BLMH Announces New CEO/Administrator

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Board of Directors is excited to announce that Arel Hunt has been selected as the Administrator/CEO effective July 19, 2022.  

Arel Hunt grew up in Afton, Wyoming and graduated from Star Valley High School.  He joined the National Guard between his Junior and Senior year of High School.  After high school he went to basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Upon returning from basic training, he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Moscow South Russia.  He was called off of his mission to deploy with the Wyoming Army National Guard (WYARNG) to Camp Spiker, Iraq for a 16-monthdeployment.  Between his mission and deployment to Iraq, Arel got married to Marcie (Suloff) and they have been married for the last 16 years. In his spare time, Arel enjoys spending time with his family golfing, hunting, motor biking, boating, and snowboarding.  He has three boys, Arel Jay (AJ) (13), Trelynn (11), and Markus (8).

Prior to coming to Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Arel served the WYARNG as an Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) Soldier and still serves as a traditional guardsmantoday. For the last five years, Arel has served as the Commander and Officer in Charge of the WYARNG Medical unit.  In this role, he has been overseeing and managing the clinical operations that ensure the overall medical health and assessments of the Soldiers of the WYARNG. In his tenure as the commander, he has also provided resources and coordination in training the country of Tunisia (which is a state partner to Wyoming).  Arel has served as the Medical Readiness Officer, Human Resource Officer, Logistics Officer, and State Training Officer for the WYARNG. Arel’s hobby job (as he calls it) in the National Guard is flying the UH-60 Blackhawk.  He attended Army Flight school in 2011 in Ft Rucker, Alabama.

Arel joined the Bear Lake Memorial Hospital team as the Director of Human Resources in June 2021. Due to changes in the hospital, Arel has also been filling in as the Clinic Manager since January 2022.  He has been focused on enhancing our policies, value-based care, and helping build leadership internally to BLMH. He is excited to serve all of you in this new capacity, and look for ways that the team can improve and progress in serving our community. Arel and Marcie find great value in rural communities and the environments they create for raising children.

Arel has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration with an emphasis in Finance. He has a Lean Six Sigma (green) certificate, as well as Fundamentals of Global Health Engagement (FOGHE).

Skin Cancer

Spending time outdoors can improve overall health and wellness. It also provides opportunities for physical activity, may promote mental health, stress reduction, and increase vitamin D production. While spending time enjoying the outdoors, people can decrease skin cancer risk from too much UV exposure by using sun protection with SPF 15 or higher. In addition, staying in the shade, and wearing protective clothing, including a wide brimmed hat also help reduce skin cancer risk. Wearing sunglasses helps protect against eye damage. 

Skin Cancer Facts 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and includes distinct types.  

At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. 

More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. 

Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma. 

Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes.           

 Even if it is cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. 

Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk. 

The most common signs of skin cancer are changes on your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that does not heal, or a change in a mole. 

Those that have a higher risk for skin cancer include those with: 

A lighter skin color 

Freckled skin 

Blue or green eyes, and blond or red hair 

Certain types and a large number of moles 

Family history of skin cancer or a personal history of skin cancer 

Older age 

Making sun protection an everyday habit will help you to enjoy the outdoors safely and help lower your skin cancer risk.  

Best Exercises for Seniors 

No matter what your age is, the best exercise for you is the one you enjoy doing the most.  After all, if you don’t like your workout, how long are you going to stick with it? 

For older adults, it’s important to keep in mind exactly what you want and need to get out of your workout. The top priority must be maintaining your quality of life outside the gym. In order to do that, you need to focus on workouts designed to help you build strength, stay mobile and improve balance.  Below, experts share the best exercises for older adults.  As always, it’s smart to check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program, especially if you have a chronic condition.  

Swimming -There’s a reason swimming is sometimes called the world’s perfect exercise.  Getting in the pool is a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness while also strengthening your muscles. It does all this while putting minimal stress on your bones and joints, which is a major plus for men and women who have arthritis or osteoporosis.   A 2012 study in the Journal of Aging Research suggests that swimming can help older adults keep their minds as sharp as their bodies. 

Yoga - Yoga helps build muscle strength, aerobic fitness, core stability, and total-body mobility, all of which are important to older adults. Yoga is low-impact and gentle on your body’s joints, but still weight-bearing. That is vital to strengthening your muscles and your bones.  

Bodyweight Training - Simple bodyweight exercises such as chair squats, single leg stands, wall pushups, and stair climbing will do an excellent job at keeping your body strong and ready to tackle everyday activities. 

Resistance Band Workouts - Bands can challenge your muscles in ways you might not be able to with equipment-free training. For instance, when it comes to strengthening your back and improving your posture, pulling motions are vital and resistance bands can provide that motion. 

