Thank You Family Caregivers


Say thank you to the caregivers in your life

There are home health care professionals; however, if you look after, or care for, an elderly relative or a loved one with a medical condition, you’re a caregiver as well.

You should know that giving yourself to others physically, mentally, and spiritually can sometimes take a toll on your own personal health and wellbeing, especially if you’re doing this for a long period of time. That’s why it’s important to give yourself and the caregivers in your lives RESPITE, (Rest, Energize, Sleep, Programs that Help, Imagination, Take Five, and Exhale).

As a caregiver, you can experience a lot of stress and sometimes suffer from fatigue if not given the opportunity to care for yourself every once in a while. What you do is vital, but without personal wellness, you could be risking your own health in the process of trying to care for the health of a loved one. It’s important to find a way to balance everyone’s needs, including your own. Build habits to take care of yourself early-on such as:
  • Eat right: Focus on good nutrition as opposed to stress-eating
  • Exercise: It may be difficult to find time for this, but it’s proven to help manage the symptoms of depression and will increase your endorphins
  • Sleep: 7-8 hours is the ideal amount you should be striving for each night

If you have  caretakers in your life, let them know how much they are appreciated by encouraging them to take some time for themselves. Watch a relaxing movie together, order in a meal, or encourage them to do something that is energizing. It’s important to remember, caregivers need to take a break for personal health.

If you or someone you know has prescription needs, you may benefit from a Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card.  All prescriptions and some devices are eligible for savings. To look up the drug savings with the card, visit To get a card, text CARD to 95577, or click here.
By WHBlogger 
Updated: 3/4/19

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like.

Caring for Your Kidneys


March is National Kidney Month, an appropriate time to remember just how critical those two bean-shaped organs are to our very survival. The kidneys are the body’s “complex” filtration system, removing waste and toxins, and regulating the body’s balance of fluids and electrolytes. According to the National Kidney Foundation, every day the kidneys filter and return to the bloodstream about 200 quarts of blood. Roughly 2 quarts of fluids are excreted from the body as urine and the other 198 quarts are recovered.

When that system of cleansing breaks down due to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), that waste has nowhere to go but back into our body. This means one of two options depending on the extent of damage to the kidneys – dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Kidney disease affects approximately 14% of the adults in this country, that’s more than 30 million people! If caught early, CKD can be treated with medicines and lifestyle changes. However, because there are usually no overt signs early on indicating something is wrong, it’s important that you ask your health care provider for an annual blood test and urinalysis. This is especially important if you are at high risk.


Who is at risk

You are at risk if you have:

  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels
  • cardiovascular disease
  • are 60 years or older
  • a family history of CKD

If you are an older aged man, you are 50% more likely to develop CKD than a woman of the same age.

African Americans are about three times more likely to develop CKD than Caucasians. Latinos are about one and a half times more likely to develop CKD than non-Latinos. People with risk factors should get tested regularly.

Your urine has valuable information

Because the onset of CKD can quietly happen over time, it is hard to know exactly when things are going wrong. But urine, the body’s waste byproduct, might offer up some early warnings if you know what to look for.

Clear urine is a good indicator that you are well hydrated and that the kidneys are functioning correctly. If your urine appears more yellow or darker in color, it might be due to dehydration. This can lead to kidney stones, as more minerals remain behind rather than being flushed out as waste. The National Kidney Foundation says, “one of the best measures you can take to avoid kidney stones is to drink plenty of water, requiring you to urinate a lot.”

If you have a sweet smell to your urine, it could be due to the presence of sugar. When there is too much sugar in the bloodstream it causes the kidneys to work harder to remove it from the body. If you have diabetes, you need to work closely with your health care professional to monitor your condition, as diabetes is the principle cause of kidney disease. If you are not a diabetic, the presence of sugar could indicate a pre-diabetic condition.

If your urine is cloudy with a strong odor and you experience severe discomfort (burning), with “an urgent need to urinate (often with only a few drops of urine to pass)”, consult your doctor because it might be a urinary tract infection (UTI). Left un-treated it could result in kidney damage.

Some foods like asparagus and beets, as well as certain medications and supplements can change the smell and color of urine as well. Rule out any dietary or other changes that might correspond to the changes in your urine.

