Exercise Your Brain

Exercise Your BrainDid you know that your brain needs exercise?  While our brains are not muscles, we still need to keep them active. The fact is, as we get older, the birth of new brain cells slows, and our brain tissue actually shrinks. This can make it harder to perform mental tasks. However, the fact is, just as our muscles need regular exercise to keep in shape, it’s important to ‘work out’ the brain also.

There are many ways to keep your brain healthy.  One of the most important steps is eating a healthy diet.  Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits helps to reduce the likelihood of the loss of cognitive skills and onset of dementia.

Exercise is another great way to keep your brain sharp.  Getting a daily dose of physical exercise increases the blood flow to the brain, therefore enriching it with much needed oxygen.  The brain soaks up 20% of the oxygen in your body.

Exercise also fights anxiety and depression. Depression slows the brains ability to process information, making it more difficult to process information, and causes real memory problems.

Regular physical exercise also helps to reduce the impact of insulin on the brain. When brain cells are flooded by glucose, it can adversely affect memory and thinking.

Perhaps you can’t exercise physically, but you still want your brain to be sharp. One way to do that is to learn a new skill.  Maybe take up a painting class, or join a reading club.  A reading club will teach you to process what you are reading in a different way since you’ll be interacting with others about what you’ve read.

Simple ways to keep your brain ‘moving’ would also be with puzzle books.  Crossword books, number-oriented games, and other sources are great tools to keep your brain moving. There is also a number of on-line resources for games and cognitive skill building, and keeping exercises.

Keeping our brains sharp is not a one-time thing.  Just like our physical bodies, it’s a habit you do every day, and it’s important to do it simply for yourself.

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.

Everyday Household Health Dangers

Not to be alarmist, but there are dangers that lurk in your household that you aren’t even likely aware of – we weren’t! Consider this: you watch what you eat, you drink filtered water, you are diligent in the use of your seatbelt and you exercise daily.

Here are a few items that you probably have in your house that you may want to rethink:

  1. A pizza box. Because many of these boxes are greaseproof, they may contain PFCs. pizza boxPerfluorinated compounds have been associated with adverse health impacts such as thyroid, obesity, cancer and high cholesterol. PFCs are also found in carpet cleaning compounds, many take-out boxes and furniture. Toss that pizza box into the outside trash.
  2. Scented candles will help you unwind and de-stress, but some of those candles contain unhealthy chemical compounds. If you find your eyes and throat are irritated it could be because of the compounds in the candles. The mere fact of burning a candle can also lead to particle pollution in your home.
  3. Many items from the “dollar stores” come in packaging that has questionable chemicals including phthalates, lead or polyvinyl chloride plastics. If you purchase items from there, remove the packaging, toss it out into an outside garbage container and thoroughly wash your hands. Children are most at risk from illness from these chemicals.
  4. Antibacterial soaps sound like a good idea. The risks associated with using these soaps too frequently means that your body will have a harder time fighting off bacteria because your body may develop an increased antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, if the antibacterial soap contains triclocarban it can lead to unwanted hormonal implications as they can impact your thyroid.

Being aware of what is in your home can help you lead a healthier, happier life! If you care for an elderly person, it may be wise to look through their cupboards and junk drawers to be sure they aren’t saving things that could be causing them health issues!

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.

Selling Your House The Right Way!

Over the course of our lives we build and establish important relationships … first as children, then with spouses and our own children, our pets and our friends.  We also build relationships with things … our cars, our homes, our hobbies.  All combine to make our life rich and fulfilling.Selling Your Home

But life changes and as it does, we find ourselves saying goodbye to some of the “things” we value … like our homes.  The reasons are many.  We are upgrading and moving to a larger nicer home.  We are downsizing because the kids have left the nest.  We are moving for a new job.  At any rate, we say goodbye to “our home” filled with memories and move on.  Sounds easy.  But wait a minute.  There are both “easy” and more “challenging” aspects to getting ready to sell your home.  Let’s tackle some of the easy ones first.

For the most part, it is EASY to do the physical prep to attract buyers.

