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calendar icon 24 August, 2015

Be Kind to Humankind Week: Seven Daily Tips to Make the World a Better Place

Be Kind to Humankind Week (BKHK) is a global celebration that takes place from August 25th-31st every weekend and strives to promote kindness, happiness and cohesion between people from all walks of life. Each day of the seven-day celebration carries a specific goal. These goals can be adopted by anyone at any time and are often used to promote positivity in schools, home care facilities, workplaces and even correctional facilities. Each goal is accompanied by a simple, actionable statement of kindness, which can go a long way toward boosting morale in any environment. Use these seven handy tips to make the most of Be Kind to Humankind Week this year:

Day One: Show Them That You Care

Day one of Be Kind to Humankind Week is all about demonstrating compassion, which makes it a great time to get involved in volunteer work. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and seek out an organization in your area that offers services. You could volunteer to dish out meals at the soup kitchen, run food deliveries for the local food bank, read to seniors at an assisted living home, bring some small gifts to children in a cancer ward or volunteer at the local women’s shelter. Helping other people has been scientifically proven to do everything from increasing life span to boosting happiness and decreasing pain and there’s no time like now to show them that you care. Even if you only volunteer for a week, the time spent in service of others will benefit you for years to come.

Day Two: Drive Courteously

Road rage is all too common these days. Even if you don’t actively get out of your car to chase another one down the road screaming, most of us are guilty of being a little too aggressive at one point or another. All of this stems from the fact that we are constantly in a hurry, rushing from place to place, very absorbed in our own realities.  Fortunately, day two of the Be Kind to Humankind celebration is meant to remedy this exact problem. During day two of the celebration, focus on driving as courteously as possible. Check out this guide on how to be a more courteous driver or simply pay attention to the needs of others while on the road. Let someone into your lane, pull over promptly for emergency vehicles, avoid tailgating and make plenty of room for cyclists and pedestrians on the road. In addition to making you a more courteous driver and drastically reducing stress levels, these simple tips also help keep you and everyone around you safer on the road.

Day Three: Spread Kindness, One Heart at a Time

Kindness: it’s free, easy and it makes the world go around. Day three of the Be Kind to Humankind celebration is dedicated to encouraging kindness and helping people understand that kindness doesn’t have to be huge or showy. It is easy to carry out random acts of kindness and the third day of the BKHK celebration is the perfect place to begin. Kindness is often as simple as writing a heart-felt “get well” card or cooking a meal for a family with a brand new baby. Other great ways to be kind include complimenting people, calling a loved one just to say hello, offering to watch a friend’s kids so the parents can have a special date night, encouraging someone’s dreams and plans or simply listening to a friend, loved one or stranger who is in distress. Being kind is easy and the ripple effect of genuine kindness and compassion truly has the power to change the world.

Day Four: Offer a Helping Hand

Have you ever driven by people picking up trash on the side of the road? What about the people who volunteer to organize charity events or community events? These people provide an important community service that increases the quality of life for many people and the fourth day of the BKHK celebration strives to encourage people to lend a helping hand. There are many great ways to offer a helping hand and fantastic options include volunteering for a community project, helping a sick relative clean or go shopping, giving a hard-up acquaintance a ride to work or donating unused clothing, home goods or appliances to people in need. Lending a helping hand doesn’t just uplift the person receiving the help; it uplifts the person offering the help, as well.

Day Five: Treat Others Well

Being thoughtful and considerate is a powerful skill that has the potential to increase the quality of life for many people. On day five of the BKHK celebration, focus on being increasingly thoughtful of others.  “Thoughtful Thursday,” as it is called by the celebration’s website, encourages simple actions like holding the door for a stranger, cooking lunch for someone in need, being supportive for friends and family in need and simply remembering to say things like “please” and “thank you.” To take your thoughtfulness a step further, you could clip coupons for those in need or buy a struggling family some diapers or baby goods. It’s easy to be thoughtful and, although the actions required are simple, the practice is powerful.

Day Six: Come Together

Day six of the Be Kind to Humankind celebration is aptly termed “Forgive Your Foe Friday” and, you guessed it, this day is all about letting go of grudges and starting fresh. Although forgiveness is often easier said than done, learning to forgive is an integral part of living a healthy, cohesive, happy life. Start your journey toward forgiveness by simply minding your thoughts and refusing to harbor negative, nasty or aggressive thoughts toward your so-called “foe.” When that gets easier, you can either reach out and attempt reconciliation or simply begin to temper back you feelings of anger and hurt toward this person. In the words of author and psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Forgiveness is an act of creation...You can forgive for now, forgive till then, forgive till the next time, forgive but give no more chances it’s a whole new game if there is another incident. You can give one more chance, give several more chances, give many chances, give chances only if. You can forgive part, all, or half of the offense. You can devise a blanket of forgiveness. You decide.” No matter how you choose to forgive, rest assured that the act of forgiving will improve life for you and those around you.

