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Measles was an illness that the United States believed that it had largely eradicated. With the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, there have been repeated outbreaks against multiple states. This week, we explore the reemergence of measles and why some adults should consider re-vaccinating.
What Is Measles?
Measles is a viral disease that most heavily impacts children. It is an air-borne pathogen that spreads when an infected person sneezes and/or coughs. The first symptoms are cold-like. The patient usually starts coughing, followed by a runny nose, red eyes, and fevers. The trademark symptom for measles however, is a rash of tiny red spots that starts on the head and eventually covers the rest of the body.
Without vaccines, measles spreads rapidly and impacted as many as 4 million people a year, with about 50,000 hospitalized. Every year, 400 to 500 people died from measles. As with many illnesses, the deaths were disproportionately children and older adults.
The Measles Vaccine
For the measles vaccines, there are two options. The most common choice is the MMR vaccine, which protects people against measles, mumps, and rubella. There is a second vaccine called the MMRV, which adds in protection against the flu. However, this vaccine is only for children from 1 year old to 12 years old.
The CDC recommends that kids get two doses of the vaccine to increase the effectiveness. Children get their first dose between 12 and 15, and the second one from 4 to 6 years.
The measles vaccine was introduced in the 1960s. It reduced the number of measles cases in the United States by 99%. Unfortunately, while the vaccine is widespread in the United States, that is not the case in every country. With the growing movement against vaccination, the low rate of vaccination in other countries is impacting Americans.
Measles was nearly eradicated in the United States, however, in recent years, there has been a growing movement against vaccination. When unvaccinated people travel, it opens them up to infection. If an unvaccinated American citizen gets measles while they’re abroad, they can cause an outbreak when they’re back stateside.
The original vaccine was introduced in 1963. In 1967, the form of the vaccine that is still used today became the standard. The modern vaccine is highly effective. However, there was a version of the vaccine in use from 1963 to 1967 that essentially does nothing against measles.
Due to this, there are at-risk adults who should discuss revaccination with their physician. This group includes those vaccinated with the ineffective shot, and those unsure of which vaccine they received 1963 to 1967. Adults who have never been vaccinated are also at risk. The CDC suggests that these individuals receive at least one dose of the shot.
Protecting yourself against measles is especially important for adults who live near outbreak centers. Other at-risk areas include cities that are big port cities, or with international airports.
Ultimately, your best option is to discuss vaccination or revaccination with your physician. They can conduct blood tests to see what your immunity level is. Physicians will also be more knowledgeable about the risk of outbreaks.
As human bodies age, they aren’t always he best at maintaining themselves. Vitamins or supplements can help supply your body with nutrients that you would otherwise miss. Supplements do not always have the best reputation, so some people hesitate to take them.
Read on to learn ways to help your body balance itself naturally and some vitamins you can take if it needs some help.
New research suggests that many older adults are on supplements that they do not need. This likely won’t hurt you, but who wants to be taking capsules they don’t need? Fortunately, there are other ways to help your body achieve balance.
Exercising every day provides huge benefits. It isn’t necessary to run a mile every day. A simple walk around the block, or playing with your grandchildren for an hour or so is more than fine. Focus on increasing your heart rate a bit.
If you have physical limitations, talk with your physician about what will work best for you. Many experts focus on water-centric exercises because they increase activity ad muscle without impacting your joints. Swimming a few laps or water aerobic classes are the most common suggestions.
Keep yourself engaged! Picking up a hobby or joining a new social group is extremely healthy for older adults. Humans need engagement with other people to have a well-rounded life.
If there are days that you don’t feel in the mood for human company, there are still plenty of amazing options. Many older adults find volunteering at animal shelters and sanctuaries very fulfilling. Even getting up and doing your chores will help keep your mind and body engaged.
Diet is by far the biggest influence on whether or not older people need to take vitamins or supplements. Most medical professionals now suggest that a patient’s diet should be adjusted before placing them on vitamins.
For example, older adults oftentimes lack vitamins B6 and B12. Food such as turkey, potatoes, and fish all contain these vitamins. Instead of placing someone lacking in vitamins B6 and B12 on a supplement, doctors can encourage them to eat more potatoes and meats.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard doctors or patients try, supplements are necessary. So, let’s explore what doctors say older adults need most.
Vitamin D is the nutrient that our body gets from exposure to the sun. In Florida there is plenty of sun, but there can be too much of a good thing. Older adults sunburn more easily than young adults, so sunbathing is not always an option. Most physicians recommend spending at least a little time outdoors every day. However, it is totally understandable is the Florida heat and intense sun limit that time.
