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“Celebrating our Public Health Care System”

The Ventura County Health Care Agency, promotes a philosophy of well-being and providing care that is patient-centered, comprehensive, coordinated, accessible, and focused on quality and safety. The benefits to our community provided by the Health Care Agency are far reaching – from the hospital replacement wing project at Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) to the first and only Public Health Department in our state to be accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), to a thriving and proactive Behavioral Health Department, and even our county’s Animal Services Department.

The 180-bed VCMC hospital has a rich history of providing access to high-quality, compassionate care to all residents in our county, including the underserved, often referred to as the safety-net population. In 2013, VCMC launched the largest construction project in the history of the county with the groundbreaking of the new hospital replacement wing, slated for completion by summer of 2017.

Also under the umbrella of HCA are the Public Health and Behavioral Health Departments, both providing a wealth of healthy living information for the citizens of Ventura County. At www.healthmattersinvc.org, a valuable collaboration tool is available for anyone to review our county’s health data, demographics, comparison indicators, funding opportunities and even tips for improving one’s health and quality of life.

The Behavioral Health Department created a separate website, www.wellnesseveryday.org, which provides an abundance of information and resources to help individuals make the right choices to lead a healthy and balanced life in body and mind. The site provides valuable information on bullying, mental health, suicide prevention, positive parenting and more.

Many in our community don’t realize that Ventura County Animal Services is a division of the Health Care Agency. While it may seem an unlikely alliance for a health care system, studies show that there is almost nothing as good for one’s mental health as having a pet.  Information on adopting a pet can be found at www.VCAS.us.

With 24 primary care medical clinics, 11 specialty care medical clinics, 8 urgent care medical clinics, 2 public health clinics, 10 behavioral health clinics and 2 county animal shelters, the Health Care Agency is committed to keeping you and your family healthy.  Your public healthcare system is pleased to be taking part in the 11th Annual Summerfest, a free community celebration of healthy living presented by Ventura Education Partnership, the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) and the City of Ventura.

Please come visit our HCA clinic, hospital, behavioral and public health outreach teams. We will be providing information on everything from car seat and helmet safety to smoking cessation to getting fit through nutrition and exercise and so much more.

 

 

What’s new in Virtual Reality?

Tech Today with Ken May

2016 just might be the year that Virtual Reality finally makes it into the mainstream gaming audience. Right now, there are several strong contenders in the VR arena. Oculus, with its flagship Rift, is owned by Facebook. Samsung has its Gear VR, Sony, its PlayStation VR, and HTC recently launched its highly anticipated Vive VR system. The last time we heard a lot of noise about VR was back in the 1990s. They were doomed form the start, though, with huge hardware, poor graphics, and a cost that prohibited any consumer purchases.

What exactly is Virtual Reality you ask? In its current incarnation, a VR headset rests on the user’s head, covering the eyes, and has built in headphones to produce an immersive experience. The player usually has a controller in one or more hands, although there may also be a Kinect-type hands-free camera tracking systems as well. The headset is able to track your head movements in any direction, so wherever you look, your game character looks.

Right now, each device has its own unique specs or features that might make it more attractive than another, but they are all roughly the same. A key differentiator for the public may wind up being cross-platform compatibility. It’s expected that the Sony unit will only work with games on its platform, however the Oculus and HTC units support PC gaming. Both the Samsung Gear and the Oculus have some Android support for mobile gaming. Currently, it looks like iPhone users have to deal with cheap units that actually strap the phone to your head.

Virtual Reality device sales will hit 14 million units worldwide in 2016, providing a strong launch point for the category, according to data released from the Topology Research Institute, a division of research firm TrendForce. The firm expects sales to rise to 18 million units in 2017 and 22 million by the end of 2018. In 2020, sales could reach 38 million units worldwide.

The HTC Vive which went up for pre-order on February 29, and is due to start shipping on April 5, apparently racked up more than 15,000 pre-orders in less than 10 minutes, according to a tweet by HTC VR dev Shen Ye. That’s impressive considering this is a $799 system, and it requires a strong PC to run anything. The Oculus Rift, is also up for pre-order, costing $599, and also due to ship in April.

Virtual Reality games require less resources to produce than Virtual Reality movies, according to TrendForce. “First-person games in particular can be ported to VR devices with some modifications,” the firm said in a release Tuesday. “The relatively low costs and minimal time requirement thus will be strong incentives for game developers as they will become major content providers for VR hardware.”

Ultimately, VR entertainment, such as movies, and streaming live events could be the killer features it needs to gain traction.

Get connected with a technology workshop in Ventura

“Grandpa this is absolutely the last time that I’m going to show you how to use this PC”
“Grandpa this is absolutely the last time that I’m going to show you how to use this PC”

On Thursday, March 31, volunteers will be on hand to help attending seniors with questions related to their cell phones, tablets and computers. From 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the SCAN Health & Wellness Center (6633 Telephone Rd., Ste 100), the Technology Connection workshop is free to seniors 55+ and their caregivers. For more information or to register, call 658-0365.

