image image


Access valuable information for care that's more informed and compassionate.

blog post image
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!

Read More
blog post image
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.
Read More
blog post image
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

Read More
blog post image
calendar icon 30 July, 2015

Reducing Stress and Enhancing Quality and Longevity of Life

Everyone might be familiar with stress but not everyone is aware of just how dangerous it is for one’s health. In fact, the top causes of death around the world: heart disease, cancer, lung problems, cirrhosis of the liver, accidents, and suicide are all related to stress. Moreover, seventy-five to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are due to conditions and complaints that are stress-related. Even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has asserted that stress is one of the threats in the workplace.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s normal response to situations that make a person feel upset or threatened. It is the body’s way of protecting itself. During periods of stress, the body starts pumping adrenalin, the heart rate goes up, blood vessels dilate, breathing and sweat production increases, metabolism slows down, and muscles become tense. These reactions are part of what is called the body’s “fight-or-flight response.” Stress doesn’t always produce negative effects. For some, it could lead to better performance because pressure can help you stay alert, energetic, and focused on the tasks at hand. Exposure to constant stress, however, could take a toll on your health and can adversely affect the different areas of your life.

What are the signs of stress?

It’s not difficult to determine whether you’re stressed or not. Almost everyone is familiar with the effects of stressors, the catalyst that causes stress. Nonetheless, you may still be surprised at just how extensive the effect of stress is on your body. If you’re not careful, it might be too late to undo the damage that it has caused. These are some of the specific symptoms of someone who is suffering from stress:

Psychological signs

  • Poor memory
  • Lack of concentration
  • Confusion
  • Pessimism
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Constant worrying
  • Inability to solve problems

Physical signs

  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Persistent colds
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Stomach upset
  • Aches and pains in general

Emotional signs

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Depression
  • Sense of helplessness
  • Indifference

Behavioral signs

  • Eating disorders
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Antisocial attitude
  • Use or abuse of cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs to calm down
  • Nervous habits
  • Disregard for one’s obligations or responsibilities
  Apart from the effects stated above, recent studies have shown that stress shrinks the brain, makes kids age prematurely, triggers the development depression, and could affect the genes of your future children. Moreover, several researches have also shown that unexpected emotional stresses can provoke arrhythmias, heart attacks, and even death. This is why people who are at risk of heart disease should try to reduce stress as early as possible.

What can you do to reduce stress?

Stress affects people in varying degrees because some deal with stress better than others. In any case, it is important to remember that reducing stress will not only affect your well-being at present, it will also benefit your health in the long-term. Here are some examples of what you can do today, which will make your older self thank you later:

Determine the factors that cause stress

The first step to reducing stress is pinpointing the exact cause/s of stress in your life. Keep a diary where you can write down your emotions and thoughts whenever you feel stressed. At the end of a few days, you should be able to identify some of the major stressors and you’ll get a sense of what you need to do to deal with them.

Build positive connections with the people around you

One of the best ways to effectively deal with stress is to have family and friends who could provide you a strong support network. Because loneliness and isolating yourself from others are symptoms of stress, it is all the more important to build positive relationships with the people closest to you.

Learn to condition your attitude and mindset

It is possible to train your mind to dwell on more positive thoughts than negative ones, which is crucial in your becoming more resistant to the effects of stress. People who suffer from the negative effects of stress think that they are victims of circumstances and that they have no control. While it is true that we can do nothing about a lot of the situations we are in, we have control over how we allow the situations affect us. Having a sense of humor, the ability to embrace challenges, and the willingness to accept change all go a long way in successfully dealing with stress. Learning relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga will also help you have better control over your attitude and mindset. This leads to reduced stress and improved health.

Know that preparation is key

It pays to know everything you can about a stressful situation you will face because this allows you to prepare. When you’re prepared, you are better equipped and able to cope with the challenges or difficulties that the situation entails. This, in turn, reduces the possibility of stress.

Acknowledge the wisdom in walking away

There will always be situations that can’t be dealt with easily and immediately. In those instances, you’ll probably be tempted to give in to anger and frustration but before that happens walk away even for just a few minutes. If you can’t physically walk away from a stressful situation, delay your reaction by taking a deep breath, having a sip of water, or counting to 10. These actions will give you the opportunity to organize your thoughts and allow you the chance to react in a more positive way.

