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Dec 052016

(NC) Digital health awareness is at an all-time high — it’s top of mind for some 75 per cent of Canadians.

In growing numbers, we’re online booking appointments, getting prescription renewals, viewinghep our health information and consulting with our doctors. This is according to the 2016 Connecting Patients for Better Health. The report, commissioned by Canada Health Infoway, captured perspectives from some 6,000 adults over three years by way of four public opinion surveys.

Key among the findings was the fact that Canadians report that digital health improves their knowledge of their health (77 per cent), improves their confidence in self-management of their health (69 per cent), and supports more informed discussions with their doctor (74 per cent).

While the actual availability of online tools is lagging behind interest level, access is growing and options are increasingly being integrated into the healthcare system.

In Ontario for example, Telehomecare is designed for older persons coping with chronic conditions like congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A program of the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), Telehomecare puts remote patient monitoring technology in the home and couples it with health coaching by phone.

Telehomecare can be life changing. “Enabling people to monitor their vital signs and better manage their care at home means we have helped to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions by more than 50 per cent for these patients,” says Laurie Poole, vice present of telemedicine solutions at OTN. “And that means less worry and stress for patients and their caregivers.”

The free program provides easy-to-use equipment like a weight scale and blood pressure device to help patients monitor changes that could mean their condition requires more attention and management. The information is shared with the patient’s physician to better inform care.

For more information about Telehomecare and to find out how to access it, call 1.855.991.8191 or visit

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

Dec 012016

(NC) With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Below are helpful tips on sharing the gift of sport with everyone on your list.88737h

For the hockey lover. Consider a jersey of their favourite player or team. To personalize it even more, get their name monogramed on the back. Sport Chek offers cresting in-store so you can customize any jersey. Tickets to a game are a great addition, offering not just a material gift but an amazing experience.

For the fashionista. Go snow chic for the fashionista. Try a stylish padded jacket, two-tone leggings, or carbon fibre skis to help them be on-trend with this season’s slope style.

For the basketball buff. Sneakerheads unite — basketball fans will love the latest pair of Curry’s or LeBron’s. Add that to an NBA jersey and you’ll score yourself an invite to the next game.

For the gamer. Waiting for football season to pick up again? Gamers will love the latest Madden NFL video game. The football player on your list can practice their skills virtually until the snow subsides.

For the golfer. Beginners and experts alike will enjoy a set of aerodynamic golf balls and golfing accessories like visors, gloves, and tees. Thank goodness for those heated driving ranges.

For the yogi. You can’t go wrong with a membership at their favourite studio. Accessorizing is also a hit this holiday season. Hot yoga towels, mats, blocks, and foam rollers are sure to win you a spot on the mat next to them.

Still unsure about a gift? If you’re worried about sizing and colour, you can opt for a gift card at a favourite sports store like Sport Chek.

Nov 282016

(NC) Lost baggage, flight delays, bumped from your flight? Unfortunately, air travel can sometimes be stressful and unexpected things can happen. If you’re planning on travelling during this busy season, follow these tips to help lower your stress:88763h

  1. Call ahead if you have special requests. If you are carrying sports equipment or musical instruments, have dietary restrictions or special needs, you want to call the airline at least 48 hours in advance to make sure they can accommodate your requests.

  2. Make sure you have all your travel documents. It is your responsibility to have the proper documents to enter a foreign country and to return to Canada. Ensure you have the appropriate visas (if required) for the duration of your trip as soon as possible — ideally when you book your tickets. Ensure your passport remains valid for your trip. Expiration dates may vary. Contact your airline or your Consular office ahead of time.

  3. Double check your flight’s status. Confirm your flight in advance by checking your flight’s status at least a day before departure and again just before leaving for the airport.

  4. Know your airline’s baggage limits and fees. There are different limits for carry-on and checked baggage and possibly extra fees. You want to know what these are to avoid delays or costs at the airport.

  5. Pack smart. Always include your contact information and your destination contact information inside each piece of checked baggage. This helps identify baggage if any outside tag is damaged or lost. Always keep essential and valuable items with you on board, such as your passport, identification and return tickets, medicines and medical devices, money, jewellery, electronic equipment, and essential overnight items.

  6. Check in early. If available, check in online up to 24 hours in advance. This can help avoid problems with overbooking by the airline and you missing your flight.

  7. Read the fine print. When you buy your ticket from the airline, it comes with terms and conditions. Make sure you know what to expect if your flight is delayed, your luggage is lost, or you experience any other problems by reading your airline’s terms and conditions.

