Did You Know There Are Foods That Make You Hungrier?

Have you had that moment when you feel hunger pangs but look at the clock and realize you’d finished a meal not too long ago? If you’re wondering why you’re hungry not too long after a meal, many times it’s because the food you’re eating can leave you hungrier than you were before! It’s true.Salty Pretzels

Here are some of the foods that will leave you hungrier sooner:

  1. Salty snacks like pretzels and potato chips satisfy a craving for salt, but in truth the salt is an “addictive” additive that can lead to overeating and weight gain. Salted foods also won’t satiate you and will leave you hungrier than you were before you started! If it’s difficult to eat the recommended serving size of a salted snack, it might be best to keep them out of the house. If you’re craving a salty snack pair it with protein – a hard-boiled egg, for example to help satiate you.
  2. Artificial sweeteners have the same impact on your blood sugar and your hunger pangs as salt. It’s been shown that artificial sweeteners can increase your appetite. Consider this: real sugar is registered in the brain as a “reward” while artificial sweeteners don’t register that “reward” leaving you craving for sweets.
  3. White breads, pasta and rice are made from refined flours and that means you need to eat more in order to feel full. These foods can also cause a spike in your blood sugar because the carbohydrates are converted to sugar – this is problematic for diabetics. If you’re craving bread or pasta, eat whole grain bread, brown rice or combine your refined flours with protein to help fill you up and keep you fuller longer.
  4. Alcohol is very calorie dense, but lacks nutrition. Alcohol can also lead to mindless snacking. If you’re drinking, don’t drink on an empty stomach.
  5. Processed foods such as potato chips, cakes and pizza are delicious, but are typically made from refined flour and that raises your blood sugar. Processed foods also activate the “reward centers” of our brains and sends us a message of, “wow, that was great, I want more” and it triggers cravings. Stick with nuts and carrots instead of processed foods.

We know that the job of caregiving can affect your eating habits. If you’re aware of your cravings, when they strike and what you are really hungry for, chances are you can choose a healthier alternative. Stop and think about whether you’re craving salt or sweet or something crunchy or cold or hot or creamy and then find a healthy alternative to potato chips or cake; choose nuts or a bite of dark chocolate.

Healthy Snacks

Healthy SnacksOne of the keys to health and a healthy weight could just be the type of snacks you eat. Many dieticians recommend eating five or six small meals per day instead of three large ones including healthy snacks. If you eat portion-controlled meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner adding in healthy smart snacks throughout the day just might help prevent overeating at your next meal.

Here are some smart snacking tips:

  1. Eat whole grain snacks. They provide staying power and give you energy. High fiber cereals and whole grain pretzels are a couple of suggestions.
  2. Eat breakfast. It is still considered the most important meal of the day.
  3. Look for foods that contain healthy fats such as peanut butter or nuts. Add those with apple slices or celery sticks.
  4. Nuts contain many beneficial nutrients and lead to satiety; they do have calories so eat the correction portions.
  5. Look for snacks that combine proteins, fats and low amounts of carbohydrates. Consider nuts and grapes or low fat cheese and whole grain crackers. A balanced snack will fill you up and keep you satisfied.

It’s important to snack mindfully. It’s easy to open the cupboard, grab a few treats and then go back and grab a few more.  Look at the recommended portion sizes, put your snack on a plate and then sit down and enjoy what you’ve chosen.

If you know you’re going to be on the run all day pack some healthful snacks so you’re not tempted to pull into the drive-through.

Become a label reader. Not all “organic” or “healthy-sounding” foods are actually healthy. You can enjoy most every food in moderation.

The next time you’re craving a snack, let yourself enjoy one – in moderation and in a correct portion size!

 

Budgeting Tips For Seniors (or Anyone!)

 

BudgetingPulling out a debit card or simply spending money is a pretty easy task, right? Sometimes it’s too easy and if you don’t pay attention to what you’re spending and what you’re buying, you could be putting your family budget in jeopardy.

