How to Minimize Your Long-Term Care Risk

Watching a loved one struggle with living independently in their old age is hard — being the one struggling must be even harder.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are used as a way of determining a person’s ability to live independently or see if they need help. That help can range from a family member who checks in and runs errands, to a part-time nurse, or even relocating the individual to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

While there is no way to predict whether a person will develop a condition that limits their ability to live independently, modern science has shown that there are things we can do now to help keep us healthy and more active and independent in the future.

Keep Moving

There is no shortage to the benefits associated with exercising. On top of helping you keep unwanted weight, depression, and mobility issues at bay, studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly tend to be at a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment. The American Heart Association suggests a goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week — but it’s always important to talk to a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Eat Right

Much like exercise, maintaining a balanced diet is always a good idea. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can provide you with a natural source of important vitamins and minerals. The foods we eat can also help boost our immune systems, bone health, and more.

Stay Sharp

Like our bodies, our minds require exercise as well. Learning a new skill, visiting a new place, staying on top of current events, and even playing games, can help keep your mind sharp and slow the rate of mental decline.

Plan Ahead

Just as there is no way to accurately single out individuals who will need long-term care in the future, there is also no foolproof way to prevent it. Accidents, lifestyle, and genetics are just a few of the things that ultimately determine how our minds and bodies age.

healthy elderly couple over the age of 50

9 Health & Fitness Tips For Those Over 50

Today’s mid-life looks quite different than generations past — 50 really can be the new 30. Medically, we know more about the body and how to maintain optimal health at every age. While there are a vast number of changes and improvements for people to live a healthier lifestyle, here are nine important health tips for those in their 50s and beyond.

  1. Perform Mental Gymnastics. Your mental state is imperative to good health. Choose activities that keep your analytical skills sharp and always seek to learn new things. Not only does this make your day-to-day life more interesting, but it may help to decrease the chances of dementia later in life.
  2. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. This is something that many don’t associate with good health, but gum disease is linked to serious health conditions, including various forms of cancer and heart disease. Did you know that 3 out of 4 Americans have some form of gum disease?
  3. Increase Exercise. Regular exercise helps overall health in a number of ways, including regulating blood sugar and combating high blood pressure. If you’re not exercising regularly, find a low-impact regimen or activity you are comfortable with and start from there. It’s also important to keep increasing your exercise activity as you get more comfortable. If you’ve been doing ten laps at the pool for months and it’s easy for you, it might be time to add ten more to make your body work harder. (Note: Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.)
  4. Make Dietary Changes as Needed. As we age, we’re at a higher risk for heart- and pulmonary-related diseases. There are a number of things we can do to reduce risks, chief among these being a change in diet. As we age, we should reduce salt intake, cut down on unnecessary sugars, and add more natural fruits and vegetables to our daily intake.
  5. Get Regular Checkups. As you pass 50, it’s more important than ever to see your physician regularly. Many health risks can be diminished by early detection. Ask your doctor what tests you should expand upon if your family history indicates a high risk for any specific illness.
  6. Get Your Specialty Health Screenings. Outside of the regular yearly check-up, men should make certain to get checked for prostate cancer and women should be screened for breast and ovarian cancers. Early detection is key to success in treatment.
  7. Get Enough Sleep. Getting the proper amount of sleep is imperative to overall health. Inadequate sleep puts you at a greater risk for cognitive decline, makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight and to avoid type 2 diabetes. Lack of sleep also puts you at greater risk for depression and increases your chances of having a heart attack.
  8. Participate in Regular Social Activities. Regular activity is important to overall health, both physically and emotionally. As people age, they sometimes take themselves out of social settings and this can lead to depression. It’s important to stay active, whether that means running around with grandkids or volunteering in your local church.
  9. Take Your Vitamins. A great diet is a start, but most people will not get all of the nutrients they need from simply eating well. As you age, make sure your dietary supplements contain all of the vitamins you need, like calcium for bone mass and omega-3 fatty acids to maintain healthy brain function.

These tips can help to maintain a healthy lifestyle in your 50s and beyond.

mother and daughter practicing good oral hygiene

The Link Between Gum Disease and Health Conditions

Most people want a straight, white smile because it looks better, or makes them look younger. What many people don’t realize is that good oral health is an indication that your body is healthier as well. There is a correlation between periodontal disease and a number of illnesses. According to one recent study, those with serious gum disease were up to 40% more likely to have a chronic health condition.

Doctors and dentists today are aware of these cross-overs in conditions and will often recommend that patients get checked for other illnesses that correlate, which is one good reason to be proactive with scheduling regular dental checkups.

Three Conditions Affected By Your Oral health

There are known links between many different conditions, but those with gum disease are at a higher probability of also having these three common and serious illnesses.

