Lessons from the Elderly

11 Lessons the Elderly Can Teach Us

by Tim Pond

Elderly folks have a perspective that is hard to duplicate regardless of how much thought you put into it. They’ve lived a long time and have learned a thing or two that only experience can teach.

While jumping ahead to the end of a good book might spoil the story, getting a few tips from someone that has lived a full life is just smart thinking. It’s always good to get advice from an expert. The elderly are the experts on living life.

Tim’s list includes:  Prioritize, and Work doesn’t matter as much as you think it does right now. Points to ponder for sure.  Read Tim’s article here.

To living a long life

Fran

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Looking Back

Do you want your life to be a rough draft or a masterpiece?

What an excellent question posed by Matt Hogan who says:

You are writing the story of your life every moment of every day.

Every  that leads to  becomes a  that ends up within one of the , within one of the , within one of the  of your book.

Matt goes on to say:

It’s the  that separates the  from the ; that turns ‘shitty’ into ‘elegant’; that turns messy pieces into masterpieces.

And he’s not just talking about actual books, he is talking about how we live and examine our lives.  So, what does the “life editing” process look like?  Read more here and find out.

You can also find Matt on Instagram

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Tracking Time

Time Management – what exactly is it?

I have been having conversations with people lately about Goal Setting and Time Management.  Everyone says they don’t have enough time to set goals or to accomplish tasks, but the truth is unless you set the goals you will NEVER find the time to complete them.  You see you can’t really manage time, you can only manage you.

Do you really know what you spend your time on each day?  Have you ever taken the time to really look at what you do?  How long does it take you to make and eat your breakfast each day?  Do you read the paper while you eat?  How long does that take?  Do you sit and wait for the coffee to perc or do you do other things while it is percolating?  What about lunch?  Do you eat on the go?  Eat at your desk?  Go out for lunch?  Again, how long does it take?

Have you ever sat down to watch ONE program and found yourself still sitting on the couch 3 hours later?  That’s because you didn’t have a goal, something else you wanted to accomplish that night.  If you had, you would have made a decision about whether or not you would even watch the one program, or would you work on a task towards completing your goal.

Do you have a goal you want to achieve?  Other than, “I want to be rich and retire.”  Do you know the exact amount you want to make, the exact amount you would need to retire comfortably, taking into account inflation and what activities you want to do when you retire.  Have you written your goal down?  Have you begun your yearly, monthly, weekly, daily plan on how you are going to accomplish it?  Studies have shown that if you WRITE down your goal and put it somewhere where you will see it every day, you have a better chance of achieving it.  If you write it down and set out a plan on how you will achieve it, you are well on your way.

Think about it….A multi-millionaire has the same number of hours in the day as you do, they just do different things with it.  You will probably not find them sitting on the couch in their living room watching hour after hour of TV.  You will probably find them getting together with people who can help them with their goals.

Kelly McCausey says “Time Management is one of the most popular topics among business communities, but it isn’t really about time management. It’s not about squeezing more work into your hours, thankfully it’s about so much more than that.!”

My friend Kelly McCausey invites you to learn about the Zones of Incompetence, Competence, Excellence & Genius – and actually TRACK where you’re spending your time, talent and creativity for five business days.

With fresh awareness and evidence to review, it’s her hope that you’ll come out of this challenge with sparkling motivation and a desire to grow like never before!

When you say yes to this challenge, you’ll be able to see for sure whether you’re spending time on what matters most and see just how much time you give to low money tasks and time wasters.

Even small shifts in how you spend your time can have a big impact.

For instance, Kelly introduced me to the Pit Stop Rule. Let me explain.  In The Big Leap, a marvelous book by Gay Hendricks, he teaches us about the Zones of Incompetence, Competence, Excellence & Genius. At any one time you can only be in ONE and this will change how you look at time forever.

It’s obvious, even from looking at those zone names, you want to operate in higher zones and stay out of lower zones, right? But hey – it’s not possible for most people to completely vacate the lower zones.

Kelly said, “If I’m going to spend time in the Zone of Incompetence, doing something I’m not good at – it’s only going to be a Pit Stop. This means I’m going to spend as little time there as possible and have a plan for getting out.”

When you say yes to this challenge, you’ll be able to see for sure whether you’re spending time on what matters most and see just how much time you give to low money tasks and time wasters.

Even small shifts in how you spend your time can have a big impact.

Just like me, YOU get to decide where you spend your time, talent and creativity. Kelly’s I Dare You To Track Challenge is all about that. I hope you’ll join me!

Fran Watson

 

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Facing Fears

In the spring of my 13th year some boys found baby garter snakes and were chasing the girls with them.  I said I wasn’t afraid (although I was actually terrified) and they put the snakes on my head as I stood still.  It worked.  They never bothered me again (the boys not the snakes, I’m still afraid of snakes).

