When It Comes to Exercise, It Really Is the “Great Outdoors”
February 22nd, 2013
When it comes to exercise, new research suggests that benefits may depend on location, location, location.
An article published in The New York Times outlines the reasons why exercising outdoors may be a better physical experience than exercising in a gym or at home. Here are some reasons why:
- Your stride is different when running outdoors. For example, people flex their ankles more.
- You get a chance to run or walk downhill, something that isn’t possible indoors. The muscles needed for a downhill stride are different from those used on a flat surface.
- An outdoor workout is more strenuous than an indoors workout. For example, studies have shown that treadmill runners and stationary bicyclists expend less energy to cover the same distance as outdoor runners and cyclists, mainly because of the added effects of wind resistance and changes in terrain.
- People report enjoying outside activity more than inside activity, which leads to more enthusiasm and pleasure, and less fatigue.
- People who exercise outside tend to exercise longer and more often than those who exercise indoors, especially older adults.
What this says to me is that we all now have a good reason to “go outside and play,” as opposed to trudging to the gym. This is especially good news now that spring is just a month away!
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here : Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
Frightening and Infuriating Water Contamination in Wake Forest
November 7th, 2012
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a carcinogenic chemical, capable of causing liver tumors in laboratory animals. Although there have been no studies of the direct effects of TCE in humans, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified TCE as a “probable human carcinogen,” based on animal research and studies of individuals exposed to TCE on the job. Long-term or repeated exposure to TCE has been associated with damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.
In short, TCE is a toxic chemical that has the potential to cause serious health effects in people. And some people in Wake Forest, NC, have just found out that their drinking water has been contaminated with TCE for years. The homeowners didn’t know about it, but North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources knew. They knew for seven years, and didn’t tell the affected homeowners (so they continued to drink contaminated water) and they didn’t stop new homes from being built in the contamination zone (so families not only started drinking toxic water, but they also invested money in a property that others knew was contaminated).
This is a nightmare for the affected Wake Forest homeowners…and it should be frightening to everyone in North Carolina who believes that the government would never knowingly let people drink poison.
According to an article on the Huffington Post website, it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that the EPA called residents in the Stony Hill Road area of Wake Forest and told them that their water may contain TCE. Residents were warned that they shouldn’t drink, cook, or even bathe in their water.
“I’m furious,” homeowner Mark Stonefield said to WNCN. “I’m very upset about it. That’s the biggest problem I’ve had with this whole situation is the state knew about it in 2005. We bought this land in 2007 and built a house on it in 2008 and our kids have been drinking the water for over 4 years now and no one notified us there was even the possibility that the water could be contaminated.”
According to an article provided by the N.C. Division of Waste Management, there are two sources of ground water contamination: 7303 Stony Hill Road, the site of two former circuit board assembly companies, and a second site about a half mile away, on property that was once owned by the previous owner of the Stony Hill Road site.
The contamination is not limited to residents on Stony Hill Road. Several homes on Mangum Hollows Drive, also in Wake Forest, have also tested positive for TCE.
These contaminated sites are in an area that few would think would have this kind of toxicity issues–they are adjacent to Falls Lake State Park, and close to the tony Hasentree golf course and development, where houses have been listed for $1 million-plus. (To see a map of the affected locations, click here: Map of contaminated sites)
WHAT TO DO
If you live in an area affected by contamination, we recommend that you have your well water tested to see if your home has been affected. If so, please visit your physician and request a physical examination, including tests for kidney and liver function. Since those organs are most affected by TCE, it is good to get a baseline measure of their current status.
Also, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney about what legal steps you can take to help safeguard your family’s health and financial well-being. An attorney can look at your individual situation, assess the damages you’ve suffered, and help you fight for compensation.
“Our law firm is determined to do everything it can to bring justice for the residents who have suffered illness, fear, and the diminution of their property values as a result of this tragedy,” said Anne Duvoisin, an attorney at HensonFuerst. “Our firm is actively investigating these Wake Forest contamination cases.”
If you would like to speak with one of our experienced attorneys, call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED. HensonFuerst is here to help.
To read the full article on the Huffington Post website, click here: Wake Forest Water Contamination
Latest Poisoning Risk for Children
July 11th, 2012
from The New York Times
When my youngest sister was about 4 years old, she climbed up on a chair…then onto the kitchen counter…then stood on a wooden box to reach the highest shelf inside a cupboard. That’s where she found what she thought was candy. It was, in fact, a bottle of orange-flavored “baby aspirin.” After a trip to the hospital to have her stomach pumped, she was fine, but that’s when my mother decided to install a lock on the cabinet.
