As a caregiver, you are already aware of the risks of falling for your loved one. It’s easy for them to become dizzy if they get up too quickly, and sometimes medications can cause their equilibrium to be off. However, there is research that shows they can exercise to prevent falling. Caregivers Connection suggests these four types of exercises to help prevent falls. Continue reading
The Holidays are behind us. It’s time to take a breath, and look forward to the new year. As a caregiver, not only do you think about your health, but also the health of your loved one for whose care you are responsible. As is often the case, the holiday season takes a toll on our health. It can also take a toll on the health of those in your care. You may be wondering; how do I gauge their health? Caregivers Connection has four signs to gauge your loved ones’ health. Continue reading
Do your parents seem to forget things you’d talked with them about only a day, or even an hour, ago? Do you have trouble focusing on the task at hand? I’m sure you’ve experienced that feeling when you walk into a room and can’t for the life of you remember why you were there? Been there, done that. Right?
Becoming forgetful is a fact of life and of aging. As a caregiver you want to do what you can to help your parents or aging loved ones improve their memory and their focus. Here are four steps you can take, for your aging parents, and in your own daily life to make forgetfulness not as much a part of aging:
- Pay attention when someone is talking to you. If someone is talking and you’re involved in other activities you will lose the message they’re trying to convey. Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. If they’re talking and you missed something, ask for clarification.
- Stating the conversation back for clarification is also another way to enhance your memory. “So, Mom what you said was you wanted me to pick up tomatoes from the farmer’s market on Thursday, right?” This lets the person know you were listening and also helps reinforce the conversation.
- Are you distracted during conversations because it is too loud or an otherwise distracting environment? If you’re having an in talk, move into a quiet room or a quiet corner of the house. If you’re in a restaurant, move closer so that you can hear what’s being said.
- Pick up a crossword puzzle or another type of word or number game to keep your mind agile.
- Learn something new. Whether you take a class online or in person, life long learning is ideal for individuals who want to “age well.”
In addition to paying attention to what’s being said, you can also enhance your brain function by being physically active. Not only does physical activity enhance your overall life and health it can also help stave off some of the effects of aging. You don’t have to run a marathon, but if you’re typically sedentary, get up and take a walk around the house, march in place when you’re on the phone, take the dog for a longer walk than you usually do (both you and your dog will benefit from this!).
Simply staying connected to others will help with mental acuity and even physical health. Get up. Get out. Get involved in social situations. Volunteer or even pick up a part time job in a field that’s always interested you. A busy mind is a healthy mind!
The buzzword lately seems to be “essential oils” and the physical and mental healing properties they appear to offer to users. While this article is not a definitive guide to these oils, nor their healing properties, we did want to pass along essential oil information because many caregivers find that using oils like lavender can actually help calm and soothe them and even help them get a better night’s sleep!
When used correctly and in moderation, many individuals find that there are more benefits to essential oils than there are drawbacks. As with any natural supplement you need to be a label reader to assure that you’re getting “pure” oils and not oils with potentially harmful additives.
If you’re considering exploring the use of essential oils, here are a few safety guidelines:
- Make sure the bottles are kept tightly closed and out of direct sunlight
- Look for pure essential oils
- Keep out of the reach of your pets and your children or grandchildren
- The oils should never be used in your nose, eyes or ears
These oils can be used topically either by rubbing a drop on your skin or using them in essential oil diffusers so you can reap the aromatic benefits. There are some oils that can be taken internally and do have healing properties, but again if you’re not certain about the uses of these oils, you need to check with a medical professional or expert in essential oil use.
Using essential oils topically will usually involve your diluting them to avoid any skin sensitivity or irritation issues. The additives you will use to dilute your essential oils could include coconut oil, almond or olive oils. If you’re going to use an essential oil on your skin, you should “patch test” to assure you won’t have any adverse reaction to it.
Essential oils can be used in cooking, in some instances, in place of food flavorings such as lemon or orange. You can also use a few drops of lavender oil to add a flavorful touch to fresh squeezed lemonade.
Whether you purchase your oils on line or from a local supplier, make certain you’re asking for specific instructions on how to use them and that you follow the guidelines provided. You should also search online for websites and blogs dedicated to the use of essential oils. Website such as doTerra and Young Living sell and educate consumers on these oils.
