Hospice: The Gentle Goodbye A Post by Phyllis

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Pair of angel wings on heavenly blue background

Just after dawn on December 11, 2007, my mother went to God. There was a beautiful peacefulness that fell over that bright, winter morning that seemed perfect. Mom had battled several chronic, debilitating diseases that slowly robbed her of her energy and physical function. Her mind was always clear and her determination to live to see her grandchildren grow and to be with her husband of 59 years was intact. Unfortunately, her body had betraying her. Mom and I were very different. Our life’s journey together could best be described as rocky but the journeys end was her last gift to me.

It began one Thursday evening when I went to visit my parents. Mom had just come home from yet another unavoidable hospitalization. She was out of immediate danger but the likelihood of a relapse and perhaps a challenging surgery was weighing heavy on her mind. She looked tired, frail and was having difficulty speaking. I could sense she was in pain although she characteristically denied it. As I sat down next to her, she looked me right in the eye and in a clear voice said, “I’m too weak to live and too strong to die. I want to go to God.” She went on to explain that she was done taking her medications, had seen her last doctor, and had been to the hospital for the last time. If those declarations weren’t enough she asked me, “What are you going to do?” I knew immediately what she meant. She wanted me to take control of this out-of-control situation. She was entrusting me to help her live her last days in comfort and dignity. She wanted me to ensure that her transition from this life would be as gentle on her husband, children, grandchildren, and family as possible. The best solution was to arrange for hospice services.

I was the nurse in the family and I tried my best to collaborate with mom’s private doctor. We spoke so often that we were on a first name basis for many years. Dr. Bob had grown very fond of my parents and their relation. Our common goal was to keep mom comfortable and out of the hospital. Once my mom’s wishes were clear, my role was then to ensure that those wishes were carried out. First, I helped my dad understand and accept her decision. Next, I call Dr. Bob and explained her request. He was very supportive. We both knew that the only treatment he could offer her was palliative. Clearly, in his medical opinion, mom had less than six months to live. He made all the arrangements from his office. Finally, it was now time to call my sister.  The inevitability of losing our mom to death was here. Thankfully, as in all things pertaining to our parents, we would do this together.

The next twelve days were exceptional. Mom was peaceful with her decision. She enjoyed her days with dad, her visits with her grandchildren, and her messages from family and friends. Although she refused to take any more medication, she did allow the hospice nurse to obtain an order for pain meds so she could be truly comfortable. The hospice team arranged for a priest to come to the house. She received the sacraments of Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick. Mom prayed her rosary daily and in a few days slipped into a coma.

For twelve days the angels from hospice supported my family through the process of letting go. They immediately responded to phone calls and answered endless questions. Nurses came daily with supplies, understanding, and support. Their presence and professionalism allowed me the opportunity to be a daughter and not a nurse. On the day that mom died, it was the hospice nurse that we called first. She came right away, pronounced her and walked us through the next step.

The Value of Choice

I have been a nurse for 30 years now. For the majority of my career I practiced in critical care and emergency trauma units. I fought death constantly with knowledge, skill, medications, and technology. I had limited success. During the last 10 years however, my focus has shifted from the length of one’s life to a profound appreciation for the quality of one’s life. High tech healthcare has its place when lives need to be saved. However, death does come to us all.

Hospice services allow for the care of loved ones to take place in safe, familiar surroundings with those they love close by. It empowers the patient through their last days, offers them the respect of honoring their choices and the dignity of privacy. Hospice care assists the family during horrific moments of anger, regret, and grief that under less supportive circumstances could seriously challenge the family’s unity.

It’s important to understand that hospice is a philosophy of care rather than a specific place. It is an option for people whose life expectancy is six months or less. Treatment outcomes are based on pain and symptom relief rather than pursuing curative measures. This approach enables the person to live his/her last days with dignity, grace and support. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death. Hospice care focuses on all aspects of physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There is no age restriction. Anyone in the last stages of life is eligible.

Hospice Care Services

  1. The Interdisciplinary Team: Team members include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and trained volunteers who offer support based on their areas of specialty. The team provides a comprehensive palliative plan of care aimed at relieving symptoms and giving social, emotional, and spiritual support.
  2. Pain Management and Control of Symptoms: The goal of these services is to help the patient to achieve comfort while allowing them to remain alert enough to make important decisions and remain in control.
  3. Spiritual Care: Since people differ in their spiritual needs and religious beliefs, spiritual care is individualized and never forced.
  4. Home Care and In-patient Care: Hospice care is typically centered in the home. However, it may be necessary to admit the patient to a hospital, extended-care facility, or a hospice in-patient facility. The hospice team can then facilitate this transfer and stay involved in the patient’s treatment. The team can also facilitate resuming in-home care when appropriate.
  5. Family Conferences: These conferences are facilitated by the hospice nurse or social worker. They serve to help family members stay informed about the patient’s condition and what to expect. Family conferences also provide an opportunity and safe forum to share fears, feelings, talk about expectations, and learn about the process of dying.
  6. Bereavement Care: Bereavement is the time of mourning following a loss. The hospice team works with surviving family members to help them through the grieving process. The team can refer family members and friends to other professional services if necessary. Bereavement follow-up services are provided for at least a year after the loved one’s death.

