How To Talk To Your Parents About Hospice Care

Parents try their best to give their children the best life possible. From the moment their child is born, parents are prepared to do whatever they can to make sure their child is well cared for. Perhaps, that’s why it’s only a natural response for adult children to want to return the favor of loving care and provide support for their aging parents. However, when it comes to end of life care, discussing hospice care with your parents may seem overwhelming.

After all, many people regard hospice care as a place where one goes during their final days of life. However, this is a common hospice myth. In reality, hospice care is not a place but a philosophy that focuses on providing patients with the care, comfort, and dignity they deserve. Furthermore, hospice care happens in environments where the patient would benefit most. In many cases, patients receive the support they need, including skilled nurse care, within the comfort of their home. Best of all, hospice care is affordable to many families. Hospice care services are covered 100% by most insurance plans, including Medi-Cal and Medicare.

After doing their research, many adult children with aging parents realize that hospice care services are exactly what their parents need to live a full and rewarding life. This is regardless of the amount of time they have left. They often feel a sense of relief knowing that their mom or dad will be well taken care of. Furthermore, since hospice care takes a family-centered approach, it is common for the family and caregivers to experience the benefits of hospice care alongside the patient.

However, even with all of the positive care and benefits hospice care provides, starting the end-of-life-care discussion with mom or dad can still be difficult. Sometimes, people delay discussing hospice care because they are worried it will upset their parents. However, when it comes to the safety and well-being of aging parents, hospice care is a conversation that cannot wait. Remember, your parents cannot receive the benefits of hospice care if they don’t know the option is available.

If you have been wanting to discuss hospice care with your parents, but don’t know how to begin the conversation, you are not alone. Keep reading to learn several ways you can approach your parents and begin the conversation about hospice care services.

Make Sure Everyone Is On The Same Page

Before you sit down with mom or dad, gather with your siblings to discuss your ideas. It’s important that you all share the united goal of recommending hospice care.

Don’t try to bring up the subject of hospice care if one of your siblings is having a rough day. This can cause unnecessary stress and delay getting your parent the care he or she needs. Instead, wait for a calm day when you and your siblings are relaxed. Then have an open to having an important discussion. Share with them all of the research you have gathered on hospice care.

Share meaningful articles and important information that you’ve discovered with your siblings so that they too can reach an informed decision. Once everyone one is in agreement, you can work together to plan the right moment to bring the conversation to your parents.

Make An Appointment With A Hospice Nurse

Sometimes the idea of hospice care can seem scary simply due to the patient of family member not having enough information about what hospice care really is. Making an appointment with a hospice nurse or hospice care provider is a great way to discuss your concerns. It gives you and your siblings a chance to talk to someone who is extremely experienced in all matters related to hospice care.

Speaking with a hospice nurse makes it easier to visualize what your mom or dad’s new daily routine might look like. The hospice nurse can use her years of experience to give you additional guidance for approaching your parents. Many hospice care providers are more than happy to answer your questions. Take advantage of this information to get the insider information you need to help your parents..

Don’t Forget To Listen

When you are able to find a peaceful moment to sit down with mom or dad to discuss hospice care, there’s a lot you’re going to want to say. Remember, it’s important you give your parent time to absorb all of the new information you share. Let them respond and ask questions. Acknowledge and empathize with any emotional response your parent has. Let them know their feelings are heard and understood.

Remind mom and dad that it is ultimately their decision to make. Make it clear that there’s no obligation for them to start hospice care before they are ready. It’s very important that you reassure both your parents that they will always have your love and support. No matter what decision they make.


Top Reasons Seniors Prefer Home Health Care

It is common for children of an aging parent  to worry about their parent's safety. However, In a survey conducted by AARP, it was discovered 90% of senior citizens prefer staying in their homes as they age versus entering an assisted-living home. In addition, while many will need help taking care of daily tasks, such as cooking meals, bathing, and running errands, at least 82 percent said they still wish to remain at home.

Moreover, seniors fare better when they receive emotional support from their family and friends. They feel safe when surrounded by loved ones. The more they interact with those whom they love, the less likely they are to become withdrawn or depressed.

