Category Archives: Healthy You

Nine Winter Safety Tips For Seniors

From last bomb cyclone on the east coast and subarctic temperatures in the middle of the country to this week’s snow and ice storms in the Midwest is safe to say that winter and its dangerous conditions is upon us.  Winter can be treacherous enough the fittest and most able among our population, but can be especially bad for the most vulnerable among us.  Senior citizens can be more at risk for a number of hazards during the winter and it’s important to protect seniors against those hazards.  Here are a few important things to remember this winter and every winter.

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Image courtesy of mirror.co.uk

Icy and Snowy Conditions

We are all at risk of slipping and falling in icy and snowy conditions, but seniors should take extra care as they are usually more prone to fracture, as well as more difficulty in recovering from injuries.  Seniors should stay in whenever they’re able to avoid the ice and snow.  But, when you must get out, do so with great care.  Make sure to wear a pair of good shoes with traction and non-skid soles.  Avoid sidewalks and walkways that have not been salted or sanded properly.  And always remove your shoes once you go back inside.  Snow and ice that melts off your shoes can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Cold Temperatures

When the temperature drops below freezing, be sure to adequately bundle up.  All parts of your body should be covered whenever you go outside, as frostbite is a real possibility.  Areas most at risk are nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes.  Frostbite can happen very quickly, so limit the amount of time you are outside in below freezing temperatures.  People with heart disease and other circulation problems are at a higher risk for frostbite, so be sure to wear your Therafirm compression socks to help your circulation.

Hypothermia is another risk of the cold temperatures.  When your body temperature drops to a dangerous level.  This can happen inside or out!  Keep the heat at a comfortable level and dress in layers when inside.

Wintertime Depression

As you can see, winter conditions make it safer to stay at home.  But, this can lead to winter depression from isolation.  Family members should call and check in on their senior family members often.  You can also arrange a calling tree among your friends and neighbors.  Each person call the next person on your list to make sure everyone in your circle is doing okay.  Don’t forget to add people to your circle that may not have other family.

Keep the Maintenance on Your Car Active

Seniors should avoid driving in hazardous conditions if at all possible.  Aging can lower reaction times which need to be at peak performance during ice and snow driving.  But, you’ll want to keep your car well-serviced in the event that you do have to be out in the elements.  Ensure your car has plenty of antifreeze and wiper fluid.  Check the wipers to ensure they can adequately keep the windows free of precipitation.  And, check the tires regularly.  Colder temperatures can affect the air pressure in tires.  You’ll also want to make sure the tires have plenty of tread or change them out for snow tires.  It’s also a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car that includes: a first aid kit; a warm blanket; booster cables; a windshield scraper; shovel and a flashlight.

Power Outages

It’s important to be ready for whatever the winter throws at you.  And sometimes that means power outages.  Make sure you have easy access to flashlights, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, and plenty of blankets and some non-perishable food.  If the power goes out during cold temperatures, layer up with your clothes and move around as much as possible to keep your body temperatures up.  If the outage lasts very long, you will want to arrange for a good, warm place to go until the power is restored.

Winter Time Diet

It’s easy to become Vitamin D deficient during the winter time – especially for seniors.  Be sure to have this checked with your doctor.  You can take a Vitamin D supplement, as well as eating foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, yogurt, egg yolks and tuna.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Fires

Another winter time danger is the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.  Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide dangers, as well as warming up your car in unsafe conditions.  Always make sure that if you’re warming up your car, your garage door is open and the tailpipe isn’t blocked.  Also, be careful with space heaters, fireplaces or stoves.  Keep them clear of curtains, furniture or blankets and don’t leave unattended.

Shoveling Snow

Shoveling looks easy enough, but it is truly grueling and back-breaking work.  If you have a heart condition, shoveling can put too much strain on your heart.  It can also be dangerous for those with weak bones or problems with balance.  The best suggestion is to hire a service to shovel for you.  Or, even a neighbor kid on a snow day.