Experts agree, the best course of action to protect against CKD, is to have your doctor do an annual urinalysis to test for the presence of high levels of proteins, and red and white blood cells, which they say is a leading indicator of kidney problems.

Signs of kidney failure

A graphic showing the symptoms of Kidney Disease:  Feeling very itchy, fatigue, dizzy and weak, trouble with concentration, swelling in hands and feet, nausea and vomiting

If your kidneys have stopped functioning as they should, more obvious signs will manifest:

  • swelling of your feet, hands and ankles, as well as your face due to your body’s retention of extra fluids it is not dispelling
  • anemia as a result of lower levels of a hormone called erythropoietin that causes fatigue, weakness, dizziness, a loss of concentration and possible chills

Because of the waste build up in your body, you might get:

  • skin rashes/itching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shortness of breath due to fluid in the lungs
  • a build up of urea in the blood that leaves you with a metallic taste in your mouth and ammonia breath
  • severe cramping pain in the lower back that moves throughout the groin area

It is important to consult your medical professional and health care provider if you observe any changes in the way you feel or have any of the symptoms listed.

If you are on prescribed medication for kidney disease, diabetes, cholesterol management, high blood pressure or any other condition, and you need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.

By WHblogger

Updated: 2/27/19

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.



Happy Tails: Scooby: Thrives in Loving Home

scooby laying down on a couch

Nicole P. grew up in a family who had pit bulls and has always been familiar with the breed.

“I’m very passionate and know there is a big misconception out there about pit bulls,” says Nicole, an Iowa native and teacher at Waterloo East High School. Soon after buying her own house a few years ago, Nicole finally had the opportunity to adopt a dog of her own. She visited her local animal shelter where she once was a volunteer in high school—Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo, Iowa—and immediately felt a connection to a two-year-old pit bull named Scooby-Doo.

“It was after college, and I was living on my own,” explains Nicole. “I had always wanted my own dog.”  In a twist of fate, Scooby’s name also grabbed her attention. “We always had dogs named Scooby or Scrappy-Doo,” she adds. “I guess it was meant to be.”

Scooby and Nicole

Scooby ended up at the Cedar Bend Humane Society, which has taken in dozens of dogs from dog-fighting rescues, many of them who are now living in loving homes like Scooby’s.

“Just imagining what kind of a life Scooby might have had,” Nicole says with a sigh. “I think about it all the time.”

The 65-lb. Scooby shares Nicole’s house with her three rescued cats: Toby, Mufasa and Orion. He also loves other dogs and is “obsessed” with babies, as well as Nicole’s two god-children, who are 11 and 12 years old.

scooby and roommate

Aside from lounging on his favorite armchair indoors, Scooby is very active outdoors. He has a fenced backyard and spends his mornings barking at the squirrels in the trees. He and Nicole also make occasional trips to two local dog parks. Nicole herself admits she was in a “lonely place” before adopting Scooby, and calls him her “lifesaver.” 

“Adopting Scooby was a big thing for me,” she explains. “I’m much more fulfilled having him. He’s such a great dog. Our bond really runs deep.”

Happy Tails: From Cruelty Case to King of the Castle—Luke’s Real-Life Fairytale

A Crowded History

In March 2018, Creamsicle was brought to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) after being rescued from an overcrowded home in Queens, New York, along with 81 other cats. At the ASPCA, Creamsicle was given proper medical treatment and behavioral care and was soon on the search for a new, loving home where he could let his true personality shine for that special someone.

Getting Comfortable

On his first night in his new home, Creamsicle—now named Luke—was slightly nervous and did plenty of exploring. He certainly found all the hiding spots in Chris’ bedroom.

“I was really worried he had somehow escaped,” recalls Chris. “I literally could not find him multiple times that first night!” 

After a somewhat stressful start, over the next few days Chris slowly allowed Luke to access more of the apartment outside of his bedroom. Little by little, Luke became more comfortable with his surroundings, his new home and his new life. Luke’s love for his pet parent is obvious, and you can often find him following Chris around. 

“Now he prances, runs around and lies down all over the place knowing that he is basically the king of the castle,” says Chris. “If I make a sandwich or a meal, he’s quick to jump on top of the refrigerator or garbage can to make sure he knows exactly what’s going on.”

