Advocacy Groups

How The Government Shutdown Might Affect Your Health

Seniorhelpdesk.com Healthcare Blog​ Credited to  Kaiser Health News Staff writers JoNel Aleccia, Julie Appleby, Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Shefali Luthra,  Jordan Rau, Stephanie Stapleton, Liz Szabo, Sarah Jane Tribble and Lydia Zuraw.

 

For some federal health programs, a shuttered government means business as usual. But the congressional impasse over funding will hit others hard.

A government shutdown will have far-reaching effects for public health, including the nation’s response to the current, difficult flu season. It will also disrupt some federally supported health services, experts said Friday.

In all, the Department of Health and Human Services will send home — or furlough — about half of its employees, or nearly 41,000 people, according to an HHS shutdown contingency plan released Friday.

Here are some federal services and programs consumers might be wondering about:

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

According to the HHS plan, the CDC will suspend its flu-tracking program. That’s bad timing, given the country is at the height of a particularly bad flu season, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Without the CDC’s updates, doctors could have a harder time diagnosing and treating patients quickly, he said.

Although states will still track flu cases, “they won’t be able to call CDC to verify samples or seek their expertise,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was the director of the agency during the 2013 government shutdown.

A government shutdown will also affect the CDC’s involvement in key decisions about next year’s flu vaccine, which are scheduled to be made in coming weeks, said Dr. Arnold Monto, a professor of global public health at the University of Michigan.

Beyond the flu, the CDC will provide only “minimal support” to programs that investigate infectious-disease outbreaks. The Atlanta-based agency’s ability to test suspicious pathogens and maintain its 24-hour emergency operations center will be “significantly reduced,” according to the plan.

That could prevent the CDC from identifying clusters of symptoms and disease “that are the earliest indicators of outbreaks,” Frieden said.

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

Although the NIH will continue to treat patients at its clinical center in Bethesda, Md., the agency will not enroll new patients in clinical trials — which many people with life-threatening illnesses see as their last hope.

MEDICARE 

Beneficiaries will be largely unaffected by a shutdown, especially if it is short. Patients will continue to receive their insurance coverage, and Medicare will continue to process reimbursement payments to medical providers. But those checks could be delayed if the shutdown is prolonged.

MEDICAID

States already have their funding for Medicaid through the second quarter, so no shortfall in coverage for enrollees or payments to providers is expected. Enrolling new Medicaid applicants is a state function, so that process should not be affected.

States also handle much of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides coverage for lower-income children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. But federal funding for CHIP is running dry — its regular authorization expired on Oct. 1, and Congress has not agreed on a long-term funding solution. Federal officials announced Friday that the staff necessary to make payments to states running low on funds will continue to work during a shutdown.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS

According to the HHS plan, the Health Resources and Services Administration will continue to operate the nation’s 1,400 community health centers — clinics that serve about 27 million low-income people, providing preventive care, dentistry and other basic services. It will also continue the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which targets low-income and at-risk families with house calls and lessons for healthy parenting. That program served about 160,000 families in fiscal year 2016.

But even those programs may not be at full speed. Funding for community health centers and the home visiting program was not renewed last fall — a casualty of Congress’ fight over the CHIP reauthorization — so, they are operating on left-over funds.

ACA PREMIUM SUBSIDIES

The shutdown will not affect some of the most politically charged health care programs, including ones created by the Affordable Care Act. Subsidies for people who get their health insurance through healthcare.gov or state marketplaces will not be affected, according to HHS.

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Staffing for the Department of Veterans Affairs will remain largely intact. “Even in the event that there is a shutdown, 95.5 percent of VA employees would come to work, and most aspects of VA’s operations would not be impacted,” said department press secretary Curtis Cashour in an email.

More than 99 percent of employees of the Veterans Health Administration, which runs the health care system, will continue working, according to the department’s contingency plan.

However, the Veterans Benefits Administration, responsible for overseeing benefits such as life insurance and disability checks, will face larger cutbacks. Over a third of its employees face furlough under a government shutdown.

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION

In the short term, the crucial activities that protect consumers will get done, said Jill Hartzler Warner, who was the associate commissioner for special medical programs at the FDA during the 2013 shutdown.

Programs that are critical for the public safety will continue, as will positions paid for by user fees, including work under the Center for Tobacco Products, according to the HHS plan.

The hundreds of staff members who conduct sample analysis and review entry of products into the U.S. will continue to work. However, routine inspections and laboratory research will cease.

Warner, who left the agency in March 2017 and now works as an industry consultant, said grants for rare-disease drug development were determined in 2013 to not be necessary and were postponed.

NUTRITION SERVICES FOR SENIORS

The Administration for Community Living will not be able to fund federal senior nutrition programs during any shutdown, according to HHS officials. But it was not immediately clear how quickly clients would be affected.

A shutdown could delay federal reimbursements to independent Meals on Wheels programs, which serve more than 2.4 million seniors nationwide, according to Colleen Psomas, a spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels America. That could force programs to expand waiting lists for meals, reduce meals or delivery days, or suspend service, she said.