Baby aspirin no longer exists, but a new candy-colored threat is posing a health risk for kids.
According to an article in The New York Times published in late June 2012, children are being drawn to a new type of detergent packet. They are beautifully colored and small enough to fit in a child’s palm–easily mistaken for candy.
The products were introduced in the United States earlier this year. By late May 2012, poison control centers reported about 250 cases of accidental injury nationwide. By the end of June, that number had jumped to more than 1200 childhood poisonings.
Fortunately, no children have died, but at least 11 children became sick enough to require them to be put on ventilators, and 10 have been intubated. Eye injuries are also a risk, when the detergent quirts out from the packet.
According to The New York Times:
Poison experts are not sure why so many cases have been so severe. Compared with traditional powder and liquid detergent, the newer detergent packets and pods seem far more toxic. Children who have bitten into them have suffered severe nausea and vomiting, respiratory distress and metabolic abnormalities.
“The regular detergents that have been around forever don’t appear to cause the same problems, and we don’t know why,” Dr. Ruck said. “We don’t know yet what’s different about them. They’ve only been on the market a short period of time.”
Experts recommend that the detergent pods be kept in a high, locked cabinet. Just storing them on top of the washing machine or dryer isn’t enough, because kids are crafty climbers. If there is a way to get to the object of their desires, children will find it. Take the example of my baby sister–just a few weeks after her visit to the hospital, she tried to get at the baby aspirin again. By then, my mother had moved it to a more secure location, but little kids are drawn powerfully to the siren call of sweets…even when they are toxic.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Detergent Pods Pose Poisoning Risk
Nursing Homes Have Weak Disaster Plans
April 23rd, 2012
Do you have an emergency preparedness plan for your home and family? Do you have an evacuation plan in the event you have to leave the area? Do you keep extra batteries for flashlights… a well-stocked first-aid kit… a supply of bottled water? Well, the federal government requires that nursing homes have specific plans in place for how they plan to protect their sick, frail residents from natural disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes, floods, and fires. Sadly, inspectors have found that the plans are weak or nonexistent.
According to an article in the News & Observer, the department of Health and Human Services has been investigating emergency plans of of nursing homes ever since Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. Now, their report says that current plans lack relevant information, such as how to coordinate with local authorities, how to notify relatives, and how to keep track of residents’ medications. They recommend that Medicare and Medicaid add mandated specific planning and training steps to the current disaster plan requirements.
While nursing homes can easily pull out written disaster plans, the proof of true preparedness lies in how well the staff respond in an actual emergency. So inspectors dug a little deeper into the records of 24 selected nursing homes in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. All 24 facilities had been affected by a disaster, and 14 had evacuated. According to the N&O article:
Of the 24 emergency plans, 23 did not describe how to handle a resident’s illness or death during an evacuation. Also, 15 had no information about specific medical needs of patients, such as feeding tubes and breathing equipment. Seven plans were silent on how to identify residents in an evacuation, such as by attaching wristbands or name tags. Inspectors said 15 made no provision for including medication lists.
None of the nursing homes met a government recommendation for a seven-day supply of drinking water if residents had to shelter in place and their regular source of water was unsafe or unavailable.
Twenty-two had no backup plans to replace staff members unable to report for work during a disaster.
Transportation was an Achilles’ heel. None of the nursing homes had planned to ensure transportation of adequate food and water for evacuated residents, while 19 had no specific plan for transporting wheelchairs and similar equipment. Twenty-two of the plans did not describe how the nursing home would transport medications.
Let’s hope that the results of this investigation lead to some real changes with actual benefits to residents. We’re not going to hold our breath: Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner agreed that training steps should be added to the current regulations, she offered no timetable for doing so. Will it take another disaster on the level of Hurricane Katrina to have them heed the call to action?
To read the full article in the N&O, click here: Big gaps found in nursing homes’ disaster plans
Massage Proved to Help Control Pain and Improve Healing
March 19th, 2012
For most people, massage is a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed only rarely. But athletes know better…they understand that receiving a massage after a strenuous workout or game can help their bodies recover more quickly. Now, science has proved the health-promoting benefits of massage.