Day Seven: Say Something Nice

“Speak Kind Words Saturday” is the last day of the Be Kind to Humankind celebration and is intended to encourage kind thoughts, actions and words. The words we speak inform our thoughts and actions and it is amazingly important to ensure that we are speaking kindly to one another and ourselves. Additionally, since speaking kindly can reduce stress and promote a better lifestyle, it is obvious that this simple tip benefits individuals as well as society at large. On the seventh day of this celebration, focus on complimenting people you admire and encouraging kind words from others. Tell a friend that you love him or her or make it a point to thank someone for his or her hard work, kind deeds or special attention. Teach children to speak gently and avoid gossip. Although these actions are simple, they can go a long way toward encouraging kinder speech patterns and a more welcoming world. Be Kind to Humankind week is a celebration that seeks to make the world a better place and enhance the quality of life for everyone who lives here. This week, focus on meeting each day’s objective and pay attention to how these simple practices transform your life, work and mind.
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calendar icon 21 August, 2015

The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease: What You Need to Know

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects hundreds of thousands of families every year. According to recent estimations, 5.3 million Americans are currently living with the disease, 5.1 million of whom are aged 65 or older. Because Alzheimer’s is so common, it benefits family members to be aware of the early signs of Alzheimer's disease. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, early detection can lead to better care and treatment as the disease progresses.

1) Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most common and most easily recognized symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Most people in the early stages of the disease will begin to forget information they have recently learned and may begin to forget important dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. Affected people may also forget important life events and may not remember, for example, that their daughter recently had a baby. Some affected people may ask the same question time and time again or tell the same story in a loop-like fashion. As the memory loss progresses, many individuals begin to use memory devices like notes, to-do lists or electronic reminders in an attempt to cope with their symptoms.

2) Confusion Regarding Time and Place

If you notice that a loved one has begun to confuse times or locations and has exhibited behavior like switching meals (dinner for breakfast, etc.), it may be time to call a doctor. Many patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s have difficulty with the concept of time and will also struggle to understand that something will happen in the future but is not happening now. The confusion of time often goes hand-in-hand with a confusion regarding locations and people exhibiting these symptoms often forget where they are or how they have gotten there.

3) Difficulty With Familiar Tasks

If you notice that a loved one is having a hard time remembering how to do basic tasks like watering plants or driving to an old friend’s house, pay some extra attention. People suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s often experience difficulty with familiar tasks and may slowly lose their ability to execute simple chores without help.

4) Difficulty With Problem Solving

For many people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, problem solving can quickly become an issue. Many individuals find it difficult to manage a budget, follow directions, read a recipe or keep track of mail. Additionally, these people may have a difficult time navigating daily frustrations like lost items or scheduling conflicts. Often, difficulty concentrating and frustration accompany these symptoms.

5) Difficulty Interpreting Pictures

If you notice that your loved on is having a tough time understanding photographs or judging distances, it is likely that this is an early indication of Alzheimer’s. Often, people who are beginning to exhibit symptoms of the disease will have difficulty interpreting color and contrast and may be unable to drive due to dangerous and disorienting issues with depth perception.

6) Trouble Speaking

Does your loved one have new or worsening speech problems? If you notice that somebody you know has begun stopping mid-sentence, stumbling over words, confusing phrases or repeating themselves often, it’s time for a medical evaluation. One of the most surprising symptoms of Alzheimer’s is that people often begin to forget simple phrases. For example, these people may call an oven a “cooking box.” Problems with speech, vocabulary and forming sentences are common symptoms of this troubling disease and deserve immediate attention.

7) Misplacing Things

If your loved one begins to misplace things around the house and cannot remember where they’ve been in order to retrace their steps and find the lost items, it’s time to take notice. Confusion and lack of short-term memory are both early signs of the disease and can quickly transition into full-blown dementia. Often, these symptoms are accompanied by anger and those afflicted may accuse loved ones of stealing, playing trick on them or hiding things.

8) Notable Changes in Mood

Alzheimer’s symptoms often cause people to become moody, depressed, paranoid, fearful, anxious or angry. People in the early stages of the disease often get agitated easily and may respond to the confusion, discomfort and distress they often feel by sobbing, becoming angry or lashing out. In addition to getting these individuals medical help, family and friends need to know that this behavior, while it can be emotionally devastating, is not personal. Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease and it often causes people to change dramatically in a short period of time. Trust that the best thing you as a friend or family member can do is get the affected person medical assistance and provide support and love throughout the treatment process.

9) Decreased Social Activity

If you notice that your loved one has recently withdrawn and has stopped seeing old friends or participating in volunteer work, family events or community engagements, it may be time for a medical check-up. Alzheimer’s symptoms, specifically confusion and the disorientation, can cause people to become depressed and withdraw from friends and family in an attempt to hide their symptoms from friends and loved ones. Often these people will try to downplay their withdrawal and it is up to friends and family members to investigate further. Although they may insist against it, individuals that are decreasing their social activity are at a heightened risk of depressive symptoms and need help and support immediately.

10) Poor Judgment or a Lack of Risk Assessment

People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit poor judgment with money, safety or personal belongings. For example, affected individuals may make large infomercial purchases or go outside in frigid weather without a coat. They may also leave stoves on, leave candles burning when nobody is home, leave a car running in the driveway or abandon personal hygiene. These are all alarming symptoms that require family members to take notice. What to Do When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s In the early stages of the disease, individuals tend to be very independent and many affected people still drive, maintain social lives, conduct volunteer work and keep in touch with family. During this stage, the most important role loved ones can play during this time is to be a force of support and friendship while also assisting in planning for future care. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, people often undergo noticeable changes in their ability to speak, function independently, drive and eat. Typically, these changes occur slowly and it is not uncommon for affected individuals to maintain some level of independence for years. During this time, the best thing that friends and family members can do is act as an advocate for the affected person and helping him or her do routine things, such as making appointments, remembering important dates or events, paying monthly bills, taking medications on time, dressing, and cleaning the house. Although these tasks may seem small and inconsequential, they will be great help to the affected person. As the disease progresses, friends and family members often feel as if there is nothing they can do and that is when love and support is most needed. In addition to loving the person affected by the disease, friends and family members should also reach out to their community for support and assistance. Although Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease, it is much easier for patients and their families to cope when they are surrounded by ample love and support.
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calendar icon 17 August, 2015

