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.



Improve Your Focus And Memory As You Age

Do your parents seem to forget things you’d talked with them about only a day, or even an hour, ago? Do you have trouble focusing on the task at hand? I’m sure you’ve experienced that feeling when you walk into a room and can’t for the life of you remember why you were there? Been there, done that. Right?

Becoming forgetful is a fact of life and of aging. As a caregiver you want to do what you can to help your parents or aging loved ones improve their memory and their focus. Here are four steps you can take, for your aging parents, and in your own daily life to make forgetfulness not as much a part of aging:

  • Pay attention when someone is talking to you. If someone is talking and you’re involved in other activities you will lose the message they’re trying to convey. Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. If they’re talking and you missed something, ask for clarification.
  • Stating the conversation back for clarification is also another way to enhance your memory. “So, Mom what you said was you wanted me to pick up tomatoes from the farmer’s market on Thursday, right?” This lets the person know you were listening and also helps reinforce the conversation.
  • Are you distracted during conversations because it is too loud or an otherwise distracting environment? If you’re having an in talk, move into a quiet room or a quiet corner of the house. If you’re in a restaurant, move closer so that you can hear what’s being said.
  • Pick up a crossword puzzle or another type of word or number game to keep your mind agile.
  • Learn something new. Whether you take a class online or in person, life long learning is ideal for individuals who want to “age well.”

In addition to paying attention to what’s being said, you can also enhance your brain function Mental Sharpnessby being physically active. Not only does physical activity enhance your overall life and health it can also help stave off some of the effects of aging. You don’t have to run a marathon, but if you’re typically sedentary, get up and take a walk around the house, march in place when you’re on the phone, take the dog for a longer walk than you usually do (both you and your dog will benefit from this!).

Simply staying connected to others will help with mental acuity and even physical health. Get up. Get out. Get involved in social situations. Volunteer or even pick up a part time job in a field that’s always interested you. A busy mind is a healthy mind!




Halloween Safety Tips

family-guard-fitted-people-4It’s that time of year again with costumes, haunted houses, parades, tricks and treats, and parties for Halloween.  Kids love Halloween – they love spending the night out and about with their friends, sometimes leaving parents worried about the dangers they may face on the most frightful night of the year. So parents, how do you better ensure your child’s Halloween safety when you’re not around? Fortunately for you,  there are discussions you can have with your kids and technologies you can invest in that can help keep them safety, track their whereabouts, and give you greater peace of mind throughout the night.

Here are just a few Halloween safety tips to help ensure a fun and safe night:

Set a curfew – Give your child a curfew and call-in times when they need to check in with you and give you an update. Making your child accountable for where they are and what they are doing is important if they are old enough to trick or treat on their own. Oh, and be sure they carry a fully-charged smartphone!

Get friends contact information – Be sure to ask your child who they are going out with – and get first and last name, phone number and parent’s phone number in case curfew rules are broken. Halloween can be chaotic holiday – so arm yourself with as much information as possible.

Establish boundaries – Set limits (city or town limits, zip codes, county lines, etc) to where your older children can and cannot go. Some neighborhoods may have high crime and/or trafficking rates, and should be avoided especially on a holiday like Halloween night.

Download personal security app – To ensure they abide by curfews and boundaries without being a nag, we recommend to parents to download a personal security app to their child’s smartphone. With a SmartTek app such as that offered though LifeFone Family Guard™ , once downloaded to your phone and your child’s phone, you are not only able track their location right from your cell phone, but also have added security knowing that a 24-7 professionally monitored call center is ready to assist you or your child in case of an emergency or cause for concern.

LifeFone’s Family Guard™ not only allows you to monitor real-time locations of family members, but also comes equipped with a personal panic button. With the press of the button, you are connected to the LifeFone call center which staffed 24/7 by professional monitoring personnel, who are able to quickly pinpoint their location and respond accordingly – often more quickly and accurately than calling 9-1-1.

Family Guard™ is a subscription app that is easy to use, intuitive and offers immediate access to assistance if needed. Download LifeFone’s Family Guard™ App for FREE on iTunes and Google Play.

Wishing you and your kids a safe and happy Halloween!

