7 Tips to Help Your Body Cope With Winter

The season of biting winds and below zero temperatures makes one want to stay indoors and hibernate.  Though we are “toughened” Bear Lakers, winter can and does take its toll on our minds and bodies. Here are seven tips to help protect yourself mentally and physically during the winter season.

  1. Keep the winter blues at bay– Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is responsible for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of recurring cases of depression in American women. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, irritability, anxiety, and exhaustion.  This condition can be a result of the extra hours of darkness on the shorter winter days. Light therapy and antidepressants, as well as exercise and social interaction, seem to help. Talk with your doctor about for further information about ways to cope with SAD.
  2. Stay Hydrated-Losing just one percent of the water in our bodies can cause dehydration. Even in winter one needs to be vigilant about getting enough water each day.  Fruits and veggies are packed with water, so eating plenty of those helps.
  3. Fight Dry Skin– Cold weather plus dry heat often results in crackly skin. Drinking plenty of water is necessary but may not be enough to fight off dry skin.  Hydration in all forms, including lotion and lip balm can help.
  4. Stay Safe in the Snow-Shoveling snow can be a literal pain. An average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related accidents are treated in emergency rooms each year.  More than half are pulled muscle injuries.  If you plan to shovel snow, walk around and warm up your muscles first, and be sure to “push” the shovel out of the way, rather than lifting it.
  5. Ward off the flu– Getting a flu shot, washing hands frequently, and eating a healthy diet are ways to help protect our bodies against those nasty flu viruses
  6. Keep Active-Despite those well-meaning New Year’s resolutions, we tend to exercise about five percent less in winter than in summer. Exercising in short spurts, such as walking in place while watching TV, going for a brisk walk around the block, or taking the stairs a few extra times are all ways of increasing physical activity.
  7. Keep Your Energy Up– Shorter days tend to make us sleepier because of the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, eating regular healthy meals, and staying physically active are all ways of improving energy levels.  If all else fails, have a good laugh—–studies show that humor can increase energy!

How You React to Stress May Predict Brain Health

 New research finds that our response to even minor daily stressors, such as getting stuck in traffic or waiting too long at the supermarket, can affect how healthy our brain is, particularly into old age.

Prolonged chronic stress can lead to a wide range of adverse health consequences, from diabetes and heart disease, to mental health conditions, such as depression, burn-out, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even schizophrenia.  Zooming in on the effects that stress has on the brain, recent studies have suggested that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair memory.

How do small daily stressors affect the brain?  New research, led by Robert Stawski, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon’s State University in Corvallis, suggests that it is not so much the stressful events in themselves, but our reactions to them that harm our brain health.

One study, done during a 2.5 years period, examined senior’s cognitive health using standardized assessments every 6 months.  Some of these assessments included asking the seniors to look at two sets of numbers and then say if the same numbers appeared in the two sets, even if not in the same order.  Overall, the study found that people whose response to daily stressors involved more negative emotions and were of higher intensity had higher inconsistencies in their response time, suggesting poorer mental focus and brain health.

The research revealed significant age differences.  For instance, the older participants-those in their late 70’s to early 90’s-were most affected.  That is, the higher the stress reaction, the less cognitive function.

However, for those in their late 60’s to mid 70’s, more stress seemed to benefit cognitive health in some cases.  These people may have had a more active life-style to begin with, or more social and professional engagement, which sharpens mental function.

The results confirm that people’s daily emotions and how they react to stress will affect brain health and function.  It’s not the stressor that contributes to mental declines, but how a person responds that affects the brain.


*The finding s in this study are available in Psychosomatic Medicine, the journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.

November is Alzheimer Awareness Month

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.  Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills  Here are 10 warning signs:

1.Memory loss that disrupts daily life

One of the most common signs of the disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information, or forgetting important dates or events.  Some people ask for the same information over and over again, or have to rely more and more on reminder notes.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.