Avoid the Flu

They say the flu is bad this year, and as with many other winter hazards, unfortunately seniors are more at risk of developing influenza.  The flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the flu.  The CDC says that it is especially important for people over 65.  Even in years where the shot is less effective, it still reduces the chances of getting flu.  And if you end up getting the flu anyway, it can lessen the symptoms and duration.

Winter hazards are not fun for anyone, but are especially dangerous for our senior citizens.  But, careful planning and consideration can help seniors weather even the worst hazards.

Tips for Winter Runners

One thing that I’ve noticed about runners is that runners always run . . . no matter what. The dark of night, the blazing heat of summer, rain, snow – it doesn’t matter, runners run . . . always. Now that winter is truly upon us and the temperatures continue to dip below freezing and even into single digits in some areas, runners are still running. So, it’s important for runners to stay safe in the frigid air and winter conditions . Here are a few tips for winter runners.

Image courtesy of phillymag.com

  1. Talk to your doc.
    Cold air in the lungs can make breathing more difficult in those that already have breathing difficulties, like asthma or emphysema. Or, the cold might exacerbate other medical conditions that you may have. When in doubt, consult your doctor to ensure that winter running is safe for you.
  2. Plan ahead.
    Plan your route to ensure that it is safe. You’ll want to stay away from areas that are especially icy or roads where snow hasn’t been plowed. Also, make sure that someone always knows your route and when you’ll be back. If you run into trouble, your designated person will know to take appropriate action.
  3. Stay close to home.
    If you decide to go for a run while it’s snowing, icy or exceptionally windy, evaluate how long it takes you to return home. Running in cold weather is more demanding and you’ll want to pace yourself and keep pretty close to home in the event that your feet get wet, you start sweating or become exhausted.
  4. Slow down.
    This isn’t the best time to work on speed. Snow and ice can cause treacherous conditions and you may slip and fall. A slower pace will help to identify dangerous areas quicker. Use the sidewalks and plowed roads if possible. As always, run in well-lit areas and dress in reflective clothing if running at night.
  5. Don’t overdress!
    Brrr! I know it’s cold out, but you won’t need quite the winter garb that you would normally. Sweating is the worst thing you can do in cold temps, because it can increase your chances of hypothermia. When you first get outside, you should feel a little cold. Once you get going, you’ll warm up.
  6. Be mindful of your circulation.
    The circulatory system controls the flow of blood through your body. Poor circulation is always a risk when spending time outdoors in cold temperatures. When you’re exposed to the cold, it causes a change in blood circulation. Blood flow to the extremities is reduced to help maintain your core body temperature, which protects your internal organs, but creates a dangerous situation for your body.

Core-Sport and TheraSport by Therafirm gradient compression socks and sleeves can help improve your circulation.  Both Core-Sport and TheraSport have moisture-wicking materials that will help keep your feet dry and warm during your run.  Thicker and heavier Core-Sport is available in black, grey and white, while lighter weight TheraSport is made in black, white, red, blue and pink.

True runners are going to keep running all winter long. Follow these tips to stay safe and healthy this winter.

Holiday Travel Tips for People with Health Issues

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Photo courtesy of http://getawaytips.azcentral.com.

Thanksgiving weekend is known for being one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  According to AAA, 48.7 million Americans are expected to pack their bags and journey at least 50 miles away from home to spend the holiday with family or friends this Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving weekend travel can already be stressful due to the sheer numbers of fellow travelers, but travelers with health issues may experience extra stresses.  So, if you’ll be among America’s travelers in a few weeks, follow these travel tips to help you have a smooth and happy holiday trip!

