Friday, September 23, 2016

Attitude Impact on Active Aging & Health

“Know that you are the perfect age.  Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once.  Be comfortable with growing older.” – Louise Hay

Don’t you wish it was that easy?  Attitude is everything, but life throws curves at you when you least expect it and it can ruin your whole day, month or year. What counts in life is how many times we get up after being knocked down and what we take away from each experience. 

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health showed that, of two groups with different views of aging, the people who felt good about older people were 44 percent more likely to recover from a severe disability than those with negative views.

“This result suggests that how the old view their aging process could have an effect on how they experience it,” noted Becca Levy, PhD, director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at the Yale School of Public Health, in a press release. “In previous studies, we have found that older individuals with positive age stereotypes tend to show lower cardiovascular response to stress and they tend to engage in healthier activities, which may help to explain our current findings.”

Recovery from disability was equated with being able to perform four routine activities: bathing, dressing, moving from a chair and walking. Doing well in these things is associated with longer life expectancy and lower use of healthcare facilities.

In general, studies show that people who maintain a positive attitude tend to make healthier lifestyle choices. According to a Mayo Clinic study, people with a positive attitude get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet and have lower rates of smoking and alcohol consumption.

According to HelpGuide.org, Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.

Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness. The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.

Mindfulness improves well being
  • Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
  • Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
  • By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

Mindfulness Improves Physical Health
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:
  • Help relieve stress
  • Treat heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve sleep
  • Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness Improves Mental Health

In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Couples’ conflicts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.

It’s become increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This development makes good sense, since both meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on irrational, maladaptive, and self-defeating thoughts.

Mindfulness Techniques


There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.”
Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.


Another technique:

Learning to stay in the present
 
A less formal approach to mindfulness can also help you to stay in the present and fully participate in your life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, touching a partner, or playing with a child or grandchild. Attending to these points will help:
  • Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth
  • Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
  • Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
  • Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.

When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

We live in a go, go, go society and tend to lose sight of the “stop and smell the roses,” mentality, or the keen awareness of a child.  If we but took time for these few actions, we just might enjoy life a little more and may forget the pains of aging for a short while.  Get started, what do you have to lose.

Peace & Love,
April Williams

Friday, September 2, 2016

Neuropathy Nerve Pain Causes & Helpful Food Supplements

Today I would like to talk a little bit about Neuropathy, and the foods and supplements that may help in curbing the pain caused by this ailment.

Neuropathy, Means nerve disease or damage to the nerves.  It can result in pain, tingling, burning or loss of feeling in hands and feet.

According to WEBMD:
Diabetes is one disease that can cause neuropathy.  There are three kinds of diabetic neuropathy. (Peripheral Neuropathy:  These are the nerves that sense pain, touch, hot and cold. They affect movement and muscle strength and the feet and lower legs are most often affected. The damage it causes gets worse slowly and over months and years.  Autonomic Neuropathy: These nerves control things like your heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, urination and sexual function.  Focal Neuropathy: Most often affects one nerve, usually in the wrist, thigh, or foot, it can also affect the nerves of your back and chest and those that control your eye muscle. This type of damage usually happens suddenly.

Diabetes is not the only culprit, injuries, medications, and poisoning from metals, chemicals or medications can also be the cause.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage II Breast cancer.  While going through chemo, I was plagued with the pain of nerve damage.  At a loss of not knowing what to do or how to differentiate one pain from another brought about by the infusions, my wonderful oncologist diagnosed me with Neuropathy.  After meeting with my oncologist, I also met with a nutritionist and they provided me a list of supplements and foods that might just help relieve this particular side effect.   Here are a few remedies and nutritional supplements that I tried and seemed to really help me heal.

ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid):  Is an antioxidant that is made by the body and helps to turn glucose (sugar) into energy. Research suggests taking 600mg a day is a safe dose.  Improvements are usually seen within 3-5 weeks.  ALA should only be used for up to four weeks.

Foods Rich in ALA:
  • Meat (organ meats) - No thank you, I took a pass!
  • Vegetables (broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, peas, tomatoes)
  • Yeast (Brewer's yeast)

GLUTAMINE:  Is an amino acid that has long been used in the treatment of medication side effects.  Research suggests 30g a day will reduce neuropathy pain.

This supplement has helped me tremendously.