National Friendship Week: How To Build Better Friendships

Friendships are important to our lives. In addition to providing a support system, unwavering love and some much-needed comic relief, good friendships can also make us happier, healthier and more confident. Friendships provide us with a fallback system and have the potential to teach us lessons about the world and how we run our lives. Although friendships, like any relationship, can sometimes be challenging, it is important to nurture them in order to build lasting partnerships that can stand the test of time. Friendship Week came about as a way to honor existing friendships and focus on building new ones. The holiday week is often celebrated by the distribution of bracelets with positive messages on them or through various school and workplace programs. Friendship week offers a great opportunity for in-home care specialists to create some fun events with their clients and use the week as a way to promote bonding and increase closeness between themselves and their patients. In honor of Friendship Week, here are the top five tips to build, nurture and maintain great friendships:

1) Be Open

In many ways, friendships are lessons for the rest of our lives. Friendships can teach us many things and provide us with a forgiving platform to improve ourselves and be honest about our faults and mistakes. Because of this, one of the most important aspects of nurturing strong friendships is learning to be open. Being open means sharing feelings honestly, discussing any annoyances or bothersome occurrences that may pop up and learning to be respectful. Friendships, like many of life’s other relationships, have a hard time surviving if open communication isn’t happening. Focus on being open in your closest friendships and you will be rewarded with an unwavering support system and plenty of laughs for years to come. To apply this to a home care setting, work on telling your clients one of the things you appreciate about him or her, each day. In addition to strengthening the bond between you and your clients, this will often serve to help a client with depressive symptoms feel happier and more positive.

2) Practice Acceptance

As much as we love our friends, nobody is perfect and it’s possible (and very likely) that there will be times when you don’t agree with a friend’s choices. In these instances, practice acceptance and let your friend make his or her own decisions. In addition to allowing you to let go, practicing acceptance is also a great way to show our friends that we respect and love them, no matter what. Feel free to share your opinion if your friend asks for it, but then take a step back. Remember: your friend has his or her life and you have yours. Respecting a friend’s intelligence and autonomy and accepting them just as they are at any given moment is the best way to ensure that you get the same treatment down the road. Additionally, practicing acceptance does nothing but make you a bigger, strong person that is more capable of handling anything that might come down the road. To apply this to a home care setting, practice accepting the choices, moods and opinions of your clients, even when they don’t align with yours. Home care is an intimate environment and one of the best ways to ensure you are providing the best care you are capable of is to ensure that you are not attempting to change or coerce your clients in any way. By doing this, you meet your clients where they are and provide them with the respect and assurance of caring for them without also trying to change them.

3) Make Friendships a Priority

In order to build great friendships, it is important to ensure that your friendships have priority in your life. In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in work and various other obligations at the expense of our friendships. Unfortunately, this carries the very real risk of damaging relationships in the long run. To avoid this pitfall, ensure that you make your friendships a priority, even when things get busy.  Think of your friends as your life jackets. You don’t want to throw them overboard in the middle of a stormy sea. Learning to apply this to a home care setting is twofold: on one hand, this means that you should focus completely on every client while you are with him or her, thus making that client and the relationship between you your priority. On the other hand, it also means taking the time to nurture your friendships outside of work. Home care is a rewarding yet stressful environment that can easily make it difficult to make time for friends. In order to avoid this pitfall, learn to consciously make time to see your inner circle, no matter how tired or stressed you may be.

4) Listen

The act of listening is a central feature in any great friendship. It is impossible to have open, honest or fulfilling communication without being able to listen actively. In order to build and maintain a great friendship, it is important to learn to listen. Active listening means making eye contact, turning your body toward the person speak and using reflective responses to convey understanding and attention.  In addition to helping your friend feel heard and respected, the practice you get listening to friends will benefit you in almost every other area of your life. People who know how to listen without interrupting, becoming defensive or actively trying to “fix” things help make other people feel safe and comfortable, which is especially important for those engaged in-home care or healthcare settings. Practice listening to your friends and your clients and watch how it ripples out into the rest of your life.

5) Express Gratitude

At the end of the day, great friends are one of our biggest blessings and they deserve to know how special they are to us. To show your friends how much you appreciate them, hand-write a small thank-you note, schedule a special dinner or purchase a small gift or a bouquet of flowers. To apply this to a home care setting, don’t be shy about telling your clients what they have taught you. People in a home care setting often have depressive symptoms and may feel as if they are no longer useful or wanted. By being open with your clients about how they have positively affected your life, you can help uplift your clients and inspire a gratitude ripple effect. Expressing gratitude helps our friends feel appreciated and valued and, in turn, produces stronger friendships, deeper bonds and more lasting connections. Elbert Hubbard is famous for having said, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” In that spirit, we honor Friendship Week. Our friends are our greatest support systems, cheerleaders, court jesters and psychiatrists and life would be much different without them.  This week, dedicate some time to nurturing, building and maintaining your great friendships because, come what may, our closest friends make our lives distinctly better.    
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calendar icon 16 August, 2015

Caring for People Suffering from Dementia

Dementia is a mental disorder in which a person gradually suffers from loss of mental function as a result of certain brain diseases. Almost 50 million people suffer from dementia from all over the world while health organizations claim that the number will triple by 2050. The most common type of dementia in the world is Alzheimer. In United States, more than 60% of people (More than 5 and a half million) become victim of dementia because of Alzheimer. Other most common types of dementia are vascular dementia and lewy body dementia. In all cases and types, the end result is often similar like loss of memory, judgment and loss of reasoning. It also causes anxiety, anger, behavioral changes, sadness and loss of muscle and weight. As loss of memory and resulting aggression is a common symptom, taking care of people suffering with dementia is often a very challenging task. Even though, a small proportion of young people also suffers from dementia but most of the people get affected while growing old. In fact, the number of people suffering from dementia doubles with every 5 years of age bracket.

