Health and Wellness

ComfortKeepers-Seniors and kidney health

By Martha Swats, Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers

What do the kidneys do?
Physical well-being is contingent upon the health of all of our organs, and while the areas of focus for seniors may often be the heart and brain, the kidneys are just as important and should demand the same level of care and attention.

Located to the left and right of the spine, below the rib cage, these bean-shaped organs may not always be top of mind, but the importance of their roles in supporting the body's equilibrium cannot be overstated. In addition to filtering the blood and removing waste and excess water from the body, the kidneys also control blood pressure, produce essential hormones, and balance pH levels.

Chronic kidney disease
As we age, it can be a difficult for the kidneys to function at their optimum level.
Additionally, certain conditions and factors – such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity – can negatively affect the functionality of the kidneys, potentially resulting in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Generally, CKD is defined as the loss in kidney function over an extended period of time. Symptoms do not usually manifest until the disease is in an advanced stage, but they include:

• Increased fatigue
• Constant thirst
• Shortness of breath
• Increased frequency of urination
• Skin rashes
• Difficulty managing diabetes or high blood pressure

As these symptoms are subtle and can apply to any number of other conditions, the only way to know if you have kidney disease is through blood and urine tests. If CKD goes unchecked, not only do wastes continually collect in the body, but it may even lead to kidney failure – meaning that the kidneys' functionality has been reduced to less than 15%.

Should kidney failure come into play, there are treatment options available, including dialysis or a kidney transplant. However, seniors do not have to wait for things to get worse before they can get better. Risk reduction, through adjustments in diet and lifestyle and diligent monitoring, can make a big impact on kidney health (and overall well-being). Here are some recommendations for seniors age 65 or older.

Ways to support healthy kidneys

Diet
• Drink plenty of water. As a general rule of thumb, stick to eight 8-ounce glasses (or about 2 liters) throughout the course of the day.
• Consume foods low in salt, sugar, and fat – and look for labels that contain the words "whole grains"
• Purchase fresh produce, instead of their canned or processed counterparts.
• Discuss kidney-friendly diets, and any diet change in general, with a physician or dietician.

Lifestyle
• Do not smoke, or take steps to quit smoking.
• Limit alcohol consumption.
• Incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity into your daily schedule. Be sure to consult a doctor or physician before beginning any exercise regimen.
• Maintain a healthy weight, and lose weight if you are currently overweight.

Health monitoring
• Rigorously manage blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. Be sure to abide by your doctor's instructions in regard to insulin and blood sugar monitoring.
• Keep blood pressure in check. Talk to your doctor about options for using anti-hypertensive drugs, designed to lower blood pressure, such as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin blockers.
• Get an annual screening, especially if you have any of the risk factors associated with kidney disease.

Kidney disease Is not inevitable
Seniors may feel they do not have a choice when it comes to the health of their kidneys. While it is true that kidney functionality does naturally diminish over time due to the decrease in kidney tissue and filtering units, advanced age does not solely trigger kidney disease. Encourage your senior loved ones to incorporate the tips listed above to help reduce the risk of kidney disease and other health conditions.

Doctors stand behind vaccination schedules for children

 