  1. Challenges in planning or solving problems. 

Some people experience changes in their ability to follow a plan or work with numbers.  They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They find it difficult to concentrate and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age related problem?

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

  1. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work.

Sometimes, people have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related problem?

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

  1. Confusion with time or place

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. Sometimes they forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related problem?

Forgetting what day of the week it is, but figuring it out later.

  1. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s.  They may have difficulty judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-relate problem?

Vision changes related to cataracts.

  1. New problems with words in speaking or writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue.  They may struggle with vocabulary or have trouble finding the right word.  (like calling a watch a “hand-clock)

What’s a typical age-related problem?

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

Avoiding SCAMS


Anyone can become a victim of Identity theft and seniors are one of the biggest targets.  It is important to always stay vigilant in protecting your social security number and other personal information.  Be informed and be aware because scammers are creative and determined.

The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about ongoing Social Security Administration impersonation schemes.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have recently received several reports of suspicious phone calls from people who claim to be with the IRS or the SSA.  Here is a list of a few of their tactics:

  • A person receives an automated phone call stating that their social security number has been suspended for suspicious illegal activity.  The person is given a phone number to call to immediately resolve the issue. The call concludes by stating that if the person doesn’t contact the provided phone number, the person’s assets will be frozen until the alleged issue is resolved.  When the victim returns the call, they are immediately asked to provide a date of birth and their social security number.
  • Someone claiming to be from Social Security calls and says that a person is guilty of fraud and is subject to prosecution in federal court.  Again, they leave a phone number and tell you to contact them immediately.
  • IRS scammers use phone spoofing to make their number come up as the ‘IRS’.  They accuse the victim of a fraudulent tax return or tax evasion and tell you to call back immediately to avoid prosecution.  They ask for payment to resolve the issue.

Know this: The IRS will NEVER contact you by phone asking for money.  They use snail mail as their only means of communication.  The SSA will NOT call you and tell you that you are going to be prosecuted in federal court.  These are scare tactics.

These scams are showing up in our local area and have claimed some victims.  Remember to NEVER give personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the phone call.

Hearing Aid Assistance

Hearing loss creates confusion, frustration and isolation for those who experience it.  If we don’t struggle with this ourselves, we most certainly know someone who does.  Adding to the frustration is the fact that hearing loss tends to occur most frequently among the aging population and Medicare, the standard health care for those who are over 65 years of age or disabled, does not help with the cost of hearing aids.  It is not uncommon for a Medicare beneficiary to need hearing aids, but can’t afford them.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation Hear Now program may be able to help those who are financially strapped and can’t afford hearing aids.  The foundation provides assistance to just such individuals.  There is an application processing fee of $125 per hearing aid requested.  When an application is approved, aids are given to the applicant at no additional cost.

Hear Now serves low income individuals, of any age, who permanently reside in the U.S. that have no other resources to acquire hearing aids.  Anyone having a benefit for hearing aids, in part or total, is encouraged to call and discuss their individual situation.

The hearing aids provided are Behind the Ear models, and are new.  Custom hearing aids are not provided by Hear Now.  Starkey Hearing Foundation-Hear Now program offers help to low income individuals.

Call 800-328-8602 to discuss eligibility with a Hear Now representative or email: hearnow@starkey.com to request an application for assistance.


*This information is provided by the Idaho Senior  Health Insurance Benefits Agency  (SHIBA).  Our local SHIBA counselor/partner is Kim Hulme  847.0949.


Adults Need More Physical Activity

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 31 million adults age 50 years or older are inactive – that is, they are not physically active beyond the basic movements needed for daily life activities.   Any increase in activity is beneficial and leads to more vibrant health.

