Why Tai Chi Is Good For You!

Tai Chi is a Chinese practice and tradition that was originally developed for self-defense but evolved into a graceful exercise that can help reduce stress & anxiety and helps to increase flexibility and balance.

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints which makes it generally safe for all ages and levels of fitness. It may be especially suitable for older adults who can’t (or may not) otherwise exercise. It also requires no special equipment and can be done inside or out. As with any exercise, it’s always a good practice to check with your physician before starting any routine. Continue reading

Is Microwaving Your Food Healthy For You?

The Microwave was created in 1947 by Percy Spencer, then known as a radar range. Countertop microwaves were not introduced until 1955 and were fairly large and expensive. It was another 12 years before the microwave became more adaptable for use in the home.

Microwave ovens are found in 90% of American homes but are they healthy for cooking food? While extremely popular for reheating food, making popcorn and defrosting foods, they do not brown or caramelize foods. As the quality of fresh food has diminished over the past 100 years due to soil erosion, unsustainable farming practices and herbicides and pesticides, cooking in a microwave may further deplete the nutrition from our food supply.

Microwaving quickly heats food but it can also change the chemical structure. Microwaving has the tendency to make some nutrients inactive and when cooking in plastic and paper containers, some carcinogenic toxins can leach into your food. In the past, radiation leaking from the microwave was also a concern though newer models emit very small amounts.

People who have been exposed to radiation, whether from the microwave or other sources, can experience a number of symptoms. People who live near cell phone towers or other high frequency antennas can also suffer symptoms including:

  • Insomnia, night sweats and sleep disturbances
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Weakened immune system
  • Vision and eye problems
  • Depression and irritability

Many people use the microwave regularly to prepare their food. In fact, for some seniors who live alone, it’s easier, and often cheaper, to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave than to shop for fresh foods and make meals from scratch.

If you are a caregiver, a friend or family member of an elderly person who lives alone, consider these ideas:

  • When making a casserole, meat loaf, lasagna etc…., make enough to take to your loved one. They will appreciate a good meal.
  • Make soup, put it in containers and freeze it in one meal portions. Instruct your loved one to heat it on the stove rather than the microwave.
  • Take them to out to dinner once a week or a month.
  • Invite them to your home for dinner.
  • Pack a picnic lunch and take them to the park, a museum or find another activity they enjoy.

Keeping your loved one from eating too many fast-food and microwaved meals will be better for their health and nutrition.

The Positive Aspects of Caring For Elderly Relatives

With age comes wisdom, right? We also understand that with age come challenges as they relate to aging in place and being able to perform all of the tasks we’ve become accustomed to. Even with this said, aging also brings positive rewards to both the aging and to the caregivers involved.

What are some of the positive aspects of caring for elderly relatives and of aging itself? Here are a few:

  • Both you and your parents are likely more mellow and that can help with the coping skills necessary for them to rely on you as a caregiver because the reversal of roles is not always an easy thing to deal with.
  • You can all benefit from the confidence gained by working together. Your aging relatives will see that you are not only competent, but that you have taken the lessons they instilled in you as you were growing up and put them into practice. As a caregiver, you can also see the benefits of the assistance you’re providing your parents – you are able to help them now as they helped you when you were growing up.
  • If you have grandchildren, having them spend time with you and your aging parents is a great way to deepen their bonds. Grandchildren can help to keep your aging parents “young” and your parents will likely be thrilled to have children in the home. Grandchildren can also help reignite curiosity and playfulness into their lives.
  • By spending time together – both in the home and outside of it – you’re helping your aging loved ones to broaden their circle of friendships. This is especially true if you’re introducing them to outside activities as a way to keep them healthy, active and engaged.
  • You may be more motivated to spend time together because, frankly as we age we realize how precious time is and that we need to savor every moment. Your aging parents might be more inclined to volunteer, undertake leisure activities that may have gotten pushed aside during the child-rearing years or they might even want to take a class at the local senior center or college.

Aging is a fact of life, but you can take a proactive and positive approach and welcome the changes that it brings to the lives of both the aging parent and the caregiver.

The Emotional Toll After the Holidays

Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years have all passed and many people are just happy to be getting back to normal.  While the holidays offer great opportunities to spend time with family and friends, they also wear us out and disrupt our routines.

What about mom and dad?  This time of year it is especially common for empty-nesters, the elderly and even children going back to college to experience an emotional toll caused by the end of the holiday season and simply winter itself.

Separation anxiety is a psychological condition whereby an individual experiences excessive anxiety when it comes to separating from loved ones or home.  Because of the strong emotional attachment and time spent together during the holidays,  leaving loved ones and familiar settings can cause anxiety at this time. In fact, those who are left behind can experience this as well since once everyone leaves, life goes back to ho-hum and those they really love and enjoy are gone.

geograph.org.uk

geograph.org.uk

Another consideration is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in some people due to decreased amounts of daylight during the winter. If you live in the northern states or areas where there is little sun, caregivers and family members should look out for symptoms of Seasonal affective Disorder.  Signs include lack of interest in social engagement, changes in emotions, lack of interest in things they once enjoyed and general sadness and change in behavior.  Using a UV sun light during the day and keeping windows open may help but some may need medication.

You or your loved ones may not have separation anxiety or experience a negative effect due to lack of sun but it’s a very real issue for some and for the elderly, it can be even worse. Keep an eye on your family member post-holidays to see if they are displaying any signs of sadness that is out of the ordinary.  If you notice any changes in their behavior or demeanor, talk with a trusted physician to see what can be done to help the situation.

Natural Light is Good For You!

Earlier this fall, you probably saw the news about a study conducted by Cornell Professor Rana Zadeh. The study compared nurses working in two wards of an acute-care unit. While the working conditions were similar in terms of organization, environment and the type of patients they cared for, the significant difference was the availability of windows in the nurses’ work stations.  The results showed that nurses with more natural light had lower blood pressure, talked and laughed more and had better overall moods than their counterparts in the ward with fewer windows & less natural light. In the study providing evidence that working in natural light improves performance, mood and alertness, and has a positive effect on people both physiologically and psychologically,

So what does this mean for caregivers and nurses?  In most cases, there’s little you can do to modify your work environment but there are a few things that may help:

  • Avoid the windowless break room & lunch room. Opt instead to go outside and enjoy a few minutes of fresh air and natural light. If you can take a walk at lunch, do so. In colder climates, spend a few minutes near a window during the winter months and take in the natural lighting.  These steps are similar to parking farther away in the parking lot and taking the steps instead of the elevator in order to get more exercise.  In this case, you’re taking steps to elevate your mood and improve your performance.
  • If you’re a home health aide or caregiver, throw open the drapes. Not only will the natural light be good for you, your care recipient will benefit as well. While you’re at it, throw open your own drapes at home!
  • Spend time outside when you get home from work and on the weekends. Spending too much time inside can have negative effects on your mood and attitude.
  • If you’re job hunting, there are many factors that are likely to be far more important than a “room with a view”, but while you’re interviewing, observe the surroundings. If you have a choice and all things are (mostly) equal, opt for the job with the most natural light.

 

LifeFone’s Caregiver Holiday Gift Ideas

gift boxWhether you’re a caregiver for your aging relatives or if you’re an adult in the Sandwich Generation who is taking care of both aging relatives and a growing family, chances are probably realize you don’t take good enough care of yourself.

If your family is asking, “What can we get you for the holidays?” here are some ideas that will bring a smile to your face:

  •  Pay for a three, six, nine, or twelve-month house cleaning service. This gift can provide a once monthly housekeeping and deep cleaning that will keep your house neat and tidy and ease your thoughts on your own housekeeping when you’re in the midst of cleaning your loved ones’ home.
  • A gift of a LifeFone Medical Alert System for your aging relatives is a gift of peace of mind for the caregiver. With this system, you can walk away from your duties as caregiver for a few hours or even a weekend and have the peace of mind that your loved ones will not be “alone” as long as they have, and wear, their personal medical device.
  • Do you like to keep in touch with relatives, but sometimes forget the birthday and anniversary dates? If you have friends and relatives to keep in touch with, it also becomes a task you add to your to-do list, but may not get around to – especially if it involves having to go to the store to buy cards. A subscription to a service that will automatically send cards to loved ones lets you keep in touch without the stress of trying to remember every date. Check out: americangreetings.com or sendoutcards.com. This is a handy time-saver that allows your family to keep in touch.
  • Do you have a lot of paperwork and clutter that you need to keep track of, both for yourself and your aging parents now? If that’s the case, you may want to request some organizational tools or bins to help tame the clutter. There are myriad options, ranging from desk organizers, purse organizers, craft bins, plastic totes to store off-season decorations or clothing. If you spend a lot of time in the car driving from your home to theirs, a car organizer might be ideal, especially if it is stocked with items you might need in the event of an emergency or a car breakdown. Check out http://www.thirtyonegifts.com/catalog/utility/ or check Amazon.com and search for car or desk organizers.
  • When you finally make it home after a long day, you might want to grab a glass of wine or a cup of hot tea and indulge and relax. Ask for some essential oils that can lead to a more relaxed state. Relax in a bathtub with some luxurious bubble bath and even a big, fluffy bath sheet or two. Add in some candles and high end lotions and viola you can be whisked away!
  • To truly add to an “indulgence” gift purchase ask for a gift certificate for a massage. Hint: In some parts of the country, you may be able to find a masseuse who will come to your home so you can enjoy that indulgence without having to leave the comfort of the house.
  • Gift certificates to restaurants or a movie theater could be something you’d crave, especially if you never think you have the money to indulge. Chances are, you love nights out on the town, but won’t spend the money without prompting – this thoughtful gift means you have no excuse! Look for certificates from sites like these where the caregiver can choose his or her favorite restaurant.com or http://www.giftcertificates.com.
  • Spend time with family members and gather up photos from the past and put together a photo album or scrap book. You can even do this on a digital photo frame. With that you scan in photos or documents or even tickets from events they’ve enjoyed and they run in rotation on the photo frame.