Over the years I have had to face many other fears.

  • Starting University at 38.
  • Raising 4 kids on my own after my ex left.
  • Starting a new relationship.
  • Ending the relationship.
  • Working full-time while studying and keeping my kids in a normal lifestyle with hockey, track and field, figure skating, drama, bands.
  • Years later starting another relationship.
  • Quitting my day job to work from home on my own.

Every day there are challenges that come up and every day I have a choice to face them or hide from them.  Things like frozen pipes, toilet backing up into my kitchen sink.  (Not everyday things, but it happened more than once until I wrapped my pipes with heated wire.)

I confess there are some days I just want to curl up somewhere with a good book and let the world go by, but life carries on regardless, so I get up and do what needs to be done.

In the past few weeks I have read a couple of books that have shown me I am not alone in facing fears and overcoming them.

One of these books was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.  Another was Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.  Both of these books spoke to me and helped me to recognize fears that I still held inside.  Brene’s tips to cultivate self-compassion were insightful.  Elizabeth’s words helped me to move forward with my book of poetry.  To get it ready to share with the world, regardless of the outcome!

What fears are you facing?  What help do you need to face them?

Fran Watson

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Email Embarassment

Raise your hand if you’ve ever sent out a marketing email , only to realize after clicking ‘send’ that your email’s main call-to-action contained a broken link. What a waste, right? And talk about embarrassment … Now how many of you did I actually get to raise your hand? 😉

Yes, silly mistakes happen — more easily than you might think. After all, we may be savvy marketers, but we’re still only human. So how can you prevent those silly mistakes from bleeding into your email campaigns? Enter the mighty test send! Most email service providers, including HubSpot’s own email tool , allow you to send a test email for review before you send the real email out to your list of email contacts. So if you’re not leveraging these test sends to proof your email messages before they go out, you’re just asking for the scenario we highlighted above.

I must admit that I have made some of the mistakes listed in this particular blog post and have suffered email embarrassment.

Here are some of the mistakes – read the article to find the rest and how to fix them.

1) Broken Links

2) Forgotten Links

3) Broken Social Media Sharing Buttons

4) Spelling/Grammatical Errors

5) Distorted Images

6) Wonky Formatting

7) Color Issues ….

May you no longer suffer from email embarrassment.

Fran Watson

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Senior Care

Senior Care by Lorraine Durnford-Hill

It is 7 pm and an older woman has just gotten back from dinner and is sitting in her chair drifting in and out of sleep.  There is a knock on the door and a young girl walks in “Mildred, Hello Mildred”.   She walks up to the chair “Mildred?”.  The woman looks up and smiles.  “How are you tonight?” – Fine.  Do you need anything? – No.   The young girl goes over to the book signs that she has offered emotional support, the client didn’t need anything and leaves.

The woman in the chair is my 97 year old Mother.  Family and friends call her Kay, but the PSW doesn’t know that because there is a new worker every day.  Let me share my side of the story.

When she was 93 my mother decided she wanted to move to a retirement home where all her social activities would be all under the same roof.  This was a great option for a few years until she started to need more support.  For 90 + years my mother had been independent and now we had to arrange for some extra support.  We called CCAC to arrange for a Personal Support Worker (PSW) to come in 2 times a day to help with dressing and undressing, personal hygiene and preparing a bedtime snack.

The plan was that someone would come in about 9 in the morning to get her ready for the day and put in her hearing aids and someone else would come in at night to help prepare her for bed.  However what happened is that they would show up any time between 7 – 10 am   or 6-10 pm.  This left mom frustrated because she never knew when to expect them and didn’t want to get ready for bed at 6 or 7pm, she still had Bingo or a card game to play until 8.  Often mom would tell them to she didn’t want help because she wasn’t ready to get up or go to bed then struggle for 45 minutes to do the process on her own.    Many phone calls back and forth and we would get it resolved then a new person would come in and the problem was back.  As family members, my sister and I became very frustrated with the services and limitations.  We realized how important it was for the family to be aware and advocate for appropriate support.

Did you know that there are 2.3 million people over the age of 65 in Ontario and that is only going to double in the next 20 years?

I decided to look into the other side of the story from the PSWs’ point of view.  My internet search found a report from CBC stating that some PSWs can be requested to see up to 4 clients in one shift.  That is 15 minutes per client.  This leads to an assembly line service that doesn’t provide true support for our seniors who need and deserve quality care.

Fifteen minutes does not allow time for much.   It often would take my mother 5 minutes to walk to bathroom, then do what she needs to do and walk back.  This would burn up the allotted time leaving no time for emotional support, preparing a snack or preparing for the next part of the day.

