Category Archives: Caregiving

Five Walking Benefits For Senior Citizens

Use it or lose it.  This is the word from doctors recently when talking to senior citizens about their bodies.  The good news is, seniors needn’t think they have to sign up for 10K races, high-impact aerobics, or heavy weight training. Instead, walking benefits them by keeping them physically strong and agile.  Adding a simple 35-minute walk a day is all it takes.

According to Dr. Michael Pratt, the acting chief for the Physical Activity and Heath Branch in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, walking is a tremendously good activity for senior citizens. It’s cheap, simple, and almost anybody can do it.  Walking has a number of health benefits for everyone.  For seniors especially, it helps them maintain mobility and their independence.

Walking BenefitsFive benefits of walking:

1) Improves circulation: Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

2) Strengthens your bones: It can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York.

3) It supports your joints: Since our joints don’t get any blood supply, they rely on synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move, which carries oxygen to them. Without walking, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.

4) It lightens the mood: Walking releases natural pain­killing endorphins to the body – this is just one of the emotional benefits of exercise.

5) It helps you do more, longer.  Since walking helps circulation, keeps the bones strong and healthy, and lightens your mood, the body stays healthy longer, increasing the ability to be more active as we age.

With that being said, when is a good time to start a walking program?  Now! Perhaps they can’t begin with 30 minutes, however, they can start somewhere.  Walking benefits the body in so many ways, so go out and enjoy your walk.  Even when the weather isn’t the greatest, lacing up your shoes and heading to a mall is a perfect way to keep moving.

Eight Ways To Have A Positive Outlook On Life

positive outlookWe have all heard these  quotes about having a
positive outlook on life.

“Look on the sunny side of life.”

“Turn your face toward the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you.”

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

“See the glass as half-full, not half-empty.”

These quotes, and more like them, are often heard from folks that are called ‘cockeyed optimists’. However, researchers are finding that thoughts like these can do far more than raise one’s spirits.  They may improve health and extend life.

Accordingly, there is no longer any doubt that what happens in our brain does influence what happens in the body. Studies show an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, healthier blood sugar levels, better weight control, and less heart disease. Even when faced with an incurable disease, a positive outlook can change ones’ quality of life.

Dr Wendy Schlessel Harpham, an author of several books for people facing cancer, including Happiness in a Storm, was a practicing internist when she learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, 27 years ago. “Fostering positive emotions helped make my life the best it could be,” Harpham said. “They made the tough times easier, even though they didn’t make any difference in my cancer cells.”

New research is demonstrating that people can learn skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness.

Here are eight ways to have a positive outlook on life, and improve your overall health

  • Recognize a positive event each day.
  • Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal.
  • List a personal strength and note how you used it.
  • Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
  • Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to refocus on the event positively.
  • Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
  • Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

Even if you practice only a few of these, you are sure to end the day on a happier note.

How to Overcome Stress as a Caregiver

Being a caregiver to a loved one who has a chronic medical condition is never an easy task.  Though it has its rewards, the everyday challenges can easily build up, and become increasingly stressful.  Even the most resilient person can succumb to the overwhelming burden of the duties of caregiving.

Caregiving offers many rewards, and simply being there for someone in need is a core value.  Being called upon repeatedly fosters extra pressure, and can drag you down.  With your own busy schedule, work, children, a spouse, you already have enough to balance when adding in the care of someone else.  You may find yourself wondering where do I find time for myself?

Here are some tips that can help save time and reduce stress.

When dealing with medical issues, tackle the small ones first.  Call and confirm doctor appointments and make sure (if necessary) that any test results are in, so as to avoid two trips out.

Use respite care, neighbors or other family members to allow yourself time for just you.

Find ways to reduce your stress and give yourself much needed self-love.

If you find you can’t get away, make yourself a cup of tea, and read a book, even if it’s for a simple twenty minutes.  Being able to allow your body to simply rest goes a long way towards helping you feel better.

