A Lifetime of Healthy Living

Local doctors and healthcare specialists share their valuable expertise on how to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle during every stage of your life.

Good Communication Strategies Help All Our Relationships

By Alex Barnard, Au.D.

For both individuals with hearing loss and those with normal hearing, certain environments and situations can interfere with our hearing ability, leading to a breakdown in communication. The dreaded repetition of “what” or “huh” can frustrate both the person trying to listen and the person trying to speak.

It’s easy to both overestimate “normal” hearing ability and the ability of hearing aids. We all know it would be silly to try to read a book from five feet away, and yet most couples try to talk to each other from unrealistic distances, like from one room to another. For appropriate communication, we really want our partner no further than six to eight feet away, as voices start to sound more and more muffled as that distance increases.

Distance is not the only factor to consider. All individuals have trouble with background noise. Background noises can be interesting sounds such as a television, other people talking in the background, or music. They may also be less interesting sounds, like running water, the hum of a refrigerator, or a fan. We should either turn off as many background noises as possible prior to communicating or change our environment to one with less background noise.

Some rooms are just not set up for ease of communication. Many rooms are full of hard services that permit sounds to bounce off of each other and distort spoken words. To help around the house, consider adding soft objects such as rugs, window curtains, canvas art, or cloth-covered furniture to rooms where you typically talk to others. When at restaurants, consider eating outdoors, eating at non-peak hours, or eating at restaurants with carpet or booths.
In any situation, there are two things we can easily do to help make communication easier. The first is to get our communication partner’s attention prior to speaking. Simply saying their name and waiting for an affirmative response can make sure they are both paying attention and listening. The second is to make sure that they can see our mouths while we are talking. Many people lip-read automatically, and by looking at lips we can better tell which consonant sounds are being said, which is crucial when surrounded by background noises.

If we are too far away to read our partner’s lips, we are too far away to have a conversation.

Alexander Barnard is a Doctor of Audiology at Amelia Audiology. For more information, call Amelia Audiology at (904) 491-1515 or visit www.AmeliaAudiology.com.

Low-Impact Exercise Improves Wellness at Every Age

By Lorraine Aiken

“Come on in, the water’s fine” is an early 1900’s idiom offering encouragement for reluctant swimmers to get their toes wet and to join others who are already having fun in the water. Much akin to this saying, residents at Osprey Village senior living encourage their neighbors and friends to jump in and try something new!

Located in the Amelia Island Plantation, Osprey Village is a luxury senior living community that is committed to helping their members live longer, healthier, happier lives. A 640 square foot indoor heated saltwater pool and building opened in April this year, giving residents year-round access to swimming and aquatic activities. In addition to the community’s current wellness center and fitness studio, the pool provides another venue for residents to participate in low-impact cardiovascular-based workouts that are proven to improve overall physical health for al adults.

“We are extremely excited for the pool opening because having it on-site further enhances our members’ health, well-being, and ultimately, increases the longevity of their lives,” says Matthew Barger, Executive Director at Osprey Village. And jump on in everyone did. “We’re currently offering two instructor-led classes in our pool each day,” says the community’s Wellness Director Nura Hussein. “They are some of the favorite activities that we offer each day.”

Hussein and her team instruct 14 different topics per week in close to 40 classes that take place in both the fitness studio and pool. “Our team offers everything from yoga to strength training and water aerobics to walking groups” she says excitedly. “There’s really something for everyone, from beginners to experts.

“We really love when our residents encourage each other to participate in the fitness classes, or bring someone new to class. It creates a level of accountability, but it also continues to keep them living a healthy life, which is important as we age,” she continues.

The atmosphere at the fitness center and the pool is one of friendship and camaraderie for staff and residents alike. Through wellness and social programs, residents have the opportunity to connect with their neighbors and peers, creating a tight-knit community where everyone genuinely cares about one another. Building relationships is an important component of a happy, longer life as we get older.

