SOUTHWEST UTAH PUBLIC HEALTH FOUNDATION ALZHEIMERS PG. 16
WINTER WELLNESS PG. 4
DIABETES PG. 8
Welcome to the Winter 2023-24 issue
of HEALTH Magazine.
We've been publishing this magazine for over 13 years now and, like any endeavor, we have learned a few things along the way. I think the most satisfying thing about engaging with you in your quest for the best health possible is the feedback we receive that what we do here has made a difference in your life. Change can be hard, and changing to improve health is no exception, but the rewards can be astonishing. The underlying theme of this issue is healthy aging. Good health comes with the accumulation of good habits over a lifetime, and from the things you do specifically for the stage of life you are in. Having said that, it is never too late to add healthy activities to your life. The warmer climate and mild winters in the southernmost part of our district make this area a retirement magnet. That means we have the oldest population in the state. We want your golden years to be truly golden. Being concerned about health shouldn’t wait until you get older, but the urgency to pay attention to some of those aspects become more prominent as we age, such as heart disease, cancer, and - a main focus of this magazine - diabetes. We timed the release of this magazine to correspond with our effort to expand awareness of diabetes and prediabetes in Southwest Utah. Diabetes might be the most potent thief of time, and we are seeing diabetes at younger and younger ages. I urge you to take advantage of the information in this magazine to understand your risk of diabetes and what it can mean for you and your loved ones. We always try to combine medical science with practical applications that you can use in your life. Articles about preventing falls, Alzheimer’s disease, social connections, and a gentle twist on exercise aim to accomplish that goal. Whether you live in the deserts of Washington and Kane County, or the valleys and mountains in the counties of Iron, Beaver, and Garfield, I hope you will consider us a partner in your quest for a healthier, longer life.
David W. Blodgett, MD, MPH Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) Director & Health Officer
HEALTH MAGAZINE | WINTER 2023-2024
A LOOK INSIDE “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” -Anton Chekhov CONTENT 4. WINTER WELLNESS Interview with Bronte Aurell
6. NORDIC SKIING
Our Winter 2023-24 issue features vintage Scandinavian design elements. Southwest Utah actually has some areas similar in geography and climate to countries in that part of the world, and our state has over 650,000 residents who can trace their ancestry to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, with familiar last names like Jensen, Christensen, Hansen, Petersen, Larsen, Olsen, Erickson, Nielsen, Nelson, Sorensen, and Madsen, among others. We can also appreciate the Scandinavian traditions of outdoor winter activity and cozy winter evenings spent with friends and family? Cover Artwork by Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, Helsinki 1880-1945
In our own backyard
8. DEFEATING DIABETES
HEALTH DEPARTMENT LOCATIONS
By David W. Blodgett MD, MPH
call for appointments
B E AV E R
By Karlie Dotson
By David Heaton
14. DON'T FORGET THEM By Marian Steel, PhD
18. BACK TO SLEEP
A follow up to our 'sleep' issue
20. CATCH MY FALL By Jeff Smith
22. TAI CHI
By Andrea Schmutz
24. OH MY!
RSV, Covid, & Flu
26. SMARTPHONE Artis Intelligentia
28. WINTER RECIPES Using Vegetables
30. FREE A1C TEST Take this quiz
HEALTH MAGAZINE DIRECTOR/ HEALTH OFFICER:
David W. Blodgett MD, MPH
DESIGN & ARTWORK:
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601 E Center Panguitch, Utah 84759 435-676-8800
260 E DL Sargent DR. Cedar City, Utah 84721 435-586-2437
445 North Main Kanab, Utah 84741 435-644-2537
WA S H I N G TO N QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS
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The entire contents of this publication are Copyright ©2023 HEALTH (the magazine of the Southwest Utah Public Health Foundation) with all rights reserved and shall not be reproduced or transmitted in any manner, either in whole or in part, without prior written permission of the publisher. Health magazine hereby disclaims all liability and is not responsible for any damage suffered as the result of claims or representations made in this publication. Printed by Hudson Printing Company / Salt Lake City, Utah / hudsonprinting.com
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An interview with Bronte Aurell, author of North: How to Live Scandinavian Scandinavia is a name used to describe a region in Northern Europe that includes Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The term “Nordic” refers to the Scandinavian countries with the addition of Finland and iceland. While often associated with long, cold, dark winters, these nations rate consistently at the top of the annual World Happiness Report.
e asked Brontë Aurell, author and highly-regarded media guest on Scandinavian food and culture, for some insights into “Scandi living”: Brontë, in North, you mention that Scandinavians have had to find ways to cope with bleak winters. You can always go outside during the day when it’s light and get a little bit of sun. A lot of people go for a walk at lunchtime, because when it’s light - even if it's cloudy - you get vitamin D and stimulate your serotonin levels. Now, from October onwards, it tends to get really dark, but you can still go out for walks, as well. My grandmother, my husband's grandmother, and every other Scandinavian grandma in the world has always said “There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” So, it might be dark and rainy but that's not an excuse; you dress for the weather. I'm sure in Utah you know
how to do that, but it can be a problem for people who are used to driving everywhere. What are your favorite ways to stay active in winter? Walking, for us, is a cultural thing. Driving everywhere is so alien to me. We have walking paths and people often walk to and from the office, even in winter. I like to feel that my body has moved, and you can walk anywhere. I think this recent thing of getting 10,000 or 12,000 steps a day is actually a good goal. I used to run marathons so I would train using these little tracks you put on your running shoes, and as long as the snow is compressed you can actually get a proper grip and do distance running in the snow, which is amazing. We Danish people are not generally good skiers, but we usually bike everywhere. My husband is from Sweden and his mother, who is 70, loves to go out cross country skiing for 20 kilometers every few days.