Understanding Dementia

To provide better care for dementia patients, it is necessary to understand the disease which helps counter gradual changes in the behavior of patients. Even when there is no present cure of dementia conditions like Alzheimer, there are reported cases in which good care and help from families significantly delayed the more severe conditions of dementia. Once dementia is diagnosed, it follows a downward trajectory that usually consists of three steps.
  • Mild Dementia

    In the initial stage, which is also known as mild dementia, people begin to show difficulty in learning new things, remembering names and often fails to perform more complex tasks like operating a smart phone or driving. They also begin experiencing sadness, stress, anxiety and loss of interest in healthy activities and entertainment.
  • Moderate Dementia

    The second stage is moderate dementia in which senses are affected. The affected person suffers from loss of physical function, loss of judgment and more severe memory loss. At this stage, person also loss interest in proper diet, begins to wander and often uses inappropriate language and sentences that does not make any sense. At this time, challenges for care givers begin as they need to invest more time and energy.
  • Severe Dementia

    In the third and last stage, person suffers from complete memory loss, difficulty in eating with no control over bowl and bladder. The mobility also becomes limited. At this stage, round-the-clock care is required that is why many people seek professional care givers to help them cope with the growing needs of patients. At this time, most patients also stop recognizing family members making it easier to introduce professional caregivers.

Caring for Dementia Patients

When taking care of people suffering with mild dementia is easy, the real challenge starts with moderate to severe dementia stages. At this time, care givers may have to deal with aggressive and in some cases, violent behavior of patients which is result of growing confusion, fear, sadness and anxiety.

Learning Basics of Care Giving 

Listed are some basics of taking care of dementia patients. No Aggression: First thing that care givers need to learn and understand is that whatever the dementia patients do, they are not doing it on purpose. Reacting with anger or aggression can only result in more violent behavior of patients in future. No Argument: There is no point in explaining things to patients especially in the last stage. In simple words, no one can reason with dementia patients and can make them understand as they have lost their ability of learning and judgment. In fact, trying to reason with patients can result in adding confusion and triggering aggression.

Dos and Don’ts while Dealing with Aggressive Behavior

In many cases, a simple refusal of doing a routine task grows into violent speech or actions. While dealing with such situations, you need to understand that the violence committed by the patient is not on purpose. Don’t: As aggression by patients often caused by fear, responding in harsh way can only worsen their condition. Don’t force the issue that is discomforting the patient or engage into an argument. Until you have no other option left, use of force can make the situation worse. Dos: Instead, make sure to look for the cause of fear and try to provide them with the comfort zone that usually keeps them calm. Communicate in a reassuring but calm manner diverting their focus to something else.

Dos and Don’ts while Dealing with Confused Questions

Dementia patients often get confused about the time and place. They often want to be in a place or time when they were in more control or felt safest in their life. Don’t: Long answers, reasons and explanations are not going to help. Instead, they will add to confusion and more questions. In some cases, lengthy reasons and arguments trigger violent behavior in patients. Dos: Provide simple answers in reassuring and helping tone. Use photos and other reminders in the house. If the questions are insisting, it is better to redirect their attention to something else instead of trying to answer the questions again and again.

Dos and Don’ts while Dealing with Poor Judgment

Family members may have to face accusations from patients or actions that are result of cognitive problems and thinking errors. Alzheimer can cause people to have untrue beliefs, delusions and poor judgment. Don’t: No matter how ugly it looks, never question the accusation or patient’s ability to handle particular situation. Letting him believe that he is in control can help otherwise the confusion can result in aggression or anger. Dos: Help patients in keeping their stuff organized. Even when it looks difficult, accept the accusation and let him/her believe she is right and in control.

Tips that Can Help

Few simple tasks and small adjustments to your daily life can make life much easier of the care giver. Some helpful tips are listed below.
  • Graded Assistance to Encourage independence. There are reported cases in which dementia patients maintained functional independence for a long period of time when independence is encouraged. The technique “Graded Assistance” is used to help patients accomplish their work without providing extensive help. Instead, verbal instructions, physical demonstrations and other means are used keeping least amount of physical assistance.
  • Make Your Daily Routine more Smooth. Make things simpler for dementia patients by maintaining simple to follow routine in your home. Simple daily routine can help dementia patients to adapt quickly providing them independence to work alone.
  • Simple and Direct Communication. Use of simple sentences, reassuring tone and loving gestures can make things simpler for you and patients.
  • Limit Distractions. Make sure the patient is not distracted while eating or doing routine work. Provide calm and quiet environment that can help patient concentrate on eating or other similar tasks. Limit the number of baths as physical activity required for shower may make some patients aggressive or uncomfortable.
  • Ensure Family Activities. Plan comfortable routine activities with patients that attract their interest. Engaging patients in healthy activities can help delay downward behavior trend. Just don’t push any activity in which the patient is not interested.
  • Follow Consistent Bedtime. Make sure to keep the bed time consistent to develop the internal clock that works on its own. Provide peaceful environment with no noise.

