Senior Scoop Spring 2013


Senior Scoop Spring 2013
a biannual ne wslet ter for summ Ac are secure members
S P RIN G 2 013
Is That Sticker Sticking?
Make sure you can read prescription
drug-warning labels.
Half of adults older than age 50 failed to
notice prescription drug-warning labels,
no matter the color, according to a study
in the journal PLos One. As a result, they
were also much less likely to recall the
warning labels, compared with study
subjects ages 20 to 29. This can lead to
harmful interactions and unsafe drug
usage—a particular concern among seniors,
who often take multiple prescriptions on a
regular basis. If you have difficulty reading
warning labels, use a magnifying glass to
help, or ask your pharmacist to print the
warnings in large type on a sheet of paper.
Treat Your Seasonal
Hay Fever
Page 4
Colorectal Cancer
Screening Options
Page 5
Connecting Depression
& Parkinson's Disease
Page 7
H3660_13_150 CMS ACCEPTED 03252013
Dear SummaCare
Secure Members
Senior Scoop is a
biannual publication
of SummaCare, Inc. We
welcome your ideas and
suggestions for future
issues. Please contact our
Marketing Department
at 330-996-8705
or 800-509-2147.
We know you’re wondering if Medicare will be affected by the
Healthcare Reform Act. Please understand that health reform
does not change any benefits guaranteed under Medicare.
If you haven’t already, you will be hearing about
the health insurance “exchange” or health insurance
“marketplace” in the media. Please understand that as
a Medicare beneficiary, you do not have to do anything.
You do not need to worry about the “exchange” or
“marketplace.” No action is necessary on your part. You
can relax, as they do not apply to Medicare or Medicare
Advantage plans.
If you have any concerns, we hope you'll call SummaCare
Secure Customer Service at 330-996-8885 or toll-free at
Martin P. Hauser,
Anne Armao,
VP of Marketing and
Product Development
Janet McGregor, Editor,
Communication Manager
Jim Loveless
VP, SummaCare Medicare and Individual Product Lines
Michelle Winchell,
Sr. Communication
Portion of U.S.
population that tests
positive to one or
more allergens
Aspirin Risk
A daily low-dose aspirin
can help prevent a stroke
or heart attack. But it can
also increase the chance of
gastrointestinal or cerebral
bleeding by more than 50
percent. People whose 10year risk of cardiovascular
events is between 10 and
20 percent have the same
potential for major bleeds
as they do cardiovascular
events. Talk to your doctor
about how aspirin might
affect you.
Rank of allergies
among adult chronic
diseases in the U.S.
Allergy Facts
and Figures
25 million
U.S. children and
adults who have had
hay fever in the
past 12 months
Rank of allergies among
childhood chronic
diseases in the U.S.
Smoking in Cars Destroys Air Quality Standards
Smoking cigarettes inside cars creates
dangerous levels of harmful particles
in the air, even when windows
are opened or the air conditioning
is used. According to British
researchers, the fine particulate
matter created by cigarette smoke
in cars exceeds the World Health
Organization’s safe indoor air quality
seniorscoop l spring 2013
limits and will adversely affect
the health of any child passenger.
Secondhand smoke has been
associated with asthma, wheezing,
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
and ear infections in children.
The scientists measured the
particulate levels in passenger cars by
placing monitors in rear seats at the
height of a child’s head and asking
smoking and nonsmoking volunteers
to drive as they normally would.
They found that particulate levels
were 10 times higher during smoking
journeys than nonsmoking journeys,
and the levels strongly correlated
with the number of cigarettes
smoked per minute.
Working Outdoors?
Protect Your Back and Knees!
Place your foot on the shovel,
and use your weight to push it
into the ground, while keeping
your spine long and straight.
When emptying dirt from the
shovel, move your whole body
with the shovel, and turn the
handle to empty it.
Help Your
you to stay
by participating in
leisure-time activities
of moderate intensity—
such as brisk walking,
cycling or doing
housework. Older adults
who regularly engage in
leisure-time activities
for more than a decade
had lower levels of
inflammation, and as
a result decreased their
risk of heart disease.
Using a wheelbarrow
Bend your knees when holding
the handles. When you’re ready
to empty the wheelbarrow,
switch your grip to an underhand
grip so you are pushing up the
wheelbarrow instead of lifting
it up. Using your leg muscles
protects your back.
Sit on a bucket or stool
and plant your feet in a
wide stance. Use longarmed tools and brace
your elbow on the inside
of your knee for extra
stability and support.