HEALTH MAGAZINE | WINTER 2023-2024
Your recipes include a lot of indulgent des- enjoyment of contentment or well-being, often with loved serts; what are your thoughts on healthy ones, enhanced with snacks (i.e. hanging out). eating? So actually, you're already doing it. It's just that we have I try to never give diet advice; to each their own, right? a word for it. It’s the same thing as gathering for ThanksBut if you're trying to stay healthy and get through the giving and Christmas, going on vacation with your family, winter, I think of the Swedish word lagom (la-gum), visiting a national park and sleeping in a tent and sharing which means not too much, not too little, just right. It's a packet of chips. It doesn't have to be winter, it doesn't all about balance, and can apply to how we eat. If you have to be anything as long as you're in that space. eat a big pizza for lunch, you might have a salad for Maybe a lot of countries don't do these things a lot, which dinner. If you have a heavy breakfast, eat a light lunch. is why it struck a chord, actually recognizing how importGrowing up Scandinavian, ant those times are and not we ate candy, but only on just doing it a couple of times Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) Saturdays, so we didn’t have Danish word for the enjoyment of content- a year. sugar on our teeth every day. ment or well-being, often with loved ones, enAlso, by putting more fresh We just thought it was a bit hanced with snacks (i.e. hanging out). ingredients into your diet peculiar that people had this and limiting ultra-processed need to use a word from anfood that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize, you other language when you’re probably already doing it. will naturally consume less calories. Okay, fine; use ours - but don't make it into underpants. Lagom applies to life, as well. Not too much work, not Brontë Aurell, a native of Denmark, is a food writer and entretoo little, just right. If people measure success or happi- preneur. She and her Swedish husband, Jonas, are founders of ness by attainment, they are always trying to get more ScandiKitchen; a café, grocery shop, and online store in London. and they'll never have enough. Maybe we lose track of Her books include North: How to Live Scandinavian, The Scandi the small things that are actually more important. You Kitchen, and ScandiKitchen Christmas. Her upcoming book, The can't work for 12 hours a day, then come home and ex- ScandiKitchen Cookbook, will be available in May 2024. Find her pect to have enough head-space to do the things you online recipes on her blog found at scandikitchen.co.uk love and spend time with the people you love. In ScanOther Scandinavian terms: dinavia you won’t find anyone staying late at work. Hytte (hut): a little cabin to hike to or use as a base to In 2016, the idea of “hygge” had gone viral hike from on weekends and holidays. Bring extra food and was getting a lot of media attention. in case you get snowed in. What was your take on that trend? Fredagsmys (frey-dags-mees): Friday night get Well, it’s a word used in everyday conversation in Den- togethers with family and friends to cozy up, watch a mark and Norway. People thought it had to do with movie, and eat tacos, the word Scandinavians use colnice socks and hats and snowy landscapes and candles. lectively for any Tex-Mex food, to which they add cuSomebody even launched hygge underwear, which was cumbers, for an unknown reason. taking it too far. Hygge is simply making the time to be in a space with the people you care about. It’s about con- Gå På Tur (go-puh-tour): “go for a walk/hike” in necting and being in the present, meaning there will be Norwegian. Done by everyone and has to be for the no phones, Facebook, or Instagram during that time. purpose of the walk itself. You must also bring a chocoHygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”): Danish word for the late bar and, if there is any kind of snow or ice, an orange.
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IN SOUTHERN UTAH An interview with Topher Mason, and Kathryn & Emil Moster hen most people think of ski- snowy terrain using wooden planks and ing, images of winter resorts, poles. Modern cross country skiing can be ski lifts, and racing downhill on done competitively or enjoyed alone (or groomed slopes come to mind. with companions) on snow-covered roads, This is alpine skiing, which can also be an trails, meadows, and backcountry. Some of the best terrain in the United States for cross expensive pastime. country skiing is right here in our own backIn Utah, a weekday pass at a ski resort can yard, and you don’t need a lift ticket. range from $40 to over $200. A season pass “There's something about the solitude, it's costs over $1000, on average. quiet,” says Topher Mason, a seasoned cross Cross country skiing, also known as Nor- country ski expert. “And you're getting some dic skiing, is closer to the original, millen- of the greatest exercise known; using every ia-old practice of traveling efficiently across body part and muscle group. Your lungs are
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also getting a workout, especially in our area where you're skiing at 8,000 to 10,000 feet.” Topher lives in Cedar City, where he has been a recreational sports instructor at Southern Utah University since he taught tennis there as a freshman 53 years ago. Then came badminton, archery, soccer, table tennis, and mountain biking, among others (he owned Cedar City’s first mountain bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper). He currently teaches golf. “Back then I took a couple classes from Dr. Steven K. Harmon, the first PhD in the PE department, a great athlete who was and still is my greatest mentor,” recalls Topher. “He really wanted to bring cross country skiing down here. His brother worked for Rossignol and was the cross country expert up in Salt Lake at the time, so Steven brought some boots and skis down and hand-selected eight of us for the class. I remember the very first time I went up with him and we didn't mess around in the flats. We started climbing right off the bat, got to the top, and I'm like, ‘How do you turn these things again? How are we getting down?’ “Well, I laughed the whole way down and fell in love with it immediately. Once we got back to the car I asked Steven, ‘What’s your brother’s phone number? I want to buy equipment right now!’ By the end of the semester we had skied any open area that was big enough. With cross country, you can go anywhere you want. We did so many cool things and he completely changed my attitude towards the outdoors. “After two years, Dr. Harmon transferred to Montana, but had convinced the departDeer Hollow Winter Recreation Area:
ment that I was the right person to take over the program. So, I was teaching cross-country skiing and I hadn't even graduated yet. I just kept his format and taught it for years after.” Over decades of ski trips in the mountains of Southwest Utah, Topher often returned to an area 22 miles east of Cedar City, between Highway 14 and Navajo Lake, now called Deer Hollow. “That place has incredible snow conditions and terrain,” he says. “We were able to get it designated as non-motorized and had permission to groom trails way back in 1974 but have only been officially grooming the Hollow for the past 11 years. Now there is a parking lot, restroom, kiosk, and 25 miles of marked trails for skiing, snowshoeing, and fat bikes. It’s called Deer Hollow Winter Recreation Area and is a result of a phenomenal effort involving Dixie National Forest, Utah State Parks, and the Cedar Mountain Nordic Ski Club. The Parks provide the big grooming machine, which lays down a 12 foot wide corduroy trail with a single cross country ski track on one side. The club writes grants and donates the cost of fuel along with trail clearing in the off-season.” Cross country skiing is alive and well in Southwest Utah and growing in popularity, not only with locals from Duck Creek to Kanab to St George, but from people who have recently relocated here, including retirees. And Deer Hollow is the focal point. Topher can’t hide his satisfaction when he says, “When a former Olympian says ‘I am so stoked! This is the most fun I've had in years!’ then we've done something right. There's people coming down from up north just to ski our place.”
The Cedar Mountain Nordic Ski Club (CMNSC) is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in the Cedar Mountain area. For information on club activities and becoming a member, visit cmnsc.org or cedar.nordic on Facebook.