While 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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……
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 affect 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!
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.
Caregivers may groan when they read this because they are so busy caring for their families, working a full time or a part time job and helping to take care of mom and dad. The idea of thinking about getting healthy might seem a bit daunting. Another way to think about a healthy lifestyle is that the state of being healthy will help you face the day and your tasks with a much lighter step and will help you feel even more effective and happier!
Getting in, and staying in, shape doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. Your health and a healthy lifestyle requires thought, work and making healthier choices. What does a healthy diet look like?
- Fewer processed foods
- More fruits and vegetables
- Foods low in saturated fats
- Cutting back on sweets and refined sugars in snacks and beverages
- Foods that are high in fiber
If you’re a fast food junkie it may take some planning to overcome the urge – and frankly the ease – of going through a drive-through for dinner. Believe us, we know how hard it is at the end of the day to go home and put together a healthy meal that everyone will love.
Pre-planning is essential. Talk with your family and make a weekly menu so that you know in advance what you’re having and you can have other members of your family help with the meal prep. If you’re the primary caregiver for aging loved ones it’s up to you to reach out to other family members – especially those that live in your house – to help share the load. When you’re in the midst of cooking and your belly is growling, make sure you have quick and easy access to cut up chunks of fruits and veggies that you can nibble on while you cook.
In addition to eating healthier you need to be active. You may be thinking, “I’m working. I’m taking care of my family AND I’m taking care of mom and dad… I am active.” You may be active when you’re doing all of this, but chances are you’re not taking time to be active for yourself. This means carving out time during your day to take a walk or to go to the gym or even take an aerobics class. Take time during the day to get up and move every hour – walk in place 500 steps an hour; you will be surprised how much it will add up! Take a dance class with your significant other or go on a bike ride with the family. It may seem as though you simply don’t have the time to add one more task to your day, but taking care of yourself and being active will benefit both you and your family in the long run.
Remember change takes time and you want to implement these lifestyle changes a little at a time in order to make them a part of your everyday living.
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.
Keeping track of the Affordable Care Act and wondering how, or if, it will impact an individuals’ Medicare or Medicaid coverage is a sometimes confusing maze.
One of the most pressing questions seniors and baby boomers have is “Will the Affordable Care Act impact my Medicare coverage?” and the answer to that is a confusing “maybe.” Because the Affordable Care Act is still a program that is in flux, and because its purpose was to provide healthcare coverage to those who didn’t have it, the way it could potentially impact Medicare and Medicaid have not been fully determined.
Some of the questions that have been raised include:
- Will I have to switch doctors?
- Will it cost me more to pay for a policy under the Affordable Care Act than I am paying now?
- Does this mean that the Medicare program will no longer be in effect?
- If I use a home medical alert device, will that have any impact on the fee I pay for it?
- How will my prescription medications be impacted?
Here are some of the positives that appear to be a part of the Affordable Care Act provisions:
- The money you spend on prescription drugs may be less than you’re paying now
- You should be able to keep your same physician
- Medicare coverage will not go away even if you’re covered under the Affordable Care Act policies. As a matter of fact, the Affordable Care Act law prohibits any cuts to Medicare coverage benefits.
- Annual, free wellness exams will be provided.
- The Affordable Care Act will effectively put an end to the “donut hole” that many individuals found themselves in as it relates to out of pocket costs for prescriptions.
One of the major disadvantages found in the new program is that it will cause a reduction in Medicare spending by more than $700 billion. What does this mean? Some worry that the reduction in Medicare spending could lead to a reduction in coverage standards, however assurances have been made that it shouldn’t. It’s believed that any potential cuts in Medicare will not impact the healthcare quality a patient receives but could be in the form of the way providers receive reimbursement from Medicare.
The Affordable Health Care Act won’t likely make any changes to coverage of or payment for home medical alert devices. In some instances, though, the new coverage may provide a provision for the payment of this medical alert equipment. It’s always best to contact your insurance carrier to gain a clear understanding of the type of coverage you may be eligible for as it relates to this equipment.
Answers to specific questions about coverage and its provisions are best answered by your individual insurance provider or by contacting a Medicare or Medicaid representative.