Here are some budgeting tips for seniors, or anyone for that matter!

  • Know how much money you have coming in and from what sources in order know what you have to live on in order to put together a budget.
  • List all of your expenses, from utilities to gas for your vehicle or other transportation expenses to groceries to what you spend for online shopping. In many cases, we shop online and it is so easy to simply push a button to purchase that we don’t consider that as an outlay of cash. Go through a month or two of your expenses from all sources and make note of them. It may be eye opening. Add medical expenses that include your prescription medication costs as well as insurance and doctor visits into your list of expenses.
  • Look at your income and expenses and see if you have any extra money. If you do, sock it away in a savings account. Even if you’re only saving $50 a month, it will add up. This additional savings amount is something you should guard zealously. When you have a nice nest egg you can decide what to do with it. Perhaps you’re saving for a long awaited vacation or you need new furniture or you simply want to keep saving it for a cushion in the event your expenses outpace your income.

There are myriad online budgeting programs you can use, but don’t get bogged down in technology. Grab a notebook and label it household budget and begin tracking it that way. Writing it down will truly help you know what happens with your money on a monthly basis. You may be pleasantly surprised!

8 Ways To Raise The Bar on Happiness

HappinessIn our busy world, it’s a challenge to find time with your family. Stress can eat at everyone and sap the happiness right out of you!  However, research shows that happier kids are more likely to become successful adults so we want to share a few tips on keeping your family and your children energized, positive and with a happier spin in their step!

It starts with you. Parents dramatically affect the way a child reacts. If you take on a positive persona, your children are more likely to follow in your footsteps. (The opposite is true as well – grumpy parents sow seeds of grumpiness in children.

Enjoy the moments. You child doesn’t need to be in every single activity known to mankind in your community. Find out what she likes and help them enjoy it to the max. Overemphasizing achievement, especially at a young age, can lead to anxiety, depression and even possible substance abuse!

It takes a village. Are you sick of hearing that yet?  Well, even if you are, the statement is pretty spot on. As busy adults, we can get pretty wrapped up in things – too wrapped up to see what’s really going on. It’s helpful to have extended family members and friends to help keep an eye on the kids.

Expand your circle. Youth who experience broader relationships with other people tend to be happier overall.

Choose positive attitudes. Be grateful, forgiving and optimistic. Seeing the bright side of things, especially in the midst of a crisis can teach a teenager a lot about how to handle circumstances that will inevitably come their way.

Display and train self-discipline.  We aren’t born with the natural ability to be patient, consider others first, and know how to stay away from temptations. Lead by example and show your family how to control their behavior and thought patterns.

Hop on the happiness train.  Monitor what’s going on in your family. If you see a situation start to take a wrong turn or the attitude in the house turning ugly, refocus the energy on something positive. Find the good in every situation regardless of dismal it may look.

Share a meal.  Having a family meal together is a lost tradition but putting this back into your family routine can help you connect better with your children and give them a sense of routine, providing something they can count on.

Living a happier, more positive life can also help your health so raise the bar on happiness in your house and expect some wonderful results!

 

5 Tips for Caregivers

A caregivers job is no easy task. It’s a job that often comes with physical, emotional and sometimes financial costs. Yet, there’s no doubt about it, caregiving can be very satisfying as well.

One of the numerous challenges of being a caregiver involves knowing what to say or do, and when. It’s common to question yourself, wonder if you’re doing the right thing or if you’ve said the right thing.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach but we offer a few tips that may help.

