Recent studies show that people with developmental disabilities and mental illness have a greater risk for chronic disease than the general population. They are at a greater risk of illness (including COVID 19) and premature death or decreased lifespan. This is not new news.
A few years ago (around the time this photo was taken, after I trained the staff of Easter Seals Arkansas on the curriculum of special needs exercise and health education) I attended a population health summit in Washington DC.
Having been the head of a special needs Wellness Program at Easter Seals NJ at that time, my biggest takeaway was:
When you look at the most underserved people in our communities and look within those communities at the percentage of people with Intellectual disabilities and serious and persistent mental illness- you are then looking at the greatest of health inequities on the planet.
If you are a community leader, health professional, or a family member of an individual with a disability, though the challenge of routine healthcare may at times be great, individuals with special needs require preventive care, regular exercise and good nutrition as much as the total population, if not more.
Inclusion matters where health matters.
Throughout the summer and early fall, especially with high humidity, your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness. Most heat illnesses occur from staying out in the heat too long. Although exercise in moderation is good for overall health, exercising in the heat beyond appropriate levels for your age and physical condition are also factors. Older adults, young children, and people who are sick or overweight are most at risk. Heat-related illnesses include:
Heatstroke—a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness
Heat Exhaustion—can precede heatstroke; Symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse
eat Cramps—muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
Heat Rash—skin irritation from excessive sweating Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.
Check frequently on infants and young children, people age 65 or older, people who have a mental illness or developmental disability, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you treat a person suffering from heat exhaustion with the following:
For non healthcare Professionals: Proper Knowledge of Using PersonaL Protective Equipment (PPE) Helps Prevent The Spread Of Germs. Check out AN Instructional Video Below.
In the healthcare setting professionals use many types of precautions including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves, their patients, and the public from infection. PPE includes gowns, gloves, respiratory masks and goggles. There is a proper technique to put on, remove, and dispose of PPE to further contain pathogens and prevent the spread of infection diseases.
During this time of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic when non medical professionals are wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves on a daily basis, it is imperative that they know how to do it correctly in order to protect themselves and others. First of all, the gloves only protect the wearer. So if you are wearing gloves and not taking them off- and sanitizing, or preferably, washing your hands between customers and between transactions or interactions, the contaminants (germs) that are on the gloves are being transferred to surfaces and other people.
In my personal and professional worlds I have seen people unknowingly contaminating surfaces without understanding how. I watched a loving caring person assist an adult relative with a disability in the rest room and she came out of the bathroom and touched cabinets and tabletops before taking her gloves off. She protected herself from germs, but did not protect everyone else. She did not do it on purpose. She was not trained. Another time I was in a deli and the worker wore gloves to handle food of a customer who was ahead of me. Then she rang up the order on the cash register. Then--!! she went back to the slicer to cut my deli order. No no no no no. I called her over and asked her to change her gloves. She was taken aback and defensive. I explained to her that she had just touched money and the countertop and now she was about to handle my food. I then quietly told her that I was a member of a local board of health and witnessed poor food handling practice which could be problematic for the customers and also for her employer who could be cited by the health dept. It was an uncomfortable conversation but it was necessary. (You can report these poor practices to your board of health in your town, but that is another conversation. Let's get back to the main point...).
Imagine you are shopping in the supermarket today, during the COVID Pandemic. We are all required to wear masks to reduce or prevent the spread of the virus. We are not required to wear gloves but some do. (I wear them while sanitizing the handle of my cart and then remove them and throw them away properly. Then I carry sanitizer and sanitize my hands multiple times while I am shopping). If you do wear gloves, keep in mind, they are for your protection, and not for anyone else's protection. Anything you touch with those gloves are potentially contaminated with any germs that you came in contact with.
There is a correct way to wear gloves, and a correct way to put them on and take them off so that you do not contaminate yourself while you are taking them off.
Zufall Health, a health center in New Jersey shared this great video with step by step instructions on how to put on and remove gloves and face masks. It s worth watching.
Last Year I was asked by the Morris County New Jersey to participate in Author's Day 2020- a live event with local authors. One year later the day has come. Due to COVID-19, this event has been switched to a virtual event, like all other events and meetings.