Essential Oils

TdoTerra essential oilshe buzzword lately seems to be “essential oils” and the physical and mental healing properties they appear to offer to users. While this article is not a definitive guide to these oils, nor their healing properties, we did want to pass along essential oil information because many caregivers find that using oils like lavender can actually help calm and soothe them and even help them get a better night’s sleep!

When used correctly and in moderation, many individuals find that there are more benefits to essential oils than there are drawbacks. As with any natural supplement you need to be a label reader to assure that you’re getting “pure” oils and not oils with potentially harmful additives.

If you’re considering exploring the use of essential oils, here are a few safety guidelines:

  • Make sure the bottles are kept tightly closed and out of direct sunlight
  • Look for pure essential oils
  • Keep out of the reach of your pets and your children or grandchildren
  • The oils should never be used in your nose, eyes or ears

These oils can be used topically either by rubbing a drop on your skin or using them in essential oil diffusers so you can reap the aromatic benefits. There are some oils that can be taken internally and do have healing properties, but again if you’re not certain about the uses of these oils, you need to check with a medical professional or expert in essential oil use.

Using essential oils topically will usually involve your diluting them to avoid any skin sensitivity or irritation issues. The additives you will use to dilute your essential oils could include coconut oil, almond or olive oils. If you’re going to use an essential oil on your skin, you should “patch test” to assure you won’t have any adverse reaction to it.

Essential oils can be used in cooking, in some instances, in place of food flavorings such as lemon or orange. You can also use a few drops of lavender oil to add a flavorful touch to fresh squeezed lemonade.

Whether you purchase your oils on line or from a local supplier, make certain you’re asking for specific instructions on how to use them and that you follow the guidelines provided.   You should also search online for websites and blogs dedicated to the use of essential oils. Website such as doTerra and Young Living sell and educate consumers on these oils.





Lessons In Meditation

In a recent article we shared with you the benefits of meditation for caregivers. In this piece we offer you tips on how to begin a meditation practice in your own home.

Meditation is becoming more mainstream as our lives seem to be more hectic with each passing day. How can we take a step back from what stresses us and find a way to relax and unwind? Meditation might just be the answer. Why? You don’t need any special equipment and if you can find a quiet spot in your house, out of doors or even in your car you can take time for yourself.

Here are some tips to help you “learn” how to meditate:

  • Set aside at least 15 minutes and find a quiet space. If it’s a darkened area that might be best, but quiet and without distractions will do just fine.
  • You can either sit cross legged on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Sit up straight and hold your shoulders back. If your body is well-balanced (good posture) it will help you get in balance with your body and your mind.
  • Find a focal point in the room and gaze at it. You may have a special photo or a mandala or even an indoor water fountain that you find relaxing. If you’re outside, focus on a tree, or a stream in front of you or even the side of a building. Some people do close their eyes, but others find with their eyes closed, their mind drifts and they don’t fully get into meditation mode.
  • Concentrate on your breathing and use it as your focal point. It will give your mind something to focus on rather than letting your mind wander or to allow it to bring in the stressors of your day. Focusing on your breathing will help anchor you to the moment. If you need something to focus on, count your breaths – don’t allow your thoughts to wander to daily routines.
  • Silence is deemed best for meditation but if silence isn’t for you, choose some white noise or calming music.
  • Look at your meditation time as a time of enjoyment and self-care. Don’t add it to your “to-do” list and think of it as a chore. It is a treat you’re giving yourself for your health.
  • If you feel you would benefit from a meditation class, contact a local yoga studio and see if they offer classes for meditation.

While the complete science between the connection of mind and body health have not been fully explored, it has been shown that a healthy body benefits your mind and vice versa. And as caregivers, it is crucial that you take time to care for yourself.


The Signs And Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome

If you have restless leg syndrome (RLS) you know it. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep because of an odd tingly feeling in your legs and a feeling that you simply can’t lie still, chances are you may be dealing with RLS.

What is restless leg syndrome and who gets it?