A Positive Choice

Though he is far from his overcrowded beginnings, Luke still has a reminder of his past. While at the Adoption Center, it was discovered that Luke was Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) positive. FeLV is a virus that affects the immune system. FeLV positive cats have a chance for multiple outcomes and we continue to learn more about this virus every day. While Luke may not have the best prognosis, he still has plenty of love to give and an inspiring zest for life.

“Luke has an immune disorder that may shorten his lifespan, but he is loving his little life,” Chris says. “And if it’s shorter than average, I’ll be happy knowing he had a good life while it lasted—and hopefully he’ll beat the odds. There are so many animals that need a good, happy and comfortable home. I’m so glad he’s having a good time, and whatever happens, I know he’s having a blast.”

Happy Tails: Murdock—Path to a Loving Home

Murdock laying down

Working for animals is a rewarding and fulfilling job, but sometimes you struggle with the temptation to adopt them all. For Dustin B. and Felicia M., “the struggle” became all too real when they met a blind kitten named Hollyhock. The couple both work for The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®), Dustin a photographer and Felicia as a veterinarian.

Tough Beginnings 

When Hollyhock was brought into the ASPCA in late May 2018 as a stray, she had severely damaged eyes that, sadly, could not be treated.  To prevent further discomfort and pain, veterinarians made the difficult decision to remove both eyes. From the beginning, Felicia was actively involved in Hollyhock’s medical care and soon became quite fond of the tiny, blind kitten.

A Serendipitous Intervention  

Dustin then went to the ASPCA Adoption Center with the intention of capturing some extra-special photos of Hollyhock, but he soon felt captivated by her. Luckily, it didn’t take much convincing to get his wife on board with the idea of adding another furry friend to their family.
Murdock and Dustin

A Fresh Start 

Given her disability, Dustin and Felicia wanted to give Hollyhock a special name for her new life with them. They renamed her Murdock after a popular superhero who is also blind. “Like her namesake, Murdock is a blind and fearless daredevil, constantly surprising me with her capabilities,” says Dustin. “She takes chances every day to better learn and navigate her environment. The name was chosen to communicate her bold and daring personality.”

Dustin tells us that in her new home, Murdock now has the lay of the land. “She is currently fond of running full sprint throughout the home, darting around and sliding under furniture with purpose,” he says, adding that “she is all over the place in the most wonderful way.”

It seems that for this tiny, four-legged superhero, resilience and perseverance is key—not to mention, a little help from loving pet parents like Dustin and Felicia.

Happy Tails: Cher: A Perfect Fit

Tessa T., an editorial assistant at InStyle Magazine, grew up with “tons” of dogs and cats on acreage near Seattle. After moving to L.A. five years ago, she wanted her own dog, but her landlord wouldn’t allow pets. So, she got her “dog-fix” by volunteering at Wags & Walk Dog Rescue—a non-profit adoption center in West Los Angeles that rescues dogs from high-kill shelters — two mornings a week, starting bright and early at 6 A.M.

“I’m not a morning person—but that’s the shift that needs the most help,” Tessa explains. “And it’s a good way to start my day.”

Tessa, left, met Cher while volunteering at Wags & Walks; right, Cher on an outing.

One morning, she met Cher, a four-year-old American Bulldog-mix with wide-set, soulful brown eyes and a tongue that was always hanging out of her mouth. Cher was originally found as a stray in L.A. County and was relinquished to Baldwin Park Animal Care Center, one of the two highest volume animal shelters in L.A. County.

Tessa spent time with Cher—initially known as Candy Corn—and fell in love. She then asked her landlord to reconsider her no-pets policy. To her delight, the landlord consented, and Tessa fostered Cher for a week before adopting her just before Tessa’s 28th birthday in December.

“I figured the right dog would eventually come along,” says Tessa. “And when I met her I just knew she was my dog. She is the love of my life.”

Cher also gets along with Tessa’s three-year-old cat, Lucy, whom Tessa adopted as a kitten from another shelter. Both Cher and Lucy share Tessa’s bed.

Even though she now has Cher in her life, Tessa still works her early morning shifts at Wags & Walks. 

“It’s inspiring to volunteer and help dogs in need,” she says. “It makes me happy to spend time with homeless dogs and get them ready for adoption. And it benefits me—it puts me in a good mood.” 