A Toast to Stronger Bones
Moderate alcohol intake appears to slow bone loss
in postmenopausal women, according to a small
study published last September in the journal
Menopause. Researchers found that the rate of
bone loss among women who did not drink alcohol for two weeks increased significantly. But
once the women started drinking alcohol in moderate amounts—defined as one or two
drinks daily several times a week—
the rate of bone loss slowed within a
day. Scientists theorize that alcohol
behaves like the hormone estrogen
in the female body. Estrogen production decreases during menopause, and this is one factor
causing osteoporosis, or thin,
brittle bones. Roughly 80
percent of people who have
osteoporosis are women.
How to Talk to
Your Doctor
About Urinary
About 25 million
adults in the U.S.
experience incontinence,
according to the
National Association for
Continence. You may
be too embarrassed to
tell your doctor you’re
having accidents, or
you may believe it’s a
normal part of aging.
But incontinence is not
inevitable with age,
and it can be treated,
usually through simple
behavioral changes or
medication. To broach
the topic with your
doctor, say that you go to
the bathroom too often
or that you have bladder
problems. Keep a log
of when you urinated,
whether it was a lot or
a little, when you had
accidents and what you
were doing at the time.
Noting when and what
you eat and drink will
also help diagnose the
cause of leakage, which
could range from weak
pelvic floor muscles to
health conditions such as
diabetes or Parkinson’s
disease. Don’t let fear
affect your lifestyle or
cause your doctor to miss
a diagnosis.
spring 2013 l seniorscoop
What Is Hay Fever?
The culprit behind springtime sneezing, itchy eyes and runny noses.
Timing the
Arrival of
Allergy Season
» Last year, a Gallup-
Healthways report showed
that the number of people
reporting allergies in March
was comparable to the
number reporting allergies
in April and May of previous
years. Allergy season in 2012
was not only stronger, but
also it started earlier. The
warm winter kicked off an
earlier growing season for
weed, tree and grass pollen,
and the milder weather
brought more people
outdoors, where they were
exposed to the pollen.
To fight seasonal allergies,
limit your exposure to
allergens. Keep windows
and doors closed, especially
during the day. Pollen
levels are highest from
roughly 5 to 10 a.m. and
at dusk, so reduce your
outdoor activities during
those periods. Dry, warm
and windy days signal high
pollen levels (heavy rains
can temporarily wash pollen
away). Check weather reports
for local pollen counts and
plan accordingly. After time
outdoors, take a shower and
wash your hair; don’t forget
that cats and dogs can carry
pollen in their fur. Talk to
your doctor for more advice.
seniorscoop l spring 2013
espite its name, hay fever does
not mean people who have it
become feverish from hay. Hay
fever occurs when cold-like symptoms
are triggered by airborne allergens. Hay
fever is also known as allergic rhinitis,
but to most people, hay fever refers
to plant and fungal allergens, while
allergic rhinitis also includes allergies
to pet dander, mold, and dust.
Signs of hay fever include runny nose,
sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes and
sinus pressure. You may also have a
postnasal drip and difficulty sleeping
because of congestion. Common hay
fever triggers are pollens from trees,
grasses and weeds.
Trees, grasses, and weeds typically
pollinate starting in the spring into
the fall, depending on where you live.
Three-quarters of people with hay fever
have an allergy to ragweed, according
to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation
of America. A single ragweed plant can
release 1 billion pollen grains that the
wind can carry for miles.
Treating hay fever involves managing
the symptoms. Over-the-counter
antihistamines in the form of pills or
nasal sprays can help. Antihistamine
eye drops reduce eye itchiness and
irritation. Corticosteroid nasal sprays
decrease inflammation and itching
in the nose, reducing congestion.
Decongestants may help, but they
are not recommended for people
with high blood pressure or for use
for more than two or three days. One
drug-free treatment is nasal irrigation,
using a sterile saline solution to
rinse your nasal passages of mucus
and allergens. For the most severe
cases, allergy shots that build up your
immunity to specific allergens may be
an option. Talk to your doctor about
how best to manage your hay fever.
Allergy Risks By Region
Pacific Northwest
and California
February through June:
Tree pollen from alder,
birch, oak and walnut.
May through June:
Grass pollen.
February through April:
Tree pollen from ash,
cedar and oak. Late
summer through the first
freeze: Ragweed pollen.
March to June: Tree
pollen from alder,
birch, elm, hickory
and oak. Late summer
through the first freeze:
Ragweed pollen. Fall:
Weed pollen.
February through June: Tree
pollen from elm, maple,
poplar and red cedar. May
through June: Grass pollen.
Late summer through the
first freeze: Ragweed pollen.
Year-round: Grass pollen. February
through May: Tree pollen from birch,
cedar, hickory, oak and pecan. Late
summer through the first freeze:
Weed pollen (mainly ragweed).