Each author has a day on which they are featured on the library's Facebook page. Today, May 11th, is my day!
The silver lining for me is that I can now invite everybody to attend by simply clicking a link and to check out my first book, "Get Fit to Go", and my current book, "Well? What are You Waiting For?" , and learn who my favorite authors and books are.
I will be writing and talking about the reasons I wrote this book in upcoming posts- but the main message is that your health, our health--is ones own responsibility.
Meanwhile, I invite you to visit my Author Page at the Morris County Public Library and to like and share the Morris County Library Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/notes/morris-county-library-nj/morris-county-author-laura-oreilly-stanzilis/10157692768704753/
Yours in health, Laura
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. But what is stress? How does it affect your health? And what can you do about it?
Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Every type of demand or stressor—such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events—can be stressful. Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stress events so that you know when to seek help.
Here are five things you should know about stress:
1. Stress affects everyone.
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks. A stressor may be a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time.
Examples of stress include:
2. Not all stress is bad.
Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. In response to danger, your body prepares to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival.
3. Long-term stress can harm your health.
Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.
Different people may feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold.
Routine stress may be the hardest type of stress to notice at first. Because the source of stress tends to be more constant than in cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning. Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety.
4. There are ways to manage stress.
The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to manage your stress can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:
5. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional.
You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope. Your doctor may be able to provide a recommendation. You can find resources to help you find a mental health provider by visiting Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAHMSA)-https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/locator/about.html#.XrSppm5FxPY
Local help is available through the Mental Health Association in New Jersey: https://www.njmentalhealthcares.org/
If you have a mental health emergency dial 911.
I am pleased to announce that my book, "Well? What are you Waiting For?" Is ready to be published. This was originally the title of my first book, which, to serve as a companion to my video series, was retitled, "Get Fit To Go".
Since "Get Fit to Go" (which focuses mostly on fitness and nutrition) was written I have had the good fortune of having learning experiences with multiple populations in my roles as a nurse, health and disabilities advocate and population health manger. So, though the new book is light, anecdotal and conversational there is a strong theme- Self responsibility for ones own health and wellness.
About The Book:
Now is the time to invest in self care!
Build a healthy and independent future and take charge of your wellness and health needs.
This book is an inspirational resource and personal guide for pathway to self health management.
It will be available on this site and on Amazon as an e-book and printed book in June 2020.
Yours in health,
My last post addressed cough and cold etiquette when we were first learning of the Novel Coronavirus in China that was sure to make its way to the USA.
We are all being asked to take precautions and self quarantine to protect ourselves the most vulnerable in our society. Those living with Alzheimer's and Dementia rely on their caregivers for support and daily care and they (mostly) have age related conditions that make them more vulnerable to infections.
Caregivers need support as well and at a time like this they too are feeling isolated and stressed making sure the parent or patient in their care stays safe and healthy.
This message from Robyn Kohn, MA, CDP Director of Programs and Services, Alzheimer's Association:
Alzheimer's Association staff are currently working remotely as we monitor the Covid-19 impact in our communities. We continue to provide over-the-phone and internet-based services to assist those with dementia and their families with support and information. Our live 24/7 Helpline is especially helpful now, as people may feel isolated, frightened and alone.
We have special COVID-19 information on our website, “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for Dementia Caregivers”: This has guidance for those that are providing care at home and also family members who have someone living in a facility: https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/coronavirus-(covid-19)-tips-for-dementia-care
Cough and Sneeze Etiquette message:
According to a Harvard Medical School report, Chronic inflammation plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s. Read the report here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-inflammation
People, we need to eat better and exercise to stay healthy and be independent and mobile into older age.
There are many foods that can be included in your diet that can help to reduce and manage inflammation (https://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/foods-that-reduce-inflammation).
These foods contain anti oxidants which are compounds that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, that lead to chain reactions in the body that may damage healthy cells. There are also supplements that can be taken. Some are better than others. And of course there are medications available. But if you could manage inflammation with diet and exercise you reap the enormous benefits such as reducing inflammation, being energetic, fit and strong, managing and maintaining a healthy weight, improving blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, and looking great at your age, body type, and size. This includes older men and peri and post-menopausal women who may have some extra pounds. We can embrace ourselves at any size and be healthy. Fit people look fit, right?
