Sunburn in Winter

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Scary, right? The good news is that it is the easiest to prevent. Many people have the notion that on cloudy days or in the winter months the use of sunscreen is not as important or the rays are not as harmful. We are here to tell you that is not the case!

The sun’s rays do NOT retreat in winter. In the Northern Hemisphere the atmosphere does block some of the rays and those rays tend to be further away in the winter months. But don’t let that fool you. If you are outside, you are still at risk for sun damage. And in some Southern parts the amount of UV radiation does not change much from winter to other seasons.

Higher altitude also means higher risk. UV rays are more intense and the thinner atmosphere does not block as many harmful rays. To make things worse snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays.

Throughout the year we encourage you to practice these guidelines to keep you and your loved ones safe from our sun’s harsh rays.

  1. Wear sunscreen EVERYDAY, 30+ SPF.
  2. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure & reapply every 2 hours.
  3. Cover up as much as possible with clothing.
  4. Wear 100% UV protection sunglasses that offer good coverage of the sides of your eyes.
  5. Try to stay out of the sun between 10am to 4pm, when rays are most intense.

Just one blistering sunburn increases your skin cancer risk and should be reported to your doctor. Five or more sunburns doubles your risk for Melanoma.

Enjoy the outdoors but me smart in doing so. Take these tips with you to protect your skin!

We dedicate this blog post to Andrew M. Potts, Occupational Therapist who lost his battle to Melanoma & is a cherished colleague of ours. Visit http://www.covellcare.com/team-a-m-p/ to learn more about Andrew and our efforts to continue his legacy.

It CAN Happen to You

Healthcare companies spew out statistics all the time. How many people fall. How many people have a broken hip. How many people hit their head. But, the numbers are usually so huge we can’t even wrap our minds around them. We often sit outside of those groups and say, “Wow that’s a lot of people. But, it’s not me.” And off we go about our day.

I have met 100’s, possibly 1000’s, of people that have fallen and ended up in the hospital or in a rehab setting. I have met ZERO people that told me they knew they would fall one day. Every single one of them is shocked over it. Countless people have told me, “I have been so independent. This just isn’t me.” Other people tell me, “I don’t belong here [in the hospital or rehab].”

Most of us don’t see ourselves as a patient with a broken hip. Or a man with a fractured humerus that’s headed into surgery. We see ourselves as active, engaged, careful, safe, aware. Let me tell you. It CAN happen to you.

Falls are the #1 reason people over 65 go to the ER in Northern Colorado. The hospitals are working very hard to reduce this with community outreach and trying to refer people to services like ours after they have a fall.

What can you do to reduce your fall risk? Here are two recommendations that will almost certainly reduce your fall risk.

  1. Work with a personal trainer.

This does not mean the same thing as “work out”. Working with a personal trainer ensures you are working on the right things for you. Everyone is different. We have had different injuries over the years, we have different body types, some folks have strong legs, other people have a stronger upper body. So often people tell me they “walk every day.” That’s great! Keep it up. But, work with a personal trainer TOO! Walking everyday helps you get better at walking. It does not mean your balance is where it needs to be, it doesn’t mean you can correct yourself quickly if you start to fall. Even if you work with a trainer twice a month, you will start to see an improvement as they will give you exercises to do at home. Or, they can work with you 2-3 times a week and you will be in better shape than you can imagine. We have clients that are older than 100 years old that work with a trainer. Guess what? They are not falling!

  1. Get a home safety assessment.

Home safety assessments are completed by occupational therapists. They will come to the client’s home and look at things you can’t even guess they will assess! OT’s are the experts that are highly trained in looking and assessing how people interact with their environment and daily routines. This may include lighting in the home, how people get in and out of the tub or shower, use of stairs, taking out the garbage, get up and down, how they sit at the table, and more. You can find several checklists online. This will never be as all-inclusive or person specific as an OT home assessment in your actual environment. Most falls happen in the home. There may be fall hazards right in front of you that you can’t recognize and are easy to eliminate.

If you don’t want to be part of the huge population of people that fall, please take the opportunity to be proactive in lessening your, or your loved ones, risk. It makes a different. The research supports personal training and home safety assessments as avenues to reduce fall risk. A fall could be in your future if you don’t take the steps to prevent it!

OT Celebrates 100 Years!

