Senior woman applying sunscreen for UV safety

Best UV Safety for Seniors: Keep it Simple with These Tips

July is UV Safety Month 

Enjoying the warm weather is one of the delights of summer. However, it is important to practice Ultraviolet (UV) light safety. For seniors and others, this means limiting your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, which can cause skin damage and lead to skin cancer.  Around 90% of the signs of skin aging are caused by the sun. Those who have accumulated the most exposure to UV rays over the years are – you guessed it – seniors.

July is UV Safety Month. Using better UV protection can protect your skin from harm. And there are even ways to reverse some damage. Use these simple tips:

UV Safety for Seniors – Go By the Clock

UV protection is most important between 10 am and 4 pm because the sun’s harmful rays are the strongest between these hours. Aim for early morning or evening if you can plan your time outside.  If you must be outside mid-day, try to stay in the shade.

The Best UV Safe Sunscreen for Seniors

Not all sunscreen is equal for UV protection. Choose one that has an SPF of 30 or higher. UVA and UVB sun rays both damage skin cells. Read the label to make sure your sunscreen has “broad spectrum” or “UVA and UVB” printed on the bottle.

Using SPF Correctly

Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure for it to work best. Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours and after you sweat or swim. People with fair skin, especially those with light-colored eyes and hair, accumulate sun damage more easily and should use UV protection carefully. You can take a quick quiz to find your skin type here.

Reverse Years of Damage

Even if you have had many sunburns or avoided using sunscreen over the years, you can reverse the damage using new technology. Creams or gels with retinoids can help to remove precancerous lesions. Ask your doctor about these topical medications.

Beyond Sunscreen

You have options for protection in addition to sunscreen. Some clothing is designed to protect your skin from the sun. A long-sleeved shirt, long pants, sunglasses that filter UV rays, and a hat with a wide brim can offer protection. Remember also to protect yourself from heat stress during the summer months.         

Skin Changes with Age – Lifestyle Matters

Our skin thins as we age. This can weaken the skin’s defenses to UV light. Proper sun protection for seniors, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and pollution can help prevent skin diseases. 

Watch for Skin Changes

Be aware of any suspicious growths on your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a self-examination once a month. You can find out how to do one here. Visit your dermatologist once a year to check for skin cancer. Bring questions about anything you have noticed that has changed size, is new, or has an irregular border. Also, if you have a growth that causes crusting, irritation, or bleeding, tell your doctor right away.

Remember: skin cancer is among the most treatable cancers. So do your best to catch it early. Enjoy the sunshine safely this summer.

senior woman checking blood sugar level by Digital Glucose

How Controlling Blood Sugar Levels Helps Diabetes Patients

If you’re living with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is important. Many factors can help you manage this. The most effective things you can do to stabilize your blood sugar levels include eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly. 

The Basics of Diabetes 

Millions of Americans live with diabetes, a disease in which your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t effectively use it. As a result, your body can’t convert food into energy.  Insulin carries glucose (sugar) into cells for energy. Symptoms of diabetes may include fatigue, blurred vision, heartburn, and frequent urination. If left untreated, diabetes increases the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke. 

Diabetic Challenges: Managing and Controlling Blood Sugar  

Managing diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels can be a difficult and lifelong process. To begin with, you need to monitor your insulin level regularly to see how you respond to food and activity. Stabilizing blood sugar levels can provide relief from many diabetes symptoms. High and low glucose levels can cause a range of health problems, such as:  

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) 
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) 
  • Gastroparesis (digestive problems) 
  • Heart disease 
  • Blindness 

Effectively managing diabetes can help reduce your risk of developing these medical conditions. Additionally, by taking action now, you can help maintain your quality of life regardless of diabetes.  

Taking Action: Controlling Blood Sugar Levels with Diet 

There are many natural methods for controlling blood sugar levels, including managing carbohydrate intake and exercising regularly.  

Many people have difficulty stabilizing their blood sugar because they overeat, consume processed food, or enjoy too many sugary snacks. These foods cause blood sugar to spike, then drop again, leaving a person tired and irritable after eating them. 

Blood sugar that is too high or too low can make diabetes symptoms worse. By stabilizing blood sugar, people with diabetes can find relief from pain and discomfort, often without medications. 

To help manage blood sugar, eat whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead of processed snacks with little nutritional value. Beans, lentils, and oats can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. Also, these foods are excellent sources of fiber, which can help you feel full for longer after a meal. 