Bringing in a home health care worker can really improve your parent's life. Caregivers provide individual attention and care in your parent's home. So, your loved one receives personal contact and much needed support. Your parent's basic needs will be met, and they can create a connection. Over the long term, there are many reasons staying at home and receiving in-home care are a great option for them and your peace of mind.

Create Comfort

Very few of us like change. And the older we get, we tend to like it less. As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz told us, "There's no place like home." Feeling safe and comfortable leads to good mental health. We all want our parents to feel happy as they age, and staying at home is a key to maintaining that state of wellbeing.

Alleviate Anxiety

Fear of the unknown can make anyone anxious, but seniors are especially prone because aging is frought with unknowns. Knowing you can at least stay in your own home can help ease those fears. On another level, knowing your surroundings and "making it on your own" builds confidence. An unexpected illness can add stress to your senior's life and cause a long term negative effect. A home health care worker is trained for such a situation. Together, you and the caregiver can ease your loved one's anxiety.

Online Resources

If your parents aren't tech savvy, perhaps you can help lead them to the numerous resources available online. Grocery stores deliver and meal delivery services are everywhere. Even pet products can be purchased online, as well as housekeeping and yard work. Many items they need can be brought to their doorstep. The in-home care giver can help with this as well.

Reduce Stress

Being a caregiver to anyone is more stressful than you might imagine. And when it's your parent, other challenges come in to play. When your parent is able to remain in their home, it can make it easier when you have discussions about finances and medical decisions. Furthermore,with an in-home care giver, you have another resource who understands seniors and can help mediate discussions.

Curb Isolation

Your parent is less likely to feel isolated or unhappy if they are in a familiar ad comfortable setting. When you're not able to be there, the in-home care giver can offer much needed company. Your loved one can show off their old family albums and talk about the glory days, which are great for feeling connected.

Save Money

Advisers from the AARP calculate the average cost of a nursing home or assisted-living facility as more than $50,000 annually. It might be helpful to sit down with your parent and create a budget. You may be surprised when you weigh the pluses and minuses of living at home versus in a nursing home. In addition, home health care services cost less than nursing home care, so your parent will have a win-win.

Freedom

Imagine the comfort you would feel, and the comfort your parent would feel, walking freely through their own home. Even if the home care worker has to help them fix a snack or use the bathroom, your loved one still can rest in their own bed or on their own couch. Seniors who move to an assisted-living facility feel as though they've lost their independence. Living at home gives them freedom, which builds confidence and promotes well-being.

Maintain Safety

When your parent lives in their own home, they are less likely to become a victim of elder abuse and/or neglect. You will help them select an in-home caregiver, and you can drop in to check on them at any time, and not be subject to a facility's schedule.

If you are able to keep your loved one at home, and provide them with in-home health care, it will be a benefit to them and you. You can find many trustworthy and well-established home care providers that provide 100% in-home care. We all want to keep our parents safe, comfortable and happy. That includes enabling them to live in their own home and bringing in skilled, humane caregivers. This option can be a blessing to your loved one and leave you feeling confident they are receiving the best care possible.


How To Reduce Your Risk Of Stroke

Strokes have been negatively affecting the general population’s health for decades. In fact, almost 800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year. If you break it down, that’s about one stroke happening every forty seconds. While strokes can cause death, it is possible to be a stroke survivor. However, many survivors continue to struggle with the lasting physical damage and negative side effects strokes can cause.

A stroke is a very serious medical emergency. With the possibility of happening at any age, place, and time, strokes are a danger to the old and young alike. However, you don’t have to live your life in fear of an impending stroke.

This month, take control of your health by learning how to prevent a stroke from happening. While there are some stroke risk factors you can’t control, there are ways to reduce your chance of having a stroke. In fact, 80% of strokes are preventable. Keep reading to learn how you can reduce your risk of stroke. Pay close attention, what you learn here could help save a life.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you are doubling, even quadrupling your risk of stroke. It is important that your work with your doctor to monitor your blood pressure and get it under control. Ideally, you want to maintain a blood pressure that is less than 135/85, or in some cases less than 140/90.