It is a condition, that unfortunately, isn’t always easy for your doctor to diagnosis and that’s because the symptoms manifest when you’re in bed at night and are hard to replicate in the doctor’s office. Many people who deal with RLS find that it’s worse if they’re pregnant, have arthritis, diabetes or anemia. The condition can effect individuals without these health issues as well and the causes of RLS are unknown.

Those who suffer this condition describe the feeling as:

  • Itching
  • Pulling
  • Crawling
  • Gnawing
  • Tugging

Regardless of the label you put on it, it is more than annoying and can also negatively impact your sleep. The symptoms of RLS make it difficult or impossible to not only fall asleep, but to stay asleep. Those who have RLS may also have periodic limb movements (PLM) and that can occur every 30 seconds or more and can also lead to sleep disruption.

One of the ways that sufferers get relief is to move or shake their legs, but again, when you’re doing this, you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. Even the act of moving your legs will only alleviate the issue for a brief time.

How to treat RLS

While there is no cure for restless leg syndrome there are medications that may treat the symptoms and you may be able to get a better night’s sleep. You may also find relief if you:

  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Walk every day
  • Drink beverages that have quinine (tonic water has quinine)
  • Take iron supplements if you are anemic

If you feel you’re suffering with RLS, talk with your doctor and also make note of when the symptoms are at their worst and what, if anything, you have done to alleviate the symptoms.


LifeFone Mobile Apps – Safety on Your Smartphone

Safety is a concern for individuals of all ages. Walking down the street, shopping in a mall, working alone at night, the morning run before work – all of these situations can leave us vulnerable! Thanks to smartphone technology and gps tracking, there are ways to increase your safety and security in threatening situations where you might need emergency help.

One of the latest ways to add to your personal safety and security stems from the partnership between LifeFone and SmartTek Systems.  Together, they have created two very useful mobile apps that you may find are perfect for you or your family.

LifeFone’s Mobile Alert™LifeFone's Mobile Alert

This app is perfect for the individual. In the event you are concerned and want (or need) assistance you simply push the button on the app and you’re connected to LifeFone’s call center.  The trained operator will verify your location and dispatch assistance. An excellent feature of this app is they will assist you whether or not you are able to communicate directly with them. They will have an audio connection to you once you activate the app so you don’t need to speak to get help!  It’s like having a virtual escort service.

LifeFone’s Family Guard™

Family Guard is perfect for working parents and caregivers. This app is the ultimate family tracking and monitoring device which can be easily configured to match your family’s needs.LifeFone's Family Guard

For adults and children old enough to understand when and how to use a panic button, you may choose to upgrade your account to give the people you are tracking the added protection of their own personal panic button on their smartphone app. Not only will you be able to locate your family members, each individual can feel safer when away from home.

Think this isn’t for you? Here is a list of those we think could benefit from one of LifeFone’s apps:

  • Latch-key kids
  • Runners and bikers
  • Those who work alone or work nights
  • Caregivers
  • Those with dementia
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Home health aids
  • College students
  • Women who live alone
  • Those who vacation alone or travel on business

The list is really endless as safety is a concern for everyone. If you think you might benefit from these apps, we invite you to contact LifeFone at 1.800.882.2280 to learn more.

Take Time To Meditate For Your Health

Mindful Meditation

Medical experts have come to agree that if you take care of your mind your body will benefit. What does that mean? It means that if you take time to calm your mind and practice meditation and mindfulness you may notice health benefits in your body by lowering your stress, reducing arthritic or other joint pain and even potentially lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

What does “mindfulness” mean?

Researchers and practitioners say that mindfulness means an individual has a tendency to focus, tap into their intuition, has greater self-awareness and a better ability to concentrate. It was found that those who practiced mindfulness had lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar and were better able to control their weight through healthy eating and exercise habits.

It’s also thought that being mindful can also help patients control their pain through various practices. Those who practice mindfulness typically exhibit greater calm and a more relaxed attitude and that helps to enhance their heart health.

What baby steps can you take, today, to become more mindful? Take some time away from the computer or other electronic devices. Sit in a quiet area of your home or in the out of doors, sip a cup of tea and focus on the sounds of nature. Take a short walk even if it’s around the office parking lot or up and down the staircase at work.