How Exercise Can Help 

It’s important to exercise regularly. Even small amounts, such as ten minutes of activity three times a day, can help control your blood sugar levels. Resistance exercises such as strength training with resistance bands, yoga, or lightweight dumbbells help build muscle and control glucose levels. Talk to your doctor to ensure you can safely exercise and see which activities fit your lifestyle. 

Supporting the dietary health of seniors is just one way that WelbeHealth helps older adults and their families. Visit our FAQ page or contact us for further information. 

senior drinking alcohol sadly

Alcohol Awareness: Know the Symptoms of Addiction, Take Action

Know the Symptoms of Addiction, Take Action 

We often raise a glass to remember someone who’s passed, celebrate a special occasion, and relax after a workday. With the prevalence of alcohol use, it may be tough to spot alcohol addiction in a loved one––or even yourself. Having a general alcohol awareness can encourage you to recognize the symptoms of alcohol addiction.  

Why is Alcohol Awareness Important? 

Alcohol is the most used substance in the U.S. and is the third-leading preventable cause of death. Annually, an estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes. 

Alcohol use is widespread in our country and impacts our lives in different ways. All Americans need to know the signs and symptoms of alcoholism to possibly save the life of a loved one who may be addicted to alcohol.  

Prevention is just as important as treatment. Speaking with your children and grandchildren about alcohol awareness and the dangers of underage drinking and binge drinking is important. You can play a critical role in informing young family members about the harmful impact drugs and alcohol can have on their lives. 

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse? 

Alcohol is a legal drug in the U.S., but it still carries a significant risk of addiction. According to the American Addiction Centers, signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include, 

  • Poor coordination 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Impaired thinking 
  • Memory impairment 
  • Wanting to stop drinking but not managing to do so 
  • Diverting energy from work, family, and social life to drink 
  • Being secretive about the extent of the alcohol abuse to protect it 
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as drunk driving 
  • Being in denial about the extent of the alcohol abuse problem 
  • Becoming distressed at the prospect of not having access to alcohol 

How Alcohol Use Disorder Impacts Your Life 

If a loved one is unable to control their alcohol use, they may be suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). People with a history of childhood trauma, drinking at an early age, and a family history of alcohol abuse are at a higher risk for alcohol use disorder. 

Physical Impact 

Abusing alcohol can significantly increase your risk for chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and high blood pressure. Heavy drinking also takes its toll on vital organs such as the liver and the pancreas. 

Individuals with severe AUD often disregard their nutritional needs, frequently skipping meals. They may develop a nutritional deficiency, causing changes in the skin, hair, nails, and eyes. 

Social Impact 

As alcohol addiction consumes a loved one, they may withdraw from friends and family. Relationships can become strained and distant. Excessive drinking can also negatively impact your career. Alcohol abuse can cause you to miss work due to hangovers, lead to poor decision-making, and strain workplace relationships.

Emotional Impact 

Consuming alcohol produces chemical changes in our brain. We often feel more relaxed when we have a drink or two. But, some individuals with AUD report that they become angry, anxious, depressed, or abusive when they drink. There is also a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and suicidal thoughts

How to Get Help for Alcohol Abuse Disorder 

Many people with AUD don’t seek treatment because they don’t realize they have a problem or are embarrassed that they can’t control their alcohol consumption. Overcoming an addiction on your own is nearly impossible. It is crucial to enlist the support of family and friends. 

If you think you or a loved one may have a problem with alcohol, don’t be afraid to discuss treatment options with your doctor. You can also reach out to a resource below. 

Alcoholics Anonymous  

NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline 

Senior playing jenga

Love Your Brain: 5 Simple Ways to Support Brain Health  

As we get older, it is important to find ways to support brain health. About 1 in 9 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers expect that number to double by 2050. 

But, there is good news. You can support your brain health and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. Growing research has shown that lifestyle changes can significantly impact our brain health. 

Here are a few brain health tips you can put into practice! 

Exercise to Improve Blood Flow in Your Brain 

We all know exercise is good for our body, but it also benefits our noggin! Participate in regular exercise that raises your heart rate. This increases the blood flow in your body and your brain, helping you think more clearly. Several studies have shown that regular physical activity may decrease cognitive decline.  

