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How to keep your brain active

Aging can be a scary thing. Not only are we getting older physically, but also mentally. Age can play a big part in how are brains are functioning, and we are all too aware of the risks of Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases that come with age.

Although we can’t prevent Alzheimer’s or Dementia, there are ways we can continue to “work out” our brains and keep them active. Just because you’re not working or not in school, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to learn and grow yourself mentally.

Here at Just Like Family, we want to help keep you as healthy as possible, whether that’s with our companions coming over to help prepare a meal, or getting you up and out for a walk or stretching.

We’re going to go over a few ways you can keep your brain active, so you stay mentally healthy for as long as possible.

brain changers.jpg

Via Antiaging Nootropics

Lifelong Learning

You may have been out of school for a few decades, but don’t let that stop you from continuing to learn. Although you despised a certain subject at school, now you have the freedom to learn whatever you want!

The access to the library and internet, the possibilities to learn just about anything are endless.

Think up a subject you’re curious about and see what resources you can find from books to online courses to local college classes you can sit in on to lectures.

Here are some topics you can dive into:

  • American history
  • World Wars
  • Basic Computers
  • Space
  • Languages
  • Gardening

Read More

If you’re retired, there’s no excuse not to be reading more. With access to the library, you can get pretty much any book you could ever want.

Or pick up a Kindle. Many libraries offer free digital rentals of books that you can do right from your home.

Read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. If a book doesn’t grab you and you feel that you are dreading finishing it, then stop! Just because you pick up a book doesn’t mean you necessarily need to finish it. Reading should be fun, find books that engage you.

Do Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. These include crosswords, Sudoku, Ken Ken, and even plain old jigsaw puzzles. You can pick up many of these at the dollar store, even a 500 piece puzzle is just $1!

Play Games

Games make you think. Find some games you can play either on your own or get a group together to play. Get board games or apps.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Settlers of Catan (board game)
  • 2048 (app)
  • Dots (app)
  • Cut the Rope (app)
  • Chess

Memory Exercises

Truly exercise your brain with some memory challenges. From Everyday Health, these can include:

  • Drawing a map from memory
  • Creating word pictures
  • Learning a new language
  • Refining your hand-eye ability (Painting, drawing, knitting)
  • Doing math in your head
  • Testing your recall

More Resources

Learn more about keeping your mind active with these resources.

6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age | Harvard Medical School

Stay Mentally Active | ALZ.org

The Changing Brain in Healthy Aging | National Institute on Aging

 

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How to be a healthier nurse

how-to-be-a-healthier-nurse-just-like-family-homecare

Nurses! It’s time you take care of yourselves! Here at Just Like Family Homecare we know how hard our caregivers work to provide for their patients. But it’s equally important that you, as a caregiver, find time to take care of yourself both in mind and body.

Yeah, it’s easy to say and tough to do. But we will give you some easy routines you can implement into your day to start getting on track to living a healthy life so you can continue to do what you do best: care for others.

Body

Snack right
Snacking is often where our diet can go wrong. We get a little hungry during the workday and want something quick to munch on. So we reach for the Sour Patch Kids or the Twix. Instead, carry around healthy snacks in your lunch like trail mix, nuts, fruit, vegetables with hummus, plain Greek yogurt.

Less sugar
This one is difficult for many of us because sugar is such a big part of our diets. Try going for one week without any sugar (that doesn’t include natural sugars like in fruits). See how you feel. There are often stories from those that cut out sugar that they feel happier and more energized. Here’s a story from a family that cut out sugar for a whole year.

An easy way to cut out unnecessary sugar is to stop drinking soda. Not sure what to eat? Here’s The No-Sugar Diet Plan from Livestrong.com.

Drink more water
This one is easy! Start carrying a water bottle everywhere. Get a nice stainless steel one that you can continue to refill. You want to always have it with you so you’re not tempted to purchase a drink out somewhere. If you’re thirsty, water is the best thing for you. Avoid buying other types of drinks like bottled tea or coffee, soda, fruit drinks.

Do a 15 minute morning workout
This doesn’t need to be a sweat-filled workout. But you should do it before your day begins to ensure you get it done. You can do bodyweight exercises like situps, pushups, pull ups (get a pull up bar for your door frame), squats.

