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HomeHealth Wise

September 2023


Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans that were once good choices may no longer offer the best coverage. Providers and physicians drop out of both options on a regular basis. That may mean a senior’s long-time doctor or preferred hospital will no longer accept their Medicare or Medicare replacement insurance in 2023.


With the increase in Medicare Advantage plans in recent years, however, there may be a better choice available — one that offers a broader range of health care providers at a better overall price. Sometimes changing plans can save seniors money while also giving them access to different care providers.


Tips to Make the Most of Medicare Open  Enrollment:


1. Review your ANOC: Every Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan recipient receives what is called an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). They are mailed out in September and typically arrive in late September or early October. It’s important that  you carefully review the ANOC and look for updates that might impact you, from changes in costs to  differences in coverages and providers.


2. Satisfaction with providers: Make a list of things that are working and places where current coverage falls short. Be honest and objective. Thinking about your overall satisfaction, from how long you have to wait for an appointment with a primary care physician to the distance to the closest lab for blood work, is a good idea.


3. Out-of-pocket costs: It’s also helpful to pull together a list of out-of-pocket expenses for the last year or two. Include premiums paid for gap insurance, coinsurance costs, deductibles, and any costs that were denied. Add all of these together. This gives you a better understanding of the true cost of their current plan.


If you have specific questions or just wants help from a professional to determine the best plan for 2023, the State Health Insurance Assistance Plan (SHIP) can be a solution. A SHIP advisor is available at Neighbors Network in November to provide free, unbiased, one-on-one support.


October 2023


Some of the most serious injuries among older adults, age 65 and older, are caused by falling. More than 1.6 million older Americans end up in the emergency room or hospital because of a fall, according to the National Institutes of Health. Seniors who have broken a hip by falling can have trouble recovering and regaining mobility.


The good news is many falls are preventable. One of the first things you can do if you take  prescription medication is have your health care team review your medication.


“Some prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs, or a combination of them, can make you dizzy or sleepy. Either can lead to a fall,” said Jaza Marina, M.D., a geriatrician at Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta. “If you fall, be sure to let your doctor know, even if you aren’t hurt. Sometimes falls are a sign of a new medical    problem that needs attention.”


Many underlying causes of falls can be treated or corrected. Dr. Marina recommends these 10 proactive steps to reduce the risk of falling.


Make your home safe:


1. Remove clutter, throw rugs, and electrical cords that might cause you to trip.

2. Store items on bottom shelves.

3. Add grab bars where necessary, in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.

4. Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.

5. Make sure your home is well lit. Use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.

6. Keep a phone and flashlight by your bed.


Take care of yourself:


7. Stay as physically active as you can.

8. Wear comfortable shoes with good support.

9. Have your vision and hearing checked.

10. Use a cane or walker if you feel unsteady.


For more information on how to prevent falls, visit Also check out for tips on walking as an     exercise. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.



July 2023


When was the last time you had a good night's sleep? For many, sleep doesn't come easy. Up to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome. Nights are spent staring at the walls as insomnia takes control, or frequently waking from snoring or gasping for air due to untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Fortunately, achieving the recommended seven hours of healthy sleep and managing a sleep disorder is possible with help. AAHS, a patient-focused membership organization made up of health care providers and patients with sleep disorders, shares the following tips to manage your sleep better:

Talk to your doctor — As a society, we often deprioritize sleep issues despite a patient's need to address a lack of sleep. Many patients do not proactively talk to their primary care physician about their sleep during routine exams, mainly due to a perceived high cost of treatment. By asking the right questions or finding an accredited sleep center for testing and consultation, you’re one step closer to a good night’s sleep. A sleep physician can help outline a treatment strategy that can last a lifetime, helping you take back control and reduce the cycle of the frustration of losing valuable sleep.

Stay up to date — It's an exciting time in the sleep field, and advancements are on the horizon. From new sleep monitoring technology and more comfortable positive airway pressure machines, researchers continue to focus on new ways to provide high-quality patient-centered care. By joining together, patients and their family members can learn more about healthy sleep, access exclusive news affecting the sleep community and ultimately be a part of a collaborative discussion that furthers the success of the sleep disorders community. Together you can advocate for increased and improved care for patients and rally for more significant research funding to improve the understanding and treatment of sleep disorders.

To learn more about improving your life through healthy sleep, visit resources/.


