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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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Brain Health Superfoods

Brain Health Superfoods

A diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, nuts and healthy fats is important for cognitive health and high quality of life. Although all of these are important for a healthy mind, some foods are ‘superfoods’ and are especially nutritious for your brain. In honor of World Alzheimer’s Day, let’s focus on these brain boosters, which include:

Blueberries -The antioxidants in blueberries are helpful in a number of ways: they reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and body, improves communication between neurons, and increases brain plasticity. This translates to evidence that blueberries may help improve or delay short term memory loss, protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals (thanks to a high amount of powerful antioxidants!), which in turn may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Oily Fish- Fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and herring is a rich source of omega-3s, a major building block of the brain. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body, which means they must be obtained through our diet. About 60% of your brain is made of fat, and half of that fat is the omega-3 kind. Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memoryOmega-3s play a role in sharpening memory and improving mood, as well as protecting your brain against decline.

Dark Chocolate (!) – Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants that can improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases. The flavonoids in chocolate gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory and researchers say these compounds may enhance memory. In addition, dark chocolate is a proven mood-booster! Make sure the chocolate is at least 72% cocoa to enjoy its health benefits.

Turmeric – This golden colored spice has generated a lot of buzz lately, and for good reason. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant and is one of the strongest naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents ever identified. Other benefits include that it helps improve the brain’s oxygen intake, increases memory and cognitive function, and also benefits the immune system. In research settings, it has reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Broccoli – Broccoli is very high in vitamin K, delivering more than 100% of the recommended daily amount in a 1-cup serving. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells. Broccoli also contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage.

Coffee – Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which may support brain health as a person gets older. It improves alertness, mood, and concentration. Studies have linked lifelong coffee consumption with reduced risk of cognitive decline, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia with a Healthy Lifestyle

A central mission at Private Home Care is providing education about how to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s through a healthy lifestyle, the pillars of which are a nutritious diet and exercise. Our company President, Mary Demakes R.N., is an expert in both nutrition and brain health. Research has proven time and again that eating a Mediterranean style diet has incredible brain health benefits and helps reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Eating certain foods (and avoiding others) has been shown to slow brain aging by 3-7.5 years, and reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, nuts, olive oil and fish. Processed foods, fried and fast foods, snack foods, red meat, poultry and whole-fat dairy foods are infrequently eaten on the Mediterranean diet. Recently, nutrition and brain health experts have developed the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). This is a combination of two diets that have well-known health benefits — Mediterranean and DASH. It’s designed to prevent or slow brain decline. Early studies show that it lowers risk of Alzheimer’s by 53% in those who follow it closely and by 35% in those who follow more loosely.

The MIND diet is a version of the Mediterranean diet that includes 15 types of foods. Ten are considered “brain-healthy:” green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, seafood, poultry, olive oil, and wine. Five are considered unhealthy: red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets and fried/fast foods.

Many experts suggest the diet can prevent diseases ranging from heart attack to stroke. Eating this way has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, protect against various kinds of cell damage, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. Not only does the MIND diet benefit the brain, but it benefits the entire body.

What is good for the body is good for the brain, and vice versa. Exercise has proven to be fundamental for brain health as well. When you exercise, you are using different parts of your brain together, as well as are stimulating your entire body. Exercising also releases feel-good chemicals, and good mood is linked to healthy aging and brain maintenance. Studies have shown that even just a 20 minute walk three times a week can be a sufficient amount of exercise for heart and brain health. When regular exercise and proper nutrition are combined, they are powerful preventative tools in preventing and delaying the onset and progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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How Diet Impacts Alzheimer’s and Dementia

In honor of World Alzheimer’s Day, let’s explore the brain mechanisms behind cognitive impairment and decline. Once we understand what is occurring in the brain, then we know how to prevent and combat Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A healthy diet and lifestyle is key for maintaining brain health. Decades of research confirm that what we eat and our eating habits directly influences brain function. But how is it that a healthy diet can help prevent brain and memory illnesses? It starts on a cellular level. Everything that we consume impacts our bodies as it breaks down to fuel our systems. Food intake influences brain chemistry and neural function. The human brain is more complex than the most advanced computer, and it requires nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, and caloric energy. When the brain does not receive those important forms of nourishment, it will not function at its best. If this goes on for a long period of time, then the brain is susceptible to developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. This occurs when neuron brain cells do not transmit ‘messages’ (electric currents) properly, or sometimes they stop altogether. What happens is that the ends of neurons become tangled, which inhibit communication between the cells and causes the brain to shrink. Other factors that contribute to cognitive decline are lack of blood to the brain and oxidative stress to the cells.

So when the proper nutrients, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and calories are provided, the brain cells can do their job best. When we eat a healthy diet, all of the systems in our bodies work better, including the vascular system, which helps pump blood to and within the brain.

Eating foods that are high in antioxidants helps reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is essentially the aging process. Your body constantly reacts with oxygen as you breathe and your cells produce energy. As a consequence of this activity, highly reactive molecules (free radicals) are produced. Free radicals are toxins that damage our cell membranes, and lead to inflammation. Inflammation in the brain means that plaque material builds up and makes it difficult for neurons to communicate.

What should you avoid? Inflammatory diet patterns that are high in sugar, refined carbs, unhealthy fats and processed foods can contribute to impaired memory and learning, as well as increase your risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Foods to avoid include sugary drinks like soda, processed cheese like American cheese or cheez whiz, aspartame, processed meats including deli meats and bacon, microwave popcorn, and fast food.

Alcohol can cause massive damage to the brain when consumed in large quantities. (But, if alcohol is drunk in moderation – like a glass of red wine a few times a week, it can be beneficial for health) Also, mercury found in seafood can be neurotoxic and permanently damage developing brains.

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World Alzheimer’s Day

Today, September 21st, is World Alzheimer’s Day. World Alzheimer’s Day is an international campaign to raise awareness and highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia. It is an opportunity for people and organizations to demonstrate how we can overcome these issues and help people live well with dementia.

Private Home Care is passionate about combatting Alzheimer’s and dementia. We are committed to providing the best caregiving for those with the disease, cultivating awareness about the condition and prevention efforts, supporting loved ones affected, and helping to work towards finding a cure.

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