Foods Rich in Glutamine:
  • Meat (fish,pork, chicken, turkey)
  • Beans
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Vegetables (spinach, cabbage, parsley)

VITAMIN B6: Is a vitamin that the body uses for metabolism. B6 is commonly found in meats, whole grains and vegetables.  Research suggests taking 50-100mg per day may help decrease tingling and numbness in your hands and feet.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B6:
  • Fish (cod, salmon, halibut, trout and tuna)
  • Vegetables (bell peppers, spinach, potatoes, peas, asparagus)
  • Nuts and Seeds (peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts)
  • Whole Grain Breads and Cereals
  • Beans (chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans)

My all-time favorite Vitamin B6 breakfast recipe:

BANANA SPLIT OATMEAL: (This recipe has oatmeal, nuts and bananas which are a great source of Vitamin B6)
  • 1/2 cup dry old fashioned quick 1-min. oats
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries, microwaved
  • 1/4 cup bananas, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. peanuts

Directions: Cook oats with enough water to achieve desired consistency.  Mix with microwaved frozen strawberries, sliced banana, chocolate chips and top with peanuts.

As always, check with your doctor first before trying any of these supplements.  What may work for me, may not work for you.  Every situation and treatment is different.

Peace & Love,

April Williams

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Generic Drugs vs. Brand Name Drugs

Generic. When you hear this word you often associate it with not as good, cheap, or a knock off of something that is similar but not as good. Considering these thoughts, are generic drugs a bad thing or a good thing when compared to brand name drugs. Over the next few paragraphs we will explain what it takes for manufacturers to make generic drugs, how they are approved by the government for sale and use, and why there is nothing to worry about when considering generic drugs versus brand name drugs.

Generic Drugs are prescription medications that the US Federal Drug Administration, or FDA, has determined to have the same quality as brand-name drugs, but at a cheaper price. In fact, if you’ve had a prescription filled recently there’s a good chance that you are taking a generic drug. Almost 80% of prescription drugs sold are generic, which helps save patients, hospitals and insurance company billions of dollars each year.

The big question is how does the FDA ensure that a drug meets the same standards as a brand name drug? The criteria they consider that matters to you as the patient are:
  • The drug can be taken in the same way as the brand name drug
  • The drug is taken for the same reason as the brand name drug
  • It must have the same active ingredient as the brand name drug
  • It must be the same strength as the brand name drug
  • It must have the same use and effect as the brand name drug
  • It must be taken in the same way as the brand name drug (pill, inhaler, liquid, etc)
  • It must have the ability to reach the required level in your bloodstream at the right time for the same extent
  • It must meet testing standards
Well, that is great, but what is the difference between a generic drug and brand name drug? Generics may differ in the following:
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Packaging
  • Labeling (minor differences)
  • They may have different inactive ingredients such as flavor, color or preservatives. The inactive ingredients in a generic drug must be consider safe by the FDA.
When you think about the price difference you have to wonder how the drug manufacturers are able to make money pay for research, development, advertising, and distribution. The FDA has set up policies to allow drug manufacturers the ability to recoup these costs by providing them with patent protection when they are first sold. These patents give the brand name manufacturer exclusive rights to produce and sell the drugs for a limited time, with an average patent protection time of 12 years. When the patent period ends, other companies can then manufacture and sell a generic version which they can do for a lower price.

Generic drugs introduce the possibility of multiple manufacturers producing the same drug, thereby creating a more competitive pricing environment to benefit the end user.

So, are generic drugs as effective as brand-name drugs? In short the answer is absolutely yes. If you have any questions about generic drugs do not hesitate to consult your doctor. Also, here is a link to the FDA’s Drug Resources Questions and Answers with official clarification from the US government.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Aging Gracefully

You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
George Bernard Shaw


Aging gracefully, everyone has heard that term, especially reaching a certain age category, but what does it really mean? We all have our own ideas and thoughts, but how do we truly embrace the signs of aging and continue to power through life with dignity as we are faced with the complications old age brings?

"For some reason, our society is very obsessed with pointing out negative aspects of aging," says Susan Whitbourne, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also the past president of the American Psychological Association's Division on Aging.

Yes, getting older is rife with emotional landmines, gerontologists say, including fears of losing one's independence or getting a serious illness.

Experts say the keys to successful aging include accepting change, finding meaningful activities and relationships.  It may not be easy, but attitude matters a lot.

We all have one thing in common and that is growing old, whether we like it or not.  We live in a time where there is so much out there to assist in stopping and reversing the aging process, you could go broke. Even with all the help you can get, it doesn’t’ change the fact that our mind believes were20 and our body being the voice of reason says otherwise.

Balance in ones life is so important, "Balance is key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness, and through awareness we can grow". - Kori Fresco.

This is just the start of what's to come. I will be discussing the importance of balancing all three, the mind, the body, and the spirit, in future posts. Until then "keep on keeping' on" - Joe Dirt. 