Treats for the Heart

Doctors and medical researchers have actually endorsed these treats, and here’s why:

chocolateChocolate: Antioxidant Powerhouse #1
The cells in our bodies are continually subjected to damage through a process called oxidation. This can cause a host of problems for the heart, like prompting LDL (“bad”) cholesterol to form artery-clogging plaque.

To resist the damage of oxidation, our bodies utilize compounds called antioxidants. Flavonoids are one specific class of antioxidants, and the cocoa bean contains a large amount of specific heart-healthy flavonoids called flavanols. Researchers say the compound can lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and improve blood flow.

Unfortunately, manufactures routinely remove a large percentage of chocolate’s flavanols during processing. This is most noticeable in milk chocolate, but certain types of dark chocolate are highly processed, too. Even so, medical experts report that eating a few one-ounce servings of dark chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa solids) each week could provide protection against heart disease.

Red Wine: Antioxidant Powerhouse #2download
Like chocolate, red wine contains a large amount of protective antioxidants. The specific compound in red wine is a type of polyphenol called resveratrol.

Researchers speculate that resveratrol protects the heart in several different ways: increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and protecting the lining of blood vessels, plus helping prevent diabetes and obesity. Although the research is somewhat debated, countless patients and some doctors believe in the power of resveratrol and red wine. According to the University of California at Davis, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, and Pinot Noir have the highest concentrations of heart-healthy flavonoids. They recommend that women drink one serving of red wine per day and that men bump up their portion to two servings each day. Remember, one serving equals 4-5 ounces of wine.

If you’ve been prescribed medications to treat heart disease, be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor. Remember that the Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card could save you up to 80% on both brand name and generic medicines. Click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577 now to start saving instantly.

By WHBlogger

Updated: 2/11/19

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Heart Disease 101

In recognition of this being American Heart Month, we will be focusing this month’s blog posts on heart disease—the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. By learning more, you may be able to improve your coronary health or the coronary health of a family member.

1. Most common types of heart disease

Heart disease is essentially a catchall term that encompasses several conditions that impact the functioning of the heart and blood vessels. Here are just a few that fall under the umbrella of heart disease:
  • Coronary artery disease
    This is the most common type of heart disease. It’s caused by plaque buildup in the arteries. That sticky plaque coats the walls of the arteries and gradually narrows the passageway for blood. If the condition goes untreated, it can cause heart attack and stroke.
  • Heart failure
    This can be caused by coronary artery disease or other circumstances. It may sound alarming, but heart failure is not necessarily an emergency situation. Rather, it simply means that the heart cannot pump hard enough to provide adequate blood supply to the body. This causes fluid to build up in the lungs and lower extremities.


  • Arrhythmia
    In this condition, the heart beats irregularly. It could be slow, fast, or an erratic combination of both. The most common type of arrhythmia, called atrial fibrillation, causes blood clots and stroke.

2. Common risk factors of heart disease

Heart disease can affect anyone, but the risk is considerably higher if these circumstances apply to you
  • You’re over the age of 45
    In general, this is when the risk of heart disease shows a steep incline. It’s a few years later for women. Before a woman hits menopause, certain hormones protect her against heart disease. After that point, that incidence of heart disease between genders is nearly equal.
  • You have a direct relative who suffered from heart disease
    Many forms of this disease are genetic. This is especially true for conditions that developed in relatives before the age of 55 (for a male) or before the age of 65 (for a female).
  • You have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
    Both of these conditions force the heart to work harder. They contribute to blocked arteries and can cause heart attack.diabetes
  • You have diabetes
    Diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, is closely linked with heart disease. More than half of all diabetics die from complications of the heart.
  • You have an unhealthy lifestyle
    Obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, excessive stress, smoking, and alcoholism contribute to heart disease. 

3. Strategies for preventing heart disease  

Many of the risk factors listed above—like age, gender, and family history—cannot be controlled. However, there are several steps you can take in order to prevent heart disease or lessen the impact it has on your health.

Please consult your health care professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine, especially if you suffer with any chronic ailments or have health concerns that involve diet or exercise restrictions. THURSDAY
  • Stick to a heart-healthy diet
    Fruits, vegetables, and fiber are wonderful for your heart. Avoid consuming a lot of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Exercise (your heart)
    Physical activity strengthens the heart and promotes healthy blood vessels. Aim to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes at least three times each week.
  • Keep your weight in check
    Eating healthy and exercising will help you keep your weight under control.