The magnitude of the effect could vary by the length of the shutdown and any final allocation. Some programs, however, could weather a shutdown, staffers said. In Portland, Ore., Meals on Wheel People spokeswoman Julie Piper Finley said meal delivery there will not be suspended. That agency receives about 35 percent of its funding through the Older Americans Act, but raises the rest of the money, ensuring that services are not disrupted.

Meanwhile, services connected to food and nutrition services for other needy populations are likely to keep operating with state partners who have funding through February and, in some cases, March, according to a Department of Agriculture spokesperson. Those programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Child Nutrition Programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

FOOD SAFETY

The FDA’s food safety programs will cease, according to the HHS plan, but inspections conducted by Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will continue.

Meat and poultry inspections are “such a critical, essential task, and the meat and poultry inspection acts require that inspectors be present continuously,” otherwise processing plants would have to close, said Brian Ronholm, former head of FSIS who now works for the law firm Arent Fox.

Ronholm added that many FSIS employees are “career folks” who have worked there through previous government shutdowns. “There was a lot of built-in knowledge of how to function during the [2013] shutdown,” he said, adding that this expertise would help the agency if there is another shutdown.

 

Staff writers JoNel Aleccia, Julie Appleby, Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Shefali Luthra,  Jordan Rau, Stephanie Stapleton, Liz Szabo, Sarah Jane Tribble and Lydia Zuraw contributed to this report.

This article was updated on Jan. 20, 2018 to reflect that the deadline for government funding had passed without an agreement in Congress.

KHN’s coverage of these topics is supported by Laura and John Arnold Foundation, California Health Care Foundation, John A. Hartford Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To contact our columnists with a question or comment use following link: http://khn.org/columnists/

For more KHN coverage of aging, and for more information on Kaiser Health News, please visit our web page at: http://khn.org

Categories: 
Advocacy Groups
City: 
Washington DC

Radon Is The Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer After Cigarette Smoking: Protect Yourself and Your Family From This Silent Killer In Your Home!

Seniorhelpdesk.com healthcare blog credited to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, you increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you and your family are at risk of high radon exposure.

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium (radioactive metals) breaks down in rocks, soil and groundwater. People can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing radon in air that comes through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes. Because radon comes naturally from the earth, people are always exposed to it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General's office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.

People who smoke and are exposed to radon are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer. EPA recommends taking action to reduce radon in homes that have a radon level at or ab ove 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air (a "picocurie" is a common unit for measuring the amount of radioactivity).

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • How much radon is in your home—the location where you spend most of your time (e.g., the main living and sleeping areas)
  • The amount of time you spend in your home
  • Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked
  • Whether you burn wood, coal, or other substances that add particles to the indoor air

The chances of getting lung cancer are higher if your home has elevated radon levels and you smoke or burn fuels that increase indoor particles.

 Protect Your Family from Radon

CDC's Radon Communication Toolkit is designed for environmental and public health professionals to use to increase awareness and understanding of radon, its health effects, and the importance of testing for radon among the communities they serve. The toolkit contains customizable fact sheets, infographics, newsletter articles, and social media posts.

View large image and text description

Take Steps to Reduce Radon

Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you and your family are exposed to high levels of radon. Steps you can take to measure and reduce radon levels include:

  • Purchasing a radon test kit
  • Testing your home or office
    • Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time. It requires opening a package and placing a small measuring device in a room and leaving it there for the desired period. Short-term testing can take from a few days to 90 days.  Long-term testing takes more than 90 days.  The longer the test, the more relevant the results are to your home and lifestyle.
  • Sending the kit to appropriate sources to determine radon level
    • Follow the directions on the test kit packaging to find out where to send the device to get the results.
  • Fixing your home if radon levels are high

For more information about radon, visit CDC's new web page Protect Yourself and Your Family from Radon which brings together radon information from across the agency.

Link:  https://www.cdc.gov/radon/

More Ways to Take Action

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  recommends additional actions you can take to reduce high radon levels in your home and protect yourself from an increased risk of lung cancer. Link: http://www.fixradon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/HUD_radon_fact_sheet.pdf

  • Stop smoking and discourage smoking in your home.
    • Smoking significantly increases the risk of lung cancer from radon.
  • Increase air flow in your house by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air.
    • Natural ventilation in any type of house is only a temporary strategy to reduce radon.
  • Seal cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other mate­rials designed for this purpose.
    • Contact your state radon office for a list of qualified contractors in your area and for information on how to fix radon problems yourself. Always test again after fin­ishing to make sure you've fixed your radon problem.
  • Ask about radon resistant construction techniques if you are buy­ing a new home.
    • It is almost always cheaper and easier to build these features into new homes than to add them later.

For more information on testing your home, check with your state radon office or call the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON.

To find out more about radon test kits, visit Radon Hotlines and Information Resources or refer to the EPA web site on how to use a test kit. 