Listen to music

Take a break from a stressful situation by listening to relaxing music. Doing so can affect the brain and the body positively by making you calm, lowering your blood pressure, and reducing cortisol. Most people usually find classical music calming but you could also listen to nature sounds if that’s your thing.


The saying “laughter is the best medicine” is especially true when it comes to fighting stress because when you laugh, the levels of stress-aggravating hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenalin) are lowered and feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, are released.

Get enough sleep

Many emotional disorders have been related to disrupted sleep. If you’ve been feeling angry, sad, exhausted, and generally stressed for no apparent reason, you might not be getting enough sleep. Admittedly, stress could be what is making it difficult for you sleep but if you don’t do something about it, this vicious cycle will continue. The National Sleep Foundation provides some tips on how you could develop healthy sleeping habits. Try some of the tips to see which works best for you.

Incorporate stress-busting super foods into your diet

When you’re stressed, you’re more prone to eating food that are bad for your health, such as those high in fat and sugar. Although your first instinct might be to reach for these comfort foods during stressful situations, turning to healthier alternatives could not only help relieve your tension but will benefit your overall health as well. The next time you feel stressed, try consuming the following:
  • Grapes, berries, nuts, and green tea
These contain antioxidants that help increase the body’s ability to respond to stress. They also combat free radicals brought about by stress.
  • Spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, and romaine lettuce
These are some examples of leafy greens that contain folate, which regulates the production of dopamine, a chemical that induces pleasure and helps keep you calm.
  • Oatmeal, whole-grain pasta and breads, corn, and peas
These are examples of complex carbohydrates, which help the brain create serotonin without adding to your body’s already elevated blood sugar level caused by stress.
  • Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help offset the adverse effects of adrenalin and cortisol.
  • Fortified milk, fortified cereal, and egg yolks
These contain vitamin D, which is believed to increase happiness. In studies, people with high levels of vitamin D in their system exhibited a reduced risk of panic disorders.
  • Yogurt, nuts, fish, and leafy greens
These are great sources of magnesium, which has been shown to aid in relieving irritability, depression, and fatigue.  


Exercise is not only essential if you want to stay fit, it’s also a great way to relieve stress since it boosts the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural chemicals that leads to euphoric feelings, regulation of appetite, and the strengthening of the immune system. If you’re having a stressful day, try taking a walk or spending at least a few minutes at the gym and see how different your mindset will be when you return to work.

Recognize when it’s necessary to seek professional help

When you’ve tried everything you can to deal with stress on your own and you still feel overwhelmed, it may be time for you to ask the help of a professional. A psychologist or other licensed mental health professional can teach you ways to effectively handle stress. Stress is an everyday occurrence but it doesn’t have to be part of your life so follow the practical tips in this article if you want to live longer, healthier, and happier.  
Read More
blog post image
calendar icon 28 July, 2015

7 Ways to Improve Caregiver Patient Relationship

The caregiver/patient relationship can often be tenuous and difficult. Home care is a stressful setting that typically involves great sickness or disability and within that, it is easy for tempers to flare and patience to run thin. This is unfortunate, however, because in addition to being a difficult relationship, the caregiver/patient relationship is also an immensely important one. In order for quality care and healing to take place, the caregiver and the patient must foster a good relationship, no matter how difficult that may be at times. Here are seven steps caregivers and patients can take to improve their relationship and form a genuine bond:

1) Learn to Ask for Help

The caregiver/patient relationship is very intimate and it often involves difficult, confusing or emotionally challenging scenarios. One of the first steps toward high-quality communication and a safe, healing relationship is transparency and the ability to ask for help. This is true for both the patient and the caregiver. In order to build trust, the patient needs to be able to request help when it is needed and, in order to provide quality care, the caregiver needs to be able to ask the patient for help in understanding something new or clarifying a preference or concern. Asking for help is central to communication and communication, in turn, is central to the rest of the caregiver/patient relationship.

