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November 2013

Below, find some possible story ideas for media.

For more information about these items, or for other media requests, contact Cleveland Clinic's Corporate Communications at 216.444.0141.

November 2013

Caregivers Can Help the Elderly Stay Healthy This Winter

Caring for the elderly is a big responsibility. It is so important for caregivers to make their loved one feel as healthy, safe and comfortable as possible. What some may not always realize, however, is that their own health and lifestyle choices can greatly impact the care they provide to the elderly, especially in the winter months.

Barbara Messinger-Rapport, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Geriatric Medicine, says those that care for the elderly should take the following steps this winter to help ensure everyone’s well-being.

  1. Caregivers should get the flu vaccine. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older get the flu vaccine as the first step of protection against this serious disease. But this is especially true for those caring for others, like the elderly that are at high risk of developing serious health complications if they get sick with the flu. Since older adults tend to stay indoors during the cold, winter months, they would likely get the flu from someone who visits them. Getting vaccinated will not only help protect the caregiver but it will also help stop the spreading of the flu to those they care for.
  2. Wash hands properly and often. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps anyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spreading of germs. Washing hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds is recommended. If soap and water are not available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also effective for most germs. Check with your doctor if you or your loved one has an infection.
  3. Wear a mask if sick. Those that care for the elderly may not have the leisure of taking a day off when they become ill. Wearing a mask and changing it every few hours can help add a barrier of protection and guard against the spread of certain contagious illnesses like the flu or bronchitis.
  4. Check up on loved ones regularly. If your elderly loved one lives alone, be sure to check up on them regularly with a phone call or a house visit. Older adults tend to stay indoors more in the winter months due to colder weather and icy conditions. This limits their social interaction with others which is important to maintain and help prevent depressive behaviors.
  5. Spend meaningful time with them around the holidays. There is something about the holidays that cause everyone to reflect back and reminiscence. For some, it can be a difficult and gloomy time of year. This is also true for the elderly that may have lost close siblings and other loved ones over the years. Be sure to send some extra cheer their way and spend quality time with your elderly loved ones to help keep them from getting the winter blues.

For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Jenny Popis at popis@ccf.org or 216.444.8853.

Stay Fit in Cold Weather

It is easy to hibernate in the cold and dark days of winter. Anne Rex, DO, a primary care sports physician at Cleveland Clinic says it’s important to stay fit and active during the winter months and that there are plenty of both indoor and outdoor options.

  1. Find an indoor exercise class. An exercise class at the local gym can combine socializing with fitness, especially if you are prone to the winter blues. Pick an activity that is appropriate and interesting to you like spinning, yoga or crossfit.
  2. Join an adult league. Check out local gyms and recreation centers for adult leagues. Sports can vary from basketball to hockey or soccer. Much like an exercise class, you can get both social and fitness benefits.
  3. Try a new snow sport. If you are in a snowy region, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Both are great forms of exercise for people who love the outdoors.
  4. Walk on. Don’t let snow storms and cold weather stop you from walking and getting your heart rate up. Try walking at the mall three times a week or look for an indoor track.

For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Laura Ambro at ambrol@ccf.org or 216.636.5876.

Holiday Headache Triggers

The sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season are welcomed by most but for some, they can trigger headaches. Stewart Tepper, MD, neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, says that stress levels are typically higher during the holidays and often trigger migraines.

Additional migraine triggers that are elevated around the holidays include strong smells like perfumes in a department store, or incense and candles burning at a holiday party. A lack of sleep and alcohol can also put people at risk for a migraine.

Dr. Tepper says to think in advance about what situation you are going into and what types of potential triggers may exist. Take precaution and help ward off a migraine attack with things like regular aerobic exercise, getting enough sleep and keeping any medication you may need readily available.

For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Halle Bishop at bishoph@ccf.org or 216.445.8592.

Indulge Without Excess: Health Tips to Navigate Holiday Parties

‘Tis the season for holiday cocktail parties with bountiful buffets. As you gather with friends, family and coworkers to celebrate — and chances are you’ll do this more than once — be mindful of healthy eating habits.

Use these tips from Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic, to navigate holiday spreads without fear of stepping on the scale in January.

  1. Don’t party on an empty stomach: Rather than “saving up” for a big party meal, arrive with some food in your belly. Enjoy a small snack of nuts, string cheese or a few whole grain crackers before you leave.
  2. Dress for success: That “expandable” holiday pantsuit spells trouble at the buffet table. You want to be able to feel it when you’ve eaten too much.
  3. Rethink your drink: Alcohol packs a surprising number of calories. This is especially true for holiday beverages such as eggnog and ale. See if your host has seltzer so you can make a wine spritzer to cut down on calories.
  4. Be last in line: That spread of food looks great when you’re the first one to it. But after a lot of people have gone through, the food doesn’t look quite as appealing.

To learn more about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Bridget Peterlin at peterlb@ccf.org or 216.444.5703.

Prevent Exposure to Carbon Monoxide this Winter

Often called the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that kills hundreds and hospitalizes thousands of people in the United States every year. Stephen Meldon, MD, Vice Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Emergency Services Institute, says that although it can happen at any time, there is a greater risk for carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter months due to faulty furnaces, gas appliances, leaving cars running in closed garages, poor ventilation and winter storms.