  • Stop smoking
    When you quit smoking, your risk is reduced immediately and the body is able to repair a portion of the damage that was done.
  • Be kind to yourself
    Watch your stress levels and develop coping techniques that can keep you relaxed.

Remember, even if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, lowering your risk factors and striving for a heart-healthy lifestyle may greatly improve your health. If you’re taking any heart disease medications, and need help affording them, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription card works, check out our video.

Related Posts: 360 Approach to Women’s Heart Health

By WHBlogger 

Updated: 2/11/19

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Tips to Manage Heart Health

By Watertree Health President, Shane Power

Did you know that every year 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease? That’s an estimated 610,000 people. Prevention of cardiovascular medical conditions relies on our ability to recognize the importance of our hearts, which is not something most people think about every day. I can admit, I don’t always consider factors that could affect my heart, like the number of and saturated fats hidden in food, but I am continuing to educate myself and make healthier choices. Here are a few tips to help you and your loved ones maintain good heart health.

Stay Active
One great way to help sustain good cardiovascular health is by getting enough exercise. Physical activities like walking, running, or high-intensity sports can help your heart work smoothly under any condition. Staying active strengthens your heart muscle and improves its ability to pump blood throughout the body.

Eliminate Risk Factors
Tobacco consumption and poor diet can lead to the development of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. By eliminating these triggers, you may help keep yourself in good health and deter serious ailments, like heart disease, from developing.

Lower Stress Levels
Stress can cause headaches, stomach aches, heartburn, and a long list of other unwanted conditions. Unfortunately, stress can also lead to serious cardiovascular damage. If your heart health is compromised, it can be especially dangerous to experience stress symptoms like high blood pressure, rapid breathing, and increased Physical activity or meditation can be great tools to help manage stress and lighten the load on your heart.

It’s vital that we treat our hearts with care if we intend to enjoy all that life has to offer with the ones we love and cherish. An improvement today may help change how you live tomorrow.

Best Foods For Your Heart

We all know that eating a balanced diet is crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle, but not all healthy foods are created equally. When it comes to heart health, some foods may provide more nutritional benefits than others. Below is a list of the top heart-healthy foods. Be sure to keep these foods in mind the next time you are at the grocery store.

Please consult your health care professional before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you suffer with any chronic ailments or have health concerns that involve diet restrictions. 

  • Bell peppers, Carrots, Asparagus, Spinach, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Yams and Sweet Potatoes – While all vegetables are beneficial to heart health, these veggies are especially rich in fiber and may help flush out “bad” cholesterol. They are also rich in beta-carotene, a heart-protective antblueberryioxidant (WebMD). 
  • Blueberries – According to Healthline, blueberries contain a compound known as a type of Flavonoids are antioxidants that may protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Salmon – Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to WebMD, may help boost the immune system, reduce blood clots, lower triglyceride levels, protect arteries from plaque buildup, and lower blood pressure.
Dairy (Alternative):
  • Soy Milk – Soy milk contains a component known as another type of As stated before, there is evidence that these antioxidants may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whole Grains:
  • Steel-Cut Oats – Steel-cut oats are not to be confused with packets of instant oatmeal, which are often loaded with sugar. For instance, one packet of maple brown sugar oatmeal contains 13 grams of equals over 4 teaspoons of sugar! Healthline) Steel-cut are less processed than instant oatmeal, and therefore contain much more fiber to help flush out bad cholesterol.
flax seedNuts and Seeds:
  • Flax seeds – According to WebMD, flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and Phytoestrogens are plant substances that may help lower the risk of blood clots, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias. They may also help lower “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, and even blood pressure. Flax seeds can be easily added to yogurt parfaits, cereal, muffins and even cookies. As a tip, their nutrients are better absorbed when the seeds are finely ground.
  • Kidney Beans – Kidney beans are rich in B-complex vitamins, which may help protect against blood clots and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). They are also full of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fiber.

If you have been diagnosed with heart-disease, be sure to take your medications as instructed by your doctor. If you need help affording your medications, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card, request a card be mailed to you, or text CARD to 95577. All brand name and generic medications are eligible for savings with our card–including those for heart-disease.

By WHBlogger 

Updated: 2/4/19

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.