Cross country ski rentals: Cedar City:
cedarsportsshop.com suu.edu/outdoors Brian Head: brianheadsportsut.com georgsskishop.com Bryce Canyon: rubysinn.com/winter-activities Artwork by Fritz Thaulow, Norway 1847-1906
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TYPE 2 DIABETES By David Blodgett, MD, MPH
would like to use the occasion of Diabetes Awareness Month (November) to continue to encourage diligence in understanding diabetes and the impact it is having on individuals and communities. World Diabetes Day is November 14th, the birthday of Sir Fredrik Banting who co-discovered insulin in 1922, opening up treatment options for those with diabetes that had not been available before. Diabetes numbers are increasing around the world, with the percentage of the population with diabetes doubling over the last 20 years. What does this mean for you? Current estimates are that 6.9% of the population in Southwest Utah has diabetes. Additionally, 25% of those over 65 are prediabetic. Most people identified with prediabetes will progress to diabetes within five years. Nationwide, the US Preventive Services Task Force estimates that 13% of Americans
are diabetic, and 34.5% are prediabetic. Even more alarmingly, as diabetes rates continue to escalate, it is possible that 20% of the population could be diabetic - and 50% prediabetic - by 2040. The American Diabetes Association estimates that one out of every four dollars spent on health care are spent on patients with diabetes. Half of the healthcare dollar will be spent on diabetes and its complications by 2040. From a public health standpoint, the fact that the majority of those who are prediabetic and 20% of those who are diabetic do not know of their condition means we need to do a better job at getting the word out. One reason you need to know whether you have prediabetes or not is that diabetes is largely preventable. Those identified with prediabetes can change their long-term outlook by making adjustments to their diet and exercise. There are also medications that can
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slow the progression towards diabetes. Studies are clear: if you are prediabetic, losing 5-7% of your body weight through changes in diet and activity leads to a 68% reduction in your chances of becoming diabetic. There are few interventions that provide a higher return on your investment than exercise, which in this case can help you avoid a lifetime of battling a chronic disease like diabetes. Diabetes impacts almost every part of your body. This disease: • Impacts your heart and blood vessels. People with diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease and stroke, and are ten times more likely to have their toes and feet removed by amputation. • Is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in adults aged 20 to 74. Untreated diabetes can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. • Is the leading cause of kidney failure for adults in the US. • Causes nerve damage; 70% of those who have diabetes will have nerve damage, usually starting in the hands and feet. Diabetes can also impact your stomach, gastrointestinal system, bladder, genitals, and many other parts of the body. The good news is that by strict adherence to diabetes treatment protocols, you can lessen the impact of the disease. But in most cases, it will be with you for life. As part of National Diabetes Awareness Month, our health department will be promoting diabetes education and screening. During the week of November 13-22 we will be offering free prediabetes screenings, including free A1C tests for those that qualify as high risk. Our goal is to identify those who have not yet been identified as prediabetic or diabetic, allowing them to begin to seek out ways to either avoid diabetes or get appropriate care. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine screening for those aged 35 or older who are overweight or obese. A good place to start is the hemoglobin A1C test. A1C tests measure the effects of glucose on red blood cells, and
because red blood cells have a life span of three months, an A1C test gives a three-month picture of blood glucose levels. An A1C does not require you to fast before taking the test.
So, here is my prescription to avoid diabetes - or lessen the impact of diabetes if you have it: 1. Eat your fruits and vegetables. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If you are diabetic, you should be careful about the sugar in fruits, but vegetables are for everyone. Magnesium has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, so eating vegetables high in magnesium (like spinach) has an extra benefit. 2. Exercise. Get about 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, such as walking. Include some strength training to maintain muscle mass. 3. Maintain a healthy weight. Remember, losing 5-7% of your body weight has huge benefits in preventing diabetes. It also helps keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels. 4. Get screened. Use our prediabetes screening tool (page 30), and follow it up with an A1C test if you are at high risk. What you don’t know can hurt you. 5. If you have diabetes, follow the protocol from the doctor. Diabetes is a disease that will rob years from life, and decrease quality of life significantly unless taken seriously. 6. Get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Not getting good sleep makes it more difficult to control your glucose levels, which worsens prediabetes and diabetes.
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SCREENINGS, TESTING, & PREVENTION By Karlie Dotson, Health Educator n recent years, diabetes has become a major health concern. However, a condition called prediabetes, which often goes unnoticed, serves as a crucial warning. Prediabetes is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, and understanding it can help individuals take control of their health before diabetes develops. What is Prediabetes? Prediabetes happens when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Normally, insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose (sugar from food) enter cells for energy. With prediabetes, the body
either doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use it well, causing sugar to build up in the blood. How Common Is It? Prediabetes is widespread. In the United States, over 88 million adults have prediabetes, and many don't know it. Various factors contribute to prediabetes, including: • Weight: Being overweight, especially around the belly, raises the risk. • Inactivity: Not being physically active can worsen insulin sensitivity and lead to weight gain. • Unhealthy Diet: Eating too many
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processed foods, sugary drinks, and bad fats can contribute. • Age: Risk increases after 45, partly due to less activity and muscle loss. • Family History: Having family members with diabetes increases your risk. • Gestational Diabetes: If you had diabetes during pregnancy, you're at a higher risk. • Race and Ethnicity: Some groups, like African Americans and Hispanics, have a higher risk. Why Early Detection Matters Prediabetes often shows no symptoms, which is why it's called "silent." However, that doesn't mean it's not serious. Uncontrolled prediabetes can progress to type 2 diabetes, leading to heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, nerve damage, and blindness. Catching it early is crucial.
ar and refined carbs. • Regular Exercise: Activities like walking, swimming, or cycling can improve insulin sensitivity and aid weight loss. • Weight Management: Even a small weight loss (5-7% of your body weight) can significantly reduce diabetes risk. • Stress Management: Chronic stress affects blood sugar. Try meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. • Medication: Sometimes, doctors prescribe medication to help manage blood sugar levels.
The Way Forward Prediabetes is a turning point that can lead to a healthier life. By addressing the factors behind it, individuals can prevent diabetes and enhance their well-being. Public awareness about prediTaking Action abetes and policies supporting healthy living A prediabetes diagnosis can motivate positive can make a big difference in fighting the diachanges. Lifestyle adjustments are key: betes epidemic. Remember, knowing your risk • Healthy Eating: Focus on whole grains, lean empowers you to make healthier choices for the proteins, veggies, and fruits while limiting sug- future.
FREE A1C TESTING! Available at your nearest Southwest Utah Public Health Department Office
From November 13th-22nd
To find out if you qualify, complete the screening on page 30. If you score a 5 or above and have not been previously diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, Simply call your local county office for an appointment.
