What is Speech Therapy for Adults?

By Saunja Carlson, MS, CF-SLP Speech therapists, or Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), are highly trained professionals with Masters or Doctorate Degrees. They specialize in helping both children and adults with communication disorders. Many people are familiar with speech therapy for children. Some children may go to an SLP because they have difficulty producing some sounds correctly (for example, saying “wabbit” for “rabbit”, “appo” for “apple”, or “jips” for “chips”), or if they stutter. But did you know that SLPs also work with adults? So, how exactly can a speech therapist help adults? Often when adults suffer a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, they need help reorganizing their thoughts, orientation, and memory. Sometimes they need help retraining their swallowing function, in order to keep them safe and prevent food and liquid from going down into their lungs. Perhaps someone’s Grandma has dementia, with difficulty remembering people, events, and things most dear to them. These are some examples of when a speech therapist, or SLP, can help an adult. SLPs evaluate and provide therapy for communication disorders for adults, including speech, language, swallowing, cognitive communication, social communication, pragmatics, auditory processing, fluency (stuttering), voice disorders, and training for use of alternative/augmentative communication (AAC) devices. Let’s talk about each of these areas more.
  • Speech is the way we produce our sounds, or clarity.
  • Language includes expressive language (how we express our ideas and thoughts) and receptive language (understanding others).
  • Cognitive communication includes memory, orientation, problem solving, organization, attention.
  • Social communication involves conversational dynamics, such as taking turns in conversation or altering our language to suit different situations.
  • Dysphagia (swallowing) includes determining risk for aspiration, swallow integrity, recommendations for safest and least restrictive food/liquid consistencies, safe swallowing techniques, compensatory strategies, exercises to strengthen oral pharyngeal musculature.
  • Fluency includes stuttering, and how it affects a person’s social communication.
  • Voice involves pitch, volume, quality, modifying accent, breathing exercises, resonance, excessive throat clearing.
  • AAC devices are alternative methods for communication when a person is nonverbal (such as using an iPad to communicate).
So, what are some things we should watch out for? When should an adult go to see an SLP? Watch your loved ones for difficulty swallowing, coughing, choking, clearing throat while eating or drinking, drooling, or having a “gurgly” voice after eating. Also watch for difficulties with memory, attention, organization, problem-solving, or finding the right word to say. An SLP could help your loved one with these difficulties.

TIPS TO PREVENT FRAUD

DO’S Do protect your Medicare number (on your Medicare card) & your Social Security Number (on your Social Security card). Treat your Medicare card like it's a credit card. Do remember that nothing is ever "free." Don't accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care. Do ask questions. You have a right to know everything about your medical care including the costs billed to Medicare. Do educate yourself about Medicare. Know your rights & know what a provider can & can't bill to Medicare. Do use a calendar to record all of your doctor's appointments & what tests or Xrays you get. Then check your Medicare statements carefully to make sure you got each service listed & that all the details are correct. If you spend time in a hospital, make sure the admission date, discharge date, & diagnosis on your bill are correct. Do be wary of providers who tell you that the item or service isn't usually covered, but they "know how to bill Medicare" so Medicare will pay. Do make sure you understand how a plan works before you join. Do always check your pills before you leave the pharmacy to be sure you got the correct medication, including whether it's a brand or generic & the full amount. If you don’t get your full prescription, report the problem to the pharmacist. Do report suspected instances of fraud. DON’TS  Don't allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services. Don't contact your doctor to request a service that you don't need. Don't let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don't need. Don't accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from Medicare or Medicaid, remember that Medicare & Medicaid don't send representatives to your home to sell products or services. Don't be influenced by certain media advertising about your health. Many television & radio ads don't have your best interest at heart. Don't give your Medicare card, Medicare number, Social Security card, or Social Security Number to anyone except your doctor or other authorized Medicare provider. Beginning in 2018, all Medicare recipients will receive a new identification number.  This is to help prevent fraud & abuse of Medicare.  Ironically, fraud perpetrators are already on the bandwagon & have begun making phone calls.  Their method of operation is to call a Medicare recipient & tell them of the identification number change, assuring the enrollee that they (the perpetrator) can make the transition go so smoothly if the recipient will give them their Medicare information over the phone.  NEVER GIVE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE UNLESS YOU HAVE INITIATED THE PHONE CALL & KNOW FOR SURE WHO YOU ARE CALLING!   This new Medicare scam has hit even southern Idaho, so be on the alert!  