  • Let your care recipient speak. He or she may bring up uncomfortable topics, talk ad nauseum about their family or illness or past jobs, or they may want to discuss personal things that you prefer not to discuss, especially if it’s a family member you’re caring for. Let them speak. If they are in need of the care you are providing, they may also need the emotional release that talking things out can provide.
  • It’s okay to say “I don’t know”. Because you’re the care provider, it is sometimes assumed that you have the answer to everything. Saying that you don’t know vs. being evasive will prevent you from appearing to be hiding something. It will also help you avoid providing incorrect information.
  • It’s okay to cry. When we were young children our parents often said “Don’t cry” with concern and empathy in their voice. But the truth is that crying is beneficial for us. Cry with your patient, cry yourself to sleep. Crying is OK!
  • Resist the urge to shrug things off with common phrases. “Everything will be fine” is not a phrase a terminally ill patient can resonate with.  Saying “I know how you feel” if you’ve never been in their situation isn’t comforting either. In fact, these phrases that we so easily let slip from our tongue can sometimes cause anger and frustration. Instead, saying “I don’t know how this must feel to you but I am here to go through it with you” may be a more comforting statement for you both.
  • Respond to anger carefully. While anger is a natural human emotion, chronically ill people sometimes allow anger to consume them or come out in ways and times that aren’t so natural. Rather than responding to their anger, take a deep breath, listen and determine what is worth responding to and what is better left alone.

Just as everyone’s illness is unique, every caregiver’s journey is unique as well.  Give yourself some self-love and realize you won’t do everything perfectly and that’s just fine!

Supplement Your Home’s Heat With A Space Heater

space heaterA space heater can be a homeowner’s friend – but only if they are used as intended and are never left unattended. For many seniors and families living on limited budgets, a space heater can take the sting out of utility bills. While winter has been relatively mild in many areas of the country so far this heating season, we all know it’s a matter of time before Old Man Winter settles in and we are bundled up in blankets and dreading the arrival of the heat bill.

Space heaters come in propane, gas or electric-fueled models. Propane may provide the highest energy efficiency and fuel savings while warming a specific area of the home. Using a space heater in a living area may allow you to turn down the heat in other areas of the home.

If you’re considering a space heater, here are some tips for using it safely:

  1. Make certain the space heater you purchase is for in-home use.
  2. You need to have an area where the space heater will sit that has space above, below and surrounding it that is free of any combustible materials such as draperies, paper or plastic items. The heater will have manufacturer’s instructions that will explain how far the heater needs to be away from walls.
  3. The space heater should be inspected regularly for any damage or frayed wires. A professional electrician or the individual who inspects your furnace can likely perform this inspection though it’s easy enough for an adult to look at the wires on a regular basis as well.
  4. The heater needs to be placed in a room that also has good air flow – in other words, do not place it in an enclosed, air tight space. This is a consideration especially with vent-free models.
  5. Never leave home with the heater running. It should be turned off and even unplugged for safety’s sake.
  6. If you have children or pets in the home, you need a space heater that has a guard around the heating element to prevent burns.
  7. Look for a space heater that has been certified by a nationally recognized entity.
  8. Assure that the heater is sufficient for the size room you want to heat – neither too small, nor too large.
  9. Make certain everyone in the home knows how to properly use the heater.

Determine the price of the heater and whether you would save money if you invest in one before you make a purchase. It just might help you save money and stay warm and cozy this winter! If you’re trying to help your aging loved ones save money on their utility bills, plan a shopping excursion to pick up a space heater.

Five Tips To Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Improve Your SleepWhen you wake up in the morning do you count the hours until you can go back to bed? If that’s the case, then chances are you are not getting a good enough sleep at night. As we age, aches and pains and even worries of the day can cause us to toss and turn.

If you can’t remember the last time you had a great night’s sleep we have some tips to help you get one! Remember, sleep is the time when our body rejuvenates and repairs itself and it’s important that we sleep fully enough to allow it to do just that.

