Cholesterol…The Good, the bad and . . .

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found your body and has several useful functions, including helping to build your body’s cells. Your cholesterol levels are an important measure of good heart health. Too much LDL, or Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, can build up within the walls of your blood vessels and narrow the passageways. Sometimes a clot can form and get stuck in the narrowed space, causing a heart attack or stroke. That is why LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol.

People who have naturally higher levels of high-density level lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, are at a lower risk for heart attack and stroke. HDL picks up excess bad cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver where it’s broken down and removed from your body. That is why HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol. Ideally, you want higher levels of HDL, and lower levels of LDL.

High cholesterol can develop in early childhood and adolescence, and your risk increases as your weight increases. More than 102 million American adults have a total cholesterol level at or above 240 mg/dl, which puts them at risk for heart disease. A desirable, TOTAL cholesterol level would be less than 170mg/dl, with the LDL (bad) cholesterol level being less than 110 mg/dl, and the HDL (good) cholesterol being 35 mg/dl or higher.

Lifestyle changes known to increase HDL, such as moving more, quitting smoking or improving your diet, have been shown to lower the risk of heart attacks. Besides helping you lose weight, increased physical activity can lower your triglycerides, the most common type of fat in your body, while increasing your HDL levels. Benefits can be seen with as little as 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week. Adjusting your diet to avoid trans fats, which increase LDL levels is also important. Foods prepared with shortening, such as cakes and cookies, often contain trans fats, as do most fried foods and some margarines. Limit saturated fat, found in meats and full-fat dairy products, as well. Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains as these foods help control cholesterol levels. *See list below for cholesterol lowering foods.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. Your doctor can advise you if you need to have your cholesterol levels checked more often.

*Some foods that can lower cholesterol:

Legumes, avocados, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), whole grains (especially oats and barley), fruits and berries, dark chocolate and cocoa, garlic, vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil.

How You React to Stress May Predict Brain Health

 New research finds that our response to even minor daily stressors, such as getting stuck in traffic or waiting too long at the supermarket, can affect how healthy our brain is, particularly into old age.

Prolonged chronic stress can lead to a wide range of adverse health consequences, from diabetes and heart disease, to mental health conditions, such as depression, burn-out, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even schizophrenia.  Zooming in on the effects that stress has on the brain, recent studies have suggested that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair memory.

How do small daily stressors affect the brain?  New research, led by Robert Stawski, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon’s State University in Corvallis, suggests that it is not so much the stressful events in themselves, but our reactions to them that harm our brain health.

One study, done during a 2.5 years period, examined senior’s cognitive health using standardized assessments every 6 months.  Some of these assessments included asking the seniors to look at two sets of numbers and then say if the same numbers appeared in the two sets, even if not in the same order.  Overall, the study found that people whose response to daily stressors involved more negative emotions and were of higher intensity had higher inconsistencies in their response time, suggesting poorer mental focus and brain health.

The research revealed significant age differences.  For instance, the older participants-those in their late 70’s to early 90’s-were most affected.  That is, the higher the stress reaction, the less cognitive function.

However, for those in their late 60’s to mid 70’s, more stress seemed to benefit cognitive health in some cases.  These people may have had a more active life-style to begin with, or more social and professional engagement, which sharpens mental function.

The results confirm that people’s daily emotions and how they react to stress will affect brain health and function.  It’s not the stressor that contributes to mental declines, but how a person responds that affects the brain.


*The finding s in this study are available in Psychosomatic Medicine, the journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.

November is Alzheimer Awareness Month

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.  Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills  Here are 10 warning signs:

1.Memory loss that disrupts daily life

One of the most common signs of the disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information, or forgetting important dates or events.  Some people ask for the same information over and over again, or have to rely more and more on reminder notes.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.

  1. Challenges in planning or solving problems. 

Some people experience changes in their ability to follow a plan or work with numbers.  They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They find it difficult to concentrate and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age related problem?

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

  1. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work.

Sometimes, people have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related problem?

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

  1. Confusion with time or place

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. Sometimes they forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related problem?

Forgetting what day of the week it is, but figuring it out later.

  1. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s.  They may have difficulty judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-relate problem?