We need to know our blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and other important values (“numbers”). That’s a topic for another day, but it all fits together like a beautiful puzzle designed by our creator.
Please email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org . I would love to address any questions in future posts.
OPC-3 Isotonix http://www.shop.com/ftgwellness
Isotonix OPC-3 is a dietary supplement marketed by Market America and made using a combination of bilberry, grape seed, red wine and pine bark extracts, along with citrus extract flavonoids. These extracts contain antioxidant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs. The OPCs in OPC-3 are delivered in an isotonic solution, which improves absorption, according to Market America.
Here's what I did last weekend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=PLspCt4kHac
1- Always monitor your heart rate and stay in the safe zone
2- Never give up!!!!!! I won my first 5k for my ripe old age category in a local race at 58. Woohoo.
If you have a gym membership use it! If you don’t-get one. #Getmotivated #Getmoving
Today’s tip for aging gym rats —know your limits - get a cardio stress test- listen to your body.
Laura O'Reilly - Stanzilis RN, MSM YouHealth & Wellness for people of all abilities and the aging population. Committed to Creating Healthy OutcomesI may be the contrarian here but many parents are upset and vulnerable when they are told their child is different (rightfully so) and will opt for medication as a first intervention if a teacher recommends it (and some teachers actually do recommend medication for children who don’t fit in their ‘box’ in the classroom. I have personally witnessed this). *Disclaimer-Teachers are great. They are heroes who dedicate their lives to children. I am speaking on what I perceive as an attitude of our society.
Many of these children who are 'different' are future artists and performers and innovators and individuals with an alternative perspective. What I would love to see is a movement that identifies unique qualities in children and fosters their interests and talents. More and more children are being ‘classified’ in order to have their unique learning needs addressed. (That is not always ‘stigma free’. They are often pulled out of class for services.) Medication often comes along with this classification.
I know of Parents who are not in medicine or mental health who do not question or push back for fear of being deemed ‘difficult’ or in denial over their child’s...what?...”different-ness”?...place on the spectrum? I’m a health professional and a believer in modern medicine. I believe that for some with certain diagnoses that medications for physical and behavioral health are absolutely necessary. Thank God for modern medicine. It saves lives. I understand this. I value this.
But back to Asperger's...medication is not always the solution for all. When did being different or hyper or socially awkward become a medical condition? It happened right before my eyes but somehow I missed it. It happened when video games became the norm and seeing kids playing outside became a rare sighting.
Fostering lifelong fitness habits is a great long term stress management, weight management, and health management strategy. We know the science behind that. Just as exercise and diet may be a first course of treatment for high cholesterol and blood sugar before medication, unique educational interventions ought to be tried before prescribing a medication to a child whose brain is still developing.
I’ve seen children with Aspergers (who by the way are often the wittiest and funniest kids) and ADHD on poor diets and given candy as a reward for good behavior. (Nutrition 101). All that glucose and no way to burn off some energy. SMH, as we say.
I believe more nutritional education and support is needed for parents whose children have behavioral issues. Parents and caregivers need support. Forming good nutritional and physical activity habits is a great place to start. Kids need to be kids. They need to be creative and to run and play and burn off energy. Let’s get behind that.
I advocate for parents to question the teachers and healthcare providers that suggest medication as a first intervention. Ask about alternate strategies before making a decision. I’ve experienced having a teacher recommend medication for ‘daydreaming in class’ or because my child made funny faces in a mirror while washing hands, which I thought was appropriate 6 year old behavior. Clearly she and I were not on the same page. I asked if she had plans to retire.
I suggest we start first with natural health and wellness strategies (including emotional wellness) and the arts as a first intervention before prescribing medication that has potential short and long term side effects. And then, only if really, really necessary, prescribe the right medication for the right diagnosis to manage symptoms while still encouraging healthy lifestyle habits and coping strategies. But let's celebrate different. Unique people make unique contributions to our world.
Laura O'Reilly Stanzilis
Laura O'Reilly RN Author
Laura O'Reilly Speaker
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