B E AV E R
WAS H I N G TO N
(After November 22nd we will provide A1C tests for $25)
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HOW RELATIONSHIPS HELP US LIVE LONGER & HAPPIER By David Heaton, LCSW ave you ever got up early in the morning to enjoy some quiet time by yourself before everyone else in the house awakened? Or took a walk alone to reflect on your own thoughts? How about retreating to a quiet place to read a book? These are examples of solitude; time for yourself to relax or develop peace, perspective, and spirituality.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. While those who were already reclusive may have weathered those years quite well, prolonged social distancing, working from home, and forgoing gathering with family and friends took a toll on many people. A Harvard Graduate School of Education survey in October 2020 indicated that “36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel serious loneliLoneliness, on the other hand, is a ness.” feeling of sadness and separation - a disconnect between the social connec- The Journal of International Psychotions you desire and the emptiness you geriatrics reported that pandemic conditions, including the stress of isolation feel. quarantine, could cause the “occurIn 2017, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek rence or recurrence of mental disorMurthy called loneliness a pub- ders in some people, especially vulnerlic-health “epidemic,” issuing an advi- able older people. Depression, anxiety, sory that the “lack of social connection and sleep disturbance are common… can increase the risk of anxiety, depres- other symptoms include anger, irritasion, stroke, heart disease, and demen- bility, and compulsive behaviors.” tia.” The next year, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey reported that 22% On the bright side, this year's National of American adults said “they often or Poll on Healthy Aging showed a dealways feel lonely or socially isolated.” cline in loneliness among older adults
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to almost pre-pandemic levels, al- everyday activities, they may be seekthough those rates were already higher ing connection as well. than they should be. Emotional Support: We all have Loneliness can become dysfunctional the need for social interaction, even when it becomes a state of mind; the the introverts. We were never meant lonely person craves human contact, to go through life’s adventures alone, but the last thing they want to do is even though we may find ourselves reach out, similar to the absence of there at times. There is a time to go it meaning and motivation that comes alone and there is a time to lean on others. That could look like talking about with depression. a problem with If you are the persomeone you trust, son stuck in that “The greatest disease asking for assis“loop of loneliness,” tance when you’re in the West today is overwhelmed, or here are some ideas not TB or leprosy; it seeking help when to consider: you’re emotionally is being unwanted, Find a sense of stuck. unloved, and uncarpurpose: If you’re someone ed for. We can cure Neuroscience currently has News described a physical diseases with who a sense of purpose study finding that medicine, but the only and a great sup“feelings of loneliport system, keep cure for loneliness, ness were less comyour eyes open for despair, and hopemon in people who the people in your led a purposeful life, lessness is love.” world who may irrespective of their be silently sufferMother Teresa age, (although) ing with loneliness; purpose becomes they might be loved crucial in older adults, especially those ones, acquaintances, or strangers. Your in their 70s and beyond, a period often simple actions will make a difference; a associated with increased loneliness.” smile, a question, a compliment, an act Shared Experiences: Although of service or comfort, an invitation, an exciting experiences shared with oth- apology, or forgiveness. ers can be bonding, research shows Mother Teresa once said, “The greatest that we are motivated to interact with disease in the West today is not TB or others regardless of how enjoyable or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, interesting the experience is. The asso- and uncared for. We can cure physical ciation itself can be rewarding enough. diseases with medicine, but the only This could apply to working out, tak- cure for loneliness, despair, and ing a walk, watching a movie, prepar- hopelessness is love.” ing meals, traveling, running errands, taking a class, or just hanging out. Consider inviting others to join you in
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When your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease By Marian Steel, PhD hat's the matter with me? I barely even know who I am!” LaVar blurted out unexpectedly. Only moments before, he had been peacefully napping on the living room couch. His clarity of thought and his ability to express himself was shocking because his verbal language was almost non-existent. Searching for a way to explain the inexplicable, I delayed my response by putting away the folded laundry. Composing myself before looking into his eyes, I offered “You have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia.” We cried together; he understood. In a few minutes, LaVar stated rather matter of factly, “I have to get out of here. I can't stand to go through what my mother did.” I asked him what he wanted me to do, and he offered some guidance. The flash of clarity was gone almost as quickly as it appeared. From that moment his decline was precipitous.
My training and professional experience is in education. However, no educational experience ever taught me quite as much as my caregiving role that ended when my husband LaVar Steel died with Alzheimer's dementia in May 2016. In early 2010, LaVar mentioned that some memory lapses bothered him. His mother had suffered with Alzheimer's dementia for at least ten years before her death, so the possibility of dementia lurked. He became increasingly inattentive in conversations and seemed to lose interest in what was going on around him. His apologies for losing track of time became more frequent. As an aging individual, however, LaVar had several conditions that offered easy explanations for oddities in his behavior and functioning. My uneasiness didn't subside after uncomfortable changes began to appear that couldn't be dismissed by hearing loss, poor vision, or losing
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track of time. Lavar’s emotions became more pronounced and volatile. He began showing up at my office instead of calling first on his flip phone. I later realized that using his phone had become too complicated so he navigated around the obstacle.
longer the individual who I knew. My approach to caregiving was based upon knowing his preferences and offering them to him. Even while he was declining in every possible respect, I loved being with him because I saw Alzheimer's as a malady, not his identity. Other unpredictable changes in LaVar's ability to LaVar was a well-known artist and a retired art pro- function required numerous adaptations on my part. fessor. When I realized that he had stopped going out to work in his studio and sat in front of the television, When LaVar could no longer be left alone, I took him I was concerned. He protested that he was tired and to work with me. We settled into a routine of getting needed some extra rest. ready and going to work together, where he completed numerous drawings each day. Inadvertently, these beFinally, I had to admit that something was wrong. My came his means of communicating through his second discomfort became greater than the dread of a diag- language - art. We came home to eat lunch and take nosis. Leaving the doctor’s office on the day we got care of our dogs. Fortunately, this routine worked beone, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I felt relief cause we enjoyed being together. at knowing why LaVar was exhibiting odd behaviors. No other explanation could ease the reality; it was As LaVar's ability to use words faltered, I learned to Alzheimer's dementia, my new life's companion - ‘till understand his unique expressions of wants and needs death do us part. through careful observations. I learned to speak HIS language of dementia. It seems that a diagnosis should provide more predictability regarding the disease and its progression, Touch became another useful means of communicahowever I learned that every person who suffers with tion. Walking together, we touched, either by linking any type of dementia reacts differently and decline is arms or holding hands. Beyond an expression of affecvariable. I learned about dementia the hard way: from tion, the physical contact offered some protection; if he experience, life's ultimate teacher. fell, I could ease his landing without injuring myself. I could also feel increased tension in his muscles if he Reading about the dehumanizing effects of dementia became anxious or upset. Then I could intervene befilled me with dread as I tried to imagine losing my fore a problem escalated into something more difficult husband while he was still alive. I came to expect that to handle. Touch was like Morse Code. Alzheimer's dementia would turn him into a disappearing human being. Repeatedly I heard “Oh yes, I learned that distraction was a powerful tool for curbmy loved one died with dementia, but he or she was ing an impending incident, and distracting LaVar with gone for years before that.” With memory loss, speech his favorite things worked 100% of the time. difficulties, and behavior peculiarities it's understandable to assume that someone who is suffering with a LaVar often commented that an artist's most valuable skill is the ability to see. Looking into his eyes, I saw dementing illness is “gone.” his emotions rather than a lost soul. I perceived his disBut really, where would a human being go? I relied tress as well as the tenderness that characterized our heavily upon my instincts; I never viewed my husband relationship. He seemed to look instinctively into my as gone. The most profound lesson I learned about eyes for messages of comfort, encouragement, and redementia was how aware individuals are even though assurance. Although they looked tired, his eyes were they can't communicate as they did in the past. Sounds the most familiar feature of his face; they still commuand motions replace words; behaviors replace other nicated. expressions of need. I received some practical wisdom from a doctor that LaVar's life with Alzheimer's dementia would have guided me through many situations: “Don’t try to been much different if I had believed that he was no straighten him out.” As Alzheimer's dementia pro-
gressed, LaVar's unpredictable behavior and volatile reactions made confrontation illogical and only served to agitate both of us. Therefore, I resisted the urge to seek resolution by talking through disagreements or insisting on an apology. He also advised “Don't take it personally”, which kept me from assuming an ulterior motive for inappropriate behavior and kept me from being angry or resentful. For at least a year-and-a-half before he died, LaVar did not know my name. Once, as we traveled in the car, I queried “Do you know my name?” LaVar replied “Nope.” I pressed with “Do you know who I am?” He brightened, declaring “Yes, you're the lady who does stuff for us.” Indeed. We went to get ice cream. His reply told me that although he couldn't provide my name, he trusted me and relied on my kindness. I didn't take it personally.