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of increased stroke risk in both men and women. Treating elevated blood pressure is one of the best things you can do to minimize your risk of stroke while simultaneously improving your vascular health.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, including:

  • Reduce your salt intake to no more than 1,500 mg a day. That’s approximately half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol, like fatty meats, refined grain products, and saturated fats.
  • Eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Consume 1 serving of fish 2-3 times every week.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Quit smoking.

Following these healthy habits will lower your blood pressure and your risk of stroke.

Quit Smoking

Not only is smoking bad for your lungs, it can also accelerate clot formation. Smoking thickens your blood and causes plaque buildup to increase in the arteries. Ending your smoking habit is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of stroke.

You can achieve your goal of smoking cessation by doing the following:

Consult with your primary doctor to figure out the most best way for you to quit.
Use effective quit-smoking aids like nicotine pills, medicine, or counseling.
Never give up. It takes many tries for most smokers to successfully quit. Each try is a step closer towards your goal of a healthier, longer life.

Exercise More

Adding exercise to your daily routine is a fantastic way to minimize your chances of having a stroke. In fact, it’s a great way to achieve a number of health goals. Not only does it help lower your blood pressure as previously mentioned, exercise also acts as an independent stoke reducer. Research shows consistent moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by a whopping 27%.

The American Heart Association advises adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week. Or, at the very least, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Here are some activities you can try to increase the amount of exercise in your weekly routine:

  • Start a fitness group with friends.
  • Exercise to the level where you are breathing hard, but are still able to talk.
  • Add more movement in your daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a stroll through the neighborhood after breakfast or during your lunch break.
  • Swim some laps at the local pool.
  • Explore local hiking trails.

Doing any of these activities on a regular basis is a smart way to meet your weekly exercise requirements.

Lose Weight

Being overweight can lead to a series of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased chances of having a stroke. Losing as little as 10 pounds can have a huge effect on your stroke risk. Speak with your primary health care physician to discuss a weight loss strategies and realistic, achievable weight loss goals. Once you start shedding those extra pounds, you’ll also start shedding your risk of stroke.

As you can see, there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of stroke. You can decrease your chances of experiencing a stroke by living an active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, and making health-conscious decisions. Protect yourself and the health of your loved ones practicing these healthy habits. Make sure to share this vital information with your friends and family. Together we can eliminate the threat of stroke in our community.

Want to learn more ways you reduce your chances of stroke? Speak to your local health care provider to address any questions or concerns you may have. If you live in Monterey County, consider reaching out to Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice. Their award-winning nurses are ready to help you achieve your health goals and reduce your chances of stroke.


What Is Stroke?

Thousands of Americans are affected by stroke each year. In fact, every 40 seconds someone in the United States experiences a stroke. Every 4 minutes, someone dies from stroke. With numbers like this, it is easy to understand why medical professionals are advocating for more stroke awareness. The right stroke education can greatly reduce the number of strokes experienced each year. It can also help you live a healthier life without the fear that a stroke can strike you at any moment.

You may have already heard that May is American Stroke Month. Perhaps you are wondering why health care professionals would devote a whole month to educating the community on stroke. The answer is simple. Studies have shown 80% of strokes may be preventable. With over 800,000 people experiencing a stroke each year, an 80% reduction would be a huge help in reducing the amount of hospital expenses and health issues that affect the average American.

This month, learn everything you can about stroke and stroke prevention. Then do your part by sharing this valuable information with your friends and family. Remember, this knowledge can help save time, money, and lives! Keep reading to learn more about strokes, including warning signs and stroke prevention tips.

What Is Stroke

Medically speaking, a stroke is a sudden interruption of blood supply to your brain. There are several different kinds of strokes a person can experience: Ischemic Strokes, Intracerebral Hemorrhage, and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.

  • An ischemic stroke is one of the most common type of stroke. It is caused when a clot or another form of blockage happens within an artery that leads to the brain.
  • An intracerebral hemorrhage is a stroke that occurs when an artery within the brain suddenly ruptures. The brain structures then become compressed by the blood that is released into the brain.
  • A subarachnoid hemorrhage is another type of stroke caused by a sudden artery rupture. However, in this type of stroke the rupture caused the released blood to flood the spaces surrounding the brain instead of filling the inside of the brain.