Hospice Care Settings

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of hospice services are provided in the home. But, it is important to know that if the patient’s lives in a nursing home, hospice services can be offered there as well. Hospitals that treat seriously ill patients often have a hospice program too. Some hospitals have a dedicated hospice unit, while others have hospice teams who visit patients in any unit. Lastly, many communities have independently owned hospice centers that feature in-patient care as well as home care hospice services. Independent hospice center can benefit individuals who do not have family caregivers.

Who is eligible for Hospice Care?

  1. You are eligible for hospice care if your doctor has certified your prognosis as not longer than six months. This applies to anyone of any age. Should you be blessed with improved health and no longer need hospice care, you will remain eligible to reapply for hospice care if it is necessary in the future.
  2. While the majority of hospice referrals are cancer related, hospice is not exclusively for cancer patients. People with terminal neuromuscular diseases or any end stage disease can also benefit greatly from the services. It is not uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s to be referred to hospice when they are in the final stages of the illness.

Are Hospice Services Expensive?

Hospice care customarily costs less than conventional care in a hospital or nursing home. This is because with home hospice, you pay only for the specific care that you need. In addition, volunteers may often provide many services at little or no cost, such as telephone support, meal preparation and running errands. Most private insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid cover the services.

While patients usually pay out-of-pocket for any services not covered by insurance, hospice services can be provided without charge if you have limited funds. If you are unable to pay, most hospices will try to provide care using funds raised from community donations and charitable foundations.

Closing Thoughts

Hospice care truly provides for the gentlest of goodbyes. It allowed me the space and time to be able to cherish my last moments with my mom. I look back on those days in peace not pain and I will always be grateful for the last gift my mom gave me, her trust.

References

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization

http://www.nhpco.org/custom/directory/main.cfm

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/hospice.asp

National Association for Home Care & Hospice

http://www.nahc.org/

Unknown Facts How Diet Affects Mental Fatigue & Burnout A Guest Post by Katrina Jane Rice

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When you first think about fatigue, what usually comes to mind is the physical kind. But there is another form of fatigue that potentially wreaks havoc on your thought processes, motivation and overall success – it is called mental fatigue.

Mental fatigue is usually a result of carrying out extensive and difficult cognitive tasks. One good example to mention is studying for the bar exams. If you put your body in this kind of stress day in and day out, you will start to feel a strong case of mental fatigue. They call it burnout.

Karla Ivankovich, professor of psychology at the University of Springfield, Illinois said that a key sign of mental fatigue is the difficulty in initiating and sustaining cognitive performance and voluntary activities.

Typically, mental fatigue is a normal thing. It usually disappears after you take a break from tedious cognitive tasks. But if you do not rest, you potentially jeopardize your efficiency in every task you perform. It means it could feel too difficult to go to the gym, go back to work or even buy some groceries..

According to Ivankovich, mental fatigue affects your motor control and coordination and it is normally expected that mental fatigue can truly impact your optimal performance in every aspect in life.

Your body can only take so much stress until it starts to burn out. 

In serious cases, mental fatigue can become extremely draining that the associated health problems become chronic or irreversible. As per Ivankovich, employing effective coping mechanisms can be helpful to combat mental fatigue, and this starts with living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet.

Anybody who is experiencing mental fatigue or burnout has surely not followed a healthy eating pattern. If you feel like you are headed down this path, there are a number of dietary reasons behind it. Below are only some of the common causes that you can immediately reverse making changes your diet.

Lack of Magnesium

Magnesium helps support your nervous system.

It can alleviate stress levels by boosting your energy production and improving your quality of sleep. You can help reverse this lack of mineral in your body by eating more nuts, seeds, legumes and tofu. It is also found in whole grains, wheat bran and leafy vegetables.

Lack of Vitamin C

The adrenal gland has a huge responsibility in regulating your stress.

And when you do not get enough vitamin C, it cannot produce the stress hormones, particularly cortisol, your body needs. Cortisol helps regulate your metabolism, control your blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. It also assists memory functions which are vital when you are feeling mentally fatigued.

Increase your vitamin C intake by eating more fruits like oranges, mandarins and kiwis. some vegetables like broccoli and other green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin C too. For most people who do not have the time to eat right, they source their vitamins from dietary supplements.

Lack of Vitamin B

Your adrenal gland has a huge responsibility in regulating stress and it needs vitamin B to maintain its optimal function. The B vitamins are considered to be your friends in helping fight stress and supporting your energy levels. You can get more B vitamins from fish, milk, legumes, whole grains, chicken and red meat.

