Oct 012016
 

HEALTH October 2016

A Healthy Age

By Amy Abbott

Undiagnosed OSA is dangerous; the sleeping sufferer’s airway is blocked by erratic breathing from a complete or partial obstruction. The individual may snore, gasp, or even choke during restless sleep, waking up him/herself and anyone nearby….OSA can be a contributor to or a consequence of other health problems including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

October 1, 2016.  Have you or someone you love said this, “I would pay good money for a good night’s sleep?”

According to the Persistence Market Report group, plenty of Americans are paying good money for the elusive eight hours of sleep.

The August 2016 report noted, “North America dominates the global sleep aids market. The United States represents the largest market for sleep aids in North America.”

Additionally, the report explained that economic upswing is due to a growing senior population and increased demand for sleep medication in a complex, complicated world. Mix into the nightly brew, the marketing efforts of health and pharmaceutical organizations.

A factor in the increasing sleep market is the awareness of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) released a report this summer on the “Hidden Health Crisis Costing America Billions.”

You can’t throw a wind-up alarm clock without hitting some remedy for what ails our collective sleep. While perhaps not as hidden as the hyperbole described, sleep problems are now mainstream.

The report noted that obstructive sleep apnea is rising in prevalence in the United States, and estimated 29.4 million Americans. Amazingly, that figure represents 12 percent of our country’s population.

The AASM highlighted the annual economic consequences, “The annual financial burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea among U.S. adults is approximate $149.6 billion. This burden includes almost $87 billion in lost productivity, $26 billion in car crashes, and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents.” If the OSA remains untreated, the study authors estimated that an additional $30 a year in increased health costs and medication costs related to the co-occurring health conditions listed above.

Here’s the real sticker shocker.

According to the AASM report, if every patient in the U.S. who has sleep apnea were diagnosed and treated, it would result in an annual economic savings of more than $100 billion.

The most obvious cost is the individual and his or her family. Undiagnosed OSA is dangerous; the sleeping sufferer’s airway is blocked by erratic breathing from a complete or partial obstruction. The individual may snore, gasp, or even choke during restless sleep, waking up him/herself and anyone nearby. The next day, he may wonder why he is so sleepy. OSA can be a contributor to or a consequence of other health problems including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

How do you know if you or your significant other has OSA?

Do you snore, gasp, or choke during your sleep? You might want to ask your sleep partner, or keep a sleep diary for a week or two with what you remember. Note your awakenings, daytime sleepiness, and any naps.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests a visit to your primary care doctor, who may refer you to a sleep specialist who may be a physician schooled in sleep studies, or a lung specialist or an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

The Institute noted that your provider will ask you about your sleep and your daily functioning. He’ll be interested if any family members have OSA. Some individuals with OSA have an enlarged uvula or soft palate. The uvula hangs from the middle of your mouth, while your palate is atop the back of your mouth.

If sent for a sleep study, you may have a polysomnogram (PSG) or a home-based portable monitor. PSGs happen in hospital sleep departments or stand-alone centers. During sleep, you are monitored for brain activity, eye movement, heart rate, and blood pressure. Or you may be recommended for a home study to determine if a full PSG is needed.

Individuals with OSA use a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP.) The name sounds much worse than it is – the machine keeps your airway open while you sleep. Most CPAP machines have three parts, a mask, a hose, and the device. Technology offers variety, and if diagnosed, you may have a second sleep study to determine what type of CPAP you need.

It’s not a good idea to order your own CPAP off the Internet; anyone listening to satellite radio knows the bombastic commercials about preventing snoring.  For your safety, CPAP machines are calibrated to your own sleep and breathing patterns by your medical provider.

You’ll soon feel better. You’ll sleep better, snore less if at all, possibly reverse some health conditions, experience lowered blood pressure, and increase your alertness. Maybe, you can leap across a building in a single bound like Superman, or at the very least, go without an afternoon nap.

From Go60.us.

Find my books and columns at www.amyabbottwrites.com.

Meet Amy

Jun 052016
 

Senior Wire News Service June 2016

A Healthy Age

By Amy Abbott

 Collectors have a sense of pride about their items. Hoarders may be embarrassed. Collectors display items. Hoarders hide items.