  1. Pack Your Medications– The last thing you need is to be far away from home and not have your necessary medications. Whether you pack them first or last, don’t walk out the door until you’ve checked your medications off your list.
  2. Pack Snacks to Control Your Glucose and Monitor It– Make a pack of snacks that will help you control your glucose level. Make sure you can access it easily or that someone else could easily get to it.  Bring your glucose monitors and pack them close to your snacks.  Monitor your glucose levels as often as you would at home.
  3. Pack Insurance Cards and Other Documentation– No one wants to have a visit to a doctor or emergency room while out of town, but it’s best to be prepared in case it does happen. With the proper cards and documentation, you can better focus on getting the treatment you need, instead of insurance red tape.
  4. Plan Out Time Zone Changes– If you’re going to be in more than one time zone, plan your snacks and monitoring accordingly. Also, ensure that you’ve accounted for time zone changes when taking medications or monitoring glucose levels.
  5. Pack Insulin or Other Temperature-Dependent Medications So That It’s Kept Cool Until Reaching Your Destination– You can use a wide-mouthed, insulated, non-breakable bottle or thermos to help keep your medications cools. Fill the bottle ice or cold water before hand to cool it.  Then empty the bottle, dry it and place your medications inside.
  6. Get Plenty of Sleep– It’s important to get plenty of sleep – even extra sleep – before a big trip, but especially if you are dealing with health issues while traveling. Go to bed early before a trip, or take a nap before leaving.  Be sure to get good sleep during the trip, as well, so that you’ll be in good shape when traveling back home.
  7. Put Medications and Other Necessities in a Carry-On Bag– Carry all medications and any other necessities in your carry-on bag. Just in case your luggage is misplaced, you won’t want to be without your necessities.  You can always buy another toothbrush!
  8. Pack Lightly and Use Luggage with Shoulder Straps or Wheels– If you suffer from arthritis or other health problems, you won’t want to over exert yourself. Make sure to pack as lightly as possible, so you have less to carry.  Bags with comfortable shoulder straps or wheels will also help.
  9. Wear and Pack Comfortable Clothing That’s Easy to Get On– Comfortable clothing will make you comfortable all around, especially if it will be awhile before you can change. Wear Seamless Socks from SmartKnit to help keep your feet from getting irritated.  Or if you’re at risk for DVT, Compression Travel Socks from Therafirm will help prevent this dangerous condition.
  10. Pack Any Arthritis Aids You Regularly Use– If it’s something you use regularly, bring it, even if you think you won’t use it.
  11. Carry Cash– You will want to have cash for situations like tipping luggage assistants or toll payments.
  12. Inform Others of Your Condition– Inform TSA agents, flight attendants or any other officials of your health conditions. They’ll be more likely to be helpful and also to watch for changes in your condition.

Remember at the end of the road is that special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.

** Note: Tips are not meant to replace medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor.

Living Healthy Tips for All Men

June is Men’s Health Month.  Paying attention to overall good health is something that all people should do, but this month is a good reminder to men to make sure they are doing a few easy things to help keep them healthy in day-to-day life.  The following are all health tips for men that are adapted from WebMD, as well as a few of our own.  We hope that you listen, pay attention and follow – for the sake of your good health.

Find a Doctor – Finding the right doctor is vitally important to establishing good health.  You want to develop a good relationship with a doctor, who becomes familiar with you and the things in your health that make you unique.  You also want to have a doctor that fits your personality.  Do you respond better to a stern doctor or someone with a more gentle touch.  Do you want someone who is always serious, or someone that can joke with you when appropriate.  These considerations are all important.  If you just don’t click with your doctor’s personality, that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good doctor.  But, it does mean that you might want to shop around a little bit.  You need to be able to comfortably tell your doctor intimate details of what is going on with your health, so personality is important.

doctor

Schedule Regular Exams – Now that you have an established doctor, schedule your regular exams.  For most people, a yearly checkup is all that is needed.  But, you may have a certain condition that a doctor will monitor on a more frequent basis.  Or, your doctor may suggest a screening to be done in addition to your regular checkup.

