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National Papaya Month

National Papaya Month

September is National Papaya Month! This bright, orange colored fruit is not only a beautiful color, but it is very nutritious! The papaya is a tropical fruit and is indigenous to central and South America, and are also known as papaws or pawpaws. Papayas are one of the only fruits available all year round. The beneficial enzymes in papaya weaken as they ripen more, so it’s best to use them within a day of buying.

Papayas are high in vitamins C and A, fiber, and have many health benefits. These include:

Fights inflammation: Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which can break down the tough protein chains found in muscle meat. Studies have shown that this enzyme speeds healing by clearing away dead protein matter and calming inflammation. Chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases. Papayas are very high in carotenoids that can reduce inflammation.

Stomach Soother – Papaya is also high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.

Antioxidants – Papayas have high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants, including the carotenoids found in papayas, can neutralize free radicals Free radicals are reactive molecules created during your body’s metabolism. They can promote oxidative stress, which can lead to disease and aging.

Combats Alzheimer’s disease – Researchers believe that excessive free radicals in the brain are an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, people with Alzheimer’s given a fermented papaya extract for six months experienced a 40% drop in a biomarker which indicates oxidative damage to DNA — and is also linked to aging and cancer. The reduction in oxidative stress is attributed to papaya’s lycopene content and ability to remove excess iron, which is known to produce free radicals. Not only are papayas delicious, but they can potentially help with Alzheimer’s!

Fights Cancer – Early research suggests that the antioxidants in papaya may reduce cancer risk and perhaps even slow cancer progression. suggests that the lycopene in papaya can reduce cancer risk. It may also be beneficial for people who are being treated for cancer because chemotherapy can disrupt the digestive tract. Additionally, papaya may have some unique effects not shared by other fruits. Among 14 fruits and vegetables with known antioxidant properties, only papaya demonstrated anticancer activity in breast cancer cells.

Heart Health – Adding more papaya to your diet may boost your heart health. Studies show that fruits high in lycopene and vitamin C may help prevent heart disease. The antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart and enhance the protective effects of “good” HDL cholesterol. In one study, people who took a fermented papaya supplement for 14 weeks had less inflammation and a better ratio of “bad” LDL to “good” HDL than people given a placebo.

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Libraries and Seniors – A Perfect Match!

Libraries and Seniors – A Perfect Match!

Private Home Care loves libraries! We have held workshops and training about healthy aging, nutrition, brain health, fall prevention and more at libraries. Reading and learning that takes place at libraries is excellent exercise for the brain, which helps fight off or delay cognitive decline and dementia. Social interaction also helps bolster brain health. Some libraries even provide physical exercise classes for seniors! Classes offered can include chair yoga, tai chi, or other low-impact activities. 

Libraries are unique in that their materials are more accessible to seniors because they offer large-print and audio books. For older adults who have difficulty reading standard print, most libraries have a collection of large-print books, including a wide variety of brand new titles. Publishers and libraries are both getting much better at catering to the growing number of seniors in their communities.

For seniors who aren’t able to read printed books, audio books on CD or on preloaded players are also getting significant shelf space at the library. These books are often read by world-class performers who bring the work to life. Just like with print books, seniors can listen to audiobooks from the comfort of their bed or favorite chair. 

Libraries and library materials are available for all levels of physical ability. As public institutions, libraries are fully equipped with handicapped accessible supports and design. For the housebound elderly, libraries frequently offer delivery and pick-up of materials, which is a definite benefit for seniors who can’t physically come to the library but still want some fresh reading material. Generally, seniors can request specific books or tell the librarian their preferences and receive a selection of curated titles. Oftentimes older adults can establish a good relationship with librarians, and they can help them pick out their next great reads!

This September, celebrate Library Card Sign Up Month and get a library card! If you already have one, then make sure to put it to good use! You might also enjoy volunteering at your local library to read to children or participating in activities like tai chi or a book club.

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September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month! Libraries are invaluable centers for the community, and National Library Card Sign-Up Month was created to encourage people to sign up and join their local library! Reading enriches your life, and being part of a library community can be invaluable. This is especially true for seniors, who are some of the most frequent visitors to libraries. In fact, social sciences studies have shown that public libraries are  essential resources for seniors. Your local library is not just a place to read books but has become a place to explore, discover, and connect with a vast world of library programs for seniors, activities, public library services for seniors, and information.

