Blogs: Health / medicine

Signs that say Hope and Despair.When you are seeking help, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. This is a selective list of social service organizations and places that offer housing, shelter, mental health counseling, escape from abusive situations and other basic needs for people who are homeless, jobless or going through personal transitions. If you have any questions or need assistance finding services, contact us and we'll be happy to help!


When in doubt, start here: 211info

211info is a comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more. Calls are confidential, anonymous and free. Certified Information and Referral Specialists assess the situation and refer callers using a locally managed database of over 4,200 programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages. Dial 211 from any phone; text your zip code to 898211; send an email to help@211info.org; or search resources online.


Other resources:

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
Cascadia provides mental health counseling for people with psychiatric and substance use challenges.  They provide crisis intervention, addictions treatment, and housing services for people who are very low-income.  Their website includes addresses and phone numbers for services as well as links to additional resources outside of the area.
 
Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services
Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members as well as people who have no insurance or resources. Their Mental Health Call Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week; call 503-988-4888, 800-716-9769 (toll free) or 503-988-5866 (TTY). Clasping hands; link to Northwest Pilot Project.
 
Northwest Pilot Project
Provides housing and other supportive services for seniors ages 55 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Find housing, transportation help, advocacy and referrals to other resources and services. NW Pilot Project recommends calling 503-227-5605 before coming in.

Outside In
Outside In is a community resource for homeless youth.  They provide health services, counseling and shelter, as well as programs and education.

Portland Women’s Crisis Line
Offers 24 hour telephone crisis counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence; call 503-235-5333 or 888-235-5333.  The organization also offers support groups and direct service counseling for victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Rose City Resource
Street Roots publishes this very comprehensive online directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in  Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is continuously updated.
 
Smiling woman; link to Transition Projects website.Transition Projects
This organization can help with a variety of services including housing, showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Tri-met tickets, information and referral and housing search assistance.

 

I recently got a Fitbit, a wonderful little device that tracks how much you walk, and I’ve become a little bit obsessed with seeing how many steps I can walk every single day. I’m not quite as obsessed as David Sedaris is about walking (or maybe it’s because I don’t have nine hours every day to devote to walking the way Sedaris says he does). I know that I’m somewhere on the obsessive-compulsive scale but I really do try not to let my slight ocd tendencies affect those around me (though my husband, when he’s washing the dishes as I’m hovering about in the kitchen cleaning up after him, might disagree with that last statement).

The Man Who Couldn't Stop bookjacketDavid Adam does suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. For the past 20 years, he has had an irrational fear of contracting AIDS, and in an effort to understand this, he has written The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought. It’s my favorite kind of memoir - personal, poignant, heartbreaking stories of the author mixed with everything I’ve ever wanted to know about a bigger subject. This is an immensely down-to-earth, accessible book about a difficult subject. I came away with an understanding of the definition of OCD, the possible causes, the treatment of OCD and a huge amount of empathy for all those that lean towards obsessive- compulsive disorder.


 

Sunsetchoice

noun \ˈchȯis\

the act of choosing : the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities

the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities : the opportunity or power to make a decision

a range of things that can be chosen

 

Choice. We cherish our freedom to make choices, and Oregonians facing end-of-life decisions for themselves or family members have an unprecedented range of options from which to choose. Sometimes the path forward is obvious, but many times it is not. Fortunately, none of us facing such decisions need feel alone. We have a wealth of information and resources available to help.

How do we even express our choices, though, if we haven’t yet talked with our friends and families? TEDMED speaker Michael Hebb notes that, “How we want to die represents the most important and costly conversation Americans aren’t having.” Hoping, he says, “to spark the gentlest revolution imaginable,” Hebb founded Let's have dinner and talk about death, a web-based initiative designed to give us the tools to have these difficult and potentially transformative conversations.

The National Institutes of Health offers an online “End of Life” module aimed at helping people understand the many practical and emotional aspects of preparing for death. The module provides visitors with information about the most common issues faced by the dying and their caregivers.

Seriously ill or frail Oregonians may opt to talk with their healthcare providers about Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment--commonly known as POLSTs. POLSTs help individuals exercise more control over the type of end-of-life care they receive; they are medical orders that emergency personnel will follow to ensure that the desired level of care is provided.