Taking help from Professional Caregivers

In many cases, family members taking care of dementia patients often begin suffering with anxiety, stress and growing depression. As care givers have to sacrifice their social interactions, put more time and effort along with compounding grief of seeing loved ones in poor mental condition, they develop their own mental problems like depression. This is why taking help from professional caregivers is often very important as they not only take good care of the patients but also conduct sessions with family members which help them understand their feelings. With professional advice, family members can develop strategies to deal with the growing stress while taking better care of loved ones.       
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calendar icon 14 August, 2015

Recommended Vaccines for Adults

Vaccines are an important step in protecting adults against serious, sometimes fatal, diseases.  Even if you were vaccinated at a younger age, the vaccine may have worn off, or you may have developed a resistance to the vaccine. As you get older, you may be at risk for vaccine preventable diseases due to your age, job, hobbies, travel, or chronic health conditions.

List of Recommended Vaccines for Adults

  • Influenza Vaccine (Flu) is recommended every year.
  • TD Vaccine is recommended every 10 years to protect against Tetanus.
  • Hepatitis B Vaccine is recommended for people who have Type 1 or 2 Diabetes, because they have a higher risk of developing the Hepatitis B Virus.
  • Shingles Vaccine is usually recommended for adults 60 and older.
  • Pneumococcal Vaccine (Pneumonia) is usually recommended for people with heart disease, respiratory illness, and history of stroke, as they are at a greater risk of developing pneumonia and requiring hospitalization.
Staying healthy is a top priority for all of us.  Vaccination is a simple thing you can do to help prevent diseases.  Make sure you have the best protection.  Speak to your doctor to see which vaccines are right for you. Please visit for a full list of vaccines to further educated yourself about preventing diseases and staying healthy.
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calendar icon 12 August, 2015

Knowing When it’s Time to Ask for Help in Home Care

Whether a person is elderly or disabled, it can be difficult to know when to ask for help. Societally, we are taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness and a cause for embarrassment. Unfortunately, nothing could be further than the truth. If one of your friends or loved one is facing difficulty due to age or disability, certain telltale signs can help indicate when it is time to hire in-home help.

General Signs that It’s Time to Ask for Help

When an elderly or disabled friend or loved one needs help, the signs may manifest in a variety of ways. Some signs are clearly big-picture issues that will be obvious to friends and family, regardless of distance or relationship. Keep an eye out for the following:

Close Calls or New Difficulties

If your elderly or disabled loved one has been living alone, it’s likely that they have been relatively self-sufficient for some time. However, if your loved one has recently begun having new difficulties or suffering from close calls, like falls, medical scares or even car accidents, it’s likely that it is time to ask for help. When an elderly or disabled person lives alone, these close calls are more likely to happen again and again and, when they do, it is wise to employ a trusted caretaker in order to ensure that somebody is there to respond to falls or other accidents.

Chronic Health Conditions or Worsening Health

Progressive issues like dementia, congestive heart failure and COPD can result in marked, rapid decline a loved one. Generally, the presence of these issues means that it is time to ask for help from a qualified caregiver or to move the person to an assisted living facility.

Difficulty Recovering

In elderly or disabled people, common illnesses like colds or the flu can produce serious health issues. If an elderly or disabled loved on has recently suffered from a common illness but is having a difficult time recovering, consider asking for help. This is especially true if your loved one was unable  or unwilling to get the help he or she needed during the time of the illness, which resulted in the illness becoming much more serious.

Difficulty With Activities of Daily Living

The activities of daily living (ADL’s) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL’s) are the skills an adult needs to live independently – without the care of a relative or caregiver. These skills include dressing oneself, cooking, driving, shopping, using the bathroom, bathing, doing laundry, taking medications and cleaning. Unfortunately, age or disability often rob people of these abilities and make it increasingly difficult for them to live alone. Fortunately, if a loved one is having difficulty with ADL’s or IADL’S, bringing in-home help into the equation can often restore some independence and help the person live a better life.

Social Signs That It’s Time to Ask for Help

Often, when an elderly or disabled person is beginning to decline, it will become obvious through their social interactions, or lack thereof.  In order to determine if your friend or loved one needs help, keep an eye out for these important social waning signs:

Lack of Friendships

Age and disability make it easy to become reclusive and a person who no longer keeps close companions or pursues friendships may very well be declining. Generally, lack of active friendships is a sign of depressive symptoms and may indicate that it is time to secure in-home help or a change of scenery for your friend or loved one.

Refusal to Leave the Home

When an elderly or disabled person is afraid to drive and unwilling to take public transportation alone, they often begin to go days on end without leaving their home. Often, these individuals benefit from hiring in-home help, which may help them regain their mobility and resume regular outings.

No Activities or Interests

If your friend or loved one has abandoned activities and interests, it is time to call for help. Isolation is generally related to depressive symptoms and acting quickly is the best way to prevent your loved one from becoming further depressed and isolated.

Physical Signs That it’s Time to ask for Help

An elderly or disabled person who is declining will exhibit noticeable physical signs that indicate in-home help is needed. Any of the following signs warrant a call for assistance:

Weight Loss

If your friend or loved one feels thinner or looks like he or she is swimming in their clothing, there’s a good chance that something is wrong. Physical conditions ranging from tumors to depression can cause weight loss, as can declining motor skills that may result in a loss of cooking or shopping ability. Additionally, some elderly or disabled people may be forgetting how to cook or eat. In these cases, it is wise to ensure there is food in the house and spend some time watching the person prepare a meal for him or herself. In any event, drastic weight loss is a valid reason to call an in-home caregiver.

