating this season closely matches the vaccine, suggesting that the vaccine will provide protection against influenza and reduce the risk of severe disease.
The flu vaccine prevents disease due to the most serious wintertime virus, but other viruses are also circulating now.
For more information about influenza visit the CDPH influenza web page: www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Influenza(Flu).aspx.
One Sacramento-based company has quietly and efficiently carved a niche into the home health care business by providing superlative care for patients and caregivers alike. The “whole-istic” business model of Advanced Home Health and Hospice (AHHH) has earned them not only professional accolades and a thriving business, but a stellar reputation for their positive results for even the most complex patient care. The beating heart of this organization is founder Angela Sehr. Sehr is a woman with a mission and a vision with patient wellbeing in the Sacramento area.
Born in Xian, China, home of the famous Terra Cotta Warriors, Sehr started college at 15 and became a nurse at 18. The youngest of nine children, her siblings are also high achievers with a judge, college professor, engineer and a teacher among her immediate family.
Shyly self-admitted as a teacher’s pet, she loved science from a very young age. She says her mother encouraged her children to all be independent. “Marry well, she said, but always be able to stand on your own two feet,” was her mom’s advice.
Sehr may now be the boss, but she is far from being afraid to roll up her sleeves when it comes to patient care. She paid her dues with years in hands-on nursing. In fact, she still takes care of patients herself, in addition to her many other duties. AHHH offers patients around the clock care, just one of the many aspects that separate them from their competition. “I go out to patients’ homes at 2 in the morning if they need it, just like everyone else on staff,” said Sehr.
Sehr is a Registered Nurse who has worked around the world with patients of all ages and many different health issues. She came to Sacramento, having worked in places like China and Saudi Arabia. She attended Sacramento State’s Nursing program and earned her BSN here, spending over a decade in pediatric care and found her way into Infusion care as a nurse for patients in need of this specialized help. She has built her company on years of caring for infusion patients. Her company carries her compassion forward, providing top-notch, compassionate care for patients and their families.
During a time when healthcare laws and models are in flux. Sehr’s company, AHHH has built a company that successfully and efficiently treats and maintains a base of anywhere from 600 to 800 patients, more than double similar programs of even healthcare giants like full-fledged local hospital systems. To meet the need AHHH has found, the company currently has a staff of approximately 400 highly-trained specialists performing an impressive array of care and support services, and specializes in “complex” patients, often avoiding such patients having to be readmitted to hospitals.
AHHH is as advertised. Staff is on-call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They provide truly advanced wound care, infusion nursing, orthopedic, occupation and physical rehabilitation, speech and swallow function therapy, specialized medical social workers and a chaplaincy ministering to the patients and their loved ones. The tiniest staff member is a therapy dog.
AHHH is a Medicare Certified Home Health Provider. They are licensed by the by the California Department of Public Health. They have provided care for premature babies, pre-and post op patients, patients such as diabetics with wounds that can be nearly impossible to heal. Many of these are patients the hospitals have given up on and AHHH has succeeded where others have failed, improving patient outcome in terms of health and healing. Sehr is intent that her teams utilize the latest technology to treat patients and makes available ultrasound and laser therapy, in addition to debridement if physician ordered.
The Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) alone, per Sehr can be highly effective in treating, diabetic ulcers, venous stasis and arterial ulcers, and many other types of non-healing wounds.
The hospice care that Sehr’s company provides is a growing service, based on industry best practices, but also on her own experiences as a nurse. Most hospice patients they see are given six months or less to live, but that isn’t an outcome set in stone. “We don’t give up,” she says. “We’re not God, but people do ‘graduate’ from hospice. They do get better.”
Hospice care provides comfort care to patients and family. “Advanced hospice nurses are registered nurses specifically dedicated to end-of-life care. They are focused on pain and symptom management for our patients around the clock. In addition to serving the terminally ill, hospice clinical team counsel and educate caregivers and family members on the needs of the patient, guiding them through every issue that may arise. Our hospice nurses work as a part of an interdisciplinary team that develops and manages the care for our patients and their families.”
A vital part of their team are the hospice social workers who are there to support patients and their families. “Our social workers are trained to assist our patients and their families on developing an individualized plan of care, researching ways to relief stress and anxiety by non-medical means, and connecting them with appropriate local resources.
“We understand that our patients and their families may have financial problems. Our social workers are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to provide counseling in these areas, as well as coordinating possible aid from other organizations,” Sehr commented.
What does it mean to be an advanced hospice social worker? According to AHHH, “It means to be a supporter of our patients and their families. Our social workers are trained to assist our patients and their families on developing an individualized plan of care, researching ways to relief stress and anxiety by non-medical means, and connecting them with appropriate local resources.
“A loss of a loved one, even if anticipated, brings a slew of emotions and grief for surviving family and friends. Our hospice bereavement professionals and volunteers are trained to provide counseling and support by understanding the loss and compassionately walking step by step with surviving spouses, children, or parents.”
“To help our patients cope with the end of their life, AHHH provides spiritual services by certified chaplains to promote spiritual and emotional well-being. Our chaplains may also work with the patient’s clergy and coordinate spiritual nourishment and revitalization.”
Sehr credits hospice volunteers for the selfless work they do as part of the organization. “Our hospice volunteers spend time with patients and their loved ones. They run errands and provide caregiver relief, companionship, and supportive services. Volunteers are the backbone of our hospice team.”. Volunteers form bonds with patients and family members. Patients and families often tell volunteers things they feel they can’t tell their loved ones and help open the way for people to talk honestly. Volunteers work alongside paid staff in every area of hospice care.”
AHHH truly treat the entire family, and that includes monthly bereavement support group meeting. “At Advanced Hospice, patients are nearing and passing the end of their life, leaving behind husbands, wives, sons, and daughters,” according to the company website.
“When a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness or is recovering from an injury, our medical professionals, nurses, and therapists work hard to rejuvenate him/her to normal life. In addition to purely medical procedures, medications, and techniques, a huge part of a person’s recovery depends on his/her psychosocial condition.”
AHHH is making a concerted effort to reach America’s veterans. “Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and we believe it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. That’s why our hospice is taking part in the We Honor Veterans program. Our staff understand the unique needs of veterans and are prepared to meet the specific challenges that veterans and their families may face at the end of life.”
AHHH measures its success with data, not just good feelings. Their clinicians log every visit in detail, right down to wound and physical improvement, modality effectiveness, length of visit and many more details. That data is analyzed for the benefit of each patient, but the accumulation of data is used by the company to improve patient outcome and patient satisfaction. The company has recently broken ground on its next project, a free-standing Hospice Facility. While starting small, at 6 beds, it will be the only hospice in the area and unlike any other, due again to Sehr’s experience and personal touch.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the last remaining health advisory for Dungeness crab caught along the California coast. CDPH lifted this advisory on January 11th due to recent tests showing that traces of domoic acid have declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crabs caught in the area, indicating they are safe to consume.
Dungeness crabs caught along the coast are safe to consume. However, as a precaution, consumers are advised not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crabs should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips.
Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.
Domoic acid accumulation in seafood is a natural occurrence that is related to a “bloom” of a particular single-celled plant. CDPH will continue to monitor conditions to ensure that seafood sold in California is safe to consume.
For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov