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.


Maintain Youthful Looking Skin

No one really wants to age, right?  As we age, wrinkles start to form (some like to call them “smile lines”) and our skin is less supple and resilient.  However, there are things we can do, at any age, to keep skin vibrant and youthful looking.

Quit Smoking

Smoking takes years off your life and damages collagen and elastin in the skin. These two keep the skin flexible and firm so eliminating something that damages them is a smart, healthy thing to do! Smoking also decreases blood flow to the skin making it harder to receive enough oxygen to maintain health. Wrinkles form more easily from pursing the lips together as you smoke as well as from squinting to avoid getting smoke in your eyes.  Stop smoking and watch your skin begin to improve!

Drink More Water

When you’re dehydrated, any available water is diverted to the heart and liver – organs that need it the most.  Skin is not on the priority list when you’re dehydrated so it doesn’t receive the hydration needed for cell renewal. Drink the recommended six to eight glasses of water per day to ensure your body is getting enough water to maintain all the organs, including the skin.


What does exercise have to do with your skin, you might ask?  When you engage in cardiovascular exercises, you encourage blood flow and nutrients to the skin’s surface. This helps to create more youthful looking appearance and glow. Exercise also helps to relieve stress – which leads us to the next point……

Avoid Stress

Easier said than done! However, reducing stress can change your outlook and appearance. Stress causes us to frown, squint, sleep less (which creates undereye bags) and all of these can Youthful Skinaffect the appearance of your skin.  Stress makes it harder for your body to function properly so do what you can to avoid stress whenever possible.

Get Your Vitamin D More Safely

After a long winter, cloudy days or a vacation on the beach, the sunshine is simply joyful and appealing! But, it isn’t your skin’s best friend! Excessive exposure to UV rays can damage your skin and cause it to prematurely age. Wear sunscreen and reapply it often to prevent burns.   However, don’t avoid the sun altogether as Vitamin D received from the sun is good for you!

 Improve Your Diet

Did you know that skin is actually an organ?  Omega-3 fatty acids such as flax and fish oil or walnuts are great for you skin because the support health cell membranes. Anti-oxidants (Vit. A&C) fight free radicals.  Eat a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet, which really isn’t a diet at all but a way of eating.  To learn more about the Mediterranean Diet, click here.


Using a moisturizer daily with SPF in it for the day and serums with vitamins, anti-oxidants and botanicals at night will improve the look and feel of your skin while also protecting it. Night serums are especially helpful because your skin has many hours of protection when there is no wiping or touching the skin.  This allows the product to penetrate the cells and do their magic.

Lastly, Get Enough Rest

Work, home, kids, errands, caregiving, commitments, groceries….they all take time and sometimes there simply isn’t enough time. However, a regular routine of going to bed at the same hour and rising at the same time each day will improve your alertness, reduce fatigue and help you be more clear-headed during the day.

While certain things work better for some people than others, these basic things will help you achieve more youthful looking skin!


Traveling Alone

Sometimes we all simply need to get away from it all! What do you do, though, if you’re single or can’t find anyone who wants to indulge their wanderlust with a trip? Go solo! Even if you’ve never taken a solo trip, it is not as frightening as you might think and you may just enjoy it so much that you’ll do it more than once!

Here are some tips for traveling solo:

  • Safety should always be front of mind. Even if you were traveling with a group, this advice applies.  A smart choice can be to join group guided tours or make new friends while you’re on your vacation.
  • Know where you’re going before you head out of the hotel. Peering at maps or reading guidebooks while you’re out on a sidewalk is a clear indication that you’re not “from around Traveling Alonehere.”
  • Don’t go into unfamiliar locations at night. Don’t travel to places that have been deemed “unsafe” for visitors. Blend in with the locals.
  • Know how much it should cost to get from the airport to the hotel. How? Call the hotel and ask what a typical fare is. Why? Some unscrupulous drivers will take the “long way” so as to add to your fare; it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
  • Make certain you have identification with you. Carry it in more than one place – your purse, wallet, pocket, etc. In case you lose one you will still have access to the other piece of identification.
  • Maintain a low profile by not wearing a lot of jewelry.
  • Make certain your friends and family know your itinerary and check in with them daily.

