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Health Capsules: Aug. 7

By: Lisa Russell


Vaccinations shouldn’t end in childhood

National Immunization Awareness Month shines a spotlight on vaccines and their role in maintaining good health for adults as well as kids.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month – and just because you’re long past the childhood immunization schedule doesn’t mean that you no longer need vaccines to guard your health.

Depending on your age when you were first immunized, protection against some diseases can wear off as you get older. New vaccines also have been added over the years, especially for older adults to protect against diseases such as shingles and pneumonia.

It’s also important for women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, to make sure their immunizations are up to date.

The specific vaccines you should have as an adult are dependent on your age, health conditions, lifestyle, and plans for international travel. Following is a general list of immunizations adults should discuss with their doctors:

• Yearly seasonal influenza [flu]

• Tdap: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis [whooping cough], for those who have not previously been vaccinated, pregnant women, and those providing care for infants including parents, grandparents and babysitters

• Shingles for healthy adults over age 50

• Pneumococcal [pneumonia] for adults age 65 and older, or others with health conditions that put them at risk

• Hepatitis A and/or Hepatitis B, for adults with diabetes or who are planning to travel internationally to countries where these diseases are common.

Planning for emergencies should include pets, too

As important members of the family, pets should be included in planning for natural disasters and other unforeseen emergencies.

Most people think of their pets as family. But they may not think about what would happen to those canine and feline family members if an emergency – such as a fire, flood, tornado or earthquake – should strike with little or no warning.

In such situations, when panic often prevails, pet owners often face difficult decisions about how to keep them safe. As part of its Healthy Pets, Healthy People program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a few basic tips to help make these decisions easier when seconds count.

1. Have your pet microchipped. Ask your veterinarian to implant a microchip containing your contact information, which can be easily scanned if you and your pet become separated. During a disaster, finding a lost pet that hasn’t been microchipped can be extremely difficult or even impossible. Once the chip is implanted, keep the registration information up to date.

2. Prepare a pet disaster kit containing food, leashes, bedding and any necessary medications. Although this means purchasing extra supplies, it will be easier to gather your pet’s items if you have them all together and ready for an emergency. Include copies of your pet’s veterinary records, rabies vaccination certificates, microchip information, and any prescriptions.

3. Prearrange where your pet will stay in an emergency. Pets other than service animals are often not allowed in evacuation centers, so ask out-of-town friends or relatives ahead of time about keeping your pet in an emergency. In the event that you’re not home when disaster strikes, establish a “buddy system” with friends and neighbors you can call to check on your pets and evacuate them if necessary.

4. Include pets in family plans. When discussing your family’s emergency plans, make sure everyone knows who will grab the pet(s), supplies, and where you will meet during an evacuation. For sheltering in place, pick a room with few or no windows, no toxic chemicals or plants, and make sure to close off small areas where frightened pets could get stuck.

Parents admit their role in teens’ ‘failure to launch’

A new University of Michigan poll that questioned parents of teens about those teens’ readiness for adulthood found that many are not ready – and their parents are taking the blame for this “failure to launch.”

Nearly all parents who participated in the survey – a nationally representative sample whose kids are between the ages of 14 and 18 – said they are helping their teens become more independent by allowing them to make more choices, pushing them to handle things themselves, and no longer doing things for them.

However, a quarter of parents surveyed also said they are the main barrier to their teen’s independence because they don’t take the time or effort needed to give their teen more adult responsibilities. They said it’s often quicker and less hassle to do things themselves, or they don’t think about specific ways to give teens more responsibility.

Parents gave their teens – and themselves – the lowest ratings on the subject of teens assuming responsibility for their own healthcare. Many parents felt that it remained their job to ensure that their teens received appropriate care, followed medical advice and took medicines on schedule.

“The process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood includes everything from preparing for work and financial responsibility, to taking care of one’s health and well-being. Our poll suggests that parents aren’t letting go of the reins as often as they could be to help teens successfully make that transition,” said Sarah Clark, an associate research scientist and the poll’s co-director.

“We did not ask about life-or-death health care matters. But we did ask parents whether their teens could independently handle very basic tasks, such as taking care of minor injuries, figuring out the correct dose of a medication or calling to make a doctor’s appointment,” Clark explained.

She said that it’s crucial for teens to begin taking ownership of their health before they enter adulthood, when they will face more complex tasks.

Although nearly all the parents surveyed expressed the belief that it is important for teens to make mistakes, they also felt it was their role to prevent teens from making mistakes that are too serious, expressing a reluctance to let go of certain decisions where negative consequences could result.

“It is clear that parents recognize tension in helping teens move toward independence, and they agree that valuable learning experiences often result from a poor decision,” Clark said.

“Some parents justify taking control over certain responsibilities because they don’t believe their teen is ‘mature enough.’ But this type of logic inhibits their teen from actually becoming more mature.”

On the calendar

BJC of St. Charles County offers free Know Your Numbers Health Screenings for adults on Friday, Aug. 9 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Suite 117 of Medical Office Building 1. Tests include fasting glucose, lung function, blood pressure and BMI screenings. Participants should fast for at least 10 hours prior to screening if a glucose test is desired. To register, call (636) 928-9355 for an appointment.

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A free class for caregivers, Setting Boundaries, is offered on Thursday, Aug. 15 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Room 108A of Medical Office Building 1. This class, part of a monthly caregiver series, is best for friends and family members caring for someone who is developmentally disabled; however, topics are relevant for anyone caring for someone with a chronic condition. For more information or to register, call (636) 928-9355.

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An American Red Cross Community Blood Drive is on Monday, Aug. 19 from 2-7 p.m. at the Cottleville Fire Protection District, 1385 Motherhead Road in St. Charles. Appointments are not required, but may speed the donation process. Sign up online at redcrossblood.org or by phone at (800) 733-2767.

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Dierbergs Markets hosts Learn to Shop for a Healthier You on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 10-11:30 a.m. at Dierbergs Bogey Hills, 2021 Zumbehl Road in St. Charles. Join a St. Luke’s Hospital dietitian for a store tour that will focus on how to make better choices, read labels and plan meals. Tour will meet at the store’s School of Cooking. The cost is $5, but all participants will receive a $5 Dierbergs gift card at the end of the tour. To register, visit Dierbergs.com or call (314) 238-0440.

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BJC St. Louis Children’s Hospital sponsors a Family and Friends CPR course on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B. This class is designed for parents, grandparents, babysitters [ages 10-15 if accompanied by an adult] and childcare providers. It is taught by a registered nurse who uses the American Heart Association curriculum, which includes hands-on skills practice and a 65-page student manual. The class does not include certification. The course fee is $25 per person. To register, call (636) 344-5437.

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BJC Progress West Hospital sponsors a free Teddy Bear Clinic for children on Saturday, Aug. 24 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in the cafeteria. Bring your favorite teddy bear or stuffed friend for a “check-up”; the event will include a tour of the hospital, story time and coloring activity. The event is open to all ages, but recommended for ages 2-5. No advance registration is required.

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BJC of St. Charles County sponsors a special “Evening with the Experts” presentation, Lung Health: Advances in Screening and Treatment Technology, on Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 6:45-8 p.m. at Siteman Cancer Center, 150 Entrance Way in St. Peters. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women; however, early detection increases the survival rate. Join us as our experts highlight the latest in screening recommendations and new technology that can diagnose early forms of lung cancer, well before symptoms appear. Learn about the latest treatment options and the importance of proper lung care. A massage wellness bonus is included. Attendance is free. Advance registration is preferred and is available online at bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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