I also learned that there is no consistent training for the PSWs, although that is improving.  PSWs work shiftwork, being offered mostly part time hours.  Therefore the client may often get a different PSW each day.  PSWs are also subject to verbal and physical abuse from people who have diminishing cognitive functioning, in extreme pain and frustrated family/caregivers.  We interacted with some fabulous PSW and some who were just doing a job and did not care about the residents.  Some times we would get a phone call to let us know that there would be no PSW some evenings and sometimes they just didn’t show up without even a phone call.

A quote by Cindy Macdonald speaks to aging.  “We are all going to age, no one can escape, it is how gracefully we handle the process and how lucky we are as the process handles us.” 

It is important to remember people may not remember your name but they will remember how you make them feel.  One PSW shared that mom was the only client that purred when they washed her back or brushed her hair.  It is the simple things that can make someone’s day.  That worker made my mom’s day.

Seniors need more help, but before jumping to conclusions about PSWs, we need to look at the other side of the story and put more pressure on the government to put better systems in place.  After all, we are all going to be old some day!!

Lorraine Durnford-Hill

P.S.  If you know a PSW thank them for the dedication and support, especially for the past year and a half with the Pandemic

Lorraine is an independent consultant who works with children who have different needs.  She also works with adults who have issues with anger management.  She has taught at Georgian College and recently worked with a group of teachers for a Professional Development day on communication.  Her website is MyChildIsSpecial

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Add your thoughts to this Senior Care issue by contacting CARP

Fran Watson

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Arthritis Sufferer?

5 Tips To Improve Mobility With Arthritis

For many people, especially the elderly, arthritis is a debilitating illness. Arthritis causes increased inflammation around the joint that can lead to immobility and pain.

While there are conventional medical treatments that are available for people with arthritis, many wonder what can be done along with medication to help improve mobility with their arthritis. In fact, there are many natural methods to help manage pain and improve mobility.

This article will show you five different alternative therapies and treatments that can help you manage your daily arthritis symptoms and mobility issues.

Hydrotherapy

Web M.D. recommends hydrotherapy as a form of exercise for those with arthritis. Hydrotherapy is similar to exercise and a pool, however, the pool tends to be warmer than a traditional swimming pool. With hydrotherapy, participants can get all of the benefits of regular exercise without any of the impact on joints.

This may be especially beneficial to those with arthritis because the joints are particularly affected. Having an option for exercise that has zero impact on the joints can increase mobility as well as range of motion. Many times hydrotherapy is considered a form of physical therapy and may be covered by insurance.

Range of Motion Exercise

Many sufferers of arthritis keep the affected joints in a tightened position to alleviate pain. Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of increasing pain because it shortens ligaments and muscles around the affected joint. This means that instead of decreasing pain over the long-term keeping the joints in a tightened position will increase pain.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends all arthritis sufferers participate in range of motion exercises. The range of motion exercises typically includes stretching and extending the joints to their full ability. Some range of motion programs may include yoga  or tai chi.

Lose Weight

Because arthritis causes pain and immobility many sufferers of arthritis have excess weight. The excess weight increases pressure and damage on the joints. The increased pressure and damage on the joints increases pain which causes decreased mobility. It becomes a never ending cycle of increased pain and decreased mobility.

Mayo Clinic recommends that if you have arthritis, you maintain a healthy body weight. If you’re currently overweight and have a difficult time moving a healthy body weight can be maintained through proper diet.

A meeting with a dietitian can help you start a healthy diet if you are not sure where to begin. The dietitian or nutritionist may also have ideas on foods that can help decrease inflammation in the body and reduce pain from your arthritis.

Hot and Cold Therapy

One of the benefits of hot and cold therapy is that it can be done at home. The second benefit to hot and cold therapy is that it is very inexpensive. Heating pads and ice packs are easy to have on hand and don’t cost a lot of money. Healthline suggests that arthritis sufferers try alternating hot and cold therapy to affected joints to decrease pain.

You may find that some days cold therapy works the best on your arthritic joints while other days a heating pad may be better. Having both on hand to use is going to be the best way to ensure that this therapy is effective at increasing your mobility and decreasing your pain.

Massage

The arthritis foundation notes that one of the most beneficial treatments for mobility in arthritis patients is massage. Massage can help increase range of motion simply by relieving tension on stiff muscles and ligaments that surround the arthritic joints.

The arthritis foundation says that the best types of massage for people with arthritis are either deep tissue massage or Swedish massage. If you are having a high amount of pain deep tissue massage may be difficult to tolerate because of how deep into the muscle massage therapist will go. Either way, massage therapy is an easily accessible treatment to help increase your range of motion when you have arthritis.