B12 boosts blood cells and your nerves. It is important for preventing certain types of anemia. Anemia can make people feel exhausted or light-headed, putting them at risk for falls. Obviously, it is best to avoid this.
Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 can both be monitored through blood test. Discuss with your physician if a supplement for either is the right fit for you. If you do start taking supplements, your doctor can monitor the levels of both vitamins through blood work.
Floridians are the largest population signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and that number is likely to increase. Read on to learn about the grant that a USF-based group earned, and the work that they are doing to help Floridians with insurance enrollment.
What Is The Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is an insurance program that was passed in March of 2010. The legislation has three main goals. The primary mission is to make health insurance available to more people. It subsidizes healthcare for those living far below the poverty level. It also aims to help expand Medicaid and supports “medical care delivery programs”.
Why Do Groups Need Grants?
Non-profit groups aid under-served communities by connecting people to medical insurance, which can help them immensely. These groups, such as the Florida Covering Kids & Families, are designed to help simplify the insurance process. Their goal is to help the uninsured population of Florida (2.5 million people) understand insurance enrollment. They especially aim to help children and families.
Florida Covering Kids & Families does not charge people to use their services. Not only do they connect people with insurance options, they conduct research on insurance trends across the state of Florida. The catch is that Florida Covering Kids & Families is a non-profit. So how do they pay for knowledgeable insurance experts and support research across the state? With grants such as these.
How Much Will The Program Receive?
Florida Covering Kids & Families will receive 1.3 million dollars each year for the next two years. The money will go to Florida Covering Kids & Families, who will in turn work with medical and insurance organizations across the state.
The programs help enroll over 60 thousand people per year in Florida. WUSF reports that the program is grateful for the money, but frustrated at the recent budget cuts. Their budget has been slashed 85% in the past two years, from 6 million at its peak to 1.25 million last year. This grant represents a trend in the other direction though, which has inspired hope.
The director of Florida Covering Kids & Families hopes that the government will provide more opportunities for funding. “Obviously, it doesn’t give us the ability to provide the level of services that are needed across the state of Florida, but it will allow us to continue to serve Floridians through open enrollment and the special enrollment periods.”
Sexuality can be an awkward topic of discussion for any age group, especially for older adults. As bodies age, different sex-related issues arise. It is important to recognize that these issues are normal and talk to a physician if you have any concerns. Sexual health needs to be discussed more in older adults, who demographically boast some of the highest and fasting growing rates of STDs in the country.
This week, learn how to protect yourself and what to discuss with your physician when it comes to sexual health.
At What Age Should I Start Concerning Myself With Safe Sex?
Turns out that safe sex is a life-long endeavor! While women are not able to carry children past a certain age, this should not discourage condom use. Condoms and dental dams serve as more than just birth control. They are barriers that halt STDs and STIs in their tracks.
Condoms come in two varieties, male and female, and are a barrier used during penetrative sex. Dental dams are essentially latex sheets that can be used as protection for penetrative sex, but are more often used for non-penetrative sex. Talk with you doctor about what is the best option for you.
What Are Some Sexual Health Issues Older Adults Can Encounter?
- Arthritis or other forms of chronic pain
Unfortunately, chronic pain impacts all aspects of life. With arthritis, regular light exercise may help relieve some of your pain. Warm baths or showers can relax your muscles, which may also provide some relief. Talk to your physician about what joints to avoid putting pressure on and how pain medication may be able to help.
Diabetes is a condition that impacts the sexuality of both men and women. In some men, diabetes leads to ED. For women, it means that they tend to get yeast infections easily. The better handle you have on your diabetes, the easier it is to prevent any secondary issues. With the price of insulin rising, consult your physician to learn your options for controlling diabetes, as well as any secondary effects.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease, because it limits the blood flow through the body, may impact both men and women’s sex lives, although heart disease is much more common in men. Cardiac issues can have a psychological impact on sexuality as well. If someone’s partner has a heart condition or history of heart attacks, sexual activity may be a concern for them. As with diabetes, your physician should have a treatment plan laid out for you already, but it is always smart to consult with them about any questions that you may have.
- Mental Health Issues
Depression and anxiety, which are increasingly common in older adults, also negatively impact sexuality. People with mental health conditions often find that they stop finding enjoyment in all facets of their life, including intimacy. The best way to try and move past these issues is to open up and communicate with your significant other.
Alcohol and certain prescription medications have the ability to decrease your libido. If the decline in intimacy is a concern, talk to your physician about alternatives to what you are currently taking. Reducing alcohol intake, or avoiding drinks with high alcohol percentages may also help.
