CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 4. Issue 2
Letter From The Editor:
The first day of Spring is 11 days away, which hopefully means warmer weather and putting flu season behind us!
This month I bring light to the social media revolution that baby boomers are becoming a part of to do just that. Baby boomers are joining the social media world at an increasingly high rate, many doing so to keep in touch with family and friends.
I also take a look at the new phenomenon of laughter yoga, a form of yoga used in treating those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. This movement, which is supported by the theory that laughter has significant health benefits, suggests that laughter really is the best form of medicine.
Finally, this month the federal government released 2011’s Dietary Guidelines. An emphasis was placed on a reduced sodium intake and the dangers of a highly sodium-saturated diet. Americans, in particular, are at risk for sodium-related diseases. So much so, that the American Heart Association reduced their maximum sodium intake from 2300 mg to 1500 mg.
This past month was very busy for us here at Home Care Assistance as we launched our new logo and website! Take a look at our new site here. Please read on to take a deeper look at the topics I touched on above.
Baby Boomers Joining Social Media, Too!
It seems to me that everyone from my 11-year-old neighbor, to some of our current Home Care Assistance caregivers, have joined the social media world in one way or another. I admit, I myself have a Facebook page, Twitter account and blog. Social media has become not just another hobby, but an integral part of staying in touch with others and staying afloat in the professional world.
What I didn’t know is that baby boomers are now joining social media, along with the rest of the world, at an increasingly high rate. According to CBS.com, “Social media use among internet users aged 65 and older grew 100 percent last year, so that one in four (26 percent) people in that age group online are now logging onto Facebook, Twitter and the like.”
The reason for this huge increase: Boomers’ desire to stay in touch with their kids and grandkids who are becoming increasingly distant. A letter, the telephone, even email will not suffice for keeping in touch with mom and dad, grandma or grandpa. These outlets of communication have become archaic, compared social media’s current capabilities.
Social media as a business tool is the second reason for its increased use. Boomers can use it to search for and receive advice concerning local doctors. They also use it to promote themselves and their own professional endeavors. Age is only a number when it comes to using social media for business purposes. It is a trend affecting every age group.
Specifically, one aspect of the article that caught my attention is the rate in which elderly caregivers use social media compared to other boomers. "(Elderly caregivers) use social media for 150 minutes per month and view 70 percent more pages than the average internet user," says Matt Carmichael of Advertising Age Magazine while examining a study by gerontologist Laurel Kennedy. "They are driven to these sites by several primary reasons: To validate and reinforce their feelings; To simplify and customize their lives because using social media to keep up with friends and family can help keep things streamlined; and for information and advice" (CBS.com). Caregivers are turning to social media for support throughout the caregiving process.
I see social media in almost every facet of my daily life. Of course, there are both positive and negative aspects of it. It will be interesting to see how the presence of social media affects the home care industry even more in the coming years.
Laughter Yoga: Treatment for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Laughter Yoga. I never even knew it existed as a form of yoga until I came across this article on aarp.com. But it seems this movement is growing as a popular treatment for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What started as a "laughter club" for research purposes in 1995 has grown to approximately 6,000 sites in 60 countries that now offer laughter yoga.
Madan Kataria bases laughter yoga on the theory that the body cannot tell the difference between fake laughter and genuine laughter. Therefore, laughing for no apparent reason can have the same health benefits as laughing because of a joke.
Clapping, breathing and laughing to evoke positive emotions is the main idea surrounding laughter yoga. "Laughter brings more oxygen into the body and stimulates motion, stability and balance. It generates the feel-good endorphins and that boosts the immune system," says Angela Aracena, Director of adult day services at Easter Seals in Miami, Florida.
The theory that laughter is contagious seems to ring true, as caregivers benefit from laughter yoga as well. The treatment is all about living in the moment, which is really all that these Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can do. Seeing their patients happy, in turn, makes them happy. Additionally, laughing together creates a great bond.
I guess laughter really is the best medicine!
Why High Amounts of Sodium do not do a Body Good
Eating a sodium-free diet by choice may be difficult to imagine, especially when you don’t suffer from high blood pressure or food-restricting conditions like diabetes. However, it may be a smart move.
A recent article in the Huffington Post lists numerous negative health effects caused by high sodium consumption, which includes kidney disease, osteoporosis, asthma and even gastric cancer. The majority of these negative health affects are a result of the average sodium intake in America today. About 3500mg of sodium is consumed by a single individual in a day. Compared to our early ancestral diet of natural foods where there was only 1000mg of sodium, this is a grotesquely high number.
Living in a society where fast food and other unhealthy options are readily available makes sodium and diet constrictions a challenge for many. Unfortunately, a high sodium diet puts even the healthiest person at risk for health trouble beyond high blood pressure. So much so, that the American Heart Association has recently dropped its recommended maximum sodium intake from 2300 mg to 1500 mg.
Unhealthy eating trends over the past decade have varied among Americans. Only until recently, has affordable, organic food become more mainstream and widely available. Stores like Trader Joe’s can be found in more local neighborhoods. Whole Foods, although pricier, offers organic, pre-made balanced meals that provide consumers a variety of options to chose from.
Eating less sodium doesn’t have to be a painful alteration to your lifestyle. Not to mention, the health benefits you will gain from eating a low sodium diet will far outweigh how you looked and felt before!
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Barbara Bryson
This month’s Caregiver Spotlight honors Barbara Bryson from Home Care Assistance of Southern New Jersey for her professionalism, compassion and dedication to her client. Barb has been in the health care field for over 20 years and she has been a Certified Home Health Aide for over 16 years.
Barb’s stays with her client Nancy five days a week. Nancy is unable to effectively verbalize her thoughts and ideas due to the effects of a brain tumor and stroke. The two have built such a strong bond that Barb is now able to anticipate most of Nancy’s needs before they arise. Speaking on behalf of the family, Nancy’s daughter Jane says:
"Barb is an absolute gem. Not only is she reliable, caring and compassionate, but she is truly a wonderful person. She is very respectful of my home which is very important when you have someone in your home every day. Barb has become as close to a family member as we could hope for."
Barb provides daily companionship to Nancy and accompanies her on appointments and other trips outside the home. She has happily agreed to stay overnight at the home when Jane needs to travel for business. In addition to the great bond Barb has formed with Nancy and her family, she has also found a new friend in their dog Petey!
Thank you, Barbara, for all your hard work! You are an inspiration to us all.