Napping may make it harder to fall asleep

senior sleeping
“I have no problem sleeping and I’m 95 in dog years”

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as young adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But seniors tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than when they were younger. Older people may nap more during the day, which can sometimes make it hard to fall asleep at night.

There are two kinds of sleep—REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. We dream mostly during REM sleep and have the deepest sleep during non-REM sleep. As people get older, they spend less time in deep sleep, which may be why older people are often light sleepers.

There are many reasons why older people may not get enough sleep at night. Feeling sick or being in pain can make it hard to sleep. Napping during the day can disrupt sleep at night. Some medicines can keep you awake.

Being older doesn’t mean you have to feel tired all the time. There are many things you can do to help you get a good night’s sleep. Here are some ideas:

Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends.

Try to avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening, as it may keep you awake at night.

Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night. Some people watch television, read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.

Keep your bedroom dark, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.

Have a comfortable mattress, a pillow you like, and enough blankets for the season.

Exercise at regular times each day but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.

Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day.

Be careful about when and how much you eat. Large meals close to bedtime may keep you awake, but a light snack in the evening can help you get a good night’s sleep.

Stay away from caffeine late in the day. Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and hot chocolate) can keep you awake.

Drink fewer beverages in the evening. Waking up to go to the bathroom and turning on a bright light break up your sleep.

Alcohol won’t help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.

Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed. Other people find that relaxing their body puts them to sleep. You might start by telling yourself that your toes feel light as feathers and then work your way up the rest of the body saying the same words. You may drift off to sleep before getting to the top of your head.

If you feel tired and unable to do your activities for more than 2 or 3 weeks, you may have a sleep problem. Talk to your doctor about changes you can make to get a better night’s sleep.

 

 

Senior classes available at SCAN

AARP’s Driver Safety Program is the nation’s largest refresher course to help drivers 50 and older drive safely longer. This specialized program allows participating seniors to tune up their driving skills while also potentially getting an insurance discount. The AARP Smart Driver Course will be taught in two four-hour sessions, March 23 and 24, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The cost is $15 for AARP members/$20 for non-members and includes refreshments.

It’s possible to live well with diabetes – learn how at a Diabetes Management Workshop at the SCAN Health & Wellness Center. On Tuesday, March 22, Health Educator Mary Arevalo will share how to live well with diabetes, how to create a meal plan, how to add activity to your life and how to manage your medications. Each class is from 9:30 a.m. – 12 .

Seventy five percent of seniors 70 years old have some balance impairment. Having a strong sense of balance is crucial in preventing falls in older adults. Attend a  free balance screenings on Wednesday, March 23, from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. The screenings are available to those 55 and older who have had a recent stroke, fall, or surgery. They will be conducted by Amy M. Griffin, MS, PT – President & Lead Physical Therapist for Equilibrium.

Seniors with certain medical issues can be more likely to fall. A free educational workshop: “Medical Issues on Falls” on Thursday, March 24 from 10 – 11 a.m. Join workshop leader Dr. James Helmer, Geriatrician at Ventura County Medical Center and Palliative Care Physician as he discusses the effects of medical issues that can contribute to fall risk.

Song circles are a wonderful place to find your own voice, and enjoy the healing benefits of music. Playing and listening to music benefits both mental and physical health. Seniors 55+ and their caregivers are welcome to join a free Senior Song Circle Tuesday afternoons from 3 – 5:30 p.m. on April 12, May 10 and June 7. Singing and playing music keep your brain healthy, improve sleep quality, reduce depression and boosts the immune system.

The SCAN Health & Wellness Center is located at 6633 Telephone Road. To register , and for more information please call 658-0365.

Eating well as you get older

senior eating wellWhatever your age, your daily food choices can make an important difference in your health and in how you look and feel.

Eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits. For instance, eating well may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. If you already have one or more of these chronic diseases, eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.

Eating well gives you the nutrients needed to keep your muscles, bones, organs, and other parts of your body healthy throughout your life. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water.

Eating well helps keep up your energy level, too. By consuming enough calories — a way to measure the energy you get from food –you give your body the fuel it needs throughout the day. The number of calories needed depends on how old you are, whether you’re a man or woman, your height and weight, and how active you are.

Consuming the right number of calories for your level of physical activity helps you control your weight, too. Extra weight is a concern for older adults because it can increase the risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease and can increase joint problems. Eating more calories than your body needs for your activity level will lead to extra pounds.

If you become less physically active as you age, you will probably need fewer calories to stay at the same weight. Choosing mostly nutrient-dense foods — foods which have a lot of nutrients but relatively few calories — can give you the nutrients you need while keeping down calorie intake.

Your food choices also affect your digestion. For instance, not getting enough fiber or fluids may cause constipation. Eating more whole-grain foods with fiber, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may help with constipation.

To eat healthier, you can begin by taking small steps, making one change at a time. For instance, you might take the salt shaker off your table. Decreasing your salt intake slowly will allow you to adjust, switch to whole-grain bread, seafood, or more vegetables and fruits when you shop.

