Health – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 05 Sep 2019 21:04:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.3 Sudden and severe lung illness cases tied to vaping http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/09/08/sudden-and-severe-lung-illness-cases-tied-to-vaping/ Sun, 08 Sep 2019 11:00:45 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176880 Special to The SUN
As of Aug. 30, there were two confirmed cases of sudden and severe lung illness tied to vaping in Colorado. Both cases are from Front Range communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Aug. 21 there were 193 potential cases reported in 22 states. Many of the affected people have been hospitalized. All reported vaping liquids or oils that contained either nicotine, marijuana, CBD, synthetic marijuana or a combination of these.
A confirmed case means it meets all the criteria for the definition being used nationally and that exposure to vaping products was most likely the cause of the illness based on the review. The department is investigating all cases reported to determine whether they meet this definition.
“This is a serious situation and people who vape should be on high alert, as should medical providers treating patients who vape,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). “Since the department has been actively notifying providers and hospitals of the symptoms, we expect we may get more reported cases.”
Colorado has an unusually high rate of teen and young adult nicotine vaping. Colorado clinicians, school-based health centers, campus health centers, parents and people who vape should be aware that this outbreak is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms.
Symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
• Chest pain.
• Cough.
• Fatigue.
• Possible fever.
People who vape and currently have a lung illness or may have had one in the past three months should contact their doctor or local health department.
Vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. The agents causing this illness could possibly be pesticide contamination, residual solvent contamination, additives with unknown inhalation effects or heavy metals contamination inhaled from vaping products.
Health care providers, school-based health centers and campus health centers should:
• Screen all youth, parents and caregivers for e-cigarette use and exposure.
• Counsel children and adolescents about the harms of e-cigarette use and clearly communicate the importance of never using e-cigarettes or other nicotine products.
• Report suspected cases to the CDPHE’s Disease Reporting Line: (303) 692-2700 or (303) 370-9395 (after hours). This includes potential cases who presented since June 1. CDPHE personnel will conduct a medical record review and contact the patients to administer a thorough investigation questionnaire.
Parents should:
• Talk with your kids about the risks of using e-cigarettes. Get the facts for your conversations at www.tobaccofreeco.org/know-the-facts.
• Set a smoke- and vapor-free rule for your home and car.
• Be aware that although vapor products may have the potential to benefit adult smokers who switch completely from cigarettes to vapor products, they are not safe for teens to use. Parents who choose to quit vaping or using any other tobacco product can access free support through the Colorado QuitLine at (800) QUIT-NOW or coquitline.org.
Youth and young adults who vape should:
• Be aware that this illness is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms.
• If you have symptoms of lung illness or may have had symptoms in the past three months, contact your doctor or local health department.
• Learn more about free resources available to help you quit all tobacco products at coquitline.org or 1800-QUITNOW.

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Caregiving solutions and brain studies http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/09/07/caregiving-solutions-and-brain-studies/ Sat, 07 Sep 2019 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176988 By Kay Kaylor
Special to The PREVIEW
At San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I am not only a part-time long-term care ombudsman, which is an advocate for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence. I also am a trained Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor and aging and disability specialist. Elder issues appear in my daily emails, and some will be included here.
Family and professional caregivers might find the following website useful for tips and discussion on care issues: agingcare.com. Check out the “Forum” for member feedback on submitted questions, or subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the page under “Join Now” (click on three bars at top left) to receive emails with “Daily Ask and Answer” questions from the public.
Aging brain
The National Institute on Aging announced evidence that a sample of people ages 79 to 99 still formed new brain cells, even those who had mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. The new specialized cells, neurons, are designed to transmit information and were generated in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning, emotions and forming new memories. The researchers added that additional study is needed.
Other brain researchers have found that computers that learn and improve are effective in analyzing amyloid plaques, abnormal clumps of protein that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. This could enable large-scale analysis to accelerate research on possible causes and progression of Alzheimer’s.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call me at 264-0501, ext. 1 or send an email to adrc@sjbaaa.org.