Dementia is expected to impact three times as many people as it does now in 2050. The very thought of dementia is a scary prospect: a progressive problem that decreases memory and other cognitive abilities, sometimes extending to affect behavior and quality of living.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of different neurological issues. Despite monumental efforts from medical researchers and professionals, we still know relatively little about dementia.
This week, we explore suggestions from the medical community on the best ways to prevent dementia.
Cigarettes are immeasurably harmful. Many organizations have led successful campaigns against them for this very reason. However, medical professionals have expressed concerns about the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, vapes, and marijuana. Anytime that you are taking anything into your lungs has the potential to cause harm.
Smoking is not adding much to people’s lives, in reality dementia is yet another reason to not smoke.
Maintain Your Health
There are a few components to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. First is maintaining a healthy weight. What this weight may be is different for every person. Diet culture causes some people to try and lose weight constantly – which is not necessarily what is best for your body. If your doctor does not have concerns about your weight, maintaining your current weight is healthier than your weight fluctuating constantly.
Along with maintaining a healthy weight, you should also be eating properly and exercising on a regular basis.
Perhaps the biggest part of maintaining your health is handling any health issues that you know you have. Existing health issues that require regular monitoring include diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
To control these health issues, you should schedule regular appointments with your physician. Typically, these are annual checkups, but your doctor may want to see you more regularly. Additionally, you should follow all instructions provided by your physician. Adjust your diet, or exercise, and take any medicine that he or she prescribes.
Keep Your Brain Active
The most recommended way to combat dementia is to keep your brain as active as possible. Just like any of the other suggestions, it is not guaranteed, but it is the medical community’s best safeguard for now.
Oftentimes older adults struggle to engage themselves on a regular basis. It is fairly common to hear retirees complain that they are bored. A good way to combat this stagnation is to pick up a hobby. Something as simple as doing the daily crossword puzzle in your local paper is a good start. Other games like sudoku and word searches are also helpful.
Social circles are another good way to stay engaged. Gatherings like book clubs, sewing circles, and community service organizations can be amazingly beneficial. Not only do they advance the hobbies that are so helpful to mental engagement, they also require communication and socialization. Engaging with other older adults helps maintain mental agility and helps improve memory.
According to the World Health Organization, the population of people over the age of 60 years will grow from 12% of the population to 22% by 2050. This means that senior health issues are of growing concern to the world health community. As mental health is discussed more openly by the public, it is important that people aged 60 and older also receive a similar education.
This week, we explore how mental health issues impact older adults, as well as ways to help.
Older Adults Experience Serious Mental Health Risks
Living as a human in the modern world is indisputably a stressful experience. These stressors pose a significant risk to mental health, and older adults experience additional facets of life that increase their stress levels.
Additional stressors that older adults may experience at a higher rate than other age groups:
- Decline of physical ability: including reduced mobility, chronic pain, or other health problems. This may lead to dependency on medical personnel or family members.
- Bereavement, or serious loss.
- Drop or stagnation of socioeconomic status due to retirement.
- Isolation or loneliness.
- Elder abuse, particularly financial abuse. Current studies suggest that 1 in 6 people aged 60 or older experience elder abuse.
It is important that people understand how physical and mental health impact one another. As physical condition deteriorates or someone deals with chronic illness, it negatively impacts mental state. Physical incapacity leads to complex feelings such as embarrassment, denial, and frustration. If these feelings are not addressed, they can develop into mental illness. Oftentimes, this leads to depression and anxiety in older adults.
How To Help
The good news is that, as a society, we are more educated and publicly aware of mental health issues than ever before. This broad education means that we are given more opportunities to spread the awareness to older adults.
If you are an older adult, and you believe you may be dealing with depression or anxiety, the best thing you can do is reach out. Mental health issues are taken much more seriously than they used to, and doctors realize that psychology is an important part of a person’s overall health. You can reach out to a trusted family member or a doctor. Most insurance agencies cover psychologists and psychiatrists now, so treatment is affordable.
If you are a family member or caretaker of an older adult who may have mental health problems, it is important to reach out. It is essential that when you reach out, you are not condescending. It is easy to believe that because of past misconceptions about brain function, that an older adult may not know how to look after their themselves. Mental health is, much like any other medical issue, ultimately between an individual and their doctor.
The best thing you can do is offer support and encouragement. Offer to be a person they can vent to if you are able. Sometimes, all it takes to strengthen mental health is a listening ear.