Improve your brain health by adding some of these activities into your routine: 

  • Walking indoors or outdoors 
  • Swimming 
  • Aerobic exercise classes 
  • Dance 
  • Yoga 

Fuel Your Brain with Antioxidant-Rich Food 

There is no magic food or supplement that will prevent the onset of dementia. But, eating a balanced diet is just as good for your brain as it is for the rest of your body.  

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. That means limiting red meat and going easy on the dairy. You’ll also want to increase the amount of fruit, veggies, and fish in your diet.  

Next time you reach for a bite to eat, try some of these Mediterranean brain-healthy foods: 

  • Salmon and other seafood 
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Nuts 
  • Potatoes 
  • Fruit 
  • Leafy green vegetables 

Use Your Brain “Muscles” to Stay Sharp 

Staying mentally engaged keeps your brain sharp. Like the muscles in your body, it’s a “use it or lose it” scenario. Mental exercises can promote the growth of new brain cells, and this regular development of new cells may decrease your likelihood of developing dementia. 

Maintaining mental sharpness doesn’t require crosswords and jigsaw puzzles (though studies show those mind challenges can help). Even participating in stimulating conversation, picking up a new hobby, or playing a game of chess can benefit your brain health. 

Try activities that are: 

  • Creative – Pick up painting, quilting, photography, or drawing.
  • Challenging – Don’t just do what comes easy; try something that challenges you a little. 
  • Novel – Master a new language, skill, or concept that is unfamiliar to you.
  • Stimulating – Attend a lecture on an interesting topic or spend time discussing a book with a friend

Give Your Brain the Rest it Needs 

When talking about brain health, we don’t always touch on sleep. But, sleep is a crucial aspect in protecting your brain from cognitive decline.  

Beta-amyloid plaque is an abnormal protein that builds up in the brain of some people. The presence of this plaque is a known precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that a lack of sleep can increases the amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. It is important to get quality rest to support your brain health. 

If quality sleep is something you’re missing, try some of these things: 

  • Reduce daytime sleeping.
  • Speak with your doctor about adjusting medications that may be keeping you awake. 
  • Avoid looking at your phone, tablet, or computer before bed. 
  • Meditate prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime. 

Get Mental Health Support to Protect Your Brain 

Untreated depression later in life has been linked to cognitive impairment and dementia development. Seek care quickly if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or have other mental health concerns. Your primary care physician may prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms, refer you to a therapist, or both. 

Speaking with a trusted therapist benefits your overall well-being, including your brain health. Your therapist can help you process grief, develop healthy coping strategies, and give you tools to overcome your mental health concerns. 

Together in a time of need

Coming Together in a Time of Need

When Libby Renshaw, Home Health Registered Nurse at WelbeHealth, visited Jim at his West Hollywood apartment, she became very worried, very fast. It was his first day home after multiple seizures had led to a 17-day hospital stay, followed by a month in a skilled nursing facility. She knew coming together in his time of need was critical.

“As I sat with him, I saw that he had severe tremors in his arms and hands,” says Libby. “His muscles were weak from being bedridden, and I also noticed significant memory impairment.”  

All of this was making even simple activities extremely difficult. The hand tremors were especially concerning because they made it hard for him to eat, and he couldn’t administer the insulin he needed to treat his diabetes.  

Jim had a caregiver on site that day, thanks to the quick work of WelbeHealth’s Home Care Coordinator, Michael. In addition, Jim’s good friend Amir was there and said he could assist. But these were only temporary solutions.  

“Living alone at home seemed unrealistic,” Libby says. She gently told Jim that he might need to go back to the skilled nursing facility, and she could tell that he was devastated.  

“He desperately wanted to be at home,” she recalls. “After I left his apartment, I got on a conference call with the care team. We all agreed that we would do everything possible to keep him living at home.” 

After the call, each WelbeHealth team member got to work on their part of the plan. When Libby returned to the apartment the next day, she was amazed by what she saw.  

Physical Changes All-Around 

WelbeHealth team including a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and a dietitian. They came together during Jim's time of need.
Care Team Members

WelbeHealth Occupational Therapist, Christine Gaw, had set up many solutions to make daily tasks easier for Jim.  

That day, he received a new bed rail to get out of bed more easily, and a bedside commode to avoid walking to the bathroom at night. Christine also installed a toilet riser and a shower bench to make the bathroom safer and more usable.  