Women’s Conference 2017

The fifth annual Women’s Health Conference, sponsored by Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, was held on May 6th at the Oregon Trail Center in Montpelier. The following classes were offered:  Mammography Technology by Dr. Myka Veigel, Types of Living by Dr. Clay Campbell, Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding by Dr. Khristina Meissner, What’s Eating You by Anya Anthony PA, Dr. Trevor Jacobson presented Under Pressure/Hypertension. Our lunch-time speaker, Dr. Lance Hansen gave a presentation about Dr. Google. Other lectures included Occupational Therapy by John Beenfield. Mandy Tingey spoke about Speech Therapy and BLMH counselor Bobbi Kelsey gave a presentation about the adolescence brain.   The Keynote speaker was Merrilee Boyack. Her topic was “Confessions of a Hamster on a Wheel.” Merrilee is a professional lecturer and speaks all over the country, featured for many years at BYU Education Week and Time Out for Women, and a published author. She also enjoys addressing inmates that have been incarcerated. She is the author of several books and talks, including The Parenting Breakthrough, Strangling Your Husband Is Not an Option; In Trying Times, Just Keep Trying. Her most recent, “Will My Child Be Ready: Missionary Prep for Moms” and “When I am a Missionary.” Merrilee and her husband, Steve, reside in Lehi, Utah. She was a delight, and the recording can be found on BLMHospital’s YouTube Channel or by clicking https://goo.gl/uQBuCh   Attendees received a canvas tote, a presentation booklet, and other swag.  A continental breakfast and lunch were catered by the trail center. Several drawings were held throughout the day.  Shopping from several vendors was available for early Mother’s Day gift buying. The grand prize drawing was for a $200 Amazon Gift Card.   Members of the committee for the Health Conference would like to encourage those who attended and those unable to come to reach out with future Women’s Health Conference topics and preferred times of the year by emailing Julie.Nelson@blmhospital.com. DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE CONFERENCE BOOKLET        

Foundation Trivia Night a Success

Bear Lake Valley Health Care Foundation and Modern Woodmen hosted a fundraiser Trivia Night that was held on April 13. A total of $4,709.81 was raised that evening and all proceeds will go toward a new wheelchair accessible bus for Bear Lake Memorial Hospital. The majority of the funds came from team sponsorship from the following individuals and businesses: Agrium, Bear Lake Dental sponsored the Highschool Students, Dr. Trevor Jacobson, Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Nurses, Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Managers, the local Rotary Club, and Rocky Mountain Power. In addition to the entry fees, Rocky Mountain Power donated an additional $750 toward the cause. Modern Woodmen also contributed $1,500. Other money raised was through food sales and by selling mulligans. The top winning teams for the evening were: Dr. Jacobson’s Team with a score of 84, This is the second year the Foundation has helped sponsor Trivia Night and they look forward to planning this event again next year. Thank you for those who attended and support the new transportation bus for residents in Bear Lake Memorial’s assisted living center and nursing home. Winners Photo Back Row: Jody Merritt, Rick Merritt, Amy Jacobson, Dr. Trevor Jacobson, Bailee Argyle, Mallory Humpherys, Casey Humpherys, Alex Moss, Michelle Moss Front row: Jory Hunter – Foundation Director, Julie Nelson - BLMH Marketing Manager, Bobbi Scoville – Modern Woodmen

Skin Health– What can I do?

