- Written by Jessica Riel
Are you looking to hire a personal care attendant (PCA)? Attend the PCA Meet & Greet event from 3 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, 2017, at Greenfield Community College’s downtown campus at 270 Main Street. You can meet local personal care attendants, talk in a neutral environment, collect contact information, and interview people for your open positions with no obligation to hire.
Bring copies of your job description, which should include:
- Days and hours you are looking to fill
- Preferred start date
- Tasks you need help with (bathing, dressing, etc.)
- Best way for candidates to contact you to learn more
Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, and other scented products to ensure a scent-free environment that is safe and comfortable for all.
If you cannot make it to this event, you can always post an open PCA position to www.RewardingWork.org for free. PCAs can visit this website to find open positions in their area.
Are you interested in Personal Care Attendant Services?
The MassHealth Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Program at LifePath was established for people who want to retain control over their personal care and other needs at home. Serving people with chronic medical conditions and disabilities, the PCA Program provides funds to hire the personal care attendant of your choice. Eligibility guidelines apply. To learn more, contact us.
- Written by Jessica Riel
Are dietary supplements worth buying?
Q: Are there any health benefits from dietary supplements?
A: Unfortunately, the answer is often, “No.”
Advertisements for “dietary supplements” frequently claim they will keep you from getting sick or help you to live longer. But, according to the National Institute on Aging, “Often there is little, if any, scientific support for these claims… Some supplements can hurt you. Others are just a waste of money because they don’t give you any health benefits.”
There are many “dietary supplements” on the market today that are sold over the counter, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs, and hormones. Some products, like drinks or energy bars, have supplements added to them. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not review these supplements before they reach the market – only if they believe a product is considered unsafe.
The best way to get vitamins or minerals is through the food you eat – not added supplements. If you feel you can’t eat enough, ask your doctor if you need a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. It doesn’t have to be labeled for “seniors,” and it doesn’t have to be a large, or “mega dose,” vitamin. The theory that “if a little is good, a lot must be better,” does not hold for supplements. Taking more than 100% of the daily value of a vitamin or mineral could be harmful, and your body may not be able to use the entire supplement, so you’re wasting your money. People over the age of 50 may need supplements for certain purposes, such as vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D, extra iron for women, and vitamin B6.
Antioxidants are natural substances found in food. There is no proof that large doses of antioxidants will prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, cataracts or heart disease. Rather than taking a supplement, eating fruits and vegetable, at least five servings per day, or using vegetable oil and eating nuts can give you the antioxidants you need.
There are also herbal supplements, like ginseng, Echinacea, or gingko biloba, which come from certain plants. When you use any herbal supplements, you are using them as a drug, and they can interfere with other medications you may already be taking. Some herbal supplements can cause high blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, seizures, heart attacks, or stroke. Some supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or, if a person takes them before or after surgery, they can affect the person’s response to anesthesia. Dietary supplements can also interact with certain prescription drugs in ways that might cause problems. Vitamin K, for example, can reduce the ability of certain blood thinners to prevent blood from clotting. Antioxidant supplements, like vitamins C and E, can reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.
Before you start taking a dietary supplement, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician. Don’t go on the recommendation of a friend or an internet site. Consider the source of any information you read: is it from a group that stands to make money from the sale of this product? If something worked for your neighbor, it does not mean that it will work for you. Don’t buy supplements that have combinations of ingredients that you do know, want, or need.
All products labeled as a dietary supplement carry a Supplement Facts panel that lists the contents, amount of active ingredients per serving, and other added ingredients (like fillers, binders, and flavorings). The manufacturer suggests the serving size, but you or your health care provider might decide that a different amount is more appropriate for you.
There is actually a federal Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), part of the National Institutes of Health, which publishes fact sheets that give consumers an overview of individual vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements. ODS says if you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods, some supplements might help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. However, supplements can’t take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. Contact ODS at (301) 435-2920, or visit this ODS webpage.
- Written by Jessica Riel
In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, Clinical & Support Options (CSO) will be hosting the 15th Annual Mental Health and Wellness Fair at the Energy Park in Greenfield on May 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featuring CSO’s very own Green River House and Quabbin House Clubhouse members, the fair will be an afternoon of music, singing, poetry, and testimonials by members to highlight mental health wellness and recovery. Webber & Grinnell Insurance is also featured as a major sponsor of this year’s fair.
The fair started in 2002 to bring awareness and information to the community about mental health illness and recovery. The Club’s membership, supported by CSO, have continued this tradition annually as an opportunity to dispel the stigma around mental health illness and to encourage people in seeking support and spotlighting those agencies that are available to assist. This year the membership has chosen the theme “STOMP OUT STIGMA” in an effort to continue to spread an anti-stigma message about mental health treatment and recovery.
Local mental health and wellness providers are welcome to present their materials and programming. To register for a table, call the Green River House at 413-772-2181. In addition to local community providers sharing information, there will be a food vendor, fun raffles, and family activities.
