The stark reality is that more and more Americans each and every day find themselves taking on the role of caregiver for a family member. This can present immense physical and emotional challenges. The first steps suggested here can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey.
(BPT) - Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is something millions of Americans do every day. Whether it is a parent, spouse, extended family member or friend, the stress of caring for another adult can take a toll.
"I have to do absolutely everything for her," explains Anthony Cowels, whose 71-year-old wife, Florence, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. As he watched her disease progress, his caregiver responsibilities grew. What's more, for some of the years Cowels also cared for his elderly parents, compounding his responsibilities.
"It has been a long journey of caregiving," says Cowels, 70. "I try not to let it overwhelm me. I always look for ways to do better." Cowels learned to care for both himself and his wife better through useful tools, education and friendship and by joining a caregiver support group. He says he can "interact with others who identify with my situation.”
Family caregiving: A growing trend
Cowels represents a growing number of Americans who care for older or aging loved ones. About 41 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities in 2017, notes the AARP report Valuing the Invaluable: 2019 Update. What's more, as the population ages, caregiving demands are increasing while the pool of potential caregivers is decreasing.
As the Valuing report states, "Americans will have more older relatives or close friends to potentially care for than children in about 15 years. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, by the year 2035, adults ages 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. This fundamental demographic shift is the result of the aging of the U.S. population, increasing longevity, and a declining birth rate. "
Caring for yourself
In addition to helping with self-care activities like bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom, family caregivers today often perform complex medical tasks, including wound care, giving injections and handling medical equipment. The tasks that were once provided in hospitals and health care clinics are increasingly the responsibility of family and friends, who are often given little training or support.
While many family caregivers often report positive feelings in their role such as a sense of purpose or connection with their loved one, it often comes with feelings of being overwhelmed. Exhaustion, worry, loneliness and financial stress are common challenges caregivers face. If you also work a full-time job, it can be even more difficult to balance your needs and responsibilities.
While you may not achieve perfect balance, it is important to prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing, so you can be there for the person you care for. These first steps can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey:
It is important for family caregivers to stay mentally and physically healthy so they can provide the best care possible to the growing number of people who need support. For helpful tips and caregiver resources, visit www.aarp.org/caregiving.
Adults living with schizophrenia may experience a cyclical pattern with their schizophrenia treatment journey, consisting of beginning a new treatment which lessens their symptoms, followed by a lack of adherence with their treatment plan and missing doses and leading to worsening schizophrenia symptoms or a relapse. Finding the right treatment plan, often consisting of a combination of supportive therapies and medication, can help adults control their schizophrenia symptoms.
(BPT) - Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic brain disorder that can interrupt every aspect of an adult’s life. For adults living with serious mental illness, like Jason, the journey to finding the right treatment plan, including medication and supportive therapies, can take years. During that time, adults living with schizophrenia may experience multiple episodes, breakthrough symptoms or relapse. While it can be challenging for many individuals to remember to take their daily medication, it can be especially difficult for adults living with schizophrenia, who after missing doses of their treatment may increase their risk for breakthrough schizophrenia symptoms or relapse.
Jason was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in his mid-twenties. Following his diagnosis, Jason struggled for ten years to consistently follow his schizophrenia treatment plan.
“At the time, my schizophrenia hallucinations and delusions were full blown. I thought I had special powers — that when I made eye contact with people, I could talk to them. I thought most people were out to get me, including my parents,” Jason says. “When I was having a lot of challenges, it strained my relationship with my parents.”
Unfortunately, Jason’s story is not uncommon. Adults living with schizophrenia may experience a cyclical pattern with their schizophrenia treatment journey, consisting of beginning a new treatment which lessens their symptoms, followed by a lack of adherence with their treatment plan and missing doses and leading to worsening schizophrenia symptoms or a relapse. As a matter of fact, research has found that adults living with schizophrenia experience on average 9 relapses in less than 6 years. There are multiple factors that can increase the risk of an episode (breakthrough symptoms or relapse), including missing doses or stopping medication.