The effects of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is harmed, and the extent of damage caused by the stroke. Regardless of which type of stroke you are experiencing, it is important you notice the warning signs right away and get immediate medical assistance.

How Can I Tell If I’m Having A Stroke?

Far too often, people ignore the signs of stroke because they aren’t sure if their symptoms are real. It’s important that you pay attention to your instincts. Listen to what your body is telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important you get professional medical help as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to tell if you’re having a stroke. The National Stroke Association created an easy acronym, F-A-S-T, to help people remember the warning signs of stroke. Here’s the acronym broken down for you:

  • “F” stands for face. One warning sign of a stroke is having one side of your face droop when you smile.
  • “A” stands for arms. A second warning sign of stroke is having one of your arms drift back down right after you lift both arms.
  • “S” stands for speech. A third warning sign is slurred speech or speaking oddly.
  • "T” stands for time. If you notice any of these 3 major stroke signs in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.

The letters spell fast because it is important you act fast. Getting medical treatment within 3 hours from when the first stroke symptom began can be the difference between recovery and a lasting disability.

In addition to the 3 symptoms identified in F-A-S-T, there are a few other signs of stroke. Other symptoms of stroke that you should be aware of include:

  • Your face feels numb
  • Loss of vision
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Unsteady walk
  • Weakness on one side of your body
  • Unusual and severe headache

What Should I Do If I’m Having A Stroke?

If you’re having a stroke you must get medical attention immediately. Once you’ve identified a stroke using F-A-S-T, call 911. If you’re having a stroke and are unable to speak, ask anyone nearby to make the call for you.

Remember, it’s crucial that you get treatment within the first 3 hours of your first stroke symptom. Make sure you note the time of the first symptom. Many stroke treatments are time sensitive. By keeping track of the start of a stroke, you can give the emergency staff the opportunity to make more informed decisions about treatment options.

If you think you are having a stroke, do not take any medication. For some specific kind of strokes called Ischemic strokes, taking an aspirin can be dangerous. Stay safe by avoiding any medication until the emergency staff can identify what type of stroke you are experiencing.

Strokes can also affect a person’s ability to swallow so avoid giving anyone who may be having a stroke food or drinks. You don’t want to cause anyone to accidentally choke while having a stroke.

How Can I Prevent A Stroke?

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age or gender. However, research shows that 80% of strokes are preventable. By making healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising on a regular basis and having a nutritious diet, you can greatly decrease your chances of having a stroke.

You can also minimize your risk of stroke decreasing any risky activities. Losing excess weight, lowering your blood pressure to a healthy level, keeping your blood sugar down, and quitting your smoking habit are all excellent ways to reduce your risk of stroke.


Myths & Truths About Child Vaccinations Revealed

Children are more likely to live healthier, longer lives thanks to advancements made in medicine. Immunizations give you the power to give your child a healthy start in life. Vaccines have already reduced the number of diseases in the world. For example, measles was once a typical illness in the 1950s. However, the measles vaccine has reduced the disease. Now, very few doctors even see a case of measles.

Vaccines are still a relatively new concept, medically speaking. It wasn't until the 1990s that heavy education on the importance of child vaccines began. Even today, in 2018, some parents are still wary of the long term effects of child vaccines. However, it’s important to remember that vaccines are extremely safe. In fact, there is rarely a reason why anyone shouldn't get a vaccine.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals have been trying to debunk vaccine myths for years. Some parents refuse to vaccinate their children, even with numerous studies proving the safety of vaccines. This has created health consequences for their children and their entire community.

Don’t let any vaccine misconception keep you from making the best healthcare decisions for your family. Take advantage of the benefits vaccines create. Keep reading to learn the truth behind several popular child vaccine myths.

Myth #1: Infant Immune Systems Can’t Handle Vaccines

The immune system of an infant is stronger than you think. The amount of antibodies in an infant’s immune system makes it theoretically possible for an infant to receive 10,000 vaccines at a time.

There are 14 vaccines doctors recommend your child gets before the age of 2. Thanks to today’s vaccines, children exposed to fewer diseases than previous generations.