Here are our five best tips for a restful night’s sleep:

  1. Do you have worries that are making you toss and turn? Write them down. Keep a notebook by your bed and when your mind starts spinning with all of the items you have to do or all of those you forgot to do, write them down. This simple task will let your mind rest easier because you know that since you’ve committed the items to paper, you won’t forget them in the light of day.
  2. Rather than using your cell phone as your alarm clock, invest in a real alarm clock. Whether you use a digital or an old fashioned wind up alarm clock you may get a better night’s sleep than you will with having your smart phone at your bedside. Even if you turn off the noises for announcements on the phone, in the back of your mind, you know you could easily reach over and check your messages. It leads to a restless night sleep.
  3. Don’t think that hopping into bed when you’re still wound up from the day is a good idea. If you’re stressed, lying in bed won’t necessarily help you fall asleep, it will just make you more anxious. Get up and move around. Take a walk. Have a glass of warm milk. Take a warm bath. De-stress before bedtime for a better night’s sleep.
  4. If you work out, do so early in the day. Exercise is fantastic, but don’t do it before bedtime or you will be too energized to sleep.
  5. If you find yourself awake in the middle of the night practice some mindful breathing exercises. Take deep, slow breaths in and concentrate on relaxing all of the muscles in your body starting at your feet and ending at the top of your head. This mindful breathing and relaxation might lead to a better night’s sleep.

Incorporate one or more of these into your bedtime routine and you may just sleep easier! Another step to take is to have a “bedtime ritual” where you start to focus your mind and your efforts on getting ready for bed; turn off the television, read a book, relax in a quiet room. Your energy and your overall healthy will thank you!

A Caregiver’s Christmas

This is a favorite of ours so we are sharing it with you again this year.  Caregivers Christmas

A Caregivers Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
A caregiver was scurrying,
Caring for her dear spouse

His stockings were placed
Upon his feet with great care
In hopes he felt well enough to step
out for some fresh air

Their children were scattered,
All snug in their beds
Around this great country,
Not a care in their heads

And the caregiver who worked nights,
‘Cause the funds they did tap
Had just settled down for a five minute nap

When in the next room, there arose such a clatter,
She sprang from her bed to see what did splatter.
Away past the bed sheets she had thrown in the trash,
Tore open a new set and hoped these would last

The weight on her breast was of one who did know
That, by the luster of daybreak
Her sorrow would grow
When, what in any other year
Would be a thing quite so dear
That time when her family would visit
From far and from near

With no one to hold her, since her loved one took sick
She felt that the holidays were just a mean trick
More rapid than eagles her friends they did flee
When they could no longer travel or even take tea

No Cohens!, no Schwartzes!, no Millers!, no Dicksons
No, Olivets, no Lutids, no Donners and Micksons
For a while they gave support, for a while did they call
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away to the mall!

As new restaurants that before were easy to try,
When her loved one was too sick, away did they fly
So now with the holidays, the family will do
with the sleigh full of presents, and bad advice too

And then, in a twinkling eye, I heard in the drive
Aunt Nancy and Chloe and all my in-laws arrive.
As I had in my hand, a bedpan disposal bound
I turned very quickly and tripped over the hound

My man was a mess from his head to his toes
And his clothes were soiled and not easy on the nose
A bundle of nerves, I shout out very loud
Words, which to this day, do not make me feel proud

He lay there so quiet, not saying a thing
When suddenly his laughter filled our home
Like a fresh breath of spring

He doubled over with glee making such a roil
That he slapped a bad knee through
the all too grim soil
As his eyes twinkled through all the great mess,
For a moment this old dear
Forgot the pain of this past year

On a normal night, the pain of his stump
Would make him tighten his teeth,
But tonight, for a moment, his laughter
Caused such uncommon relief
That the joy of it encircled his head like a wreath;
As he lay on the bed he shook his round belly,
For all the world, not unlike a big bowl of jelly

He was lying there laughing, like a jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
When, all of a sudden, the door burst opened
wide as can be

And what did I see, the Cohens, the Schwartzes
and Aunt Nancy all looking at me
With nary a word as they made up the bed
Then they all straightened up and got us both fed

They all had not known the support that I needed
But once they saw they could help,
They learned and succeeded
In sharing the heart, the soul and the care
That I always was sure was really right there

I hadn’t spoken a word of the great strain
and the work
So I thought they had all turned into one major jerk
After knowing what help each could give if I did ask
I never again had to shoulder the entire task

We had time to play and to sing and to wet a whistle
Until away they all flew like the down of a thistle
But I heard my loved ones, as they drove out of sight
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!
And, we’re coming back, next Friday eve
To take you out for a bite.”