2) Exercise Compassion

A home care environment often entails a severely disabled or wounded person who may not have full command of brain function and capacities such as motor skills, memory and speech. These types of disabilities are difficult and can easily create frustration within both the client and the patient. Frustration, however, leads to a strained and fractured relationship, which is not appropriate for the home care setting. Instead of allowing frustration to take hold, caregivers and patients alike should seek to exercise compassion. Compassion for self and others allows people to soften their hearts toward another person and get to a place of honest communication.

3) Be Patient

Patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury often have difficulty with skills like speech and memory. Additionally, since traumatic brain injuries often affect the part of the brain that deals with response to stimuli, risk-taking and adherence to rules, injured people may exhibit less concern for rules and an increased level of risky or downright dangerous behavior. Patience is the most important virtue a caregiver can have in situations like these. It is important for a caregiver to understand that injured people are not always in complete control of their actions and, with that in mind, to give the person extra time to calm down and make different decisions. This often requires reasoning, positivity and empathy.

4) Use Encouragement

Encouragement is an underrated soft skill. In addition to motivating patients to behave differently when needed, encouragement also goes a long ways toward boosting a patient’s self esteem and making him or her feel capable and in charge once more. Additionally, since being encouraging with patients benefits both the caregiver and the individual, it can rapidly increase the fullness of the relationship.

5) Be an Active Listener

Each client has a story to tell and learning to truly listen to that story will quickly foster a bond and encourage increased communication and understanding. Additionally, active listening with clients encourages increased rapport and allows the caregiver to better pick up on potential warning signs. When having a conversation with a client, make eye contact and turn your body toward the person speaking. Be careful not to interrupt and ask plenty of good questions to ensure that the client feels heard and respected.

6) Do What the Patient Loves

Do you have a patient who loves to read but cannot anymore due to poor vision or impaired brain function? Maybe you have a patient who loves puzzles, scrapbooking or board games. Whatever the case may be, make a concerted and honest effort to engage the patient in these pastimes. In addition to helping a client feel more involved, whole and capable, these activities can go a long way toward decreasing feelings of distress in a patient and encouraging positive changes in behavior.

7) Practice Respect

Caregivers must have a deep respect for the patient and his or her family. The patient’s home is a workplace and must be treated like one. When a caregiver is respectful of a patient’s home, belongings and preferences, the patient feels respected in turn, which leads to less distress and an increased feeling of relaxation and comfort.  Additionally, practicing constant respect serves to place the patient and the caregiver on the same plane, encouraging increased communication and a deeper relationship. When practices like empathy, active listening, respect, transparency and patience are exercised, both a patient and a client can find themselves in a deep, caring and safe relationship. In a home care setting, these types of relationships are integral in creating healing and comfort.  Although home care relationships can be challenging, at times, both patient and caregiver can take a variety of simple steps toward improving the relationship and creating a lasting bond.
Read More
blog post image
calendar icon 26 July, 2015

Tips on Preventing Accidental Falls in Home Care

Everyone is susceptible to falling. Younger people usually suffer no ill effects or if they do, the injury is minor and causes no long-term harm. Falls among older people, however, are a different story. Every year, one in three older adults falls but only less than half of them tell their healthcare providers about it. The low number of people who report falling is alarming because falls are the chief cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults. In fact, more than 90% of hip fractures are caused by falling. The percentage of fractures related to falls is twice as high for older women as it is for older men, and falls among adults over 65 cause the highest number of fatalities. In 2013, the direct medical costs from falls of older patients amounted to $34 billion. In the same year, about 25,500 older adults died from injuries caused by accidental falls. Falls among older adults happen for a variety of reasons. Muscle weakness, infections, poor eyesight, issues with walking or balance, and hazards in the home are some of them. Aside from causing fatal injuries, falls could also lead to nonfatal injuries that range from moderate to severe, such as laceration, hip fractures, and head traumas. In addition to the physical effects of a fall, there are also some psychological consequences, such as developing the fear of falling. Unfortunately, older patients who develop the fear of falling tend to restrict their movements, which makes their strength and flexibility deteriorate. This increases the risk of more falls in the future. Moreover, the same fear could keep them from engaging in social activities that are necessary for their mental and emotional health. With the assistance of family members or a caregiver, here are what patients can do to prevent falls and reduce their negative consequences:

Eat a balanced diet

Calcium, protein, and essential vitamins are necessary for optimum health and having a balanced diet can help older adults prevent weakness, poor fall recovery, and risk injuries. A diet rich in calcium may also help decrease the negative effects if a fall should occur because calcium makes the bones stronger.