Myth #2: Vaccines Will Infect My Child With The Disease It’s Trying To Prevent

While there is a possibility vaccines can cause symptoms of the disease they’re trying to prevent, you have nothing to worry about. In the rare cases this does happen, the symptoms are mild and non-threatening. This is because the child is not actually infected. Instead the child’s immune system is responded to the vaccine, creating the visible symptoms you notice.

Myth #3: Other Kids Are Vaccinated, I Don’t Need To Vaccinate Mine

It is possible for your kid to remain unvaccinated and perfectly healthy. This is because of “herd immunity”. Herd immunity happens when the majority of the population is vaccinated. Immune citizens help protect the immunity of the unvaccinated minority. They make it harder for diseases to spread. After all, a disease has no one to infect if everyone is immune.

However, herd immunity can disappear if not enough people are getting vaccinated. Parents mistakenly believe they don't have to vaccinate their children. However, unvaccinated chiLack of vaccinations in children creates a dangerous situation. Diseases have more opportunities to spread and infect unvaccinated communities. In addition, diseases brought back from foreign countries can result in health problems at home. This is especially dangerous for newborns, pregnant women, and elderly citizens who have weakened immune systems.

Myth #4: Vaccines Can Cause Autism

Many parents fear vaccines causing autism in their children. One fear is that the thimerosal gives children autism. However, there is no evidence linking thimerosal to autism. Furthermore, thimerosal has not been used in infant or child vaccines for many years.

The MMR vaccine is another immunization accused of causing autism. This is likely due to most children getting diagnosed with autism around the same age the MMR vaccine is recommended. However, scientific studies from all over the world have found no connection between the vaccine and autism.

Myth #5: Natural Immunity Is Better Than Vaccine Immunity

There are cases when surviving a disease gives a person a stronger immunity against that particular disease. However, this doesn't mean you should try to get your child sick. The negative side effects of catching a disease far outweigh any possible benefits. Even if the benefit is immunity. Especially when a simple vaccine can do the same thing, without endangering your child’s health.

For example, if someone wanted to get an immunity to measles by catching the disease, they would face a 1 in 500 chance of dying. On the other hand, the chances of someone suffering an allergic reaction while getting the measles vaccine is one in a million.

Give Your Family The Vaccines They Need

After learning the truth about vaccines, you’re probably ready to take the first step towards protecting your children from vaccine-preventable diseases. But where do you begin?

Start by reaching out to your local healthcare provider to learn more. Schedule an appointment to discuss vaccine options with your child's pediatrician. Vaccines are an important life-saving tool and should be available to everyone. If you’re worried you can’t afford vaccines for your children, reach out to the Vaccines For Children Program . This federally funded program specializes in helping low-income families get free vaccines. Call their toll free number, 800-232-4636, to get started.

Want a stress-free vaccine appointment? Visit a local immunization clinic. For example, VNA & Hospice has an immunization clinic designed to serve the vaccine needs of citizens throughout California’s central coast. There are many options available. In fact, vaccinating  your children is easier now more than ever. Take the first step to protect them from dangerous diseases today.


National Infant Immunization Week: What You Need To Know

How much do you know about National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW)? From April 21, 2018- April 28, 2018, health care professionals all over the country discuss the importance of vaccines. This special week recognizes the benefits of immunizations for infants and young children. For many years, healthcare providers from all over the United States have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to discuss the positive impact of vaccines in children’s health. They also highlight noteworthy achievements of immunization around the world.

Infant immunizations are a powerful medical tool that improves the health and life quality of young children everywhere. However, not everyone thinks infants should get vaccines. Infant immunization is still a controversial topic.  Unfortunately, harmful vaccine myths only deepened the controversy.

April is the perfect time to reveal the truth about childhood vaccines. There are several ways you and your friends can do this. For example, you can stop the spread of misinformation. Or,you an help educate your community about the importance of vaccines. If all of this seems a little confusing, don't worry. Soon you'll know everything you need to know to make a helpful impact. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about National Infant Immunization Week.

Why Was National Infant Immunization Week Created?

National Infant Immunization Week was created to help spread immunization awareness. Some of the main goals include:

1.) Have healthcare providers simultaneously promote the benefits of immunization.