Weight Gain

Like weight loss, sudden and drastic weight gain can indicate serious health issues like diabetes. Additionally, weight gain may indicate that a person is having financial troubles and subsisting on cheap, processed foods rather than healthy fare. Watch meal prep and call for help if you notice that the person is forgetting having eaten or binge eating all day long.


If you notice that your friend or loved one is having difficulty completing simple tasks like removing shoes, opening drawers, sweeping or getting out of a chair, it is time to call for help. As people age, they generally become frailer, which may lead to difficulty completing everyday activities.

Disheveled Appearance

It is generally possible to tell a great deal from a person’s appearance. If you notice that your typically well-kept loved one is wearing stained, sloppy or torn clothing or that hair and makeup are noticeably different or disarranged, consider asking for help. These signs typically indicate that the person has lost strength, dexterity or memory and are a valid reason to call for in-home help. Elderly or disabled people often need help dressing, shaving and fixing their hair and an in-home caregiver can help them meet those needs.

The Case for In-Home Help

Realizing that a friend or loved one needs help is never an easy experience. Watching a person decline is difficult and it is made worse by the fact that they often need help we are simply incapable of giving. In these cases, the most important thing you can do is notice signs that indicate physical or mental deficiencies and take it upon yourself to secure help for your friend or loved one. Often, elderly or disabled people are embarrassed to ask for help and see it as a sign that they are becoming infantile or incapable. Assure the person that this is not true, that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and that extra help can help them preserve the quality of their life rather than subtracting from it. Although it can be difficult, asking for help is never anything to be embarrassed about and in-home caregiving can often preserve, extend and boost a person’s quality of life for many years.
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calendar icon 10 August, 2015

National Smile Week: 10 Fun Facts About Smiling

Smiling. It feels good and looks great but did you know it could actually increase your life span and  do everything from making you more attractive to helping you land that promotion? In order to help you celebrate National Smile Week, we’ve compiled a list of fun and surprising facts about turning that frown upside down. Get ready to smile because these facts about smiling are nothing but good news:

Fact #1: Smiling Helps You Live Longer

Smiling has many benefits, not the least of which is that smiling can actually help us live longer. People who smile more often are generally happier and, since smiling decreases blood pressure and releases endorphins, it’s a great way to boost health and protect your golden years.

Fact #2: Smiling Makes Promotions More Likely

Who knew that landing that exciting new position would be as easy as smiling? As it turns out, people who smile at work are more likely to be promoted than those who do not. This is because smiling conveys a message of happiness, approachability and confidence, all of which are things managers typically look for in employees that are up for promotion.

Fact #3: Smiling Boosts The Immune System

In addition to making you look more attractive, successful and approachable, smiling and laughter may also protect you from the common cold. According to recent data, smiling can help boost the immune system by decreasing stress levels, which in turn increases white blood cell count and releases beneficial antibodies that help fight infection and disease.

Fact #4: There Are Many Different Types of Smiles

People smile for all sorts of reasons and, as it turns out, we smile all sorts of ways, too. According to Paul Ekman, an American psychologist who studies human emotions and facial expressions, humans display very different types of smiles depending upon the situation. Types of smiles include the felt smile, the fear smile, the miserable smile and the flirtatious smile.

Fact #5: Smiling is Contagious

Have you ever been around someone who seemed to be smiling all the time? Chances are, you found yourself smiling as well. This is because smiling is incredibly contagious. Research suggests that happy people influence the people closest to them and provide a boost of good energy, smiles and laughter. So, next time you’re feeling down, seek out your happiest friend and let the smiles begin.

Fact #6: Smiling Is A Global Sign of Happiness

There are a few human gestures that cross language barriers around the world and smiling is one of them. No matter where you are on the globe, smiling is recognized as a universal display of happiness and good nature.

Fact #7: Babies Can Smile Moments After Birth

Most of us have heard that babies are not capable of smiling during their first few months of life. As it turns out, this is untrue. According to research and ultrasound evidence, babies can smile in utero and immediately after birth, although it is important to distinguish between automatic smiles and social smiles. Automatic smiles are produced as a result of pleasurable physical sensations, such as falling asleep, resolving gas or eating. When babies smile during the first few days after birth, it is typically an automatic smile. Social smiles, on the other hand, are produced as a result of facial recognition and the type of conscious happiness that arises when a baby recognizes a parent’s face or sees a favorite toy. Babies do not generally begin to exhibit social smiling until about two months of age.

Fact #8: Women Smile More Often Than Men

Studies have found that women smile more often than men but the difference disappears when men and women occupy similar business or social roles. Many scientists interpret these results to indicate that gender roles are fluid and that both men and women act differently depending upon their social or business environment.

Fact #9: Smiling Drastically Reduces Stress

Feeling stressed out and over-loaded? Try smiling. According to recent studies, smiling has the power to reduce stress and increase our ability to deal with trying situations.  This is largely owing to the fact that smiling boosts endorphin output and forces us to breathe deeper, resulting in a calmer outlook and increased coping ability.

Fact #10: Smiling Can Make You Happier

If you’re having a bad day, force yourself to smile. Research suggests that the act of smiling can actually trick the brain into feeling happier, no matter how bad the current situation may be. While smiling certainly doesn’t fix all problems, it certainly has the power to make us feel just a little better at any given moment. Smiling eggs  

The Case for More Smiles

National Smile Week is a wonderful way to bring some consciousness into your everyday life. We all know that it feels better, emotionally and mentally, to smile than it does to frown and it is obvious now that smiling offers some serious, scientifically backed benefits that have the power to boost our lives and improve the quality of almost everything we do.

