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For decades, therapy dogs have made great companions. They provide comfort and ease to one’s life through unconditional love. However, new studies show that all kinds of animals can improve our mood and prevent us from developing brain-related diseases, such as dementia. 

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Specifically, having a pet at home for support may do more good than you think. Petting your dog, cat or any other pet can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and brighten your mood. 

Have you ever walked your pet down the street, just to find yourself interacting with someone else, admiring how cute and friendly your pet is? While your pet can alleviate loneliness and depression, they can also build great human connections, too.

As many of us know by now, daily exercise is vital for our overall health. By taking daily walks with a pet, you’re helping both you and your furry friend live a happier and healthier life.

Current research states that adults need at least 2 ½ hours a week of moderate exercise to remain in good shape. Additional exercise can compound your benefits. Even taking a simple walk with your pet qualifies as a moderate-intensity activity. Keeping up these habits with your companion can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

There’s little to lose and so much gain as you and your pet build a happier and healthier life together.

 

Read the full article here.

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While at-home care is typically the most comfortable option, it may not be the most beneficial. A senior living facility is often the best choice for those in need of extended care. 

Not all facilities are alike. The costs may not add up, the location is inconvenient or something is not meeting your expectations. As a result, an appropriate amount of time should be set aside to decide what your needs are, no matter how big or small. Once your demands are clear, you should then be more equipped to decide on some of the most common types of senior living facilities: 

  • Independent senior living facilities offer great hospitality if you’re looking for camaraderie in your life. Focusing on health and interests are the top priority at independent senior living facilities. 
  • Assisted senior living facilities are a notch above independent senior living when it comes to helping with daily tasks and home maintenance. Those that need help transporting from one place to another should consider assisted senior living. 
  • Skilled nursing care is for those further into health complications. These facilities offer full-time care and are a must for those recovering from a serious injury or complex health issues. 
  • Continuing care retirement communities or “CCRCs” offer a full package of care, including assisted living, independent living, skilled nursing and much more. This is best for those that enjoy the convenience of all of these services, readily available to them. 

A safe environment should be at the top of everyone’s list when deciding on the future of one’s living arrangements. Even though a living facility may seem like the right fit on the outside, it’s wise to look even deeper. 

Look into the state records of your potential facility. Reprimands, offenses or crimes that have been associated with your place of care are red flags that should be noted during the search process. Talk to the staff and current residents to get a first-hand look into how people treat the facility and uncover issues that you wouldn’t typically find. Finally, talk to someone in charge to get a breakdown of the security policies and features. This can be an administrator or director.

When it’s all set and done, take a tour of the living facility of your choice and communicate any questions or concerns you may have with faculty or a professional, such as a senior living advisor. A senior living advisor can handle a large portion of the research and visits that would otherwise be challenging to conduct on your own. While this decision is often extremely difficult, there are many resources available for you to help make the right choice.

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Experiencing arthritis, especially with old age, can be extremely difficult to deal with. Joint pain can lead to trouble walking or using simple body parts like hands and arms. Often times, those experiencing arthritis may feel like a burden to their loved ones. However, those that help care for someone with arthritis may realize that while the process is challenging, it can also be very rewarding.

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Typically, arthritis comes in two forms: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  A victim of arthritis, depending on the type, may experience joint pain, joint stiffness, decreased strength and functionality and a decreased range of motion. In a recent blog post, VeryWellHealth lists some of the most effective ways to care for someone with arthritis, including:  

  • Build an understanding of your loved one’s condition. While you may not be able to relate entirely, understanding what disease they have and what they struggle with the most is a great start to giving exceptional care. 
  • As you may come to find out, caregivers may deal with hardships too. To make things easier for both involved, communicate often and don’t hesitate to share your feelings.
  • Letting go of independence may be hard for someone struggling with arthritis. Therefore, it’s important to allow for room to breathe and to know when to step back. Eventually, your loved one will tell you when help is needed. 
  • Managing medicine is a very important task and one to be constantly cautious of. In order to manage medicine properly, stay organized and mindful of when medication is needed. 
  • Odds are, your loved one may not know how to use assistive devices properly, such as a cane or walker. Understanding everything from assembly to usage is important for your loved one’s functionality. And as assistive devices become more technological, building an understanding of the technical aspects can be extremely valuable. 
  • Exercising regularly while experiencing arthritis comes with many benefits. Physically, your joints will stay lubricated and strong. Additionally, your loved one’s functionality can improve, as well as their mental health. The process of going through arthritis treatment is tough, but with regular exercise, both the caregiver and patient can come out stronger. 