With the help of others, take the time to go for a walk in the park, or to your favorite coffee shop, the library, ways that you can clear your mind of the daily tasks at hand.

Make a list.  When someone else asks, how can we help, having a tangible list goes far.  Simple things like picking up prescriptions,

stopping at the store for the items you forgot, or taking a load or two of laundry and preparing a meal goes a long way in giving yourself a break from that simple chore.
It’s smart to be alert to compounded stressors that can lead to a breakdown in your own health, and lead to caregiver distress. Here are some signs that you need some relief:

  • If you find yourself becoming agitated with your loved one
  • Simple things that used to bring you pleasure, no longer do so.
  • Over anxious thoughts and feelings
  • Beginning to feel depressed

As a caregiver, it’s important to make sure your health is optimal.  It’s important to know the warning signs, and seek help.  Your loved one is counting on you.  Taking time for self-care is as important for them as it is for you.

 

Heart Month is February

The American Heart Association wants to help everyone live longer, healthier lives so they can enjoy all of life’s precious moments. And we know that starts with taking care of your health. American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends and communities involved. Together, we can build a culture where making the healthy choice is the easy choice.  Why? Because Life is Why. Loneliness & Heart Disease

African American men, primarily those who live in the southeast region of the U.S., are at the highest risk for heart disease.

However, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and for women.  Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk to suffer from heart disease and stroke.

With February being the month of Valentine’s Day, what better way to show your loved ones how much you care for them by taking care of your heart?

If you live alone, or you have a family member that lives alone, one of the best ways to give yourself peace of mind would be to invest in a Medical Alert System from Lifefone.  With just a push of a button, you or your loved one, can have emergency help at the door within minutes. Detecting and getting immediate help is the best way to lessen the impact of a heart attack or stroke has on your system.

Other ways to minimize your risk of heart disease is regular exercise.  No matter what your stage of life, exercise keeps your blood flowing, keeps it oxygenated, and keeps the heart pumping.  Whether you can get out and walk, ride a bike, lift weights, canoe, hike, or, if you are home bound, movement of any kind will help reduce your risk of heart-related disease.

If you are a smoker, today is the best day to quit.  Talk to your doctor about getting help with that.  Not only is it good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs and your brain.

Keep regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments, especially if you have any heart issues, and take your medications if you are on them.

Along with all the above, eating healthy is preventative medicine.  Choose fresh vegetables over salty snacks. Choose fish over red meat a couple of times a week.  Oatmeal over cold cereal.  Small changes can have a big impact.

February – heart month all the way around, keep yours healthy.

Don’t Let Life Get In The Way Of Good Health

The biggest problem with exercise and starting on a fitness or health regimen is that it takes commitment.  While you may be committed to establishing a healthy life-style by eating healthier or beginning an exercise program, there always seems to be something that gets in the way, and you just don’t make it happen.Good Health

Something always comes up.  The party that you went to last weekend de-rails the better food options.  It doesn’t have to, but it does. The walk you were going to go on at the park was sidelined because it snowed.  Your aunt called, and needed a ride to the grocery store, as you were lacing up your sneakers. Life got in the way.

Sadly, in today’s economy, sometimes making healthier food options can come down to the wallet.  Eating a healthier diet is more expensive in the short term, but, the overall health benefits has the potential of cutting down on medical expenses.

Shopping at a local fruit stand in the summer months and watching for sales at your local grocer can help you find healthier eating options.  Planning your meals and pre-cooking them is also a great help. For instance, you can get a pound of Brussel sprouts, a sweet potato or two, a couple of carrots, and roast them all at the same time.  That way you have a nice variety of vegetables that are already prepared and ready to toss into a salad, have with your evening meal, or even add to an egg for breakfast.

Exercise is another place where we can make excuses, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  A one mile walk takes less than a half-hour, yet helps to control your blood pressure, builds strength, and boosts your moods.