August 2023


If you’re often short of breath during everyday activities, your chest feels tight, or you cough a lot, you may be chalking it up to getting older, having allergies, or being a smoker (now or in the past). Fortunately, there’s a way to know whether something more may be at play. Consider getting a lung function test to find out if you have a serious condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Knowing the cause of your cough and breathing problems will not only help you manage your symptoms — it’ll help you feel better, too. COPD includes two main conditions — emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It’s usually caused by cigarette smoking or breathing in other irritants, such as dusts or chemical fumes. In a small fraction of people, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency plays a role in causing COPD. More than 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and millions more have it but don’t know it, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). 

Spirometry: A Lung Function Test

The main test for COPD is called spirometry. Your provider will use the test results to determine how healthy your lungs are, if you have COPD and how serious it is, or if asthma or other conditions are causing your symptoms. Spirometry can also help your provider know if you have COPD before you even have symptoms, so if you’re concerned about your lung health, consider getting a spirometry test.

Ask for a lung function test if you:
•Are or were a smoker
•Feel out of breath often
•Bring up a lot of mucus when you cough
•Have been diagnosed with a lung disease
•Have AAT deficiency
•Are concerned about your lung health

NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe BetterSM program provides free educational resources about COPD, videos on spirometry, and more. Find them at


May 2023

Every year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and as pollen production grows in intensity and duration due to longer freeze-free periods, that number is only expected to rise. For chronic allergy sufferers, this can mean battling symptoms around the calendar, year after year.

Allergies pose a genuine health risk beyond stuffy noses and itchy, watery eyes. Those with intense allergic symptoms find their quality of life drastically affected, leading to missed workdays, or even emergency room visits. Severe allergy sufferers may experience intense congestion, sneezing, hives or eczema, plus difficulty breathing.

Over-the-counter antihistamines and other allergy medications can provide temporary relief, but long-term relief requires finding a specialist for treatment.

How does immunotherapy work?

1. An onsite allergy specialist tests patients for the 48 most common allergens.

2. After specific triggers are identified, specific doses of the allergen are mixed for the patient to gradually expose him or her to very small amounts of the allergens.

3. The physician and Clinical Allergy Specialist guide the patient through test results, tracking doses, and provide helpful tips between check-in visits.

4. With exposure to increasing amounts at regular intervals over the course of treatment, the body is gradually desensitized to those triggers that once caused uncomfortable or debilitating symptoms.

For help finding a primary physician in your area that offers United Allergy Services testing and treatment, visit 


June 2023

Research seems to indicate that caregiving is linked to increased risk for heart disease. That the role falls on women more than men is just one reason women should take time to learn about heart health and how to recognize the symptoms of a problem.

Preventing Coronary Artery Disease

What can people do to prevent heart disease? Some risk factors are genetic, including a family history of high cholesterol. But 80% of the risk comes from lifestyle choices. A few steps you can take to protect your heart include:

1. Stay active: Exercise 30 minutes most days. A combination of low-impact aerobic activities and a few days a week of light weights or resistance bands is generally best.

2. Keep moving: Avoid falling into a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting too much has been found to be almost as dangerous as smoking! So, make sure to get up and move throughout the day.

3. Rest well: Sleep is another essential for keeping your heart healthy. Make it a priority to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night.

4. Watch your figure: Keeping your weight at a level your doctor says is healthy also helps lower your risk for heart disease.

5. Manage stress: Chronic stress is linked to high blood pressure and cardiac diseases. Try to find positive ways to manage stress, such as meditation, walking, or journaling.

6. Don’t smoke: Smoking can increase your risk for heart disease by 2 to 4 times that of a nonsmoker.

7. Limit alcohol: This risk factor may not be as well-known, but consuming too much alcohol contributes to heart disease.

For more ideas to keep your heart healthy visit the America Heart Association at

Fight for your Sight
March 2023


The ability to see is one of our most precious gifts. Like most things in life, our vision may be impacted as we age. That's why it's important to learn about Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Prevalent among older Americans, it affects one in five adults aged 65 and older and is the leading cause of blindness for this population. While there is no cure for this condition, there are steps that you can take to help reduce the risk of progression.

3 tips to fight Age-related Macular Degeneration:
1. Schedule routine eye exams. As early stages of AMD may not present any symptoms, you may not think to consult your eye doctor. Keeping routine eye exams that include eye dilation may help to identify the condition early, as well as help maintain overall eye health.
2. Address symptoms immediately. See your eye care professional right away if you experience sudden or gradual changes in vision quality. As AMD progresses, straight lines may appear distorted, central vision may look dark, blurry, or white, or changes in color perception may become noticeable.
3. Lead a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, quit. Regular exercise can also help to maintain eye health and minimize the risk of progression. Other risk factors for AMD include obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Also, have a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables as well as healthy fatty acids may also help reduce the risk of progression. Foods that contain these nutrients include spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, romaine and chard, and fatty fish such as salmon, sea bass, herring, whitefish, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.