Too Much Caffeine

Every stressed person probably has a love for caffeine. It stimulates your fight and flight response and helps generate cortisol which gives you that temporary energy boost. But drinking too much caffeine can ultimately contribute to sleeping problems and anxiety.

Reverse this problem by swapping your morning coffee to a decaf tea. Watch out for other caffeine sources like chocolate, sodas, and black tea. Drinking green tea is preferable as it contains lower levels of caffeine but ranks high in antioxidants.

Adding an exercise routine to your lifestyle can also help you relieve mental fatigue and burnout.

Try to lose the fat you have gained from all the stress you just went through. After cutting out the other stressors in your life, get a gym membership or join a fitness club. This will also help your body release endorphins – a “feel good” hormone responsible for that happy feeling you get after every workout session.

The lack of vitamins and minerals is not just the only source of your stress. Though getting that in check will help you reverse mental fatigue, you also need to learn how to delegate your work.

If you are in the position to give away some of your tasks to other, do it for your own sake. If not, find the main source of your mental fatigue, prioritize what needs to be kept and cut out what you can. Know where your limits are so that you can alleviate and prevent mental burnout in the future.

Email Katrina at katrina.earthwell@gmail.com with any questions.

Health Care Bill Endangers Coverage: A Message From AARP

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Premiums would become unaffordable for many older Americans: Originally published |Comments: 14

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New Numbers: Same Bad Bill
The Congressional Budget Office just released its report on the health care bill. What does it mean for you?

A new analysis of the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives estimates that 23 million people would lose their health insurance if the bill were enacted into law. People age 50 to 64 would be hit particularly hard, especially those with lower incomes.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), premiums for a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year would increase by a whopping $14,400 in 2026. In addition, people with preexisting conditions may not even be able to purchase health insurance because the prices would be prohibitively high.


Three weeks ago, the House voted 217 to 213 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without waiting for the CBO to analyze the effects of the legislation. Today the CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) provided their assessment, which is required before the bill can be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Among other things, the CBO estimated a reduction in the deficit of $119 billion under the bill over a 10-year period.  The bill would lower health-related spending by the federal government through steep reductions in Medicaid and the replacement of current subsidies with less-generous tax credits. At the same time, the bill would grant large tax cuts to drugmakers and insurance companies.

The congressional analysts warn that for a significant segment of the population, the individual insurance market “would start to become unstable in 2020” because of two provisions added to the House bill in the days before the May 4 vote. One would allow states to receive waivers allowing insurers to eliminate coverage for essential health benefits, such as emergency services, hospitalization and chronic disease management. The other is a waiver that would allow insurers, contrary to current law, to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

According to the report, “less healthy people would face extremely high premiums” in states likely to receive these waivers. “People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all.”

AARP reiterated its strong opposition to the bill and called on the Senate to shelve the House-passed legislation. AARP said the bill would impose an “age tax” on older Americans by allowing insurers to charge premiums five times what they charge others and cutting the current level of subsidies.

“The CBO analysis found that premiums would go up to unaffordable levels by inflicting an age tax and removing current protections for people with common conditions including diabetes and weight gain,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President. “Putting a greater financial burden on older Americans is not the way to solve the problems in our health care system.”

AARP said it rejected the bill because it worsens the financial outlook for Medicare by reducing Medicare’s revenue and slashes Medicaid spending by over $800 billion over 10 years.

 

Trump Calls for a Massive Cut in Medicaid

New budget proposal also would slash health research funding

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AARP Opposes Proposed Budget
It cut billions from programs older Americans depend on
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En español | The Trump administration today released a federal budget proposal that would cut more than a trillion dollars over 10 years from Medicaid, the nation’s largest source of health care coverage, which provides a lifeline for children and adults with disabilities and low-income seniors.  Under the president’s proposal, Medicaid would face a $600 billion decrease. That’s in addition to the more than $800 billion cut in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed this month by the House of Representatives.

The budget, released while President Trump was in the Middle East on his first foreign trip as president, also would shrink funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security disability, environmental protection, and housing and transportation assistance.

At the urging of the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, the budget proposes spending $25 billion over the next 10 years on paid parental leave, a new initiative.

Members of both parties in the House and the Senate have strongly opposed trimming Medicaid in the past.

Many of the other cuts also face strong bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill. For example, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, has sharply criticized the cuts earmarked for the NIH and CDC.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney reiterated the administration’s view that the AHCA does not go far enough on Medicaid. “We go another half a step further and ratchet down some of the growth rates that are assumed into AHCA,” he said in a call with reporters on Monday.

During today’s press briefing, Mulvaney said that “we’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs.”

AARP staked out a strong position against the president’s budget.

AARP “opposes the budget proposed today because it explicitly harms the very people we are counting on the President to protect,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond in a statement. “Today’s budget proposes to cut Social Security benefits, as well as funding for critical health, hunger, housing and transportation assistance to low and middle income seniors.  The budget sends a powerful message to older Americans and their families that their health and financial security is at risk.”