Walking - Even if you cannot find the time to perform a structured workout, you can usually find time to put one foot in front of the other. Research shows that people who increased their activity level to 10,000 steps per day were 46 percent less likely to die in the following 10 years compared to those who stayed sedentary.  

Cycling - Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise and is ideal for those who want to increase their leg strength but can’t run or engage in other high-impact sports due to osteoporosis or joint issues. Cycling also improves cardiovascular health. 

The Aging Mouth – How to Keep it Younger 

From Harvard Health 

You may have noticed that your once-sparkling smile has dimmed over the years.   Aging isn’t always pretty, and your mouth is no exception.  A century ago, the need for dentures in later life was almost a foregone conclusion.  Today, three-quarters of people over 65 retain at least some of their natural teeth, but older people still suffer higher rates of gum disease, dental decay, oral cancer, mouth infections, and tooth loss.   

Teeth are amazingly strong, but a lifetime of crunching, gnawing, and grinding wears away the outer layer of enamel and flattens the biting edges.  While there is not much you can do to stem the natural attrition of the tooth surface, the pillars of cavity prevention, brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings at the dentist’s office, remain the same at any age. 

Age brings more health problems, and that often means multiple medications, many of which can have a detrimental effect on your oral health.  For example, calcium-channel blockers for heart disease and antiseizure drugs can cause the proliferation of puffy gum tissue, particularly around the lower front teeth. Good oral hygiene can combat this problem.  

Hundreds of medications list dry mouth as a side effect.  Whether caused by medication, or other contributing factors, lack of saliva is more than just uncomfortable.  It makes eating and swallowing difficult, causes bad breath, and leads to irritation and infection of oral tissues.  It also raises your risk for gum disease and tooth decay.  You can moisten a dry mouth by chewing sugarless gums or sucking on sugarless candies.  Simply drinking more water can help; try holding it in your mouth for a few seconds before you swallow.  Alcohol and caffeinated beverages dry out the mouth, so use them in moderation.   

The well-being of your aging mouth is tied to the health of the rest of your body.  There’s mounting evidence of an association between gum inflammation and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems, all of which are more prevalent in later life.  Scientists postulate that bacteria from gum infections travel through the bloodstream to trigger inflammation in organs and tissues at distant sites. 

For diabetes, a disease that afflicts nearly a quarter of Americans over age 60, the cause and effect may go both directions.  Over the years, uncontrolled blood sugar damages the blood vessels that supply the gums, so they become susceptible to infection, which accelerates periodontal disease.  High blood sugar also translated into increased sugar in oral fluids for bacteria to feed on.  Conversely, inflammation from oral infection may increase the body’s resistance to insulin, leading to greater difficulty in keeping blood sugar under control.  

Regular dental check-ups are the best assurance for a healthy mouth and save money in the long run. 

New Rules and Options for Medicare

Supplement Policy Holders

Idaho’s laws and rules for Medicare Supplement policies have changed. The Idaho Legislature approved legislation to provide additional options and consumer protections for Idaho seniors. The Idaho Department of Insurance published a temporary rule on November 3, 2021, related to Medicare Supplement policies in accordance with Senate Bill 1143, signed by Governor Little on April 22, 2021. The temporary rule is the result of negotiated rule making.

The Department of Insurance is providing information, FAQs, and details on an upcoming webinar for the public and industry about the changes on its website:

The rule, IDAPA 18.04.10, includes two major changes effective after February 28, 2022.

  1. Medicare Supplement policyholders may change their insurance company and/or plan annually regardless of health conditions during a 63-day enrollment period beginning on the policyholder’s birthday.
  2. Premium rates for new Medicare Supplement policies (including when changing insurance companies) will no longer be based on the age of the applicant. This is referred to as “community rating.”

The rule also prohibits charging application fees or higher premium rates based on the method of payment, and other unfair trade practices. 

It is important to know that current Medicare Supplement plans are guaranteed renewable, and current policies will continue unless a change is requested by the policyholder. These rule changes provide flexibility to current Medicare Supplement policyholders who wish to change their policy, but no change is required. After February 28.2022, existing Medicare Supplement policyholders may choose to shop for comparable community-rated coverage starting the day of their birthday. 

“These changes will give Idaho consumers more options for plans that best fit their changing medical needs,” said Director Dean Cameron. “I strongly encourage consumers to seek guidance from our *SHIBA representatives.” 

Idahoans with questions may call toll free (800)247.4422 to speak with a state SHIBA representative, orlocally at 208.847.0949.

