Comfort Keepers - Shingles: What seniors should know

By MARTHA SWATS, owner of Comfort Keepers

An unwelcome return
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, which causes symptoms similar to that of chicken pox, including tingling/burning of the skin and a rash or band of rashes on one side of the body.

Outbreaks of shingles tend to occur in times of increased stress or when the immune system is in a weakened state – but it’s also extraordinarily common in older adults. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults will get shingles – after he or she is past the age of 50. For those past the age of 70, the chances are even greater.

How to treat shingles
If your senior loved one experiences nausea, tingling/burning sensations, or a painful rash on his or her skin, he or she should talk with a physician immediately. It’s vital that, upon finding a rash, your aging loved one visit a physician within three days. It’s within this window of time that physicians are able to make the most accurate treatment plan.

In addition to medical treatment, such as antiviral drugs and steroids, from your physician, below are a few strategies that your loved one can follow to make the process of healing easier and more convenient. (Always check with a physician before utilizing these treatments)

• Strengthen the immune system through dietary changes. Incorporate foods rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E (e.g., leafy greens, chicken, fish, and legumes), eliminate fatty foods, and eat well-balanced meals in general.
• Use healing lotions or creams. Comfort is an important component of the healing process, and ointments with anti-inflammatory ingredients can help tremendously.
• Cleanse the skin daily with cool water, either through a shower/bath or a compress. Add colloidal oatmeal and cornstarch to maximize the healing. Just be sure to avoid using warm water as it can make blisters worse.

For more than ten years, Zostavax was the only vaccine available. Just this year, however, the FDA officially approved Shringrix, a new vaccine for people 50 years of age and older, developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. To learn more about the differences between the two vaccines and which is right, have your loved one talk with his or her physician.

Comfort Keepers can help
As part of our plan of care, we can help your loved one recover from shingles and support their treatment plan, all while helping them perform activities in daily living. We also provide transportation, so if your loved one needs to get to his or her scheduled appointment, he or she can do so safely. Contact your local Comfort Keepers office to learn more about our care services.
Call 603-536-6060 or visit for more information.

Gilford Library to show documentary on heroin epidemic Thursday

GILFORD — Area residents have an opportunity to learn about the heroin epidemic and those who are fighting against it. The Gilford Public Library will host a lunchtime documentary showing of "Heroin(e)," the story of three women who fight against the impact of addiction and overdose in Huntington, West Virginia on Thursday, Feb. 22, from noon-1 p.m. Daisy Pierce of the local organization Navigating Recovery will be on hand to answer questions. At each lunchtime documentary shown at the Gilford Public Library, a light lunch is served, but participants are invited to bring their own food as well. For more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 603-524-6042, or text 603-367-0264.

Local VNA offers tips on avoiding colorectal cancer

FRANKLIN — If everyone aged 50 and older were screened regularly, six out of ten deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Since March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great time to start caring about your colon, too! Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer, and often there are no signs or symptoms. Here are a few good ways to reduce your risk, what exactly they do during those tests, and how to talk with loved ones about getting screened from the American Cancer Society and

  • The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50. Because often there are no signs or symptoms it’s important to get screened so if there’s a problem you can treat it early when it will be easier.
  • If you smoke, quit! Smoking increases your risk for a whole bunch of bad stuff, including colorectal cancer. Even secondhand smoke increases the risk for those around you. Try for free resources and support.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Diets that include lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon cancer. Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats), which have been linked with an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Get regular exercise. If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. Increasing your activity may help reduce your risk.
  • Encourage your family members and friends over age 50 to get screened.

So what do they do at those screenings anyway? There are three different screenings you can get: colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and stool testing.

  • A colonoscopy lets the doctor look inside your rectum and colon to check for cancer or polyps (growths that can turn into cancer). To do a colonoscopy, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube into your anus. The test is done at a hospital or clinic. If the result is normal, you can wait 10 years before getting tested again. If polyps are found during the test, the doctor can usually remove them, but you might need another colonoscopy in 3 to 5 years.
  • A rlexible sigmoidoscopy lets the doctor look inside the rectum and lower part of the colon to check for cancer or polyps (growths that can turn into cancer). To do one, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube into your anus. This test is like a colonoscopy, but it only looks at part of your colon and has a smaller risk of complications. If the result is normal, you can wait 5 years before getting tested again — or 10 years if you get this test combined with the stool test. If the result isn’t normal, you’ll need a follow-up colonoscopy to find out why.
  • A stool test looks at your stool (poop) instead of looking directly at your colon. For these tests, you use a special kit to collect a small amount of your stool at home and return it to your doctor or a lab. If the result is normal, you can wait 1 year before taking the test again. If the result isn’t normal, you’ll need a follow-up colonoscopy to find out why.

Now that you know the ins and outs of testing, how can you talk with a loved one to encourage them to get screened?

  • Start by saying, “I care about you. I want you to get tested so you can live a long and healthy life, without worrying about colorectal cancer.”
  • Explain the reasons for getting tested that were in the beginning of the article, or pass a copy of this article on to them to read.
  • Offer support. Ask what part of the test they are worried about, offer to go with them for support or to drive them, or ask what you can do to make it easier for them to get tested.
  • If you are age 50 to 75, set the example: get tested for colorectal cancer and share your experience.

For more information, call the Franklin VNA & Hospice at 603-934-3454 or visit

Comfort Keepers - Benefits and services for the older veteran

By Martha Swats, Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers

There are 12.4 million veterans age 65 or older in our country. They served in conflicts around the world, including World War II, 
the Korean War, 
the Vietnam War, and even
 in the Persian Gulf War.
There are 12.4 million veterans age 65 or older in our country. They served in conflicts around the world, including World War II, 
the Korean War, 
the Vietnam War, and even
 in the Persian Gulf War

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a wide range of benefits 
for veterans, service members, and their families.

Who Is eligible?
• A veteran
• A veteran's dependent
• A surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased veteran

VA Benefits
Senior veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military veterans. 
Click on the benefits below for more information from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

• Disability Compensation
• Pension
• Education and Training
• Health Care
• Home Loans
• Insurance
• Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
• Burial

Benefits focused on those 65 and up

A pension can be received monthly if a veteran is a wartime veteran with limited income, and he or 
she is permanently and totally disabled or at least 65 years old. There is no time limit to apply for compensation and pension benefits.
A death pension is payable to some surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. 
The benefit is based on financial need.

Aid and attendance allows for veterans and surviving spouses who need another person to assist them with eating, bathing,
dressing, undressing, medication dosing, etc., to receive additional monetary benefits. This benefit includes vets who are
cared for at home, in a nursing home, or assisted living facility.

What Is the difference between aid and attendance and housebound pensions? The care needs and the rates of payment are the main difference. For an aid and attendance pension, the veteran must need activities of daily living such as dressing or bathing. For the housebound pension, the veteran must be substantially confined to his or her immediate premises because of a permanent disability.

See How Comfort Keepers Can Help. We feel privileged to offer quality in-home care and companionship to veterans who served our nation in times of need. Once you are an approved participant in a VA program, check with your local Comfort Keepers office to see if they can provide the following veteran’s services: 
the Improved Pension Benefit Program; the Homemaker/Home Health Aide Program; and the In-Home Respite Program.

If you think you or your loved one may qualify for one of the VA programs, contact your local Comfort Keepers office today.