Women’s Health – 2017

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Women’s Health – 2017

We are very fortunate to live in a community with exceptional resources when it comes to health and wellness.

Of the diverse specialty areas, there are those that exclusively serve the unique needs of women, while for others, it’s considered an important part of their core offerings. Regardless, the first step towards being in control of one’s health is to know what resources are out there. Timing is also of the utmost importance, for both treatment and prevention.

As with any other business topic, our goal is to help our readers be informed consumers. This is especially relevant in an aspect of our lives where knowledge and action can make all of the difference. In honor of National Women’s Health week, May 14-20, we’ve highlighted some of the key areas that directly contribute to the health and wellbeing of women, and what the professionals in our community want you to know about them.

{Nutrition & Exercise}

Still considered to be the keys to achieving and maintaining good health, eating healthy and staying active remain as important as ever, if not more so due to our changes in lifestyle and prevalence of unhealthy options. It’s not just being mindful of making good choices, but setting yourself up for success that will make all the difference.

Natasha Plooster Eat Fit Go - Headshot

Natasha Plooster
Eat Fit Go

“As women, we tend to put the needs of all before our own, often extending ourselves beyond what we should,” says Natasha Plooster of Eat Fit Go. “This often translates to our nutrition and fitness. At the end of the day, I often find myself thinking ‘Did I eat today?’ The answer is usually NO, that’s why I am starving! I was busy feeding the kids and shuttling them to various activities, taking care of the house, finishing work projects, leading work meetings, etc. What better way to start your week than knowing that you have fresh, balanced meals without having to do the prep work yourself?

Eat Fit Go makes daily nutrition simple, allowing our customers to focus on other tasks. Nutrition is the most basic way to take care of your body, but it’s an area of health that is neglected by many of us. Eat Fit Go focuses on making these needs easier to meet for the everyday woman.”

She offers the following advice, “Eating whole ingredients and well-proportioned meals will always be the correct means to keep people healthy, but the key is to not overthink it. In the world of nutrition, there are so many diets that are invented daily. Our motto is simple: ‘We focus on providing real food, not diet food.’ As the fads change just about as fast as they come, we are proud of the consistently great results we see with our food. Our meals are prepared fresh, from scratch, and are perfectly portioned so there is no overeating.

Nutrition should never be overcomplicated. Simply eating well-portioned meals that use real, quality ingredients will provide you with the nutrition you need to stay healthy in the long run. Eat Fit Go prides itself in providing just that for its customers.

We are only equipped with one body, so we must take care of it. Focusing on nutrition and well-being will make you look better, feel better, and live better. When it comes to women’s nutrition specifically, being busy is a factor in our everyday lives. That is where Eat Fit Go comes in to save the day, providing healthy, portioned meals to make everyone’s lives simpler.”

Jethro Hopkins Physician's WEIGHT LOSS Centers - Headshot

Jethro Hopkins
Physician’s WEIGHT LOSS Centers

“What we eat and drink is killing us; it’s become that serious of an issue,” adds Jethro Hopkins of Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers in Lincoln. “Good nutrition supports all of the body’s systems and functions, and lack thereof contributes to a whole host of health conditions – heart problems, cancer, bone and joint issues, diabetes, obesity, and the list goes on from there. Particularly with the prevalence of processed foods and the presence of chemical preservatives and hormones in much of our food supply, while it’s not necessarily easy to stick to a healthy diet composed of all-natural ingredients free of additives, it’s well worth it to put forth the effort to do so. Being an informed consumer is more important now than ever before, and nutrition education is a fundamental part of our offerings. We are there to guide and support our clients every step of the way as they work towards their health and wellness goals, enabling them to make good decisions for themselves.

