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Health Q&A

Posted October 31, 2012 in Advice Column, Clear Lake

Q: How can I get my home ready for the winter?

A: Annual furnace maintenance protects your health and that of your family. Neglected, dirty filters can release mold spores and other toxic airborne particles into your home, causing respiratory problems and disease. A well-maintained system keeps the air clean and helps prevent such problems from occurring. When the furnace is working properly, carbon monoxide is channeled out of the home through an exhaust pipe. But leaks happen, and a carbon monoxide leak is dangerous because that particular gas is odorless and deadly. It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home at all times, not just in the winter months.

Shut off the water to outdoor faucets. Prevent frozen or burst pipes by shutting off the water to all outdoor faucets and allowing them to drain.

Chimney sweeps. The Chimney Safety Institute recommends that if you light fires in your fireplace or wood-stove three or more times a week during the heating season, proper maintenance would include cleaning and inspecting the chimney once a year. Proper chimney maintenance and care, including routine chimney sweeps, are important parts of preventing chimney fires.

Information provided by Holly Windelow, co-owner, Help At Home Senior Care LLC, 141 N. Clark St., Clear Lake, 641-525-0332,,

Q: How can I handle being an Alzheimer’s caregiver?

A: As Alzheimer’s or dementia cause a decline in the health of an individual, care demands increase for the caregiver. It is difficult for caregivers to deal with change in their life and the life of their loved one. Symptoms of stress to the caregiver include anger, depression, exhaustion and lack of concentration. One sign of caregiver stress includes having difficulty understanding or denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed. Caregivers who withdraw socially, or from things that once brought pleasure may need support. A caregiver who has anxiety about the future may be showing signs of stress. These issues can lead to health problems for the caregiver and they may begin to take a mental and physical toll.

If you are a caregiver, help yourself by taking time for yourself. You can eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest, but support groups can help, too. Encourage other family members and friends to share the care taking responsibilities. Take advantage of respite or adult day care services for your loved one, and schedule time for yourself to spend time doing things you enjoy.

Attend Oakwood Care Center’s free “In an Oakwood Hour” Alzeimer’s caregiver stress program on Nov. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. Call Katie Mason at (641) 357-5244 to reserve your spot at this free lunch and learn how to deal with the stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Information provided by Katie Mason, marketing coordinator at Oakwood Care Center, 400 Highway 18 W, Clear Lake, 641 357-5244.

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