It’s true that life is cool by the pool. Want to jump in at Osprey Village? Learn more about this national award-winning retirement community by calling their Lifestyle Advisors at (904) 491-2412 or by visiting www.Osprey-Village.com.

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

By Bethany A. Burton, DMD

Dental health is important to overall health, and increasing evidence shows the link between dental health and systemic health. The question is, why do people hesitate to seek routine dental care? Many patients struggle with dental phobia and anxiety, or simply don’t like having dental care done. For patients with these concerns, sedation is a great option to help relax and receive dental treatment in a way that is comfortable for them.

There are varying types of sedation. A common misconception is that sedation is an on-and-off button. Instead, sedation is more like a continuum with different levels. Many variables affect the level of sedation and onset, such as the administration route, drug used, and patient factors, including age. Levels of sedation are more appropriately termed minimal, moderate, deep, and general. General anesthesia, as an example, is what is done commonly in operating rooms in hospitals for more invasive surgeries. Deep sedation is commonly used for outpatient procedures. Dental procedures and some outpatient procedures use what is commonly termed moderate sedation.

Unlike general anesthesia, moderate sedation is a level of sedation that does not require intubation, because it does not inhibit an individual’s ability to breathe for themselves. Moderate sedation can be achieved through oral tablets or administered through an IV. Moderate sedation, when delivered through an IV, is easily monitored because a drug administered through an IV has a fairly immediate response. This makes it easier for a physician to determine if more drugs will be necessary or not and proceed accordingly.

Another advantage of IV administration is the ability to reverse sedation that may be unnecessary or unwanted, thus increasing its safety. Moderate sedation still requires the use of local anesthesia for pain management throughout procedures. Another great advantage of moderate sedation is the likelihood that patients will have little to no recollection of the dental procedure completed.

Moderate sedation is effective and safe for most patients, but a thorough medical review is required before administration. Various factors can affect the way a patient should be sedated or if they are even a good candidate for sedation. A patient’s reaction to the sedative drugs used for moderate sedation can be impacted by current medications, age, weight, and many other factors. For individuals with dental anxiety or in need of invasive dental procedures, moderate sedation is a great option to consider.

Dr. Burton is a dentist with Amelia Dental Group, located at 1947 Citrona Drive in Fernandina Beach. For more information, call (904) 261-7181 or visit them online at www.ameliadental.com.

A new healthcare delivery model

By Jan Carver, APRN

What is Direct Primary Care and how does it work? Essentially, Direct Primary Care is an arrangement directly between patients and primary care medical providers (doctors or nurse practitioners) that does not involve insurance. The primary care provider charges a reoccurring fee, which the patient pays each month (or annually) directly to that primary care provider, regardless of whether they see the provider that month. The patient can pay using a credit card, bank account, or health savings account.

The primary care provider does not participate with any health insurance plans and does not submit bills to insurance companies. The patient can then communicate with the primary care provider as often as needed and there are no per-visit fees (or drastically reduced fees in some cases). The primary care provider utilizes resources, when available, for imaging studies or lab tests, at greatly reduced prices when paying cash (sometimes less than the co-pay required with their insurance).

Patients may still have insurance, and it can be used for prescriptions, imaging studies, lab tests, specialists, and hospitalizations. The most frequent complaints patients have with traditional primary care are: they have to wait a long time to get an appointment; they are not able to speak directly with the medical provider; they do not feel cared about as an individual; and/or they feel rushed at their appointment.

Direct Primary Care transforms primary healthcare by promoting health and wellness, managing chronic conditions, managing behavioral health issues, and coordinating specialty care for patients. Direct Primary Care offers personal relationships, availability, convenience, and affordable pricing.

Visits last significantly longer than the typical 15-minute primary care appointments. Members can communicate with their primary care provider at any time during the day or night via email and mobile platforms. Members also know the cost of tests before they go to get that test, which means no surprises or sticker shock. Direct Primary Care increases access, lowers costs, and improves quality. Patients manage healthcare needs whenever, wherever, and however it is convenient.