Bonus tip: If you do experience a problem while flying, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency. Their job is to help resolve complaints between passengers and airlines. Find more information online at

Nov 252016

(BPT) – For the nearly 3 million American men fighting prostate cancer, and the thousands more yet to be diagnosed, silence is not golden. Men who speak up about their disease — to their doctors, loved ones and community — can get the help they need, when they need it, and ensure their treatment plan is tailored to their needs. What’s more, they could use their voice to inspire others to be more vocal, especially about symptoms that may indicate the disease may be getting worse.23265474

While overall prostate cancer numbers have declined, a new study from Northwestern University found an increasing number of newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer are metastatic — meaning the cancer has spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body. Advanced stage cancers are more difficult to treat, and fewer patients will recover or survive when their disease has progressed. Unfortunately, men with advanced disease often hesitate to speak up about the discomfort they experience. But according to Dr. William Oh, chief of the division of hematology and medical oncology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, speaking up about these warning signs is a key way men can advocate for themselves.

“During treatment, it’s important for men to speak up and share with their doctors any changes in their bodies and symptoms, even if they don’t think the changes are related to their prostate cancer,” Oh says. “As physicians, we’re working to create an environment where men feel comfortable talking about symptoms instead of feeling shame or weakness.”

Men living with advanced prostate cancer may remain silent about symptoms, such as fatigue and difficulty with daily tasks, for different reasons. Some don’t want to further burden loved ones, whereas others believe the symptoms aren’t part of their illness or that they can “tough things out.” An international survey conducted by the International Prostate Cancer Coalition found that while 99 percent of advanced prostate cancer patients experienced at least one symptom, 68 percent admitted they sometimes ignored symptoms.

“If we really want to help patients, we have to encourage them to come out and tell us exactly what’s bothering them,” Oh says. “Symptoms can alert physicians that a patient’s cancer has progressed and they need to re-evaluate treatment. Men are sometimes conditioned to be stoic and take the pain – this is counterproductive and if physicians aren’t aware, they can’t address the symptoms.”

These conversations are important, but they aren’t always easy. Here are some practical tips to help men with prostate cancer make the most of their next doctor visit:

  • Prepare a list of specific questions before the appointment, so they are not forgotten.

  • Keep a diary or list in a notebook any symptoms. Any changes in day-to-day life are important information for doctors to know.

  • Ask a family member or loved one to come along to the doctor for support.

  • Take a note pad and pen to write down key points from the conversation.

Education and communication are critical for stemming the growing number of advanced prostate cancer diagnoses. That’s the basis of the Men Who Speak Up nationwide movement, which aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of advancing prostate cancer so that men know when to speak up and take action against their disease. At, men can get the facts about advanced prostate cancer, learn about treatment options, download resources such as a doctor discussion guide and symptom tracker, and join the dialogue about advanced prostate cancer.

Nov 242016

(NC) When homeowners repair or renovate, cash deals are all too common. “Pay me cash” contractors shave their prices by eliminating taxes and consumers pay less and get a better deal. Or do they?88738h

There’s a definite downside to cash deals — the increased risk for homeowners. When you hear about renovation nightmares, odds are this involved a cash contractor. And most times, the homeowners who got ripped off weren’t able to do anything about it.

Fortunately, you can protect yourself by hiring a professional and getting your agreement in writing. Remember that contractors who work for cash ignore the rules — and this goes way beyond not paying their taxes. Before you consider hiring someone for cash, learn more about these common practices of cash operators that could cost you money:

  1. The work is never started or left unfinished. After a large down payment or progress payment in cash, the contractor disappears forever.

  2. Shoddy work and products. The contractor does as little as possible, using cheap materials. Because nothing is written down, there’s nothing you can do about it.

  3. No permits and inspections. You may have an illegal project on your hands, or one that doesn’t measure up to current codes and standards. What happens when you resell your home? Is it safe? How do you know?

  4. No workers’ compensation. If someone gets hurt on the job, you may be financially responsible.

  5. No builder’s insurance. If your home or adjoining property is damaged, the cost of repairs may come out of your pocket.

  6. No warranty and no follow-up service. The contractor is nowhere to be found and doesn’t respond to your calls.

Find more information at

Nov 212016

(BPT) – A single choice doesn’t matter most of the time. Having dessert one night, taking a walk on another and deciding to skip an outing with friends aren’t life changing choices. A daily choice is small, like a pebble. But like pebbles, when you keep reaching for the same choices, they can amass into something significant.heart

If you want to improve your heart health, science tells us that making simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. And better heart health is undoubtedly on the minds of many Americans. One in three adults live with one or more types of cardiovascular disease, according a review published in the journal Circulation. Over time, changes in the heart and blood vessels can lead to a host of devastating problems, including heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

But the good news is you can make some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk and make yourself healthier. The effort doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t need to sign up for an expensive complicated plan. If you make a commitment to reach for healthy choices more often than the alternatives, you and your doctor will start to see a difference. Here are four tips to get there.