AARP sounded a positive note on the administration’s parental leave initiative. “We do want to acknowledge the Administration’s paid leave proposal,” LeaMond said.  “Although it must be improved so that it addresses the workplace needs of family caregivers, we hope that it leads to a national conversation about ways to support family caregivers in the workplace.”

The budget assumes economic growth reaching 3 percent a year by 2021, a figure widely seen as unrealistic.

The budget also includes a dramatic decrease in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work,” said Mulvaney. “If you are on disability and should not be, we need you to go back to work.”

The president’s budget is the first step in a lengthy process. Congress will set its own priorities as it develops its own budget resolution.


A Senior Caregiver’s Guide to Prevent Falls A Guest Post by Roger Sims

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Falls are the primary cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the elderly. Every year, more than two million seniors are rushed to the emergency room after falling.

Several things can lead to the elderly falling, such as:

  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty walking
  • Medication side effects that cause vertigo
  • Foot or leg pain
  • Household hazards

There is nothing to worry about, as it is easy to eliminate risk factors for falling. Fortunately, falls are easily preventable. Taking the right precautions can make your loved one’s home a safe environment. To ensure the safety of your loved ones, take the following steps to avoid these accidents.

Removing Household Hazards

Household hazards are the easiest risk to eliminate. As your parents get older, mobility can become an issue. Start by removing clutter around your house. These potential hazards include things like electrical cords, loose rugs, and knick-knacks. Clear all pathways of objects they might trip over, and do a thorough examination of their home.

You may find you’ll have to do minor repairs to correct a sloping step, broken tile, or loose floorboard. Rearrange their furniture so they will always have something stable to hold onto as they walk around. If they use a mobility device like a cane or wheelchair, increase doorway widths to 36 inches so they can maneuver easily.

Addressing Eye Problems      

Of course, removing excess clutter and creating safe pathways won’t help much if they can’t see where they’re going.

Failing eyesight that comes with age can cause elderly people to misjudge distance and depth. Not only would it be hard to determine how far away a table edge is, but they could also have difficulty navigating staircases when going down.

The best way to avoid this issue is to regularly get your elderly loved one’s eyes checked in case their prescription needs to be updated. Encourage them to always wear their prescription glasses, even if it’s just for a short trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Ensure your home is well-lit and light switches are easily accessible. A lack of literal blind spots will aid your aging loved one in moving around the house, regardless of the time of the day.

Reading glasses should not be worn while walking, especially outside. Those who wear progressive lenses should ask their doctors for a separate pair for general outdoor activities, as these types of glasses may interfere with distance perception.

Increasing Physical Activity

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 One of the best ways to help prevent falls is to improve their balance by strengthening their core and lower muscles. As your loved one ages, their physical fitness and abilities may begin to decline. Muscle tone will gradually disappear and flexibility will decrease. This can be easily combatted by regularly engaging in light exercise.

Activities that focus on strengthening the core, improving strength in the lower extremities, and improving balance are suggested to any senior looking to start a new exercise program. For caregivers, check out your local community centers to find fitness classes that are senior citizen friendly. Tai Chi is one often-recommended exercise. If you can’t find a class your aging loved one would like to join, simply encouraging them to walk a little bit each day is fine.

Some older people may not be inclined to start a new exercise program, for any number of reasons. In such a situation, offering to join your aging loved one in classes or short walks every day may encourage them to participate. Not only will you be helping them stay fit, but you’ll also be able to bond with them over a new activity.

For elderly individuals who already have trouble walking unassisted, it may be advisable to invest in equipment that allows them to walk independently while still having constant support. Canes and walkers are ideal for a senior who still wishes to get around but who may already have trouble doing so without a little helping hand.

Implementing Other Safety Precautions

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 Even the ideal physical fitness level for your loved one’s age stands no chance against slippery floors or just plain bad luck. As a final precaution against easily avoidable falls, it’s best to look into safety equipment that can be installed around your home to eliminate any chance of an accident.

 Bathrooms are particularly notorious for slips and spills, for both elderly and young patients. Implementing assistive devices should be a top priority. Look for grab bars that can be attached to shower walls and bathtub sides, as well as non-slip bath mats that allow the elderly to stand without worrying about sliding on wet tiles. For those unable to stand in the shower, a bath chair can make showering a safer and more independent experience. Transfer benches are another option to help your senior get in and out of the shower.

Additionally, installing handrails on both sides of your stairs is recommended to ensure your loved one’s safety when they use the stairs. These handrails can provide a stable device for them to hold onto, but they can also be used in the event of a fall. Grabbing onto the rail can either stop the fall and allow them to steady themselves or can be used for them to get back up.

Providing the elderly with proper-fitting shoes is another important step. Make sure they wear comfortable, well-fitting—and, in the case of the ladies, low-heeled—shoes with a non-slip sole. These are essential in allowing them to move around without added difficulty and preventing them slipping on a wet surface.

