Healthy Living

Keeping the Men in Your Life Healthy

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.22.59 PMMany men avoid visiting the doctor. We often joke about it, but when our dads, brothers, partners or friends put off having something looked at, it can result in very real consequences. Even though women on average visit the doctor 20 percent more often than men, it is men who have much higher hospitalization rates for preventable conditions.

So why do men seem to go out of their way to prevent calling the doc? Many men simply aren’t used to communicating about how they feel and aren’t comfortable asking for help.

Total Health Radio has dedicated an entire podcast episode to this topic, including tips for supporting the men in your life in staying healthy. You can check it out — along with additional information and resources — at its official web page. You can also listen to it here, via Stitcher
.

And to see the above infographic in its entirety, click here for the full-sized version.

Stay Safe This Summer

While most of us look forward with great anticipation to summer’s long days filled with warmth and fun, there is a less sunny side to the story: ER visits actually peak in the summertime months.

kp-infographic-2015-er-summer-months-550x730Fear not: There are things we can each do to plan ahead and protect our family and ourselves. From heat-related illness to water safety, travel to cookouts, this piece from our friends at KP Share has it covered — not to mention a handy infographic perfect for printing out and putting up on the fridge as a reminder (you can also click on the image for a larger, printer-friendly version).

Check out all of the resources and tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross and Kaiser Permanente in the full article.

Wednesday is National Running Day

running day blank logoThis Wednesday, June 3rd, is National Running Day, a day for running enthusiasts (nuts?) like me to celebrate our love of the sport and for those who want to start to get out there. The thing I love most about the running community is its acceptance of everyone, whether you run a 5 or 15 minute mile, go out once a week or twice a day, started 20 years ago or 20 days ago. So, if you’re a runner, get out there this Wednesday and celebrate your love of this sport with the community. If you’re not a runner, but think you might want to be, this is the day!

You can find official running day information and groups on Facebook and Twitter. If there’s not one in your city, try a local running club or make your own with some friends. See what your fellow runners are up to by following #RunningDay on the usual .social media platforms.

I’ll be out there for an early morning run with a new running club, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but somehow always avoid. Here’s to new adventures, whatever they may be!

 

 

may header

Celebrate Change This Spring

Maybe it’s because it’s (finally) gotten warm enough along the East Coast for us to leave our parkas at home, maybe it’s the time of year, but I feel like every third woman I see right now is pregnant. Pregnancy brings great joy, excitement, and questions. When you’re eating, drinking, and sleeping for two (or more!), it’s the perfect time to commit to healthy changes. Find information about how to be your healthiest self – before, during, or after pregnancy – on Kaiser Permanente’s website.

As it heats up, many of us reach for iced tea. Try making it a healthy option by picking unsweetened. Jazz it up yourself with this recipe for homemade peach iced tea.

Peach Iced Tea

Ingredients
1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
4 cups water
2 cups pureed peaches, chilled
Fresh mint (garnish)

Directions
Steep mint leaves in hot water for 3 minutes.
Pour peaches in a sieve to remove chunks.
Once the mint tea is cool, mix with strained peach puree. Serve cold, garnished with fresh mint.

 

 

A Prescription for Activity

This week, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) convened a meeting to address key issues related to establishing a physical activity prescription at every visit as a medical standard of care. Kaiser Permanante’s own Robert Sallis, MD, was in attendance and helped lead a walking break to visit the Supreme Court. You can find a full set of images from the roundtable here.

Dr. Bob Sallis leads a walking meeting to the Supreme Court.

Dr. Sallis leads a walking meeting to the Supreme Court.

There is overwhelming evidence on the health burden of a sedentary lifestyle, and regular exercise has been proven to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases.  For this reason, every health care provider should be assessing the physical activity habits of their patients and recommending they engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (like a brisk walk), which is consistent with the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines.  While it has become a standard of care to ask patients at every visit about smoking and to assess their weight and BMI, exercise is often not routinely assessed.

For this reason, on April 27 and April 28, a roundtable was convened by the American College of Sports Medicine and Kaiser Permanente: A “Call to Action on Making Physical Activity Assessment and Prescription a Medical Standard of Care”.  This was held at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC, and it was chaired by Robert Sallis, MD, a Kaiser Permanante family physician and chair of the Exercise is Medicine Global Health initiative.  The meeting was attended by individuals representing a range of major medical organizations with a goal of developing a consensus around including physical activity assessment and prescription at each patient visit.  One of the outcomes of the roundtable will be a white paper that outlines a plan to make this happen in the near future.   

For National Healthcare Decisions Day, a Conversation with Daniel Johnson, MD, FAAHPM, on Planning for Your Care

The Denver Hospice.   (Photo by ELLEN JASKOL)In recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, we spoke with Dr. Dan Johnson, national physician lead for palliative care at Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute, to demystify health care decision making and understand the importance of advance care planning.

Q: What is advance care planning and why is it so important?

A: Advance care planning (ACP) is the process of planning for future medical decisions. ACP enables you to better inform and direct your care in situations where you’re not able to speak for yourself. Importantly, ACP:

  • starts with reflection and conversation around personal values, goals, and beliefs;
  • includes others – loved ones, family members and your health care team; and
  • often results in completion of an advance directive – a written plan for future medical care regarding goals of care or desired treatments for a possible or probable event.

It’s not easy to think about serious illness, much less plan for it. Yet we must. Advance care plans protect us when we cannot speak for ourselves. It’s a precious gift to our loved ones. Instead of guessing, our families and doctors have much needed guidance to ensure the right care.

Q: Why do I need to do this, especially if I’m healthy?