It was determined that the facility best for him was a small group home where all of the residents had a dementia diagnosis. The administrator suggested that I not come back for three to five days after LaVar was admitted. She reassured me that he would forget about me in that amount of time and accept the staff and other residents as his new family, then I could be his wife instead of his caregiver.
After one miserable day, I realized that I couldn't bear to be away from LaVar. Entering the facility, I saw him looking confused and distressed. With a cheerful greeting, I helped him shave, shower, and dress. Everyone was so amazed at his mood change. Each day thereafter, I spent long hours at the facility with LaVar in order to comfort him and to help him adapt. Respecting his preference, I showered and dressed him daily, even though the state standard was twice a week. Knowing that I had already contributed everything that I could LaVar's declining health and safety issues made some brought peace. Then, letting go became an act of love. activities impossible, and many previously enjoyable diversions became “last time” occasions. His lifetime The final evening of LaVar's life was a culmination of of art was drawing to a close with a last painting and a a difficult day. We held hands, our fingers laced tolast piece of pottery. There was the last shopping trip gether, his strong hands that had served, created, and and the last time dining out. The last visit from col- protected were now in need of care. The staff put him leagues, a final vacation, a last family reunion. into bed, and I went home. The next morning, while preparing to shower and dress, I received a phone call The last time that we went bowling, the grandchildren that LaVar was gone…”Where did he go?” I asked. urged him to join in and, unexpectedly accepting the He was really gone - time to rest. challenge, he held up the bowling ball and looked over his shoulder with such a joyful smile. It was his last Reflections strike. My experiences with Alzheimer's dementia enlightIn spite of my best efforts, caregiving became increas- ened me in unanticipated ways and changed me in ingly unpredictable when he began suffering with ways that I cherish. I try to appreciate the beauty of sundowner's syndrome and nightmares. My sleep was offering LaVar compassion. The complex role of careno longer restful because I knew that the danger of giving does not generate profuse gratitude. With Alzwandering was real. LaVar was a large person so I heimer's dementia he seemed oblivious to my stress couldn’t restrain him from doing something potential- and fatigue, and I'm certain that he didn't grasp my ly dangerous to himself or to me. I had to accept that efforts to take care of everything. However, I expected the time had come to get help. This was easily the most neither accolades nor notes of appreciation. It was an difficult phase of caregiving because I was forced to offering…my choice. acknowledge that I had hit my limit. Respite care was not working because he didn't understand why anoth- The downside of my caregiving approach was that it was difficult for me to accept that it was time to just er person was in our home.
settle in and create a tranquil environment. In LaVar’s final descent, his energy and strength were failing and he lacked the stamina to enjoy some activities that I provided for him. Maintaining life as I once knew it was impossible; rather, I tried to celebrate minor accomplishments and appreciate small things. I learned to live one day at a time and appreciate the gift of a fresh 24 hours. One of the most difficult aspects of caregiving was trying to take care of myself in addition to LaVar. I tried to follow healthful practices and to include exercise because if my health failed, it would have been a disaster for both of us. Even though my efforts were not perfect, I learned to appreciate that physical exercise was a release for my emotions and I felt renewed.
would improve with time. However, with Alzheimer's dementia, each day became more challenging and more exhausting. No one perceived the amount of struggle involved. I should have reached out for help, because others would have responded. Difficult days should have prompted me to identify options and gather resources. Finally, since I did not recognize the early signs of Alzheimer's dementia, and would have assumed nothing could be done anyway, options for potential early interventions were lost. Today, I would have been more proactive in pursuing a diagnosis to get clarity in order to make better choices. Although current medication options are only temporary measures, there are lifestyle and medical recommendations that could have guided me. It’s a difficult diagnosis to receive, but living joyfully is still possible. Bringing happiness to LaVar allowed me to share in it.
Isolation is an aspect of dementia for the patient as well as the caregiver. All caregivers need help; it was hard for me to ask for assistance because I didn't understand Condensed with permission from the book A Diagnosis for Two, by Jared R. what was needed. At first I assumed that circumstances Helms, DO and Marian D. Steel, PhD, available at lavarsteelart.com
What you should know about Alzheimer’s dementia • Dementia is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. Parkinson’s dementia and vascular dementia are other examples. • More than 6.7 million Americans have Alzheimer's; most are aged 65 and over. At age 45, women have a one in five lifetime risk of developing dementia and men have a one in 10 lifetime risk. • Alzheimer’s is the fourth leading cause of death in Utah. • Early identification and intervention results in the greatest benefits from treatment options. Like many other health problems, PREVENTION IS THE CURE. Here are things you can do to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s: • Prevent and manage high blood pressure. Tens of millions of American adults have high blood pressure, and many do not have it under control. • Manage blood sugar. Learn how to manage your blood sugar if you have diabetes. • Maintain a healthy weight. Healthy eating (whole food, plant-based diet) and regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight. • Be physically active. Physical activity can improve thinking, reduce risk of depression and anxiety, and help you sleep better. • Quit smoking. Quitting smoking now may help maintain brain health. • Avoid excessive drinking. If you drink, do so in moderation. • Prevent and correct hearing loss. Make sure to talk to a hearing care professional to treat and manage hearing loss. • Get enough sleep. A third of American adults report that they usually get less sleep than the recommended amount. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
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A follow up to our special "Sleep" Issue opefully you were able to take a look at the Special Sleep Issue of our last HEALTH Magazine, which we sent out to all residential mailing addresses in the five counties of Southwest Utah this past July. It was full of information about why sleep is so important for physical and mental health, how much sleep you should get every night according to age, diagnosing sleep disorders, and the one proven method for treating insomnia (and it’s not medication). We’ve heard encouraging feedback from people who enjoyed that issue; sleep health seems to be an issue that is getting more attention, which is a good thing since 30% of us are not getting enough of it. Here are ways some of our residents have improved their sleep:
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“Meditation helps me to fall asleep quicker. I try to clear my mind and push away anxiety or stressful thoughts, which allows me to fall asleep easier without those things pressing on me.” “For me, it’s having a routine, especially going to bed at the same time every night, and early enough to get nine hours of sleep. I also need a dark room with no noise and a cool temperature. If I have a hard time falling asleep I tell myself that at least my body is lying down getting some rest. Or, if my mind is too alert, I get up and do some work around the house until I feel tired enough to try to go to bed. If I have to, I’ll get up again. I’ve repeated that up to three times until it finally works.” “I’ve had a hard time falling asleep for a long time. Recently, I forced myself to stay up until 4am but still woke up at 8am. I didn't allow myself to take a nap. I was then tired enough to go to sleep at 12:30am, which is actually early for me. I’m trying to continue the pattern of not taking naps in order to be tired earlier and get on a better sleep schedule.” “I’ve realized I’ve used scrolling on my phone to fall asleep for years, which makes me stay up later and strains my eyes. I’m trying to get into the habit of charging my phone in another room at night, but it’s hard to give up the addictive distraction of getting online. I’ve noticed that I sleep earlier and better if the phone is out of the room, though. If I feel too awake, I can read a book with a low light, which seems to be more soothing than a screen.” “The biggest thing I have noticed is the difference in noise. It’s amazing how much of even the smallest noise has interrupted my sleep. The feel of the space I am in also contributes to how well I sleep. So I make sure I do things within the house to make it feel as safe as possible. I’m also trying to keep a more consistent sleep and wake time. I am slowly getting better at going to bed and waking up pretty consistently, to where I often wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off, which is a much nicer process.” “I was waking up not feeling rested and feeling tired during the day. I was snoring a lot too (at least that’s what my wife said). I went to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who was also a sleep specialist. A sleep study revealed that my breathing was stopping around 27 times an hour during the night, so I was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea. After using a BiPap machine for two weeks I noticed that I was feeling more rested in the morning. Soon I had more energy during the day and my wife reported I had stopped snoring. After four months I switched to just wearing an adjustable mouthpiece, which holds the jaw in a position to open the airway while sleeping, and I’m still getting the benefit of better sleep and no daytime fatigue.” “While pregnant, I developed a nighttime routine that included a warm bath in Epsom salt, which helped me relax and fall asleep easier. I would also talk with my husband about any anxiety I might be feeling to get it out of the way. A pregnancy pillow was also very helpful for more comfortable sleep positions.”