According to an article in ScienceDaily, there’s no reason to feel guilty about treating yourself to a massage. Yes, massage feels good, but at the cellular level there’s real medicine going on. Massage reduces inflammation, and promotes the growth of energy-producing structures called mitochondria. The reduction of inflammation has similar effects as anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.
“There’s general agreement that massage feels good, now we have a scientific basis for the experience,” said Simon Melov [scientist from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario].
The study, originally published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, had young men exercise to exhaustion on a stationary bicycle, a level that would cause exercise-induced muscle damage. Afterward, one of their legs was randomly chosen to be massaged. Biopsies were taken from the thighs of both legs of the men at three times: Before the exercise; 10 minutes after the massage; and 2.5 hours later. The massaged leg showed chemical changes that indicated anti-inflammatory actions. According to lead author Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D.:
“The potential benefits of massage could be useful to a broad spectrum of individuals including the elderly, those suffering from musculoskeletal injuries and patients with chronic inflammatory disease,” said Tarnopolsky. “This study provides evidence that manipulative therapies, such as massage, may be justifiable in medical practice.”
Straight from a doctor’s mouth…that’s good enough for me. I guess the next step is to hope that massage is someday covered by health insurance.
To read the full story on ScienceDaily, click here: Massage Reduces Inflammation
Cautionary Tales from Nursing Homes
March 8th, 2012
In keeping with our on-going series, today’s blog is about nursing home tragedy. We collect stories from around the world to remind everyone that the elderly are vulnerable to abusers and unscrupulous care facilities. If there is a lesson to be taken from these stories, it is that friends and family of nursing home residents need to visit often, stay involved, and speak up if anything seems unusual.
Here’s today’s nursing home story round-up:
Whose Meth Lab Was It?
Investigation of a deadly fire at Park Haven Home in Ashtabula, Ohio, revealed that the blaze began in a resident’s room…where someone had created a shake-and-bake meth lab. The man who died, 31-year-old Shaun Warrens, was not a patient or an employee of the facility. As of this writing, it’s not clear what connections he had to the nursing home. Three residents and one non-resident were hospitalized with injuries caused by the fire.
According to an article by the Associated Press:
Police Chief Robert Stell told the Star Beacon of Ashtabula that police believe two visitors and one Park Haven resident knew about the meth lab. Police expect to charge two men who also were burned in the fire.
Methamphetamine, or “meth,” is a highly addictive stimulant. Mobile meth labs, also called one-pot or shake-and-bake labs, usually consist of a 2-liter bottle and the drug’s ingredients. According to Bob Frey, of the health department:
“Basically, you can take all of the components and equipment and put it in a backpack and use it to brew a small quantity of methamphetamine,” he said. “It’s a highly dangerous but very self-contained method of making methamphetamine.”
Shaking the mixture agitates the chemicals and produces the heat needed to cook the drug. But it can also cause a violent reaction that could melt or rupture the container. The explosion or fire usually is confined to the person making the drug and the surrounding area, Frey said.
Meth is a problem nationwide, but it’s highly uncommon in a nursing home setting. I’m not sure whether this speaks more to the expansion of meth’s addictive reach, or to the changing demographics of nursing homes. As addiction spreads, it eventually reaches all segments of society.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nursing-home-with-meth-1374675.html
Jailed for Facebook Photos
According to the Daily Reporter, 26-year-old Oregon nursing assistant Nai Mai Chao served eight days in jail after a jury found her guilty of invasion of personal privacy. Some believe that her crime should have brought a much higher punishment.
“Invasion of personal privacy” sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? What Ms. Chao did was awful: She took disturbing photos of elderly and disabled patients using bedpans, then posted them on Facebook. Ms. Chao surrendered her nursing certificate, and was fired from the Regency Pacific Nursing and Rehab Center where she worked.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/5365bdb7f2544ef9a21be69e5d6f1d4f/US–Nursing-Home-Photos/
British Elderly Denied Basic Care
According to an article in The Telegraph, more than half of nursing home residents are denied even basic health services. Some have to wait up to three months for formal checks of painful conditions, such as bed sores… some face significant delays in getting their medication… and many are not given a choice of male or female staff to help them use the bathroom, raising issues of dignity and respect.