After trying numerous treatment options and being hospitalized multiple times due to his schizophrenia symptoms, Jason’s doctor talked to him and his parents about switching his medication to a once-monthly injection to limit worrying about missing doses and to help Jason better manage his schizophrenia. Together, they reviewed the potential benefits and side effects of treatment options.
After being treated with a once-monthly injection and participating in supportive therapies, Jason’s symptoms were more controlled.
“For me, it was important to get healthy, which included working with a psychologist and attending group therapy sessions early in my treatment journey, as well as taking my medication and exercising,” Jason said.
By finding a comprehensive treatment plan that worked for him, Jason was able to focus on other things like friends, family, and activities he enjoys like writing, kickboxing, and spending time with his nieces and nephews. “Most importantly,” he said, “I started working with those who were trying to help me. I began to see my parents as allies in my fight. Now I am closer to them than ever.”
Reflecting on his past experiences, Jason now wants to share his personal story to help other adults with schizophrenia navigate their own treatment journey.
“I didn’t ask for this, but I am dealing with it. I want to help other people. Don’t give up!”
If you or a loved one are an adult living with schizophrenia, ask your doctor if a change in your treatment plan could make the difference for you. Learn more at https://www.oncemonthlydifference.com.
Jason is a volunteer with the SHARE Network, a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., program made up of people who are dedicated to inspiring others through their personal health journeys and stories of caring.
Your teeth may be small, but good oral health can be a big part of your overall hygiene routine. Teeth are resilient, but your mouth needs proper care and attention if your teeth are going to do their jobs effectively. Understanding what good oral health is and the risks associated with ignoring it can help you develop a good routine.
What is Good Oral Health?
Dentists often speak to clients about good oral health, but they aren’t always clear about what that means. In most cases, practicing good oral hygiene means that once you are finished with your daily routine for your teeth, your mouth should look and feel good. It should also smell good or neutral. According to the American Dental Association, some of the best practices for good oral health might differ from one person to the next depending on specific needs. You may need a certain kind of toothpaste or to use flossing techniques beneficial for your teeth and gums. However, there are basic hygiene actions that everyone should practice whenever possible.
Related Health Issues
Taking care of your teeth can help you avoid other health problems that are related to poor oral hygiene. Some conditions can affect your gums. According to Fort Bend Periodontics & Implantology, gum disease is often referred to as a silent disease because many of the early signs are not visible to the naked eye. Some developed signs of gum disease could be red, swollen, or tender gums; receding gums; and persistent bad breath. These things have the potential to affect you both physically and emotionally. Problems stemming from gum disease or issues such as broken teeth might impact your social life or your ability to find new employment. Pain associated with problematic teeth could impact your mood or concentration levels.
Mental Health and Oral Health
Some researchers have studied possible links between oral hygiene and overall mental health. People with bad breath, missing teeth, gaps, or poor oral health may have negative mental and emotional feelings from these problems. According to Delta Dental of Washington, some studies show that there can be links to poor oral health and depression. It has become prevalent enough that dentists may ask about health history to determine what kind of oral care a client might need in order to be healthy mentally. Having good oral care and practicing good habits may put you in a better frame of mind.
Good oral health doesn't have to be complex or time-consuming. Knowing how to take care of your teeth and what signs to watch out for to avoid gum disease and other issues can help you keep your teeth looking good and performing great.
Everyone knows that a good night's sleep gives you energy, reduces levels of mental health disorders, and gives the body time to repair itself. In addition to the more obvious benefits, there are a host of lesser-known advantages that solid rest provides. Here are three surprising things that a good night of sleep can do for you.
May Prevent Cancer
Research has shown that inadequate sleep may lead to certain types of cancer. Experts believe that too much light exposure reduces the amount of melatonin in the body. It is this hormone that regulates your body's natural circadian rhythm and protects against cancer by suppressing tumor growth. You can help your body to produce quality levels of melatonin by keeping your bedroom dark and by limiting the use of electronic devices before going to sleep.