The first step is making a conscious decision to approach how you are eating in a different way. Much of this involves changing food habits, so we’re big on meal planning. We’ll help you learn what to eat, in what portions, at what times, what to look for on labels, what you should avoid, etc. This starts with putting together a good shopping list, which helps to ensure all dietary needs are being met, that a variety of healthy foods are incorporated, and that healthy meals and snacks are readily available while eliminating unhealthy options around the house that a person tends to grab in their weak moments. We also have meals available for purchase, which are quick and easy options that can be incorporated into one’s diet or kept on-hand for those crazy days. Since everything here is physician-guided, you can count on advice that’s backed by medical professionals. Furthermore, we’ll even work closely with you primary physician or other healthcare professionals if needed. We’re not just worried about the number on the scale; we take into account all of the other ‘numbers’ and factors that influence health outcomes. We want our clients to succeed, and we’ll put a team of experts behind you to ensure that happens.”

{Sensory Perception & Processing}

Our five senses that are traditionally recognized – sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch – tell us everything we need to know about the world around us. As such, the health of the organs that deliver this information to our brains and allow for these central functions to happen is quite important.

Leslie Frank Nebraska Hearing Center - Headshot

Leslie Frank
Nebraska Hearing Center

Let’s take hearing for example. Many studies have shown that hearing loss can lead to dementia, depression, and loss of balance. “I cannot stress enough how important prevention and wearing ear protection are,” states Audiologist Leslie Frank of Nebraska Hearing Center. “Women are generally proactive in taking care of their health, which fits in perfectly with our philosophy at Nebraska Hearing Center.”

At Nebraska Hearing Center, hearing evaluations are always free. “I believe that it is important to monitor your hearing health annually like any other annual exam,” Frank advises. “That is why I offer complimentary hearing evaluations. The patient is able to set a baseline and monitor it year after year – at no charge.”

Furthermore, technology is rapidly changing in hearing devices. If you find that you’d benefit from utilizing assistive technology, today’s hearing aids are so small, no one will know you are wearing them. It also addresses the common functions of daily life, such as frequent use of mobile devices. Nebraska Hearing Center is now offering the new Surflink Mini-Mobile, a small, simple, and affordable cell phone streaming solution. Mini-Mobile is able to connect to any Bluetooth-ready mobile device. It gives you the ability stream music, TV shows, or phone conversations directly into your hearing aids!

When it comes to delivery of these messages, the spine is the direct connection to the nervous system, and its alignment makes a big difference.

Dr. Tara Mohl Green Chiropractic - headshot

Dr. Tara Mohl
Green Chiropractic

“Health and wellbeing for women and their families are built on a solid foundation of an aligned spine, making chiropractic care a critical part of every aspect of life success,” explains Dr. Tara Mohl of Green Chiropractic. “Over her lifetime, a woman will wear many hats and support an abundance of people. To be her best at all times, for all who look to her as a role model and viable support, she needs to maximize the potential of her body and mind, and keep them working together in harmony. This can be achieved naturally through chiropractic care.

In fact, findings from a recent study measuring outcomes revealed that when the spine was returned to a more normal alignment, the nervous system actually increased the velocity of nerve signals to the body, robustly impacting the ability of the body to routinely heal and respond at a high level of function. Specifically for women, this process to restore ultimate alignment can help ease the discomforts associated with issues specific to her such as menstruation, pregnancy, and birth.

Mothers who are adjusted during pregnancy typically have less pain and discomfort during pregnancy, maintain health for themselves and baby, and have healthier deliveries. As it’s my area of specialty, I have an advanced education in prenatal and pediatric care and am a certified Webster’s Practitioner. The Webster’s Technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment that reduces interference to the nervous system and balances maternal pelvic muscles and ligaments. This, in turn, reduces tension in the uterus and allows for optimal fetal positioning in preparing for birth. Children benefit greatly from chiropractic care too.

For more than 30 years, Green Chiropractic has been dedicated to assisting women of all ages and walks of life. Because women are often the primary decision-makers when it comes to the health of whole families, we’re dedicated to supporting the wellness of all family members, from infancy to end of life.”