See the Doctor When Unusual Symptoms Develop – Many men downplay health symptoms or wait to see a doctor until the symptoms are very bad.  Don’t ignore things like black stools, vision loss or chest pain.  These and other out-of-the-ordinary symptoms can be signs of bigger problems.  Usually, the earlier these things are caught, the more likely they can be fixed.

Get the Right Amount of Sleep – Sleep is so important to good health – for everyone!  Most healthy men need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.  Don’t cut corners or vary from that too much.  Sleep deprivation can lead to more serious health issues.

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Eat a Nutritious Diet – That doesn’t mean you can’t have a beer and chicken wings while you watch football or occasionally have a hot dog at the baseball game.  Just don’t make a habit of it.  On a daily basis, you should pay attention to the nutritional content of the food you eat.  Make sure to include things that promote good health like whole grains and green leafy vegetables.  Dark chocolate is also good for heart health.

Dessert with fruits

Get Regular Exercise – Here is something else that you should discuss with your doctor.  Depending on your health conditions, there may be things you need to avoid.  But, overall you should get regular exercise, which can include walking, jogging or swimming or any number of things that get your body moving and your heart pumping.

Walking through the park

Keep Your Feet and Legs Healthy – This one is very important, especially for people that have chronic health issues like poor circulation or diabetes.  Good gradient compression socks like those from Therafirm can help promote better circulation.  Diabetic Socks from SmartKnit can help keep your feet cool, dry and free of irritation.

There you have it.  Now go live life and be healthy!

Tips for Summer Travel with Health Conditions

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Summer is right around the corner and what says summer more than a summer vacation!  Are you planning any vacations – near or far – in the coming months?  Now is the time to enjoy life, so don’t let health issues get in the way of your trip around the world or even the weekend visiting the grandchildren.  Just follow these helpful travel tips and you’ll be on your way to a memorable vacation.

Medications
If you are dependent on medication to control your health conditions, you’ll want to make sure you plan well ahead.  They last thing you want is to run out of your medication in the middle of the Amazon (or even Disney World).  Get your prescriptions renewed ahead of time and bring enough for the duration of your trip, plus a little extra.  You never know what your vacation might entail.

If any of your medications are temperature-dependent, you’ll want to plan for this, too.  A wide-mouthed, insulated thermos is very handy.  Just fill the bottle with ice ahead of time to cool it.  Once cool, dry it and place medications inside.  They should stay cool until you arrive at your destination.

Insurance Cards and Other Health Documentation
When it comes to visits to the doctor or hospital on your vacation, it’s good to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  That said, you’ll need to make sure you have any insurance and prescription cards with you, as well as any other medical records or documentation that may be handy to an unfamiliar physician you may have to see if it becomes necessary for you to seek medical care.

Carry-On Bag
Medications and insurance cards should be carried in your carry-on bag.  The airlines do their best to make sure your checked bags arrive at the correct destination with you, but things happen from time to time.  You will not want to be without these most important items.

Inform Others of Your Condition
You may find it prudent to inform TSA agents, flight attendants or other officials of your medical conditions.  If you experience a medical emergency mid-travel, it will be helpful for them to have fore-knowledge of your conditions.  They will be able to act faster and more efficiently to help if they are aware of any conditions up front.

Dress Comfortably
Travel has a way of being uncomfortable as it is.  The more comfortably you dress, the less discomfort you’ll experience.  Seamless socks from SmartKnit will help prevent your feet from becoming irritated, especially if your travel will include a lot of walking through airports.  Compression Travel Socks from Therafirm are also a good choice to help prevent deep vein thrombosis or DVT – a dangerous condition that travelers are at risk for.

And of course, we always recommend that you follow a doctor’s instructions for any health condition.  But, we hope these tips will help you enjoy a memorable summer vacation with minimal risk to your health.  Bon Voyage!