According to the CDC, the analysis of adult activity showed:

  • Inactivity was higher for women (29.4%) compared to men (25.5%)
  • Inactivity significantly increased with age. 25% of 50-year-olds are inactive compared to almost 34% of 75-year-olds who are
  • Having a chronic disease was a major factor in inactivity. This increase is about 21% among adults of the same age.
  • Inactivity in the U.S. is highest in the South (30.1%) followed by the Midwest (28.4%) and in the Northeast (26.6%). Inactivity was lowest in the West (23.1%)

According to Kathleen B. Watson, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, “More work is needed to make it safer and easier for people of all ages and abilities to be physically active in their communities.”

Physical activity reduces the risk of premature death and can delay or prevent many chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers.

Four of the five most costly chronic conditions for ages 50+ can be managed or prevented with physical activity.   Being physically active helps older adults maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones.  Being physically active can also improve mental health and delay dementia and cognitive decline.

Summertime is an ideal time to get out of doors and start moving.*  Yard work, gardening, walking the dog, walking with a friend, and even parking your car farther from the grocery store entrance are all ways to begin increasing activity. As previously mentioned, any increase in activity is beneficial.  It is wise to see your doctor before beginning a vigorous approach to exercise.

*Remember to wear sunscreen when being outdoors.


Bear Lake Memorial Hospital named Top 20 Critical Access Hospital

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID was recently recognized with two national awards:  (1) Top 20 Critical Access Hospital (CAH), and (2) Top 20 “Best Practices in Quality”. There are over 1300 critical access hospitals in the nation and BLMH ranked in the 99.6% percentile overall.  The Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals scored best among critical access hospitals, as determined by The Chartis Center for Rural Health, and was recently announced by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).

The Top 20 Critical Access Hospital “winners” are those hospitals who have achieved success in overall performance based on a composite rating from seven indices of strength: Patient Satisfaction, Operational Costs, Financial Stability, Patient Expense, Market Share, Outcomes, and Quality. The Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals are recognized for the outstanding patient satisfaction they provide.


The Top 20 Best Practices in Quality award is a rating of hospital performance based on the percentile rank across the five categories of ‘Hospital Compare Process of Care’ measures. All hospitals in the index study are evaluated across rural-relevant Process of Care measures (including Heart Failure, Pneumonia, and Outpatient metrics). The Best Practices in Quality award recipients are recognized for the outstanding quality they deliver to their patients.


“Bear Lake Memorial Hospital is proud of the efforts of its physicians and staff who have contributed to our hospital achieving this designation,” said Dennis Carlson, Hospital Administrator. “Our results as top 99.6% percentile overall means our visitors and community members can count on us to deliver the services they need now and in the future.”


Bear Lake Memorial Hospital invites the public to come to a Top 20 Community Celebration on Friday, June 29th at Well C. Stock Park in Montpelier. It will be held from 5pm – 8pm and have food, games, giveaways, along with Top 20 hit songs from 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. More information can be found at www.BLMHospital.com.


About the National Rural Health Association

NRHA is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and wellbeing of rural Americans and providing leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education, and research. NRHA membership is made up of 21,000 diverse individuals and organizations, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health. For more information, visit RuralHealthWeb.org.


About the Chartis Group

The Chartis Group (Chartis) provides comprehensive advisory services and analytics to the health care industry. With an unparalleled depth of expertise in strategic planning, performance excellence, informatics and technology, and health analytics, Chartis helps leading academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, children’s hospitals and health care service organizations achieve transformative results. Learn more at Chartisrural.com

National Cancer Survivor’s Month

Image result for cancer survivor June 2018National cancer survivor’s month was established to recognize those who have successfully fought or are in the process of fighting the disease.  Each one of us most likely knows a person who has either succumbed to cancer or is currently battling the disease.  Cancer is a disease that literally affects millions of Americans daily.  In June we take time to celebrate those who are still among us after having fought cancer.

Thanks to many advancements in treating cancer, people are living longer after receiving a cancer diagnosis.  The most recent studies show that more than six million men, and seven million women have managed to survive cancer in the United States.  The growing number of cancer survivors is not an indication that cancer rates are rising, (they have actually declined over the past 10 years), but more an indication that treatments are improving.