While it’s easy to come up with reasons to allow ‘life’ to get in the way of good health, it is equally as easy, but takes effort to build a healthy lifestyle to good health.

Caregiver Laughing

Find A Caregiver’s Support Group

If you provide care for an elderly or ill loved one, you know it is a daunting and sometimes lonely task. This is especially true for caregivers who have no family support. When you add in caring for your family, holding down a job and also taking care of your aging parents, you can easily see how stressful life could become. With the holidays fast approaching, the stress and chaos can become even more pronounced.Caregiver Laughing

Individuals who aren’t involved in a caregiver role may offer to help out, but they can’t truly understand the depths of what you’re involved in. Finding a support group and interacting with other caregivers gives you an opportunity to share frustrations and joys. A caregiver support group can also help you uncover ways to deal with stress, guilt and may even offer insight on various resources to make your caregiving role easier.

The benefits of a support group

Finding and joining a support group benefits you because you need to know you’re not “alone.” You need to understand that the feelings and stress you’re under is real. Those in your support group may have a “been there, done that” attitude and can help you navigate thru the various challenges you may face.

Many caregivers find they are thrust into the role without much preparation; that makes it even more daunting. When you run into financial issues, medical care questions and legal issues you can run it by the members in your group.

You may even find that your support group might offer a form of group exercise – crucial to relieving stress and helping relax you. 

How can you find the right group?

To begin your search for a group, ask at your church or religious organization, ask your doctor or your parents’ doctor, do an online search or ask at a nursing home for recommendations. Look for a group that is led by someone who has experience in the caregiver role.

You may also want to find a group that has been in existence for a while and has a good reputation. As with any type of group, you might just need to try out a couple until you find one that is a good fit.

A caregiver support group should be a safe space in which you can connect with others, vent your frustrations and ask for advice.

10 Important Questions To Ask A Medical Alert Company

There is no doubt there are many medical alert system providers available, and as with all services, there are some that are clearly better than others. Below is a list of questions you should ask when calling to inquire about purchasing such a device:

Q. Does your system require a landline?question
A. Technology has advanced in recent years, as have medical alert systems. While connecting your system to a landline is by far the most secure and reliable way, as you don’t need to rely on cell towers, companies now also provide systems that use 3G/4G service. In most cases, the system uses the providers Cellular service, not your own. Therefore, be sure to ask if the cellular service they use is reliable and strong in their specific area.
Q. Is there a contract?
A. Most companies should provide you with a service agreement that clearly states the terms and conditions of their service. This is different from a contract. Be sure to ask if there is a contract for a service stating how long you must pay for the equipment once you are a subscriber. Some companies will provide a full refund for unused, prepaid service should you have to cancel while other companies provide no refund at all. LifeFone offers a 30 day money back guarantee and a refund of any unused prepaid service should you cancel.
Q. How much does the system cost?
A. Companies generally offer several payment plans with a cost saving when you pay for a longer period of time. As mentioned regarding the contract above, ask about refund policies in the event you need to cancel.
Q. How are you rated with the BBB?
A. Be sure to work with a company that has a strong BBB rating and verify what you are told. Legitimate companies do not make RoboCalls promising a free medical alert system. If you get a RoboCall, report it to the BBB and do not give out any personal information.
Q. Do you automatically send an ambulance when I push the button or my fall detector activates an alarm?
A. This is important because many times, a subscriber does not need an ambulance. Perhaps the subscriber simply needs help getting up and would simply need a neighbor or family member to come lend a hand. Determine the provider’s process in this situation, and if the response plan can be customized.
Q. Do you have a GPS Service & Fall Detection?
A. Since some subscribers are home-bound, a traditional landline system is perfect in those situations. Other subscribers are prone to falls and want the security of a fall detection system. Since no fall detection is 100% fool-proof, ask if the service also comes with a standard button for added security.

