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The Perfect Summer Checklist

sea-nature-sunny-summerIf you are like many people, summer is your favorite time of the year. Gardening, golfing, playing outdoor tennis, swimming at the beach, or just enjoying the extra hours of daylight are what we’ve been waiting to do all winter long.

But even though summer is the perfect season for so many wonderful activities, remember to take a few extra minutes to get yourself ready to enjoy them safely and comfortably.

Summer checklist:

Sunscreen: Of course, we need to wear it all year round but the greater intensity of summer sun and heat means we need to reapply sunscreen frequently while we are out. Even “all day” products don’t always protect you the entire time you are outdoors, especially if you are in the water or working up a healthy sweat.

One great tip is to keep sunscreen in a convenient place in your car where it’s handy and visible. Then it’s at-the-ready when the sun is beaming down through the window or in case you’ve forgotten to apply before you left home.

Remember that some medicines can make your skin more sensitive to light. Check with your pharmacy or provider’s office if you have questions about anything you take.

Hydration: I know, I know… we hear this over and over but it bears repeating. Keep water with you every time you exercise or engage in an outdoor activity, even if it’s only a short walk.

And like the sunscreen, keep a few bottles of water in your car—you never know when summer beach traffic, a car problem, or some other event may intervene.

Insect Repellent: You name it, summer has them whether they are flying, crawling, or dropping down from trees.

Outdoor activities in the late afternoon and evening, of course, make you a prime target for mosquitoes.  But they are by no means the only problem. Gardeners and hikers should especially take note that the tick population in several states is at an all-time high this year. Be sure to check yourself when you come in, especially if you live in a high infestation area.

There are good repellent sprays and surprisingly good (though a bit pricey) repellent clothing—though not all of the garments work for every activity or sport.

Grandkids: One of life’s greatest joys is doing almost any activity with grands and summer gives us so many more opportunities!  Don’t forget to check that your sunscreen and first aid supplies are kid-friendly and that your car has an extra supply of drinks.



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Men’s Health Month & The End of Prostate Cancer

Guest post by Drew Saelens, Vice President of Government Relations & Patient Advocacy at ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer

Though June represents the beginning of summer, it is equally important to remember June is Men’s Health Month. This month is naturally a great opportunity for Seniors Speak Out to collaborate with ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer to provide some helpful suggestions for how seniors can truly make this summer the healthiest one yet.

Get Educated!

Take the time to learn about how preventable some men’s health problems are and how important early detection can be. While diving into a complicated topic like cancer could be overwhelming, there are a few important facts to know.

ZERO is working to end prostate cancer, a disease that impacts 1 in 8 American men during their lifetime. In fact, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States after skin cancer. For seniors, it is especially important to be aware of this disease, as about 6 in 10 cases diagnosed are for men aged 65 or older.

 

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Source: zerocancer.org

Prostate cancer begins in the prostate, which is a walnut-shaped gland in the male reproductive system. The prostate surrounds the urethra and makes the fluid to nourish and protect sperm cells. Unfortunately, there are no outward signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer, so it is very important to regularly visit your doctor for a screening test. ZERO recommends that men get an initial baseline Prostate Specific Antigen Test (PSA) at age 45. Once this test is completed, it becomes easier for older men to watch for any irregularities by monitoring PSA levels with a doctor. The good news is, if caught early, prostate cancer has a 99 percent survival rate.

Not at risk for prostate cancer? There’s still important steps you can take as a friend, daughter, mother, or partner. Encourage the men in your life to bring up preventive care and the PSA test with their doctor, especially once they turn 45. It can be a lifesaving conversation.

Take Action!

I’ve worked in health care for 15 years. I’ve been a consultant, a fundraiser, and an advocate. Over the years, I’ve learned the true value of speaking out to create meaningful change. Seniors should not underestimate their ability to make an impact! If there is an issue that you’re passionate about, do not hesitate to contact policymakers both in Washington, D.C., and in your local communities. It is important to make your voice heard, especially on issues that directly impact your health. Here are a few easy ways you can take action in ZERO’s fight to end prostate cancer:

Together, we can affect meaningful policy changes that contribute to our goal for Generation ZERO: the first generation of men free from prostate cancer.

 

Drew Saelens is Vice President of Government Relations & Patient Advocacy at ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. ZERO is the leading national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer by advancing research, improving the lives of men and families, and inspiring action.



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National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

SSO Colorectal Cancer ImageMarch is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Here at Seniors Speak Out it’s important to be aware of diseases like colorectal cancer that affect older Americans. Because colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths – and a cancer that can be screened for often – it is so important that we visit the doctor regularly for screenings.

The first step to preventing colorectal cancer is to learn what it is and how it impacts your body. Colon cancer is a malignant growth that begins in the colon or large intestine. It includes both cancers of the colon and those that form in the rectum. Most colon cancers begin with the formation of benign polyps, or non-cancerous growths in the large intestine. Often, these growths produce absolutely no symptoms, which is why it is important to visit your doctor annually for testing.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends adults begin regular screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50, though those with a family history of this cancer should begin sooner.

Colonoscopies used to be a dreaded rite of passage for seniors. But there is good news! There are now various options to test for the disease.

Stool tests can be conducted annually, while a colonoscopy is recommended by USPSTF to be done every 10 years in the absence of polyps. According to Medicare.gov, Medicare covers colorectal cancer screening tests to help find pre-cancerous polyps. However, if a polyp or other tissue is found during the colonoscopy, you may have to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services and a copayment in a hospital outpatient setting.

Of course, it is important to discuss your testing options with a physician, who can provide you with more detailed information about each screening test, how often they should occur and what is best for you. Be sure to ask questions about how often Medicare covers each screening test so you know your potential out-of-pocket costs up front.

Again, because the symptoms of colon cancer are often unnoticed, us seniors must take charge of our own health and visit the doctor annually for a regular screening. Contact your doctor today to schedule a test for colorectal cancer in honor of National Colorectal Awareness Month.



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Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month

As you’ve most likely experienced firsthand, aging can contribute to the onset of many different health conditions. Here at Seniors Speak Out, we know it is difficult to decipher what is considered a normal sign of aging and what could be something more serious. Learning about lesser-known conditions can mean an important stold couple smilingep toward preventative care.

What better reason to discuss Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month? It is February, after all! This is a great opportunity to share information about vision changes many seniors experience and remember the importance of regular visits to the eye doctor.

According to the National Eye Institute, vision changes are normal as we age. Here are a few examples of how we can expect our eyes to change as we grow older:

  1. Eyes may take longer to adjust and focus
  2. Adjusting to light and dark transitions may be more challenging
  3. Eyes may have a difficult time distinguishing an image from its background (this is called contrast sensitivity)

Though these examples of changes are good to keep in mind, the best way to prolong your sharp vision is to regularly see your eye doctor for an exam. In some cases, your doctor can help you determine if you have developed Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.

The early stages of AMD start without symptoms, which is why it is so important to regularly get an eye exam. Remember – early detection can slow the rate of vision loss and allow you to make the most of what vision is remaining.

To learn more about eye care, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology to view their extensive set of resources for seniors.