2.) Improve the equity of the use of vaccines.

3.) Make universal vaccines a reality.

4.) Increase assistance with cross-border immunization activities.

5.) Educate parents on the importance of infant immunization.

6.) Create better communication between doctors and parents.

7.) Help low-income parents vaccinate their infants

National Infant Immunization Week has been very helpful. Since it's creation, many disease control milestones have been achieved. First, vaccines reduce the amount of infant deaths caused by preventable diseases. Vaccines also:

  • Protect properly immunized children under the age of two from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Eliminate the spread of measles. Measles used to be a common in the 1950's for children to suffer to measles. Today, the measles vaccine has almost completely gotten rid of measles. Furthermore, few practicing healthcare professionals ever see a case of measles.

Why Are Infant Immunizations Important?

It can be tempting to think of diseases as a thing of the past. However, parents shouldn’t ignore the importance of infant immunizations. There are still children who catch terrifying vaccine-preventable diseases. This can happen even in the United States. Thankfully, routine child immunizations are making things better. Vaccines prevent nearly 381 million illnesses and 24.5 million hospitalizations. In addition, infant immunizations are a key factor in preventing an estimate of 855,000 early deaths.

Don't forget, infant immunizations also benefit the economy. Just think of how much money is saved by eliminating so many illnesses, hospitalizations, and untimely deaths. In fact, disease-preventing vaccines are estimated to create a net savings of $1.65 trillion in societal costs.

What Are The Dangers Of Immunization Myths

There are numerous records proving the success of infant immunizations. In fact, it may be hard to believe that some parents are opposed to the idea of vaccinating their children. Immunizations have achieved a lot of medical success over the years. Despite this, several myths about infant immunizations continue to flood the media. Unfortunately, this causes some parents to become distrustful of vaccines. As a result, they can place their children’s health at risk.

Parents who believe vaccine myths may end up choosing not to vaccinate their child. As a result, their child faces the risk of catching a vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, you may remember that few doctors today ever see a case of measles. This is mainly due to the measles vaccine. However, America experienced a large number of mesale cases in 2014. Twenty-seven states reported 667 measle cases to the CDC. The leading theory is this record number outbreak was caused by parents who chose not to vaccinate their children.

What To Do During National Infant Immunization Week

Anyone can participate in National Infant Immunization Week. In fact, there are a variety of NIIW opportunities for everyone. Are you a parent? Make sure your infant’s immunization records are current. Don't have any children? You can still help. Educate others about infant vaccines to put an end to preventable diseases.

One of the best ways you can help is by sharing important infant vaccine information with the parents and caregivers in your community. Try doing any of the following:

  • Educate parents and caregivers about the crucial role vaccinations play in protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Work with local healthcare providers to facilitate better communication between doctors and parents.
  • Discuss the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases to young children.
  • Highlight the achievements immunization advancements have made over the years.
  • Inform parents, caregivers, and teachers about a Vaccines for Children's number, 800-232-4636. This program was created to help low-income parents get vaccines for their children. One can call toll free number for assistance. This includes finding local vaccine areas.
  • Use the power of your social media account to share stories that highlight the importance of childhood immunizations.
  • Take the time to thank the volunteers in your community for their efforts to provide childhood immunizations to everyone.

Do your part to help the children in your community. Spread awareness about the importance of infant immunizations in your area. Speak out against false immunization information.

Spread Awareness In Your Community

Serious diseases are a terrifying thing. However, medical advancements now prevent once common illness. Vaccines have nearly removed measles from the population. Take a moment during National Infant Immunization Week this month to recognize the important role infant immunizations play in your hometown. Let's work together to educate others about the infant vaccines. In addition, discover new ways to collaborate and spread immunization awareness. Lastly, work with the members of your community keep children safe. This April, work towards a future where no child ever suffers from a vaccine-preventable disease.


How To Reduce Daily Stress

In the modern age, it’s very common for people to experience stress. In fact, nearly 70% of adults living in the United States claim to feel stressed every day. This may come as no surprise when you look at the way the majority of today’s population conditioned to always be on the go 24/7. People are working longer hours, getting less and less sleep, taking less vacation time, and putting self-care last. This type of lifestyle can greatly increase a person’s stress levels and even lead to depression, burnout, and even declining health.