Hospice care is often chosen when curative treatment is no longer effective or no longer wanted, and when life expectancy is measured in months or weeks. Hospice is a philosophy of compassionate and comprehensive care for dying persons and their families that addresses the medical, psychosocial, spiritual and practical needs of the individual, and the related needs of the family and loved ones, throughout the periods of illness and bereavement. The Oregon Hospice Association provides information on resources for families and patients.

In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Since then, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In How to Die in Oregon, available at Multnomah County Library as a program, DVD, and streaming video, Filmmaker Peter Richardson enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether--and when--to end their lives by lethal overdose. The film examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. More information on the Death with Dignity Act is available from the Oregon Public Health Division and from Compassion & Choices.

Finally, caregivers face special challenges as a loved one faces death. Support and resources are available through the Family Caregiver Alliance and this booklist

Contributed by Jenny W. 

Rough Guide to Men's Health

 

We hear a lot about women’s health issues, but men have specific health concerns, as well. As with all health information, it’s important to find trustworthy, reliable resources. Here are some places you can go to find quality information specific to men’s health.

How much do you know about men’s health? Take this quiz from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to find out how well-informed you are.

MedlinePlus, the National Institute of Health’s consumer website, is a great place to go for health information. The Men’s Health page contains information about h

ealth screening for men, health issues specific to men, news on men’s health issues and more. The MedlinePlus Men’s Health page is also available in Spanish, and you can find information about men’s health in Chinese (traditional), as well.

The National Institute of Mental Health provides information about depression and men, including signs and symptoms, treatment options and more.

Health screening is important; the AHRQ provides screening guidelines for males. Are you 50 or older? These guidelines are for you.

Brown University links out to a number of resources for men to learn more about their health: testicular cancer information, the Center for Disease Control’s Men’s Health Portal, information about nutrition  and eating disorders and more.

Finally, the Men’s Health Resource Center contains a wealth of information on men’s health, including information on topics like cancer, aging, emotional health, fatherhood and much more.

 

 

Ebola virions through an electron microscope.The word is enough to freeze your possibly hemorrhaging blood, isn’t it? Or make you glad you (or someone you know) aren’t in West Africa. My first thought when learning of the two U.S. citizens recently transported here for medical care was ‘I’m glad I’m not on that plane.’ But unlike SARS or the flu, the Ebola virus can’t be transmitted through the air; the only way to catch it is “through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions” (Q&A on Ebola from the Centers for Disease Control, which has much more information about the current outbreak on its website).

[Edited to add 11/28/14:] Multnomah County's Health Department has a page with resources and links providing information a little closer to home).

Comforting for those of us in the first world, but not much use to those on the front lines, who won’t even seek medical attention because the hospital is where people go to die.

If you’re in the mood for some not-so-light reading, here are some suggestions.

speaker buttons

Do you enjoy turning your speakers up to 11, like Nigel in Spinal Tap? Or do you find yourself craving silence in our often noisy world? How about little bit of both, like me? 

Before coming to Portland, I lived in a little house in the middle of the big woods. No neighbors. Quiet all the time, except for the occasional train, animals, birds, and frogs. Now living in the city, I enjoy a cacophany of sounds every day. You know them, the buses, the trains, the cars, the people. It's been a huge transition, as I now have to seek out the quiet that I used to take for granted, but I find it has become one of my favorite hobbies. Of course, travel outside the city limits, and one can find any number of places in which to soak in the silence:  the Columbia River Gorge is a favorite of mine. Peaceful Places, Portland is a wonderful book that will guide you to the most serene places in the city. So many opportunities exist to find solitude and quiet, and I think it is good for the mind, body, and soul to enjoy them when we can. 

Summer is a busy time for everyone. But sometimes we need to put the busy aside and just BE. This has been your friendly reminder to enjoy the silence. Check out the list of books below for some inspiration on ways to find peace and quiet in a loud world.

Now, for those who are interested...

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We’ve all seen and heard that ad on TV. But if you decide to get a medical alert device, or are helping an older friend or relative get one, you might be ready to scream “Help! I need a device but can’t decide which one to get!”