Help You Lose Weight
People who do not get enough sleep each night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is believed that this happens because inadequate sleep negatively affects the natural balance of hormones in the body that impact the appetite. A lack of solid sleep disrupts the hormones ghrelin and leptin. It is these two hormones that affect your appetite. Getting a full night's rest even helps with overeating. A body that is deprived of adequate sleep will produce more cortisol, causing you to crave more food. Making an effort to stay true to your body's natural sleep cycle will help you to keep off the pounds.
That fogginess in your brain may be attributed to a lack of sleep. Research has shown that sleep plays a critical role in the retention of memories. While your body is resting when you sleep, your brain is actually working in overdrive processing the events of the day, making connections, and sorting emotions. This all happens when your body enters the deep sleep phase. Without this regular deep sleep, your brain is not able to function at optimum levels. Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night will assist your brain in remembering and processing things more accurately.
Making the effort to get a good night's sleep will pay off big dividends for the future of your health. Not only are the short-term effects of good physical health a result of solid rest, but the long-term effects will also improve your overall quality of life and longevity.
There is little information available about epithelioid sarcoma. Patients, advocates, doctors and researchers across the United States are aiming to educate people about this ultra-rare cancer and the unmet need for an effective, tumor-specific treatment. Consider these facts about ES.
The Rarest of the Rare
What to know about a cancer you may not have heard of
(Family Features) A woman celebrating her 40th birthday, a young boy starting second grade or a college grad about to begin his career. All three could develop a rare form of cancer known as epithelioid sarcoma (ES), a form of soft-tissue sarcoma.
What are Soft-Tissue Sarcomas and What is Epithelioid Sarcoma?
How Rare is Rare?
According to the American Cancer Society, a rare cancer is defined as fewer than six new diagnoses per 100,000 people per year.
ES is an ultra-rare cancer. According to available epidemiology and case reports, it is estimated about 600 people are properly diagnosed in the U.S. and Europe each year.
What are the Most Common Types of ES and How Do They Impact Diagnosis?
Dealing with a Diagnosis?
For people faced with a sarcoma diagnosis, it’s important to get a second opinion from a sarcoma specialist. These specialists have extensive knowledge of STS and can determine what form of sarcoma one may have, what stage it is and the best course of treatment. The specialist may confirm the diagnosis with a physical examination, a scan or a tissue sample (biopsy) of the area.
It’s common to feel a range of emotions after a diagnosis of ES, according to Clear View Health Partners, including:
What Treatment Options are Available?
For patients with early stage ES, many elect to have surgery to remove the tumor, which may precede or be followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy treatment, according to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. If the cancer returns or spreads, a patient may undergo radiation therapy and chemotherapy. New treatment options are being studied through clinical research, which is why seeking a specialist in the field is important if one is faced with a diagnosis.
As with many cancers, early detection is important and can increase survival or successful treatment. Typically, the distal form of ES is associated with more favorable survival rates than the proximal form.
4 Things to Do to Address ES Today
1. Don’t ignore your bumps and lumps, see a doctor as soon as possible.
2. Learn more about epithelioid sarcoma and its symptoms.
3. Seek a second opinion.
4. Find support if you’re faced with a diagnosis.
An ES Diagnosis Journey
In the spring of 2008, Maria Voermans’ 4-year-old daughter requested an “airplane ride,” and as Voermans lifted the young girl up with her legs, she had to make an “emergency landing” because of some sudden and significant pain in her upper right thigh.
After a few months, the pain persisted. Voermans continued to jog and play sand volleyball, thinking nothing of it. At the recommendation of her primary care physician, she took some anti-inflammatories and tried to rest, which wasn’t easy to do as a single mother of two young children.
Two more months went by and her leg caused increasing problems. She could feel something in her leg, but never considered it a “lump” because it was not visible on the outside. Voermans took matters into her own hands and visited a sports medicine orthopedic specialist for further testing.
An MRI found a mass in her right leg and she was referred to one of the few musculoskeletal oncologists in Wisconsin, her home state. He ordered a biopsy, which on Voermans’ youngest daughter’s third birthday confirmed her worst fear: it was a rare form of cancer called proximal-type epithelioid sarcoma, and it was stage three. Her biggest concern was not living to experience future holidays, birthdays, graduations and other life milestones with her daughters.