For additional treatment, consider physical therapy. Physical therapists, also known as movement experts, can complement your at-home treatment in positive ways. This can both improve your loved one’s condition and educate yourself as someone who cares.

 

Read the full article here. 

 

Nobody said getting fit was easy, especially at the ripe age of 50 years old. Unfortunately, it takes many people this long, or even longer, to make meaningful changes in their lifestyle. Not to mention, as we age, health problems start to pile up. It’s important to develop healthy habits now in order to feel younger, and most importantly, live longer.

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In a recent article, the Cleveland Clinic provided five practical tips to achieve your best and most healthy self. They aren’t easy; if they were easy, everyone would do it. However, if applied over a long period of time, they can be life-changing. These include:

  • Cut the salt for heart health. Salt contributes to heart disease, one of the leading causes of death. Instead of indulging in bread, cheese and processed foods, opt for leafy greens or bananas for potassium.
  • Stay sharp. It takes effort to keep your mind sharp, however, a diet filled with whole grains, vegetables, salad, nuts, beans, berries, chicken and fish can boost brain health and really provide that extra edge. Healthy fats, such as avocados, may also aid in staying sharp.
  • Keep your bones strong. Odds are, you’ve heard this since you were a child. A diet balanced with fermented foods and dairy products has shown to increase bone density.
  • Say no to soda and stick with water for prostate health. The Cleveland Clinic notes that 180,000 deaths per year may be related to sugary soft drinks. For added flavor to your water, add fruit such as lemon or berries.
  • For sexual health, go natural. Bad LDL cholesterol can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Avoid this by eating protein and healthy fats, and cut out the refined sugars and trans fat as well.

To live a healthier life, it’s important to understand the implications of what we put into our bodies. Thankfully, years of experience have given clarity to the positives and negatives of a healthy and unhealthy diet. Make the right choice, for you and those around you.

 

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Immune systems work to recognize and fight off harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites to keep illnesses away. For those with a compromised immune system, exposure to infectious organisms that are not normally dangerous has the potential to cause serious illnesses. This is because a compromised immune system means that your body has a diminished level of immunity for invading organisms.

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It’s extremely important to learn how to avoid infections and keep your immune system as healthy as possible. In a recent article, VeryWellHealth discusses a variety of ways to boost your immune system, even if you’re immunocompromised, including:

  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and lean protein to receive enough nutrients. For those who are immunocompromised, all vegetables and fish should be properly cooked to avoid any infectious agents
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking interferes with the immune function of your respiratory system
  • Properly manage stress. Excess stress can raise sympathetic hormone function, which directly reduces immune function
  • Make sure to get enough sleep at night to maintain healthy homeostasis
  • Unless necessary, immunocompromised individuals should avoid germ-ridden places, like daycares, hospitals and nursing homes

To maintain a strong immune system, it’s important to adopt healthy habits that promote immune protection. Be sure to always take the proper steps to protect yourself and those around you, especially if you or a loved one has a compromised immune system.

 

Read the full article here.

 

Salmonella has become a commonly known type of food poisoning that can effect anyone. Many people recognize Salmonella bacteria for its risk in eggs, raw meat or fruits and vegetables. However, Salmonella can actually be contracted from a variety of places that people may not expect.