She brought in a chair cushion, both for comfort and to prevent pressure ulcers, and she arranged for a recliner chair to help Jim transition from sitting to standing.  

Christine had also hunted down adaptive shoelaces—a big deal because Jim kept mentioning that he could no longer tie his shoes. 

Fitness and Food  

The apartment was humming with other team members, as well. Pam, Jim’s assigned Physical Therapist, was teaching Jim and his friend Amir a home exercise and walking program.  

Claire, Jim’s Dietitian, talked to Amir about good food for Jim. She provided ideas and recipes that tracked Jim’s preferences and would also help him manage his chronic conditions.  

Claire and Amir also talked about monitoring blood glucose levels and keeping a log to share with the dietary and medical teams. Claire noted that, in addition to using insulin, Jim could help keep his diabetes in check through his diet. 

Managing Medication  

On the medical side, Jim’s Primary Care Provider Lauren, with help from Registered Nurse Case Manager Jennifer, simplified Jim’s diabetes medications. He went from five insulin injections per day to one.   

Lauren also started Jim on medication to help reduce the tremors. She also educated both Jim and Amir on the side effects of Jim’s new seizure medication and answered all their questions.  

One Request Makes a Big Change 

Even with all these improvements, Jim and the WelbeHealth team were still concerned about whether he could safely navigate through his home, prepare his meals, and remember to take his medication. He clearly needed regular and consistent home care.  

WelbeHealth could arrange for this, but then Amir offered an even better solution; he could move in and care for Jim. Everyone agreed this was a great idea, but there was one problem. Because Jim was in Section 8 housing, strict rules applied. He could have no extra occupants and was concerned about losing his apartment since he didn’t want to violate the rules. 

WelbeHealth Social Worker, Twyla, delivered a solution by requesting a ‘reasonable accommodation’ through Section 8. With this change, a caregiver would be allowed to live in the apartment with Jim. 

Ongoing Support  

Today, WelbeHealth’s Physical Therapist continues to visit and work on conditioning and balance. And the Home Care Coordinator arranges caregiving support to support Amir and Jim. Other team members are available to help whenever needed and answer questions. 

Libby saw Jim recently and was heartened to see he was doing well. “He looked so good, and he was practically walking independently,” she says.  

Ultimately, Libby says, the experience showed her that the people at WelbeHealth don’t hesitate to go above and beyond for their participants.  

“This really is the embodiment of our values,” she says. “It is Courage to Love, Pioneering Spirit, and Shared Intention—all coming together. We provided what this vulnerable senior needed to ‘unlock his full potential’ and live independently in his community. It is a beautiful sight to see.” 

Activities for seniors

Engaging Activities for Seniors of All Ability Levels

For many older adults, staying active is a priority. Keeping up with friends, exercising, and giving back to the community brings fulfillment and joy. WelbeHealth helps facilitate meaningful physical and mental activities for seniors of all abilities.

“At WelbeHealth, activities for are adaptable to any level of ability. We find ways for every participant to engage,” says Esther De Santiago, Engagement Supervisor, Adult Engagement and Activities in Stockton. “These activities are done in a group setting. It is wonderful how the other participants cheer each other on.”

Festive Activities for Seniors

Many of our participants’ favorite activities for seniors are related to holidays and other special occasions. Our centers celebrate birthdays monthly, and national holidays are also celebrated, such as Veteran’s Day. This year, one center honored participant Veterans by giving them a certificate and a special pin to wear.

The Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) is a two-day Mexican holiday that reunites the living and the dead. Families create offerings to honor their loved ones who have passed on. Participants and staff at one WelbeHealth center worked together to create an altar to honor their friends and family members who have died. They read poetry to express their emotions and remember their loved ones.

Each Halloween, WelbeHealth staff and participants like to dress up in costumes. You’ll find all kinds of spooky characters at our centers––and Halloween candy, of course!

Thanksgiving is always a special time at WelbeHealth. Our centers serve a special candle-lit meal, display fall decor, and share what they are thankful for. After Thanksgiving, there is always lots of holiday cheer! Festive activities, meals, and decor make our centers cheery and bright all the way through New Year’s Day!

Sprint craft activity
Seniors at WelbeHealth do a craft activity.