Voermans underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy and had surgery to remove the tumor. As of July 2018, Voermans reports the cancer has not returned.
Today, she’s a wellness coordinator supporting other people diagnosed with cancer who are undergoing treatment or post-treatment. She’s able to use her own cancer journey to provide empathy to others, and it’s brought satisfaction to the whole experience.
Content courtesy of Epizyme, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Doctor talking to man)SOURCE:
Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time for people to consider the state of their mental health and that of their loved ones and friends. Family doctors from all over the U.S. and the American Academy of Family Physicians are calling on people to do just that. Join the movement today!
(BPT) - Mental health and emotional wellness affect every aspect of a person’s life, from work to family to leisure. One in five adults lives with mental illness, which can range from mild to severe. Many times, before mental illness is diagnosed, it can trigger physical symptoms.
Take, for example, 26-year-old Michael who suffered a construction work injury that started him on a vicious cycle of pain and feeling helpless. After being treated for the pain, he noticed red, flaky sores on his skin. His family doctor diagnosed him with depression-related psoriasis and together they worked out a treatment plan.
Then there’s Jennifer, a 35-year-old hair stylist, who showed the textbook signs of a heart attack: She couldn’t catch her breath, was sweating, and had a rapid heartbeat and nausea. After multiple tests in the ER costing thousands of dollars, she was diagnosed with acute anxiety. Her prescription? See her family doctor and determine the right course of treatment for her situation — both physical and emotional.
This mind/body connection is very real, complicated and many times, not well understood. That’s one reason why it’s important to have a family doctor who knows the patient and their family in the context of their community. Family doctors are on the front lines of diagnosing and treating mental health concerns. In fact, primary care physicians provide the majority of U.S. mental health services.
Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time for people to consider the state of their mental health and that of their loved ones and friends. Family doctors from all over the U.S. and the American Academy of Family Physicians are calling on people to do just that.
Join the movement. Go to familydoctor.org to learn:
* When and how to talk to your family doctor about mental health
* What your doctor can do for you
* How to prepare for an appointment and questions to ask your doctor
Download a guide to help start the conversation, including taking note of
* Physical, emotional or behavioral symptoms
* Any recent life changes
* Medications you are taking
Help start the conversation on talking to your family doctor about mental health and well-being online. Tell others about the resources on your social media channels using the hashtag #MentalHealthMatters. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Your family doctor is a good place to start.
The following are 5 creative approaches to combat menopausal symptoms, from Dr. Mache Seibel, author of The Estrogen Fix.
(BPT) - The use of hormone therapy (HT) can minimize risks and maximize menopausal relief for common symptoms like hot flashes, dryness, mood swings, fractured sleep, brain fog, irritability and weight gain, according to Dr. Mache Seibel, author of The Estrogen Fix: The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced. When taken at the right time, estrogen therapy can lead to substantial improvements in health and quality of life and lower the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and dementia. Women should be aware of one caveat: Beginning estrogen after a woman’s estrogen window closes at age 65 may increase their risk for breast cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and osteoporosis.
Heeding advice about how and when to stop taking HT is important and revealed in new studies featured in Seibel’s book. The book reaffirms the safety of vaginal estrogen, as well as its effectiveness in controlling weight; it outlines newly available estrogens and progesterones and offers the latest hormone-free FDA solutions for women with vaginal dryness.
The following are 5 creative approaches to combat menopausal symptoms:
1. Hot flashes: Women experiencing hot flashes and night sweats can find relief using an FDA-approved estrogen hormone therapy called Divigel, a gel that is applied to the upper thigh daily. It contains the plant-based estrogen hormone estradiol, the same hormone made naturally by a woman’s ovaries before menopause and delivers estrogen identical to that naturally produced in the body.
2. Irritability/sleeplessness: Lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A natural supplement with melatonin like Vitafusion Beauty Sleep promotes a good night's sleep without prescription medication. Sex and/or self-pleasure are natural ways to decrease stress and can help with the onset and quality of sleep as well.