While arthritis will not go away no matter how well you take care of your body, you can manage your symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. If you combine medication with these holistic approaches to treatment, you are sure to have a happier and pain-free life.

Fran Watson

P.S.  Be sure to comment if you found this post helpful.  Thanks.

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Heart Health

5 Ways to Improve the Health of Your Heart

Your heart is the muscle that gets the job done by pumping the blood that circulates throughout your body. Like all the muscles in your body, it needs to be taken care of. Many people don’t realize they have heart problems until a problem arises.

Preventative measures can improve the health of your heart and lower your risk of heart related diseases. When your heart is healthy, it contributes to continued good health for your entire body.

Dietary Changes to Help Heal Your Heart

You can begin to heal your heart by making the right dietary changes. One of the best changes to start with is to make sure that you’re eating the correct portion sizes. Changing what you eat won’t matter if you’re consuming more calories or carbs than your body needs, because this can impact your heart health.

This is where many people mess up. If you eat enough servings for two people, then your heart is working twice as hard regardless of what you’re eating. Even foods that are healthy can pack on the pounds.

Foods are labeled according to their serving sizes and you can follow this as a guide for how much to eat. For foods that don’t come with labels, such as items from the produce section or fresh meats, you’ll need to look up what the serving size is as well as what the carb load is.

For example, a banana, while good for you, contains 27 carbs if it’s around 8 inches long. Just half a cup of corn contains over 20 carbs. That carb count changes, depending on whether or not you eat it on or off the cob.

You can easily eat more carbs that you think you are and the carb count matters if you’re following a low carb diet to improve the health of your heart. You need to be sure that you follow a lifestyle diet that consists of low calorie foods that are high in vitamins and minerals.

These will be foods like fruits and vegetables. You’ll want to choose low carb vegetables such as broccoli. You can have an entire cup of this for only 6 carbs. Or, you can have a cup of raw spinach and only get 1 carb per serving.

If you don’t know what the serving size for a food is, then take the time to look it up. Keep a food tracker on hand so that you can refer back to it when you have the same foods again.

There are some foods that you’re better off avoiding, except on a rare or special occasion. Any food that’s processed or contains a lot of unhealthy fats is bad for your heart.

This is especially true of convenience foods, specifically fast foods. While they might be convenient time wise, your heart will pay the price. You’ll want to avoid food items that don’t offer much nutritionally.

An example of this would be butter or gravy. Neither offers you much nutritionally and you can switch both for lower fat, healthier options. Limit your salt, too. Even in people with no history of heart disease, consuming too much salt leads to a rise in blood pressure because salt forces the body to hold onto fluids.

Even if it’s not a long term risk, it still causes your heart to work harder to pump more blood than it should. You can go low sodium without giving it up completely, but keep in mind salt, like sugar, is a hidden ingredient in many food sources.

Exercise to Strengthen the State of Your Heart

When you get regular exercise, you can strengthen your heart. Exercise can prevent the prevalence of certain factors that put your heart at risk. For example, when you exercise, it lowers your blood pressure.

Lowered blood pressure means that your heart isn’t having to work as hard to do its job. Exercise also works to keep damaging health risks at bay – such as higher cholesterol levels, which can lead to clogged arteries.

When you exercise, you strengthen your heart by keeping your glucose level under control for those with diabetes. But exercise can also be a preventative for even developing a disease like diabetes, which directly affect the heart’s health.

Some of the benefits of exercising will take awhile before there will be any improvements, and you may not even be aware of these changes. When you exercise, the movement helps dilate your blood vessels.

This gives the body a boost of oxygen, which results in better cardiovascular strength. You’ll also benefit from having a lowered heart rate when resting. Having a lower resting heart rate means that your heart is able to supply the body with the blood it needs without contracting as hard or as fast.

This is easier on your heart. While exercise produces long term heart benefits, it also gives you short term perks as well. With exercise, your heart can become more resistant to things that might lead to poor heart health.

Even if you don’t exercise daily, your workout can linger as a boost for your heart. The positive benefits will still be there even after you’ve stopped exercising for that session. You may have seen advice that tells you to just “be more active,” but strengthening your heart isn’t as simple as that.

Moving around won’t give you any benefit unless it’s intentional in a way that makes your heart beat faster. Just as with any muscle in the body, the heart has to get a workout in.

If what you’re doing doesn’t cause your heart to beat faster and harder, then it’s not being strengthened. You need 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise in order to strengthen your heart.

One example of moderate exercise would be fast walking. You should walk fast enough so that you can’t easily breathe and talk at the same time. Running would also qualify as moderate exercise, as long your pace is rapid and steady.

Another example would be riding a bike, but only if there’s quick pacing or resistance. Riding a bike on a flat surface doesn’t force your heart to beat harder unless you’re biking fast.