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September is Suicide Awareness Month: Local efforts made to help cope http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/09/05/september-is-suicide-awareness-month-local-efforts-made-to-help-cope/ Thu, 05 Sep 2019 21:00:45 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176873 By Maureen Mulligan
Special to The SUN
September is Suicide Awareness Month. Did you know that, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, one person dies by suicide every eight hours in Colorado? We rank 10th in the nation for death by suicide. Overall, suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado. Most disturbingly, it is the second leading cause of death for persons ages 15-44.
Do you know the warning signs for suicidal behavior? Most people believe the only symptom is a person’s threats to hurt or kill themselves. However, recent losses, feelings of hopelessness, dramatic changes in mood, withdrawing from social situations and difficulty sleeping, or sleeping all the time, are just some things to watch for in friends and relatives. A new health diagnosis or worsening symptoms of an existing health issue may also contribute to suicidal thinking.
If someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms or if you just notice that something is “off,” please reach out to them. A common myth is that if you ask about suicidal thoughts, it will cause the person to consider suicide as an option. The exact opposite is true. Asking about suicide may put the person at ease and help them to open up about their feelings.
During September, Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) will be seeking to educate the public about this crisis. When you come to PSMC, we will have information available regarding suicide warning signs and coping skills. We will also have a Caring Board where you can add a ribbon in memory of someone who has died by suicide; to show support for a friend or loved one who struggles, or had struggled, with suicidal thoughts; or for yourself if you’re having trouble coping with your own thoughts.
The ribbons will be provided and you will not be asked anything regarding your reasons for placing the ribbon. If you choose to write your loved one’s name on the ribbon, that is solely your choice. If participating in this causes strong emotions, please ask to speak with a behavioral health specialist or the hospital social worker.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out. You can contact any one of the following for help:
• Our local crisis line at 247-5245.
• State crisis line at (884) 493-8255.
• Text “Talk” to 38255.
• National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255.
• Call 911.
• Report to your local emergency department.

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Medicare 101 and navigating Medicare session set for Sept. 5 http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/09/02/medicare-101-and-navigating-medicare-session-set-for-sept-5/ Mon, 02 Sep 2019 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176578 By Christina Knoell
and Kay Kaylor
Special to The PREVIEW
Medicare is complicated. It is important that you know your rights, options, deadlines, possible penalties and where to find the information you need.
Did you know that assistance is available in Pagosa Springs through the nationwide State Health Insurance Program? Trained and certified Medicare counselors are available by appointment to guide you when dealing with Medicare enrollment, questions and problems.
One of the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA) volunteer Medicare counselors, Katy Deshler, will offer a free Medicare 101 class on Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Ruby Sisson Library to help you get started. The class will start at 10:30 a.m. and will run until about noon. Please call Kay at 264-0501, ext. 1 to reserve your spot because space is limited.
Medicare help has been offered in Archuleta County at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center for more than 15 years. SJBAAA is the sponsoring agency for free Medicare counseling services at the Senior Center (the west end of the Ross Aragon Community Center). On most Mondays, called Medicare Monday, counselors are available by appointment. Counseling occurs on additional days during the annual Part C and D Open Enrollment Period, Oct. 15-Dec. 7, and sometimes by phone or appointment on other days.
Please call the phone number above to make an appointment or to ask questions. Some SJBAAA counselors are also trained as Senior Medicare Patrol counselors and they can help with possible health care fraud, errors and abuse.
Medicare eligibility begins at age 65 unless you are younger and have been on disability for almost two years. Three months before (and until three months after) your birth month, you can enroll in Medicare and start making decisions about your options. Some of the questions you need to consider follow:
• Are you eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B? Do you need both?
• Do you have a retirement plan that will work with Medicare?
• Do you want a Medicare supplement (also called Medigap)?
• Would you prefer coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or cost plan?
• Do you want a Part D drug plan to avoid a monthly penalty? If so, which plan would work best for you? This varies depending on which drugs you take.
• Do you qualify for help with Part B or D premiums?
Generally, you can enroll in Medicare online at www.ssa.gov or by calling the Social Security Administration in Durango, (888) 472-6115. If you are already receiving a Social Security check, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B, but you will need to enroll in Part D and Part C or supplements yourself. You can also find valuable information at www.medicare.gov.
If you are already on Medicare and have a Part D drug plan or a Part C supplement, you need to review that plan each year during the Open Enrollment Period because plan premiums and coverage of drugs change each year. Medicare counselors can help you during that time, or you can go to www.medicare.gov to review your plan.
Also, contact Medicare, (800) 633-4227, if you have not received your new Medicare card and number since the mailings to beneficiaries have ended.
You also can sign into MyMedicare.gov to see if your card was mailed and, if so, print out an official card.
If you are receiving Social Security disability, you will probably be eligible for Medicare starting 23 months after your disability begins and will have a limited period to enroll in a Part D drug plan. It is important to know all enrollment deadlines to avoid penalties. Also, depending on your income and assets, you may be eligible for Extra Help with drug plans or Medicare Savings Programs for Part B.