Why would someone want Direct Primary Care? Direct Primary Care makes healthcare available, convenient, personal, and understandable. It makes the healthcare journey easier. Uninsured patients, patients with high deductible health insurance policies, and patients who are unhappy with their current insurance due to delays in appointments, lack of communication, and lack of direction can all benefit from Direct Primary Care.

Jan Carver is nurse practitioner and primary care provider at 8 Flags Direct Primary Care, located at 501 Centre Street, Suite 107, in Fernandina Beach. For more information, call (904) 206-6329 or visit www.8flagsdpc.com.

Sleep is not for people who are broke…

By Steve Adams

There was a famous quote from a few years ago by a celebrity pop singer which said, “Sleep is for people who are broke. I don’t need sleep.”

For many years, most “peak performing” individuals shared this notion. The less sleep, the more time to be productive, make things happen, and ensure all my dreams come true. However, over the last five to ten years, people have begun to understand optimal health practices, like getting a good night’s sleep, to improve their performance rather than burning the candle at both ends.

This is a good thing! But when you’ve eluded sleep for so long, it can be hard for your brain and body to know what to do when it’s time to hit the sheets. Here are a few simple ideas for improving your sleep:

Develop a Consistent Sleep/Wake Cycle
Start by going to bed within the same hour each night. Once you have bedtime dialed in, start applying the same principle to when you wake up in the morning, even on weekends. Make sure to allow for at least 8 hours in bed. That doesn’t have to mean 8 full hours of sleep, but give yourself enough time in bed to get at least 6.5 hours of actual sleep.

When you go to sleep at around the same time and wake up around the same time, every single day, your body develops a circadian rhythm.

Don’t Eat for 3 Hours Before Bedtime
When you eat too close to bedtime, your body’s focus is on digestion rather than restoration. During the night, the body and brain work at the cellular level to clean the cells, restore broken-down muscles, and flush out toxins in the brain.

When you eat right before bed, everything gets pushed back. You begin your deep sleep stage 2 hours after you’re supposed to, causing you to disrupt your needed sleep cycle. Finish that last meal or snack 3 hours before bed and you give your body time to complete digestion, ensuring a restful and restorative night of sleep.

Get a Tracking Device
If you’re not measuring, you’re guessing. Maybe you feel great every morning when you wake up. Great! But you don’t know whether that’s because you had quality sleep or if you just have a natural surge of cortisol around 6 am.
Either one could be true, but without a sleep measuring device, you simply don’t know. A few devices I would recommend are an Oura Ring, a Fitbit Sense, or an Apple Watch. Remember: at the end of the day, your body is your number one asset.

Steve Adams is the owner of Nassau Health Foods. For more information, call (904) 277-3158 or visit them online at www.nassauhealthfoods.net.

Medicare is Not Free

By Dunnon McLucas

If you’ve watched television from October to December in the past few years, you have likely seen famous football legends telling you about all the free stuff you can get when you are on Medicare. While the information in these commercials is true, the messaging can be very confusing and difficult to understand what is applicable to you.

To start, everyone gets Medicare Part A at age 65, but it is only “premium-free” if you have paid into the program through your taxes for a minimum of ten years. Medicare Part B always has a premium. For most people, this is $148.50. If you had a high annual income (as determined by Medicare) in the past two years, your premium for Part B could go as high as $504.90. We call this an Income Related Medicare Adjustment Amount (IRMAA).

Part D premiums also increase if you are subject to an IRMAA. Electing not to receive Part B or D when you are first eligible will also cost you more in premiums later due to Late Enrollment Penalties. Parts A and B differ in out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Part A generally covers most bills associated with a hospital stay. Deductibles do apply: Part A beneficiaries must pay $1,484 for the first sixty days of hospitalization. Part B covers outpatient doctor visits and medically necessary procedures, for which you pay a $203 deductible first. Part B then covers eighty percent. Medicare has no out-of-pocket maximum limits, which means that you never stop paying the twenty percent coinsurance.