In 2014, half of the cancer survivors were diagnosed before the age of 66 and half were diagnosed after.  Certain types of cancer affect a particular age group more commonly than others.  For instance, the median age of someone with lymphocytic leukemia is 14, but for those with bladder cancer, it’s 73.

Today, 64% of all cancer survivors have lived at least five years since their diagnosis.  A great many of these have gone on to live long lives, with 46% of them reaching their 70th birthday.

For men, the largest group of survivors is the 43% who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Colorectal cancer has the second largest group of survivors among men.

Among women, survivors of breast cancer are by far the largest group, making up 41% of female cancer survivors.  Uterine and colorectal cancer both have the second largest group of female survivors.  This makes sense when we understand that women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than either uterine or colorectal cancer.

Some types of cancers are as common in men as they are in women.  For instance, survivors of colorectal cancers account for 9% of male cancer survivors and 8% of female cancer survivors. The survival rate for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is essentially the same for men as it is for women.

Early detection is key to survival.  The growing number of survivors in the U.S. helps us understand the importance of health screenings such as blood work, colonoscopies, and mammograms.  Please talk with your doctor to take advantage of these screenings.

National Stroke & High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.  A stroke affects the arteries leading to and within the brain.

Did you know…

Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S.

            -Each year, about as many Americans have a stroke as a heart attack.

-Stroke causes more than 133,000 deaths annually

Stroke is largely treatable and most strokes are preventable

            –The faster you are treated, the more likely you are to recover

-Stroke patients who receive the clot-busting drug alteplase (IV r-tPA) within 90 minutes of symptom onset are almost 3 times more likely to recover with little or no disability.

-91 % of stroke patients who were treated with a stent retriever within 2.5 hours of symptom onset recovered with little or no disability.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most important controllable risk factor for stroke.

            -One in three American adults has high blood pressure

About three in four people who have a first stroke, have blood pressure greater than    140/90 mm Hg.  Normal blood pressure is 120/90 mm Hg.

-The American Heart Association says high blood pressure is usually preventable with simple steps*, yet it kills more people worldwide than any other condition.

World Hypertension Day is May 17th, and the American heart Association wants people to check their blood pressure by May 17, 2018.

*Steps to reduce high blood pressure

-Reduce sodium in your diet                         -Quit smoking

-Lost extra pounds                                         -Cut back on Caffeine

-Eat a healthy diet                                         -Reduce Stress

-Limit alcohol intake                                      -Exercise regularly

Eat Right for Your Sight

It wasn’t just your mother telling you to eat carrots for better vision. People have known for centuries that certain foods can be good for your eyesight, including 16th Century Spanish explorers who carried chili peppers on voyages to help with night vision. Your mom and the explorers were smart: those chili peppers contained beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and B6, and folic acid, and the carrots had carotenoids and antioxidants. A diet rich in these nutrients may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and slow the progression of the disease in those already diagnosed. The easy part of eating for eye health is learning which kinds of foods are best, foods like salmon, eggs, corn, blueberries, peppers, and leafy green vegetables. 


Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 or older.  It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.  In some cases, the disease advances slowly and vision loss does not occur for a long time.  In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to loss of vision in one or both eyes. Age is a major risk factor for AMD.  Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking-smoking more than doubles the risk
  • Race-AMD is more common among Caucasians than African-
  • Americans or Hispanics
  • Family history and genetics-People with family history are at a higher risk

Lifestyle does make a difference.  Avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.


Researchers at the National Eye Institute tested whether taking nutritional supplements could protect against AMD.  They found that daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins and mineral can slow progression of the disease in people who have intermediate AMD, and those who have late AMD in one eye.  Studies showed that a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper can reduce the risk of late AMD by 25%. Other supplements help as well. The list published by the National Institute of Health includes:

500 milligrams of vitamin C

400 international units of vitamin E

80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide

2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide

10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin


1 2 3 4 5 7