The Geriatrics Society issued results of a study that showed that about half of primary care facilities don’t even provide key services, such as continence assessments, physiotherapy, bed sore checks, and mental health services. According to the president of the society:
“What it shows is that there is a massive disconnect between what the NHS aspires to and what it actually delivers to people in care homes and they are the most vulnerable group of people.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9126976/More-than-half-care-home-residents-denied-basic-care-unpublished-data-shows.html
Vulnerable, Inside and Out
When you have to rely on other people for your daily care, you have to trust that you won’t be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, the elderly are often more vulnerable to scammers, cheats, and liars. Case in point: 64-year-old Surjeet Chana, a British “grandmother” who worked in the Land Registry office. She used her position to supply documents to a white-collar gang that stole houses from elderly people who had moved into nursing facilities.
According to an article in The Telegraph:
Using information she gathered, including title deeds and ownership signatures, the group targeted empty homes, pretending to be the owners and selling them on to third parties.
Over the past two years, the gang sold at least nine properties across London, worth a combined value of about $8 million. The judge who sentenced Chana to more than 3 years in prison called her “greedy” and “corrupted.”
You have brought great shame on yourself and your family, you have ruined your career and no doubt prejudiced your pension rights.
Judge Grieve added the gang preyed on “highly vulnerable” victims whose family homes which had a “lifetime of memories” were sold from beneath their noses. “It takes little imagination to realise the shattering trauma that this experience would bring,” he said.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9126384/Grandmother-jailed-after-plot-to-steal-homes-from-elderly.html
One Final Insult
Even after a resident died, one nursing home went the final, abusive step. In Great Britain, the Highcliffe Nursing Home sent a bill for the equivalent of about $4,740.00 because the dead man didn’t give 4 weeks notice of his death. Got that? The nursing home claims that unless they receive advance notice of a resident’s death, the resident (or his family) can be charged for an extra month’s stay at the facility. They claim that the charge is valid…similar to not giving a month’s notice before moving out of an apartment.
According to an article in the British newspaper The Daily Mail, the resident’s daughter felt that her father had been well cared-for while he lived at the facility, but she questions the crazy charge.
“I wouldn’t mind paying for a week,” she said. “But to pay for a month – which covers his food, laundry and nursing care – is daylight robbery.”
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the billing department was overly efficient. The bereaved daughter received the notice the day after her father’s funeral. The nursing home administrators claim they are reviewing this policy.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104184/Care-home-bills-grieving-daughter-3k-didnt-notice-fathers-DEATH.html#ixzz1oY2dZafV
Dementia Training for Caregivers
February 27th, 2012
As the saying goes, you cannot fully understand what another person’s life is like until you “walk a mile in their shoes.” That’s the point behind an innovative training program designed to help caregivers truly appreciate what life is like for their loved ones with dementia. According to an article on GoErie.com, a division of the Pennsylvania newspaper the Erie Times-News:
“You don’t know what they go through until you do this test yourself,” said [Patty Gregory, a certified nursing assistant at Saint Mary's Home of Erie]. “I took care of my father for 12 years, and now I truly know what he went through.”
In order to give caregivers a taste of what what an elderly person with dementia experiences, this is what they go through:
- Kernels of uncooked popcorn are put in their shoes to make walking more difficult;
- Kernels of popcorn are dropped into rubber gloves before sliding them onto the caregivers’ hands;
- Some fingers of the gloves were taped together to make it more difficult to grab and hold objects;
- They wore goggles with dark circles taped to the middle of each lens to approximate what macular degeneration does to vision;
- A CD played loud static and other distracting sounds through headphones;
- Strobe lights flickered.
The caregivers were then escorted to an empty patient room and told to perform five simple tasks—such as pouring half a glass of water and folding towels—but they had to listen to instructions through the static and noise, or read a list in which the words were scrambled. It was a difficult chore. According to the article:
“Where’s the water, where’s the water, where’s the water?” nursing assistant Alice Flemings said after entering the training room. “Oh my, oh my. Where am I going?”
“Take your time and calm down,” said DeAndra Jackson, a Saint Mary’s Home employee whose job during training was to ensure the nursing assistant did not walk into a door or otherwise hurt themselves.
Some nursing assistants were able to complete most of their tasks, while others struggled to finish even one.
One nursing assistant, who asked not to be identified, was so visibly aggravated when she walked out of the simulation room that Jackson jokingly called her a “noncompliant patient.”