Final Thoughts

Remember, if you are caring for an elderly relative, falls don’t have to happen. They are easily avoidable with the right safety precautions and a few additions like assist bars in the shower stall or handrails on the staircase.

Images

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/smiling-young-female-assisting-mature-woman-176324681?src=yz8OPnBNmLZjvdB8rJDgIA-1-70

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/interior-bathroom-disabled-elderly-people-handrail-525831979?src=GJ1MmVS4wrhtvzpJLLZmsQ-1-0

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/senior-couple-doing-sport-outdoors-jogging-127325003?src=G3W_tz2mojGm_EHzoGZn2w-1-4

Sources:

https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Preventing-elderly-Falls-110499.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/falls-in-elderly-people-133953.htm

http://training.mmlearn.org/blog/senior-fall-prevention-help-for-caregivers

https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/preventing-falls-tips-for-older-adults-and-caregivers/6-steps-to-protect-your-older-loved-one-from-a-fall/

 

 

 

From the AARP Press Room: AARP Remains Steadfastly Opposed to Health Bill

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Plans to hold Members of Congress accountable while renewing opposition in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC — AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond reiterated AARP’s opposition to the health bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would harm American families who count on access to affordable health care:

“AARP is deeply disappointed in today’s vote by the House to pass this deeply flawed health bill. The bill will put an Age Tax on us as we age, harming millions of American families with health insurance, forcing many to lose coverage or pay thousands of dollars more for health care.  In addition, the bill now puts at risk the 25 million older adults with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, who would likely find health care unaffordable or unavailable to them.

“AARP will continue to oppose this bill as it moves to the Senate because it includes an Age Tax on older Americans, eliminates critical protections for those with pre-existing conditions, puts coverage at risk for millions, cuts the life of Medicare, erodes seniors’ ability to live independently, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of prescriptions.

“We promised to hold members of Congress accountable for their vote on this bill. True to our promise, AARP is now letting its 38 million members know how their elected Representative voted on this health bill in The Bulletin, a print publication that goes to all of our members, as well as through emails, social media, and other communications.”

About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

For further information: CONTACT: Media Relations, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org, @AARPMedia

6 Easy Ways To Stay Organized and Productive as a Caregiver A Guest Post by Maggie Drag

caughtinthemiddle

Being a caregiver is arguably one of the most noble professions out there – but it can also take a serious toll on your personal life. Here are 6 work-life balance tips to help you reduce stress, and ultimately make you the best caregiver for not only your clients, but for yourself, too!

1.) Plan Ahead

If you have multiple clients, or work as a live-in caregiver, keeping track of their favorite foods, interests, and medications may seem like a job in itself. Keeping a daily planner can help! If you’re constantly on your phone, try downloading an app like Fantastical, ReQall and Evernote. They are super easy to use and will allow you to set up alerts and various notifications in case you’d like to be reminded of their doctor appointments, and even your own appointments with your caregiving agency, for example. At the end of the day, keeping on top of your clients’ needs and preferences will save you a lot of stress and in the future.

2.) De-Clutter

From old receipts and grocery lists, you may have trouble remembering which documents belongs to who! Here are some easy ways to help both yourself and your client, and try doing it together and make it fun while you’re at it! First, organize your bills and clients’ bills in a binder for safe-keeping. Next, divide up your coupons into a handy coupon organizer for easy access. Finally, keep track of your own caregiving documents, from contracts, care plans and emergency contacts in a folder. Try organizing each folder by client if you have multiple, and keep a small notepad to jot down any other helpful information.

3.) Think Ahead

As a caregiver, you know that life as you know it may change in a second, whether it be your client’s health, a sudden re-assignment, and not to mention changes in your personal life. First, make sure you have a list of emergency contacts (including your agency) prepared in case you are unable to help your client or need to be relieved at any point. Next, be sure you have a plan set up for a medical emergency based on your client’s health history. Keeping track of their food allergies for one is a simple but critical step to preventing emergencies in the future.

4.) Reconnect with Loved Ones

If you’ve lost touch with a close friend, since you started another assignment, remember this: Caring about your job is one thing, but caring about your relationships is far more important in the long run. Call your distant relative via Facetime – you could even plan a day where you help your client Facetime their grandchildren after you connect with your own family!

You carry a great responsibility as a caregiver, and while your friends and family should understand that you are often very busy, don’t forget to show them some appreciation and keep in touch!

5.) “Me” Time

Being a caregiver takes a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding and allows you to build meaningful relationships and touch so many lives. However, as much as you may love your job, don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself each day– even if for only an hour, to do some gardening, watch some old movies, surf the internet, and even go out for a relaxing day at the spa. If you are a live-in caregiver, ask your client if they’d like to join in on the fun! This will help you stay productive and engaged in your assignment in a much more meaningful way.