Link: https://www.epa.gov/radon/radon-hotlines-and-information-resources

Categories: 
Advocacy Groups
City: 
Milford
States: 
Connecticut
Zip code: 
06460
County: 
New Haven

Greater Bridgeport Elderly Services Council/GBESC February 2018 Meeting on Wednesday February 7, 2018 at 8:30 am. Location/Host: Atria Stratford 6911 Main Street Stratford, CT 06614

Greater Bridgeport Elderly Services Council/GBESC Monthly Meeting On Wednesday February 7, 2018 at 8:30 am. Location/Host: Atria Stratford 6911 Main Street Stratford, CT 06614

OPEN MEETING!

Date & Time:

February 7, 2018

Networking 8:30am

Meeting 9:00am

Location:

Atria Stratford

6911 Main Street

Stratford, CT 06614

At Atria Stratford, residents find a dedicated care staff that understands the importance of balancing individual care with independent living. Whether you enjoy watching a movie in their theater, reading a novel in their library, or taking an excursion to nearby local shops, they are dedicated to helping you enjoy retirement living to the fullest.

Atria Stratford web page:   https://www.atriaseniorliving.com/retirement-communities/atria-stratford...

 

Speaker:

There will be no Co-sponsor this week.

THIS MONTH IS AN OPEN MEETING everyone will have a chance to speak to the group about the services that their company provides. in order to determine how much time everyone will be given EVERYONE MUST RSVP! I will be creating the list of speakers based on who sends an RSVP.

RSVP Link:  kevin@fairfieldfamilycare.com

If you or anyone you know would like to be added to the Gbesc list please email Kevin at:   Kevin@fairfieldfamilycare.com

 

Categories: 
Advocacy Groups
City: 
Stratford
States: 
Connecticut
Zip code: 
06614
County: 
Fairfield
start time: 
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 8:30am

Romance Scams: Online Imposters Break Hearts and Bank Accounts, Often Targeting Older Adults

Seniorhelpdesk.com Blog Credited U.S. Department of Justice/FBI

They met online. He said he was a friend of a friend. The woman, in her 50s and struggling in her marriage, was happy to find someone to chat with. “He was saying all the right things,” she remembered. “He was interested in me. He was interested in getting to know me better. He was very positive, and I felt like there was a real connection there.”

That connection would end up costing the woman $2 million and an untold amount of heartache after the man she fell in love with—whom she never met in person—took her for every cent she had.

It’s called a romance scam, and this devastating Internet crime is on the rise. Victims—predominantly older widowed or divorced women targeted by criminal groups usually from Nigeria—are, for the most part, computer literate and educated. But they are also emotionally vulnerable. And con artists know exactly how to exploit that vulnerability because potential victims freely post details about their lives and personalities on dating and social media sites.

Trolling for victims online “is like throwing a fishing line,” said Special Agent Christine Beining, a veteran financial fraud investigator in the FBI’s Houston Division who has seen a substantial increase in the number of romance scam cases. “The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be. You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people,” she said. “The perpetrators will reach out to a lot of people on various networking sites to find somebody who may be a good target. Then they use what the victims have on their profile pages and try to work those relationships and see which ones develop.”

“The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be.”

In the case of the Texas woman who lost everything, it was her strong Christian faith—which she happily publicized on her Facebook profile—that gave “Charlie” an incredible advantage when he began courting her.

“I’m very active on Facebook,” said the woman, who agreed to share her story in the hopes that others might avoid becoming victims. “I thought it was safe.” After she friended Charlie—without verifying his bogus claim that they had a mutual friend—“he would read my wall, I would read his wall. We would post things, he would like things. Then it got to where we would share e-mails. We started sharing pictures.”

According to Beining, this is standard operating procedure for romance scammers, who assume other people’s identities to trick their victims. “They make themselves out to be average-looking people,” she said. “They are generally not trying to build themselves up too high.”

The scammer’s intention is to establish a relationship as quickly as possible, endear himself to the victim, gain trust, and propose marriage. He will make plans to meet in person, but that will never happen. Eventually, he will ask for money.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which provides the public with a means of reporting Internet-facilitated crimes, romance scams—also called confidence fraud—result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes.

In 2016, almost 15,000 complaints categorized as romance scams or confidence fraud were reported to IC3 (nearly 2,500 more than the previous year), and the losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million. The states with the highest numbers of victims were California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. In Texas last year, the IC3 received more than 1,000 complaints from victims reporting more than $16 million in losses related to romance scams.

‘I was Looking for Happiness’

When she first encountered Charlie in 2014, the Texas woman recalled, “I was in an emotionally abusive marriage, and things had not been good for probably at least 10 years.” Her new online friend seemed to come along at just the right time. “I was looking for happiness,” she said. “I thought I could find that with Charlie.”

Romance scammers often say they are in the building and construction industry and are engaged in projects outside the U.S. That makes it easier to avoid meeting in person—and more plausible when they ask their victims for help. They will suddenly need money for a medical emergency or unexpected legal fee. “They promise to repay the loan immediately,” Beining said, “but the victims never get their money back.”