“When carbon monoxide is breathed in, it attaches to red blood cells and blocks oxygen from getting into the body,” explains Dr. Meldon. “These deadly fumes can damage tissues and result in serious injury or even death.”

“Some common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and a change in mental state like confusion,” says Dr. Meldon. “It’s important that a person experiencing these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.”

Dr. Meldon further offers the following steps to take to help prevent exposure to carbon monoxide:

  1. Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in your house and check them regularly. Be sure to place them near bedrooms and living areas.
  2. Have gas or oil furnaces inspected by a qualified professional every year.
  3. Do not leave vehicles running in the garage for long, especially if the garage doors are closed and attached to the house.
  4. Do not use a gas range or oven for heating the home.
  5. ever use a charcoal grill inside the home.

For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Jenny Popis at popisj@ccf.org or 216.444.8853.

Bonding with Your Baby is Critical to Their Development

Spending one-on-one playtime with your baby is not only fun, but is also critical to their development. It’s a great way to bond with your child while helping them develop their thinking and listening skills. Kate Eshleman, child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s says that almost any interaction you have with your baby will affect them.

“This is really about spending time interacting with the child,” says Dr. Eshleman. “Engage with them by playing games, teaching and talking. It’s about having that personal, quality time as opposed to just putting them in front of toys or games.”

Dr. Eshleman says that interacting with touch, tone of voice and eye contact are all important and can be sensed by the child.

“Talking to your baby when you’re making dinner or cleaning the house can help their growth even if they can’t respond yet,” says Dr. Eshleman. “Reading to them is important so they can learn your voice and begin to hear words and language. Even if you read your own book or magazine out loud rather than a children’s book. ”

For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Dunlop at dunlope@ccf.org or 216.445.1991.

Nighttime Allergy Relief

If allergy symptoms disturb your sleep at night, some simple changes to your sleeping environment might help you find relief. Sandra Hong, MD, allergist and immunologist at Cleveland Clinic says that if you are allergic to dust mites, mold, pollen or pet dander, you need to pay special attention to keeping your sleeping space clean and free from allergens.

Dr. Hong offers the following tips on keeping your bedroom as dust- and clutter-free as possible:

  1. "Lock down" your bedding – To keep dust mites at bay, use zippered covers for your pillow, mattress and box springs.
  2. Avoid carpeting – Hard flooring is best so a damp mop can trap dust particles that settle to the floor.
  3. Use window blinds – Use blinds rather than curtains to cover windows, since heavy draperies and upholstered curtains collect dust.
  4. Wash stuffed animals –These are a commonly overlooked breeding ground for dust mites.

To learn more about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Bridget Peterlin at peterlb@ccf.org or 216.444.5703.

Personalized Healthcare Starts with Knowing Your Family Health History

As we move into a new era of healthcare, preventing diseases from happening in the first place is crucial. Patients can help by being more engaged with their physicians and developing a personalized healthcare plan. This will keep the patient healthy and keep healthcare costs down.

Kathryn Teng, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Personalized Healthcare says that knowing your family health history is one of the first steps to developing a targeted treatment and prevention plan. Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, knowing your family health history can help reduce your risk of developing health problems by taking preventive measures.

Dr. Teng encourages patients to take some time over the upcoming holidays when families typically gather together and talk about, write down and share any health problems that seem to run in their family with their physicians. The following tips can be used to start a discussion with family members regarding health history:

  1. Start by finding out who your family members are on both sides of the family.
  2. Explain to your family how important this information can be for your own health and the health of others in the family.
  3. Collect their genders, causes of death and age of death.
  4. For those who are still living, ask about any medical problems or operations they have had along with any conditions being monitored by a doctor. Sometimes knowing what medications they are taking can be helpful in determining what diseases they have.
  5. Some important diseases to look out for include (but not limited to): cancers, early heart attacks or stroke (below the age of 50), other heart conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, miscarriages or death in childhood, mental health disease and addiction.

To learn more about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Jenny Popis at popisj@ccf.org or 216.444.8853.

Kitchen Habits that Pack on the Pounds

When it comes to weight gain — or even a lack of weight loss — look no further than your kitchen for culprits. Cleveland Clinic registered dietician Kristin Kirkpatrick says that bad habits you develop in your kitchen add up. But it’s never too late to change your habits or establish new ones.

She says to start by looking at the following which can lead to weight gain:

  1. Eyeballing ingredients when cooking or baking: Adding a “splash” of olive oil or a “pinch” of sugar may work well on cooking shows, but it can contribute to excess calories in your dinner menu.
  2. Going heavy on the grease: Have you ever counted the number of seconds you spend with your finger pressed down on the cooking spray nozzle? Chances are it’s more than one-fourth of a second, the approximate serving size of most sprays.
  3. Eating straight from the package: Eating straight from a bag of potato chips or a pasta salad container rarely ends well — in part because it’s hard to know when to end.

To learn more about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Bridget Peterlin at peterlb@ccf.org or 216.444.5703.