Never forget, though, that one of the best gifts you can offer your family is the gift of your time, love and the attention you pay to them when they want to share their memories. Those are times and gifts that you simply can’t put a price tag to.

The Importance Of Automatic Fall Detection Systems

Falling is a big concern among seniors. According to the Yale University School of Medicine, 1 out of 3 people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that falling injuries among the elderly are on the rise.

Importance Of Automatic Fall Detection Systems

Seniors, their children or their caregivers may want to consider automatic fall detection as an upgrade to their medical alert system. The Fall Detection pendant contains tiny sensors that can detect changes in motion, as well as changes in the height of the pendant.   These sensors are monitored in real-time to detect tiny changes in motion. Armed with that information, the fall detection algorithm determines if the person wearing the fall detection pendant has experienced a motion pattern that indicates a fall. Since no fall detection system detects 100% of falls, the pendant is also equipped with a standard help button for added security.

If the system detects a fall, an alarm will sound. With LifeFone’s equipment, you have time to cancel the alarm if you haven’t actually experienced a fall. The system waits for 20-30 seconds to check for normal movement before sending an emergency fall message. You then have 20 additional seconds to manually cancel a fall alarm. It’s important to cancel a false alarm if one occurs to prevent the emergency response center from taking appropriate action on your behalf.

Fall detection adds another level of peace of mind to the overall protection provided by a medical alert system in the event a loved one falls and injures themselves.

 

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Have A Stress-free Holiday Season

OverwhelmedCaregiving is stressful. Of that there is no denying and when you add the holiday hustle and bustle into the mix, you have the potential to amp up the stress and reduce the joy you should be experiencing this holiday season. When you take a step back and think about it, the holidays are about friends and family and being together; it’s not about perfection and a clean house!

Here are some tips that you can take to heart to help make certain your holiday is enjoyable and as stress-free as it can be:

  • The holidays are not about perfection: the perfect tree, the perfect meal, the perfectly cleaned home. Keep your decorations low-key, you don’t have to outdo the neighbors with your light display. Decorate with items that have particular meaning to you and your family without going overboard with totes and totes of decorations that need to be unpacked and then re-packed once the holiday has passed.
  • If you’re being invited to visit friends or relatives and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day – with work, caring for aging relatives and your own family – don’t be afraid to set limits. “We would love to come and visit, but can only stay a couple of hours.” Set the expectations up front and stick to your time frame.
  • You don’t have to do it alone. Would your family disown you if you purchased a pie or two rather than making them? Could you get away with bakery cookies? Try it and see how many hours you could free up from not spending all of your time in the kitchen. If you simply can’t give up that part of your family tradition, then start a new tradition and ask for help. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. If you need to, hire a housecleaning service to come in and do a deep clean on your home before the relatives arrive. Ask guests to bring a dish to pass – start a new tradition by adding your guests’ favorite dishes to your menu!
  • If someone asks you what you’d like for a gift, don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know or I don’t need anything.” Let them treat you if they want to! Ask for a gift certificate for a massage or a restaurant or tickets to a movie or a play you’d been dying to see. Ask them to pay for a trip to your favorite spa or salon!
  • Take time to share family stories. If you’re gathering family stories, make sure someone is recording them – either digitally or on paper – and take photos so you can capture the memories shared and have them as a physical token of your time together.
  • When you send your greeting cards, include a note that reads, “Mom and Dad are doing XYZ… it’s been a great, or a trying year, but we are moving forward.” Keep the note non-accusatory and you just might garner assistance from distant relatives who truly may not know what you’re doing as a caregiver.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If you truly don’t have the energy to attend another party or make another of your “famous pumpkin pies” then say so. Don’t make excuses, simply say you don’t have time and leave it at that, but thank them for having asked you.
  • Take time to count your blessings. Yes, the role of caregiver can be an exhausting one, but there are rewards. You are spending quality time with your aging loved ones. You are providing them with love and support and helping them to age in place. Even if they are in an assisted living or a nursing home environment, you will still likely be called upon or feel compelled to visit regularly and that can be a strain as well. Make the time you spend there quality time talking, playing games and sharing memories.
  • Ask siblings or other relatives to help chip in for a Medical Alert System. The peace of mind in knowing that your relatives will have immediate access to a trained professional from  if they suffer a medical emergency or a fall while you are not in attendance may allow you to regain some freedom without having the worry of them being alone.