Many subscribers are active and want protection when away from home. Ask if the service provides coverage when traveling about the community. Also ask if the system has to be charged in order to work, and whether it can be used while docked on the charger, as some systems can’t be used when charging.
Q. Is it easy to install
A. Always ask if you need an installer or if the unit comes pre-programmed. Most systems are very easy to install. Look at the provider’s web site to see if they offer installation instructions and if there are representatives available to answer any questions.
Q. Is the device waterproof?
A. Determine if the pendant or wristband is waterproof. You should subscribe to a service that does protect you while bathing or showering as well as swimming.
Q. What is the range (from the base) of the device?
A. The range will vary depending on the provider and the particular system. Be sure to ask about the range, and listen carefully to what you are told. Most likely, you will hear different range capabilities but you should also ask whether the system works if you or your loved one is in the yard, and how large a home system is designed to protect. Regardless of what you are told, the actual range can vary depending on the configuration of your home and any obstacles between you and the unit itself.
Q. What happens in a power outage?
A. Determine if the system will work in a power outage. Most systems have a battery back-up, but it’s important to find out how long that is. Don’t be swayed by one company whose battery may last longer than another. Consider ALL benefits and features before making a final choice.
For a full list of LifeFone’s features and benefits, you can review our FAQ page.

How To Spend Time In Retirement

Ahh … the sweet feel of retirement! After all those years of working long and hard hours, we have finally reached a place where we can relax and enjoy life a bit more. It is something that most of us have planned for with great anticipation … but sometimes after a few months of enjoying our full time job of “doing nothing” we find ourselves wanting to do something. And while there is a myriad of things to fill time, it can be overwhelming sorting out what to do.Retirement

One of the options is to get a part time job. Without the responsibility of your former pressure packed employment, you have the option of working part time and doing something totally different from what you had been doing . Working on YOUR terms and doing that fun thing you always thought might be fun but would never pay the bills plus the few extra dollars you could make wouldn’t hurt a thing.

However, if you are done with wanting to work totally … there are lots of other options to have a meaningful active retirement:

  1. Consider volunteering in a local school where you can surround yourself with youth and education. Schools are always seeking volunteers to work with students reading books, playing educational games and mentoring. Your church or synagogue might need volunteers, nursing homes provide opportunities to work with seniors who have no one to interact with. There are many options for volunteering. Find an organization that attracts your interest and get involved.   Like a part time job, you get to call the shots on when, where, how and why.
  2. Write a blog or a personal memoir about your life experiences and the things you have learned. It is sometimes difficult to get started but many suggest that you sit down and just start writing what is on your mind at the moment. Many people are surprised at what they remember AND what they discover.   Your “diary” and memoirs will leave a wonderful legacy for your family.
  3. Go back to school! There are many community colleges and senior centers that offer educational opportunities. Remember that second language you always wanted to learn? Remember that cooking class you would love to attend? Remember that art class you always thought about. Retirement is a great time to learn new things and to participate in classes you always wanted to take. Plus you don’t have to worry about a grade point average! It is all about you with no pressure to do anything but have fun. See the theme here?
  4. While everyone in retirement needs to live within their means, NOW is a great time to travel. Whether you do short day trips to local attractions at nearby cities or you buy a motor home and travel the country, getting out and experiencing new things is one of the retirement’s benefits. Experience your world. Set goals for yourself like visiting every major league baseball park in the country, visiting every major city in your state or visiting the presidential libraries of your favorite presidents.   Traveling not only offers new experiences but the trip planning also gives you something to do and look forward to.
  5. Complete the “honey-do” list that you started years ago. In retirement, you are probably in a better position to have the time and money to tackle those projects that just did not fit into your budget or schedule before. There are all kinds of interesting do-it-yourself projects that range from major projects to small enhancements to your home or patio.   Explore craft magazines, home improvement television networks/shows or garden and find ways to make things better in your environment.
  6. Get out and exercise. Maintaining health and fitness as we age is ever so important. There are many places to exercise from gyms and health clubs to senior centers to mall walking. Explore options to keep moving and staying strong and mobile.
  7. Finally, do nothing if that is what you want. There really is no pressure to do anything that you don’t want to.