Regular physical exercise helps improve balance and leg strength. This is especially important for older patients so the risk of falling will be lessened as they move around the house or other environments. Tai chi, walking, and water workouts are ideal activities as these exercises are usually not too strenuous. However, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor whether you can engage in these workouts. If not, the doctor may suggest other exercises that are better suited to you.

Visit the eye doctor at least once a year

Poor eyesight is a common cause of falling. Patients can sometimes perceive objects as being closer or farther than they are and in some instances, they don’t see objects in their paths altogether. To avoid accidents caused by eye conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts, get your eyes checked at least once a year and make sure that your eyeglasses are updated so your vision will be maximized.

Take note of your medications

Some medicines or combinations of medicines can cause dizziness and drowsiness, which could increase the risk of falls in elderly patients. If you are taking more than four medications at a time, develop a good medication management plan and ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all the medicines you are taking.

Reduce home hazards

Many things in the home could increase the risk of patient falls. To reduce the risk, rearrange the furniture to make wide and clear paths for walking, get rid of worn or slippery rugs, and make sure that objects are not left lying on the floor. Adequate lighting should be provided in areas where you usually spend your time in and grab rails should be installed in the bathroom, the kitchen, and other places in the house where falls are most likely to occur.

Avoid risk-taking behaviors

The elderly sometimes overestimate their abilities to do certain activities. Standing on unsteady chairs, climbing ladders, or moving without the assistance of prescribed devices are some behaviors that can increase the risk of falls. Although refraining from doing these activities could make your mobility limited, it’s more important to be cautious to avoid accidents that could lead to more complications.

Wear well-fitting shoes

Loose footwear could be the cause of tripping or falling so make sure that you wear shoes that fit you perfectly. Choose shoes that have non-slip, textured soles with good ankle support to help you be balanced and stable on your feet. Avoid wearing slippers or going barefoot.

Use mobility aids

Walking aids, such as a walker or a cane are helpful in the reduction of falls in seniors who have difficulty walking steadily. It is crucial, however, to consult a physiotherapist first before getting a walking aid because the wrong one could actually increase the risk of injuries due to falls.

Get assessed for fall risk

If you are prone to falls or if you want to know how high your risk for falls is, you can visit a falls clinic. There, you will be assessed for risk factors, such as the following:
  • Impaired balance, strength, or bearing
  • Impaired maneuverability
  • Psychological/Cognitive impairment
  • Nutritional issues
  • Medications
  • Neurological issues, such as Parkinson’s diseases and stroke
  • Musculoskeletal issues, such as arthritis, foot problems, joint replacement, and deformity
  • Chronic illnesses, such as osteoporosis, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes
  • Previous history of falls
Without a doubt, preventing a fall is better for the patient’s health and well-being than dealing with the results of an accidental fall. However, caregivers may encounter some challenges when proposing the idea of fall prevention to older adults because for them, fall prevention initiatives have a negative implication. Instead of focusing on ways to prevent accidental falls, the best way to deal with resistance from patients is for family members and caregivers to:

Encourage patients to participate in activities that aim to improve their balance and strength

For most patients, fall prevention means making changes in their homes, the use of mobility aids, or the restriction of their activities. This is particularly true among older adults so it is important to educate them in this area in a way that promotes a realistic but positive attitude. To do this, family members and caregivers should emphasize the need for engaging in activities that improve balance, strength, and stability instead of highlighting the need to avoid the risks. For instance, instead of asking patients to avoid climbing the stairs as much as they can, patients should be encouraged to exercise to develop their leg muscles and their ability to maintain their balance during movement. This strategy improves the patients’ view of exercise and allows them to actively participate in the activity to protect themselves from falls.