When it comes to our skin, many of us are more concerned with wrinkles, sun spots (also called liver spots), and other signs of aging than skin cancer. But skin cancer is a serious concern. It is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Research indicates that 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once. Luckily, it's easy to manage concerns about signs of aging and skin cancer at the same time. The best way to prevent signs of  aging is also the best way to prevent skin cancer: Protect yourself from the sun. But what about promises of instant youth in a jar? Experts say that over-the-counter creams and lotions can help ease dry skin — which is more common as you age — but they can't turn back time. Prescription creams, chemical peels, laser treatments, Botox, and other cosmetic procedures are being used to treat sun spots, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. But results vary and some treatments remain unproven. These treatments also don't prevent further damage. So for now, to ward off future signs of aging and lower your risk of skin cancer:
  • Avoid the sun when its rays are strongest between 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Use a sunscreen that has a high SPF number (15 or higher).
  Sunscreen should also protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Experts recommend using sunscreen daily, year-round — especially on your face. If you're out in the sun for a long time, protect your ears and scalp with a hat. For extra body protection, wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants. Checking your skin regularly is a good idea. Tell your doctor right away about skin changes, such as new growths, sores that don't heal, or changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. Skin changes are not always cancer. But you should have a doctor check out a skin change to be sure. Many types of skin cancer can be cured if found and treated early.  

Are Supplements for You?

More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Supplements are available without a prescription and can come in a pill, powder or liquid form.   People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to improve their health.  But not everyone needs to take supplements.  “It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietician. “But supplements can be useful for filling in the gaps in your diet.” Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines.  Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions.  You should discuss the supplements you are taking with your doctor. While manufacturers cannot claim that supplements can cure, treat or prevent disease, there is evidence to suggest that taking certain supplements can enhance health in different ways.  The most popular nutrient supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C, and D.  Calcium support bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.  Vitamins C and E are antioxidants---molecules that prevent cell damage and help to maintain health. Vitamin B12 keeps nerve and blood cells healthy.  Vitamin B12 mostly comes from meat, fish, and dairy foods, so vegans may consider taking a supplement to be sure to get enough of it.  Research suggests that fish oil can promote heart health.  The National Institute of Health reports that of the supplements not derived from vitamins and minerals, fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use. Many supplements have mild effects with little to no risks.  But…..use caution with some supplements.  Vitamin K, for example, will reduce the ability of blood thinners to work. Ginkgo can increase blood thinning, and St. John’s Wart can speed the breakdown of many drugs, such as antidepressants and birth control pills, making them less effective. Just because a supplement is promoted as “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe.  It’s important to know the chemical makeup, how it’s prepared, and how it works in the body, especially if you are dealing with herbs. Scientists still have much to learn, even about common vitamins.  The scientific community once thought that taking Vitamin E would reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer, but a recent large study of more than 29,000 men found that taking vitamin E actually raised, not reduced, the risk for prostate cancer. It’s always wise to talk to your doctor about the supplements you should or should not be taking.  The National Institute of health has fact sheets on dietary supplements at  http://ods.od.nihgov/factsheets/list-all/  

BLMH named Top 100 Rural Hospitals in America

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID was recently named one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. BLMH is one of only three hospitals in Idaho that have received this ranking. Bear Lake Memorial scored in the top 100 of Critical Access Hospitals on iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of rural providers. Each hospital is measured across eight pillars of strength: Inpatient Share Ranking, Outpatient Share Ranking, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspectives, and Financial Stability. “It’s more important than ever that rural hospitals proactively understand and address performance in the areas of cost, quality, outcomes and patient perspective. iVantage’s INDEX was designed to serve as this industry model,” said Michael Topchik, national leader of the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Bear Lake Memorial Hospital and its Skilled Nursing Facility have also been recognized as Five Star Facilities by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Recognitions like these reinforce the high standard of quality healthcare the hospital provides and will continue to provide to the citizens of the Bear Lake Valley. Hospital Administrator, Dennis Carlson boasts, “This achievement is very gratifying and validates our daily commitment to providing the best health care possible to our community while maintaining an efficient and effective facility.”  