This poem comes from Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief, Caregiver.com

Tips For Signing Up For Medicare Benefits

BenefitsNavigating federal websites is something that can be a little challenging. If you’re a caregiver for your aging parents it might fall on you, as the caregiver, to help your elderly loved ones get online and registered for the benefits they are eligible for.

 

  1. Medicare Part A, called hospital insurance, is free if you have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. An individual could also qualify for Part A if his or her spouse qualifies.
  2. Medicare Part B provides coverage for doctors, healthcare equipment and outpatient expenses.

More than 70% of eligible individuals opt for a combination of Part A and Part B and this is called, “original” Medicare. There are also Medicare Advantage plans available for purchase through private insurers.

Once you decide which type of Medicare you want, here are the three steps you will take to enroll:

  • Because Medicare enrollment is administered by the Social Security Administration it offers three options for signing up for basic Medicare. Many individuals find it easiest to call the Social Security Administration office at 1.800.772.1213 for advice or to schedule an in-person appointment. You can also sign up online if you feel you can navigate the site and you know which type of Medicare your parents want or need.
  • “Medigap” insurance will cover incidental medical expenses that are not covered under the basic Medicare program chosen. Medigap insurance needs to be purchased within six months of signing up for Medicare.
  • Medicare Advantage and Part D. A Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D plan assists with coverage for prescription medications.

When should you begin researching Medicare and signing up?

The window for initial enrollment is three months before and after you turn age 65 and three months afterward are the windows for your initial enrollment period for all parts of Medicare. Medigap enrollment starts after you have turned 65 and if you are enrolled in Part B. If you miss your window, you may lose the ability to purchase coverage based on health circumstances and it may cost you more money.

Many individuals talk with an attorney who is well-versed in elder law for assistance with Medicare sign up if they are unable to get an appointment with a Social Security Administration agent to ensure they make the right decisions.

Tips for the New Caregiver

When you take on the role of caregiver, in many instances it is something that is thrust upon Caregiver Tipsyou without much planning. It simply happens that your aging loved ones are “fine one day and in need of care the next.” It happens to many individuals and they don’t have time to “take a class” or “learn how to be a caregiver” they just have to do their best and hope things work out well!

Here, though are some techniques that will help you in your new role as caregiver:

  1. Retain eye contact with your oved one. This may not be something you think about, but it’s important. If your loved one is wheelchair bound or bed bound, it’s best if you can get down to eye level with them so they aren’t straining to look up at you.
  2. Approach them from the front. Don’t come up behind or even beside them and start talking or reach out to touch them as it may startle them and cause confusion.
  3. Before you attempt to move your parent from one position to another by yourself, ask if they can help you by helping to shift their own weight. They may be able to help with their own movement and that can help prevent any injuries to you or your back.
  4. Caregivers are, in many cases, crunched for time. Even if you’re running late, though allow your loved one to complete the activity he or she is involved in. If you’re anxious, try not to let your anxiety rub off on them. Remember, they are going through as much emotional upheaval as you are.
  5. Allow them to have the time to adjust to what may be their new reality – being wheelchair bound or having received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s or any other number of ailments that plague the elderly.

One of the best things a caregiver can remember is to ask to for help. You don’t have to do it alone. Whether you reach out to other family members, neighbors, church groups or even any of the number of services available for the aged, it’s an easier task to manage when you have assistance.