Emphasize benefits that promote a positive self-image when offering falls prevention initiatives

Older adults are often hesitant to acknowledge falls or to participate in interventions because (1) they are afraid that others will perceive them adversely, (2) they think that falls are part of ageing, or (3) they are ashamed to admit that they are losing control over their own bodies. These concerns are all valid but redirecting their focus to the benefits will make them more likely to participate in the initiatives. Because it’s important for older patients to be in good health, to avoid becoming too dependent on the people around them, and to be sociable and interesting, some of the benefits that you could discuss with your ward are increased confidence, heightened independence, and the improvement in their ability to take a more active role in society.

Design fall prevention initiatives in such a way that they will meet the preferences, capabilities, and needs of the individual patient

Patients come in all shapes, sizes, and dispositions. Some like being in a group while others prefer the one-on-one approach. There are patients who like to keep the company of only people who share the same social standing, religious beliefs, cultural background, ethnicity, and even gender while there are those who have no such preferences. In any case, designing the fall prevention initiatives while taking into account the personality of the patient will go a long way in keeping him or her engaged in the activities.

Encourage patient participation in designing or choosing the type of fall prevention initiative

Adults are more open to participating and adhering to fall prevention initiatives when their participation in the decision-making process is encouraged. Therefore, patients should be involved in creating or selecting the kind of initiative, the different forms of the same initiative, and the goals they want to achieve. Contrary to what most people think, falls are not inevitable nor do they have to be a natural consequence of ageing. These accidents could be avoided if the patients work together with their family members and caregiver in understanding that they can proactively safeguard themselves from falls. It’s also essential for them to develop a positive attitude about keeping themselves healthy and making changes in their lifestyle and surroundings not only for fall prevention but for their overall well-being and health.
Read More
blog post image
calendar icon 23 July, 2015

10 Ways to Bring Positive Energy Into the Home

There are few settings where positive energy is more important than a home care environment. Home care sometimes involves great sadness and difficult situations and while it is important to respect those things as realities, it is also important to go to great lengths to magnify positivity on every level. Fortunately, there are many easy steps caregivers and residents can take to bring positive energy into the home. In addition to contributing to the overall health and well being of the home care patient, making a home brighter, cleaner and more positive also benefits caregivers and attendants alike. That said, here are ten easy ways to bring more positive energy into the home:

1. Focus on Natural Sunlight

For such a simple tip, this one really packs a punch. Natural sunlight stimulates the production of Vitamin D, which elevates mood and makes people feel happier almost instantly. Additionally, ample access to natural sunlight can help alleviate depressive symptoms and uplift lonely, ill or aging patients. To capitalize upon the positive powers of sunlight, open blinds and draw back curtains to let natural light into the room. Cleaning glass windows and removing obstructions that block light can also help make the room feel brighter and more positive.

2. De-Clutter

Clutter causes stress and nothing squashes positive energy quite like stress. In addition to being unpleasant to live with, clutter can often be dangerous in a home care setting. De-cluttering an area helps the space feel calmer and more open and also serves the utilitarian purpose of getting rid of things that are no longer needed. Even a simple step like de-cluttering a single drawer in the kitchen or bedroom can have a profound effect on the positivity of a room or space. Make sure that commonly used areas such as kitchen tables, night stands, coffee tables and kitchen counters stay clean and clear of clutter and replace the clutter with a jar of flowers or treasured family photos, instead.

3. Incorporate House Plants or Flowers

Incorporating plants into a household offers dozens of benefits. In addition to improving air quality, beautifying a space and adding personality to an area, living houseplants and fresh-cut flowers have also been shown to improve the emotions and mental states of ill or elderly patients. Opt for easy-care plants like succulents or ferns and arrange them around the house in sunny windows and high-traffic areas. To incorporate even more beauty, opt for plants that flower, like lilies or orchids. Flowering plants give both the patient and the caretaker something to look forward to every few months and there is nothing quite likes a beautiful bloom to make a space feel happier and more positive.