You can live a longer, happier life it you take the proper steps to prevent stress from affecting your health. In fact, studies have shown that people with low levels of stress enjoy a great deal of benefits. Keep reading to learn how you can reduce the daily stress in your life.

Reduce Your Caffeine Consumption

Caffeine is a stimulate commonly found in tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and coffee. While ingesting caffeine is viewed as a normal way to get the energy one needs to start the day, too much caffeine can be a bad thing. People have different thresholds for how much caffeine their bodies can tolerate. If someone drinks too much caffeine, they can experience the following negative side effects:

  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent Urination

If you are noticing an increase in stress of anxiety after your mid-day cup of coffee, consider scaling back in your caffeine consumption. While caffeine can be healthy in moderation, too much of it can leave you feeling stressed and anxious throughout the rest of your day.

Laugh More

Laughing is a great way to reduce stress. Not only does laughing at a good joke stimulate and relieve your stress response, it can also relax muscles and bring more oxygen to your brain and organs. Overtime, daily laughter breaks can also help improve your immune system and your overall mood.

Learn to look for the humor in your daily life, spend time with friends with a great sense of humor, or watch a funny comedy to relieve any stress lingering around at the end of your day.

Exercise Regularly

One of the most effective ways to combat stress is to exercise on a regular basis. Physically exerting your body can help you relive mental stress. This could be why people who exercise regularly tend to experience less anxiety than inactive people.

There are several reasons why exercise is a great way to reduce stress. First, it lowers your body’s stress hormones while releasing endorphins at the same time. The effect acts as a natural painkiller and can improve your mood.

Second, exercise can improve your quality of sleep. While stress can make you anxious and keep you lying awake in bed all night, exercise helps you relax and gets you tired enough to sleep until morning arrives.

Third, many people who exercise notice an increase in confidence. Regular exercise leads to a healthy body that is easy to feel competent and confident in. This in turn promotes mental-well being and eradicates stressful self-doubt and social anxiety.

Spend Time Outdoors

A breath of fresh air can do wonders for your stress levels. Studies have shown spending time in nature not only decreases stress, but also lowers blood pressure, restores mental health, and can create an overall sense of wellbeing.

Add more nature to your life by taking a walk outside, visiting the local beach with friends, or even sipping your morning cup of tea on your patio. You can even bring the positive benefits of the outdoors inside by adding indoor plants to your home or work area.

Take A Break From Technology

Did you know the average person checks their phones eighty times a day? The amount of the time that people spend on their technological devices can quickly add up to hours. Make sure you set aside time in your day to unplug and take a break from technology. This is especially important if you visit a lot of social media sites.

Use the time away from your devices to go out with friends or to spend time with your pet. Not only will you the absences of never-ending notifications and updates give your overworked brain a break, the supportive and caring presence of your friends and animal companions can do wonders when it comes to eliminating stress.

Practice Meditation

A few minutes of mediation a day can reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality. For some people, meditation comes in the form of sitting quietly with both eyes closed. Other people do well with meditation guidance. It’s important that you do what works best for you. Regular meditation practice cannot only reduce daily stress, it can also help you organize and process different events happening in your life.

Start Living A Stress-Free Life

Escape the stress of today by practicing any of the healthy habits previously mentioned. You can learn more ways to live a healthier, happier, stress-free life by attending one of VNA & Hospice’s upcoming public educational events. You can contact them at 831-226-7666 to learn what this month’s topic is.


6 Important Things You Need To Know About Shingles

Many adults know what chickenpox is and have even had it as a child. However, few people are aware that if they have had chickenpox, they face the possibility of developing shingles later in life.

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have ever had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus is nestled within the nerve issue near your spinal cord and brain. While the virus is usually inactive, there is the possibility it can reactivate years later in the form of shingles.

Fortunately, shingles isn’t a deadly condition, but it can be very painful. Shingle manifests in the form of a painful rash. While shingles can occur anywhere on the body, it is most common for a stripe of blisters to appear on the left or right side of the torso.