Educational Activities

Malcomb Forbes, an American entrepreneur, said “It’s never too late to learn.” At WelbeHealth, we agree! Our activity directors bring in guest speakers to present on interesting topics such as poetry, history, and music. We’ve even had Hawaiian dancers come to share and give a hula performance.

We’ve also found that our very own staff and participants are extremely talented. We sometimes give a participant a little tap on the shoulder and ask if they’d like to present their expertise to the center. One of our participants gave a virtual presentation on her writing and art to her peers. She hopes to present in person eventually. We also had an amazing performance by a participant who is an expert in African dance and belly dancing.

One WelbeHealth staff member is a fire-breather. His performance really “lit up” the expressions of the center staff and participants!

Creative Activities

Many of our participants love to get their creativity flowing. Creative activities for seniors like embroidery, origami, knitting, and crocheting are done at the centers.

“Creative projects are something that people of all ages can engage in,” says De Santiago. “When you finish a project and realize that you created something, it can be very satisfying. Plus, we all have fun sharing ideas and creating together.”

Some participants have given back to the community through creative arts. At one WelbeHealth center, a group of participants crochet and knit clothing items to donate to a local NICU. The babies in the NICU get an article of clothing made with love by WelbeHealth participants, and participants get the fulfillment of serving these precious babies and their families.

Entertaining Activities for Seniors

We have a lot of fun at our day centers. If you ask us, fun includes dancing and singing! Participants of all abilities can engage in singing and some form of dancing. Activity directors always adjust so no one is left out of the merriment!

Thriller by Michael Jackson is a classic spooky tune played around Halloween. The famous “thriller dance” accompanies the 1982 song. At one center, participants and staff learned the Thriller dance,  standing or while seated in a chair. Laughter and cheers were shared by all!

Karaoke is a favorite activity for seniors at WelbeHealth. Many of our participants are vocally gifted and love to belt out a song for their peers. Whether you can carry or tune or not, staff and participants always cheer each other on. Whoever has the microphone is guaranteed to feel supported and celebrated!

Exercise Activities

We know that exercise is good for our bodies. It can be great for our minds too! That’s why WelbeHealth incorporates exercise into the daily list of activity options. For those who want to participate in the exercise activities, there are always modifications that can be made. Participants of all ability levels can take part and benefit from the movement.

Exercise activities done in the WelbeHealth centers include:

  • Chair Zumba: An exciting dance workout usually done alongside Latin-inspired music.
  • Tai Chi: A gentle exercise that promotes balance and stretching.
  • Therabands: Band exercise that provides light resistance to strengthen muscles.
  • Group Dance: Led by rehabilitation therapists, this is a fun, light aerobic exercise.

Supportive Activities for Seniors

WelbeHealth participants make it a point to support one another in times of loss and grief. Our participants are never alone in their pain. Each of our centers has support groups to connect participants and allow them to share their story and encourage one another.

As an example, the Forever Friends support group consists of participants and one WelbeHealth staff facilitator. The purpose of the group is for participants to support their peers as through life transitions.

In addition to support groups, WelbeHealth offers mental health services. Combined, support groups and counseling can provide the mental and emotional support seniors need to navigate loss and grief.

Join in the Fun at WelbeHealth

As you can see, there are a lot of activities for seniors at the WelbeHealth centers. An activities calendar is available to participants and their families, so they can see all that is offered. Our activities directors are open to suggestions too!

Learn more about becoming a WelbeHealth participant.

Trevor Moawad, Getting to Neutral

WelbeHealth’s Approach to Navigating the Pandemic Saves Lives

COVID-19 Hits the U.S.: Re-Prioritize and Plan

As the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in March of 2020, WelbeHealth’s CEO, Dr. Si France, and the company’s President, Dr. Matt Patterson, grew increasingly concerned. Information about the virus was still incomplete, but it was clear that WelbeHealth’s population of vulnerable seniors was at high risk from COVID-19. The two leaders spent the weekend of March 14 and 15 creating a plan to help ensure that patients (known as “participants”) and employees would survive the next few months. “We knew that we had to act immediately to save lives, and the best way to do that was to downshift to neutral,” says France.

Over the course of the next few days, the company leaders reevaluated their priorities and replaced them with an intentional focus on a neutral mindset and commitment to the things they could control.

A Neutral Mindset Becomes an Important Tool

WelbeHealth’s successful approach to protecting its employees and participants during the pandemic is featured in the recently released book by Trevor Moawad, “Getting to Neutral.” According to Moawad, many people are alive today, because WelbeHealth’s “dedicated staff took the right next step.”