For a better moderate exercise that strengthens the heart, you would want to bike up a hill. Cardio exercises are great for the heart. You can use stairs and go up and down them to get a heart workout.

Even doing chores around the house, such as mowing the lawn (using a push mower, not a riding one, of course) could be exercise to help strengthen your heart. As long as you keep up the pace, it will benefit your heart health.  I find dancing is a great way to work on strengthening the heart – it’s fun and doesn’t feel like exercise!!

Smoking Cessation Is Vital to Protect Your Heart

clouds

Certain bad habits can negatively impact your heart health and one of these habits is smoking. Whether you smoke daily or a few times a week, it can still affect your heart.  In order to protect and strengthen your heart, one of the best things you can do is to break this habit now.

When you smoke, the chemicals that are in the smoke hurt your heart and can cause health issues leading to heart attacks and other forms of heart damage. This damage to your heart, including the blood vessels, is what can lead to a build-up of plaque.

Many people think that being overweight or eating the wrong kinds of foods is what caused the buildup of plaque within the heart’s arteries. So they make sure they try to keep their weight down and eat healthier.

But those actions are not enough if you smoke. While that’s true that those issues can contribute to the condition known as atherosclerosis, smoking is one of the main causes of heart trouble.

Your arteries are like straws that allow the blood to get pumped throughout your body to and from your heart. When one of the straws gets clogged by the buildup, the result is thickening or narrowed passageways.

Eventually, the buildup creates a blockage where no more blood can flow through and that leads to a heart attack. Smoking makes your blood thick and sticky. This causes your heart to have to work harder to try to pump the blood.

It also elevates your risk of developing a blood clot within an artery, which can lead to sudden death. When you smoke, you’re also at risk for palpitations as well as heart rhythm abnormalities, such as atrial fibrillation.

But once you stop smoking, your risk factors drop drastically. Within minutes of giving up the habit, your heart will stop working as hard. The fast heart rate caused by the smoking will return to normal range.

The elevated blood pressure that’s caused by smoking will also return to normal. The problems that smoking caused – such as issues within your arteries, will be interrupted and in many cases, the damage can be undone.

When you smoke, your LDL cholesterol rises, which is one of the reasons smokers end up with plaque in the arteries. So by stopping, you lower your risk of having a heart attack or experiencing a clot, because you’ll also lower your cholesterol levels.

Stress Relief Shields Your Heart from Health Issues

Stress can happen daily. Everyone encounters it. What causes your stress can vary from day to day. You can go through stress because of physical injuries or by not having your physical needs met, such as not getting the right foods or losing sleep.

When you get sick, this can also be a stressor. If you’re going through an emotional upheaval such as a job loss, financial pressure or relationship strife, this will cause stress.

When you go through stressful times, cortisol floods your system. When your body has too much cortisol, it raises your blood pressure. The adrenal surge you get from stress can make your heart work harder, not to mention the other internal changes stress causes.

It’s these changes that take place that affect your heart negatively and raise your risk factor for a heart attack if the stress isn’t relieved. Research has shown that when stress is relieved, it lowers the impact of negative changes within the body that can affect your heart.

There are many good habits you can start now that give you stress relief to protect your heart. You can start an exercise program if you’re not already doing so. Exercising combats the way that stress affects the heart.  You might also want to try some meditation.

When you exercise, it lowers your blood pressure and can help eliminate the high influx of cortisol due to stressors. By exercising, you’ll be able to maintain a lowered heart rate, even when you do get stressed, so your heart won’t be working as hard.

Exercising will also help combat things like insomnia caused by stress so you get the sleep that your heart needs. It will also help you keep your weight at a healthy number so that you don’t increase your risk factors for heart disease.

Another way to introduce stress relief to improve heart health is to surround yourself with support. When you’re stressed, keeping everything that you’re feeling and thinking bottled up can raise your stress level and increases your chance of developing heart issues.

By talking to others, whether they’re family, friends or professionals, it can help you relieve the stress you’re going through. When you have this support system in place, it can help you steer clear of bad habits in response to stress.

If you’re experiencing stress, a way to reduce that stress is by addressing the issue head on. For example, if you’ve experienced a job loss and now you’re struggling with anxiety or depression or behavior that are unhealthy, then seek medical help so that you can alleviate how the stress is affecting your heart.

Black Coffee Rising as a Safeguard for Your Heart

If you’re like most people, you own a coffee maker. You may even own more than one type of coffee machine. Maybe you always felt a little guilty about your coffee habit, but there was no way you were giving it up.

You might have seen reports in the past that warned you about drinking coffee. These reports probably pointed to the caffeine in the beverage and advised that your health was better off without it.

Some of the warnings in the past suggested that drinking coffee could cause things like racing heart beats and elevated blood pressure. But a study has proven that this information isn’t correct.