{Psychological Wellbeing}

In addition to the things that can impact our physical health, mental and emotional health are the other two components that complete the wellness trifecta. All must be taken into consideration as far as a person’s overall wellbeing is concerned. Counseling is often very beneficial for working through tough issues that can have a negative impact on our health if left unaddressed. Once intervention occurs, the healing process can begin.

Choices Treatment Center is currently the only treatment center offering women’s specific counseling programs in Nebraska. To contact the office or 24-hour helpline, call (402) 476-2300.

{Workplace Wellness}

You may remember our story in the March issue that detailed the importance of wellness in all aspects of life, including on the job. Since many of us spend a lot of time working, it only makes sense that our needs and goals should be supported here too. As such, many are actively seeking out a work environment that takes this into account and places value on the health and wellness of its employees. In an effort to hire and retain the best employees, companies are realizing the importance of this aspect and getting on board.

Katie Tiedeman-Proactive Solutions, Inc.-Headshot

Katie Tiedeman
Proactive Solutions, Inc.

“Proactive Solutions Inc. works directly with each employer to ensure the needs of their female employees are being considered when designing an effective preventative wellness and ergonomic program,” explains Katie Tiedeman of Proactive Solutions Inc. “We offer onsite physical therapy, where a licensed physical and/or occupational therapist works one on one with each employee. Women oftentimes have different musculoskeletal concerns than men, and different goals for their fitness and health plans as metabolism and hormone changes occur. Musculoskeletal health and ergonomics are not one-size-fits-all realms, so utilizing a generic approach will lessen the efficiency and effectiveness of a woman reaching her personal goals.

More women are realizing they don’t need to compromise their careers, or their love of exercise and fitness, as they venture into pregnancy and motherhood. Proactive Solutions provides onsite consultations to ensure women advance through their pregnancy and post-partum recovery staying strong and active while also helping to prevent or manage injury due to ligamentous laxity or instability caused by hormonal changes during and after pregnancy.

Treatment for pelvic floor weakness or dysfunction has also continued to advance in the past 5 years. Women are no longer functioning with the mindset that urinary incontinence or urgency is just a normal part of aging or post-partum life. Physical therapy is one of the most effective treatments for restoring pelvic floor stability and function.

Our onsite therapy services allow women to manage the demanding schedule of work and family balance, ensuring their health is not neglected in the meantime, which can lead to more complex and expensive health problems.

Prioritizing personal wellness will undoubtedly result in better physical, mental, and emotional health, allowing a woman to excel in her life and career goals. An effective wellness plan should provide you with customized metrics that are continuously measured, assessed and adjusted. Proactive Solutions utilizes this exact approach by providing a customized program to ensure companies are promoting employee health while also seeing a profitable return on their investment.”

{The Dreaded “C” Word}

Today, there’s rarely a person you’ll meet who has not been touched by cancer. We’re all affected by this terrible disease, and at risk to some extent.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer that women may face in their lifetime (with the exception of skin cancer, which is at an all-time high of cases found in both genders). Others such as colon cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and reproductive/gynecologic cancers (cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar) are also prevalent. Methods for diagnosis and treatment have come quite a long way to date, not just for cancer but for a host of other health issues that could potentially present themselves at different times in a woman’s life. Outcomes, for the most part, have greatly improved as research has progressed and new approaches have been developed in both areas. Narrowing the field to breast cancer alone, there’s no shortage when it comes to support for those affected.

Detection/Diagnosis

Headshot - Dr. Kim Coleman Advanced Medical Imaging

Dr. Kim Coleman
Advanced Medical Imaging

Specifically regarding breast cancer, “Early diagnosis relies heavily on mammography,” explains Kim Coleman, MD of Advanced Medical Imaging. “Advanced Medical Imaging performs more mammograms than any other clinic in Nebraska.