6.) Take Care of Yourself

As much as you care about your job as a caregiver, don’t forget that the first step to being an amazing caregiver is taking good care of yourself. Keep up with exercise, eat a balanced diet but make sure you’re getting the necessary rest between assignments first and foremost- especially if you work overnight. Sleep allows your body and brain to replenish, not to mention stay alert on important assignments and throughout the day if your client needs extra supervision when taking medications, for example. Losing sleep can ultimately take a serious toll on your health in the long run, so don’t be afraid to ask your agency about rescheduling your assignments or for tips on how to manage your sleep schedule to help you be your best for your clients.

About the author:

Maggie Drag is the owner and founder of a homecare agency located in central Connecticut. With over 27 years of experience in the industry, Maggie shares her knowledge and tips about care at home.  Visit homecare4u.com  to learn more about Maggie Drag.

10 Hobbies That Make Your Kids Smarter A Guest Post by Anthony Johnstone

Family Funtures

For most parents, having their kids play and learn is just part of growing up and there is the belief that they will develop naturally.
This may be true, however why not give your kids the best possible opportunity to develop through fun and in some ways exciting activities. We wanted to provide a colorful list of hobbies we believe will benefit your kids and assist with their development.

Some of these hobbies may be a bit trickier than others to convince your young boy or girl to take up. However, it would be invaluable to your child’s progress in growing and learning.
Further information your can contact Anthony Johnstone at: familyfuntures@gmail.com

10 Hobbies That Make Your Kids Smarter

10 hobbies to make your kids smarter
10 hobbies that make your kids smarter

A kid’s brain develops the most in the initial phase of his or her life. Therefore, it is your duty as a parent to make sure that you do your best to help that process. The good news is that it is not tough to help your kids grow their intelligence a bit further. There are proven strategies that you can use.

In this article, we are going to talk about 10 of the best strategies to help you make your kids smarter.

Music Instruments

Hobbies for smarter kids

A music instrument can do wonders for your kids. The result is never immediate but you will end up being happy after your child grows old. The reason is very simple behind that.

Music has a soothing power and learing any music instrument will create a mental state of balance for your kids. All instruments will require your kid to learn the art of beats and along with that, he or she will also have to think about the learning process. These things add up and helps your kid to become smarter.

Reading

Girl reading

Reading is considered to be the best method on earth to be more intelligent and imaginative. Not only for kids, this works great for even adults with developed brains. Reading is a habit and you will have to make your kids get into that habit.

Once you make that happen, you will find that your kid’s mind opens up a lot more to new ideas. Also, the habit of reading will help your kid a lot further in his or her education and career.

Exercise

Boys playing football

Exercise can do wonders and yes, one of the wonders is developing the power of the mind. There is a saying that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and that’s exactly what it is. Also, if you let your kid get into exercise from the very early age, you will make sure that he or she keeps a fit body.

Make sure that you do not push your kid too much. Running and cardio is a great starting off point.

Brain Mathematics

What is brain mathematics? These are mental exercises that are both tricky and entertaining at the same time. Some people call them magic numbers. Simply use the power of Google and you will find a lot of them to play with your kid.

Though we have emphasized the mathematics part of it, you can actually go ahead and do this with almost every science subject such as physics, chemistry etc. Do they actually help your kid become smarter? They sure, do! These tools will help your kid’s brain develop the thinking power and the power to solve problems.

Meditation

smarter kids

It is tough to get your kid into meditation. Meditation is still a new phenomenon for older people so obviously, your kid is not going to like it. You have to make it fun for them and once they start liking the art of meditation, they will start enjoying it.

Go for small sessions and reward your kid if they are successful in meditating. Do not push it too much because your kid might not like the experience.

Habit of Writing

smarter kids

Writing is a great habit. Writing is considered as one of the best habits to have for development. It is not necessary that your kid has to become a writer. Writing is not only for writers but for everyone.

Encourage your kid to write a diary or a journal everyday if possible. You can also encourage your kid to do so by giving him or her starting off gifts, such as a good pen and diary. Having nice stationary would encourage the habit.

Traveling

traveling

Traveling doesn’t mean that you will have to go abroad every other year. Yes, if you can manage to do that then that would mean a lot to your kid but that’s not the only option out there.

You can actually take your kids to the local parks and fields. If you have time, try to go out of town once in a while. All these will result into something awesome for your kid. Traveling creates a lot of memories and improves the use of their imaginations.

Having a Pet

to make kids smarter

Having a pet helps your child to learn the art of responsibility. Kids love cats and dogs! You should let your kid have one too. But make it clear that it is their responsibility to take care of the pet.

Obviously, you will look after things behind the scenes however your kid will have to understand the power of responsibility. This helps a lot in making your kid smarter. Also, having a pet is great for your home. There is no denying that.

Self-Independence

develop your kids

The best thing that you can do for your kid is to make him or her Independent. Now, this is not exactly a hobby but if you can make it seem like one, this would workout best in the long run.

It starts with small things such as pouring a glass of water on their own and grows to be taking care of the family pet later on. Self-Independence is something massive and there is no boundary. You will do a huge favor to your kid if you manage to make this happen. This doesn’t only make your kid smarter, this also helps your kid to be a better person.