*SHIBA is the acronym for State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors.

12 Resolutions for Seniors

12 New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors
Each new year is a gift.  It’s a time to take stock of our lives and decide what we’d like to change. Changes can be large or small. Here are 12 practical resolutions for seniors that will help bring peace of mind. 

1.Review your legal documents. Getting your legal documents in order is really more for your loved ones than yourself, but it can bring peace of mind. Make sure documents are current, legal, and reflective of your desires. 

2.Get up to date on your vaccinations. It’s easy to put these things off, but they are important, especially important for seniors.  Flu, pneumonia, shingles, and Covid are all important. 
3. Inventory Medications. Ask your pharmacist to give you a list of all the medications you take and send a copy to a friend or family member and keep a copy on your cell phone.  

4.Try something new. This year, try something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Make a new friend, learn a new game, or learn a new skill. Adventure does not have to be physical, but it can be adventurous if it’s something new.  

5.Challenge yourself. Mental and physical challenges motivate us to do more. Mental challenges like Sudoku, quizzes, or crossword or jigsaw puzzles improve mental strength and memory. Physical challenges enable you to gradually improve balance, strength, and flexibility.  

6.De-clutter. Most of us hang on to too much stuff.  Holding on to some things reminds you of happier times and great experiences, but there’s likely a lot of stuff you don’t need and that your children probably don’t want. Start slowly to de-clutter and organize.   

7.Understand your fall risk. Falls are the leading cause of injury for Americans over 65. Talk to your doctor about how to minimize your risk of falling. 

8.Forgive people. Grudges, slights, and old scores weigh us down. Enough said. 

9.Embrace technology. This does not have to be daunting.  Start by learning one new thing. 

10. Keep laughing! Find friends, movies, comedians, books, or other things that make you laugh. Laughter really is good medicine.  

11. Share memories. Reliving your memories can lift your spirits and others’. If you have not written them down, try making a journal of your favorite memories. 

12.Revisit your old resolutions. Sometimes holding ourselves to strict standards is counterproductive. Evaluate what is really feasible and realistic. Don’t give up on a resolution that you really want to pursue. Be willing to improve a little each day. 

5 Ways for Staying Positive During the Holidays

1. Reminisce in a Positive Way 

Memories of holidays past can drum up bad feelings during the holiday season for many seniors. But memories are often some of the best things in our life. Instead of dwelling on things that are now different, focus on all the good that has happened. Use the past to reminisce about your favorite things and people. Take out old pictures, sing old songs, and remind yourself what the holidays are all about. 

The holidays are the ideal time to remember traditions and friends that have come through your life, reflect on things that have changed, and appreciate things that haven't. Try using the holiday season to create a new photo album or scrapbook full of your favorite memories.  

2. Take Control of Finances 

While it is common to feel like you need to spend a lot of money during the holiday season, that is a feeling that must be forgotten. The true meaning of the holidays is love and togetherness, and those who truly love you would expect nothing more. Before you become over-stressed about the financial burden of the holidays, get ahead of the game by creating a budget and plan before the season hits. 

Give yourself a realistic budget and stick to it. Create lists and stay organized when it comes to shopping and purchasing presents for the holidays. Working through the holidays with a budget in mind will help you not only stress less about money, but also refrain from overspending what you don't have. 

3. Get in the Spirit with Holiday Traditions 

Sometimes all you need is a little cheer to get in the spirit of the holidays. If you're feeling the blues, try reminding yourself about the greater parts of the holiday season, like the food, decorations, and entertainment. Bake cookies and pies, watch your favorite holiday movies, make crafts, and hum along to your favorite holiday tunes. All of these things help remind us of our favorite holiday memories and traditions, putting us in the right frame of mind to celebrate and enjoy the coming holiday. 

Try enlisting the help of family members or friends to help you decorate, make homemade presents, or take you to go see lights in the neighborhood. Sometimes, participating in holiday activities can help not only get you in the spirit, but also become a time to connect with the people you love and make memories. 

4. Be Honest and Talk It Out 

It can be hard to admit when you have feelings of loneliness, depression, or are simply not feeling celebratory this holiday season. This can be especially true when seniors may see the people they love enjoying the holiday season themselves. But the people around you care about you and are there to support you. 

That being said, it is important to seek help and be honest when you need it. Seniors are more likely to suffer from depression, but less likely to seek help for it. Talk about your feelings of isolation or loneliness with family, friends, caregivers, or even a licensed professional. All of these people not only provide emotional support but also help you find solutions to the issues you are currently facing. The holiday season is no time to feel alone. 