Charlie claimed to be in the construction field. “He was trying to finish up a job in California,” the woman said, “and he needed some money to help finish the job. I thought about it long and hard. I prayed about it. I’ve always been a very giving person, and I figured if I had money … I could send him some [money]. And he promised to have it back within 24 to 48 hours. I thought, ‘I could do that.’ It was kind of a statement of faith, too.”

She wired him $30,000. A day passed and then another, and she didn’t get her money back. “I still thought everything was okay,” she said, “just that he was the victim of some bad luck.” And then Charlie needed another $30,000.

Empty Promises

For the next two years, the woman believed Charlie’s stories after each new request for funds. Everything he said made sense, and, after all, they were in love. Eventually, the woman’s financial adviser became alarmed about her steadily dwindling accounts and, suspecting fraud, urged her to contact the FBI

The subsequent investigation led by Beining resulted in the arrest of two Nigerians posing as South African diplomats who had come to the U.S. to collect money from the woman on behalf of Charlie, who claimed he was paid $42 million for a construction project he completed in South Africa. The woman believed she would be paying to have the money—including the repayment of her $2 million—transferred to the U.S. from South Africa, where Charlie was still supposedly working.

In July 2016, the two Nigerian co-conspirators pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the scam, and a federal judge sentenced them each to 36 months in prison last December. But Charlie is still at large, presumably in Nigeria, and there may be little hope of bringing him to justice.

“This is a very difficult crime to prove,” Beining said. “When someone is using a computer to hide behind, the hardest thing to find out is who they are. We can find out where in the world their computer is being used. It’s identifying who they actually are that’s the hard part. That is why this individual remains a fugitive.”

It also explains why romance scams are on the rise: It’s a lucrative and easy crime to commit, and easier still to remain anonymous and beyond the reach of authorities. “It’s not like going in a bank and holding a gun to the teller,” Beining explained, “because there are so many leads that you provide law enforcement when you do that. Even if you are able to get out of the bank, we can probably find out who you are and track you down. But with an Internet crime like this, it’s much more difficult.”

As for the Texas woman, she came forward “because I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. I not only invested money in this man but there is a big, huge piece of my heart that I invested in him,” she said. “It’s not just the finances, it’s the emotional part, too—being embarrassed, being ashamed, being humiliated.”

“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. I not only invested money in this man but there is a big, huge piece of my heart that I invested in him.”

Romance scam victim

Even now, though, she remains conflicted. A part of her still wants to believe that Charlie is real and that their relationship was real—that the e-mail exchanges about church and the phone calls when they sang together and prayed together meant as much to him as they did to her. She even holds out hope that one day Charlie will repay her, as he promised to do so many times.

Otherwise, there is no doubt that he is a heartless criminal who robbed her and broke her heart—and who is almost certainly continuing to victimize other women in the same way.

“I can’t even imagine a man, a person, that could be this bad,” she said. “I can’t think of him that way. … There can’t be a man in this world that could be this horrible to have purposefully done what he’s done to me.”

Don’t Become a Victim

The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do. They spend hours honing their skills and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them.

“Behind the veil of romance, it’s a criminal enterprise like any other,” said Special Agent Christine Beining. “And once a victim becomes a victim, in that they send money, they will often be placed on what’s called a ‘sucker list,’ ” she said. “Their names and identities are shared with other criminals, and they may be targeted in the future.”

To stay safe online, be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you. Always use reputable websites, but assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, consider the following:

  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
  • Go slow and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally. “If you don’t know them, don’t send money,” Beining said. “You will see what their true intentions are after that.”

If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. And if you are the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Link:  https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Categories: 
Advocacy Groups
City: 
Stamford
States: 
Connecticut

Shoreline Area Senior Network, (SASN) January 2018 Meeting on Wednesday January 24, 2018 from 8:00 am to 9:30 am. Located at Masonicare at Chester Village 317 W Main St, Chester, CT 06412 Phone: (860) 526-6800

Shoreline Area Senior Network, (SASN) January 2018 Meeting on Wednesday January 24, 2018 from 8:00 am to 9:30 am. Located at Masonicare at Chester Village

317 W Main St, Chester, CT 06412 Phone: (860) 526-6800

"Happy New Year and Welcome Back!"
Please join us for our  monthly breakfast meeting of the 

Shoreline Area Senior Network!

RSVP Required:  SASN-RSVP@comcast.net

Date, Time $ Location:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

8 - 9:30 AM 

  

Masonicare at Chester Village317 W Main St, Chester, CT 06412

Phone: (860) 526-6800

    
CO-SPONSORS:

  

    

SPEAKER:

  Bob Elmer, Care for Caregivers

  TOPIC: 

"Understanding Alzheimer's-The Do's and Don't s of Alzheimer's Care"

Formal and informal caregivers will learn the critically important basics to understanding the many challenges those with Alzheimer's face every day. They will learn from real life examples of how to provide their loved one(s) and themselves a better quality of life. What are the three things everyone should know?, Emotions, yours and theirs, communication, resources and behaviors are just some of what will be discussed..

You must RSVP so we can be sure to have enough breakfast items and seats.  Please respond by clicking the RSVP Button below by no later than Monday, January 22, 2018.