Spring Allergies
April 2023


An itchy nose, watery eyes, painful congestion, and intense sneezing can all be signs you have a seasonal allergy. Depending on what part of the country you reside in, these symptoms might be caused by flowering trees or pollen-filled flowers. Allergies can be uncomfortable for people of all ages but can be managed with a little help.

3 Ways to Manage Spring Allergies:
1. Limit time outdoors: When peak allergy season arrives, it might help to limit the amount of time you spend outdoors. When you do head outside, take a few precautionary steps. Make sure you wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. Another way to limit exposure is to take off your shoes and change your clothes in the garage or mud room. This not only reduces the amount of pollen you might be breathing in, but also prevents pollen from making its way into the house.
2. Control your environment: When the pollen count is high or when it’s windy outdoors, keep your windows closed to limit the amount of pollen and dust from getting inside. Instead, use your air conditioner to cool the house. The same is true if you are inside a car. While the fresh air might feel good, you are exposing yourself to allergens as you travel.
3. Work around the pollen count: Be sure to monitor the pollen count. This is easier if you take advantage of one of the many free weather apps you can download on your smart phone. Your local television station likely has one. If not, The Weather Channel does. You can use your zip code to track allergens that are high in your area.

National Bath Safety Month
January 2023


Each year thousands of people of all ages visit the emergency room due to bathroom-related slips and falls. These accidents are often overlooked, but remind us the importance of recognizing bathroom safety. Here are a few precautionary measures to prevent an accident from happening to you or a loved one.

4 Ways to Help Prevent Bathroom Accidents:
1. Install slip-resistant strips or mats on the bottom of your bathtub or shower
2. Have safety handles installed for climbing in and out of the tub or shower.
3. Keep your bathroom floor is clean, free of spills and have a nonslip rug or mat placed on the floor near the bathtub or shower for balance when exiting.
4. Ensure water temperature is at or around 120 degrees to prevent skin burns.

An accident can happen in an instant. Preventing bathroom accidents is easy if you take the right precautions and your family will thank you!

Shoo the Flu: Avoiding the Flu Bug
February 2023


Many people think the flu is more of an annoyance than a serious health risk. Receiving the flu shot before the season ramps up is one of the best methods to avoid being bitten by the bug. It is, however, just one of several prevention measures families should take.

3 Ways to Stay Healthy During Flue Season:
1. Wash your hands frequently. The flu virus can linger on doorknobs, handrails, and other public places. By washing your hands often, you lower your risk for catching the bug. Use hot, soapy water to scrub your hands throughout the day.
2. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get a good night’s sleep. This keeps your immune system health and strong.
3. Avoid touching your face. We don’t realize how often we touch our face throughout the day. If you’ve picked up the virus on your hands and touch your face, your risk of contracting the flu soars. Being more conscious about not touching your face could help lower your flu risk.

Winter Skin Care for all Ages
November 2022


While most people think of skin safety as only a summer challenge, winter can wreak havoc on the skin, too. From a lack of moisture in the air to exposure to cold, harsh winds, developing a healthy winter skincare regimen is essential. This is especially true for those who often have thinner, more sensitive skin.

5 Tips for Heathier Skin This Winter

1. Return the moisture to the air by using a humidifier or lowering your thermostat. This helps in keeping the moisture in your air.

2. Take shorter showers with water that’s lukewarm. Hot water will dry out the skin.

3. Apply a moisturizing cream every night before bedtime. Don’t forget your hands and face.

4. Reduce the use of products that contain fragrance such as shower gel, laundry soap, and cleaning products.  Fragrances can irritate the skin.

5. Apply sunscreen. Even in the winter your skin can be exposed to harmful sun rays.


Mindfulness and its Proven Impact on Loneliness


December 2022


Mindfulness has been shown to help older adults

overcome a silent but urgent health issue: loneliness. It is

estimated that more than half of adults age 65 and over regularly experience moderate to severe loneliness.


Loneliness poses a serious threat to the quality of life for older adults. It is linked to negative health outcomes such as higher risk of dementia, mortality and disability.


2 Ways to Make Mindfulness a Part of Your Day:

1. Find 5-10 minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Take the time to notice where your mind goes and how your body is feeling. This helps you focus and prioritize your day.

2. Before you go to bed take time to focus on the good things that happened that day. Write your thoughts down in a journal. Writing them down can help you deliberately recognize the positive, even on a tough day


The Wade Center ~ 502 Thornburg Drive NE, Conover, NC 28613    ~    828.464.1111