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After coming in contact with Salmonella, a person may experience symptoms anytime from a few hours to two days later. This incubation period creates a window of opportunity for Salmonella to be spread from person to person. To prevent a Salmonella outbreak, the CDC lists five quick and uncommon facts about Salmonella that may lower your chances of contracting the illness in the future, including:

  1. You can contract Salmonella from a variety of foods, including sprouts and processed foods such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets and stuffed chicken entrees.
  2. Salmonella can spread from animals to people or people to people, so you should always wash your hands after touching an animal, using a toilet or changing diapers.
  3. Salmonella is more common in the summer because warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create an ideal condition for Salmonella growth.
  4. While anyone can contract Salmonella, it can become more dangerous for certain people, such as children younger than five, older adults and those with a weaker immune system.
  5. Salmonella is far more common than you may expect since many people that experience food poisoning do not visit a doctor or report it.

There are many things you can do to prevent Salmonella food poisoning, such as washing your hands consistently, avoid putting your hands in your mouth and don’t let children, elders or those with weakened immune systems touch high-risk animals (turtles, frogs, chickens and ducks). By educating yourself on the causes and risk factors of Salmonella, you’re one step ahead for preventing future infections.

 

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Current laws are very strict when it comes to healthcare. Specific qualifications must be met before anyone can make medical decisions, receive updates or participate in conversations with a medical professional regarding someone else’s health. While these policies are set in place to protect personal information, they can often create extra hurdles for caregivers and family members looking to help.

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To avoid future stress, time and resources surrounding privacy laws, it is critical that caregivers have signed legal documentation stating that they can access all medical information for their loved one. In a recent article, AgingCare discusses the three legal documents that caregivers need. These include:

1. HIPAA Authorization Form

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a legal standard for keeping a patient’s medical information private, making it illegal for medical professionals to share any health records or details without written consent. This document is critical for caregivers and family members in order to receive medical updates and stay in the loop about healthcare.

2. Power of Attorney

The medical Power of Attorney (POA), also known as a healthcare proxy document, enables a person to appoint a trusted relative or friend to handle specific healthcare decisions on their behalf. This document is important for caregivers to take care of right away because it must be prepared while the patient is physically and mentally able to grant someone these powers.

3. Advance Health Care Directive

Commonly referred to as a living will, this document allows people to record their wishes for end-of-life care. A living will may indicate specific treatments a person does or does not wish to receive in the case that they cannot make these decisions themselves, such as resuscitation or life support. Caregivers should have this document in order to avoid making these difficult decisions on their own.

Preparation is key for caregivers. When a medical emergency strikes, it’s often too late for these documents to be taken care of. That is why it’s extremely important for caregivers to have all legal documents set in place as soon as possible to avoid any difficulties down the road.

 

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For many people, it can be a challenge finding a stress relief technique that’s effective. While certain techniques may work well for some, they may not work at all for others. This is because the stress relief method needs to fit both your personality and your stress-inducing situation.

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In order to find a stress relieving technique that works best for you, you must first identify the type of stress you are experiencing. In a recent blog post, VeryWellMind describes the four different types of stress that people commonly face and the different methods for dealing with them.

1. Acute Stress

The type of stress that throws you off momentarily, but doesn’t last too long, like an argument or a test you aren’t prepared for.

Relief Techniques: Breathing exercises, cognitive reframing, progressive muscle relaxation, mini-meditation.

2. Chronic Stress

Tends to occur on a regular basis and leaves you feeling drained and burned out.

Relief Techniques: Regular exercise, maintain a healthy diet, cultivate supportive relationships, meditate regularly, listen to music.

3. Emotional Stress

Can hit harder than other types of stress. For example, a conflicted relationship tends to bring a greater physical reaction and sense of distress than being too busy at work.

Relief Techniques: Write in a journal, practice mindfulness, talk to someone.

4. Burnout

This is the result of unmanaged chronic stress that leaves people feeling a lack of control in their lives, unmotivated and constantly overwhelmed.

Relief Techniques: Take some time off, find ways to bring laughter into your life, indulge in hobbies, learn how to make your job more fulfilling, make your days off count.

With all the methods available for managing stress, finding one that works for you may seem like more trouble than it’s worth. However, finding an effective way to relieve stress can have a major impact on your life and change the way you experience stress altogether.

 

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While there is no cure for arthritis, there are a number of things you can do to effectively manage the disease. Fighting through arthritis is all about alleviating joint pain, slowing down the disease progression and minimize its effect on your life.