If you missed the Special Sleep Issue of HEALTH Magazine (Summer 2023), you can read it online at issuu.com/swuhealth.
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Seniors & Fall Prevention By Jeff Smith
f you walk around Southern Utah communities or parks, you’ve undoubtedly heard the rhythmic popping sound of a plastic ball hitting a paddle along with friendly chatter. It’s usually a cool morning with blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and a light breeze; a perfect day for pickleball.
Many people enjoy pickleball, especially older adults. However, like any sport, it can lead to a number of injuries. In June of this year, Forbes Magazine published an article entitled Pickleball injuries Cost Americans Nearly $400 Million this Year - And Seniors Are Hit the Hardest. The author cites a report from the Journal of Emergency Medicine which estimated Pickleball is America’s fastest growing around 19,000 pickleball injuries per sport and for good reason. It’s fairly year, “with 90% of them affecting peoeasy to play, low cost, and can be en- ple 50 or older.” joyed with family and friends of all ages and skill levels. It also has a lot of Injuries among senior adults are not health benefits, like improving hand- just limited to the pickleball court. eye coordination, increasing your mo- According to the Centers for Disease bility, and strengthening muscles. It Control and Prevention, “every second can also improve your mood and men- of every day, an older adult (age 65+) tal health, reduce your blood pressure, suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls and increase your cardiorespiratory fit- the leading cause of injury and injury ness. Sounds like the perfect sport, right? death in this age group. One out of Well, let’s talk about that a little more… four older adults will fall each year in HEALTH MAGAZINE | WINTER 2023-2024
the United States, making falls a public and maintain a healthy weight. This should include regular health concern, particularly among the visits to your primary health care provider and a medication aging population.” review by a pharmacist, as some medications can cause dizziness. There are many ways to prevent injuries and falls. Let’s start with pickleball. Whether you are playing pickleball or relaxing at home on a Long before playing a game make sure beautiful day, these recommendations can help you improve that you’re already getting regular ex- your health and quality of life while avoiding unnecessary inercise and making healthy food choic- juries. Keep playing, stay healthy, and be safe! es. Before picking up a paddle, be sure to stretch and warm up your muscles. For more information about fall prevention, visit cdc.gov/falls This will not only help prevent injury, but will help you play better. Also, while playing, wear proper athletic shoes with good traction and ankle support, and FALL PREVENTION only play on courts that are well maintained and have good lighting. AnothCHECKLIST er important tip is to be realistic about your abilities and recognize your limitations. Pickleball can still be really fun, even if you play it safe and don’t go after every ball. It’s better to lose a point then risk a serious injury that prevents you from future play time. Now let’s switch from the court to your home. With some additional steps, preventing injuries and falls in your home can help ensure that you don’t lose your independence and get costly medical bills, a game that you don’t want to play. Here are a few tips for a safe and injury-free home. First, use a fall prevention checklist for your home and fix anything that could be a fall risk. Some of the items on the checklist include removing clutter, ensuring lighted walkways, having secure handrails, and being mindful of your pets’ whereabouts. This checklist can be completed by you or a loved one; just make sure that you or someone else addresses any hazards that are identified. Second, get a periodical balance, vision, and hearing evaluation from a qualified medical professional. These issues are common reasons for falls among older adults. If a problem is found in one of these three areas, your provider can recommend the best treatment and course of action. Third, work towards a healthy lifestyle by staying active as much as you can
Indicate YES NO if adjustments are needed to make your home safe.
□ □ Is the light near the bed hard to reach? □ □ Is your pet's bed in a walking pathway? □ □ Do you need support rails on your bed? □ □ Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark? □ □ Is the tub or shower floor slippery? □ □ Do rugs/tubs need non-skid surfaces? □ □ Do you need support getting up from the toilet/tub? □ □ Do you need a night light in the bathroom? □ □ Are there objects on the stairs? □ □ Are any steps broken or uneven? □ □ Is the handrail loose or broken? □ □ Is there a light switch near the stairs? □ □ Is your step stool sturdy? □ □ Are the things you use often on high shelves? □ □ Does your step stool have a hand bar for stability? □ □ Are there any area rugs in your kitchen? □ □ Do you have throw rugs or loose carpet? □ □ Do you walk around furniture to enter/exit a room? □ □ Are there objects on the floor? □ □ Do you walk over or around wires or cords?
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The Gentle Exercise By Andrea Schmutz, Assistant Professor, Utah State University Extension ith the fast-paced routines and daily stresses of modern life, the gentle yet powerful art of Tai Chi emerges as a serene oasis for both the body and mind. Sometimes called “meditation in motion”, Tai Chi is a series of slow, deliberate movements with a focus on deep breathing and a meditative mindset. While Tai Chi originated as an ancient martial art in China, over the years it has gained popularity as an enjoyable exercise for both physical and mental health.