Vision changes related to cataracts.

  1. New problems with words in speaking or writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue.  They may struggle with vocabulary or have trouble finding the right word.  (like calling a watch a “hand-clock)

What’s a typical age-related problem?

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

New Medicare Cards Coming in 2018

58 million Medicare beneficiaries will receive new Medicare cards beginning April 2018.  CMS hopes to have all of the cards mailed by April 2019.  You do not need to do anything to have the card mailed to you.  As long as Medicare and Social Security have your current address, the card will automatically be mailed to you.   Don’t be concerned if you don’t receive your card the same time as your spouse or your neighbor receives their card.   The new cards will have a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) and will consist of 11 letters and numbers, which are “non-intelligent, “ meaning they have no connection to any personal information about you, such as date of birth or where you were born, etc.   It is hoped that assigning beneficiaries a new random number will help alleviate identity theft and Medicare fraud.

It is important to note that your coverage or benefits will not change and that your Medigap (supplemental) insurance will not be affected.

As is expected, scams relating to the new card are already surfacing.  According to the Justice Department, the number of identity theft cases for people over 65 was 2.6 million in 2014.  Each year, the numbers go up.  Here are three common tactics scammers are  using:

Rip-off artists call beneficiaries and tell them they can speed up the process of receiving a new card so the Medicare recipient won’t have any trouble when they go to a doctor’s office or hospital.  Scammers then ask the beneficiary for their personal information, such as bank account number, social security numbers, etc.  (Your old Medicare number will be good until December 31st, 2019, and you won’t be denied services because you don’t have your new card.)

You get a phone call saying that you will receive your new card as soon as you pay.  Hang up!  The new card is free.

Scammers pretending to be from CMS call you and say they don’t have the correct information on you and need it to mail you the new card.  You’re told you will lose benefits if you don’t give the information.


For questions about Medicare-related subjects, call the local SHIBA agent, Kim Hulme at 208.847.0949.


Bear Lake Memorial’s Weight Loss Program

Many struggle with carrying excess weight. It can affect everything in one’s life. . .  from sleeping, to mobility, preventing quality time with family and more. The daily stresses one faces can take you down a path of bad habits, hopelessness, and giving up on ourselves. Bear Lake Memorial Hospital recently added a weight loss program to assist community members with reaching their weight loss goals.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention over 2/3 of Americans are considered overweight or obese. Obesity can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and/or Stroke, gallbladder disease, joint issues, sleep apnea and breathing problems, and even mental illness (clinical depression, anxiety, etc.)


The weight loss program is designed to support individuals in the creating a lifestyle of health through consults with physical therapy, counseling services, and dietician support. There are also surgical options that greatly increase the chance of long-term weight loss. With a 70% success rate the Gastric Sleeve surgery, performed by Board Certified Surgeon Joseph Podany, is available through most insurances but can be paid privately if needed.  The national cost for Gastric Sleeve surgery is around $12,600. The Sleeve is a permanent alteration to the stomach, which means part of it is removed completely. With that removal the hormones that produce the feeling of hunger are reduced as well.

To get started on the process, attending a free FREE Weight Loss Seminar to introduce you to the process and answer any preliminary question. The next seminar will be held on January 15th.but additional seminars are held bi-monthly. Register by calling 208-847-1110. Then there is a FREE follow up consult appointment where the patient’s health history will be reviewed and assess their eligibility for surgery. A membership to Absolute Fitness Center will be available for six months during the program. They will also go through a goal-setting session with the program coordinator. Every surgeon and facility has a slightly different approach to the weight loss surgery process but the end result speaks volumes to the impact and increased quality of the patient’s health and life.


The lifestyle consults and program coordinator is with the patient every step of the way. Success is possible and Bear Lake Memorial Hospital hopes to be there for you and your weight loss needs.

Caregiver Stress

Caregiver Stress

Caring for an older person can be rewarding, but also demanding, difficult, and very stressful.  The caregiver may need to be available around the clock to fix meals, provide nursing care, take care of laundry and cleaning, drive to doctor’s appointments, and pay bills.  Oftentimes, caregivers must give up their own employment to take care of these responsibilities or squeeze them in between employment and other family obligations.