Occupational therapy celebrates an epic birthday this year—one hundred years! OT professionals have been providing treatment for clients using meaningful occupations to reach therapeutic goals for an entire century. At Covell Care, we are especially thankful for the pioneers of OT because our business is richly embedded with the philosophies and roots of this unique profession.
Occupational therapy is based on the theory that all of us wake up every day with the desire to interact in meaningful tasks (aka occupations) and we are the skilled professionals that help people maximize what they can do.
Did you know that a recent outcome study showed that OT was the only spending category that reduced hospital re-admissions for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction. (Rogers, Bai, Lavin, & Anderson, 2016). That’s worth celebrating! 
We just received an email today from one of the Covell OT’s that one of his clients is now using his arm when he couldn’t move the shoulder at all when services began. He can even throw a ball now!
Another one of his clients improved so much in his abilities to manage his walker and safety issues that he can do housework and beat our OT in putt-putt golf!
One of my clients feared baking in her kitchen due to cognitive changes she has experienced because of multiple sclerosis. Guess what she did this week? Made a vanilla-apple-cream cake without making any mistakes.
These are the things that matter to our clients and we are the blessed therapists that can help them reach their goals. Think about your day and routine and what’s important to you. Anything from the mundane tasks like brushing your teeth or taking a shower to the special moments like taking your daughter to her first day of school or baking your famed Christmas cookies… what if you couldn’t do them? You would want someone to help you. That person is likely an OT.
Covell Care is often confused for a traditional home care agency because we provide so many of our treatments in the clients’ homes. But, we also provide services at the golf course, the grocery store, the city bus stop, local coffee shops, fast food restaurants. We provide services where people live because it matters SO much to the therapeutic process. We do this because when I established the business, I knew our clients needed to be seen wherever they lived, worked and played. Therefore, all of our services are available outside of a clinic setting. PT, SLP, counseling, massage, personal training, driving rehabilitation, care management. This is based on my training as an OT and understanding the critical role of being in your natural environment for rehabilitation.
It is so awesome and exciting to be part of a profession that continues to grow in research, treatment effectiveness and creativity. We are thrilled to be advancing the profession along with the thousands of OT professionals around the globe. Our innovative model has earned us recognition from the American Occupational Therapy Association and makes traditional healthcare companies wonder what category we fit in. OT is at our roots and we will continue celebrating and helping our clients live, work and play to the best of their abilities through context based, creative, sound treatment interventions.

Going Beyond Continuing Education Credits

Last week someone asked me about our monthly education program called Clinicians and Comrades. She asked me if it was free. I said yes. She asked if we give continuing education credits and I said yes. With eyebrows raised she asked me why we did this. I smiled and said, “Because I believe in education no matter how long someone’s worked in their field and I believe in my heart that learning together helps us all work better together, too.” But, there’s more to it than that.

Most licensed clinicians are required by their state and/or national organizations to maintain a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain their credentials. In my opinion, this should be simply eyed as a technicality. If you are a clinician, you need to continue learning for the sake of the clients you treat and the teams you lead.
Governing agencies are requiring a certain level of new learning to help the respective field stay viable, current and ethical while ensuring practicing clinicians are credible and current. Hopefully, if you are a clinician, you are requiring more from yourself to be the best clinician you can be and that means learning new research, treatment techniques, understanding changing theories and best outcome strategies for clients.
There are countless seminars, webinars, online continuing education classes, conferences around the country for clinicians to access. Clinicians and Comrades provides education from our local colleagues which changes the dynamic of what we learn.
For example, this last week we learned about Cancer Harbors and how to help clients navigate life after cancer treatments. And we are learning how to do this in our own community. Not in Cleveland or Orlando where other classes may be held. Another session we learned about driving rehabilitation. We took turns on a computerized assessment that the instructor led us through that she uses in real time with her clients. She helped us know how to access this, what to look for, how to help clients in our community. Not in Chicago or even Denver.
 
We are more than clinicians with licenses. We are helping other people live fuller lives and we need to connect with our community, gather helpful, evidenced-based and practical strategies to maximize our time with clients and learn from on another. If you are only gathering continuing education credits because you are required to, think again. Your knowledge impacts people’s lives. The more you know, the more you grow. And together we can be a more powerful community.
Blog written by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR, BCB-PMD & owner of Covell Care.

6 Benefits of Exercise on Alzheimer’s Disease

Blog post provided by guest blogger and OT student Sarah Belancio with Colorado State University. 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and effects approximately 5.4 million Americans (Rao et al., 2014).  Not only does it impact an individual’s memory, but their ability to independently perform activities of daily living (ADL). This puts them at an increased risk for falls, caregiver burden, and decline in quality of life. Research shows that exercise can have benefits beyond physical strength for people with AD.

Here are 6 ways exercise can benefit people with AD:

  • Exercise can significantly improve ADL performance. Research shows exercise can improve the ability to complete self-care tasks such as dressing, showering, and grooming. This is because exercise can improve range of motion, endurance, balance, strength, and cognition. All of which contribute to one’s ability to independently complete activities of daily living.
  • Exercise is related to an overall improvement in cognitive function. Exercise has been shown to improve sustained attention, visual memory, and frontal cognitive function in people with AD.
  • Exercise improves physical function. Not surprisingly, exercise can improve one’s strength, agility, balance, and flexibility, which helps an individual perform physical functions required to maintain independence in activities of daily living.
  • Exercise can have a positive effect on behavior and mood. Research shows exercises can decrease the rate of depression for individuals with AD and their caregivers. It can also decrease behaviors commonly associated with AD such as aggravation and wandering.
  • Physical activity increase cardiorespiratory capacity. Increase in cardiorespiratory capacity promotes a slower decline in cognition.
  • Exercise can reduce the risk of falls and injuries associated with AD. Improvements in physical and cognitive function decreases the risk of falls.

 With the baby boomer generation reaching old age, increases in the number of people diagnoses with AD will be seen.  Thus, it’s important to know that exercise can be one way to improve physical and cognitive function in this population and significantly improve performance in ADLs and in quality of life for both the individual and their caregivers. Exercises do not have to be strenuous. Physical activity can include strength training, balance training, aerobics, walking exercises and more.  Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and personal training are some of the services offered at Covell Care that can help assist someone with these types of exercises and training. To learn more about Covell Care’s one on one personal training and group fitness classes contact us at 970-204-4331.