If you’re someone who enjoys having a cup of black coffee, this habit is one that can actually improve the health of your heart. The study showed that rather than being bad for you, drinking black coffee has been linked to lowering the risk of heart failure.

So forget trying to cut back. In fact, the more black coffee that you drink – from two cups and up – the lower your risk is for developing a buildup in your heart’s arteries that will lead to poor heart health or potential heart attacks.

But there is a catch to this. You can’t drink decaf coffee and get the safeguard measures for your heart. The coffee you consume has to contain caffeine in order for you to gain this benefit, while decaf can be detrimental to your heart health.

A study showed that drinking decaf coffee can potentially cause heart related issues because decaf coffee can raise cholesterol. There was no definite proof involved in the study that compared the caffeine in coffee with whether the drink was warm or cold, but temperature changes do matter when it comes to the amount of caffeine the drink contains.

When hot water is used to make coffee, more caffeine is released into the brew than when cold water is used. The study also didn’t examine the type of coffee bean or the size or amount of grounds used to prepare the coffee.

However, the finer the grind, the more caffeine content you end up with in your coffee beverage. Though there has been some speculation concerning the color of grounds having more or less caffeine, the color of the coffee bean doesn’t matter nearly as much as the type of coffee bean when it comes to getting the caffeine benefits for your heart.

The caffeine differs depending on the type. For example, Robusta coffee is twice as strong in the caffeine department than Arabica is. This coffee is usually labeled as a strong coffee.

However, Arabica is the coffee bean that’s most often used by consumers. You can safely consume as much as five cups of coffee every day as a way to improve your heart’s health.

The best thing to remember when it comes to the health of your heart is that you need to do all you can to strengthen it while taking pressure off of it. You don’t want to wait until it’s in its most vulnerable and weakened state to commit to a health regimen for it.

Your heart is one of the most vital organs you have in your body. While you can’t see it operating, behind the scenes, it’s ensuring you’re capable of living life to its fullest. Make sure you do everything possible to treat it right and give it a chance to offer you the support you need to carry out your day.

Give yourself a baseline heart health test by checking your blood pressure, getting some tests done at the doctor’s office, and then seeing what you can do to make improvement from that point on.

To better heart health.

Fran Watson

 

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Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a little girl…

Have you ever noticed that all fairy tales start with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”?  But before they get to that part, they have to through some trials.  So it is with life. We usually remember the ending but we forget the middle.

Cinderella

Take Cinderella – she had to deal with the death of her father, followed by mistreatment by her step mother and step sisters.  She worked hard, doing everything she had to do.  Her spirit was strong and she was brave.  She never lost sight of her dream to marry a handsome prince, and in the end, she overcame all of the difficulties to meet and marry her handsome prince.

Snow White

Snow White was so beautiful that her stepmother was jealous and commanded that she be killed, but her cheerful spirit won over the knave who was to kill her and he spared her life.  She worked hard in the home of the seven dwarfs, ate a poisoned apple and slept until awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty was cursed by a wicked fairy with a sleeping curse that caused her and all the members of the palace to fall asleep when she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel.  She too was awakened by the kiss of the handsome prince.

Fairy tales are popular, because they not only resemble life, but also have a strong, positive message.  The story I’m going to tell you starts out with a “once upon a time”, and it ends with a “happily ever after”, and, of course, there are some difficulties in the middle.

A Little Girl

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  In typical Cinderella fashion, her dream in life was to grow up, fall in love with a handsome prince, get married and have children.  Now when this little girl grew up and decided it was time to get married she started looking around for her knight in shining armor.  Since she was in a small town in a rural area, there were lots of horses around for the knight to ride but finding the knight in armor was a little more difficult.  She checked out one “knight” after another, until she finally discovered one that stood out a little.  He had a convertible……”hmmmm,” she thought.  “Maybe this is as close as I’m going to get to the shining armor.”  So she chose to marry him.

She looked like a fairy tale princess in her lovely white gown, but the wedding wasn’t exactly a fairy tale wedding.  Their reception hall, although a grand house, was not a castle.  There were no dwarfs, or wicked step-sisters, or evil fairies casting spells, or even fairy godmothers; just a cast of friends and relatives who gathered to witness the I do’s.

Once the wedding was over, the knight and the princess started to settle down into the “happily ever after” part, but the knight felt the need for further conquests and decided to quit his job with the bank for another job and so he and the princess moved into a dungeon.  Well, actually, a basement apartment.  It wasn’t too long after that when their landlady decided that she needed the apartment.  It was to be for her son who was returning home, so they returned to her parents’ home where they lived in a small 9 x 10 bedroom for a month or so.  Her knight decided that prospects would be better in the big city – Ottawa.