It can be difficult to keep a positive outlook when there’s little hope of the older person’s physical and mental condition improving.  Over time, the demands and stress of caregiving can take their toll.  Anger, resentment, and spiraling emotions can be the result of caregiver stress.

If you are a caregiver, make sure you have time to rest and take care of your needs.  You can ask a family member or friend to help out for a weekend, or even for a few hours, so that you can take some time for yourself.  Some community service organizations provide caregivers a break, called respite care.  In other communities, such as our own, the assisted living center will do daycare for the elderly.

Steps can be taken to help relieve caregiver stress such as: getting outdoors, getting enough sleep, taking time or yourself, reading, meditating, and asking for help.

Resources for caregivers:      (Alzheimer’s Association)  (the government site for caregivers)  (provides support for spousal caregivers)

Visit your local SHIP (SHIBA in Idaho) counselor for one-on-one insurance counseling and Medicare information:  Kim Hulme 208.847.0949



Preparing for a Disaster

When a major disaster occurs, a person’s life can change in an instant.  Here are some precautions to take to prepare your family, including elderly loved ones, for a disaster.

Learn About Potential Threats

Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur in your area.  These can include those that affect only your family, to those affecting the entire community.

Plan Escape Routes

Identify two ways to escape from every room.  Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.

Establish a Communication Plan

Make a plan for how you will contact family members if they are not present.

Make copies of important documents

Items to consider are: passport, drivers license, social security and insurance cards, wills, deeds, financial statements, etc.  Als, have emergency contact cards for you and your family.

Plan for Pets

Don’t forget to include food and water for animals

Make an Emergency Kit   

Basic items to consider:

3 day supply of non-perishable food and water

Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries

Flashlight and extra batteries

First-Aid Kit

Sanitation and hygiene items

Manual can opener

Matches in a waterproof container

Extra clothing and blankets

Photocopies of credit and identification cards

Cash and coins


Extra set of house and car keys

Medication, contact lens solutions, etc.


Consider your own special needs. Maintain your kit and store in a cool dry place. Update as needed.

For more information about disaster preparedness visit:







What is Speech Therapy for Adults?

Speech therapists, or Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), are highly trained professionals with Masters or Doctorate Degrees. They specialize in helping both children and adults with communication disorders. Many people are familiar with speech therapy for children. Some children may go to an SLP because they have difficulty producing some sounds correctly (for example, saying “wabbit” for “rabbit”, “appo” for “apple”, or “jips” for “chips”), or if they stutter. But did you know that SLPs also work with adults? So, how exactly can a speech therapist help adults?

Often when adults suffer a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, they need help reorganizing their thoughts, orientation, and memory. Sometimes they need help retraining their swallowing function, in order to keep them safe and prevent food and liquid from going down into their lungs. Perhaps someone’s Grandma has dementia, with difficulty remembering people, events, and things most dear to them. These are some examples of when a speech therapist, or SLP, can help an adult.

SLPs evaluate and provide therapy for communication disorders for adults, including speech, language, swallowing, cognitive communication, social communication, pragmatics, auditory processing, fluency (stuttering), voice disorders, and training for use of alternative/augmentative communication (AAC) devices.

Let’s talk about each of these areas more.

  • Speech is the way we produce our sounds, or clarity.
  • Language includes expressive language (how we express our ideas and thoughts) and receptive language (understanding others).
  • Cognitive communication includes memory, orientation, problem solving, organization, attention.
  • Social communication involves conversational dynamics, such as taking turns in conversation or altering our language to suit different situations.
  • Dysphagia (swallowing) includes determining risk for aspiration, swallow integrity, recommendations for safest and least restrictive food/liquid consistencies, safe swallowing techniques, compensatory strategies, exercises to strengthen oral pharyngeal musculature.
  • Fluency includes stuttering, and how it affects a person’s social communication.
  • Voice involves pitch, volume, quality, modifying accent, breathing exercises, resonance, excessive throat clearing.
  • AAC devices are alternative methods for communication when a person is nonverbal (such as using an iPad to communicate).