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Learning to deal with that empty nest http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/08/29/learning-to-deal-with-that-empty-nest/ Thu, 29 Aug 2019 21:59:55 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176576 By John Lough
Special to The PREVIEW
Is that young adult in your home packing suitcases and heading off for their first year of college? Or maybe there’s that bedroom you walk by sadly every day remembering how lovely the wedding was, but how empty that room is now.
From college, to marriages, to a new out-of-town job, there are all kinds of reasons for why a child is no longer sharing that home with Mom and Dad. Whatever the cause, the emotions that parents experience when their children depart are often ones of sadness, loneliness and even depression.
The common term for this occurrence is “empty nest” syndrome. It’s based on the bird maturing and leaving the nest. While we all want our children to grow up and live independent lives (no, Junior still living in the basement when he’s 37 is usually not anyone’s goal), it still can be difficult when the children are gone and the house suddenly seems much more empty.
While empty nest syndrome is not a clinical disorder or diagnosis, it is a transitional period in life that highlights loneliness and loss. Realizing that our son or daughter is now independent enough to be out there facing the world on his or her own can be bittersweet and emotionally challenging. We are proud that we have helped them grow and mature to be able to stand on their own two feet, but we’re also sad to see them gone and to realize that most of our hands-on parenting is no longer needed.
There are ways, however, to reduce the sadness and stress that might come with a child’s moving out. In today’s age of instant communication, simply staying in touch is easy and can ease the sense of being left behind. The goal, of course, is not to become a “helicopter parent,” constantly hovering and trying to be involved in the child’s every decision even though he or she may now be thousands of miles away.
Instead, try simply staying in touch, maybe with a weekly text or email or phone call. It can also help to talk with friends who have also had children leave the home.
For some people, empty nest syndrome can be a real problem, leading to severe depression. In such cases, professional help can be valuable. Consider talking with a professional counselor who will be able to help you manage these difficult emotions.
“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association (ACA). Send your comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