 RSVP Link: SASN-RSVP@comcast.net  

There will be a marketing table at each meeting.  Feel free to utilize the opportunity to place information, events, brochures, etc. on the table.  Everyone but Sponsors may place their information here.  After the meeting, please take your remaining brochures with you. 

Only Sponsors may place info on each person's seat as well as give a short talk 
(maximum 2 minutes) about their business.  

Categories: 
Advocacy Groups
City: 
Chester
States: 
Connecticut
start time: 
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 8:00am

New Haven Area Senior Network, NHASN January 2018 Meeting on Wednesday January 17, 2018 starting at 8:00 am. Location/Host: Regency Health & Rehab Center 181 East Main St. Wallingford CT.

New Haven Area Senior Network, NHASN January 2018 Meeting on Wednesday January 17, 2018 starting at 8:00 am. Location/Host: Regency Health & Rehab Center

181 East Main St. Wallingford CT.

Co-Host: Constellation Health Services

Speaker: State Representative Craig Fishbein

 Please RSVP to Kimv@cthomecare.com 

so we can get a count for seating and breakfast

Categories: 

Advocacy Groups

City: 

Wallingford

States: 

Connecticut

County: 

New Haven

start time: 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 8:00am

Categories: 
Advocacy Groups
City: 
Wallingford
States: 
Connecticut

What is Hepatitis C ? What Aging American's Need To Know!

Senior Help Desk healthcare blog credited to The National Institute on Aging, part of NIH   www.nia.nih.gov

Hepatitis C:

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. Inflammation is swelling that occurs when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can damage organs.

Viruses  invade normal cells in your body. Many viruses cause infections that can be spread from person to person. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with an infected person’s blood.

Hepatitis C can cause an acute or chronic infection.

Although no vaccine for hepatitis C is available, you can take steps to protect yourself from hepatitis C. If you have hepatitis C, talk with your doctor about treatment. Medicines can cure most cases of hepatitis C.

Acute hepatitis C

Acute hepatitis C is a short-term infection. Symptoms can last up to 6 months. Sometimes your body is able to fight off the infection and the virus goes away.

Chronic hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C is a long-lasting infection. Chronic hepatitis C occurs when your body isn’t able to fight off the virus. About 75 to 85 percent of people with acute hepatitis C will develop chronic hepatitis C.13

Early diagnosis and treatment of chronic hepatitis C can prevent liver damage. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer .

How common is hepatitis C in the United States?

In the United States, hepatitis C is the most common chronic viral infection found in blood and spread through contact with blood.14

Researchers estimate that about 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.13 Many people who have hepatitis C don’t have symptoms and don’t know they have this infection. About 75 percent of U.S. adults who have hepatitis C are baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965.14

Since 2006, the number of new hepatitis C infections has been rising, especially among people younger than age 30 who inject heroin  or misuse prescription opioids  and inject them.15,16

New screening efforts and more effective hepatitis C treatments are helping doctors identify and cure more people with the disease. With more screening and treatment, hepatitis C may become less common in the future. Researchers estimate that hepatitis C could be a rare disease in the United States by 2036.17

Who is more likely to get hepatitis C?

People more likely to get hepatitis C are those who

  • have injected drugs
  • had a blood transfusion  or organ transplant before July 1992
  • have hemophilia  and received clotting factor before 1987
  • have been on kidney dialysis
  • have been in contact with blood or infected needles at work
  • have had tattoos or body piercings
  • have worked or lived in a prison
  • were born to a mother with hepatitis C
  • are infected with HIV 
  • have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease 
  • are men who have or had sex with men

In the United States, injecting drugs is the most common way that people get hepatitis C.13

Should I be screened for hepatitis C?

Your doctor may recommend screening for hepatitis C if you

  • have a high chance of being infected
  • were born between 1945 and 1965 

Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis C. Many people who have hepatitis C don’t have symptoms and don’t know they have hepatitis C. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis C before it causes serious health problems.

Three older couples at the beach.

Your doctor may recommend screening you for hepatitis C if you were born between 1945 and 1965.

What are the complications of hepatitis C?

Without treatment, hepatitis C may lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C can prevent these complications.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver slowly breaks down and is unable to function normally. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and partially blocks the flow of blood through the liver. In the early stages of cirrhosis, the liver continues to function. However, as cirrhosis gets worse, the liver begins to fail.

Liver failure

Also called end-stage liver disease, liver failure progresses over months, years, or even decades. With end-stage liver disease, the liver can no longer perform important functions or replace damaged cells. 

Liver cancer

Having chronic hepatitis C increases your chance of developing liver cancer. If chronic hepatitis C causes severe liver damage or cirrhosis before you receive hepatitis C treatment, you will continue to have an increased chance of liver cancer even after treatment. Your doctor may order an ultrasound  test to check for liver cancer every 6 months. Finding cancer at an early stage improves the chance of curing the cancer.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Most people infected with hepatitis C have no symptoms. Some people with an acute hepatitis C infection may have symptoms within 1 to 3 months after they are exposed to the virus. These symptoms may include

  • dark yellow urine
  • feeling tired
  • fever
  • gray- or clay-colored stools
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • pain in your abdomen
  • vomiting
  • yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice

If you have chronic hepatitis C, you most likely will have no symptoms until complications develop, which could be decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screeningis important, even if you have no symptoms.