So, what are some things we should watch out for? When should an adult go to see an SLP? Watch your loved ones for difficulty swallowing, coughing, choking, clearing throat while eating or drinking, drooling, or having a “gurgly” voice after eating. Also watch for difficulties with memory, attention, organization, problem-solving, or finding the right word to say. An SLP could help your loved one with these difficulties.


DO’S Do protect your Medicare number (on your Medicare card) & your Social Security Number (on your Social Security card). Treat your Medicare card like it’s a credit card.

Do remember that nothing is ever “free.” Don’t accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.

Do ask questions. You have a right to know everything about your medical care including the costs billed to Medicare.

Do educate yourself about Medicare. Know your rights & know what a provider can & can’t bill to Medicare.

Do use a calendar to record all of your doctor’s appointments & what tests or Xrays you get. Then check your Medicare statements carefully to make sure you got each service listed & that all the details are correct. If you spend time in a hospital, make sure the admission date, discharge date, & diagnosis on your bill are correct.

Do be wary of providers who tell you that the item or service isn’t usually covered, but they “know how to bill Medicare” so Medicare will pay.

Do make sure you understand how a plan works before you join.

Do always check your pills before you leave the pharmacy to be sure you got the correct medication, including whether it’s a brand or generic & the full amount. If you don’t get your full prescription, report the problem to the pharmacist.

Do report suspected instances of fraud.

DON’TS  Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.

Don’t contact your doctor to request a service that you don’t need.

Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.

Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from Medicare or Medicaid, remember that Medicare & Medicaid don’t send representatives to your home to sell products or services.

Don’t be influenced by certain media advertising about your health. Many television & radio ads don’t have your best interest at heart.

Don’t give your Medicare card, Medicare number, Social Security card, or Social Security Number to anyone except your doctor or other authorized Medicare provider.

Beginning in 2018, all Medicare recipients will receive a new identification number.  This is to help prevent fraud & abuse of Medicare.  Ironically, fraud perpetrators are already on the bandwagon & have begun making phone calls.  Their method of operation is to call a Medicare recipient & tell them of the identification number change, assuring the enrollee that they (the perpetrator) can make the transition go so smoothly if the recipient will give them their Medicare information over the phone.  NEVER GIVE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE UNLESS YOU HAVE INITIATED THE PHONE CALL & KNOW FOR SURE WHO YOU ARE CALLING!   This new Medicare scam has hit even southern Idaho, so be on the alert!


Women’s Conference 2017

The fifth annual Women’s Health Conference, sponsored by Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, was held on May 6th at the Oregon Trail Center in Montpelier. The following classes were offered:  Mammography Technology by Dr. Myka Veigel, Types of Living by Dr. Clay Campbell, Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding by Dr. Khristina Meissner, What’s Eating You by Anya Anthony PA, Dr. Trevor Jacobson presented Under Pressure/Hypertension. Our lunch-time speaker, Dr. Lance Hansen gave a presentation about Dr. Google. Other lectures included Occupational Therapy by John Beenfield. Mandy Tingey spoke about Speech Therapy and BLMH counselor Bobbi Kelsey gave a presentation about the adolescence brain.


The Keynote speaker was Merrilee Boyack. Her topic was “Confessions of a Hamster on a Wheel.” Merrilee is a professional lecturer and speaks all over the country, featured for many years at BYU Education Week and Time Out for Women, and a published author. She also enjoys addressing inmates that have been incarcerated. She is the author of several books and talks, including The Parenting Breakthrough, Strangling Your Husband Is Not an Option; In Trying Times, Just Keep Trying. Her most recent, “Will My Child Be Ready: Missionary Prep for Moms” and “When I am a Missionary.” Merrilee and her husband, Steve, reside in Lehi, Utah. She was a delight, and the recording can be found on BLMHospital’s YouTube Channel or by clicking


Attendees received a canvas tote, a presentation booklet, and other swag.  A continental breakfast and lunch were catered by the trail center. Several drawings were held throughout the day.  Shopping from several vendors was available for early Mother’s Day gift buying. The grand prize drawing was for a $200 Amazon Gift Card.


Members of the committee for the Health Conference would like to encourage those who attended and those unable to come to reach out with future Women’s Health Conference topics and preferred times of the year by emailing






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