Signing up for a library card is worth it –  the Institute of Museum and Library Services states that 38% of older adults visit their local libraries 1-3 times a month, 42% at least once a week, and 8% visit every day or most days! Men tend to be more frequent visitors than women, but both men and women alike are taking advantage of the great benefits and programs offered at libraries.

Not only can seniors use libraries as a source of vital information, but libraries are also a great place for seniors to interact with their peers and other members of their community. Libraries provide a safe, comfortable, and inviting setting at which older members of the community can socialize and connect with like minded others. In fact, many public libraries have senior reading rooms. Libraries may also have a cafe, which is another great spot to have a snack and sip coffee while you read or meet others!  

From interacting with their peers or becoming involved in volunteer reading programs, libraries are more than just a source of reading materials, they help provide a sense of purpose and belonging. This is crucial to overcoming loneliness and isolation that many seniors struggle with. What is more, libraries also offer opportunities for intergenerational activity that engages the whole community. And all of this is made possible with a simple library card! 

Seniors may have trouble keeping up with ever-changing new technologies. Many libraries have incorporated technology to further appeal to their senior audience. Libraries are an important source of access to computers and digital literacy training helping seniors to connect with family, friends, health information and government services.

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National Good Neighbor Day

“Good neighbors make great neighborhoods”

National Neighbor Day celebrates the importance of being a good neighbor while contributing to one’s community and each other. We all want to live in a happy community and good neighborhood. It is proven that when we are content about the place where we live, our health and overall wellbeing is improved! 

Nowadays community is more important than ever. Even the simple act of waving ‘hi’ to your neighbors is a positive action and it helps when being a good neighbor. This is beneficial for everyone, and especially so for elderly folks living in a neighborhood. Isolation and loneliness is a serious issue for seniors. It is very important for seniors to have neighbors that check in on them to make sure that they are ok healthwise or just to say hello and remind them that they are connected and valued in society. 

Being a good neighbor starts with the good neighbor mindset. When you establish the mindset of a good neighbor mindset, you create a better neighborhood, community, and society. 

-Connection: Introduce yourself and connect with others in your neighborhood. It simply starts by saying ‘hello’! A good way to start doing this is to smile and wave hi when going for walks in your neighborhood.

-Invitation: Invite neighbors to join you for something fun. Having a neighbor over for a meal is a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors. However, during COVID this can be a challenge. Instead, you could invite a neighbor to join you at a local outdoor sports game (like a high school baseball game) or at a local farmers market. Also, if you are a more private person, that way you can still connect and build up a relationship at the pace that is most comfortable. 

-Celebration: When it comes to holidays, birthdays, or milestone moments in the lives of others, cheer them on and don’t miss out on congratulating them. Holidays are always a great opportunity to spread a little cheer by leaving cookies or a festive note in their mailbox with best wishes. It is also a neighborly act to place a considerate note on the door of an elderly person’s house to let them know that you are thinking of them. 

-Awareness: Keep your eyes and ears open. Stay attentive to the safety and security of the people and homes nearby. We are safer and stronger together. For instance, texting or calling a neighbor and letting them know that they forgot to close their garage door is very appreciated. Another way to be a good neighbor is to help take care of senior neighbors by helping salt or shovel their walkway to prevent falls during the snowy season.

-Availability: Availability is the highest benefit of good neighbors who truly care and look out for one another. When needed, show up to help and support others living around you. 

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National Indoor Plant Week

National Indoor Plant Week was established to increase public awareness of the importance of indoor plants and their many attributes. Private Home Care knows that the benefits of houseplants in indoor spaces are many. Simply, the more alive the world seems, and the more you can interact with it, the more content you’ll be. For most of human history, we’ve spent our time in close communion with nature, and so it is only logical that supplementing our safe, warm homes with plants and animals would make us feel more comfortable. Seniors who may not be able to get out much may especially enjoy greenery in their living space. People can learn a lot from the slow, deliberate pace of a plant’s life, and supporting their growth with regular water provides a pleasurable routine of daily living that keeps you connected to your environment.

Oxygen & Cancer Prevention – A now legendary study by NASA found that plants not only purify the air by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, they also scrub the air of volatile, cancer-causing agents. You’ll breathe easier knowing that nature’s stewards are hard at work keeping the air fresh!

Reduced lung sensitivity – when you have plants that clean the air by consuming CO2 in the area, it is easier to breathe. That is great for people who may have lung conditions or are prone to asthma.

Better sleep – Some plants can improve sleep by drawing in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. When it is easier to breathe, it is easier to sleep, and the quality of your sleep is better!