Our newest mammogram tool called 3-D mammography is significantly increasing the ability of radiologists to find cancer previously hidden by normal breast tissue. The FDA-approved technology is a revolutionary improvement over 2D digital mammography. Instead of taking one picture of a breast on a mammogram, a 3-D mammogram takes over 50 pictures from different angles. Overall, 3D mammography has improved sensitivity and accuracy, and an increased cancer detection rate and decreases the number of stressful false positive call-backs as compared to 2D mammography.

Like 2D mammograms, each breast is compressed and imaged in two different planes. Each acquisition takes only a few seconds longer and the radiation dose is almost identical to regular 2D mammography. However, with many more images available to evaluate, the 3D picture becomes much clearer. There is significantly less tissue overlap and findings are better visualized and characterized, especially in dense tissue.

AMI’s Women’s Center prides itself on providing the most patient-focused care in the area. All mammography patients can become members of AMI’s free Mammo Club to receive free gifts and breast health information throughout the year.”

MRI is another approach utilized in certain cases. Offering a comparison between the two, Dr. Curtis explains, “Advanced Medical Imaging also has a high-field strength 3 Tesla MRI for the detailed imaging of the breast. Breast MRI offers the highest sensitivity of all imaging modalities for identifying breast cancer, so it is utilized for screening women at high risk for breast cancer. For women recently diagnosed with breast cancer, MRI helps us to look for additional hidden cancers and define the extent of involvement prior to treatment. Other uses include problem-solving when there are questionable findings on mammography and/or ultrasound and to assess the source of palpable lumps. MRI can also be used to search for a cause of suspicious nipple discharge and to assess the integrity of breast implants. However, breast MRI is not used as a standard screening method because it requires an IV injection, a 30 minute imaging time, and is expensive.”

In conclusion, she emphasizes, “Over 3 million women have been affected by breast cancer. Too many families have been torn apart by this disease that can usually be easily detected. With most insurance policies covering mammograms, women should start young and have one scheduled annually.”

Headshot - Dr. Mary Curtis Advanced Medical Imaging

Dr. Mary Curtis
Advanced Medical Imaging

Regarding other types of cancer affecting women, Mary Curtis, MD of Advanced Medical Imaging adds, “Many find it surprising that lung cancer is the third most common cancer in women and the leading cause of cancer death among women. However, if the cancer is caught early, there is a chance for a cure. AMI offers lung cancer screening with a special low-dose radiation CT scan. No IV injection or special preparation is required. Annual screening is recommended for adults aged 55-80 years who have smoked the equivalent of 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.”

Emphasized by the American Cancer Society, and echoed by all of our local professionals, doing what you can to help prevent cancer is your best defense. Put simply on the American Cancer Society website, www.cancer.org, “Knowing about cancer and what you can do to help reduce your risk of it can help save your life. The next key is early detection. Finding cancer early, before it has spread, gives you the best chance to do something about it.”

Treatment

Once a diagnosis is made, treatment begins. It will vary for each person, but generally involves radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, or a combination. For those who must undergo a mastectomy procedure, it’s life-changing in so many ways. Taking that into account, occupational therapists have become specialized in this area, helping patients to restore function and image after treatment as well as providing support in other aspects of life that have been affected as a result.

Headshot - Tracy Bender Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center

Tracy Bender
Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center

Again, as it pertains to breast cancer, there have been many new developments in treatment methods and support services for survivors. “Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center has the only two certified mastectomy fitters in Lincoln, allowing us to provide comprehensive care,” explains Tracy Bender, OT with the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center. “The partnership of occupational therapy and fitting of prosthetics here has proven to be a very beneficial one for our patients. In fact, with our comprehensive care model, we can effectively address almost every aspect of survivorship. A team approach is favorable to the outcomes of patients, and we are able to work closely with all healthcare professionals to ensure the best avenue of treatment is provided.

We are often involved with our patients prior to surgery, or ‘prehab’ as we call it, which helps us to take into account what daily life is like for the person and establish a baseline for getting back to that, or as close as possible, post-treatment. That’s the ultimate goal, and it is such a great feeling to help our patients accomplish that for themselves. Some of our patients have expressed that they avoided going to public places because they were embarrassed or scared they would have to answer questions or be treated differently. When they look in the mirror and the fears and anxiety are lifted, it’s quite a powerful emotional experience for everyone involved.