Getting away from it all and exploring a new area of the world or country is a great way to take a break from your daily routine and just pamper yourself.

Diagnosis Cancer

The word “cancer” may easily be the one the worst words a person can hear.  Suddenly everything about life is seen through a new set of lenses – lenses that magnify things, make others blurry and some impossible to see.  As the initial shock wears off, one is faced with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges before them.

Patients respond to this news differently. Some strongly rise to the challenge and refuse to lose while others feel a tremendous sense of loss and inability to fight. As all of this turmoil surrounds them, it is also time to develop a plan to fight the cancer.

Every journey is unique but here are some ideas on steps you can take to manage your life after a cancer diagnosis:

  • Don’t go it alone. Find someone to share the journey with. It may be a spouse, family member or close friend and it should be someone you feel you can talk openly with.
  • Research and learn. Take the necessary steps to learn all you can about your cancer diagnosis and treatment options.  Sometimes too much information creates an overload that causes more stress and remember, not everything you read on the internet is the gospel truth. Begin with the web sites for the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute and take it at your pace.
  • Consider getting a second, perhaps even a third, opinion. Different doctors and cancer treatment centers have different philosophies and approaches. A second opinion can help you feel more confident in your treatment plan.
  • Use trusted sources for additional information. Your aunt, cousin, neighbor or friend may have known someone with cancer and offer you an opinion. Remember, they are trying to help so hear them out and gently tell them that you appreciate their concern but each diagnosis is unique.
  • Get organized. Start a notebook or binder to coordinate appointments, doctors’ phone numbers, and the information you collect along the way. Take it to your appointments and use it to make lists of questions you want to ask your doctors on your next visit.

No one will fully understand what you’re going through but tackling this with someone at your side will be a bigger help than you may realize.


The Health Benefits Of Yoga

Caregivers might find themselves drawn to yoga for the simple, mindful movements and its relaxation benefits. At its most basic level, yoga is a series of stretching poses with the purpose of cleansing both mind and body of toxins and toxic thoughts. Yoga is typically practiced in a darkened room, with soothing music and an instructor who will lead participants through the various movements. Different poses address different muscles and joints and can work out kinks and help relieve stress.

Another benefit of yoga, and one that is important as we age, is it helps with balance issues and also helps to improve balance through some of the poses and the movements involved. Because a yoga session is thought to “massage your joints, muscles and brain” it is also thought to help move any toxins from your organs.

There are many levels of yoga, from beginner to advanced to yoga practiced in rooms that are heated to more than 100 degrees (this is said to aid in the detoxification process). Here are some of the other benefits of yoga:

  • It helps increase your breath control.Health Benefit of Yoga
  • It enhances your endurance.
  • It enhances your balance; this is crucial as we age because trip and fall accidents are the main cause of emergency room visits for individuals over the age of 65.
  • Yoga raises one’s awareness of his or her own body and this might help an individual notice any slight changes in health.
  • It increases flexibility.
  • Your energy levels may soar and this is a benefit for caregivers who may be juggling their own family demands, working full time and caring for aging relatives.
  • Stress reduction.
  • Weight control might be a byproduct of practicing yoga.
  • Yoga might help stabilize blood pressure, regulate metabolism, enhance digestion and improve your blood circulation.

Yoga is a practice that can be enjoyed by individuals of almost any age as there are yoga classes for seniors that are aimed at increasing flexibility and balance as much as practicing the various poses. As with any exercise program, check with your doctor before you begin just to make sure you’re healthy enough for exercise. You may find that if you’ve been sedentary, a beginning yoga class might offer you an easier way to get back into physical activity without much stress and strain on your joints.

A benefit a caregiver will surely reap is the opportunity to be mindful, exercise and concentrate on taking care of themselves during the yoga session.