Peace and quiet – some plants may help reduce noise, especially when they are placed in certain locations. When we feel calm, it can help with blood pressure and overall health.

Stress relief – Nature is very grounding, and having indoor plants in your surroundings can be soothing and help you to be focused and present in the moment. Having indoor plants are is also associated with better memory!

Improves Your Mood – Placing plants throughout a living area will improve the atmosphere and boost everyone’s mood. Most folks associate flowers with a positive event like graduation or an anniversary, so keeping fresh cut tulips or daisies around will unconsciously stimulate a celebratory mood. Touching smooth plants and flowers is great sensory therapy, and the dark green of most houseplants is an extremely soothing color. Succulents and air plants are also a treat for the eyes and thrive with barely any water.

Something to look forward to – it is exciting to measure how much your plant has grown or seeing the first flowering bud! Indoor plants also give a sense of purpose and pride when they grow and flourish.

If you have a loved one or there is an individual who is unable to care for a plant, fake plants will provide many benefits listed above! Fake plants can still liven up a room, making is more peaceful, calming, and homey.

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National Cooking Day

Today is National Cooking Day! At Private Home Care, we love to cook! We have a passion for nutrition and leading a full, vibrant life. Cooking at home is essential for maintaining a healthy diet. The good news is that cooking is easier than people think. It can drastically improve your health and is more fun and cheaper than eating out. And no matter your ability, anyone can learn to do it.

When cooking at home, you can have an impact on the physical, emotional, and even spiritual well being on yourself as well as your loved ones.

There are so many benefits of cooking at home! For one, it is much, much healthier on average to cook and eat at home than it is to dine out at a restaurant. Studies suggest that people who cook more often, rather than get take-out, have an overall healthier diet. These studies also show that restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and overall calories than home-cooked meals. Portions for restaurant dishes are also larger than what you should consume, so also in that way you consume more calories when eating out.

The more you cook, the healthier you live. As we know at Private Home Care, the healthier you live, the healthier your brain is! People who frequently cook dinner at home consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to a study of more than 9,000 people published online Nov. 14, 2014, by Public Health Nutrition.

The findings also suggest that those who frequently cook at home—six to seven nights a week—also consume fewer calories on the occasions when they eat out. Households who cooked at home about three times per week showed a score of about 67 on the Healthy Eating Index. Those who cooked at home about six times per week had a score of about 74.
A study found that adults who cooked dinner at home only once a week consumed 2,300 calories per day on average, which included 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar. In comparison, regular at-home cooks ate 150 fewer calories per day and consumed only 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar.

Cooking is educational and fun! When you’re making a meal from scratch, you get to discover and experiment with different ingredients, seasonings, and cuisines. No two dishes are quite the same when you make them. Using a recipe can start as the foundation, and then you can be creative and make it truly your own. Everyone has a different style, and you can find yours! Nothing is more satisfying than eating a delicious meal that you worked hard to prepare!

It is social! Cooking with friends and family is a great opportunity to reconnect from our hectic lives. Working together with your loved ones to create something tasty is a team effort that makes great memories.

Cooking helps with working memory! Whenever you learn anything, it sharpens your brain and memory. When cooking, you are certainly always learning – whether it be a new recipe, technique, or combination, you are building skills! Smells and tastes are also very closely tied with emotional and long term memory. When you smell the scent of chocolate cake (yum!), it can remind you of your grandmother when she used to bake chocolate cake. Or it can put you in a good mood because that is one of your favorite smells!

Cooking saves money. While you do initially have to buy ingredients and stock your pantry, you can cook at home for much cheaper than dining at a restaurant. After a while, eating out adds up!

More nutritionally dense. When you cook at home, you choose exactly where your food comes from, and you know everything that is in it. At Private Home Care we are big fans of farmers markets because the food is seasonal and more nutritionally dense. By cooking yourself, you can opt to buy organic produce and humanely raised animal products, which is much better for your health as well as the planet’s.

National Cooking Day encourages and inspires each of us to discover something new and enjoyable in the kitchen. It’s a time to learn a new skill by preparing something delicious for loved ones — and ourselves. So put on your aprons and let’s get cooking!

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Health Benefits of Lobster

National Lobster Day on September 25th takes a taste of a seafood favorite. Here is New England, we get to enjoy fresh lobster and celebrate our heritage with this food. Lobster has some impressive nutritional benefits.