Don’t chase diet fads: Stick with a Mediterranean-based diet, which is based on simple, whole, healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, olive oil and fish. The upside is the Mediterranean diet checks off many boxes in terms of achieving better health. It promotes heart and brain health, weight loss, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. Recent research also shows it can reduce the risk of stroke. In 2013, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine said switching to a Mediterranean diet can prevent 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and heart disease deaths in high risk people.

Get more exercise: The recommendations are very simple here. The Surgeon General recommends 2.5 hours of moderate intensity each week for good heart health. That’s just over 20 minutes a day. While some people love the idea of getting super fit with an intense program, the truth is that all it takes is simple changes. Visit your doctor to find out what is safe for you, and make a list of activities you enjoy doing, whether it’s walking in the woods or taking a leisurely bike ride. Then make a plan to make these outings a part of your routine.

Find a friend: This surprising but true tip has some truth. Seeking companionship, whether it’s through an outing with a friend, joining a club or attending a family member’s school function can add up to good heart health. Without community and companionship, depression is more likely to set in, which is linked to higher rates of heart disease. Though it may be easier and tempting to stay in, especially during cold weather, choosing companionship can be positive for heart health.

Be informed: When it comes to your body, knowledge empowers you to make decisions to improve your health. Consult with your doctor, so you can make that targeted plan to improve your health. In addition to knowing your blood sugar, blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, consider adding vascular screening to the list. This screening looks for fatty buildup in the arteries, which can lead to serious conditions such as stroke, peripheral vascular disease and carotid artery stenosis.

Yet, many people are missing out on an important opportunity to be informed about their artery health, because vascular screenings are not typically covered by insurance. Luckily, there’s an affordable way for you to know your risk. Life Line Screening performs affordable testing in community settings throughout the country. The process is simple, safe and convenient, you will get your own results pack that you can review and bring to your doctor. In addition, you can sign up for a newsletter delivered to your inbox containing up-to-date, research-backed tips to help you maintain your health.

To find out when a Life Line screening clinic may be scheduled in your area, visit or call (877) 754-9631.

Nov 182016

(BPT) – November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, which provides a timely opportunity to better understand end-of-life care options and how to broach this sometimes difficult subject for you or a family member.21644771

Hospice and palliative care services help people with illnesses no longer responding to curative treatment face death on their own terms, most often at home or in a familiar setting. No matter where a person chooses to receive these services, hospice staff can guide them and their families through difficult decisions surrounding end-of-life care.

Many families feel overwhelmed when told by a physician that a loved one has six months or less to live. A physician may use the terms “palliative care” or “hospice care,” which often raises questions about the details regarding these services.

Both hospice and palliative care are patient- and family-centered health care options that address physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Hospice is limited to terminally ill patients who meet Medicare’s eligibility requirements and focuses on enhancing comfort and quality of life during the final months of life – without curative intent. Palliative care is available regardless of the diagnosis and may or may not include curative options along with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. Families of patients in hospice care gain access to caregiver education and training, help with difficult decisions, respite care, and bereavement services, among others.

There is no “One size fits all”

Hospice and palliative care can be delivered at home, in a nursing home, a dedicated hospice facility or an acute care hospital. These services have come a long way since the first U.S. hospice facility opened in Branford, Connecticut in 1974.

According to Joseph Shega, MD, senior vice president and national medical director for VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, “we started as pioneers in this area of health care about four decades ago and it has been gratifying to see how the practice of hospice and palliative care has truly transformed the way people think about and manage end-of-life experiences.” He explains that “it’s so important to preserve comfort, respect and dignity in the face of terminal illness.”

A growing number of Americans are choosing to access hospice services, which are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance. In 2014, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) reported nearly 2 million Americans received hospice care, and according to AARP, among those 50 to 64 years old, 71 percent want to “age in place,” in their own homes. When people are in control of where and how they face the end-of-life, they can focus more time on experiencing meaningful moments with loved ones.

How to start “The conversation”

If you were unable to speak for yourself, do your loved ones know what kind of medical care you would want? Do you know what they would want?

Having a conversation about end-of-life care and advance directives may not be the easiest conversation you’ll ever have, but it is one of the most important.

Despite the topic’s importance, only 27 percent of Americans report having talked with their families about end-of-life care. The best way to make your medical wishes known is to create an advance directive and share it with your family and your doctor.

Have the conversation and don’t wait for a crisis. Failing to communicate healthcare choices can lead to anguish, family conflicts and unintended costs that can result when patients no longer can tell their loved ones what kind of care or which “heroic measures” they would accept or reject.

Talk to your loved ones-briefly, in depth, frequently, lightly, seriously-about your wishes. We suggest using milestone events-wedding, anniversary, birthday, retirement, graduation, downsizing move, family holiday-to hold “what if” conversations with loved ones. Keep it light but heartfelt. You may be surprised: letting your loved ones know your wishes could start a frank conversation among the generations about terminal illness, funerals, religious beliefs and other end-of-life concerns.