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Medicare 101 and navigating Medicare session set for Sept. 4 http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/08/26/medicare-101-and-navigating-medicare-session-set-for-sept-4/ Mon, 26 Aug 2019 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176017 By Christina Knoell
and Kay Kaylor
Special to The PREVIEW
Medicare is complicated. It is important that you know your rights, options, deadlines, possible penalties and where to find the information you need.
Did you know that assistance is available in Pagosa Springs through the nationwide State Health Insurance Program? Trained and certified Medicare counselors are available by appointment to guide you when dealing with Medicare enrollment, questions and problems.
One of the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA) volunteer Medicare counselors, Katy Deshler, will offer a free Medicare 101 class on Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Ruby Sisson Library to help you get started. The class will start at 10:30 a.m. and will run until about noon. Please call Kay at 264-0501, ext. 1 to reserve your spot because space is limited.
Medicare help has been offered in Archuleta County at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center for more than 15 years. SJBAAA is the sponsoring agency for free Medicare counseling services at the Senior Center (the west end of the Ross Aragon Community Center). On most Mondays, called Medicare Monday, counselors are available by appointment. Counseling occurs on additional days during the annual Part C and D Open Enrollment Period, Oct. 15-Dec. 7, and sometimes by phone or appointment on other days.
Please call the phone number above to make an appointment or to ask questions. Some SJBAAA counselors are also trained as Senior Medicare Patrol counselors and they can help with possible health care fraud, errors and abuse.
Medicare eligibility begins at age 65 unless you are younger and have been on disability for almost two years. Three months before (and until three months after) your birth month, you can enroll in Medicare and start making decisions about your options. Some of the questions you need to consider follow:
• Are you eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B? Do you need both?
• Do you have a retirement plan that will work with Medicare?
• Do you want a Medicare supplement (also called Medigap)?
• Would you prefer coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or cost plan?
• Do you want a Part D drug plan to avoid a monthly penalty? If so, which plan would work best for you? This varies depending on which drugs you take.
• Do you qualify for help with Part B or D premiums?
Generally, you can enroll in Medicare online at www.ssa.gov or by calling the Social Security Administration in Durango, (888) 472-6115. If you are already receiving a Social Security check, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B, but you will need to enroll in Part D and Part C or supplements yourself. You can also find valuable information at www.medicare.gov.
If you are already on Medicare and have a Part D drug plan or a Part C supplement, you need to review that plan each year during the Open Enrollment Period because plan premiums and coverage of drugs change each year. Medicare counselors can help you during that time, or you can go to www.medicare.gov to review your plan.
Also, contact Medicare, (800) 633-4227, if you have not received your new Medicare card and number since the mailings to beneficiaries have ended.
You also can sign into MyMedicare.gov to see if your card was mailed and, if so, print out an official card.
If you are receiving Social Security disability, you will probably be eligible for Medicare starting 23 months after your disability begins and will have a limited period to enroll in a Part D drug plan. It is important to know all enrollment deadlines to avoid penalties. Also, depending on your income and assets, you may be eligible for Extra Help with drug plans or Medicare Savings Programs for Part B.

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Do you really listen to what others have to say? http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/08/22/do-you-really-listen-to-what-others-have-to-say/ Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:00:54 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176027 By John Lough
Special to The PREVIEW
Most of us like to hear ourselves talk. We enjoy sharing information about ourselves, our jobs and our recent activities. And there’s nothing wrong with that, unless we spend so much time talking that we forget to actually listen to what others are sharing.
Being a good listener is an essential skill in maintaining strong personal relationships, whether with relatives or with our friends. Yet, too often we tend to believe that solid relationships just seem to happen. Having good friends takes some work and effort on our part and a major element in building those relationships is learning how to listen.
Most of us have probably had the experience of having a friend clearly demonstrate he or she really wasn’t listening when we had shared something important with them. Their words or actions indicate that what we had to share simply wasn’t heard or understood.
Sadly, many of us do the same thing without realizing that we’ve put listening to what a friend is communicating on automatic, mainly hearing the words but not registering the meaning. That can be a real problem when what is being shared is truly important to the person talking to you.
So, how do you become a better listener? A good starting point is to pay attention to how others listen when you have something significant to share. Try to note what a good listener, someone you appreciate, says or does to indicate that they’re paying attention to you and what you’re saying.
Next, do the same type of observing with someone who doesn’t really seem to hear you when you share something important. How do they show they’re not really paying attention? Are they distracted? Evaluate if your own actions favor those of the good or poor listener.
If your listening needs improvement, it isn’t difficult to become a good listener. Start by simply listening more than you speak when someone is communicating something important. Don’t interrupt with your own stories and ideas, even if you think your experience is similar.
Instead, take time to seek clarification if things were said you didn’t understand and show you’re paying attention by feeding back key parts of the conversation. At the end, try to summarize what was shared to demonstrate you heard and understood the key points.
Being a good listener is an important skill and an essential element in building and maintaining strong friendships.
“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association (ACA). Send your comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