Mind

A healthy mind is a huge part of being in overall great shape that many of us tend to neglect.

Meditate
If find that your mind is running and running with thoughts all the time, try learning to meditate. Now, it can turn some people off to hear the word meditation, but there are tons of very successful people that constantly recommend it to others. That’s not saying it works for everyone, but it’s worth trying out for a few weeks. If you’re not sure how to start, use apps like Calm or Headspace to guide you.

Read more
When was the last time you read a full book? If you can’t remember then it’s been too long. Carry a book or Kindle with you in the car, to appointments, to work. Instead of grabbing your phone to check Facebook or play a game, pick up your book. The key is kinding a great book that keeps you entertained.

Sleep better
You can improve your sleep by doing a few things. One includes an hour of screen-free time before you plan to go to sleep. This means turning off the phone, TV, and computer. During this time, wind down by reading (which often puts many people into a sleepy mood). Don’t drink caffeine anytime before bed either, this means 4 hours or less before bed. Here are some other helpful tips from the National Sleep Foundation.


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How to Be Heart Healthy

February is American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day, get the association?

Heart health is an important issue that many of us aren’t exactly sure how to deal with. How exactly do we become heart healthy? That’s a question we’re going to dive into today.

What does “heart healthy” mean?

Heart healthy refers to living a lifestyle where your heart is being taken care of. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, a poor diet and lack of exercise are big factors in developing a heart-harming condition.

It’s best to start on your healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. This means monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and correcting course in your diet and exercise to combat high numbers.

What can affect heart health?

A poor heart is usually one that is plagued by atherosclerosis. This is when cholesterol rich pockets develop inside the arteries restricting blood flow. This is how heart attacks and strokes occur.

Cardiovascular disease is anything that affects the heart and blood vessels. This includes atherosclerosis and also heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.

The American Heart Association breaks the risk factors into three categories:

Major risk factors
Research has shown that these unchangeable factors significantly increase the risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.

Modifiable risk factors
Some major risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle change.

Contributing risk factors
These factors are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but their significance and prevalence haven’t yet been determined.

How do we become heart healthy?

The best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to learn more about the risk factors and how you can slow down your risk.

8-ways-to-love-your-heart

Source: Health Grades

The American Heart Association has a special section just about managing cholesterol.

They also have a section on how to get your high blood pressure under control, with types like taking a brisk walk each day to lower your levels.

Some of the most important things you need to do involve changing your lifestyle:

  • Quit smoking: This can affect your cholesterol level and tobacco is not good for your heart.
  • Become more active: 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week is enough to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Heart healthy diet: Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, poultry, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy. Avoid sugary food and drinks, and red meat.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Take medications: If your doctor sees you at risk for high blood pressure, they’ll likely prescribe you medication.

Resources

The American Heart Association

Heart Health | Harvard Medical School

 


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How to prevent Diabetes

Diabetes is on the rise, especially here in the United States. In 2014, the CDC released a report that 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population at the time) had diabetes. And about 8.1 million of them were undiagnosed. Now that’s an alarming number!

infographic-diabetes

Source: CDC.gov

In this article, we want to take you through the two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Then we’ll let you know the factors that can lead to getting diabetes and finally talk about prediabetes and how to know if you’re at risk.

The Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive. (NIDDK.NIH.Gov)

Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. (NIDDK.NIH.Gov)

Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes. (NIDDK.NIH.Gov)

Risk Factors of Diabetes

For Type 1 Diabetes, the common risk factors are:

  • Family history
  • Infection or illness
  • Disease of the pancreas

This is the type of diabetes that is not generally something you can control, as opposed to the risk factors of Type 2 Diabetes.

To put it simply, there are 4 major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Overweight
  • Family History

Other major factors include:

  • Ethnic background
  • Age
  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance

    inforgraphics-prediabetes

    Source: CDC.gov

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition when someone has a higher blood sugar level than normal, but
not high enough to diagnose them with diabetes. This person is considered prediabetic because of this high level.

If this person also has several other risk factors like they’re over the age of 45, are overweight, have a family history of the disease, etc. they really need to consult with a doctor about what they can do to prevent diabetes.

According to the CDC, if you have prediabetes, doing two things can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • Lose 5-7% of your body weight
  • Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week