Coding

coding for kids

Did you know that your kid can become smarter if you help him or her learn coding? Coding is not easy but there are methods to make this interesting for kids too. There are lots of free resources these days that you can use to make your kid actually learn coding, not just copying the code.

This will not only help your kid develop the power of logical thinking, this will also encourage your kid to have a great career in the world of tech.

Final Word:

That’s our list for developing your kids, I hope this list helps to put you on the right track with regards to Making your kids smarter.

Nutrition and Meal Planning For the Hurried Caregiver a Guest Post by Breanne Fleat

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A caregiver has a vital responsibility of safeguarding their recipient, be it a family member, a friend or as part of their job. Diet and nutrition are some of the basic needs for people requiring such care, in an effort to keep the body strong and energetic. However, diet and nutrition isn’t just important for them, it’s important for you, the care provider too. With our current lives full of deadlines and schedules we usually don’t have the time to design a reliable meal plan or even stick to conventional eating patterns.

Looking after your own health is vital. Being in tip top condition will not only help you feel more energised but you will be encouraging your care recipients to wake up, shape up, eat up and try to live their healthiest life possible.

We all know how easy it is to skip meals, grab the first ready meal in the shop or neck back some energy drink because you just don’t have the time or energy. But, the fact is you will either gain excessive weight or completely ruin your metabolism and health from living this way.

Unfortunately, most conventional meals, do, require adequate preparation and cooking times, which may be almost  impossible in your situation. Fortunately, the following tips are here to help you maintain a healthy life, with consideration of your RDI (Recommended Daily Intake):

Nutrition Shortcuts
your aim is to get all the required nutrients in the day, within a tight schedule. This means that your choices have to be easily digestible and assimilated in the body. The issue you have is that foods such as bread, grains and some proteins require the body to be resting, in order to digest suitably and you just don’t have that time.

As much as I recommend eating whole foods where possible, you can get supplement snacks that contain either one or a combination of nutrients. Instead of picking up a chocolate bar and energy drink, why not head to your local health food store and pick up one of these healthier snacks instead? You may even be able to buy them online. Most meal replacement and supplement snacks are filled with nutrients, lots healthier than normal snacks and reduce the need for spending hours in the kitchen, combining meals.

Micro is Important
For a busy caregiver, you rarely have time to rest and recover. Throughout this time your body stands very high chances of catching infections and a strong immune system is needed. This is where micronutrients come in.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which help keep your body ticking along as it should.  Minerals such as Magnesium and iron, and Vitamins E and C help to detoxify the body, reducing the intensity of fatigue and lowering your risk of infections.

Quick Micro Tip: Try replacing your morning coffee or energy drink with a multivitamin tablet, or better yet add spinach to your usual breakfast, for a hit of iron and vitamin c then have almonds as a magnesium and vitamin e filled mid-morning snack.
Smoothies and Juices
you only need a couple of minutes to create a vitamin packed smoothie consisting of bananas, avocados, strawberries or even melons. The best thing about them is that you can carry them around with you during the day.

In addition, one glass of fruit juice or smoothie can contain at least 3 of your 5 a day, making it a reliable source of micro and macro nutrients, which you need for coping with the day’s commitments.

You can even include fruits with exceptional benefits such as thorn melons, to boost your immunity, especially when attending to a person with communicable diseases.

Quick Smoothie Tip: Try adding spinach to your smoothies – it may sound strange at first, but it’s practically tasteless, yet filled with loads of nutritional benefits.

Meal Planning
Planning what to eat, when and why is hectic for anyone, let alone a caregiver. Not only do you have to try and plan what you and your family will be eating, but it’s highly likely you will have to plan something entirely different for your recipient.

However it’s important to remember the phrase “prior planning prevents poor performance” and don’t we know it. Planning helps you to eliminating the decision-making process, which, for me, ends up in opting for empty snacks or fast foods.

Quick Planning Tip: Buying raw foods in advance will create a reasonable timetable to help you organise around. Plan your fresh meals for the days post shopping trip and plan tinned or frozen foods in the run up to your next supermarket trip

Cook for Freeze
No matter how busy you are, there is ALWAY a little free time, whether it’s early in the morning, late in the evening or on the weekends. This is the best time for batch cooking.

Some people advocate for a cook one-freeze three concept, where you cook an excess of a particular meal and freeze the remainders (usually another 3 servings) while others will cook one main ingredient as use it for 2 or 3 different meals.

Quick Freezer Food Tip: Make sure you set a reminder to get food out of the freezer to defrost ready for the next day otherwise you’ll be more tempted by grab and go snacks.

Change how you cook
Just because you’re personal time is sparse, shouldn’t mean you have to give up on the things you love. Food is a necessity but it’s also there to be enjoyed. Just because slow cooking sounds time consuming, doesn’t mean it is.  Using a slow cooker is a great way to ensure your meal is thoroughly flavoured and cooked with minimal time or effort.