If you or a loved one is ready to talk about end-of-life care options or would like to find out more about hospice care or how to start the conversation, VITAS can help. Visit or call 1-877-531-6798.

Nov 172016

(NC) Too much rich food, too little exercise, too little sleep? It must be the holidays!stroke 2

Traditional celebrations bring us joy, but for people with chronic conditions, they can also bring trouble.

In fact, one research study calls it “the Christmas epidemic.” Collecting data from 71 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the U.K. study found that increased hospitalizations were possibly related to increased levels of respiratory virus infection and social activity, as well as reduced access to regular healthcare from your family doctor over the holidays.

Cindy Fajardo, RN, clinical practice manager of Telehomecare at the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), says these problems can be avoided.

“A little forethought and planning can help ensure that people with chronic disease don’t get sicker this holiday season,” she says.

Fajardo recommends choosing healthy foods as often as possible and getting regular, condition-appropriate exercise.

Avoiding allergens and triggers like air pollution from candles and wood fires, as well as temperature changes, is also key. And if a condition worsens, she advises seeking medical help immediately — don’t wait until after the holidays. In this way, potential exacerbations that might lead to an emergency room visit or a hospitalization can be caught early, keeping the patient healthier and at home.

“It can be difficult to acknowledge your limitations when you have a chronic condition and hard for families to see loved ones struggling,” says Fajardo. “But the good news is, there are strategies to make the holidays easier to manage and as enjoyable as possible.”

Telehomecare, an OTN program, helps caregivers support patients with COPD and congestive heart failure in their own home.

“Telehomecare includes weekly health coaching sessions and remote monitoring of important vital signs and symptoms,” says Fajardo. The free program provides easy-to-use equipment like a weight scale and blood pressure device to help the patient start monitoring changes that could mean their condition requires more attention and management.

For more information about Telehomecare, call 1.855.991.8191 or visit

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

Nov 152016

boomers(NC) Save yourself some stress and enjoy a relaxing winter escape with these tips for planning, packing, and travelling for your next holiday.

  1. Pristine packing. Your precious items shouldn’t be checked-in — keep them with you in your carry-on baggage. This includes your passport, identification and return tickets, medicines and medical devices, money, jewellery, electronic equipment, and essential overnight items. Always include your contact information and your destination contact information inside each piece of checked baggage. If you’re travelling with someone or are checking more than one bag, divide up your contents. This way, if one gets lost, you won’t lose all your belongings.

  2. Be wary of tight connections. Unforeseen issues like weather or mechanical problems can disrupt your flights, so it’s wise to leave yourself some extra time between connecting flights in case of an unexpected mishap. Remember that it’s better to spend an extra hour browsing the duty free shop than missing your flight.

  3. A discount isn’t always a bargain. Discount fares, sometimes known as seat sales, give passengers less flexibility and may be available only for a short period. Be mindful of any restrictions. In contrast, full fares are the most costly but have the fewest restrictions and give you the most flexibility to book, change, or cancel a reservation.

  4. Know your passenger rights. The air carrier’s tariff covers your rights and obligations as a passenger and your carrier’s rights and responsibilities to you. If something goes wrong, read the tariff to find out if your ticket is refundable, how the carrier will handle problems with your bags, and what it will do if flights are cancelled or delayed or there are changes to your itinerary or reservation.

  5. Know what to do when you’re stuck. If you experience a problem with your airline such as a flight delay, denied boarding or schedule change, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency. Their job is to help resolve complaints between passengers and airlines. Find more information online at

Nov 122016

(NC) The winter months often see the flight of Canadian snow bird vacationers down south. While leaving your snow-covered home for a beach and tan may be appealing, your empty home may seem like an open invitation for prying eyes and unwanted guests. Fortunately, the tips below can help you keep your home safe while you’re off chasing the sun.vacation

Don’t disclose that your home is empty. Be sure not to disclose the dates of your trip on social media or leave voicemail messages that reveal that you’ll be away. Providers like belairdirect can help you assess if you have the right coverage ahead of your trip, letting you shift your focus to sun protection.

Create the impression your home is holiday headquarters. While you don’t have to stage a bustling holiday party, you can do simple things to protect yourself. Install a timer to turn lights on and off at different times and ask a neighbour or relative to shovel your driveway, move your vehicle, and collect your mail.

Set up some “traps” to foil intruders. Put away the thumb tacks — there are some simple “traps” you can put in place to keep your home secure. Install a safety bar on patios or place a stick in between a sliding door to prevent it from opening. Set the ultimate trap by activating your home alarm system.

Be proactive. Be sure to put away any outdoor items that could be used to break into your home, turn off water, drain all systems and appliances, and unplug electrical and electronic devices. Above all else, make sure you’re properly insured. Providers like belairdirect can help you get a coverage quote in a fraction of the time it takes to hit the airport.