Lobster is low in saturated fat. Although it is relatively higher in cholesterol, along with other shellfish, lobster is no longer demonized as a cholesterol-raising food. This is because researchers have found that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels in most people, so the amount in lobster shouldn’t be a concern. Lobster also does not naturally have any carbs or sugar. However, it has no fiber either. That means that it is a good idea to pair a high-fiber food like broccoli when you are eating lobster.

Lobster is largely composed of lean protein. One cup of lobster provides nearly 28 grams. Like other shellfish, lobster provides all of the essential amino acids. Lean protein is important for those with weight loss goals because consuming this kind of food helps you build muscle and lose fat. Also, 1 cup of cooked lobster meat only has 1.3 grams of fat, the majority of which come from polyunsaturated fats. There is also some monounsaturated and saturated fat in lobster. Lobster is a good source of essential omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for good health, especially for brain help because they are a special kind of fat that your body cannot produce. The brain needs omega-3’s stay in top shape.

Lobster contains beneficial vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, choline, and vitamin E. Lobster has high amounts of copper – 178% of the recommended daily value. In the body, small amounts of copper are required to maintain optimum health because they help form red blood cells, bone, connective tissue and some important enzymes.

You should note that because lobster is a marine animal, it can be very high in sodium. Just one cup of lobster provides 705 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly 31% of the recommended daily limit. Try pairing with low-sodium foods like whole grain rice and tons of crisp veggies. As with consuming anything that is high sodium, make sure to drink plenty of water!

Lobster itself is healthy, but sometimes the way it is prepared makes it an unhealthy choice. For instance, many people like to dip lobster in butter and add salt. Lobster rolls are also covered in butter or mayo, and used in bisques, mac n cheese – you get the idea. A great way to eat lobster is grilled or steamed with fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Did you know?! Despite its desirable reputation today, lobster was not always known as a pricey indulgence. In the 17th century, colonists in Massachusetts considered lobster shells in a home to be a sign of poverty and only fed lobster to their servants. In the 1940s, it was possible to buy a can of baked beans for 53 cents per pound and canned lobster for 11 cents per pound.

Lobster is now seen as a delicacy, in part because of the discovery that cooking the lobster live made it more appetizing, as opposed to killing it first and cooking it later.

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National Fall Prevention Awareness Day

Today, September 22cnd, is National Fall Prevention Awareness Day. At Private Home Care, raising awareness about falls and preventing them is a top priority. For the elderly, falling can lead to serious injury and even death. It is the leading cause of ER visits for older adults and the elderly. Unfortunately, falling is not an uncommon occurrence, with 30% of adults over the age of 65 experiencing a serious fall once a year, and 50% for seniors over the age of 80.

Private Home Care provides highly skilled in-home fall risk assessments. Our company President, Mary Demakes R.N. is a trained expert at fall prevention and educates the community about this serious public health issue. We are passionate about enabling elders to live the highest quality of life and allowing them to age safely in place. In doing so, we must raise awareness about fall prevention to protect seniors and support healthy, independent aging at home.

After the age of 65, the natural process of aging dulls the body’s vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and coordinated movement. It happens gradually, so many aging adults do not realize that their balance may not be what it once was. They continue to do activities they have done their whole life that require vestibular support, like carrying a box up the stairs, until a fall happens. There are other factors that contribute to risk of falling, including environmental (example: low lighting), and medications. Some medications cause dizziness or lightheadedness and increase the likelihood of falls. Most seniors have a fear of falling, which consequently may make falling more likely. This is because when we have a fear of something, our body tenses up and may not properly balance itself, leading to a fall. Over 50% of falls result in hip fractures of head trauma, and about 40% of seniors are admitted to nursing homes facilities after a fall.

The good news is that there is much to be done to prevent a fall. If you have a loved one who is at risk for a fall, we would like to offer our expert caregiving services to ensure their health and happiness, as well as an in home assessment. A proven method to prevent falls is with exercise. Building up the body’s strength and balance through exercise and activity helps reduce the chance of falls or extent of injury. Activities like tai-chi, water aerobics, stretching classes, yoga, and walking, mild weight-bearing exercise are all great, low impact ways to strengthen the body. Almost half of seniors who have experienced a fall cannot get up after, and conditioning the body is also helpful for recovery and increases the likelihood that the person will be able to get up.

Tips to prevent falls at home:

-All rooms should be well-lit. (add brighter bulbs, night-lights)

-Clear all pathways from clutter (remove loose rugs, trash, etc.)