Don’t let your lack of time take away from the enjoyable experience of cooking and eating.

Quick slow cooker tip: There’s usually a slow cooker version of most meals – got something you particularly love? Look up how to slow cook, you may find you love it even more after.

 

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BIO: Breanne is a writer, blogger and chief editor, at ProteinPromo.com. She is keen on providing readers with nutrition and wellness hints and tips to ensure readers are living their healthiest possible life.

 

Make These Urgent Lifestyle Changes To Lower Stroke Risk: A Guest Post by Katrina Rice

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A stroke is not a medical mystery that strikes patients randomly. In fact, 90% of strokes are due to factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other medical risks which are all preventable. Even so, you do not have to train like a professional athlete, eat like a beauty queen or live like a monk to avoid this heart condition.

Whether you are a patient, a patient’s caregiver or simply a person concerned with this risk, by simply making modest alterations to your lifestyle and including wise health habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Below are some scientifically-based facts about how to improve your self-care and prevent this devastating brain attack:

Quit Being Sedentary

According to Dr. Hugo Aparicio, a neurologist at Boston Medical Center and also an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine, it has been established for many decades that using leisure time to insert regular exercises such as going to the gym, taking long walks, or simply playing sports can significantly reduce the likelihood of getting a stroke.

Therefore, exercise should not be considered an activity mainly for the weekends and instead, it has to be an regular activity at least 30 minutes per day.

Lose The Excess Weight

As Dr. Aparicio points out in his “Framingham Heart Study”, the risk factors of a stroke are not isolated and in fact are all interconnected with the rest of your physical condition.. Exercising does not only reduce fat, it also helps increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin thereby creating a more efficient metabolism. A well-oiled metabolism is needed to prevent your blood sugar from soaring high and put you at risk of diabetes, which may lead to coronary diseases.

For morbidly obese patients, there might be a need to consider weight loss surgeries. And for those who can’t perform physical exercises due to mobility issues, a strict and regulated diet can help. Some people claim and stand by the coleus forskohlii benefits as an effective aid for people who need to lose weight quickly. Using supplementation requires a good amount of research so you ought to be cautious about it.

Apart from stroke and diabetes, this lifestyle change can also prevent other metabolic disorders, cancer and delay the onset of dementia among elderly people, and we all will get older, assuming we survive long enough.

Always Regulate Your Blood Pressure

According to Martin O’Donnell, the lead author of the published study in the medical journal “The Lancet”, you can easily stay on top of your blood pressure by using readily available equipment.

In developed countries such as the US, people have easy access to devices that quickly read their blood pressure, whether it be readily available at the supermarket or purchasing an inexpensive BP apparatus for home use. Individuals nowadays can also get a little help from doctors by simply asking for prescription to immediately help lower their blood pressure.

Eat A Healthy and Balanced Diet

Limiting red meat, avoiding processed food and eliminating fried and salty foods works best in preventing stroke. In fact, there are more precise dietary guidelines you can follow if you want to be very keen on preventing this deadly condition. A balanced diet comprised of low-carb vegetables, fruits, and fish – as protein is the most ideal. If much help is needed, seek a nutritionist’s expertise.

Aside from the vitamins and minerals your health receives from such whole foods, fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines are great sources of omega-3, an essential fatty acid your body needs to prevent heart diseases. However, there are a number of individuals who can’t include fish in their regular diet so taking fish oil capsules as supplements is also an alternative prevention.

Quit Smoking

Smoking does not only affect the lungs and the liver, it also infects your heart. Smoking is one of the culprits of elevated LDL (bad cholesterol). Too much cholesterol in your bloodstream can create arterial obstructions and create blood clots.

These tiny clots – if left untreated, can travel to your brain and cause the stroke you were trying to prevent in the first place. So if you are making a lifestyle change, begin here. You can quit smoking by asking help from your physician. They can offer you alternatives on how you can successfully quit smoking.

Treat Existing Heart Conditions

Stroke and other heart diseases are somehow interrelated. One major risk factor is having atrial fibrillation – a heart rhythm problem that many Americans are affected with. With regular checkups, individuals who have this heart condition can get regular treatments and anti-clotting medications.

According to Dr. Aparicio, you don’t need to do everything all at once. It’s a matter of addressing the top contributors to the risk of stroke – such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and smoking. As soon as you can see minor improvements in your health, you can start incorporating exercises and other active physical routines.

There is this unrealistic expectation that you have to have the right body weight, the ideal diet and the life of a monk to prevent a stroke. But as what Dr. O’Donnell says, “The risk factors of stroke are a continuum. So if you can’t apply all the preventative measures, modest changes will reduce your risk of stroke”.

Bio of the Author:

Katrina Rice

Katrina Rice is a mom and a freelance writer. She strongly believes in the concept of holistic wellness through healthy and natural living, travelling and immersing one’s self in new activities. A self-proclaimed health enthusiast, she hopes to inspire more people to do the same.