What causes hepatitis C?

The hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with an infected person’s blood. Contact can occur by

  • sharing drug needles or other drug materials with an infected person
  • getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
  • being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person and were not properly sterilized, or cleaned in a way that destroys all viruses and other microorganisms
  • having contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
  • using an infected person’s razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
  • being born to a mother with hepatitis C
  • having unprotected sex with an infected person

You can’t get hepatitis C from

  • being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person
  • drinking water or eating food
  • hugging an infected person
  • shaking hands or holding hands with an infected person
  • sharing spoons, forks, and other eating utensils
  • sitting next to an infected person

A baby can’t get hepatitis C from breast milk.18

How do doctors diagnose hepatitis C?

Doctors diagnose hepatitis C based on your medical history, a physical exam, and blood tests. If you have hepatitis C, your doctor may perform additional tests to check your liver.

Medical history

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and whether you have any history of blood transfusions or injected drug use.

Physical exam

During a physical exam, your doctor will typically examine your body to check for signs of liver damage such as

  • changes in skin color
  • swelling in your lower legs, feet, or ankles
  • tenderness or swelling in your abdomen

What tests do doctors use to diagnose hepatitis C?

Doctors use blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C. Your doctor may order additional tests to check for liver damage, find out how much liver damage you have, or rule out other causes of liver disease.

Blood tests

Your doctor may order one or more blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C. A health care professional will take a blood sample from you and send the sample to a lab.

Blood tests for hepatitis C include the following:

  • Screening test for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. A screening blood test will show whether you have developed antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. A positive antibody test means you were exposed to the hepatitis C virus at some point. However, the virus may no longer be present in your blood if your body fought off the infection on its own or if you received treatment that cured the infection.
  • Hepatitis C RNA test. If your antibody test is positive, your doctor will use a hepatitis C RNA test to detect RNA—a type of genetic material—from the hepatitis C virus. The hepatitis C RNA test can show whether you still have the hepatitis C virus and how much virus is in your blood. This information can help your doctor treat the infection. To see if you are responding to treatment, your doctor may order this test while you are undergoing treatment to find out if the amount of virus in your blood is changing.
  • Genotype test. Your doctor can use this test to find out what strain, or form, of hepatitis C virus you have. At least six specific strains—called genotypes—of hepatitis C exist. Genotype 1 is the most common hepatitis C genotype in the United States.1 Your doctor will recommend treatment based on which hepatitis C genotype you have.

A health care professional taking a blood sample from a patient.

Your doctor may order one or more blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C.

Additional tests

If you’ve had chronic hepatitis C for a long time, you could have liver damage. Your doctor may recommend additional tests to find out whether you have liver damage, how much liver damage you have, or to rule out other causes of liver disease. These tests may include

  • blood tests
  • transient elastography, a special ultrasound of your liver
  • liver biopsy, in which a doctor uses a needle to take a small piece of tissue from your liver 

Doctors typically use liver biopsy only if other tests don’t provide enough information about a person’s liver damage or disease. Talk with your doctor about which tests are best for you.

How do doctors treat hepatitis C?

Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus and can cure the disease in most cases.

Several newer medicines, called direct-acting antiviral medicines, have been approved to treat hepatitis C since 2013. Studies show that these medicines can cure chronic hepatitis C in most people with this disease. These medicines can also cure acute hepatitis C. In some cases, doctors recommend waiting to see if an acute infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.

Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these newer, direct-acting antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C:

  • daclatasvir  (Daklinza)
  • elbasvir/grazoprevir  (Zepatier)
  • ledipasvir/sofosbuvir  (Harvoni)
  • ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir  (Technivie)
  • ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir/dasabuvir  (Viekira Pak, Viekira XR)
  • simeprevir  (Olysio)
  • sofosbuvir  (Sovaldi)
  • sofosbuvir/velpatasvir  (Epclusa)
  • sofosbuvir/velpatasvir/voxilaprevir  (Vosevi)

Newer medicines are sometimes used along with these older hepatitis C medicines:

  • ribavirin 
  • peginterferon alfa-2a  (Pegasys) or peginterferon alfa-2b  (PEG-Intron)

A woman taking medicine.

Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus.

You may need to take medicines for 12 to 24 weeks to cure hepatitis C. Your doctor will prescribe medicines and recommend a length of treatment based on

  • which hepatitis C genotype you have
  • how much liver damage you have
  • whether you have been treated for hepatitis C in the past

Your doctor may order blood tests during and after your treatment. Blood tests can show whether the treatment is working. Hepatitis C medicines cure the infection in most people who complete treatment.