Peace and Love-
April

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Caregiving for People New to Incontinence

When dealing with incontinence as an adult, especially if this is a new situation, it is very important to consider the emotional well-being and dignity of the individual. There is no singular cause of adult incontinence and it may be brought on by many situations including child births, disease, injury, certain medications, infection, or other conditions out of the control of the individual. If this is a new situation is is important to speak with a doctor or health care provider to help find the cause and provide advice for proper care. Click here for information about ways to help speak with your doctor about incontinence.

Types and Levels of Incontinence
You should always consider the feelings of the individual dealing with incontinence. They may be embarrassed, angry, confused, in denial, or ignoring symptoms hoping that they will go away. Many times a caregiver will be a family member or somebody close to the individual that is new at dealing with the situation and corresponding conversations. Being a caregiver can be a demanding job dealing with both the physical and psychological issues.

Recognize the Emotional Support Needed
Be sure to recognize and support an individual that has made the decision to seek help. Allow them to speak about their concerns and think about how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. The ultimate goal is to educate and provide the best possible care and solutions to the issues surrounding incontinence. Be supportive and resourceful and be willing to apply yourself willingly with a positive attitude to protect and maintain a positive relationship. And remember when dealing with adults - they are adults and this is a tough situation for them to be addressing.

Kinds of Wearable Products that are Available
Many people find themselves trying to determine what they need and start by asking all kinds of questions. For example, where should I start and what am I looking for to solve this because there are so many options? What is the difference between a pad and a brief (also known as “adult diapers”). Are there pull-ups for adults so they can dress themselves?

You can start by addressing the level of incontinence. Is is a couple of drops here and there, are there times when the urge to go comes too late to make it to the toilet, or is there a need for a wearable product to ensure there are no “accidents”. Click here for more information on types and levels of incontinence.

Once you have identified the absorbency requirements you can consider the actual types of wearable products to consider for use. Here is a link to the types of products available to wear including information about the differences between pads, briefs/adult diapers, and pull-ups/ protective underwear. Understanding your options, how they work, and the absorbencies they are available in will help you narrow down your selection process.

Other Products Needs for People with Incontinence
Many people new to incontinence care also wonder what other types of products may be needed. It is very important to keep skin clean and healthy.  Keeping skin healthy is more comfortable and much easier to deal with than trying to repair damaged skin or clear up a nasty diaper rash. Here is a link to skin cleansing and skin care products to help keep skin healthy. Avoid skin cleansers with harsh soaps or alcohol to ensure that fragile and sensitive skin is not irritated.

Keeping the environment clean and fresh smelling will benefit both caregiver and patient. Simply covering up smells with perfumes is a temporary solution. Consider biological odor eliminators like those used in hospitals and healthcare environments. These deodorizers attack and neutralize odors to make for a more pleasant environment for all. Also, surface disinfectants for hard nonporous surfaces will help keep your environment clean and healthy.

Disposable gloves for medical care are also a very inexpensive way to keep a barrier between you and urine and or feces. There are many types of gloves including vinyl, nitrile and latex available for caregivers.

Summary
If new or increasing issues with incontinence are occurring see a doctor or healthcare provider. Identify the level of protection needed and the type of wearable incontinence products that best fit your need, keep skin healthy and clean, and maintain a fresh smelling environment pleasant to caregiver and patient.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Diaper Rash caused by Adult Incontinence

Yes, adults can get diaper rash just like children. Diaper rash is often caused by incontinence soiling and the subsequent  rubbing of skin by clothing or incontinence garments. It can also be caused by sweat and clothing rubbing on skin. Any fluid and rubbing by garments can cause an irritation and followed by a rash. Most times these rashes can be identified and treated quickly. If left unattended it may take more effort (and considerable discomfort) to treat.

Adult Diaper Rash (aka diaper dermatitis) is a skin condition caused by skin rubbing against a diaper or pad, and contact with the chemicals in urine and stool. The skin may look red, raw, scalded or burned. It can occur at any age if diapers, protective underwear or pads are used. As stated bore, it is not strictly a child or baby related issue.

It often happens in adults when a rash occurs in the genital area in an area is not cleaned well. Skin irritations can also be caused by products that have perfumes or are allergenic. Fungal or bacterial infections may also cause diaper rash. The skin may appear to be red and swollen with a mild rash or blister and peel in a severe rash. A diaper rash that becomes raw, oozes fluid or bleeds will be harder to treat and advice from a doctor or healthcare professional may be required.

It is very important to deal with diaper rash at the earliest signs of discomfort and the rash appearing. The farther along and more severe the rash the more difficult it is to treat and cure.

The most common causes of diaper rash are:
  • Not changing a wet or soiled incontinence product enough. Skin in contact with urine and/or stool becomes irritated.
  • Rubbing of the skin by an incontinence pad, diaper or protective underwear product. This may cause irritation in areas including thighs, genitals, buttocks, or belly area.