WelbeHealth’s next steps prioritized the safety of their employees, families, and the seniors in WelbeHealth’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The organization used the framework of a neutral mindset to navigate the difficult decisions throughout the pandemic: neither being overly optimistic nor falling prey to the trappings of negativity.

Because of WelbeHealth’s neutral approach, leaders were able to respond to the pandemic in a unique way. When pandemic news became overwhelming, the leadership team encouraged team members to manage their intake, and brought just the facts of the pandemic to the staff on a regular basis. This way, the organization could evaluate the changing situation without judgement, and move forward with plans to minimize the impact of the virus on their frail senior population.

France and Patterson led weekly meetings to inform, update, and encourage all employees to adopt a neutral mindset. Staying neutral allowed WelbeHealth employees to focus on what they could control and their 3-part daily checklist:

1. Read the plan of the day.

2. Execute your assignment.

3. Take care of yourself and your family.

Flexibility in Business Model

Because WelbeHealth is led by mission-driven doctors who oversee operations, clinical departments, growth efforts, and more, the team understood what was at stake, and was quick to act when the pandemic arrived. Before the end of March 2020, WelbeHealth became the first PACE organization to launch an emergency response, and shifted to delivering medical care using a home-based model instead of through the facilities. As part of this model, WelbeHealth became the first company of its kind to provide every participant with a mobile tablet device so they could interact with their medical providers, care team, and other program participants.

As soon as vaccines were available, the company became the first, non-hospital-operated PACE to vaccinate its participants as well as team members. The team also partnered with Central Valley and LA counties and volunteered on weekends to organize vaccination clinics and vaccinate 1,900 seniors and frontline workers in WelbeHealth communities.

Knowing that people were one hundred times more likely to die of COVID-19 if they are not vaccinated, the WelbeHealth team went to work educating its participants on the importance of vaccinations. The company mobilized to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to its seniors, reaching a rate of vaccination significantly higher than the population at-large, with over 90% vaccination rate.

Results of Operating from a Neutral Mindset

WelbeHealth’s neutral mindset, flexibility, and focus on vaccinations statistically saved the lives of many of their participants compared to what would normally be seen in this frail population of seniors. With a much lower rate of COVID-19 death rate than skilled nursing facilities, it’s estimated that over 100 seniors are alive today because they enrolled in WelbeHealth’s program.  As the pandemic continues, the number of lives saved by the company’s safety measures continues to grow.

France says, “Each Welbe team member plays a part in making the world a more compassionate, loving place. The legacy of WelbeHealth’s work will reverberate for generations. By helping our participants thrive and live longer, they are able to extend their profound influence to their families and communities.”

Happy senior

Medi-Cal Changes for Seniors: Free, On-Demand Webinar

WelbeHealth has a new, on-demand webinar for seniors, caregivers, and others to learn about the expanded Medi-Cal eligibility criteria in 2022. These changes will allow more people to access Medi-Cal coverage, and some seniors could become newly eligible for WelbeHealth or other PACE programs.

To watch our webinar, click on the graphic below, or visit welbehealth.com/medi-cal for English, or welbehealth.com/seminarioweb for Spanish.

Could you now be eligible for PACE?

WelbeHealth’s PACE provides all-inclusive coordinated care. For some California seniors, the Medi-Cal changes may mean you become newly eligible for PACE programs such as WelbeHealth.

You may have questions about the expanded Medi-Cal services and health coverage. WelbeHealth has experts to help you learn if you may qualify for Medi-Cal and WelbeHealth’s PACE services. Call us at (888) 530-4415, TTY (800) 735-2922 to learn more.

Group of senior friends

The Importance of Friendships as You Age

Forming friendships as you age can sometimes be challenging. When you were a child, making friends may have come easily. A simple, “Can we be friends?” often brought us a dedicated playmate. If only it were that easy to make friends in our adult years!

Forming friendships can be more difficult as an adult, but it is still important. Researchers have discovered major benefits of maintaining friendships as we age. Below, we’ll fill you in on the power of friendship and share some tips on how to make friends as you get older.

Friends Add Years to Your Life

Want to live longer? Form close friendships as you age! An Australian study found that close relationships with family members had little impact on longevity. But people with the most friends outlived those with the fewest by 22%.

