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  • Back to School with Diabetes: Preparations for Safety

    For parents with a child living with diabetes, back to school time can be stressful because it means handing responsibility for the child’s diabetes management to school staff. However, this time need not be so stressful for parents. There are a number of ways that parents can help to assure their child’s safety at school.

    The most important step is to gather the necessary information needed by the school staff for them to properly manage the child’s individual diabetes needs. The American Diabetes Association offers a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) document to be filled out by the student’s personal diabetes healthcare team, which includes parents. The plan would be given to relevant school personnel, such as the school nurse, to review and keep in their records.

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  • Preventing Slip and Fall Accidents at Home

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency departments treated 2.2 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults in 2009.

    The CDC also reports that falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children through age 19. Every day, approximately 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries, almost 2.8 million children each year.

    The danger of having a fall accident is a reminder of the importance of wearing a medical alert bracelet or medical alert necklace. Wearing medical ID jewelry will inform medical personnel of your health condition, medications, emergency contacts, and other important information.

    There are a number of ways to reduce the likelihood of a fall accident occurring at home.
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  • What is dementia?

    Dementia describes a cluster of symptoms, rather than a particular disease. Generally, a person with dementia lives with symptoms that affect intellectual and social abilities to a degree that they interfere with daily life. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia, the source of the symptoms can be from a variety of conditions. Some types of dementia cannot be completely cured, while others are caused by reversible or treatable conditions.

    Although memory loss is the most common symptom associated with dementia, this symptom alone does not indicate dementia. The problems must involve at least two brain functions to qualify as dementia. Other symptoms of dementia include, but are not limited to, difficulty communicating; inability to learn and remember new things; problems with organization and planning; trouble with coordination and motor skills; changes in personality; inappropriate behavior; paranoia; hallucinations; and agitation. It is important to see or take a loved one to see a doctor if these symptoms are present. Early detection can give you time to plan for the future and to alleviate and possibly reverse symptoms.

    Causes of dementia are often divided into two categories: conditions that are progressive, or that worsen over time, and those that can be reversed.

    Among the progressive dementias are Alzheimer’s disease, caused by neuron damage resulting from a defective gene; Lewy body dementia, caused by clumps of protein in the brain; vascular dementia, caused by brain damage due to problems with arteries to the brain and heart; and frontotemporal dementia, cause by degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.

    Reversible dementia can be caused by the following: infections and immune disorders; metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities; nutritional deficiencies; reactions to medications; subdural hematomas; poisoning; brain tumors; anoxia; and heart and lung problems.

    Other conditions which can lead to dementia are Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Pick’s disease, and progressive supranuclear palsy.

    There are many risk factors that can lead or increase the likelihood of dementia, some that can’t be changed and others that can. Among risk factors that cannot be changed are increasing age, family history, and Down syndrome. Risk factors that you can change--whether by change in behavior or use of  medication--are alcohol use, atherosclerosis (plaques on artery walls), blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, diabetes, high estrogen levels, homocysteine blood levels, and smoking.

    Besides treating the conditions that cause dementia, there are some medications that can control the behavior associated with dementia and slow the rate of progressive dementia. Those medication types that can alleviate behavior issues include anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, serotonin-affecting drugs, and stimulants.

    An additional aid to someone with dementia is to wear medical ID jewelry, like a medical ID bracelet, medical alert pendant, medical ID charm, or medical ID necklace. A medical ID can prove invaluable in the case that a person with dementia gets lost, forgets their personal and medical information, or is exhibiting behavior that might otherwise be perceived negatively.

    In summary, dementia encompasses a wide array of symptoms with a wide array of causes, some preventable or reversible and others not. Whatever the case, it is important to see a doctor at the earliest signs of dementia so that symptoms can be treated and a plan for the future, if necessary, can be put in place.

  • Living with Epilepsy: Some Home Safety Tips

    Although medications and treatments can greatly reduce the symptoms of epilepsy, many people living with the condition are still at risk of having unpredictable seizures. Injuries can result when a person loses consciousness during a seizure and falls. Hot objects, water, and hard surfaces are all dangerous to those who could suddenly lose consciousness. Although a person can not control the safety of their environment all the time, it is possible to reduce the risk of injury during a seizure by taking safety precautions at home.

    There are a number of ways to improve safety in the kitchen for people with epilepsy. To prevent burns, oven mitts and rear burners of the stove should be used. If it is possible to choose, cook with an electric stove rather than one with an open flame. While cooking, turn the pan handles away from the body to reduce spilling in the case of a fall. The safest way to cook is to use the microwave. To prevent scalding burns from water in the case of lost consciousness, have the plumber install a device to prevent water getting too hot. When possible, use plastic containers and other shatterproof materials.