Here’s some tips to make things easier. First, make a list of features you want the medical alert to have. The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice about things to consider. An article called “Personal Emergency Response Systems” from CRS – Adult Health Advisor (June 2012) also gives a checklist of possible concerns [ Note: to read the article, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. This blog post from Huffington Post, Post 50 examines three major designs and providers of each kind.

It’s hard to find unbiased reviews. For example, AARP offers a discount to members, available through ADT Companion Service, but this comparison by a competitor, Life Station, makes some arguments against it.

Luckily, in 2014 Consumer Reports Magazine published some unbiased information in their articles "Should You Buy a Medical Alert System?" and "How to Pick a Medical Alert System."  [ Note: to read these articles, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. 

Also, Lawserver Online RatingLab’s comparison of medical alerts provides product reviews, advice about comparing them and a ratings chart. You can also go to the Better Business Bureau and do a search for “medical alarms” limited to your zip code, to find how they’ve rated local services.

If you are trying to help an older person who lives out of state, you might also want to find out what is available to them locally. You can use this eldercare locator to find agencies where they live, that can help you.

Be wary of phone salespeople, and online ads; there are lots of scams out there. The resources we’ve listed should help you find a reliable device that will work for you.  Need more help? Contact a librarian and we'll be glad to help. 

 

We have specific health needs at each stage of our lives. Websites aimed at new parents won’t give you the health information you need as you’re getting ready to retire! As a senior, where can you find quality health information online?

MedlinePlus is full of high quality health information. Try the About Your Health box in the middle of the home screen. Click the Seniors tab for links to health information related to arthritis, exercise for seniors, Medicare, and more.MedlinePlus

NIH Senior Health is another great resource. This site is aimed at people over fifty. You can easily increase the text size and screen contrast to help if you have vision problems.

NIH Senior Health contains health topics, like complementary health approaches. It also has categories, such as healthy aging and memory and mental health.

The site also contains a collection of videos. For example: Surviving Cancer or Participating in Clinical Trials.

The Administration on Aging links a many resources in one place. The site lets you search for resources and information locally. The ElderCare Locator helps you find information in your area on a specific topic, like Alzheimer's, long-term care, or transportation services.   

Locally, the Senior Health Insurance Benefit Assistance Program (SHIBA) helps with any kind of question about Medicare and Medicare benefits. You can call for individual counseling about coverage, eligibility, comparing plans and choosing a Medicare prescription drug plan.

 

Your body is a pretty amazing place to be.  Every day things try to make you sneeze, make your nose run, make you cough, or even something worse.  Lucky for you, your immune system fights them off - most of the time.

So think of your immune system as the Immune Platoon, a bunch of superheroes battling so you can be as healthy as you can be.  Using some great online resources you can get an overview of the immune system, find out how your body responds to an attack on your immune system by playing a parasite game or an immune system game, and even quiz yourself to see what you know!

And you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

Elizabeth Blackwell - first woman physicianLadies! Your health issues are different from those of the males in your life. Luckily, there are lots of resources around to help you learn more about your health.  

Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration has a page devoted to women? You can find information about medicine and pregnancy, heart health and women (did you know that women can experience the signs of a heart attack in different ways than men?) and much more.

The National Institutes of Health includes an Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), which partners with the other 27 National Institutes and Centers to “ensure that women’s health research is part of the scientific framework at the NIH—and throughout the scientific community.”

The ORWH has partnered with the National Library of Medicine to create a women’s health resources portal that links to many resources, including information for women veterans, the ORWH’s Primer for Women’s Health, alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse resources, information on exercise and fitness, and much more.

Womenshealth.gov is a site created by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH). Follow the OWH blog for up to date news and thoughts on womens’ health, search for information, or browse health topics A - Z. This site is also available in Spanish.

OWH also maintains a site for girls ages 10 - 16. At girlshealth.gov, girls can learn about health, fitness, nutrition, bullying, and more.

MedlinePlus, the National Institute of Health’s consumer website, is a great place to go for health information. The site contains a wealth of information about women’s health, including information on specific conditions, stages of life, prevention, and more. The site is also available in Spanish, and contains information about women’s health in Chinese (traditional) and Korean.

Multnomah County has a women’s services page, too, as well as a pregnancy resources page.  

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