5. Connect with Those Who Matter Most 

During the holidays, family, friends, and the people we love are typically the top-priority. It is a time to appreciate the people in our lives. For seniors having a difficult time, connecting with the people you love can be of tremendous help. Providing love and support, your friends and family can help get you through difficult holidays. Call the people you love often or ask them to call you. Technology is a great way to stay connected with loved ones who don't live nearby.  

For those who are not able to see in person, set up a day and time of the week that works for both parties to speak on the phone. Visit family often and let the people in your life know how important those visitations are to you. Find social activities around you to participate in with friends or other seniors. There may be other people having a difficult time as well during this season and will be seeking solace in each other.   

This season, take care and fight the holiday blues by heeding the advice given. By taking care of our senior loved ones, the holidays can be a time of celebration, love, and hope for everyone. Contact our trusted professionals today to find out more about caring for seniors during the holiday season.  Bear Lake Manor 208-847-2400 or Bear Lake Memorial Skilled Nursing Facility 208-847-4441

Scams Are Alive and Well…

Medicare beneficiaries are often trusting people and can easily fall prey to scammers.  It is important to be aware of the different ways scammers operate and learn how to protect your financial assets and personal information.   

Some common scams: 

  • A caller, claiming to be a Medicare official, will call and ask you if you have a plastic Medicare card. They claim that if your card isn’t plastic, you don’t have an official card, etc.  They want you to give them your Medicare number so they can send you the “correct” card.  Be aware that all Medicare cards are made of paper.  They are not plastic. 
  • Someone claiming to be a government employee will call and say that your social security number has been compromised and because of this your social security number will be suspended, therefore you will not receive your social security payments.  They are seeking personal information.  
  • Someone, claiming to be from the IRS, may contact you telling you that you are eligible to receive another stimulus payment, but they want to verify your information.   
  • Someone may call, (sounding very “official”) and tell you that you have won a prize, but you need to send in a certain amount of money to collect it. 

Things to remember to protect yourself from scammers: 

No one from the Federal Government will call you unsolicited and ask for personal information. These agencies already have details like your Medicare and Social Security numbers. 

Any important communications from the federal government usually come via the U.S. Postal Service. 

No federal government agency will initiate a serious contact with you through social media, text, or email. 

Medicare will not call you about a “problem” with your Medicare number or your coverage unless you initiated the first call and left a call back number.  It is the same for Social Security.  

Remember, NEVER give out any personal or financial information over the phone unless you have initiated the call.   

Never send money to someone unless you know EXACTLY to whom you are sending it.  Things that seem too good to be true, usually are. 

What is Cholesterol? What Does It Do For Your Body?

September is cholesterol awareness month. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque sticks to the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis.

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called “good” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. The liver then removes cholesterol from your body.

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol because it leads to a build-up of plaque in the arteries.

VLDL stands for very low-density lipoprotein. Some people also refer to it as “bad” cholesterol because it also leads to a build-up of plaque in the arteries. But VLDL and LDL are different. VLDL mainly carries triglycerides and LDL mainly carries cholesterol.

The most common cause of high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle. These three lifestyle habits are the main culprits of high cholesterol:

Eating foods that contain lots of bad fats- Saturated fat found in such foods as certain meats, fried foods, and processed foods can raise your LDL.

Lack of physical activity- lowers your HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

Smoking- especially in women, lowers HDL and raises your LDL.

Having high cholesterol causes a myriad of problems including blocking the arteries to your heart, which can cause a heart attack, blocking other arteries in your body, including the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your brain and limbs.

This leads to carotid artery disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.

You can lower your cholesterol by changing your lifestyle. Eating healthier, exercising more, and giving up smoking are three ways to start.

If the lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your cholesterol to an acceptable level, you may need to take medication.

See your doctor for a cholesterol screening.

August is Cataract Awareness Month

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, according to the CDC. Increased vision loss may mean that you need more than new glasses. More than half of all Americans over the age of 70 have developed cataracts to some degree.

Cataracts are common and curable. Symptoms include blurry vision, colors that appear faded, glare, double vision, and difficulty with night vision.

There are several risk factors that affect the formation of cataracts. If you have diabetes or are a smoker, if you have a family history of cataracts, excessive exposure to sunlight, eye injury or inflammation, or if you’ve had prolonged use of steroids, you are at greater risk for developing cataracts.

You can reduce your risk of developing cataracts by wearing UV protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat while being outdoors. Controlling you blood sugar by diet and exercise, and quitting smoking are some ways to reduce your risk. Other ways to reduce your risk include eating more green leafy vegetables, fruits and foods that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in the body.

To learn more about vision health and cataracts visit:

National Eye Institute - NIH