  • Curb appeal is very important.  Many of us, even when we are not looking to buy, have driven by a home and commented on how great it looks.  Meaning, if I WERE looking, this place grabs my attention.  Much of curb appeal is easy.  Make sure that the grass is mowed or the snow is shoveled.  Plant flowers to add warmth.  Make sure that shrubbery is trimmed and touch up trim paint if it is chipped.  Front doors should be inviting and draw your attention.  First impressions matter.
  • Once inside, prospective buyers tend to be nosey!  After all, you are not there and they want to see what the inside of the cupboards look like.  Does this bathroom make me want to soak with a candle and relax because it is clean and inviting?   Are the towels and linens fresh and unused? To that end, you should clean out cupboards and make sure everything is organized and not overly full.  Crowded closets and cabinets give the impression that there isn’t enough storage.  You may need to get a rental storage unit to de-clutter the house.
  • Make the house shine!  It is a bit unsettling to know that there might be a “showing” at any moment and so you have to live ready for that expectation.  Dirty floors and windows are a turn off.  Your refrigerator, microwave, oven and dishwasher will be opened.  I promise.   And look at ceiling fans.  They are notorious dust catchers and send a bad signal if they are not spotless.
  • In making the house shine, re-evaluate placement of furniture.  What worked well for you functionally may not give the best impression of the room.  Re-arranging and removing some furniture can make the home look and feel bigger.  A “big” home is worth more money and seems more livable.
  • Remember we suggested that once you put your house on the market, that it no longer belongs to you?  All those family pictures and personal belongings will look great in your NEW home but are distracting when you want to sell.  People need to see your HOME … not your stuff.  Remember that storage unit you are renting?

These are all relatively easy.  But there are some CHALLENGING things to getting your home ready to sell as well.

  • Homebuyers take deep looks at potential property they own and often hire a professional inspector to take that look.   Take a look at your heating and air conditioning systems and make sure they are in prime near perfect condition.  They should be serviced professionally and in some cases replaced.  Though you probably do not want to spend that money, you will do so one way or another … either in a reduced selling price or in fixing it first.  Your attention to detail … including the big things will pay off.  Talk to a professional.
  • Check your basement … check your roof … check your driveway.  The more you can do to have perfection, the better.  Remember, each day on the market is just costing you money.
  • And the final one may just be the hardest!   You have utilized professionals to help you get the home ready and now … for some of you, is the most difficult task.  Say goodbye to your home.  Let it go long before it actually sells whether you have something forward to look to or not.

We have a relationship with our home … sometimes love, sometimes hate.  But it IS a relationship.  And relationships matter.

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!

The Benefits Of Pets For Seniors

It’s no secret that pets can enhance our lives. Yes, they do require work and care and veterinarian visits, but the benefits they provide, including companionship, are beyond measure. For as much as we love our pets, did you know they can be helpful for people as they age? Your aging loved ones may benefit from pet ownership, as long as you’re aware of the care they will need – both your parents and the pets.Benefits of pets for seniors

When seniors adopt pets, measures must be put into place for the care of the pets when your aging loved ones can no longer properly take care of them. That is a conversation that needs to be held up front, before the pet comes into the home. You also need to determine what type of pet is best for your parents. Cats require less care than a dog, but a dog will help assure your parents are up and mobile. Taking the dog for a walk is an ideal way to stay agile and even involved in the community and that can stave off loneliness.

What are some other ways in which the seniors in your life can benefit from animal companionship? Here are a few:

  • Physical activity. As mentioned, owning a pet means they will be involved in regular physical activity. Dogs need to be walked. Cats need to be played with. Even fish and reptiles will require some level of interaction and activity.
  • Companionship benefits. Having a pet in the house will mean your loved one will never be alone. If you don’t live close by, it is important that they have a companion as depression can set in when loneliness sets in. The loss of a spouse and a dwindling circle of friends can lead to isolation and that can, in turn, lead to a whole host of health issues.
  • Physical health benefits. It’s been shown that the mere act of petting an animal can help lower blood pressure. It’s also been shown that caring for a pet can not only lower your blood pressure, but improve cholesterol levels and provide better heart health.
  • Weight loss. While having a pet may not lead to weight loss, it may help with weight control, especially if they have a dog. Dogs require physical activity and regular walks and that means your loved one will be physically active as well.
  • Physical connection. If your loved ones live alone they may be bereft of the physical connection of a hug or other human touch. Being able to wrap their arms around their pet can help alleviate that physical craving for human touch.

The positive impact that pets have on our lives cannot be denied, but they do need to be adopted with care with provisions made for their care when your aging loved ones can no longer take on the responsibility.

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.