Everything has changed so much, even in the past 5 years. I encourage women to educate themselves on what’s available and look for professionals who are able to offer solutions for the issues they are experiencing.”

Headshot - Cortney Driewer Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center

Cortney Driewer
Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center

Going more in depth on the fitting process, Cortney Driewer with the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center explains, “We can begin about six weeks post-surgery. Pursuant to a physician’s order, as a certified mastectomy fitter, we measure a patient and then properly fit, dispense, and adjust the external breast prosthesis, bras and related supplies based on the issues present. This is an integral part of the physical and emotional wellbeing of patients. If we are already seeing a patient for occupational therapy, we can start anticipating what they are going to need based on swelling issues and asymmetry of chest walls among other variables during the post-operative process, so we’re ready to present the best options when it’s time for the fitting appointment. Our services are available to anyone, regardless of their primary physician, oncologist, surgeon, therapist, etc.

Getting the fit right is SO important. As women, we are all well aware of the discomfort associated with an ill-fitting bra. For those with a breast prosthesis and pocketed bra, you can’t just go to the store and pick one up. These are considered to be durable medical equipment for a reason – they are specially designed with the appropriate materials, adequate support and coverage, properties that support lymphatic flow to help avoid swelling issues, correct weight to avoid postural abnormalities and mobility issues, among other things. There are so many options out there today. With some insurance policies covering a new prosthesis approximately every two years and 2-3 bras every six months, if the fit isn’t correct, you could be stuck with it for what seems like an eternity. Working with a certified mastectomy fitter means that this professional has completed training followed by 500 hours working with patients and finally, passed the exam which includes demonstration of competency with an actual fitting.

Then, when the time comes for replacement, we have a tracking system that helps us alert our patients when they become eligible for new items.”

Also regarding treatment, Kim Coleman, MD of Advanced Medical Imaging highlights another matter of importance for women:

“Women’s health has been a big topic in the news lately and it is important to keep informed about relevant legislation. Most recently, bills are showing up in many states, including Nebraska, which require notifying women with dense breast tissue, and offering alternative screening tools. Supporters believe patient education is necessary to make the best decisions, while some oppose government mandates and feel it may confuse patients, and interfere with physicians in providing specialized care to every case. There are two sides to every issue and it is important for women to be educated and watchful of all issues affecting their treatment.”

{Health & Aging}

Aside from the different types of cancer, there are so many other things for which women are at risk, particularly as they age. What these all do share in common, however, is the importance of education and awareness. Again, the key is to address these things proactively instead of reactively.

“While cancer diagnosis is, unfortunately, more prevalent among women today, heart disease is actually the leading cause of death in U.S. women,” notes Dr. Curtis, MD of Advanced Medical Imaging. “A quick, easy, painless CT scan that does not require special preparation or an IV injection can be used to assess your risk for heart disease. It measures the calcium in the arteries of your heart—hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Your ‘calcium score’ can be calculated and compared to standards to determine your risk level.

Another exam we offer at AMI that’s important for women’s health is bone densitometry imaging, called a DXA scan, to assess for osteoporosis or thinned, fragile bones. It’s a simple exam usually performed with you lying on your back. We use an extremely low dose of radiation to measure the density of your bones and the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. The results will help your doctor determine if you need to be treated for osteoporosis or if additional preventative measures are necessary. Follow-up exams can track your improvement or progression at regular intervals.

Women achieve their maximal bone density in their teens to early twenties and then it holds steady until about age 35. After that age, bone loss occurs at a rate of 0.5 to 1 % per year but then accelerates with menopause. This accelerated rate continues for 5-10 years before slowing back down to the original rate. Bone density scans are especially important for postmenopausal women for this reason.