Common symptoms of shingles include:

  • Pain
  • Burning Sensation
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • The appearance of a red rash a few days after pain begins
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Itching

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important you make an appointment with your local healthcare provider to make sure you don’t have shingles. It is especially important you contact your doctor if the rash or pain is near your eyes. If left untreated, an infection near the eyes can lead to irreparable eye damage.

While shingles is more common in older adults, it can happen to anyone. Anyone with a weakened immune system faces a greater chance of developing this infection. Shingles can be an incredibly painful experience. It’s crucial that you arm yourself with knowledge about shingles to protect yourself from it.

Remember, the sooner you seek treatment, the faster you can stop the discomfort and pain of shingles. Here are 6 important things you need to know about shingles.

1.) 1 In 3 People Will Develop Shingles

There are nearly one million of cases of shingles in the United States each year, according to CDC data. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, have a poor immune system, or over the age of fifty, you are at risk of developing shingles. In fact, almost half of the shingle cases that occur each year are in people who ages sixty and older.

2.) There Is No Cure For Shingles

Once a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus never truly leaves. Instead it becomes inactive, lying dormant in your nerve tissue. While you can never eliminate the virus from your body, you can take prescribed antiviral medications that can help clear up the painful rash faster, especially if you start taking the medication early on. It is possible to go through shingles more than once. Make sure you take the necessary steps to prevent shingles from reoccurring, or from evening happening once.

3.) A Shingles Vaccine Exists

While there is no cure for shingles, a vaccine does exist. In 2006 study, a vaccine called Zostavax was shown to dramatically reduce the chances of developing shingles. In addition, the vaccine is even better at reducing the chance of a person developing lingering pain.

Unfortunately, according to CDC data, no more than 25% of seniors get this important vaccine each year. If you are over the age of sixty, it’s important that you discuss getting the shingles vaccine with your primary care physician. After all, getting this vaccine can greatly reduce your chance of experiencing this painful infection. Remember, it is possible to get shingles more than once. Make sure you get your shingles vaccine each year to maximize your protection.

Residents of California’s Central Coast can easily get their shingles vaccine at one of Central Coast Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice’s Community Clinics. VNA strives to provide its patients with the best medical care possible, which is why they have the new shingles vaccine.

This new and improved vaccine is called Shingrix and is estimated to be 90% effective. Shingrix is a 2 dose series that is given 2 to 6 months apart. This new vaccine is so effective, the CDC recommends anyone ages fifty or older gets Shingrix. Even if you’ve already gotten the old vaccine, you can still get Shingrix for maximum shingles prevention.

4.) Shingles Can Be Contagious

For most people, shingles is not contagious. However, if someone has never had chickenpox, they have the chance of catching the varicella-zoster virus from someone who has shingles. While chickenpox is uncomfortable to have as a child, it can be disastrous for adults. In fact, some adults who catch chickenpox can end up in intensive care.

If you were born before doctors started vaccinating children in 1995, it is very likely that you’ve been exposed to the chickenpox virus. It’s even possible that you’ve had a mild case of the chickenpox and never even realized it.

5.) Pain Can Remain Even After The Rash Disappears

Up to 20% of the people who develop shingles end up getting postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a chronic burning nerve pain that occurs at the site of the shingles outbreak. This may be due to continued inflammation or possible nerve damage.

The risk of developing PHN increases with age, as studies show the 80% of PHN cases are patients over the age of fifty. While the pain usually lasts from a few weeks to a few months, some people can experience sever and debilitating pain for years. It is crucial that you take the proper preventative steps, like getting the shingles vaccine, to prevent PHN from happening to you.

6.) The Best Defense Is A Healthy Immune System

There are many benefits to maintaining a healthy immune system and shingles prevention is one of them. If you’re over the age of sixty you face a greater risk of developing shingles. This may be due to our immune systems weakening as we age. However, it is possible to keep your immune system strong by living a healthy lifestyle. Doing any of the following is a great way to maintain your immune system as you age:

  • Get plenty of rest each night
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Reduce the daily stress in your life
  • Get regular health exams

If you want the strongest protection against shingles, follow these daily habits to keep your immune system healthy and get your shingles vaccine. This winning combination will greatly decrease your chances of developing shingles.