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Good mental health — no different than good physical health http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/08/15/good-mental-health-no-different-than-good-physical-health/ Thu, 15 Aug 2019 22:06:57 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=175560 By John Lough
Special to The PREVIEW
Seeing a physician isn’t embarrassing if we have the flu, a high fever or other serious health problems. No one will criticize us for seeking medical help for a physical health problem and, indeed, most people would fault us if we didn’t seek medical help.
Yet we often find that mental health issues bring a very different reaction. People sometimes see mental illness not as a health issue, but as a serious defect, something that marks a person as weak, unstable, perhaps even violent or dangerous.
Such reactions have serious consequences for millions of Americans who could be healthier and happier if they were receiving the mental health help readily available. But many don’t seek such help out of fear of being “labeled” with a mental illness, feeling family and friends won’t understand, or that it could lead to discrimination at work or school.
Too many people who could use help instead see their condition as a sign of personal weakness. They may mistakenly believe that they should be able to control whatever is wrong without outside help.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) works to educate the public, correct this misinformation and encourage people to seek needed treatment. For example, researchers estimate that one in eight U.S. adolescents is suffering from depression. Each day an estimated 3,000 young people in grades nine to 12 attempt suicide, yet only 30 percent of young people facing mental health issues ever receive any type of treatment or intervention. This lack of treatment helps lead to more than 4,600 suicides by young people each year. The statistics are even scarier among senior citizens and our military veterans.
It’s vital for people to recognize that mental health issues are not a reason for shame, but rather a condition that requires treatment by a professional. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, social phobias and similar problems are not a sign of personal weakness. They are simply conditions that, when treated successfully, can result in a happier, healthier and more productive life.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue, don’t give in to the stigma, but rather take action for better health. Talk to a friend or family members about what’s bothering you and look into assistance from a mental health professional. Seeking mental health help is not a weakness; it’s as logical and right as seeing a doctor for that flu.
“Counseling Corner” is provided by the ACA. Send your comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

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Making that car trip with kids less stressful http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/07/25/making-that-car-trip-with-kids-less-stressful/ Thu, 25 Jul 2019 22:11:24 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=173880 By John Lough
Special to The PREVIEW
Summer family vacations are fun, unless you count that part about driving to the vacation destination with a back seat filled with one or more unhappy kids.
Children can possess a great sense of anticipation, but often a low level of patience. An upcoming beach vacation has them excited, but the all-day drive to get there, not so much.
With a little planning and preparation, however, even a long car trip can be made more enjoyable, and certainly less stressful, for kids and parents.
An important first step? Have your car ready for the trip. Get your oil, air conditioning and tires checked before heading off. Broken down by the hot roadside is stress-producing for everyone.
Next, think entertainment. Put together a package with favorite and new books, magazines, video games, downloaded movies and music. Have the right electronics, and the needed car chargers, so those entertainment choices help the miles go by. Dole out the entertainment items one at a time. And don’t turn the whole trip into an electronic cocoon. Family talking, bantering, even mild arguing, is all part of creating the nostalgia of a family road trip.
It’s also important to remember that kids’ time-to-eat schedules are not going to be the same as yours. The fact that you stopped for lunch only two hours ago doesn’t mean your back-seat buddies aren’t starving. Pack a collection of small containers of healthy and filling treats. Skip the high-sugar, high-fat snacks and the resultant sugar high and crash they often produce.
And, yes, the kids can sometimes look out the window. Get a road map (yes, they still make them) and mark out the route to your destination. Every once in awhile, get the kids to trace the route, locate where they currently are, and see if they can find something worth seeing up ahead.
If something seems interesting, try actually stopping and seeing it. Make the trip not just getting to a destination, but about things along the way. A scenic overlook, a wacky museum, just a small town with a great local ice cream spot. An occasional stop might add travel time, but it gives the kids a chance for some exercise and can often be an unexpectedly fun experience for the whole family.
Making the drive an interesting part of the vacation can actually reduce stress for both parents and kids, and add to everyone’s enjoyment.
“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association (ACA). Send your comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

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Prevent animal-borne (zoonotic) disease http://www.pagosasun.com/2019/07/25/prevent-animal-borne-zoonotic-disease-3/ Thu, 25 Jul 2019 21:00:35 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=173803 Special to The SUN
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reminds residents thazoonotic diseases are more common during warm weather months when humans and animals are frequently in close contact. SJBPH stresses the importance of controlling the presence of rodents and mosquitoes around homes as well as wearing insect repellent and appropriate clothing when heading outdoors.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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