Are You at Risk
for Colorectal
» Although the exact
The Different Methods of
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Early detection just may save your life.
olorectal cancer almost
always develops when polyps
(small, abnormal growths)
in the colon or rectum become
cancerous. Regular screening tests
that detect and remove polyps
can help prevent it, and they also
detect cancer early, when treatment
is most effective. For most people,
testing should begin at age 50.
There are several screening tests
available. A recent study in the Archives
of Internal Medicine found that when
patients at moderate risk for colorectal
cancer were offered a choice of
screening methods, they were nearly
twice as likely to get tested.
The fecal occult blood test is the least
invasive screening. It checks for the
presence of blood in a stool sample.
Although this procedure can leave
polyps undetected, research has found
that the number of colorectal cancer
deaths can be reduced by as much as
a third when people ages 50 to 80 get
this test every one to two years.
A sigmoidoscopy uses a flexible,
lighted tube camera to examine the
rectum and lower colon, which must
be thoroughly emptied before the
screening. Any polyps that are found
can be removed or biopsied.
During a colonoscopy, the entire colon
and rectum are examined using a lighted
camera instrument. Abnormal growths
can be removed or biopsied. The colon is
emptied beforehand, and some sedation
is typically necessary. A colonoscopy can
detect polyps in the upper colon that a
sigmoidoscopy cannot.
A virtual colonoscopy may be covered
when medically necessary. This is a
special X-ray to take images of the fully
emptied colon and rectum. It is less
invasive than a fiber optic colonoscopy
and does not require sedation, but
lesions cannot be biopsied or removed
during the procedure.
Each type of test has advantages and
disadvantages, and in some cases you
may need more than screening. Review
options with your doctor.
causes of colorectal cancer
are unknown, researchers
have identified several risk
factors that may increase
your chances of getting
the cancer.
Roughly 90 percent of
people diagnosed with
colorectal cancer are age
50 or older. If you have had
polyps or colorectal cancer
before, your risk increases.
Close relatives who have had
colorectal cancer mean you
are more likely to develop
it yourself—the more family
members who have had it,
the greater your chances.
Chronic conditions that
cause inflammation in the
colon or small intestine
are linked to colorectal
cancer. Certain inherited
syndromes predispose you
to develop polyps that can
become cancerous.
Other traits linked to
colorectal cancer are
eating a low-fiber, highfat diet; being sedentary;
being overweight; having
diabetes; smoking; or
drinking alcohol heavily.
Since some of these are
lifestyle issues, you can
work with your doctor to
boost healthy habits and
reduce your cancer risk.
spring 2013 l seniorscoop
Spend a Lot of Time With Your Grandkids?
Keep Your Pets Around!
llergies and asthma affect
one in five children in the
U.S. Recent studies have
found that babies who spend time
with pets are more likely to resist
developing allergies and asthma
compared with those who do not.
This is encouraging for new parents
and grandparents who keep pets,
especially dogs, in the house.
Allergies occur when the body
mistakenly believes a foreign
substance that is normally
innocuous—such as a peanut or
pollen—is going to harm the body
In reaction, the body releases
antibodies to fight the invader, and
the body becomes sensitized to the
allergen. The next time the substance
is encountered, the antibodies sense it
and set off a chemical chain reaction,
including releasing the chemical
histamine. Histamine causes coldlike symptoms and, more seriously,
anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.
Exposure to the dirt and bacteria
that pets introduce seems to help
strengthen an infant’s immune
system and treat allergens as
harmless. A Michigan study found
that children who grew up with cats
or dogs were half as likely to develop
allergies to these animals by the time
they were 18. However, the benefit
occurred only if the pet was present
during the child’s first year of life.
Finnish researchers determined
that children were sick less often in
households where dogs spent the
most time outdoors—and presumably
picking up more bacteria—versus
households where pets stayed mostly
indoors. The children with outdoor
pets had fewer ear infections and
respiratory ailments.
Create an Asthma Action Plan
» Each year more than 3,000
people die from asthma-related
causes. An asthma action
plan, written and developed
with your doctor, can help you
manage and treat your asthma—
and may even save your life.
In asthma, a trigger causes the
airways to your lungs to narrow,
seniorscoop l spring 2013
blocking airflow and making it
hard to breathe. You may cough
and feel short of breath.
Your action plan details your
daily treatment, including
which kinds of medications to
take and when to take them.
Controller medications treat the
inflammation that can narrow
your airways, and they are taken
daily. Bronchodilators are rescue
medications that immediately
relax the airways so you can
breathe. They are quick-acting
drugs for use during an attack.
Make an appointment with
your doctor, and together you can
devise an asthma action plan.
Depression and Parkinson's Disease
» For people with Parkinson’s, depression can be a bigger challenge than the
disease’s physical limitations. According to the National Parkinson Foundation,
depression is nearly twice as likely to affect the health of Parkinson’s patients than
mobility problems. But other Parkinson’s symptoms such as fatigue, stiffness and
difficulty talking can hide the depression, which may occur as a result of brain
changes from Parkinson’s. If you feel depressed, talk to your doctor to get help.