All those years you worked and raised a family now boil down to YOUR TIME. Do what makes you happy knowing you have complete control over your retirement.

National Centenarians Day: Will You Live To Be 100?

Did you know that about one in 10,000 people will live to be 100-years-old? These individuals are deemed “slow agers.” Will you be among those who live to celebrate 100 years?

While there is no magic formula to determine how long you will live there may be indicators as to how long you will be on this earth and they include:

  1. Whether you have “longevity genes.” How long have other members of your family lived?National Centenarians Day
  2. What is the state of your physical health?
  3. How fast can you walk? Studies have shown that those who are fast walkers just might live longer. Fast walking is considered “three feet per second; two miles per hour)
  4. Do you have friends and family in your life? Studies have shown that social engagement could be key to helping you live to be 100.
  5. Are you a woman? It’s been shown that of the 80,000 centenarians in the United States in 2010, 85% of them were women.

If you want to try to live to be 100, here are some steps you can take to enhance your chances:

  1. Lose the belly fat. People who are “round in the middle” are more likely to die sooner than those with flat bellies.
  2. If you were a healthy-weight as a teenager you may live longer.
  3. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get physical exercise every day. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than those without diabetes and this could shorten your lifespan.
  4. Eating 14 to 17 grams of fiber per day could reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 17%. Add oatmeal to your diet, top with raspberries and you can get 12 grams of fiber in one meal.
  5. Become a tea drinker. If you drink either green or black tea you will be ingesting concentrated doses of catechins, substances that help blood vessels relax and protect your heart. Those who drink more than five cups of green tea every day had a lower risk of dying from heart disease and stroke than those who didn’t drink tea.
  6. Be active at least 40 minutes per day. Those who are physically active are more physically fit and also cognitively fit.

On September 22, celebrate National Centenarians Day and the centenarians in your life or take steps to become a centenarian yourself!

How To Let Go Of A Dying Loved One

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy. It’s even more difficult for the family when they have to watch their loved one slowly fade away, but that raises the question of “how do you say good bye to a dying loved one?” It’s a question with no easy answers, but it may be a discussion every family should be having.Dying Loved One

Advanced care planning and conversations among family members is crucial to improving the quality of your loved one at his or her end-of-life. Your aging loved ones need to be able to express their desires and the family needs to work together to assure they are met so they can pass on with dignity.

Many health care providers are still hesitant to discuss end of life issues with their aging and ill patients so it may be up to the family to start the discussion. No family member wants to wait until he or she is faced with “what do we do now” when Mom or Dad’s health is failing and you are unclear as to what your parents would have wanted. The best time to have the conversation is when everyone is healthy and all together in the same room, if possible, so everyone can share their thoughts and come to an agreement of what will happen and how Mom and Dad’s final wishes will be honored.

What are some of the questions you may want to ask and have answered when deciding what to do at the end of your loved one’s life? Here are a few:

  1. What do they consider a “full” or quality life?
  2. How much control do they want over their own decisions when facing a terminal illness? Will they want to undergo cancer treatments if it’s a cancer that cannot be “cured” for example?
  3. Do they want to be resuscitated if they stop breathing and their heart stops?
  4. Do they want to be attached to and kept alive by, machines?

Along with these conversations you need to discuss their insurance coverages and how they will pay for hospital care, hospice care or long-term care in a nursing facility. You may also want to discuss who will be designated as the health care proxy and who will make the ultimate decisions on end of life care if they cannot speak for themselves.

Know that even if you have had these conversations and everyone has “accepted” the inevitable, that does not make the final decision any easier nor does it remove any of the grief you will experience. What end of life decisions do is to make it easier for the family to know they have honored their loved one’s wishes and that may make the grieving easier to handle.