These changes may be easier than you think. They’re possible even if you need help with shopping or cooking, or if you have a limited budget.

Whatever your age, you can start making positive lifestyle changes today. Eating well can help you stay healthy and independent — and look and feel good — in the years to come.

Vol. 9, No. 12 – March 16 – March 29, 2016 – A Tender Touch Senior Placement

Organizing your parent(s) home
By Connie De La Rosa

Making that visit to your parent(s) home can be a little overwhelming and appear as though the home is now their storage area with items that should not be in home or placed in a area out of their way to prevent accidents from happening.

Here are a few problems found in the homes of some of the elderly:

  • Kitchen cabinet messes
  • Refrigerator disorder
  • Unreachable items on top shelves
  • Food or toys spread out in pet areas
  • Difficult-to-reach storage in laundry rooms
  • Home office clutter on the desk and disorganized files
  • A jam-packed bathroom vanity or medicine cabinet
  • Dangerously stacked bookshelves
  • Fall risks in hallways or on the stair such as rugs curling upward
  • Magazines and mail stacked in the living room

Taking time to stop and keep in mind that you should respect what they feel is important to leave and just discuss a safer place to store if there is room without hoarding which is another topic.  If you were to rethink about the organization in the home when you were growing up and remembered that favorite magazines were stored and older ones sold in a garage sale, donated etc. you may ask your parent if reaching or lifting is difficult.  This may reveal overall issues they are having and the reasons why their magazines are on the floor stacked up and not stored safely.  For more information on services available for assistance in organization call 200-7756.

 

Vol. 9, No. 12 – March 16 – March 29, 2016 – Senior News Line

Scam: Seniors used as drug mules
By Matilda Charles

Seniors have long been the victims of scams: identity theft, lotteries, fake computer tech support, IRS impersonation, fake charities, home repair, utility sign-ups and more. Now there’s one that’s beyond comprehension — seniors are being conned into being drug mules in foreign countries.

These drug-mule scams usually start online with seniors being enticed by romantic relationships. Once trust is built up, the senior is asked to travel internationally, with the scammers making the arrangements that go through multiple countries. On one leg of the journey, the senior is asked to carry a package or extra piece of luggage.

One such senior, age 77, is a former pastor who never even had a traffic ticket. He’d been involved in an online romance, which was a scam. For years he’d been sending the woman money, to the detriment of his own financial situation. Eventually he was convinced to transport “real estate documents” from South America to London for his online friend. Unbeknownst to him, the weighty packages contained cocaine. He was arrested and sits in a European prison.

According to testimony at a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, 145 seniors have been arrested by foreign governments for trying to smuggle drugs, and 44 of them are still in prison.

If you’re a senior or care for one, especially someone who is cognitively impaired, go online to www.aging.senate.gov/hearings and search for “Do You Know What Is in Your Suitcase?” Read the testimony from senators, the director of Immigrations and Customs, and the son of one senior who is still in prison in a foreign country. If you or a loved one have been the victim of fraud, please contact the anti-fraud hotline at 855-303-9470.

(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.

 

 

Alcohol and aging

Adults of any age can have problems with alcohol. In general, older adults don’t drink as much as younger people, but they can still have trouble with drinking. As people get older, their bodies change. They can develop health problems or chronic diseases. They may take more medications than they used to. All of these changes can make alcohol use a problem for older adults.

Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is a chemical found in beverages like beer, wine, and distilled spirits such as whiskey, vodka, and rum. Through a process called fermentation, yeast converts the sugars naturally found in grains and grapes into the alcohol that is in beer and wine. Another process, called distillation, concentrates alcohol in the drink making it stronger, producing what are known as distilled spirits.

Limited research suggests that sensitivity to alcohol’s health effects may increase with age. As people age, there is a decrease in the amount of water in the body, so when older adults drink, there is less water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol that is consumed. This causes older adults to have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than younger people after consuming an equal amount of alcohol.

This means that older adults may experience the effects of alcohol, such as slurred speech and lack of coordination, more readily than when they were younger. An older person can develop problems with alcohol even though his or her drinking habits have not changed.

Drinking too much alcohol can cause health problems. Heavy drinking over time can damage the liver, the heart, and the brain. It can increase the risk of developing certain cancers and immune system disorders as well as damage muscles and bones.

Drinking too much alcohol can make some health conditions worse. These conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver problems, and memory problems. Other health issues include mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Adults with major depression are more likely than adults without major depression to have alcohol problems.

Many older adults take medicines, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs, and herbal remedies. Drinking alcohol can cause certain medicines not to work properly and other medicines to become more dangerous or even deadly. Mixing alcohol and some medicines, particularly sedative-hypnotics, can cause sleepiness, confusion, or lack of coordination, which may lead to accidents and injuries. Mixing medicines also may cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and other more serious health problems.

Medications stay in the body for at least several hours. So, you can still experience a problem if you drink alcohol hours after taking a pill. Read the labels on all medications and follow the directions. Some medication labels warn people not to drink alcohol when taking the medicine. Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider whether it’s okay to drink alcohol while taking a certain medicine.