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Most of us are not going to be card-carrying hoarders. We can, however, do our children a favor, and stop taking tangible, dust-catching gifts at a certain point. My family knows if “I can’t eat, smell, or spend it, don’t give it to me.”

Seniors joke about hoarding. We are a society that loves our stuff. We watch “American Pickers” and hit auctions on weekends. Our parents and grandparents left us antiques our children despise. We’ve saved silverware for two decades that our adult children don’t want. They prefer Ikea. Our attics are full of vintage goodies, and we keep on collecting and spending.

 

When do we cross the line from collectors to hoarders?

Collectors have a sense of pride about their items. Hoarders may be embarrassed. Collectors display items. Hoarders hide items.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes these warning signs: inability to throw things away, severe anxiety when attempting to get rid of possessions, trouble organizing possessions, and indecision about storage. The ADAA also reports individuals may be suspicious of others touching their items, and experience family isolation, financial difficulties, and health hazards.

A study in the Journal of Geriatric Care Management noted this is a huge issue among the senior population, with more individuals than ever before living longer and living alone. Long-term social isolation and a genetic predisposition to hoarding may be at the root of this unusual disorder.

The article stated that apart from the obvious health hazards of living in a less-than-desirable environment, seniors in a hoarding environment may be at risk for increased falls, an exacerbation of chronic conditions, and further increased social isolation. Shame may prevent hoarders from asking anyone inside, and without help, the problem gets worse.

It’s a question and a topic of conversation among my boomer friends. Many people my age are downsizing, letting go of the big house for the condo or the mobile home or an apartment. Our houses burst with great-grandparents’, grandparents’, parents’, and children’s possessions.

Even if we are emotionally healthy, most of us are in love with our stuff. It’s all about transitioning, and it is stressful.

Don’t think it’s stressful? Take a valued possession – perhaps it’s your mother’s organ she played church music on beautifully – and try to sell it. First, since the advent of keyboards, pianos and organs have dived in value. Second, and this is hard to swallow. Valued doesn’t mean valuable. People don’t necessary want your old stuff.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to keep things than ditch them.

A new industry grew out of the problems of the elderly who need to downsize or transition. Senior move managers, according to the Journal of Geriatric Care Management, assists older adults with all aspects of relocating or modifying homes. The group is represented by the National Association of Senior Moves Managers. The group follows a strict code of ethics, and focuses on advocacy, privacy, and boosting autonomy and dignity.

If you have a friend or relative you suspect is a hoarder, how can you help?

  • Get a thorough physical exam from a reputable medical provider. Your friend may be experiencing depression, and may need counseling or medication.
  • Don’t be judgmental. Your friend may truly need and want help but is too ashamed to admit it. Your even-keel and gentle approach means everything. If you aren’t the right person, enlist someone who can work with the individual.
  • Immediately remove anything that can be a fire hazard or a safety issue. After your friend has agreed she needs help, time to enlist a crew to clean up the mess. The organization A Place for Mom suggests:
  1. Setting a date in advance with the person whose space you’ll be invading.
  2. Work one room at a time. The crew will work better-focused area by area. Your progress is also more easily noticeable, says A Place for Mom.
  3. Put someone in charge to assign tasks.
  4. Have a place in each room for keepsakes and valuables.

The organization also suggests that when all rooms are finished, hire a professional to haul away the trash (or get a dumpster in advance and have it hauled away.) Then, hire a professional cleaning service.

Hopefully, your friend has seen a physician and is in treatment to avoid the situation repeating.

Most of us are not going to be card-carrying hoarders. We can, however, do our children a favor, and stop taking tangible, dust-catching gifts at a certain point. My family knows if “I can’t eat, smell, or spend it, don’t give it to me.” My son lives in a small apartment in an East Coast city. I doubt if grandmother’s library table and Victrola are moving there anytime soon.

 

Find my books and columns at www.amyabbottwrites.com.