While he was job hunting and they were apartment searching, they lived with his aunt and uncle.  Unfortunately his uncle was an ogre who started the day with beer and his Siamese cats were allowed to jump up on the table and eat from his plate.  After 3 weeks they moved to the Chicken Little motel where they lived for the next 6 weeks while they continued to hunt for their “dream castle”.  Good apartments were few and far between, so when they discovered a clean and airy one-bedroom apartment, they grabbed it as they walked through the door.

Their possessions were few, but they were happy.   They had a place of their own. They lived in that apartment with their bed, their two laundry hampers, their card table and a few pots and pans for a while before they purchased a couch, some curtains, and eventually some dressers.  They later moved to a two bedroom apartment in the same complex and then on to a new house in the suburbs just after their first child, a son, was born.  Now they could live “happily ever after” in their “castle”.

But wait, there’s more.  As the knight travelled around the country on his various quests, his eyes began roving over the other fair maidens around him.  He chose one or two to sample while his beloved waited at home with their child.  Although there was a second child on the way, the knight no longer felt the same and after she was born he began a long-term affair.

His beloved, not knowing that she had been forsaken for another, naively believed that his business troubles were what were causing him stress.  She believed this for almost four years and was pregnant again when she found out the truth.  Although he accompanied her to the hospital for the birth, she was alone with her child a few days later.

Because she believed in the vows she had made, they reconciled and moved to a small town in a rural area, but it didn’t work and he moved out again.  She worked part-time and raised her 3 children despite problems like the plumbing freezing in the winter and having to pump from an outside pump, not being able to do laundry and having to heat water on the oil stove.  She definitely was feeling like Cinderella as she swept the floors and kept the stove operating.

She knew the story of the 3 little pigs and so she tried to keep the wolf from the door so that he wouldn’t come and blow in their house of sticks.  And although sometimes she felt like she really needed a break, she did not ever consider taking the children to the woods and leaving them for the wicked witch with the gingerbread house to find.

She carried on and once again tried reconciliation with her knight in rusting armor.  This reconciliation resulted in a pregnancy – their fourth child.  Things seemed blissful for a while, but then realizing that he was continuing his unfaithfulness she chose to ask him to leave.

Once he was gone she continued working full time while raising her children.  She did not have the luxury of staying home with her youngest children and she was disappointed, but she knew that she had to support them the best she could.  She warned them not to open the door to strangers so that they would not end up in the wolf’s stomach like the little goat kids did.  Although she was handy with a needle and thread, she didn’t want to deal with stitching up a wolf.

She encouraged and loved her children and supported them in a variety of activities such as skating, hockey, basketball, volleyball, music, dancing, and baking gingerbread men.  She wanted them to enjoy their life and use their talents to be the best they could be.  And so they did.  She could not always protect them as much as she wanted to, but she loved them as much as she could”.  Sometimes it seemed like the Pied Piper lived at her house as the neighborhood children all gathered there.  It was not unusual to see 8 – 10 kids there at any time.  People even stopped by wondering if she was the old lady who lived in the shoe and if she wanted to take on more kids to look after.

The years passed much too quickly and her children began to leave home to go on to further education or employment.  Two of her children had children and all of a sudden she was a grandmother.  She thought she was much too young to be a grandmother, but it allowed her to have fun with them and not be too stuffy.  She didn’t ever want to end up eaten by the big bad wolf however, so she never requested any baskets of goodies be brought to the house, although it would give her an opportunity to meet a handsome woods man.

As her last child left home, she thought that now she could live “happily ever after” with her books, her sewing, her crafts, her friends and her computer. What she realized was that she had been living happily ever after all along.  You see, “happily ever after” is a choice we make every day.  We choose to be happy or sad — to have a pity party or a “just because its today” party.  Happily ever after is a state of mind, not a set of circumstances.  As she began to understand, she decided it was time to share with others what she discovered so that they too could begin to live “happily ever after” wherever they were in life.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The first step to a great life is to fill your life with a positive faith that will help you through anything. The second is to begin where you are.”

Too many people are waiting for something to happen, some event that will allow them to live “happily ever after”.  “When I win the lottery, when I get that new job, when I get that new car, when I meet a wonderful person,” and so on and so on.

In closing I want to remind you that you too can live “happily ever after” despite your troubles, despite your past experiences, despite whatever circumstances you find yourself in.  It’s up to you to choose.  Choose wisely.  As Zig Ziglar says – “Failure is an event, not a person.  Yesterday really did end at midnight, and tomorrow really is a new day.”

To making the right choices

Fran Watson

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Senior Fitness

The Importance of Fitness For Seniors

Fitness is vital for everyone, regardless of their age. However, as you get older, there are some increases in your needs, including a bigger need for being physical fit. Here are some reasons you should focus on your fitness as a senior.