Keeping a close circle of friends also alleviates loneliness. In this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, social isolation and loneliness were predictors of functional decline and death in those 60 years and older.

Not only do your friends add years to your life, but you also do the same for them. So when you’re spending time with friends, you can remind them of your life-extending superpower, and thank them for extending your life in return.

Friends Keep Your Mind Sharp

Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying SuperAgers since 2008. These are individuals who are 80 and older whose memory is similar to those 50-65 years old. They found that SuperAgers have more satisfying relationships than their peers in the control group.

“You don’t have to be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline,” author Emily Rogalski, an associate professor at Northwestern, said in a press release.

Next time you call up a friend for lunch, remember that it will be a great social activity and benefit your brain!

How to Create Friendships as You Age

Get Involved in Your Community

There are opportunities to make friends right in your community. Your new friends may be waiting for you just a few blocks away. Here are ways to meet new people near you:

  • Help at a local food pantry
  • Mentor a child with Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Join a community or church choir
  • Attend city council meetings
  • Take an art class
  • Visit your local senior center
  • Join a gym and participate in group exercise classes
  • Find a support group

Accept the Awkwardness

Making new friends as adults can feel awkward. One of the best things you can do is accept that it may feel a little unnatural at first. Like any new relationship, it takes a while to feel comfortable.

Studies suggest that it takes several months to form a close friendship. Continue to ask engaging questions and get together on a regular basis. If you keep trying despite being a little uncomfortable, you’re bound to have budding friendships.

Become a WelbeHealth Participant

WelbeHealth participants enjoy the benefits of companionship and participate in activities that can help make you less likely to suffer from depression. WelbeHealth helps seniors live independently in their homes and communities and provides opportunities to socialize with new friends.

At WelbeHealth, friends:

  • Play dominoes, Bingo, and other games
  • Talk about common interests such as music and books
  • Share a bowl of popcorn while watching HBO movies
  • Eat meals together and swap favorite recipes
  • Support and check in on one another

Contact us today to see if you might qualify for WelbeHealth’s all-inclusive care for seniors.

National Kidney Month is in March

During National Kidney Month, we recognize how kidneys play an important role in keeping our bodies healthy. In fact, all the blood in our body takes a trip through these bean-shaped organs about 40 times per day!

Below, we’ll dive into what your kidneys do and how to keep them working in tip-top shape. We’ll also touch on chronic kidney disease symptoms and living kidney donors.

What do your kidneys do?

You have two kidneys on either side of your spine, between your ribs and your belly button. They are about the size of an adult fist, and they perform many complex functions to keep the rest of your body feeling well.

Most of us know that kidneys remove waste from our body. But did you know they also make hormones that regulate your blood pressure and red blood cells?

Yup, you can thank your kidneys for:

  • Removing excess fluid and waste from your body
  • Filtering toxins from your blood
  • Regulating the production of your red blood cells
  • Producing essential vitamins
  • Releasing blood pressure-regulating hormones

Over a million tiny filters, called nephrons, make up each of your kidneys. Nephrons work together to filter your blood, remove waste and return necessary nutrients back to your blood. The waste and extra water is what makes up urine.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of this organ duo, it’s clear why keeping them healthy is a priority.

Here are some things you can do for your kidney health:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  • Eat nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid eating too much salt or fat
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Lose excess weight
  • Stay active
  • If you’re a diabetic, keep your blood sugar levels under control

Chronic kidney disease

About 1 in 7 adult Americans live with chronic kidney disease. This means their kidneys are damaged and are not functioning properly. Chronic kidney disease can be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure or an immune system disease such as lupus.

The word “chronic” is used because the disease gets worse over time. If you’re at risk for kidney disease, talk to your doctor about getting tested. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse chronic kidney disease, but there are ways to slow the progression, such as lifestyle and diet changes.

Learn about living kidney donors during National Kidney Month

Individuals with chronic kidney disease eventually need dialysis or a kidney transplant. In the U.S, 100,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant. Healthy people with normal kidney function can become living kidney donors. Our bodies can function normally with just one kidney.

A living kidney donor could donate their organ to someone who needs a functional kidney. This could be a blood relative, spouse, or friend. Kidneys can also be donated to someone anonymously (non-directed donation).

In this National Kidney Month article, we hope you have learned more about your kidneys and how to keep them healthy.