Join CSO for an afternoon of excitement and awareness! All are welcome to attend the event at the Energy Park on May 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.! For questions or more information on how you can be a part of this wonderful annual event, please contact The Green River House at 413-772-2181.
- Written by Roseann Martoccia, Executive Director, LifePath
Age Out Loud and advocate
The theme for Older Americans Month (OAM) for May 2017 is “Age Out Loud.” This theme was designed to give aging a new voice – one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.
The Administration on Community Living describes the theme as one that “shines a light on many important trends. More than ever before, older Americans are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. What it means to age has changed, and OAM 2017 is a perfect opportunity to recognize and celebrate what getting older looks like today.” (See more on the OAM website at oam.acl.gov.)
However, there is much uncertainty about how the current administration’s funding priorities will be accomplished, and it appears that part of the plan is to reduce many programs which help older people.
At the federal level, many programs such as Meals on Wheels, Fuel Assistance and Community Development Block Grant funds have been targeted to be severely cut back or eliminated. The federal administration has also proposed eliminating a popular federally-funded health counseling program known as SHINE: Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone.
This program annually helps more than 77,000 Massachusetts residents – many of them seniors and their families – get free health counseling to sort through the maze of information about basic health plans, like Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Prescription Advantage, Health Safety Net and other programs. More than 700 well-trained volunteers across the state provide this much-needed service as the only real source of objective health insurance information. Insurance carriers will pitch their own plans – but SHINE volunteers give you independent advice. Medicare has as toll-free number – but can’t possibly get into all the complex details of which health plan makes the most sense for you.
In the 54 communities served by LifePath’s SHINE program, over 40 volunteers assist nearly 4,000 consumers each year, saving $4,801,070 across all Medicare beneficiaries in Western Mass. communities. Through counseling and review of their options, the SHINE program saved each beneficiary an estimated $1,733.24 on average per year in health insurance costs. That’s $144 per month that a person on a fixed income can use on other essentials. Statewide in Massachusetts, SHINE counseling resulted in a savings of $105,116,080 in 2016 as consumers made informed choices about their specific health insurance needs and what was most cost-effective for them.
Let’s amplify the many voices and raise awareness of vital aging issues across the Commonwealth and the nation. Age out loud advocating for the things that are important to you, your family members and older persons in our communities.
- Written by Jessica Riel
Getting older, staying in shape
Q: As I get older, does it really matter to stay physically active?
A: Absolutely. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active.
There are many benefits. Physical activity:
- maintains and improves your physical strength and fitness.
- improves your ability to do the everyday things you want to do.
- improves your balance.
- manages and improves diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
- reduces feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall wellbeing.
- improves your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and stay focused.
If you feel out of shape – but want to remain physically active – the key to success is to build up slowly from your current fitness level, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
The place to start is to determine your fitness level. Begin by asking these questions:
- How much time do you spend sitting?
- How much time and how often are you active?
- When you’re active, what kinds of activities are you doing?
Here are five ways you can test your own fitness:
- Measure your endurance by picking a fixed course – once around the block or from one end of the mall to the other. Time how long it takes you to walk it.
- Test your upper-body strength by how many arm curls you can do safety in two minutes.
- Test your lower-body strength by how many times you can stand from a seated position safety in two minutes.
- Test your balance by seeing how long you can safely stand on one foot. (Stand next to something sturdy that you can hold onto if you lose your balance.)
- Test your flexibility by sitting toward the front of a sturdy chair, and stretching one leg straight out in front of you with your heel on the floor and your toes pointing up. Bend the other leg and place your foot flat on the floor. Slowly bend from your hips and reach as far as you can toward the toes of your outstretched foot. How far can you reach before you feel a stretch?
Write down your results. If these exercises were hard to do, just do what’s comfortable and slowly build up. If they were easy, you know your level of fitness is higher. You can be more ambitious and challenge yourself. You can do these simple fitness tests once a month, and measure your progress at each session.
Muscle soreness lasting a few days and slight fatigue are normal after doing muscle-building exercises, at least at first. After doing these exercises for a few weeks, you will probably not be sore after your workout. For some exercises, you may want to start alternating arms and work your way up to using both arms at the same time. Breathe out as you lift or push, and breathe in as you relax. Don’t hold your breath during strength exercises. Holding your breath while straining can cause changes in blood pressure. Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise, especially if you’ve had hip or back surgery.
Safety during exercises is always important. Walk during the day or in well-lit areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings. To prevent injuries, be sure to use safety equipment. If you are exercising outdoors, dress in layers so you can add or remove clothes if you get cold or hot. Drink plenty of liquids when doing any activity that makes you sweat. Before and after you exercise, do a little light activity to warm up and cool down.
Each year, more than two million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. You can learn exercises that will improve your balance and make you steadier on your feet. See pictures and short videos of any of these exercises, plus get more fitness tips, by going to the NIA website: go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercises. “Go4Life,” an exercise and physical activity campaign from the NIA, is designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.