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL
LACONIA DAILY SUN

In the wake of a discredited study suggesting a number of previously unidentified side effects from vaccinations and President Donald Trump’s efforts to establish a commission to look into a possible connection between vaccinations and autism, LRGHealthcare’s chief medical officer, Dr. Peter Doane, continued to support inoculation.
“Though it is ultimately the parents’ decision, providers associated with LRGHealthcare strongly support the ongoing recommended vaccination schedule for children,” he said.
Huggins Hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. John Boornazian, agreed.
“It is extremely important for people of all ages to stay up-to-date with their vaccinations,” he said. “Vaccines are critical, especially for children, in preventing serious diseases. They also can save the life of someone with a chronic disease or weakened immune system because these people are more at risk from those serious diseases.
“Furthermore, many vaccine-preventable diseases can be contagious, and protecting yourself means you are able to protect your loved ones and your entire community.”
No credible study has established any link between vaccinations and autism, but Trump has suggested forming a commission to look into the issue, asking Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who shares a similar suspicion of vaccines, to lead the group.
Dr. Boornazian urged caution in researching information about vaccines and health in general, saying, “Always look to a trusted source such as the Centers for Disease Control, or talk with your health care provider.”
The Centers for Disease Control, which developed the recommendations that doctors rely upon, cites “the proven record of success” in preventing diseases.
“Every year, tens of thousands of Americans get sick from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines — some people are hospitalized, some even die. Immunization is our best protection against these diseases,” the CDC states.
“Vaccination is a critical step in protecting those that are most vulnerable to illness: infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.”
The CDC website offers information for those with questions about immunization, noting that the material is researched, written, and approved by experts who include physicians, epidemiologists, and analysts. “Content is peer-reviewed science,” the agency states, noting that the information is updated annually.
While vaccines have greatly reduced the diseases that previously harmed or killed people, the germs that cause those diseases still exist and can infect those who are not inoculated. Although measles was declared to be eliminated in the United States in 2000, it is common in other countries, and unvaccinated travelers can contract the disease and bring it back to the U.S.
For those concerned about the safety of vaccines, the CDC points out that they go through years of testing to make sure they are safe and effective before gaining approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA inspects the sites where the vaccines are made to make sure they follow the strict guidelines the government sets.
Most side effects are mild, such as soreness where the shot is administered or a mild fever, and they go away within a few days. The CDC website offers a list of possible side effects from each of the recommended vaccines, ranging from mild problems to more serious ones.
For example, the adenovirus vaccine, used to prevent potentially serious respiratory infections, can cause headaches and upper respiratory tract infection, stuffy nose, sore throat, joint pain, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and fever, with serious problems including blood in the urine or stool, pneumonia, and inflammation of the stomach or intestines.
“It is not clear whether these mild or serious problems were caused by the vaccine or occurred after vaccination by chance,” the website states.
New Hampshire requires children attending public schools to have up-to-date vaccinations or documentation of an appointment to receive the vaccine, with religious exemptions allowed. Also exempt are students with a physician’s letter certifying that a particular immunization may be detrimental to the child’s health.
There are no state rules requiring the immunization of home-schooled children, but a school board may adopt a policy requiring vaccinations of home-schooled children participating in curricular courses or co-curricular programs at the public school.
“Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person who gets the vaccine, but also helps to keep diseases from spreading to others, like family members, neighbors, classmates, and other members of your communities,” the CDC states.

Winnipesaukee Wellness Center: It’s not just about physical health

MOULTONBOROUGH — Winnipesaukee Wellness Center is more than just a place to physically better your life; it’s a place that also betters your mental health, too. While the Wellness Center is there for health and fitness, it is also a place to feel at home and know that people care about you and your general well being.

Winnipesaukee Wellness Center in Moultonborough is a self-supporting department of LRGHealthcare available to serve the health and fitness needs of everyone, but especially for those with health problems. It’s not just a gym; it’s a place where folks can go for a workout that’s safe and supervised by a medical health professional. Those looking to start an exercise program, no matter their stage in life, can feel comfortable knowing there is medical staff on site to monitor the clients. 

The center is staffed by advanced emergency medical technicians 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
What started as a maintenance program for cardio and pulmonary rehabilitation is now a full exercise center with most of the equipment one would find at a typical fitness center, but with the added benefits of medical supervision and according to its members ... an extended family. Strength training classes are also offered as part of the membership.
What’s even more special about the wellness centers are the friendships made. Members genuinely care about each other and are always so welcoming to new members. Some lifelong friendships are born at center, and when they lose a member it is felt by all. They celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and sometimes just celebrate being healthy and alive.
If you are interested in learning more about the Winnipesaukee Wellness Center in Moultonborough, call 253-1839 or stop by at 78 Whittier Highway Suite #4.

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Participants at a class at the Winnipesaukee Wellness Center benefit from health and fitness classes, including friendships they make there. (Courtesy photo)

LRGHealthcare Joins Hospitals Against Violence Initiative

LACONIA — LRGHealthcare will join the American Hospital Association Friday to take a stand against violence in our communities with the #HAVhope campaign. #HAVhope Friday, a national day of awareness, will focus attention on ending all forms of violence with a digital media campaign through shared tweets, Facebook posts, photos and other online efforts.