We hate to mention it, but neglect by a caregiver that does not treat a diaper rash at the time treatment is needed. We hope that this is never the case, but there have been issues where caregivers do not treat a diaper rash because of anger directed at a vulnerable adult.

Sometimes a diaper rash may occur with other skin conditions including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, or seborrhea. The rash may be red or oozing. A crust may form. There will often times be similar patches of rash on other parts of the body.

Diaper rash is uncomfortable and can lead to worse skin issues and wounds. The earlier they are identified and treated the better. Avoiding getting a rash all together is an even better approach.

Tips for controlling and treating diaper rash:

  • Keep the skin dry. Also, make sure that the skin is not in contact with urine or stool.
  • Change the adult diaper, protective underwear, or pad every time is is wet or soiled. It is advisable to check the garment every three house during the day. Changes may be needed during the night to prevent or clear up a rash.
  • Gently wash the diaper area with warm water and a soft cloth. Rinse well and dry completely. There are many mild no-rinse and rinse skin cleansers available for incontinence perineal skin cleansing to help aid in the cleaning and healing process.
  • Do not use soap unless the are is very soiled. Use only a mild soap if soap is needed.
  • Do not use wipes or baby wipes that have alcohol or propylene glycol if diaper rash is present. They may burn the skin and spread bacteria. Most adult wipes are formulated without these chemicals to ensure the most comfortable cleaning possible.
  • You might want to try using a blow dryer on the warm setting to get the area fully dry (this technique shouldn’t be used on babies or small children.

If possible, leaving diapers, protective underwear or pads off for a time may promote air circulation that keeps skin dry and promotes comfort and healing.

Protect the the healthy skin near the rash with protective lotions or creams. Be careful not to apply creams to broken skin unless directed as it may slow the healing process. Use of a lotion, cream or ointment that is formulated for sensitive skin and free of harmful perfumes and allergens. Also, a moisture barrier cream or lotion will help keep moisture out allowing skin to comfortable heal. Be sure to be gentle when applying any lotion or cream to sensitive skin.

Use a disposable incontinence product with absorbent gelling material (super absorbent microbeads) as these will pull moisture away from the skin.

Showering or bathing multiple times throughout the day and gently drying the area may help. Reapply lotions, creams, or ointments after drying.

Do you have any suggestions on dealing with adult diaper rash that might benefit others? If so, please leave detailed comments on this post. Thank you!

Please note you should consult with your doctor or healthcare professional with any diaper rash or skin care issue to ensure you are taking the proper steps to treat the issue. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be considered not medical advice. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why Does Urine Smell?

Urine is the body’s liquid waste that is primarily composed of water, salt, and chemicals called urea and uric acid. The kidneys produce it when filtering toxins and other bad substances from your blood.
The smell of urine is directly related to the volume and concentration of a variety of substances excreted by the kidneys. Normal urine contains a lot of water and has little to no odor. Urine that is highly concentrated with little water may have a strong smell of ammonia. This may cause addition stress and an unpleasant environment for people with urinary incontinence, family members and caregivers.

Many individuals dealing with urinary incontinence get dehydrated trying to reduce their consumption of liquids to reduce the volume of urine. Dehydration makes urine very concentrated resulting in a strong smell of ammonia.

Other influences on the smell of urine include foods eaten and medications (including vitamins and other supplements) that are being taken.

Odors in urine may also indicate a medical condition or disease including, but not necessarily limited to issues such as bladder infection, cystitis (bladder inflammation), congenital heart disease in adults, diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of blood acids called keytones), gastointestinal-bladder fistula (abnormal connection between intestoines and the bladder), maple syrup urine disease (rare genetic disease that cases difficulty breaking down specific amino acids), metabolic disorder (a problem with the way your body converts the foods you eat into energy), type II diabeties (uncontrolled), and urinary tract infect (UTI). Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or health care provider for an accurate diagnosis. Click here for helpful information on how to speak with your doctor or healthcare profession about incontinence

Many disposable incontinence products such as pads, adult diapers and protective underwear incorporate odor controlling features to help maintain a pleasant environment. These features include superabsorbent microbeads that absorb liquids and hold in smell. Many also have features that help inhibit bacterial growth with helps reduce odors and help maintain healthy skin.

Keeping incontinence products changed regularly and keeping skin in incontinence areas clean will also help manage offensive urine related odors.

There are also many odor reducing household sprays and room deodorizers that do more than simply cover up offensive odors. They attack the cause of biological odors rather than simply trying to overpower an offensive smell with a flowery or pleasant smell. Covering odors with another odor only lasts as long as the new odor stays stronger than the offensive odor. Biological odor eliminators for rooms will actually absorb and neutralize bad odors and prevent them from building up. Click here to go to room deodorizers to find one that is right for you.