 

Surviving Daylight Savings Time

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Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

That’s right, folks!  On Sunday, March 13, we lose that hour of sleep as we all move our clocks forward one hour.   Sleep is sometimes hard to come by, so that lost hour might be hard to swallow.  Here are a few tips to help make this transition easier.

  1. Transition into the time difference gradually. – Get up and go to bed 15 minutes earlier everyday between now and Sunday. Taking baby steps toward the earlier day will make the transition a little bit easier to bear.
  2. Add a nap into your day. – Adding an afternoon nap for a few days will help your body adjust to the time difference a little bit quicker. Just make sure it isn’t too close to bed time.
  3. Keep your normal number of sleep hours. – It might be hard to convince your body that it’s bedtime, but it’s important to do so. You’re getting up early already, so make sure to carry that over to bedtime.  Keeping your number of sleep hours and avoiding staying up that extra hour, will help you adjust to the time difference quicker.
  4. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants at bedtime. – You’re probably trying to avoid these anyway, but don’t be tempted. Going to bed an hour early might be hard enough, but adding caffeine will make it harder.
  5. Control the lights. – The body’s natural melatonin, which helps to induce sleep, increases when the environment begins to get dark.  Going to sleep at an earlier time will be easier if the environment is adapted to feel more like night. One way to help induce sleep is to turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes prior to going to bed.

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Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, now that we’re all ready to Spring Forward, Therafirm says Bring it On!

Sitting: The Silent Killer

What is something that most Americans do every day, but is just as unhealthy as smoking?  Would you be surprised to find out that it is sitting?  Knowing that sitting for long periods of time isn’t the best for you is one thing.  Knowing that it is as dangerous as smoking is another.  It’s a game changer.  So how can sitting possibly be as bad as smoking?  We wanted to know why.

This is what we learned.  The production of enzymes that burn the body’s fat declines with each hour of sitting.  Sitting for long periods of time can slow the metabolism and affect things like HDL (good cholesterol) levels.  Sedentary behavior increases the chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancer.  That certainly is comparable to the health risks of smoking.

What can we do to help improve our health when so many people sit at desks all day for their jobs?

Exercise

Silent Killer #1

Do you exercise?  If so, this is great.  Keep it up!  But it isn’t the only thing you should be doing.  Studies show that your health is at risk if you’re primarily sedentary even if you do have an exercise regimen.  So, continue your exercise regimens, but make sure that you add in other things to make your daily habits less sedentary.

Be Aware

Silent Killer #2

The first step to sitting less is just being aware of how much you are sitting.  Once you truly see how many hours per day you spend sitting, you can set goals to help you reduce that number.

Short Breaks

Silent Killer #3

If you spend every day working at a desk, take a short break every half hour or so.  Get up for two to three minutes and move.  Take laps around your office, or if that isn’t feasible, walk in place at your desk.

Conference Walks

Silent Killer #4

Do you sit in on conference calls during your day?  Take them on your cell phone instead of at your desk and go for a walk.  Or if can, plan to take a walking meeting.

Standing Lunch

Silent Killer #5

Eat lunch standing instead of sitting.  Or better yet, walk somewhere near your office to pick up a bite for lunch.

Treadmill Desk

Silent Killer #6

This is a great option for those that work from home.  Create a work surface above a treadmill.  A specialized stand out to fit a monitor and keyboard allowing you to be in motion all day.

Standing Desk

Silent Killer #7

A standing desk or a workstation at a high table or counter seems to be a trend that’s picking up steam.  The health benefits of standing desks are still not completely clear, but it is a better alternative to sitting.  And, some of history’s truly great minds have used them – like Leonard Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway and Benjamin Franklin. Great company!

TV Time

Silent Killer #8

When at home and watching TV, don’t forward through commercials.  Get up and move around during commercial breaks.

The bottom line is get moving and keep moving.  Limit your total daily sitting hours to the minimum.  You’ll burn more calories, feel better and best of all, live a healthier lifestyle!