Improves Cognitive Function

For a number of years, it’s been known that there is a link between physical activity and cognitive health. Some think this could be due to the increase of blood flow to all parts of the body including the brain. Having a well maintained routine has been shown to have a noticeably positive effect on depression, as well as a reduction in damage resulting from cognitive brain disorders. Daily exercise improves coordination and communication between the brain and the body, which is better for a healthy system overall.

Helps Prevent Diseases and Injury

It’s been discovered that an active lifestyle during the senior years can improve blood pressure, and in turn aid heart health. Getting your heart rate up for a sustained period helps to strengthen the heart which can help reduce the risk of heart failure. Exercise can also shore up the muscles that you need to remain balanced, which results in a reduction of risk for falling. The simple act of standing, extending and stretching can help preserve flexibility, which will both reduce risk of muscle injury, and help to slow or prevent loss of bone density.

Your Body Will Heal Better

When the body is heavily taxed, healing becomes a much more difficult process. A healthy body will be more efficient at repairs because it isn’t working as hard to keep the body alive. Having a healthy heart that pumps blood properly to all extremities, lungs that function, and a digestive system that can absorb and replace vital nutrients will create a situation that makes it easier for systems to focus on their job and replace damaged cells.

Listening To Your Body For Better Health

For many of us, better health does not come naturally. It is usually something we must work on in order to lead healthy lives and have overall excellent health. This means listening to your body and understanding what it is telling you about what is going on inside the body. Here are some ways you can listen to your body so you can have a life that is sustained by good health.

Watching The Scale

You can listen to your body every time you put on your clothes or when stepping on the scale.  Do your clothes fit right?  Are they becoming too loose on you or are they fitting snuggly?  Is the scale tipping one way or another in the wrong direction?  If you find that you are losing too much weight or packing on the pounds, it may be that you are being affected by stress and are not eating in ways that promote good health. Good health comes from eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. This is in lieu of eating processed foods such as cookies, cakes, processed meals, and candies—all of which have excess calories and preservatives that are generally unhealthy for you.

Eating too little can affect your health as well. When you eat less than the amount of food you are supposed to eat, you can suffer from lack of proper nutrients. Lacking in proper nutrients, your body does not function properly and you can cause yourself to be sick from lack of the nutrients to support immune health.

Listen To Your Digestive System

Your digestive system is not only the way you get proper nutrients. It also is the main way your body uses to protect itself from pathogens. The digestive system is one big part of the immune system so you need to treat it with the care it deserves. This means paying attention to episodes of diarrhea that can strip the colon of protective bacteria, constipation, and indigestion from being under excess stress or eating the wrong foods.

You can care for your digestive system by eating healthy foods and by taking probiotics, which can replenish the gut with good bacteria. Probiotics can be taken in by eating plain yogurt with live cultures or by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir.

If you can’t get it in the foods you eat, you can purchase many probiotic supplements at the drug store or online. Some of the best probiotics are those that come in spore form. The spores can survive the acidic environment of your stomach and then release the live bacteria in the intestines, where they take root and drive out the bad bacteria and fungi.

Listen To Your Cardiovascular System

This means following your blood pressure and pulse very carefully. If you are inactive or have a family history of high blood pressure, you may be suffering from high blood pressure and not know it. This is what happened to me.  My blood pressure was over 200 when I went in to see my doctor and he asked how I had even come into his office.  I felt fine, but it appears I was a walking potential heart attack.

Check your blood pressure every time you run across a blood pressure machine at the drug store or grocery store if you feel it might be high. When you see the doctor, your blood pressure will be taken as well. If it is consistently elevated, you may need to be on an antihypertensive medication or modify your diet and exercise program so you can avoid some of the many complications of high blood pressure.

You should check your pulse as well on a periodic basis. A high pulse can mean that you are too inactive or are under a great deal of stress. Exercise can cause your heart to function better and will slow your pulse to normal levels.

Listen For And Respect Signs Of Stress and Fatigue

Feel tired, but keep pushing yourself past your limits? Are you fighting fatigue on a regular basis, instead of taking the time to rest and rejuvenate? Fatigue and low energy are both your body talking to you and letting you know that you need to rest and relax, if you don’t listed you will crash and burn.

Are you ignoring anxiety, instead of looking to erase its sources and lower stress levels? Stress kills, and you are the only one that can take care to reduce its load on your body, mind, and spirit. Great ways to fight stress and its impact are Tai Chi, meditation, yoga and taking vacations on a regular basis.

Fran Watson

P.S. Please share these tips with any seniors you know and please comment if you find them helpful.

P.P.S.  New to Yoga?  Here are some tips to start – Over 5o Yoga

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