    Adjustments to the bathroom can also improve the safety of someone in danger of having a sudden seizure. Most importantly, do not have a lock on the door or do not use it so that someone can help in the case of lost consciousness. Use a ‘vacant/ occupied’ sign at home to ensure privacy instead of the lock. A shower is much more preferable to a bath because of the risk of drowning in standing water. If the shower is surrounded by glass, it should be shatterproof. It is best to have fixtures that are close to the wall or covered with soft material to reduce risk of injury if one falls. Even safer is to shower while sitting. As with the water in the kitchen, the bathroom plumping should be fixed so that it does not reach scalding temperatures.

    A feature that should be taken care of throughout the house is securing cords and wires to reduce the possibility of appliances and objects being knocked over. If heating elements are exposed around the house, try to find a method of safely covering them or moving them out of reach. To reduce the impact of a fall, consider having softer flooring throughout the home. Cushioned vinyl, linoleum, cork, and rubber provide softer landings. Carpets are also a soft option, especially those with a high wool content. Synthetic fibers are more likely to cause friction burns.

    A safety precaution that should be taken everywhere is wearing medical ID jewelry, such as a medical ID bracelet, medical id charm or medical ID necklace, that indicates the condition of epilepsy along with medications and other emergency information. Taking all of these precautions will improve safety for someone living with epilepsy.

  • Chilly Summer Drinks for People Living with Diabetes

    The summer is upon us and it’s time to rejoice in deliciously refreshing cold fruit shakes and iced teas. However, if you have diabetes, you know how careful you must be in choosing what to eat and drink, especially those items containing sugar. You may also know that the many tantalizing summer refreshments sold at fast food restaurants are diabetes no-nos. For example, a TCBY Banana Berry Blast Off has 113 grams of carbohydrates, 110 of which are from sugar. This is not to single out this particular chain. The majority of fast food beverage options are comparably high in carbs.)

    The three yummy summer beverage recipes below--all from Mayo Clinic dietitians--are a great alternative to the sugary take-out options. These drinks are much lower in calories and carbs and have higher nutritional value.

    The amount of carbs in these recipes are 36 grams for the strawberry banana milkshake, only 7 for the blackberry iced tea, and 16 grams for the ‘island chiller.’ Try them out!

    Strawberry Banana Milkshake

    (Serves 2)


    • 6 frozen strawberries, chopped you can substitute 1 cup of sliced fresh peaches in place of the strawberries for an equally tasty treat.
    • 1 medium banana
    • 1/2 cup soy milk
    • 1 cup fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt
    • 2 fresh strawberries, sliced


      1. In a blender, combine the frozen strawberries, banana, soy milk and frozen yogurt. Blend until smooth.
      2. Pour into tall, frosty glasses and garnish each with fresh strawberry slices. Serve immediately.

      Nutritional Analysis:

      (per serving)

      Calories175Cholesterol1 mg
      Protein7 gSodium61 mg
      Carbohydrate36 gFiber3 g
      Total fat2 gPotassium545 mg
      Saturated fattraceCalcium151 mg
      Monounsaturated fat1 g

      Blackberry Iced Tea with Cinnamon and Ginger

      (Serves 6)


      • 6 cups water
      • 12 blackberry herbal tea bags
      • 8 3-inch-long cinnamon sticks
      • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
      • 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
      • Sugar substitute, to taste
      • Ice cubes, crushed


      1. In a large saucepan, heat water to just before boiling. Add tea bags, 2 of the cinnamon sticks and ginger. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for about 15 minutes.
      2. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, placed over a pitcher. Add the juice and sweetener to taste. Refrigerate until very cold.
      3. To serve, fill 6 tall, chilled glasses with crushed ice. Pour the tea over the top of the ice and garnish with cinnamon sticks. Serve immediately.

      Nutritional Analysis:

      (per serving)

      Calories30Monounsaturated fat0 g
      Protein0 gCholesterol0 mg
      Carbohydrate7 gSodium0 mg
      Total fat0 gFiber0 g
      Saturated fat0 g

      ‘Island Chiller’

      (Serves 16)


      • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen unsweetened strawberries
      • 1 can (30 ounces) crushed pineapple with juice
      • 3 cups orange juice
      • 2 quarts carbonated water, chilled
      • 16 fresh strawberries


      1. In a blender, combine the frozen strawberries, pineapple with juice and orange juice. Blend until smooth and frothy.
      2. Pour the strawberry mixture into ice cube trays and freeze.
      3. To serve, put 3 strawberry cubes into a tall glass and fill with 1/2 cup of the carbonated water. Wait until the mixture becomes slushy. Garnish with a strawberry and serve.

      Nutritional Analysis:

      (per serving)

      Calories68Cholesterol0 mg
      Protein1 gSodium6 mg
      Carbohydrate16 gFiber1 g
      Total fat0 gPotassium103 mg
      Saturated fat0 gCalcium6 mg
      Monounsaturated fat0 g

      These drinks are a much safer option for those with diabetes than those sold in fast food restaurants. However, no matter how careful a diabetic is about their diet, it is always imperative to take all medical precautions: follow all of your doctors directions for keeping track of your blood sugar and wear a medical ID bracelet or medical ID necklace in case of an emergency.

      Enjoy the chilly drinks!

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