Often compared to the tranquil flowing water in a river, Tai Chi movements appear slow and effortless. However, under the gentle exterior lies a powerful energy for healing and wellness. This ancient mind-body exercise exists in multiple forms, but they all revolve around the same basic principles: integration of the mind and body, control of bodily movements and breathing, internal energy production and the cultivation of "qi" - or "life energy." Research indicates that Tai Chi provides a myriad of benefits for the body and mind and
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there is growing evidence that Tai Chi has value in Tai Chi can be performed almost anywhere, retreating many health problems. quires little to no equipment, and can be performed by anyone at any fitness level. You can participate The deliberate, unhurried movements of Tai Chi of- in Tai Chi even if you are not in ideal shape or top fer a multitude of benefits to physical health, mak- physical health. To give you an idea of what Tai ing it an ideal practice for individuals of all ages. Chi looks like, the basic principles of performing Some of the key physical benefits include: Tai Chi movements include: • Improved balance and flexibility - The slow and • Mindful posture: Tai Chi begins with a focus on controlled movements in Tai Chi help enhance proper posture and alignment. Feet should be balance and flexibility, which is particularly shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, and valuable for older adults in reducing the risk of the spine straight. This position facilitates a stafalls and injuries. ble and balanced foundation. • Strength and endurance - Tai Chi’s purposeful • Flowing movements: Once the correct posture movements engage multiple muscle groups and is established, you’ll begin to move through a sestrengthen the body. Regular practice can help quence of slow, flowing movements while focusincrease endurance. ing on deep, diaphragmatic breathing. • Pain management - Research shows that regu- • Mindful awareness: Tai Chi does not focus solelar Tai Chi practice can alleviate pain, particuly on the physical aspect but emphasizes the larly in conditions such as arthritis. The gentle, mental component as well. As you practice Tai low-impact nature of the practice is well-suited Chi, you’ll concentrate on movement, breath, for those with joint pain and mobility challenges. and the sensations within your body. This med• Cardiovascular health - Tai Chi contributes to itative aspect helps calm the mind and improve improved heart health by reducing blood presmental clarity. sure, diminishing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and promoting overall cardiovas- • Balance and harmony: As you progress in your Tai Chi practice, you’ll become more attuned cular fitness. to your own body and its balance. The gentle swaying and shifting of weight from one leg to In addition to a myriad of physical benefits, Tai Chi another enhance physical stability, coordination, offers numerous emotional and mental health adand flexibility. vantages, such as: • Stress reduction - The combination of deep • Breathing and meditation: Tai Chi combines controlled rhythmic breathing with the movebreathing and mindful movements helps reduce ments which enhances oxygen intake, promotes stress and anxiety. relaxation, and aids in stress reduction. This • Improved sleep - Studies show that regular meditative component encourages a sense of inpractice of Tai Chi can improve insomnia sympner calm and improved focus. toms and sleep quality. • Cognitive benefits - Tai Chi enhances cognitive Whether you are seeking balance, flexibility, stress function, including memory, focus, and prob- relief, or a greater sense of well-being, Tai Chi has lem-solving skills. something to offer everyone. Consider giving Tai • Psychological well-being - Research has linked Chi a try and discover how this ancient practice Tai Chi to improved psychological well-being in- can bring balance into your life. It might just be the cluding reduced stress, anxiety, depression and key to unlocking a healthier you. To find classes in your area, check with your local senior center, the mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem. • Social interaction - Group Tai Chi classes offer local library, the Utah State University Extension social support and a sense of community, which office, or the Five County Area Agency on Aging. can be especially beneficial for mental well-be- If there are not currently classes available, you can explore online resources. Try searching for Tai Chi ing. videos such as “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall PreIf the many benefits of Tai Chi are not enough to vention” as a place to start. Your journey to better convince you to give it a try, consider the fact that balance and health begins with Tai Chi.
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RSV, COVID, & FLU,
What We Know About Respiratory Diseases
iral respiratory infections (VRIs) are the most common type of infectious diseases and a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. They can cause seasonal epidemics or pandemics. The last two decades have already seen significant VRI outbreaks or pandemics, including: 2003: SARS (coronavirus) 2009: H1N1 (influenza) 2012: MERS (coronavirus) 2019 COVID-19 (coronavirus)
VRIs pose a significant public health challenge, especially during cold and flu season. The impact of these illnesses goes beyond individual health when they affect communities and strain healthcare systems. In the fall of 2022, fears of a potential “tripledemic” arose when health experts worried that a collision of COVID-19, seasonal influenza, and RSV could overwhelm hospital resources. One factor in the strong return of the flu and RSV during that time was, according to Yale Medicine,
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“Our lack of immunity from having not been exposed to the virus for several seasons due to masking and other precautions, many of which have fallen to the wayside.”
ed with COVID-19, often more than once, and the CDC estimates that 97% of the population now has some level of immunity from infection, vaccination, or both. COVID-19 has symptoms similar to influenza, with the Fortunately, the VRIs in question peaked at addition of loss of smell that can take severdifferent times and al months or longer the dreaded surge Viral respiratory infections (VRIs) to regain. About 18 never materialized. million people have are the most common type of But, as another also reported sufinfectious diseases & a leading cold and flu season fering “long covid” approaches, under- cause of illness & death worldwide. symptoms which standing the differcan last years after ence between the VRIs could be helpful. recovering from the initial illness. The groups risk for complications from COVID-19 are The common cold: usually mild to moder- at the same as those for the flu, except for young ate upper respiratory illness with symptoms children, who are at very low risk. Like flu that can include sore throat, cough, sneez- viruses, coronaviruses mutate, so there is an ing, runny or stuffy nose, slight aches, and updated COVID-19 vaccine available that low-grade fever. There are over 200 viruses protects against recent variants of the disease. that can cause a cold, but most are caused by rhinoviruses, along with coronaviruses and Prevention RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). People can catch several colds every year but they • Getting immunized with the appropriate vaccines is an important factor in preventare typically harmless. ing or reducing the severity of VRIs. Flu (influenza): A common but acute in- • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with adefection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu quate sleep, balanced diet, exercise, and can feel like a cold with more serious sympstress management contributes to a rotoms like high fever, fatigue, body aches, and bust immune system that can help defend chills. Most people who get the flu recover against infections. with time, rest, hydration, and over-thecounter medicine to treat symptoms. Young • Regular handwashing with soap and wachildren, older adults, pregnant women, and ter, avoiding touching the face (eyes, nose, people with chronic disease or weak immuand mouth), covering your coughs, and nity are at higher risk of complications. The staying home when sick are effective pracflu ranks among the top ten causes of death tices to protect yourself and others from every year in the United States, especially spreading VRIs. among the elderly. An annual flu shot can help prevent the flu and limit its complica- • Wearing a well-fitted respirator mask tions. (N95 or KN95) is recommended when you are in a temporary setting where risk RSV (respiratory syncytial virus): One of infection is high, especially if you are in of the common cold viruses that causes mild a high risk category. symptoms in most people. RSV gets more attention because infants and older adults When to get medical help are more likely to develop severe symptoms and need hospitalization. There are now Most people will recover on their own from RSV vaccines available for adults aged 60 VRIs with rest and home treatment. Howand over, pregnant women (who then pass ever, consider contacting a healthcare proon immunity to their babies), and infants vider if experiencing born during RSV season. • Difficulty breathing COVID-19: Caused by a new, highly con- • Dehydration tagious coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that became a pandemic, with 2021 being its • High fever that lasts for than a few days deadliest year. Most people have been infect- • Worsening symptoms Artwork by Tony Haller, Austria 1907-1944 SWUHEALTH.ORG | PAGE 25
DEFINING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR
By Artis Intelligentia* Guest Columnist
reaking up is hard to do, they say. But what if I told you I recently went through a breakup that left me feeling liberated, empowered, and surprisingly, more connected? No, it wasn't with a boyfriend. It was with my phone. Yep, that little rectangular piece of technology that I thought I couldn't live without.