Thinned bones not only lead to a higher risk for fractures but decreased mobility, increased pain and potentially decreased quality of life. Hip fractures can lead to an increased mortality rate and permanent incapacitation and 20% of survivors require long-term nursing home care. A DXA exam of the spine and hips is the current gold standard for diagnosis of osteoporosis and diagnostic classification of your bone mineral density.

Finally, women shouldn’t dismiss pelvic or uterine pain. Sometimes this pain can be caused by Pelvic Venous Insufficiency or Uterine Fibroids. Both of these issues can be addressed with non-invasive procedures by AMI’s Interventional Radiologists. Along the same lines of non-invasive procedures, AMI practitioners also treat a host of aesthetic issues with methods that allow patients to get back to their lives faster than traditional surgeries. Women can increase their confidence through treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, double chins, wrinkles, acne, and more.”

photo-Katie-Hammer-The-Waterford-Communities

Katie-Hammer
The Waterford
Communities

Also weighing in on health issues affecting women as they age, Katie Hammer of The Waterford Communities goes further into depth on heart disease:

“Most people don’t realize that women have a higher risk of having heart problems than men. Approximately 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease. At the top of that list of risk factors is being inactive. The Waterford Communities work hard to make sure all our residents stay as active as they can. We have daily exercises for our residents to participate in as well as a variety of different activities that allow them to stay involved and active every day. A few of the benefits that go along with exercising for anyone whether you live in your own home or senior living community are:

  • Exercise is a social activity, and being social decreases the risk of depression.
  • Exercise improves strength and mobility which will keep you from having atrophied muscles.
  • Exercise improves healing time and allows for quicker recoveries.
  • Exercise increases mental capacity because it sends more blood flow to the brain.

The next time you don’t feel like getting up and going for that walk, remember how beneficial exercise is to your health and mental well-being.

Another thing that helps decrease your risk of heart disease is maintaining a proper healthy diet. The Waterford Communities offer residents 3 healthy meals a day, as well as having healthy snacks available at any time during the day or night. Making sure you are eating healthy meals also helps maintain a healthy weight, which also decreases your risk of heart disease.

If you are experiencing any kind of chest pain, pain in your neck, throat, or jaw, or have pain in your upper abdomen or back make sure you contact your doctor right away. These could all be possible symptoms of heart-related health issues. While we here at The Waterford Communities are not licensed physicians, we are always willing to help you in any way we possibly can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions you might have.”

There will be different health concerns to address at each stage of life – puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and within the age ranges where risk factors increase and action needs to be taken accordingly. In all areas mentioned and many others affecting women, healthcare professionals continue to learn more about them and in turn, there’s always work being done to develop new approaches that will improve outcomes or better serve the population affected.

Headshot - Dr. Steve Swanson Women’s Clinic of Lincoln, PC.

Dr. Steve Swanson
Women’s Clinic of Lincoln, PC.

“While for a long time the approach was largely reactive, there’s been a major paradigm shift towards being proactive that extends into all areas of health and wellness,” says Dr. Steve Swanson of Women’s Clinic of Lincoln, PC. “As it applies to pregnancy, preconception counseling prior to a woman becoming pregnant is now strongly recommended. This helps your OB/GYN to identify and understand any challenges that are present, and allows for more time to address those accordingly. By doing what’s necessary to improve health beforehand, it eliminates a lot of the issues and/or risk involved with getting pregnant, throughout the pregnancy, during delivery, and supports the health of the baby.

The same is true for menopause; we want women to know how they can take care of themselves well before that time comes to ensure the last 30 years of life are as enjoyable as the first.

Genetics testing is exploding right now; it’s the future of medicine and what it’s able to tell us about a patient is incredible. A person’s genes provide invaluable data about family history, and in turn, which risk factors are present. We can tell if you’re more predisposed to certain types of cancer or diseases, or if there are factors that would influence pregnancy, and we can develop a course of action that takes this into account.