What about the infamous Medicare Part D Coverage Gap (donut hole) that opens when Initial Coverage ends? For 2022, you reach the coverage gap when your total drug cost equals $5,582.50 for drugs covered by your plan. We were all told that the “donut hole” would go away in 2020, but that’s a little misleading since you will still pay some portion of the cost of your drugs while in the Coverage Gap.

The good news about Medicare is that having it opens up great options for you. Many of these options are plans that help pay a portion of your Medicare premiums and include benefits like Dental, Vision, and Fitness club memberships for no cost. Despite the gaps, Medicare shines in a time when health insurance premiums are at unrealistic levels. Through a thorough review with an insurance expert of your current and future health needs, you can discover the plan necessary to conserve your hard-earned funds. Work with a local independent insurance agent that will educate you on Medicare; review all of your options to find the benefits that are important to you; and most importantly, limit your total exposure with maximum out-of-pocket protection.

*All figures in this article represent the 2021 calendar plan year. Medicare produces the new year changes sometime in the fourth quarter.

Dunnon McLucas is Agency Director at Compass Group Insurance, located at 11 South 11th Street. For more information, call (904) 746-4648 or visit www.compassgroupinsurance.com.

Diagnosing Common Vein Problems

By Gabor Kovacs, M.D.

Venous disease affects approximately sixty percent of adults over the age of 50. Many factors contribute to the development of venous disease, including hereditary factors and lifestyle factors such as obesity or excessive standing or sitting. Lack of physical activity can also be a factor, usually more for women than men. Sometimes pregnancy can cause venous disease due to pressure from the enlarged uterus causing dilation of the peripheral veins.

Unlike arteries, veins don’t have muscles in the walls to help with pumping the blood. Veins depend on muscle movement in the lower extremities to transport blood back to the heart. Veins have valves that prevent the blood from flowing in the wrong direction, but when veins get diseased or dilated, these valves close down, allowing blood to flow down to the legs. This results in venous insufficiency, which leads to venous hypertension that causes veins to bulge and develop into what we call varicose veins.

While varicose veins are not a life-threatening condition, they do cause symptoms such as swelling, heaviness, pain, sensation of burning, and sometimes contribute to what we call restless leg syndrome. Long-term venous insufficiency can also cause trophic dermatitis around the ankles and calves. In chronic conditions, it contributes to the formation of venous stasis ulcers in the legs. Diagnosis of venous insufficiency is usually made by ultrasound examination.

Treatment is multifaceted. Compression hose are recommended to aid the veins in transporting blood to the heart and keeping veins decompressed. Lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight loss, avoiding prolonged standing, and a healthy diet are also recommended.

If symptoms persist, the next step is medical intervention, which consists of laser or radio frequency ablation of the saphenous veins. Sometimes a micro phlebectomy is necessary, which consists of physically removing the veins. All of these are usually office procedures done with local anesthesia. Other venous conditions include spider veins, which are tiny superficial veins in the skin, or thrombophlebitis, an inflammation of the veins manifested by redness and pain along the path of the vein.

The most dangerous venous condition is deep venous thrombosis, in which a blood clot develops in the deep venous system. This usually results from prolonged inactivity or dehydration, or a number of medical conditions that might create a predisposition to it. The risk is the clot could potentially break off and travel up into the patient’s heart or lungs, which can in some cases be lethal. If you have any of these conditions, it is usually a good idea to consult your physician or a vein specialist.

Gabor Kovacs MD, FACS is a Board Certified General and Vascular Surgeon with Vein Care Center of Amelia Island. To schedule an appointment, call (904) 572-3074 or email at vccofamelia@gmail.com.