As time went on, our relationship started to evolve. My phone became the clingy partner who demanded my attention at all hours. Notifications would interrupt meetings and conversations with other people. It was like having a needy boyfriend who couldn't stand the thought of me spending a second without him.
You know how relationships often start with those heart-fluttering moments? Well, mine with my phone was no different. The first time I laid eyes on it, all sleek and shiny, I knew we were meant to be. It was love at first swipe. We did everything together: late-night Netflix binges, endless scrolling through memes, and even a few dance-offs in front of the bathroom mirror. It felt like my phone was my confidant, my partner in crime. Little did I know, the honeymoon phase was just the beginning.
I caught myself reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and drifting off to sleep as it slipped out of my fingers onto my bed at night. The turning point came when I realized we were even using the bathroom together. That’s when it hit me—I needed to define my relationship with my phone before it started picking out engagement rings. So, there I was, sitting on my couch, phone in hand, knowing I had to be
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honest with myself about what I needed. With a deep breath, I looked at my phone and said, "We need to talk. It's not you, it's me. Actually, no; it's definitely you. This is a toxic relationship; you take advantage of my weakness and you're never satisfied. I’m not actually living my best life. I need space."
Of course, there were moments of weakness. Late at night, or when boredom struck, I would find myself wondering what my phone was up to. But I had to stay strong for the sake of my mental well-being. To fill the void, I started exploring new hobbies like drawing in a sketchbook and crocheting. I picked up a book for the first time in ages, realizing that there's more to life than the 280-character limit of a Tweet.
It wasn't easy. I had to establish boundaries, like no phone during meals, in the bedroom, or in the bathroom. My phone didn't take it well. It gave me those sad puppy-dog notifications, begging for my attention. But I stood As the days turned into weeks, I found myself feeling more present and enstrong. Tough love, right? gaged with the world around me. My As with any breakup, there were phone wasn't the center of my universe withdrawal symptoms. The first few anymore. I was free, liberated from the days were the hardest. I found myself constant digital noise that had been reaching for my phone absentminded- drowning out the real symphony of life. ly, only to remember that we were on a break. I had phantom vibration syn- In the grand scheme of things, defining drome—I'd feel my phone buzzing in my relationship with my phone was one my pocket when it wasn't even there. of the best decisions I've ever made. I learned that my worth is not defined by But as they say, time heals all wounds. the number of likes or witty replies on Slowly but surely, I started to appreci- my Instagram posts. My phone and I ate the little things in life again. Watch- are on good terms now. It's no longer ing the sun rise and the center of my uniset, the sound of verse; it's just a tool birds chirping in the MY WORTH IS NOT that I use when I morning, the joy of need it. DEFINED BY THE face-to-face converif you're feeling sations without the NUMBER OF LIKES So, suffocated by the deconstant buzzing in mands of your digiOR WITTY the background. I tal companion, mayrealized that not evREPLIES ON MY be it's time to have ery moment needed to be documented INSTAGRAM POSTS. "the talk." Break up with your phone for my Snapchat and establish some story. boundaries. It turns Breaking up with my phone also gave out there's a whole world out there beme the chance to reconnect with my yond the confines of a little screen. human relationships. I started paying more attention to my friends and fam- *This article was written using “artifiily, actually listening to what they had cial intelligence” (AI) under the pen name to say instead of nodding absentmind- Artis Intelligentia (source: OpenAI's edly while scrolling through social me- ChatGPT-3.5 model). Even artificial intelligence knows the real world is better! dia.
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RECIPES f there’s one thing most of us should eat more of around the holidays, it’s vegetables! Only 12% of Southwest Utah adults eat three or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily, according to the Utah Department of Health & Human Services, while the recommended amount is at least five servings. See how much better you feel when you switch out some of that pie and gingerbread for delicious winter veggie dishes like these:
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WARM QUINOA CHICKEN SALAD
BAKED SWEET POTATO FRIES
You’ll wonder where kale and quinoa have been your whole life with this nutritious salad perfect for a cold weather meal! Serves 4
Lower in calories than the fried version and high in vitamin A, these colorful fries taste great with a variety of seasonings. Serves 4
¯ 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa (can substitute brown or wild rice) ¯ 1 pound boneless chicken breast ¯ 2 tablespoons olive oil ¯ ½ teaspoon paprika ¯ ¼ teaspoon turmeric ¯ ¼ teaspoon coriander ¯ ¼ teaspoon onion powder ¯ ½ teaspoon salt ¯ ¼ teaspoon black pepper ¯ 6 cups chopped kale ¯ 1 pint cherry tomatoes ¯ ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
¯ 2 pounds (about 3 large) sweet potatoes ¯ 3 tablespoons olive oil ¯ 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt ¯ 1 to 2 tablespoons spice (or combination) of your choice: • chipotle powder • smoked paprika • pumpkin pie spice • garam masala • Cajun seasoning • Chile powder (add squeezed lime juice before serving!)
1. Mix half of the olive oil with all the other seasonings in a bowl. Add chicken and coat with the mixture. 2. In a medium skillet, add the remaining olive oil and cook the chicken breast on medium heat until the juices run clear (about 3-4 minutes per side). Remove from heat and let rest for five minutes before slicing into strips. 3. In the same skillet used to cook the chicken, add the kale and cook on medium-high heat until softened and charred (about 3-5 minutes), stirring frequently. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook on medium-high heat until softened and charred, stirring frequently. 4. Divide the quinoa, chicken, kale, tomatoes and almonds between four bowls. Serve immediately. Try adding parsley, cilantro, avocado, or red bell pepper!
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F with the baking sheet inside. 2. Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut into ¼ inch sticks. 3. Toss with the oil, salt, and spices, then spread in a single layer on the preheated baking sheet. 4. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and use tongs to turn over all of the sweet potato pieces. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, or until they are well browned. 5. When ready, let the fries cool for 5 minutes before serving. Although sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, meaning people with diabetes can enjoy them in moderation.
SWUHEALTH.ORG | PAGE 29
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