4. Open Windows

Most people know that spending time outdoors offers benefits like reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure rates but, in a home care setting, it is often difficult for patients or caregivers to spend a great deal of time in nature. Fortunately, it’s easy to do the next best thing. As often as possible, throw windows open to let some fresh air into the home. In addition to reviving a musty room by allowing fresh, clean air to enter the space, opening windows also allows both the patient and the caregiver to hear outdoor sounds such as birdsong, rainstorms, distant thunder and kids laughing down the street. Although it’s not quite the same as actually being outdoors, opening windows can have a huge impact on the positivity of a given space.

5. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

Although some home care settings may not allow this, sprucing up a room with paint is a wonderful way to make it feel clean, fresh and bright. Pick a color the occupant loves and paint while he/she is away. When the painting is done, put everything away and have a mini “Welcome home” party. Painting, although simple, can have a profound effect on the positivity of an area by covering blemishes on the walls and imbuing the room with new life.

6. Hang Artwork

Hanging meaningful artwork on the walls goes a long way toward inviting positive energy into the home. Hang favorite artwork in high-traffic areas and consider placing cards or drawings done by children, friends or grandchildren in high-visibility areas like the refrigerator or in frames on the living room and bedroom walls. Hanging meaningful artwork provides a constant reminder of love, light and happiness and can immediately make a room feel more positive.

7. Invite Nature In

If there is a large window anywhere in the home, consider placing a bird feeder directly outside of it. Bird feeders come in a variety of sizes and can be hung from freestanding iron stands if nothing else is available. Birds will start frequenting the new feeder within a matter of days and both the resident and caregiver can enjoy spotting new species and listening to their beautiful songs.

8. Add some Color

Adding a pop of color to a room can immediately make the area feel brighter and livelier and, fortunately, it is one of the easiest changes a person can make. Place a few bright throw pillows on the couch or drape a pretty quilt over the bed for an instant boost. Color is clinically proven to influence mood and lively colors like greens, yellows and reds can have an immediate positive impact happiness and energy.

9. Use Scent

Scent is a powerful sense and multiple studies have proven that aromatherapy can actually contribute to making people feel happier. To instantly invite positive energy into a space, pick an upbeat essential oil like lavender, rosemary or tangerine and place a few drops into a diffuser. Essential oils are non-toxic, customizable and safe and they can help make a room smell fresh, bright and happy for hours on end.

10. Pay Attention to Lighting

A room that is dark and poorly lit is almost guaranteed to feel depressing and close. Even if a room doesn’t have much natural sunlight, it is important to make sure it is well lit just the same. The simple act of turning on lamps and overhead lights at the appropriate times of day can instantly help a room feel brighter and cleaner, which can help residents and caregivers alike feel more awake, more lively and more positive.   Learning to bring positive energy into the home is especially important in a home care setting. Making a room feel happier, brighter and more expansive can have marked effects on the happiness and wellbeing of both the resident and the caretaker. Fortunately, enhancing the mood of a space is easy and these ten simple tips can help you start bringing positive energy into the home today.  
Read More
blog post image
calendar icon 21 July, 2015

Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods | Staying Healthy When Aging

Inflammation provides a necessary function in the human body, as inflammation is a natural reaction of the immune system when battling infectious agents and removing damaged cells. Though inflammation is necessary for healing the body, too much inflammation can also pose a problem. Particularly, inflammation is a concern when the body “overreacts” or instigates inflammation even when there are no harmful pathogens present, as characteristic in many autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Too much inflammation in the body can lead to discomfort, including redness or stiffness of the inflamed area, rashes, heat, pain, and swelling (1). Furthermore, long-term chronic inflammation has also been linked to increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's, and certain kinds of cancer. Some foods contain components that promote inflammation, while others reduce inflammation. Consumption of these foods below containing anti-inflammatory agents may help alleviate the symptoms and discomfort of inflammation, as part of a healthy diet.

1. Carrots

Vitamin A deficiency can increase the body’s inflammatory response and a sufficient intake of vitamin A is beneficial both in the prevention of disease and as a potent anti-inflammatory agent (2). Vitamin A is also essential in curbing night blindness and needed for proper immune system function. As carrots contain high amounts of vitamin A, eating just a small amount of carrots is sure to fulfill your recommended intake for the day. In fact, just 1/4 cup of chopped carrots contains the recommended daily value of vitamin A! However, although sufficient amounts of vitamin A are essential for proper health, it is important not to get too much. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and excess amounts are stored in the liver. Detrimental effects caused by acute or chronic vitamin A toxicity include cracked fingernails, ulcers, respiratory infections, liver abnormalities, and intense headaches.