  • Diabetes. Diabetes and periodontal disease go hand in hand. Inflammation of the gums is known to negatively impact the body’s ability to process and use insulin. In this particular case, the conditions will exacerbate each other — diabetes causes the body to lack the ability to fight infection, including gum infections, while inflammation inhibits the ability to regulate sugar.
  • Heart Disease. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease suffer from periodontal disease — a high enough correlation to take precautionary measures. Get a regular, thorough exam if you suffer from any form of gum disease. While the cause still isn’t clear, there is some speculation that having periodontitis raises the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Osteoporosis. It’s a natural warning sign that both osteoporosis and periodontal diseases are forms of bone loss. Osteoporosis tends to impact more women, while men have a higher incidence of gum disease. However, some researchers today are testing out the theory that gum disease inflammation may trigger bone loss in other areas of the body, besides the jaw.

Outside of these known conditions, there are also common medications that can impact oral health. More specifically, some side effects can be detrimental to teeth and gums over time. Side effects to be aware of and mention to your dentist include dry mouth, abnormal bleeding, altered taste, oral sores or inflammation, enlarged gums and cavities, and any medication that is known to contribute to bone loss.

Schedule Your Check-Up

Information is power. The important thing is to realize that scheduling regular dental and medical check-ups can help you to maintain optimal health and stay on top of any potential problems before they become life-changing. 

female cancer patient hugging daughter

What Breast Cancer Awareness Month Means for Your Health

Regardless of whether breast cancer runs in your family history or not, there are some preventative measures you should be taking and some things you should know about the second most common type of cancer in women.

The Importance of Early Detection

Breast cancer occurs in progressing stages, becoming increasingly difficult to treat with each stage. This is why detecting breast cancer as early as possible is so important. At the age of 40, most women should begin having annual mammograms done as a means of detecting potentially cancerous growths in breast tissue. For women with a family history of breast cancer, however, annual mammograms may be recommended to begin even sooner.

For women under 40, regular self-breast exams are also recommended. Giving yourself a monthly exam, in addition to being on the lookout for sudden pain or changes in the breasts, can help with early detection before an annual clinical breast exam is done.

Common Myths About Breast Cancer

Unfortunately, there are many myths floating around about breast cancer that put many people (not just women) at greater risk. For example, it’s a commonly perpetuated myth that only women can get breast cancer. Unfortunately, men can have breast cancer, too — and due to lack of information on male breast cancer, their mortality rates are extremely high.

Another all-too-common myth about breast cancer is that if you find a lump, you must have cancer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Abnormal growths in a breast are usually benign (not cancerous), so if you find one, you shouldn’t panic. Schedule an appointment with your doctor quickly if you do find anything abnormal in one or both of your breasts, and they can schedule a mammogram for you if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most common questions women have in regards to breast cancer is, “what can I do to reduce my risk?” There are plenty of steps that can be taken to reduce one’s risk of breast cancer, such as:

  • quitting smoking
  • decreasing alcohol consumption
  • getting 30 minutes or more of daily exercise
  • reducing or managing stress in your life

Of course, there’s no surefire way to avoid getting breast cancer. Even women who have no family history of breast cancer can get it; in fact, most women who have breast cancer don’t have it in their family history. Taking steps to identify and treat cancer early is the single best thing a woman can do to protect herself. This means scheduling an annual exam with your doctor (and a mammogram, if you are of recommended age) as well as giving yourself monthly breast exams.

Sadly, breast cancer takes the lives of approximately 40,000 people each year. If your current health insurance policy doesn’t cover preventative care for breast cancer (or if you don’t have insurance), now is the time to find a policy that works for you.

person wearing blue long sleeves checks their heart rate, steps, and time on their smart watch

Health and Wellness Introduction

The Health and Wellness section features valuable information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthier Worksite Initiative. The initiative addresses Workforce Health Promotion, a topic that is receiving a lot of attention in workplaces today. Well-constructed and well-run programs can reduce costs to the employer and improve employee health, productivity and morale.

The information provided in this section is designed as a resource for Workforce Health Promotion program planners in all types of organizations.  Here you will find information, resources, and step-by-step toolkits to help you improve the health of your employees.

Workforce Health Promotion Topics

The CDC has included some very helpful information, guidelines and resources for planning a healthier workplace including:

  • Program Design – Planning and designing a Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) program is essential to ensuring its success. These resources, featuring tools and information about program planning and needs assessments, can help get you started.
  • Policies – This section contains basic information about policies that impact health promotion at federal workplaces and explains why they are important to WHP planners.
  • Toolkits – Designed specifically for work sites, these toolkits help program planners save time planning, implementing, and evaluating specific WHP programs.
businessman sick and sleeping on home wicker bench with newspaper over head

TX: Austin Passes Earned Sick Time Ordinance

Employees Earn One Hour of Earned Sick Time for Every 30 Hours Worked

The City of Austin has passed an earned sick time ordinance. Highlights of the ordinance are presented below.