-Arrange furniture to ensure all pathways are clear.

-Stairs should be well-lit, clear of objects, have handrails on both sides, have secured rungs, or other slip prevention in place)

On National Fall Prevention Awareness Day, we observe this day by informing everyone about this very serious public health issue. If there are any concerns for potential falls, we encourage you to reach out to Private Home for a fall assessment and an overview of caregiving services to keep your loved ones safe, healthy, and happy while aging independently at home.

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How to Live to be 100

Unfortunately, living to be 100 is not very common in the US – it is estimated that only about 1 in 5,000 people live to be 100. Scientists have found that the biological life capacity for human bodies is about 90 years, but like expectancy in the US is about 78. However, the good news is that only about 20% of longevity is determined by genes, and the rest is determined by lifestyle.

There are several notable populations in the world where living to be 100 is not out of the norm. Sardinia, Italy and Okinowa, Japan boast some of the world’s largest populations of centenarians. Both places over 5 times more centenarians than in the US, and have just a fraction of the rate of chronic diseases. Researchers have found several key elements that contribute to living to be 100.

-No dieting! Yes, you heard right. There is no specific ‘longevity diet’ that is going to help you live to 100. Rather, you should eat a mainly plant based diet, full of vegetables and fruits, and with minimal red meat and processed foods. On the island of Sardinia, people ate plenty of oily fish and grass fed cheese rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whole wheat durum flatbread, and drink a special kind of wine (a glass a day!) which contains three times the amount of antioxidants of regular wine. In Okinawa, people also ate plenty of fish, as well as vegetables, fermented foods like tofu and miso.

-It is also how you eat, and not overeating. The culture in Okinawa sticks to the 80/20 rule. This means that you eat slowly and stop eating when you are 80% full, because it takes about 30 minutes for the message that you are full to go from your belly to your brain. They also plate food before they eat it to avoid overeating, instead of eating family style where the dishes are sitting on the table and you can eat mindlessly.

-Less ‘exercise’. While it sounds (very) counterintuitive, centenarians did not exercise the way that we think of it. Instead they incorporate physical activity into the fabric of daily life. Walking or biking to the store, doing yard work and going on regular nature walks contribute to longevity.

-Social constructs – the cultures in these places value old age. The older the member of the community, the more equity they have because they are understood as pillars of wisdom and experience.

-Close, meaningful relationships – In Sardinia, people live in multigenerational homes, which researchers say can add an extra 4-10 years of life. In Japan, people have at least 6 close friends as adults, which helps them get through the highs and lows of life.
-The right outlook – people who love to be 100 tend to be more positive and optimistic. They experience ‘downshift’, which means they do not let life’s little stressors get to them. Also, they do not get hurried, which adds years to life because when are you stressed or in a rush, it triggers inflationary stress response, which is associated with chronic disease.

-A sense of purpose – This is worth an extra 7 years of life expectancy. People who live longest have a sense of purpose, and wake up every day pursuing that purpose. There are many benefits to having a lifelong sense of purpose, including helping keep people active and improved mental health. In fact, they say 2 most dangerous years of your life are the year you are born (due to infant mortality) and the year you retire. This is because when you retire, you may lose your sense of purpose, which negatively impacts your health. It can set the tone for the rest of your life.

When it comes to longevity and living to 100, there is no short term fix, but rather lifelong lifestyle habits. Private Home Care invites you to celebrate National Centenarian Day today and honor those who have lived to 100+!

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National Centenarians Day!

National Centenarians Day!

Today is National Centenarian’s Day! On September 22nd, National Centenarian’s Day honors those who’ve celebrated 100 birthdays or more. Quoted above, Robert Overton is the longest living US veteran at 111 years of age, and attributes his longevity to unconventional habits.

This day encourages people to listen to the stories centenarians had to tell. Their rich history and wisdom offers a wealth of information. Listening to their life stories proves the age-old saying that with age comes wisdom. At Private Home Care, we love our centenarian clients and are proud to provide the highest level of caregiving! The youngest of the ‘100 Club’ were born after the end of World War I. They represent a living history full of stories not found in books. What is more, listening to their tales of accomplishment and perseverance inspire us today and their personal histories create something legendary for those who hear them. Centenarians provide inspiration to live life to the fullest. Spending time with centenarians leads us to tap into a wealth of knowledge, entertaining stories, and traditions from a time gone by. Today at Private Home Care and all over the world, we celebrate centenarians’ liveliness, uniqueness and their longevity!

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