A: Accidents and serious illness sometimes strike suddenly. Terri Schiavo never planned for a cardiac arrest at age 26. Without prior plans or an appointed decision maker, her health care team and family were left to guess her wishes around prolonged life support. Sadly, the guessing irreparably divided her family.

Not everyone is ready to fill out an advance directive. Having a conversation with your health care team is still helpful in these instances to communicate the things that matter most to you. Appointing an agent – someone to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself – is a crucial step at any time, even when you’re not fully sure of your wishes for future care.

Q: I already filled out an advance directive. Do I need to do this again?

A: Possibly. This question is best answered by your doctor and health care team. For example, sometimes documents filled out in one state are not valid in all states. Documents completed in the absence of informed discussions are rarely helpful (and often confusing). I would recommend re-doing your advance directives if you know your plans have changed or if you did not include your loved ones in your original planning discussions.

Q: Do I need to use any specific forms for an advance directive — from a particular care provider, for example?

A: No.  For instance, many Kaiser Permanente regions are beginning to offer our members advance care planning classes or one-on-one facilitated sessions — but no one is required to use a Kaiser Permanente advance directive form. Talk with your doctor and health care team to learn about your options.

Anyone can use Kaiser Permanente forms. Regardless of the form you use, be sure to discuss your values, preferences and documents with your health care team.

Q: How can I be reassured that the health care provider will look at my advance directive and follow my wishes?

I’d recommend two things. First, insist on including your health care team in discussions. Your physician and other providers will help you ask the right questions, explore your values, and pose important “what ifs” to help you communicate treatment preferences. The team will help you complete a written directive and assure that directive is correctly stored in your medical record. Second, include your loved ones. Ensure your appointed “agent” is present during actual conversations and completion of directives. Give copies of completed directives to your doctor, agent and other loved ones so that those who are most important to you know your wishes.

A: What happens if I want to update my advance directive? Do I need to fill out a new one?

Remember, advance care planning is not a single event. Rather, it is a series of conversations that start when we’re healthy and continue throughout our lives. Yes, refresh your discussions and directives with major changes in your relationships, personal values or health status. Your doctors (in concert with your appointed health care agent) will always use the most recently completed documents to direct your care.

To learn more, check out this article on the Kaiser Permanente Share site, or find additional resources available from NHDD.

One of the Deadliest Cancers: Is Someone You Love at Risk?

Did you know that the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined is colorectal cancer? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 140,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and more than 50,000 die from it. Those are some sobering statistics.

The good news? This type of cancer is highly preventable, mainly due to screenings — starting at age 50 — that can often find precancerous polyps and early-stage cancer. Early diagnosis allows treatment to be most effective.

We can each further reduce our risk by staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and if you are looking for ways to get the word out and encourage screenings among friends and loved ones, Healthfinder.gov has a great toolkit. Web resources and sample communications are available, as well as a quiz that assesses your risk of developing colorectal cancer and a calculator that helps identify how much fiber you should consume each day.

For a first-hand account of how an at-home screening test (yes, they are available!) saved one woman’s life, check out this video from Kaiser Permanente’s Care Stories site.

For the Teen in Your Life — Listen!

Did you know that every year, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner?  The startling truth is that one in three adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. These are sobering statistics — especially if there is a teenager in your life that you care about.

Yes, February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  We all owe it to the teens we love to listen — and share — this eye-opening episode of Total Health Radio, “Dating Violence:  Is Your Teen at Risk?”

In this show, Alexa Sueda, MD, talks about what teen dating violence looks like and some of the warning signs parents and friends should be watchful for. And Nancy Schwartzman, the inventor of the groundbreaking and award-winning Circle of 6 mobile app, talks about ways that young women can both prevent and cope with sexual abuse.


For more on this important topic, you can follow the conversation all month on Twitter via hashtag #teenDVmonth.

Categories: Care Delivery, Healthy Living
Tags:

How much do you know about diabetes?

In observance of Diabetes Awareness Month, we’re sharing the Total Health Radio episode, “Diabetes 101.”

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the United States. But numbers can sometimes distance us from the day-to-day realities of a serious health condition. Exactly how does diabetes affect the body? This show explores the the basics about the disease: Its short-and long-term effects on the body’s systems, and what each of us can do to reduce our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – and live more healthfully if diagnosed.

Domestic Violence: A preventable public health problem

Domestic Violence InfographicThis month and every October, we pause to reflect on the profound impact that domestic violence has at the individual, community and national levels. It is well documented that one in four American women and one in fourteen men will be subject to domestic violence during their lifetime. We know more today than ever before about the science behind domestic violence — meaning its short-term and long-term health impacts.

Kaiser Permanente has a long track record of raising awareness and taking action on this topic for the benefit of the many lives it insures (many of whom are employees of the company). Its efforts were recognized last month by Peace Over Violence (a Los Angeles based non-profit whose goal it is to eliminate violence against women, youth and children) in the form of a corporate humanitarian award. This honor came about because of Kaiser Permanente’s leadership in partnering with the NO MORE campaign to raise public awareness about this issue via funding for programs serving survivors.

This week, the Institute for Health Policy website published an updated version of the article I authored in 2012 that highlights Kaiser Permanente initiatives and the gains over the last decade. A shining example is the implementation of an innovative approach for domestic violence prevention that was first piloted and launched in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region. In the words of Brigid McCaw, MD, director of that region’s family violence prevention program: “Transforming the health care response to domestic violence requires going beyond the traditional focus on didactic training for clinicians. Kaiser Permanente’s successful ‘systems model’ approach demonstrates that domestic violence prevention can be effectively incorporated into everyday health care services.”

You can read the story in its entirety at the Institute for Health Policy site.

Explore the Center for Total Health Take Video Tour