How meditation can benefit your health

Studies have shown that those who meditate have lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system although the reasons why this happens are not entirely clear. There are myriad ways in which to meditate which range from simply sitting silently to practicing “active” meditation.  The focus of meditation is to still the body and mind and effectively shut out the outside world for a period of time.

Meditation can reduce your stress and in today’s hectic world, stress can be a literal killer. It’s even been shown that meditation can improve the health for those suffering from fibromyalgia.

Meditation can be learned and practiced at home

You don’t have to take a class in order to learn to meditate. There are many techniques and disciplines that you could practice and they range from finding and saying your own mantra (think the “Om” chant done in yoga classes) to staring at a candle flame or body of water to counting and focusing on your breaths.

Find a quiet, relaxing spot in your home or the out of doors and set a time every day to meditate. You don’t have to devote hours to this, even a 15-minute interlude of meditation can provide benefits. For caregivers, this could just be the treat you offer yourself at the beginning or ending of your day.

Caregivers Can Get Fit At Home

As a caregiver, you likely do not have the time to hit the gym; this is especially true if you’re working, caring for your own family and taking care of aging parents. Medical experts, however, recommend we get up to 30 minutes a day of exercise in order to remain fit and healthy.

What’s a caregiver to do?

Here are some steps you can take to work fitness into your everyday routine in ways you may never have considered before:

  • Turn your chores into a fitness routine. When you’re vacuuming do it with more vigor.Exercise Programs
  • Picking up the newspaper from the curb? Work in a five minute walk.
  • Invest in an exercise bike or treadmill and walk on it or ride it when you’re talking on the phone.
  • If you’re cooking dinner, do some “counter push-ups” while the food is cooking. How? Stand arm’s length from the counter, stand on your tip toes and do some push-ups by pushing away from the counter.
  • Lift dumbbells. If you don’t have dumbbells, lift jugs of milk or canned goods.
  • If you’re waiting at the bus stop for the children, take a walk until the bus arrives.
  • When you grocery shop, park far away from the store and get in some additional steps.
  • Rather than taking an hour lunch break, take 30 minutes to eat your lunch and then take a 30 minute walk.
  • If you have a break during the day, climb some stairs.
  • Waiting in line? Do some “toe-ups” by standing on your tip toes and stretching your calves. Squeeze your glutes.
  • If you’re watching television use commercials for a short burst of a workout. Get up and walk around the house or march in place during commercials.
  • If you’re sitting on the couch, do some leg lifts.

You may not be able to devote a full 30 minutes at a time to a workout routine, but most every caregiver can find a way to work out on short, five to ten minute bursts! Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to care for your family.



Steps To Prevent Prostate Health Issues

Elderly HealthWhile there is no surefire way to prevent any kind of cancer, including prostate, there are steps that individuals can take to protect themselves and enhance their overall health which, in turn, might help prevent certain types of cancer. Physicians in several studies agree there are specific choices that individuals can make to lessen their risks of this, and other types of cancers and other preventable illnesses and they include:

  1. Eating a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber. High fat foods include nuts, oils, dairy products and meat. There is no clear correlation between a high fat diet and prostate cancer, but a low fat, high fiber diet is beneficial for everyone. When you’re eating “fats” look for those that come from plants, not animals. Plant based fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts, etc. Meat based fats include meat and butter.
  2. Your dinner plate should be comprised of more fruits and vegetables than meats – at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and nutrients and are low in fats. Filling up on these foods will satiate your appetite and make you less hungry. Reach for a piece of fruit when you’re craving a snack. Tomatoes, because they are high in lycopene, may lower the risk of prostate and other cancers.
  3. Fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna have been shown to lower your risk of prostate cancer. Up your fish intake. You can also add flaxseed to meals to obtain more omega 3 fatty acids.
  4. It’s been shown that men who eat more dairy products are more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who eat a diet that is lower in dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
  5. Keep a healthy weight. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you and ask him for advice on attaining that weight. Chances are he will recommend a more plant based diet and increased activity.

Before you begin any diet or exercise routine, it’s always best to check with your physician. Your personal physician will have all the best information to help you navigate your health.