A Boost in Morale

The simple act of smiling can go a long way toward boosting morale in difficult situations, as well, and is a powerful practice for those employed in difficult fields, such as medicine, hospice and home care. These jobs often entail dealing with great sickness, disability and transition and the simple act of smiling has actually been proven to significantly boost morale in hospital settings.

Increased Comfort for Patients and Caregivers

Because smiling is a global signal of happiness and confidence, patients who are cared for by smiling, upbeat caregivers are more likely to feel at ease, positive and comfortable, not to mention that the hormonal and endocrine changes induced by smiling may actually reduce pain and promote quicker healing.  It is easy to bring National Smile Week into a home care setting by simply paying more attention to the things you can do and say that will help your clients smile. This could be as simple as baking a favorite meal or playing a favorite song. Smiling is a practice that is accessible to everyone, at all times, and it is clear that nurturing a life with more plentiful smiles is synonymous with nurturing a healthier, happier, more confident and more resilient life.

A Happier World

We’ve all heard the saying “turn that frown upside down” but who knew that smiling could actually be so beneficial to health and happiness? With perks like increased life span, greater happiness, reduced stress and boosted immune function, it seems obvious that a smile a day can truly keep the doctor away. In honor of National Smile Week, get out there and give the world your best grin. Many different smiles

Don't forget to smile today!

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calendar icon 5 August, 2015

How Stretching can Help Prevent Injuries and Enhance Mobility

Have you ever noticed how we stretch ourselves when we have been motionless for a long time? For example how we intuitively stretch when we wake up or when we have been staring at our computers for too long. When we are inactive for some time, our muscles start getting stiff and blood flow slows down. Stretching helps loosen these muscles and increases the blood circulation, basically waking up both our mind and body. This is why we stretch as an instinct. The same logic applies to our lives in general. Stretching helps us in remaining flexible as we age. It also helps in preventing injuries. Once stretched, our muscles relax and therefore, are less prone to injuries caused by shocks and jerks which happen during physical events like exercise, sports, or even during less active activities.

Advantages of stretching:

  1. It reduces tension in stiff muscles. Stretching relaxes the taut muscles and loosens them up. This eliminates the muscle tension- helping you avoid injuries and tiredness.
  2. Stretching increases blood circulation in the stretched area. Proper blood circulation keeps our muscles nourished and waste free. It also hastens recovery in muscle tissues.
  3. Increased blood circulation also makes people feel more energetic and happy. Stretching gives you a quick dose of energy.
  4. Stretching increases the range of movement in our joints and muscles. It keeps us flexible and mobile. If you stretch regularly, you will have no problems in bending over, running or lifting things. There will be no painful muscle pulls as your muscles will be habitual to flexing.
  5. It corrects our posture. If you stretch your body parts regularly and maintain symmetry, your posture will improve gradually. Correct posture solves a lot of pain problems like neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain etc.
  6. Stretching improves our flexibility and mobility and this in turn, improves our balance. This leads to less falls and stumbles as we age.
  7. It acts as a stress relief. When we are stressed, our muscles become taut and tense. Stretching relaxes and loosens up these muscles, helping us let go of the stress in process.

How to stretch:

  • Neck:

NeckStand straight and keep your feet flat. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Now turn your head, slowly, to the right until you feel a slight stretch in your neck. It should be slightly uncomfortable but not painful. Remember- no tilting. Maintain the same position for 30-40 seconds. Repeat the process above for the left side too. Do this exercise for 4-5 times.
  • Shoulder and Upper Arms:

Shoulder and Upper ArmTake a towel in your left hand and throw it behind your back. Take your right hand behind your back and hold the other end of the towel. Keep your right hand loose. Now from your left hand, slowly pull your towel up. This will help you stretch the muscles in your shoulder and upper arms. Repeat the same by changing the position of left and right hands. Repeat it for 4 to 5 times.
  • Shoulder and Chest:

Shoulders and ChestStand straight and keep your feet flat, at shoulder width distance. Raise your arms at shoulder length and keep them straight. Now move your arms back slowly. It will feel like you are pushing your shoulder blades together or pushing your chest out. Do it till you feel a slight discomfort. Maintain the same position for at least 30 seconds. Repeat it 4-5 times.
  • Back:

BackSit up straight on a chair with an armrest. Keep your feet flat on ground. Now slowly turn your torso and head to the left, without moving your hips. Now hold the armrest with your left hand and your right hand on your left thigh. Do it till you feel a slight discomfort. Maintain the same position for at least 30 seconds. Now slowly turn to your right, hold the armrest with your right hand and keep your left hand on the right thigh. Repeat this 4-5 times.
  • Hips:

HipsGet on your knees. You can hold on a sturdy chair or bed to do this. Now place your left foot in front. Then place your right hand on your right hip and lean forward from your hips till you feel a slight discomfort. Don’t lean your torso forward. Keep your chest straight. Maintain the position for 30 seconds. Now go back to original position of being on your knees and bring the right foot forward. Repeat the process above with focus on your left side.
  • Calf:

CalfStand straight in front of a wall. Keep your feet flat and at shoulder width distance. Place your palms on the wall, at shoulder length and shoulder width apart. Now put your right foot forward and bend slowly at the knee. Keep bending till you feel a slight discomfort. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Repeat the process with other leg.