3. Painful sex: Internal vaginal dryness can be relieved for three days with hormone-free Replens Vaginal Moisturizer. Alternatively, prescription remedies like vaginal estrogen or DHEA can be used.
4. Weight gain? Eat to defeat menopause: Food is the fuel for every cell in your body, so avoid packaged and processed foods and limit sugary drinks and desserts to ensure you’re optimizing energy. Stick to unprocessed whole foods as there are no hidden ingredients or calories. Your body will also appreciate fresh and/or organic produce and hormone-free meat or grass-fed beef as often as possible.
5. Hair lacking luster, less-than-glowing skin and brittle nails: Loss of estrogen leaves many women dealing with thinning hair, increased dry skin and brittle or breaking nails. Introducing biotin into your diet with a raspberry-flavored gummy like Vitafusion Gorgeous Hair, Skin & Nails can ensure you’re consuming sufficient biotin and other helpful nutrients including vitamins C and E.
Every woman has safe, new options, from prescription HT to those available over-the-counter, to suit her unique needs. Schedule a chat with your health provider to discuss the right hormone therapy or alternative option for your personal menopausal challenge.
To help shed light on the growing national problem with opioid drugs, Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist, lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.
(BPT) - While a decade ago you may not have heard much about opioids, today they make headlines daily. The nationwide epidemic crosses generations and socioeconomic lines, and it's affecting your family, friends and neighbors.
"Opioids have long been used clinically to treat pain, but prior to the 1990s they were primarily reserved for patients with a limited life expectancy, such as for someone with cancer or in a hospice setting," says Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist. "The potential problems associated with long-term use were secondary considerations."
To help shed light on this growing national problem, Dr. Hooten lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.
Opioids are prescribed for various reasons
Opioids are used to treat a variety of pain disorders. While they are commonly prescribed after an operation, opioids are also used to treat a host of chronic pain conditions including musculoskeletal, abdominal, pelvic, and neuropathic pain.
Length of use varies
"Following surgery, up to one in four patients may use opioids longer than anticipated," says Dr. Hooten. "How long, exactly, depends on several clinical factors."
He notes that after an operation, a patient might use opioids to manage acute pain for three to five days.
"When opioids are used for acute postoperative pain, patients should try to use the lowest possible dose." After this short time period, opioids should be replaced with non-opioid pain medicines including Tylenol scheduled to be taken every six hours."
There are alternatives for pain management
There are many alternative options for chronic pain. Dr. Hooten suggests talking with your doctor about:
* Non-opioid analgesics (non-opioid pain medications).
* Interventional treatments such as image-guided spine injections or nerve blocks. * Acupuncture.
* Low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates. Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a structured exercise program.
* For advanced pain treatment, spinal-cord stimulation can disrupt the pain stimuli and provide sustained pain relief.
* Work with a pain psychologist who can help teach individuals how to use specialized behavioral and cognitive techniques that could lead to improvements in daily functioning and quality of life.
Opioids can be deadly if misused
"Approximately 90 people per day die in the U.S. from a prescription opioid and/or an illicit opiate overdose," says Dr. Hooten. Many of those are accidental overdoses. “People who take prescription opioids will inadvertently mix them with benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium and Xanax). Dr. Hooten warns that these two drug classes should never be taken together, as the combination can suppress the central nervous system and put the individual at risk of an accidental overdose.
Addiction can happen to anyone
As Dr. Hooten notes, “No one plans to get addicted, but it happens. Using opioids requires a high level of vigilance for the signs and symptoms of addiction."
There are many signs of over-reliance or misuse that families should be aware of. These include an increased preoccupation with the drug, concern about the timing of the next dose or refill, hiding use of the drug, and signs of intoxication like slurred speech and excessive sleep.
If you notice these warning signs, alert your loved one about your concerns. "This might be enough to prompt a change," says Dr. Hooten. "Otherwise relay this information to the prescriber and tell them what’s going on. They can take the correct next steps."
For more information on pain medication and alternatives, or to make an appointment, visit www.mayoclinic.org.
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