Hepatitis C medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Check with your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

For safety reasons, talk with your doctor before using dietary supplements , such as vitamins, or any complementary or alternative  medicines or medical practices.

Cost of hepatitis C medicines

The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be costly. Most government and private health insurance prescription drug plans provide some coverage for these medicines. Talk with your doctor about your health insurance coverage for hepatitis C medicines.

Drug companies, nonprofit organizations, and some states offer programs that can help pay for hepatitis C medicines. If you need help paying for medicines, talk with your doctor. Learn more about financial help for hepatitis C medicines .

How do doctors treat the complications of hepatitis C?

If hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order an ultrasound  test to check for liver cancer every 6 months.

If hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.

How can I protect myself from hepatitis C infection?

If you don’t have hepatitis C, you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by

  • not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
  • wearing gloves if you have to touch another person’s blood or open sores
  • making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools 
  • not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
  • using a latex or polyurethane condom during sex

Two syringes with needles.

Do not share drug needles or other drug materials.

If you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.

How can I prevent spreading hepatitis C to others?

If you have hepatitis C, follow the steps above to avoid spreading the infection. In addition, you can protect others from infection by telling your doctor, dentist, and other health care providers that you have hepatitis C. Don’t donate blood or blood products, semen, organs, or tissue.

If you have hepatitis C, tell your sex partner and talk with your doctor about safe sex practices . Although hepatitis C can spread from person to person during sex, the chances are low. People who have multiple sex partners, have HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, or who engage in rough or anal sex have a higher chance of spreading hepatitis C. Using a condom can help prevent the spread of hepatitis C.

Is a hepatitis C vaccine available?

Researchers are still working on a vaccine  for hepatitis C. If you have hepatitis C, talk with your doctor about vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These vaccines can protect you from hepatitis A and hepatitis B infections, which could further damage your liver.

What should I eat and drink if I have hepatitis C?

If you have hepatitis C, you should eat a balanced, healthy diet. Talk with your doctor about healthy eating. You should also avoid alcohol because it can cause more liver damage.

References

[13] Hepatitis C FAQs for health professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Viral Hepatitis website. www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/HCVfaq.htm . Updated July 21, 2016. Accessed October 19, 2016.

[14] U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Final recommendation statement: hepatitis C: screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatem.... Current as of June 2013. Accessed October 19, 2016.

[15] Suryaprasad AG, White JZ, Xu F, et al. Emerging epidemic of hepatitis C virus infections among young nonurban persons who inject drugs in the United States, 2006–2012. Clinical Infectious Diseases.2014;59(10):1411–1419.

[16] Viral hepatitis and young persons who inject prescription opioids and heroin. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/featuredtopics/youngpwid.htm . Updated March 30, 2016. Accessed October 19, 2016.

[17] Kabiri M, Jazwinski AB, Roberts MS, Schaefer AJ, Chhatwal J. The changing burden of hepatitis C virus infection in the United States: model-based predictions. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014;161(3):170–180.

[18] Hepatitis B and C infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity website. www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/disease/hepatitis.htm . Updated June 17, 2015. Accessed October 19, 2016.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):  The NIH is the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

National Institute on Aging
Building 31, Room 5C27
31 Center Drive, MSC 2292
Bethesda, MD 20892

niaic@nia.nih.gov 
Phone: 1-800-222-2225
TTY: 1-800-222-4225
Phones are answered Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Eastern time)

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Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can Get Help

Senior Help Desk healthcare blog credited to The National Institute on Aging, part of NIH   www.nia.nih.gov

Facts About Aging and Alcohol

The fact is that families, friends, and healthcare workers often overlook their concerns about older people drinking. Sometimes trouble with alcohol in older people is mistaken for other conditions related to aging, for example, a problem with balance. But, how the body handles alcohol can change with age. You may have the same drinking habits, but your body has changed.

Alcohol may act differently in older people than in younger people. Some older people can feel "high" without increasing the amount of alcohol they drink. This "high" can make them more likely to have accidents, including falls and fractures and car crashes. Also, older women are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol over a long time can:

  • Lead to some kinds of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage
  • Worsen some health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, memory loss and mood disorders
  • Make some medical problems hard for doctors to find and treat—for example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack.
  • Cause some older people to be forgetful and confused—these symptoms could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer's disease.

How Alcohol Affects Safety

Drinking even a small amount of alcohol can lead to dangerous or even deadly situations. Drinking can impair a person's judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This increases the risk of falls, household accidents, and car crashes. Alcohol is a factor in 30 percent of suicides, 40 percent of crashes and burns, 50 percent of drownings and homicides, and 60 percent of falls. People who plan to drive, use machinery, or perform other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination should not drink.

In older adults, too much alcohol can lead to balance problems and falls, which can result in hip or arm fractures and other injuries. Older people have thinner bones than younger people, so their bones break more easily. Studies show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.

Adults of all ages who drink and drive are at higher risk of traffic accidents and related problems than those who do not drink. Drinking slows reaction times and coordination and interferes with eye movement and information processing. People who drink even a moderate amount can have traffic accidents, possibly resulting in injury or death to themselves and others. Even without alcohol, the risk of crashes goes up starting at age 55. Also, older drivers tend to be more seriously hurt in crashes than younger drivers. Alcohol adds to these age-related risks.

