Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Showing Appreciation for Caregivers

By Cameron Smith

It’s the season to recognize the things in your life that you’re thankful for. Along with Thanksgiving, celebrate National Caregiver Month this November. National Caregiver Month is a time to let caregivers know how much we appreciate what they do. Caregiving is often a full-time job, tiring, and stressful. Whether you know a caregiver or not, there are plenty of ways you can participate this month. If you’d like to honor caregivers everywhere in November, here are a few ideas for ways to do so.

Giving to an organization that assists caregivers is the perfect way to honor them. There are plenty of organizations that provide resources, classes, and more for caregivers. Look up ones in your area and see if there’s a way to donate money or time towards their cause. If you’re passionate about fighting a certain disease such as Alzheimer’s or breast cancer, donating to organizations that specialize in these fields is a great help. These groups also typically provide excellent information to help out caregivers.

If you don’t have enough money or time to volunteer to the cause, you can help out by sharing this month’s purpose with others. Perhaps you can share a post on social media thanking caregivers and encouraging others to do so. Social media is a wonderful way to spread knowledge and positivity, so take advantage of this medium for National Caregiver Month.

If you personally know caregivers, there are many ways you can recognize their work. After doing some research on caregiver resources in your area, be sure to share them with a caregiver you know. It’s so helpful to speak with others in the same situation or to learn more about how to be a great caregiver. Sharing resources is an easy way to let a caregiver know that you’re thinking of them and you’d like to help make their job easier.

A gift or some time off are both wonderful things to give to a caregiver. Taking care of another person often brings on a lot of stress, so help them relieve some stress with a gift certificate to a spa or an offer to stay with their patient for a few hours. If you do plan on taking over their duties, be sure to ask ahead of time so you know you have all the resources to properly do the job.

Cameron Smith is an Outreach Coordinator passionate about personal safety. She shares safety information across the web including SimpliSafe's Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving: The Perfect Time for Family Meetings

By Deanna Leyh
The Thanksgiving holiday is less than two weeks away, and as families come together, it can be the perfect time to hold a family meeting. With out-of-state and long-distance family members gathering for the holiday, this is a good opportunity to talk about important issues going on with your loved one, such as long-term care planning, changes in condition, taking the keys away, health care decisions, living wills, etc. Below are some helpful tips as you prepare to hold your family meeting around the holiday that can help ensure that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible!

1)      Plan out who should be involved in the meeting. Most likely you’ll want core family members and other members of your loved one’s care team. Think about whether you want the care recipient present at the meeting or not. If some people aren’t able to be there, try having them call in or video chat so that they can still take part.

2)      Set up a comfortable, neutral location for the meeting to take place in, and try to plan out a good time to hold the meeting. Should it take place in the morning, evening, or after holding dinner?

3)      Set up an agenda for the meeting and start off by letting your family know about the goal of the meeting and what you’re hoping to accomplish by holding it. Be prepared for if things get heated. Set some ground rules at the beginning of the meeting, like taking a break if things start to get out of control or not allowing foul language or blaming each other.

4)      Share information to keep everyone on the same page during the conversation. Talk about any information related to the topic of the conversation, such as recent medical appointments, services in the home, power of attorney documents, etc.

5)      Assign tasks if necessary to family members and create a step-by-step plan on how you will accomplish the goals of your plan. Also, plan to do follow-up at a pre-set time in the future to check in with your family and see if you need to make any adjustments to your plan.

By following these tips, you can have a happy holiday with your family and also hold a successful family meeting!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tips For Keeping Your Heart Healthy

By Chloe Pearson
Photo: Pixabay


Most people think getting a healthy heart means that you need to be working out constantly and limiting how much unhealthy food you eat. Although this is somewhat correct, there are many simple things that can be done to help keep your heart healthy. Keep reading to find out some of our easiest and best tips! 


Eat fiber

Fiber is proven to lower your risk of heart disease. You should try to aim for at least 30 grams per day. Try to eat a variety of foods with fiber in them, such as whole grain bread, bran, and oats, but mainly, lots of vegetables.


Drink less alcohol and add more pure water

People tend to forget that alcohol contains calories, and drinking regularly has been shown to have a noticeable impact on your waistline. To avoid a serious problem with your health, keep to the recommended daily alcohol limits. Drinking lots of pure water in its place will make your heart and body much happier and healthier.


Don’t just look at the scale

Checking your weight is a good idea sometimes. However, it’s important to look at more than just the number. You can track your progress in other ways. Some of these include having fitness goals and achieving them over time, measuring your waistline, or reducing your body fat percentage. Simply looking in the mirror and seeing the changes in your body works, too!


Eat more fish

Eating fish twice per week can help protect your heart against disease. This includes fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, and salmon, as well as supplementing with high-quality omega-3 pills. (However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not have more than two portions of oily fish per week.)



Being active is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Whether you are going for a 15-minute walk around the block, working out at the gym or at home, lifting weights, or taking a dip in the pool, your body will thank you. No matter what you choose to do, try to get your heart rate up every single day.



If your blood pressure gets too high, this extra force can damage your artery walls and create scar tissue. This makes it harder for blood and oxygen to get to and from your heart. As a result, your heart has to pump harder, and will wear out faster. It is important to know what stresses you out as well as how to calm yourself down when you feel yourself getting worked up. Understanding this about yourself will help maintain your heart’s health.


Love life

This tip ties right into the last tip: you should do more of what you love! This will inevitably mean that you are stressed out less. Whether you enjoy meditation, yoga, walks with your dog, or spending time in nature, make your favorite activities a priority at least a few times a week.  Make it a point to spend time with people that make you feel good about yourself and that you can talk to, laugh with, and confide in. It’s good for your emotional health as well as your heart.


Reward yourself

Making small changes can still take time and effort. Make sure that you reward yourself for every positive step you take towards a healthier heart. You can ask your friends and family for support, or you can even ask them to join you on your quest for improved health. Your heart’s future will be better for it!


Having a healthy heart is an important part of an overall healthier you. Remember, small changes can make a huge difference! Start by picking one of these tips and incorporating it into your routine. Once it feels natural to you, implement a new one. You will be on your way to a healthier and happier you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It’s That Time of Year…Medicare Enrollment!

By Deanna Leyh

It’s open enrollment for Medicare, which means you have from now until December to think about your health care needs and the best health and drug plans for you! Open enrollment runs from October 15th until December 7th, so there’s only a little over a month left for you to make your elections.

How will you decide whether you want original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan? Or if you want a Medigap plan? How about choosing which supplemental is the best for you? There are a lot of questions that can come up as you think about what plan would be best for you. Information is key if you have questions, so check out the Medicare website at to start finding answers. Here you can find out the costs of various plans, see what services each plan covers, look into supplements and other insurances, and even apply or change your plan online.

Additionally, the APPRISE program in Allegheny County is a great local resource that offers free volunteer insurance counselors that can help answer your questions related to health insurance and help you make decisions about Medicare, Medicaid benefits, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), long-term care insurance, and supplemental insurance. To connect with APPRISE or to learn more about their services, call 412-661-1438 or email, or visit their website at

Don’t wait until the last minute to pick your Medicare plan for 2018—time is running out! Make sure that you have all of the information and knowledge you need to make the right choice and to ensure that you get the best healthcare coverage for yourself.