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Regularly taking your prescribed medication is important, but it is not the only way to effectively manage arthritis and maintain joint mobility and functionality. In a recent blog post, VeryWellHealth talks about different things that you can incorporate into daily life that will minimize the negative effects of arthritis and allow you to live well with the disease. Some of these methods include:

  • Eat a healthy diet full of anti-inflammatory foods, such as berries, leafy greens, beans and seafood
  • Participate in regular physical activity to strengthen muscles around joints, improve bone strength and boost energy levels
  • Focus on protecting your joints during daily activities by not carrying or lifting excessive weight, balance rest and activities, avoid extra stress on joints and use assistive devices when necessary
  • Make an effort to lower your stress levels to prevent a flare-up of arthritis

Adding these small steps into your daily life can have a positive impact on your ability to manage arthritis pain. It’s important to remember that while not all methods will have a noticeable effect, incorporating healthy habits into your daily life will positively impact your overall health as well.

 

Read the full article here.

While it’s true that exercise of any kind is good for people regardless of their age, certain limitations may prevent the elderly from regular physical activity. Weakening muscles, joint pain or difficulties walking inhibit many seniors from participating in common forms of exercise, such as walking, spinning or lifting weights.

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For elderly adults, there are three key elements of a good workout: low impact cardio, resistance training and stretching. Yoga has the potential to cover all three of these components, making it a great option for seniors who want to engage in physical activity. In a recent blog post, AgingCare dives into the proven benefits of yoga, including:

  • Improves sleep quality
  • Helps control blood sugar in people with diabetes
  • Enhances respiratory function
  • Helps alleviate arthritis pain
  • Improves balance

While yoga is a great form of exercise, it also can help seniors feel more confident in their mobility and body awareness. It can also be a great bonding opportunity for seniors and caregivers who might want to participate in a class together. Yoga classes run in many different styles and difficulties, so you can find the class that works best for you.

 

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Don Chiari, a partner at Brown Chiari, spoke with the Buffalo News about the drugging and potential sexual assault of an 87-year-old resident at the Elderwood at Wheatfield nursing home. Back in August of 2017, two doses of Narcan were used to revive the woman who had antidepressants in her system that were not prescribed to her.

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After toxicology testing, the sheriff’s report stated that tricyclic medications were found in her bloodstream, and those medications are not dispensed at the Elderwood nursing home.

Don Chiari is planning to sue the nursing home on behalf of the elderly woman. He states that the health department closed their investigation prior to receiving the final toxicology report revealing the unprescribed medication in her system.

Chiari s that “the family was shocked to learn that their mother was given antidepressants that were not even used at the facility,” along with oxycodone and narcotic painkillers she was also not prescribed. He goes on to state that the unprescribed drugs, “coupled with the fact that there were signs of sexual assault,” they would begin to lead their own investigation of the incident.

 

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With the many food recalls we see on the news, E. Coli and salmonella have become familiar causes of foodborne illnesses. While these bacteria are widely talked about, they are not the only ones we should be concerned with.

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Listeria infections occur in a similar way to salmonella—by eating food contaminated with the listeria monocytogenes bacteria. This bacteria is commonly found in processed meats like hot dogs and deli meats, soft cheeses, smoked seafood and raw or unpasteurized milk products. In a recent blog post, Very Well Health discusses the risks, symptoms and preventative measures to take when dealing with listeria. Some of the most important things to note include:

  • Those at high-risk for severe infection include pregnant women, newborns, those with weakened immune systems and older adults
  • Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions
  • Make sure all food is properly washed, fully cooked, and stored at proper temperatures to avoid bacteria growth
  • Certain high-risk groups, like pregnant women, should avoid some foods altogether, such as hot dogs or sausages unless properly cooked to 160℉, feta cheese, brie, queso blanco and refrigerated smoked seafood unless thoroughly cooked

While many people may come in contact with listeria and experience mild symptoms or none at all, those at high-risk for complications should take extra precautions when handling food. Most listeriosis cases can be treated with antibiotics. However, anyone who is at high risk for listeriosis complications, that experience flu-like symptoms, should seek immediate medical attention.

 

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