In addition, alcohol misuse and abuse can strain relationships with family members, friends, and others. At the extreme, heavy drinking can contribute to domestic violence and child abuse or neglect. Alcohol use is often involved when people become violent, as well as when they are violently attacked. If you feel that alcohol is endangering you or someone else, call 911 or get other help right away.

Getting Help for Alcohol Problems

Are you one of those people who should stop drinking due to health problems or medicines you need to take? If you want to stop drinking, there is help.

Start by talking to a healthcare professional like your doctor. He or she may be able to give you advice about treatment. Your local health department or social services agencies may also be helpful. Here are some things you can try:

  • Ask your doctor about medicines that might help.
  • Talk to a trained counselor who knows about alcohol problems in older people.
  • Find a support group for older people with alcohol problems.
  • Choose individual, family, or group therapy, depending on what works for you.
  • Check out a 12-step program, like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), that offers support and programs for people who want to stop drinking.

Many older adults decide to quit drinking in later life. You can do it, too. There are many things you can do to cut back or stop drinking. You can:

  • Count how many ounces of alcohol you are getting in each drink.
  • Keep track of the number of drinks you have each day.
  • Decide how many days a week you want to drink. Plan some days that are free of alcohol.
  • Pace yourself when you drink. Don't have more than one alcoholic drink in an hour. In place of alcohol, drink water, juice, or soda.
  • Make sure to eat when drinking. Alcohol will enter your system more slowly if you eat some food.
  • Remove alcohol from your home.
  • Ask for support from your family and advice from your healthcare provider. Get the help you need to quit.

Take time to plan ahead. Here are some things you can do:

  • Develop interests that don't involve alcohol.
  • Avoid people, places, and times of day that may trigger your drinking.
  • Avoid drinking when you are angry or upset or if you've had a bad day.
  • Plan what you will do if you have an urge to drink.
  • Learn to say "no, thanks" when you're offered an alcoholic drink.
  • Remember to stay healthy for the fun things in life—birth of a grandchild, a long hoped for trip, or a holiday party.

No one wants to get hurt or to hurt others as the result of too much alcohol. Yet, it can happen if you drink more than you should. Be aware of how your body changes as you age. Be alert to these changes, adjust how much alcohol you can safely drink, and continue to enjoy life to the fullest.

For More Information About Help for Alcohol Problems

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism                                                                         
National Institutes of Health

1-888-696-4222
niaaaweb-r@exchange.nih.gov
www.niaaa.nih.gov

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
1-877-726-4727 (toll-free)
1-800-487-4889 (TTY/toll-free)
samhsainfo@samhsa.hhs.gov
www.store.samhsa.gov

Alcoholics Anonymous
1-212-870-3400
www.aa.org

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):  The NIH is the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

National Institute on Aging
Building 31, Room 5C27
31 Center Drive, MSC 2292
Bethesda, MD 20892

niaic@nia.nih.gov 
Phone: 1-800-222-2225
TTY: 1-800-222-4225
Phones are answered Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Eastern time)

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Manage Your Social Security Benefits With A "My Social Security" Account​!

 

My Social Security is an online portal offered by the Social Security Administration that provides easy access to your Social Security information. The following link will connect you to My Social Security:  https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/

 if you receive benefits or have Medicare, you can use your my Social Security online account to:

  • Get your benefit verification letter;
  • Check your benefit and payment information and your earnings record;
  • Change your address and phone number;
  • Start or change direct deposit of your benefit payment; 
  • Get a replacement Medicare card; and
  • Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season. 

If you do not receive benefits, you can:

  • Get your Social Security Statement, to review:
    • Estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;
    • Your earnings once a year to verify the amounts we posted are correct; and 
    • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.
  • Get a benefit verification letter stating that:
    • You never received Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicare; or
    • You received benefits in the past, but do not currently receive them (The letter will include the date your benefits stopped and how much you received that year.); or
    • You applied for benefits but haven’t received an answer yet.
    • Social Security Office Locator - Find Office Locations by Zip Code

      Submitted by Senior Help Desk on Sun, 01/07/2018 - 9:28pm

      For more information about the Social Security Administration visit   www.socialsecurity.gov. You can also use the Link below to find the Social Security Administration, SSA Office near you.The SSA Can help you with questions or issues about your retirement benefits and other federal programs such as SSI. You can also call your local Social Security office to schedule an appointment.

      Link:  https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

      or Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

      For more information on Social Security visit:  www.socialsecurity.gov

Categories: 
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Social Security Office Locator - Find Office Locations by Zip Code

Use the Link below  to find the Social Security Administration, SSA Office near you. SSA Can help you with questions or issues about your retirement benefits and other federal programs such as SSI. You can also call your local Social Security office to schedule an appointment.

Link:  https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

or Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information on Social Security visit:  www.socialsecurity.gov

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New Haven
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