Take time, amidst the rush of the season to care for yourself and to sit back and simply relax!

 

 

Taking Care of Your Skin

AA015010As we age, our skin starts to show fine lines, discoloration, and loss of elasticity yet we seek to have a healthy appearance no matter how old we are.  While some skin-care tactics such as the use of sunscreen and moisturizers are important at every age, our approach to skin care needs to adapt to ensure that skin stays healthy and youthful-looking as long as possible.

Here are a few skin care tips every woman should know.

It’s not about your age – it’s how well you care for your skin.

As we grow older, our skin cells tend to renew more slowly and retain less moisture. Taking care of your skin throughout your life through the use of moisturizer, exfoliation and sunblock can help your skin stay healthier and more youthful.

It’s also never too late to start taking better care of your skin. Look for products that contain firming ingredients that will help stimulate collagen production, antioxidants to help protect against free radical damage, and smoothing ingredients to encourage cell renewal.

Styles change over the years so your skin care products should also change.

The moisturizer you used in your 20’s is not the one you should use in your 50’s. Baby boomers should look for skin care and makeup products specifically designed to address signs of aging such as wrinkles nd fine lines. Daily sunscreen use of 30 SPF or higher will help reduce discoloration.

Update your diet to include the nutrients that your skin needs.

Good nutrition is important throughout your entire life but as we age, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet to maintain and improve your skin’s appearance.  Vitamins A, C and D are vital for skin health, and topical applications of A and C are also good for the skin.  Also, be sure to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and loss of moisture.

Update your makeup routine.

Use natural foundations that reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and pores. As skin matures, a “less is more” approach is often more flattering. Visit a make-up counter for a consultation with an expert that can help you achieve a natural, healthy look as too much makeup can amplify the look of wrinkles.

LifeFone Offers Check-in Services

Caregiving is among one of the most important jobs a person takes on during his or her life. It’s a task that takes time and patience and one that most of us are never prepared for. Being a family caregiver takes a lot of time, effort and work. For many, it’s a role that comes on suddenly, without warning or simply evolves.

pIn addition to LifeFone’s Medical Alert Systems with or without a landline, with GPS and with Fall Detection, LifeFone also offers check-in services to help provide peace of mind for care recipients and their families.

LifeFone Activity Assurance

LifeFone’s Activity Assurance Service enables subscribers to check-in with an emergency care agent in the call center each day.   By pressing a button on their base unit, it lets LifeFone know whether or not they are at home and responding to the reminder. This service is available with the at home landline service only.

Each day at a set time chosen by the subscriber, the base unit generates a beeping tone.   The subscriber can stop the beeping tone simply by pressing a button on the console, assuring LifeFone (and the subscriber’s loved ones) that the subscriber is at home and responding. If the subscriber does not respond to the reminder within 15 minutes, an alarm is sent to the alarm center and received by a customer care agent who will then place an outbound call to the home to check on the subscriber. If the subscriber does not answer the phone, we then follow his or her emergency care instructions.

LifeFone Daily Check-in Call

With the daily reminder service, LifeFone care agents will make a daily outbound call to the subscriber. The subscriber customizes the calls to fit your needs.   LifeFone can call simply to find out if the subscriber is ok, provide him or her with a medication reminder, or any type of reminder desired. Each day, the subscriber will hear the warm, friendly voice of a customer care agent who knows him or her by name and is concerned with that subscriber’s well-being.

LifeFone’s check-in services can be a valuable addition to a medical alert system. For more information call LifeFone at 800-228-2280.