Covered Employers and Employees

All private employers are generally covered by the ordinance. To be eligible for earned sick time, employees must work in Austin for an employer (including work performed through the services of a temporary or employment agency) for pay for at least 80 hours in a calendar year.

Accrual and Use

An employer must grant an employee one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked in Austin. Employers are not required to allow employees to accrue more than the yearly cap of earned sick time. The yearly cap depends on employer size, as follows:

  • For small employers (no more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, excluding family members), the yearly cap is 48 hours of earned sick time per year.
  • For medium or large employers (more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, excluding family members), the yearly cap is 64 hours of earned sick time per year.

An employee may request earned sick time for an absence from scheduled work time caused by certain events (§ D). However, the ordinance does not require any employer to allow an employee to utilize earned sick time on more than 8 calendar days in a given calendar year.

Employer Notice and Effective Dates

Employers must display a sign describing the requirements of the ordinance in at least English and Spanish in a conspicuous place (or places) where employee notices are customarily posted.

An employer that provides an employee handbook to its employees must include in the handbook notice of employee rights and remedies under the ordinance. Also, at least monthly, an employer must provide each employee with a statement (electronically or in writing) showing the amount of the employee’s available earned sick time.

The ordinance is expected to take effect on October 1, 2018, pending the mayor’s signature. However, for an employer with no more than 5 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months (excluding family members), the ordinance is not effective until October 1, 2020. Click here for additional details.

Note: Certain provisions of the ordinance may be subject to change upon final approval by the mayor. Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the ordinance.

person inputting numbers into calculator for tax season

Reminder: Individual Mandate Remains in Effect for 2018

Requirement is Effectively Repealed Beginning in 2019

Individuals are reminded that the section of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which effectively repealed the individual shared responsibility provision (“individual mandate”) of the Affordable Care Act does not become effective until 2019. As a result, individuals are required to have minimum essential health coverage, qualify for an exemption from the requirement, or pay a penalty tax for 2018.

person holding cup cup with tea and lemon in it above desk in office for vitamin c benefits

Brochures and Posters Promoting Health in the Workplace

Health and safety reminders posted in the workplace can help to inform your employees about important wellness topics and keep them on track with safety and nutrition. Be sure to rotate or switch out the posters you display on a regular basis to keep things fresh and encourage your employees to stay motivated and make healthy choices.

Employee Safety

Employee Nutrition and Health


Source: North Carolina HealthSmart Worksite Wellness Toolkit

Exercise and Physical Activity

Source: North Carolina HealthSmart Worksite Wellness Toolkit

Climb These Steps to a Healthier You!

The World Around You: Use What You Have to Stay Healthy and Fit

Tips to Help You Get Active

Walking . . . A Step in the Right Direction!

Managing Stress

Managing Stress Handouts

Source: North Carolina HealthSmart Worksite Wellness Toolkit

person resting from flu under blankets

Flu and Your Workplace

Flu can be a big disruption for business. Employees who are sick may need to take time off to recover and may not be as productive when it comes to getting work done. In addition, symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and fever can spread germs to healthy employees.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering a cough and frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.

Tips for Fighting Flu

Everyday preventive actions that can help prevent flu and the spread of germs in the workplace include:

  1. Cover Your Mouth and Nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through the coughing, sneezing, or talking of someone with the flu.

  1. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth

Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.

  1. Clean Your Hands

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

  1. Stay Home When Sick

Employees should be encouraged to stay home from work when they are sick to help prevent others from getting ill. If there is only one employee who performs a particular task, consider training others so that coverage is available should that employee need to leave work early or stay home due to illness.

  1. Practice Good Health Habits

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Resources and Printable Materials for Promoting Good Health Habits

To help businesses, employers, and their employees learn about strategies for preventing flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following toolkit, flyers, posters, and other materials:

This podcast provides information about recommended strategies to help businesses and employers promote the 2012–2013 seasonal flu vaccine.

Learn what two strategies are recommended to businesses and employers this flu season.

Host a flu vaccine clinic in the workplace and use this flyer–complete with fillable text boxes so you can add the location, date, and time of your flu vaccine clinic.

Encourage employees to get vaccinated at locations in the community. Navigate to the Flu Vaccine Finder website to find locations offering flu vaccine and then update the flyer and post.

Share this flyer with employees to encourage flu vaccination. Consider posting this in the workplace, or copy and place in mailboxes or include in pay statements or newsletters.

Use this flyer with other workplace managers to kick off discussions about flu vaccination planning.

Promote flu vaccination using web technology:

Post on business windows and restroom mirrors.