Meet Amy

Apr 072016
 

HEALTH April 2016 Senior Wire News Service

A Healthy Age

By Amy Abbott

But the familiar traditions – embalming the body or cremation – are transitioning as awareness of the environmental cost of modern cremation, embalming, and burial increases. While dying is a constant, the way we handle death is changing.

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You do not need to hire a funeral home to care for your deceased loved one. Forty-two states allow family members to handle the entire process, including filling out death certificates and burial permits.

Many of us have purchased funeral and burial services for loved ones. We are familiar with shopping in a dimly-lighted room where spotlights cast yellow beams on rich wooden caskets and gleaming vaults.

But the familiar traditions – embalming the body or cremation – are transitioning as awareness of the environmental cost of modern cremation, embalming, and burial increases. While dying is a constant, the way we handle death is changing.

  • In Indiana, Abbey Caskets sells the monastic casket, a traditional European-style box often used without a vault. Modeled after the traditional monk’s caskets from the St. Meinrad Archabbey nearby, the caskets are handmade by local craftsmen.
  • A Saskatchewan, Canada, funeral home offers a water cremation process, using lye and water to break down the body. The National Post said the process of “alkaline hydrolysis” or water cremation doesn’t involve embalming chemicals that may leach into the ground. Many Canadians like the idea of a water cremation, though the family of a man with a fear of drowning deferred to the standard fire cremation.
  • A Swedish biologist spent 20 years developing an elaborate decomposition system that freeze dries a body, which eventually turns to dust. Moreover, for the ultimate in returning to the earth, the dust is filtered for toxic chemicals like mercury and heavy metals and placed into a pod made of potatoes or corn starch. Grist magazine reports the pod is buried close to the ground surface. Relatives can plant a tree or place a memorial above the pod, which then literally returns your body to the earth in full, unfettered fashion, no chemicals to stave off decomposition.

For generations, families kept dead relatives in the home, in the family parlor, and then buried them in the family cemetery. After the Civil War, many Americans stopped using their home as a funeral parlor, and the local funeral home became a centerpiece in many communities. The funeral industry grew as we purchased elaborate wooden or metal caskets, embalming services, and vaults that delayed inevitable decomposition and kept water from the body.

Embalming is popular in the United States and Canada, and while not required by law, is often done to preserve the body for viewing. Embalming only delays decomposition, which is the natural process of returning the body “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” as the Old Testament describes.

Cremation has gained favor, in part because families today are nomadic. Adult children often move far away from their place of birth; older adults retire to warmer climates. The cost of moving a body from one part of the country to another is expensive. Reducing a body to ashes that can be moved in an urn seems a likely solution.

According to the Cremation Society, in 1999 only about 25% of Americans opted for cremation. In 2013, the last year complete data was available, the U.S. cremation rate was 45.3%. By 2018, the U.S. cremation rate is projected to reach 50.6%.

More individuals are concerned with the energy used for cremation. The Peaceful Return site, devoted to information about burial, notes cremation systems may use between 1.2 and 2.2 million BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour. One gallon of gasoline provides 124,000 BTUs, so cremation uses precious fossil fuels. Cremation can also release 540 pounds of carbon dioxide into the environment, according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance of California.

Funeral.org shared some facts about death services you may not know.

  1. You do not need to hire a funeral home to care for your deceased loved one. Forty-two states allow family members to handle the entire process, including filling out death certificates and burial permits.
  2. The law does not require embalming for the first 24 hours, and the process of embalming may create a health hazard by exposing embalmers to toxic chemicals. The site noted, “A dead body is less of a threat to public health than a live one that is coughing and breathing.” Refrigeration is, however, suggested.
  3. Caskets do not protect a body from decomposition. Likewise, vaults do not preserve a body and are not required by law. Most cemeteries, however, require vaults so the ground does not sink.
  4. Cremains are not like sand, but more like pulverized seashells, and can be legally scattered on private property.

Regardless of the choices we make in life about death; we can do our children a favor by making those wishes known in writing and putting aside funds to cover final expenses. Nothing will ease the pain of loss, but planning and pre-payment can eliminate some frustrations.

http://go60.us/health/item/2354-ashes-to-ashes-dust-to-dust-or-perhaps-a-stately-oak