Violence is one of the nation’s major public health and safety issues, both in our communities and workplaces. Through the #HAVhope National Day of Awareness, the AHA unites hospitals, health systems, nurses, doctors and other professionals from across the country, as well as the local and national organizations they work with, to combat violence.

All #HAVhope supporters were asked to share a photo on June 9 of them holding hands with their colleagues or community partners to show how they are committed to combatting violence. LRGHealthcare called upon the leadership, staff, and providers of both the Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital campuses as well as the Laconia and Franklin police and fire departments to participate and the response was overwhelming.

The photos will be shared across social media through LRGHealthcare and the AHA on June 9. For more information about #HAVhope Friday and the Hospitals Against Violence Initiative, visit www.aha.org/PreventViolence.

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Lakes Region General Hospital workers come out in support of the HAVhope campaign, which brings attention to the problem of violence in our lives. (Courtesy photo)

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Franklin Hospital workers are also joining in the HAVhope campaign, which will be the focus of attention on Friday. (Courtesy photo)

Comfort Keepers - Know the symptoms of thyroid disease

By Martha Swats, Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the lower front of the neck. Its function is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm, and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working properly.

Hyperthyroidism
As in all hyperthyroid patients, if there is too much thyroid hormone, it causes every function of the body to speed up. While younger persons often show multiple symptoms related to the overactive thyroid, a senior may only have one or two symptoms.

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include: an increase in bowel movements, excessive perspiration, rapid heart rate, slight tremors, weight loss, fatigue, lack of mental clarity, confusion, nervousness, and agitation. Irregular heart rhythms and heart failure may occur in older patients.

Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is very common in seniors over the age of 60, and steadily increases with age. Studies show that up to 1 in 4 patients in nursing homes may have undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism symptoms are very non-specific in all patients, and this is especially true for seniors ─ and as with hyperthyroidism, the frequency of multiple symptoms decreases in older persons. For example, memory loss or a decrease in cognitive functioning, often attributed to advancing age, may be the only symptoms of hypothyroidism present.

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism may include: fatigue, constipation, depression, hair loss, weight gain, low sex drive, muscle aches and stiffness, pale or dry skin, hoarse voice, a lack of mental clarity, forgetfulness and fluid retention.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Disease
There are several methods used to diagnose thyroid disease, but blood tests usually are performed as an initial screening tool for determining hormone levels and thyroid function. Imaging tests are also commonly used, including thyroid scans using a radioactive iodine, and ultrasounds. If non-invasive tests are inconclusive or if tissues samples must be taken to determine cancer, a biopsy is performed.

Treatment of Thyroid Disease
Treatment for thyroid disease may vary, depending on the specific condition being treated and the physical condition of the senior. Talk to a doctor for his or her recommendations.

In the case of hyperthyroidism, an anti-thyroid medication may be prescribed, and steroids, Beta-blockers and anti-inflammatory medications, such as NSAIDs, may be given to reduce any inflammation.

If the thyroid gland is causing breathing or swallowing difficulties, a goiter is causing disfigurement, or if cancer is detected, radioiodine to shrink and destroy the gland may be used, or surgery may be required to remove part the thyroid ─ or the entire thyroid gland may be removed, followed with synthetic thyroid replacement.

Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine, an oral medication that restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. Treatment with levothyroxine is usually lifelong, but because the dosage needed may change, the doctor is likely to check the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level every year.
Thyroid Disease Prevention
Although thyroid disease can have much to do with genetics, not smoking, getting enough exercise, reducing stress, and proper intake of dietary iodine ─ through table salt, seafood, eggs, milk, whole grain breads, and kelp ─ may all help prevent thyroid disease.


Comfort Keepers can help. Our caregivers, or Comfort Keepers, can help establish a daily routine with your loved one that promotes good health and independent living. This includes helping to ensure that your loved one eats well and takes his or her medications in the correct dosage at the right times. Call your local office today to discover all of
the services we offer.