FIVE STAR – Nursing Home

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital has given another reason for the community to celebrate.   The hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility was presented with a “Five Star” status, the most prestigious accolade Medicare grants to nursing homes across the nation.  With this honor, Bear Lake Memorial’s Skilled Nursing Facility joins an elite status, a standing only one in ten nursing homes receive throughout the country. The nursing home is managed by Darin Dransfield, Administrator, and Director of Nursing, Shelly Phelps.  Together, they explain that the Five Star ranking is comprised of three components: staffing, quality measures, and the state survey process.   Darin Dransfield expounds, “Medicare scrutinizes the quality of our staffing and the delivery of our care.  Every nine to fifteen months, state officials inspect our facility during a thorough, week long process.  Our outcomes compare to the best in the country”. Leadership at the Skilled Nursing Home consist of care provided is in harmony with the hospital’s vision to be “The Most Caring Hospital on Earth”.   In order to do so, Dransfield explains, “We strive to create cherished experiences for our co-workers, residents, and the Bear Lake area.  We are unyielding in our belief that the quality of resident care is dependent upon the quality of care we provide our employees and community.  By hiring the most caring employees, we naturally provide five-star services to our residents and to the members of the Bear Lake Valley.” It is not uncommon to find the nursing home employees painting a neighbors house, serving hamburgers at a football game, or writing thank you cards.  In the facility, one experiences this five- star service through warm greetings from every employee.  Most importantly our staff members comfort our residents with hugs or will cry with someone who is sad.  Bear Lake Memorial is unique by offering in-house dialysis services to their residents.  Unlike large urban areas, this nursing home feels like family because of this five-star status. To tour this gem call Darin Dransfield at 208 847 4380. www.blmhospital.com/elderly-services/skilled-nursing-facility/  

Importance of Brain Health

The only constant about your brain is that it’s always changing.  Even after we have reached maturity, our brain continues to change.  These changes are sometimes referred to as “brain plasticity.”    Our experiences, habits, and the information we receive all have a part in the changes taking place in our brain.  New experiences and knowledge greatly contribute to keeping our brains working, developing, and learning. Sometimes we become concerned by changes in our brain.  We lose our keys and forget people’s names.  While some of this is attributed to changes in our brain, lapses in memory can also be caused by certain medications, lack of sleep, and other factors such as excessive alcohol. The brain is like a muscle and when we use it, we feel better. There are lifestyle habits that are not only good for our body but also our brain.  Here are some suggested activities that are good for the aging brain:
  •  Get Moving---A daily walk is one of the easiest ways to keep moving.  However, any activity that gets your heart pumping for 30 minutes most days is good for your body and your brain. Being active is associated with lower risk of brain issues.
  • Know your blood pressure---High blood pressure can have serious side-effects on your brain health.  If your blood pressure is high, make necessary lifestyle changes, including medication if recommended, to get it under control
  • Get adequate sleep---Inadequate sleep affects the memory center of the brain.  A good 7 or 8 hours of sleep is recommended for good health.
  • Discover a new talent----When you learn new things, you engage your brain.  Picking up a new hobby, learning a new language, reading, word puzzles, and a plethora of other activities keep the brain in good shape.
  • Pick up the phone----Stay connected with your family and friends.  Science has shown that engaging in social activities is good for the brain.  Cook dinner and invite someone over.  Volunteer or join a group.  Find ways to associate with other people.
  • Eat up----Eating a healthy diet is extremely beneficial not only to our bodies but also our brains.  Some foods, like strawberries, blueberries, and broccoli are considered power foods for the brain. 
 Information provided by brainhealth.acl.gov

Do You Suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Portrait of businessman closing eyes while working late at night on black background with copy space As the seasons change from fall to winter, many people find themselves experiencing symptoms of the “winter blues.”  Prone to simply brush these symptoms off as just being in a “funk”, many people think they just have to “tough it out” and wait for the sun to shine more brightly again.  What these people may be experiencing is a form of depression called “seasonal affective disorder“(SAD).  In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.   Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression include:
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping or having trouble sleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
Experts believe that a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, might play a role in SAD.  Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may depression. Some of the factors that increase your risk of SAD include: Being female    Women experience SAD more than men, but the symptoms tend to be more severe in men. Family History  People with family members who suffer from depressive disorders are more likely to be affected by SAD. Having previously been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms may get worse during the winter months. Living far from the equator  SAD appears to be more common in people who live far from the equator Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if you seek treatment before your symptoms get bad.   You can seek help from your family care provider.  In addition, you can try the following: Make your environment sunnier and brighter  Open blinds and trim heavy tree branches away from windows. Get Outside  Even if you’re worried about the slick roads and sidewalks, you can sit on a bench at the park or on your porch. Exercise regularly  Exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety and it helps raise serotonin levels. Take a trip  Even if it’s not a trip to a sunnier climate, getting out of the house seems to help many people who suffer from SAD.