2. Ginger

Ginger contains components that can reduce inflammation, as has also been known to decrease nausea and alleviate upset stomachs. It’s a great choice due to its versatility - it can be seeped in tea, cooked in soup or with fish, incorporated in salad dressings, and much more.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is rich in the antioxidants flavonoids and carotenoids, which work in the body to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress to cells. Reducing or delaying oxidative stress caused by free radicals is important because it causes damage to cells, DNA, proteins, and genes. In order to retain most of broccoli’s nutritional value, avoid steaming or boiling it for more than 4-5 minutes.

4. Flaxseed

Apart from the necessary inflammation present in the immune response, a large imbalance of omega-6 consumption versus omega-3 consumption contributes to an internal environment optimal for inflammation. This is because foods containing high amounts of omega-6 are generally pro-inflammatory, while those containing omega-3 are mostly anti-inflammatory. Flaxseed (as well as fatty fish and walnuts in particular) contains high amounts of omega-3 that are necessary in combatting inflammation.

5. Basil

Basil contains eugenol, a volatile oil capable of blocking the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX-2) (3). COX is part of the pathway that produces compounds called prostaglandins, which is perceived by nerve endings as pain in the human body. Thus, suppressing the activity of COX is particularly beneficial to those with rheumatoid arthritis or joint aches.

6. Spinach

Spinach contains flavonoids, which also can decrease the activity of the COX-2 enzyme. Furthermore, it contains vitamin E, which functions as an antioxidant. As a tip, dark leafy vegetables generally contain more vitamin E than vegetables with light-colored leaves. Spinach can be easily incorporated in the diet by baking it as part of a low-fat quiche or adding a half cup of spinach into a fruit smoothie.

7. Cinnamon

Used as a traditional medicine in ancient times, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which are useful in preventing oxidative damage. Cinnamon has other therapeutic effects - it has been used as part of a remedy to treat diabetes, Alzheimer’s, gastrointestinal disorders, and has some antibacterial and anti-fungal properties (4). Sprinkle cinnamon in a hot cup of tea for a kick of flavor or bake halves of pears with honey and cinnamon at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until soft.

8. Turmeric

Turmeric is an herb that originated from Southeast Asia and has been used in India both as a spice and as part of religious ceremonies for over 4000 years (5). Its therapeutic properties of being anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial have been discovered more recently, within the past 25 years, and have been used for rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and wound healing (5).
Read More
blog post image
calendar icon 19 July, 2015

Hydration: Why It’s So Important

Your body depends on water to survive.  Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work correctly.  Your body uses water to maintain temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. It is important to drink throughout the day to replace the water your body loses.  Water makes up more than half your body weight.  You lose water when you go to the bathroom, sweat and even when you breathe.  You lose water even faster when the weather is really hot, when you are physically active, when you have a fever, if you are vomiting or have diarrhea.  If you don’t replace the water you lose, you can easily become dehydrated. Staying hydratedSigns of dehydration are:
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
  • No tears when crying
Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration.  Be proactive by drinking plenty of water.  The elderly are at greater risk of becoming dehydrated, because as you get older, you don’t have the same urge to drink.  Therefore, it is important for the elderly to drink throughout the day, even if they say they are not thirsty. The average recommendation for daily water intake is 6-8 eight ounces of water a day.  Some people may need a little more, some a little less In addition to water, fruits and vegetables contain water as well.   The top fruits that contain approximately 90% water per volume are watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and peaches.  The top vegetables containing water are cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, radishes, celery tomatoes and cabbage.   Here are some helpful tips for keeping properly hydrated:
  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink
  • Be sure to drink water before, during and after a workout.
  • When you are feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. You should drink water when you wake up, at every meal, and before you go to sleep.  If this does not work for you, schedule to drink a small cup of water every hour.
Read More