  1. Stretching is not a warm up. In fact, you need to warm up by doing a little jogging or power walking before you stretch.
  2. Slight discomfort is acceptable, sharp pain is not. If you feel regular pain in doing any of the stretches, talk with your physiotherapist or doctor.
  3. Don’t bounce. It causes injuries. Instead just maintain the position for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Don’t hold your breath.
  5. Maintain symmetry while stretching. This means that stretch both left and right sides of your body.
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calendar icon 3 August, 2015

National Simplify Your Life Week: Seven Tips to Help You Simplify, Cut Stress, Make Better Decisions and Be Happier

We all know the feeling. You wake up to a to-do list that feels about five miles long. You’ve got fifteen minutes until you need to be out the door and on your way to work but you can’t find your car keys because they’re buried under a pile of last week’s junk mail. You feel stressed, hurried, like there isn’t enough time in the day. You’re worried about burning out and it seems like the vicious cycle just won’t stop. Fortunately, there is a way out. Simplifying your life is often a sure-fire way to get rid of excess stress and create an environment that allows for enhanced relaxation, more time and greater happiness. In celebration of National Simplify Your Life Week, we’ve gathered a selection of the greatest tips for simplifying and starting fresh this month. Keep reading to learn more.

1) Get Rid of Clutter

Get rid of clutterUnneeded clutter is a great way to find yourself feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, frustrated and short on time.  Fortunately, getting rid of stuff is easy and it only takes a few minutes to banish undue clutter. To start with, take two bags to your car and fill one with garbage and the other with junk that doesn’t belong in the car. Spend five minutes in your closet and pull out the items you don’t often wear to donate to charity. Box up duplicate or unused kitchen items and either donate them or store them. Getting rid of clutter leaves you with only the most needed items and, in turn, allows your days to function smoother and with less frustration.

2) Unplug

UnplugIn today’s society, we are ever connected. People expect to be able to get ahold of us at all hours and under any circumstances, but this isn’t exactly healthy. Being perpetually available or feeling the need to check your email five times during dinner produces stress and anxiety and indicates that it might be time for a social media detox. To counteract this and take another step toward simplifying your life, unplug completely for at least one hour a day. Take a walk in the woods without your cell phone or enjoy a yoga class or a run.  No matter how you choose to unplug, giving yourself some time each day to disconnect from the virtual world can work wonders for stress levels.

3) Evaluate Your Relationships

Evaluate your relationshipsAs humans, we have limited resources. It is impossible to give all of our love, patience, enthusiasm, energy and attention to everyone all the time without feeling exhausted and drained. This is especially true when we find ourselves putting our energy into life-sucking sources such as bad friendships, abusive work environments or poor relationships. In order to simplify your life and make more room for the things that matter, take some time to think about your relationships. Identify which relationships are uplifting you and contributing to your overall wellbeing and which ones are stressing you out and making you feel bad. Begin to detach from the latter and pay more attention to the former. In addition to making you feel better, this simple practice will free up space in your life for new hobbies and better scenarios to spring up.

4) Automate as Much as Possible

AutomateThere is nothing quite so stressful as realizing that you’ve forgotten to pay a bill and it’s now a week overdue. To avoid this, consider automating as many details of your life as you can. Place bills on auto-pay and paychecks on auto-deposit. Input appointments, obligations and important dates into a digital calendar for convenient reminders. When you spend less time worrying about the minutia of your daily life, you have more time to spend living.

5) Make Time for Fun

Make time for funIn Italy, there is a great practice called “La Dolce Far Niente” or “the art of doing nothing”.  We could stand to learn a thing or two from this. A large part of simplifying daily life and making more space for enjoyment entails learning to slow down, have fun and create openings for hobbies, recreational activities and aimless happiness. While you certainly don’t have to “do nothing” in the literal sense, it is important to make space for fun. This is especially important for those in the busy and often stressful home care field. In order to be a better person, partner, employee and support system, it is important to make time for yourself and what you need. After all, you can’t give when the well is empty.

6) Breathe

BreatheThere is nothing simpler and automatic in the world than breathing but, some days, we forget to do even that. If you work in the home care field, there’s a good chance that you often have days where you hardly sit down because you are so busy. Unfortunately, being so busy you cannot take a moment to simply sit and breathe is not beneficial for you or your clients and often leads to negative emotions like stress, anger, frustration or feelings of burnout. Learning to take a moment to breathe during your day will go a long way toward making you a more patient caregiver as well as a happier person. The great news about breathing is that it’s easy to sneak it in anywhere in your day. If you’re rushing between clients, take five minutes to sit down (outdoors, if possible) and simply take in the world around you. These “sit and breathe” sessions are like psychic power-naps and have the power to help you recharge, prioritize, improve your mood and simplify your day.

7) Exercise

ExerciseThere are plenty of studies that clearly observe the correlation between exercise and happiness, better decision making, less stress and better sleep. In order to simplify your life and cut out the excess static of the everyday, make it a priority to slip some exercise into your schedule. “Exercise” is a fluid term and it can take whatever form you want it to. If you don’t enjoy the gym, take a walk outside, play a game of soccer with friends or swim some laps at the local pool. Regardless of how you choose to exercise, including some predictable physical activity in your everyday life will help you decrease stress, cut to the chase and simplify your schedule.

The Case for Simplification

Simplifying your life goes a long way toward reducing stress and increasing enjoyment and the best part is – it is easy! You can apply these simplification tactics to any aspect of your life at any time and it is likely that people in the home care field will find these tips helpful. Whether you’re seeking to get rid of clutter or making prioritizing important, simplification techniques can help you feel better, serve your clients better and reduce everyday stress levels.

Happy National Simplify Your Life Week

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