The exercise helped caregivers to understand that it takes more patience to work with people with dementia and physical impairments, and that hurrying them along may only serve to make them agitated.
“My love for people has never changed and never will change,” Gregory said. “But until you walk in that room, you will never know the deep impact a disease like dementia can have.”
Such a fascinating program. It seems that this type of training should be required for anyone who works in a nursing home.
To read the full article, click here: Erie nursing home shows aides what dementia is like
Exercise Can Save Your Brain!
January 23rd, 2012
Alzheimer’s disease makes just about everyone’s short list of aging fears. The disorder robs individuals of their memories…their sense of self…their connection to friends and family. It’s hard on everyone who has to watch their loved one disappear before their eyes.
Now, scientific research published in The Archives of Neurology offers a small—but statistically significant—ray of hope for anyone hoping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The answer: Walking!
The scientists studied 201 healthy adults (ages 45 to 88). The participants were tested for genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease, and were given a brain scan to look for signs of amyloid plaques, the abnormal protein deposits that are a characteristic of the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Fifty-six participants tested positive for the APOE-e4 gene, a marker that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by a factor of 15. None of the participants had signs of Alzheimer’s disease at the beginning of the study. Finally, everyone completed detailed questionnaires about their exercise habits.
According to an article in The New York Times:
The volunteers who reported walking or jogging often — meeting (or, in rare instances, exceeding) the American Heart Association’s exercise recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity five times a week — had fewer amyloid plaques than the volunteers who reported almost never exercising….
The carriers of the gene who reported walking or jogging for at least 30 minutes five times a week had plaque accumulation similar to that of volunteers who were e4-negative. In essence, the APOE-e4 gene carriers mitigated their inherited risk for developing Alzheimer’s by working out.
So moderate exercise was protective against Alzheimer’s disease…even for people who have an extremely high genetic risk of developing the disease. The scientists have a lot more work to do to figure out why exercise is protective, but for the average person, the take-home lesson is that exercise should become a part of daily health habits for everyone—but especially for those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.
“There are so many benefits to exercise,” [Denise Head, an associate professor of psychology at Washington University who led the study] says, “and one may be that it helps the brain” to defend itself against the slow leaking away of memory.
Now that’s science we can get behind!
Lower Quality of Care at For-Profit Nursing Homes
January 16th, 2012
Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, FAAN
Results of a new study suggest that the nation’s largest for-profit nursing homes deliver significantly lower quality of care, compared with smaller and not-for-profit nursing homes. Why? Fewer staff nurses (despite profits).
The study looked at quality in the 10 largest for-profit chains, which control about 13% of all nursing home beds in the country. They were choses because of their influence and expansiveness. The researchers from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found that when nursing homes put profits ahead of people, they cut costs by reducing the number of staff… especially trained and experienced (but more expensive) staff.
“Poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains,” said first author Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, professor emeritus of sociology and nursing at the UCSF School of Nursing. Harrington also is director of the UCSF National Center for Personal Assistance Services.
“The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labor costs low to increase profits,” Harrington said. “They are not making quality a priority.”
The correlation is so strong that many experts believe that the best predictor of nursing home care is the number of nurses working at the facility.
Something to remember if you should find yourself looking for a good nursing home.
Top Nursing Home Stories of 2011
December 30th, 2011
Of the hundreds of blogs we write each year, the most heartbreaking are those we write about nursing home abuse and neglect. The stories are tragic, and they happen to people who are vulnerable and defenseless. Here is a round-up of the most important nursing home stories of the year. (To read any of the blogs, click on the title and you’ll be taken directly to the story.)
Nursing Home Horror Stories
I am constantly amazed and disturbed by the level of abuse and neglect happening in nursing homes across the country. I talk to people everyday who say they can’t believe that any care facility could actually put residents at risk of harm or death. To give credence to my pessimism, here are some very frightening stories gathered from news articles across the country.
How to Spot Signs of Elder Abuse
Many older people who are abused are at the mercy of their caregivers, and therefore may be afraid to speak about their pain or fear. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s important to remain alert to the signs that something may be wrong.
How to Choose a Good Nursing Home
Want to prevent abuse altogether? Start by choosing a quality nursing home.
In addition to blogs, we also create videos about important health, medical, and legal topics. To see all of our available videos, please visit our YouTube channel here: HensonFuerst YouTube Channel
. Here are links to some of our brain injury videos: