Thursday, December 27, 2018

Tips on Healthy Caregiving and THSC Christmas!

Healthy Caregiving During the Holidays


Many caregivers are perpetually tired from the demands that result from caring for their loved one. Just the thought of your normal routine plus decorating the house, attending special events, shop­ping for gifts, and preparing special food for the holidays can be overwhelming.
But what if you had more control over the events, expectations, and relationships that often make holiday times so stressful? This could make a huge difference in the way you and your loved one experience the season. It requires exercising some choices you may not be accustomed to. Here are some suggestions to help make this holiday season a joyous, healthful and manageable one for you and your loved one.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and your loved one
Take control of the holidays by deciding what you and your loved one want. How many events, if any, can you both attend or host without overdoing it? Who are the people you most want to be with? What contributions are you capable of making in terms of food, drink and gifts? These are basic questions that most caregivers don’t ask themselves. Instead of making decisions that are in their best interest, many wait for others to tell them where to go, what to bring, and so on. This year, give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to unwanted demands.
Let others know when you need help
Caregivers typically try to do everything themselves. But during the holidays there are often family and friends around who are eager to help. If you want help, such as time away for relaxation or an extra hand or two in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to ask. Not only does this help you, but it can be very stimulating and enjoyable for your loved one to have others to interact with and share in his or her care.
Express your emotions with family and friends
The holidays can trigger emotions ranging from joy to depression in caregivers. A strong sense of loss may work its way into your life during the holidays. It might involve coming to grips with the permanent loss of your loved one’s mental or physical abilities. Or perhaps you have a strong feeling that this may be your loved one’s last holiday. Maybe it is the loss of your own freedom with caregiver responsibilities that hits hardest during the holidays. Regardless, talk with others about how you feel. By expressing your feelings with others you can lighten your emotional burden.
Take time out for yourself
Everyone seems extra busy during the holidays but for caregivers this can literally mean no rest from morning to night. Start with the essentials: Get adequate sleep, eat well and take time on most days for some physical activity. If possible, get out of the house for brief periods to maintain perspective. Consider shopping online or by catalogue for many of your gifts this holiday season. Then use the extra time and energy you would have spent fighting traffic and standing in check-out lines on taking better care of yourself.
Practice rituals that you and your loved one find meaningful
Rituals are important ways to add meaning to your holidays. Yet it’s very easy for the busyness of the holidays to squeeze out any real meaning in the season. Practice rituals that you and your loved one find meaningful, even if no one else is there to share it. This might involve a favorite holiday meal, listening to a song together, visiting a place with special memories for you both, etc. It can also involve family and friends. And don’t be afraid to create new rituals as old ones may have painful memories attached to them.
Celebrate what you and your loved one have right now
Caregiving often involves the loss of things you want to hold onto, which can create a sense of helplessness and anxiety. When we experience these emotions, it signals that we are probably either mourning the past or worried about the future. But there is little we can do about either—we can only address what’s happening in the present moment. Celebrate what you and your loved one share right now, even though it’s not what you might ultimately prefer. Try to let go of what was or what could be and make the most of what you have.
It really boils down to making choices. You only have a limited amount of time, energy and resources available. The question is: How are you and your loved one going to spend these? With a little planning and clear communication with friends or family on your intentions, it’s possible to care for your loved one, take care of yourself, and still take joy in celebrating the holidays.
By Gary Gilles, LCPC

Our Christmas Party video went up last weekend! Have you seen it? We had a ton of fun sharing stories, and playing various Christmas Games like Jingle Toss, Shake your Booty, and Dirty Santa!  We also took time to recognize our Employee of the Year and every employee of the month for 2018.

Here's some photos from the Party!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Capturing Memories

Capturing Family Memories with Oral Histories

This article is the first of two on the topic of “family stories.” Part One deals with oral histories, Part Two on starting a family tree.
We find ourselves in a world-wide genealogy craze, as a variety of DNA testing options have become available and increasingly affordable, and a wide array of genealogy websites invite those who are mildly curious about their ancestry to dive in—sometimes hooking them into a life-long passion. But what many people discover when they begin their genealogy research is that the most important source of information about your family is your living relatives’ memories—of their own family experiences as well as the stories passed down to them through the generations. Increasingly our Greatest Generation is passing on, taking vital information about relatives and our family stories with them.
Capturing the facts and stories about our family by asking our relatives questions is called an “oral history.” These can take the form of relatively informal question and answer sessions around a dinner table recorded by hand, to a more structured interview involving audio or video recordings that can later be edited together to provide a valuable family media archive. However you choose to approach gathering and compiling this information, there are a few basic “best practices” to keep in mind as follows.
Collaborate with other family members. Brainstorm with as many family members as you can before starting an oral history. Discuss who are the most important people to interview and what people think the key things are that need to be recorded—whether that be missing facts about relatives who have passed—names, places and dates which will be helpful in building a picture of your family tree, or the more personal family stories and traditions. It is also useful to include as many accounts of the same information as possible, since people will have different memories of the same event.
Define your project. Clarity is key. Telling an entire family history in any form is a daunting project, so start with specific questions on information you wish to know. Start by gathering short vignettes. Maybe there's a critical aspect of your own childhood you'd like to recapture such as a memorable family vacation. Often we are trying to identify facts we may not know about specific relatives, or where our family originated and how we got to where we are today. The whole story can't be told overnight, but as you collect these

separate anecdotes, the larger story will begin to emerge.
Have a list of questions ready. Experts advise framing questions in a way that invites expansive answers. Ask about early memories, or about happiest (and saddest) moments. The idea is to get a conversation started. StoryCorps, the oral history project created by the American Folklife Center, offers suggested questions and an interactive guide ( great-questions).
Techniques for recording information. While hand-written notes may be necessary when trying to record information on the fly, you probably already have the most useful tool for an oral history in your pocket. Smartphones can be used very successfully for video or audio documentation. Also, video conferencing services such as Skype and FaceTime offer recording options for interviewing distant relatives. If you choose to create a video of your interviews, easy-to-use software such as Apple’s iMovie and Microsoft’s Movie Maker are preinstalled on your computer.
Collecting and compiling oral histories entail effort and planning, but in the end, they bring generations of families together and foster an appreciation for listening and telling stories.
By Caren Parnes
For The Senior’s Choice

Christmas is nearly here! Are you ready for the holidays?  I sure am.  I hope all of you have a safe and fun holiday this year, and that you make a ton of good memories!  If you need a caregiver for some help this year, give us a call! We have plenty of hard working caregivers who would love to help you during this tiring, and wonderful, time of year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Myths about the Flu

Hello everyone! Since it's still chilly out, make sure you're healthy and hopefully these Senior's Choice facts will help put you at ease about the Flu Vaccine!

Senior Health & Lifestyles

15 Myths About the Flu Vaccine

Flu season is here. And along with the coughing, fevers and aches, you can expect a lot of unreliable or downright wrong information about the flu vaccine. Many people underestimate the health risks from flu. Flu and pneumonia combined consistently rank among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thousands of Americans die from flu-related complications in a typical year. The flu season typically lasts from October to April.
Getting a shot isn't a perfect defense against flu. Some years the strains used to make vaccines aren't a good match for the type of flu that eventually strikes. But vaccination remains the most reliable way to reduce the risk for illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older gets vaccinated against flu every year, with rare exceptions, such as those with life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine ingredients or potentially those with a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Following is a list of common misconceptions about the flu vaccine and the corresponding facts. If you have specific questions about vaccination, consult your doctor or other health professional.
Myth #1: You don't need the flu vaccine this year if you got it last year. Fact: You need a new flu shot each year because the circulating strains change and immunity from the vaccine fades.
Myth #2: The flu shot is the only option available. Fact: You have several flu vaccine options, such as the shot, including egg-free versions, and a nasal spray.
Myth #3: The flu vaccine can give you the flu. Fact: The flu shot can't give you the flu because the virus it contains has been inactivated or severely weakened.
Myth #4: The flu shot doesn't work for me because last time I got it, I got the flu anyway. Fact: The flu shot cannot offer 100 percent protection against the flu, but it reduces your risk of getting it. Many people mistake symptoms from colds and other illnesses for the flu.
Myth #5: Pharmaceutical companies make a massive profit off flu vaccines. Fact: They're a tiny source of profit and are made by only a handful of companies.
Myth #6: Flu vaccines don't work for children. Fact: Flu vaccines effectively reduce the risk of flu for children ages 6 months and up.
Myth #7: Flu vaccines cause heart problems and strokes. Fact: Flu shots reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.
Myth #8: The flu vaccine weakens your body's immune response. Fact: The flu vaccine prepares your immune system to fight influenza by stimulating antibody production.
Myth #9: The flu vaccine causes nerve disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Fact: Only the 1976 swine flu vaccine was linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, and influenza is more likely to cause the nerve disorder than the flu vaccine; the CDC says those with the Guillain-Barré should consult a doctor before getting the flu shot.
Myth #10: People don't die from the flu unless they have another underlying condition already. Fact: Otherwise healthy people do die from the flu. The elderly and young children are most vulnerable.
Myth #11: People with egg allergies can't get vaccinated against flu. Fact: People with egg allergies can get a flu shot but should consult their doctor or allergist on options if their allergy is severe.
Myth #12: I can protect myself from the flu by eating right and washing my hands regularly. Fact: A good diet and good hygiene are healthful habits that reduce the risk of illness but cannot prevent the flu on their own.
Myth #13: If I do get the flu, I'll just stay home so I'm not infecting others. Fact: You can transmit the flu without showing symptoms.
Myth #14: The "stomach flu" is the flu. Fact: The stomach flu refers to a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses unrelated to influenza.
Myth #15: If you haven't gotten a flu shot by November, there's no point in getting one. Fact: Getting the flu shot any time during flu season will reduce your risk of getting the flu.

We have nearly selected our winner for the I SPY contest, so stay tuned to discover the winner!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Senior's Choice Finance Resources and Elf on the Shelf!

This week's blog post comes to us right from The Senior's Choice!

Finance & Consumer Resources

Reevaluating Your Investments in an Uncertain Market

While most economic experts agree that the fundamentals of the economy are sound, many market watchers are beginning to ask the question: Is this Bull coming to an end? 2018 has been a year of uncertainty, and most financial advisors are recommending investors revisit their portfolios with at least an eye to rebalancing. Here are some suggestions for weathering a potential downturn in the market.
Know that you have the resources to weather a crisis. If you’re retired, knowing that you have the next couple years’ worth of living expenses in a bank account—and several more years in bonds that mature when you need the money—can help keep you calm and clear-headed. You might think you are risk tolerant, but if you haven’t structured your investments to handle a sharp drop, your financial capacity to handle risk may change your attitude when the market does drop.
Match your money to your goals. Map out a plan that takes into account what you’re saving for, whether near-term expenses or future financial goals like retirement. Structure your portfolio to match those goals. Money that you’ll need in the short term or that you can’t afford to lose—the down payment on a home, for example—is best invested in relatively stable assets, such as money market funds, certificates of deposit (CDs) or Treasury bills. Goals that need funding in three to five years should be addressed with a mixture of investment-grade bonds and CDs. For money you won’t need for five or more years, consider assets with the potential to grow, such as stocks, which are more volatile. Your allocation should also account for your time horizon and risk tolerance.
Remember: Downturns don’t last. The Schwab Center for Financial Research looked at both bull and bear markets in the S&P 500 going back to the late ’60s and found that the average bull ran for more than four years, delivering an average return of nearly 140%. The average bear market lasted a little longer than a year, delivering an average loss of 34.7%. The longest of the bears was a little more than two years—and was followed by a nearly five-year bull run. No bull market endures forever, but neither does a bear. And historically the market’s upward movement has prevailed over the declines.
Keep your portfolio diversified. Let’s say there is a slump—what is the best way to insulate against losses? Being well diversified is a preventive measure you can take now. Being diversified means you have a wide variety of investment grade bonds—corporate, municipals, Treasuries and possibly foreign issues. And they should have varying maturity dates, from short-term to mid-term, so you always have some bonds maturing and providing you with either income or money to reinvest. Your long-term assets should be divvied up among a wide array of domestic stocks—big and small, fast-growing and dividend-paying—as well as international stocks, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and commodities. This mix of assets gives you enough diversity that it provides a cushion in your portfolio if specific parts of the market are taking a hit so your exposure in a downturn is lessened.
Include cash in your portfolio. Cash in your portfolio offers protection against volatility, and cash reserves can come in handy in down markets. With cash you can buy in when prices are attractively low—without having to sell securities at a loss, if they are also at a low point.
Find an expert you can count on. If you’re not sure how to structure your portfolio correctly, or you think you’d be tempted to do something rash in a market slide, you should find a financial professional you trust to collaborate with you. That person can walk you through a complete portfolio review and help prepare you and your portfolio for times when the market gets tough.
By Caren Parnes
For The Senior’s Choice

Have you been following our social media? Since it's December, we are posting daily Elf on the Shelf shenanigans again this year to get into the holiday spirit!  Meet Valerie, the Touching Hearts Elf on the Shelf!  She just came back from the North Pole the other day and is going to keep an eye on the office for Santa.  What kind of adventures will she have this year?

Follow us on your preferred social media to find out!

And for christmas, there will be a very special video on our YouTube page!