Depression can be treated through a combination of medication and therapy.
Uncontrolled Hypertension
Is Pervasive in Adults
High blood pressure (hypertension) affects
67 million people in the U.S. More than half
do not have it under control, and of these
people, nearly a third aren’t even aware
they have it, says the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. People with high
blood pressure quadruple their likelihood
of dying from stroke and triple their risk of
dying from heart disease. Nearly a quarter
of people with hypertension do not take
prescribed drugs consistently. If you are
diagnosed, visit your doctor regularly, follow
a treatment plan, and maintain a healthy
weight and lifestyle.
Have Trouble Reading Fine Print?
» Researchers have discovered for
the first time that people ages 65
and older read words differently than
people between the ages of 18 and 30.
According to a British study published
in Psychology and Aging last October,
older adults found sharply defined
text harder to read than blurry text.
This was the opposite experience of
the younger adults in the study. While
both groups comprehended the words
equally well, the results support the
theory that older adults rely on holistic
cues, such as word shape, to read.
This helps compensate for the loss in
fine visual acuity that comes with age,
even in people with normal vision. The
decline in visual sensitivity is caused
by changes in the eye and in neural
transmission, according to the study.
Be sure to visit your eye doctor every
year or two to check your vision and
eye health. Eye diseases like glaucoma
have few or no symptoms and can lead
to blindness,
but are easily
treated after
We Serve 23
Ohio Counties
» If you have friends or
relatives who are turning 65
this year and live in one of
the following Ohio counties,
let them know we can
provide them with a
Medicare Advantage plan:
- Allen
- Ashland
- Ashtabula
- Carroll
- Columbiana
- Cuyahoga
- Defiance
- Erie
- Geauga
- Huron
- Lake
- Lucas
- Lorain
- Mahoning
- Medina
- Portage
- Sandusky
- Seneca
- Stark
- Summit
- Trumbull
- Tuscarawas
- Wayne
We contract with
thousands of providers in
these counties. Please direct
them to www.medicare, where
they can check our lists of
doctors and hospitals that
are in our plan, as well as
look up their drugs in our
Medicare formulary.
spring 2013 l seniorscoop
P.O. Box 3620
Akron, Ohio 44309-3620
Visit us online at
Let’s Hear It for Legumes
A low glycemic index diet helps to regulate blood sugar.
Eating legumes such as beans,
chickpeas, or lentils can help
reduce the risk of heart disease in
people with diabetes, according to
the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Canadian researchers found
that people with diabetes who
consumed one cup of legumes
(about 190 grams) daily, as part of a
low glycemic index (GI) diet, better
managed their glycemic levels
and lowered their blood pressure,
leading to an overall drop in the
risk of heart disease.
The glycemic index measures
the amount of carbohydrates in
foods. Compared with high GI foods,
low GI foods contain fewer simple
sugars and more nutrients, complex
carbohydrates and fiber. The body
takes longer to break down low GI
foods, so you feel fuller longer and
are less likely to overeat. High GI foods
tend to contain more simple sugars
and starches, and less fiber and
protein. As a result, they can cause a
rapid rise in blood sugar levels.
Following a low GI diet helps
people with diabetes regulate
their blood sugar. Other examples
of legumes are alfalfa, edamame
(soybeans), peanuts and peas.
Edamame and Bean Salad
Serves 8
⁄4 pound wax beans
2 cups shelled edamame
2 green (spring) onions
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1⁄ 2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions Trim the wax beans, and
cut crosswise into thirds. In a large pot
fitted with a steamer basket, bring 1
inch water to a boil. Add the wax beans
and edamame, cover and steam until
both are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.
Drain, rinse with cold water and drain
again. Trim the green onions, then thinly
slice on the diagonal, including the tops.
In a large bowl, combine the steamed
edamame and wax beans, green onions,
tomatoes and basil. Toss to mix evenly. In
a small bowl, combine the vinegar, lime
juice, honey and mustard. Whisk in the
olive oil. Add to the vegetables and toss
to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Per serving Calories 130; Sodium 196mg;
Total fat 5g; Total carbohydrate 12g;
Saturated fat 1g; Dietary fiber 4g;
Monounsaturated fat 2g; Protein 9g;
Cholesterol 0mg Published by McMurry/TMG, LLC © 2013. All rights reserved. No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. The
information in this publication is intended to complement—not take the place of—the recommendations of your health care provider. Consult your physician before making major changes in your
lifestyle or health care regimen. McMurry/TMG makes no endorsements or warranties regarding any of the products and services included in this publication or its articles.