That’s not to say that there aren’t still things where we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Regardless, no matter the issue, it’s important that if it impacts your quality of life, you bring it up with your doctor – and sooner than later. For those entering their senior years, there’s still a stigma surrounding menopause. This is unfortunate because there’s so much we can do now to help. Hormone imbalances, incontinence, vaginal dryness and other issues that affect a healthy sex life – these are all things that while not necessarily easy to talk about, effective solutions do exist. As physicians, we’re not here to judge; we want women to have the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves.”

{Caregiver Stress & Burnout}

Women tend to be caregivers by nature, whether it’s for their spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers, or any other people with whom they have a close relationship.

With the population of seniors growing rapidly as the baby boomers are reaching their golden years, many of their children have assumed or will be assuming the role of caregiver to some extent. They will also be the ones to provide help with managing their parent’s affairs as they age. While also a topic familiar to Strictly Business readers as we touch on it in many of our senior-focused feature stories throughout the year, it’s an important part of health and wellbeing to address, not just for seniors but for their loved ones. Although not exclusive to gender, it does affect a significant number of women of all ages, and according to facts provided by the Mayo Clinic, one of the risk factors of caregiver stress does actually include being female. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/caregiver-stress/art-20044784)

The article further details, “As the population ages, more caregiving is being provided by people who aren’t health care professionals. These informal caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care in the United States. However, family members who are actively caring for an older adult often don’t self-identify as a ‘caregiver.’ Recognizing this role can help caregivers receive the support they need.

Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide. But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common.

People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress: *Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried; *Feeling tired most of the time; Sleeping too much or too little; *Gaining or losing a lot of weight; *Becoming easily irritated or angry; *Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy; *Feeling sad; *Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems; *Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications.

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.”

Theron Ahlman CarePatrol - Headshot

Theron Ahlman
CarePatrol

Our local professionals can also provide help for women in this area. “CarePatrol works with women in many different situations and most of those situations are creating stress or other health issues for them,” explains Theron Ahlman of CarePatrol of Nebraska. “We see a lot of women who are caregivers to either their parents or their significant others. That can be a very tough job to have, and can really affect their health and wellbeing. Many who serve as the main caregiver experience caregiver burnout, which can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, being tired and run-down, and other issues that may cause health problems.

We feel it’s of the utmost importance for caregivers to understand that what they are experiencing is normal – and that there are people out there who can help. Our team at CarePatrol will work with them to fix the situation that they are in, whether it’s helping them find respite care so that they can take a break from caregiving or helping them find the safest and best community for their loved one so they can get back to being a daughter or wife again. Unfortunately around 60% of those who are caregivers pass before the one they are taking care of, so it can end up being a very bad situation for all involved. The sooner we can help relieve that stress, the better.

We also help many women who have the responsibility of finding their parents a community, but don’t know where to start and are overwhelmed. Similarly, this is adding stress to their life, as they want their parent(s) to be in a good place and get the type of care needed. In this situation, we work with them to learn as much as possible about their parents, narrow down the communities, review the state care and violation history to make sure it’s a safe community, line up the tours and then personally pick up and accompany them on the tours. Our expertise can make this normally challenging process go fast and easy, while still paying attention to all of the important things that truly matter, much more so than fancy lobbies and grand pianos. CarePatrol also offers live medication reminder calls and non-frozen food programs that can help further alleviate worry and stress that daughters may be experiencing.

If daughters or significant others are experiencing any signs of caregiver burnout, we suggest they call us at (402) 785-2262 to discuss the situation and get the help that’s needed.”

For women, considering the spectrum of health issues that could potentially impact one’s life, it’s important to know the basics and for anything past that, to know where to go to get the answers. At the end of the day, you are the only one who can follow through with what’s needed to protect your health and to achieve optimal wellness. Be that as it may, every lead actor needs a supporting cast and crew. As evidenced by the wide variety of professionals we consulted in different areas impacting women’s health, our community is resource rich, so be sure to take advantage!