Ways to avoid the flu

If you have to cough or sneeze, make sure you do it into the crook of your elbow or a facial tissue, and not into your hands. Dispose of the tissue in a wastebasket immediately.

When you wash your hands, it’s important to scrub them for 20 seconds, the mechanical action and time spent scrubbing will help reduce the number of bacterial and viral particles on your hands.
The flu virus is spread by droplets associated with coughing. It’s also spread by direct contact with sick people and surfaces that have been contaminated by sick people.

The flu is a hardy virus, and can survive on hard surfaces and doorknobs up to 24 hours. One of the most common ways to catch the flu is to touch your face after you touch an infected surface such as a desktop, doorknob, computer keyboard or smart phone.

So, pay attention and focus on not touching the inner part of your eyes, nose or mouth as a primary way to reduce your risk of contracting the flu.

How to know if an aging friend needs help

When caring for an aging friend or relative from afar, it can be hard to know when your help is needed. Sometimes, your relative will ask for help. Or, the sudden start of a severe illness will make it clear that assistance is needed. But, when you live far away, some detective work might be necessary to uncover possible signs that support or help is needed.

A phone call is not always the best way to tell whether or not an older person needs help handling daily activities. The person may not want to worry you or may be embarrassed to admit that he or she cannot handle certain daily activities.

With the person’s permission, you could contact people who see the person regularly, such as neighbors, friends, doctors, or local relatives, for example, ask them to call you with any concerns. You might also ask if you can check in with them periodically. When you visit, look around for possible trouble areas.  It’s easier to disguise problems during a short phone call than during a longer visit. Make a list of trouble spots you want to check on, then, if you can’t fix everything during your visit, see if you can arrange for someone else to finish up.

In addition to safety issues and the overall condition of the home, try to determine the older person’s mood and general health status. Sometimes people confuse depression in older people with normal aging. A depressed older person might brighten up for a phone call or short visit, but it’s harder to hide serious mood problems during an extended visit.

Healthy Holiday Eating

Try these tips to make meals healthier without sacrificing taste or fun:

Swap ingredients for healthier options. Cutting calories and saturated fat won’t make your meal less flavorful. In fact, it’s likely no one will taste the difference. In baked goods, instead of butter, stick margarine, or shortening, use softer tub options. Cut sugar in side dishes by leaving off sweet toppings like marshmallows or whipped cream. Replace white bread with whole grain or wheat bread or white rice with brown rice.

Keep portion sizes healthy. Heaping platters of food can make people want to eat large portions or take seconds. To decrease overeating, use smaller plates, serving utensils, or bowls. Serve a buffet-style dinner on a separate table, so guests have to get up for seconds. Offer take-home containers, so guests don’t feel they have to eat everything “now.”

Create active after-dinner traditions. Instead of taking a nap, do something to burn off extra calories and promote family fun. Play a family game of touch football, or take an after-dinner walk.

Holiday Hints for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family. Maintaining or adapting family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and family identity. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this link with a familiar past is reassuring.

However, when celebrations, special events, or holidays include many people, this can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with Alzheimer’s. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you and the person with Alzheimer’s visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors during holidays.

Many caregivers have mixed feelings about holidays. They may have happy memories of the past, but they also may worry about the extra demands that holidays make on their time and energy.

Here are some ways to balance doing many holiday-related activities while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Celebrate holidays that are important to you. Include the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible.
  • Set your own limits, and be clear about them with others. You do not have to live up to the expectations of friends or relatives. Your situation is different now.
  • Involve the person with Alzheimer’s in simple holiday preparations, or have him or her observe your preparations. Observing you will familiarize him or her with the upcoming festivities. Participating with you may give the person the pleasure of helping and the fun of anticipating and reminiscing.
  • Consider simplifying your holidays around the home. For example, rather than cooking an elaborate dinner, invite family and friends for a potluck. Instead of elaborate decorations, consider choosing a few select items.
  • Encourage friends and family to visit even if it’s difficult. Limit the number of visitors at any one time, or have a few people visit quietly with the person in a separate room. Plan visits when the person usually is at his or her best.
  • Prepare quiet distractions to use, such as a family photo album, if the person with Alzheimer’s becomes upset or overstimulated.
  • Make sure there is a space where the person can rest when he or she goes to larger gatherings.
  • Try to avoid situations that may confuse or frustrate the person with Alzheimer’s, such as crowds, changes in routine, and strange places. Also try to stay away from noise, loud conversations, loud music, lighting that is too bright or too dark, and having too much rich food or drink (especially alcohol).
  • Find time for holiday activities you like to do. If you receive invitations to celebrations that the person with Alzheimer’s cannot attend, go yourself. Ask a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you’re out.

Ways to Prevent Wrinkles

You can avoid some of the factors that make wrinkles worse by following this advice:

  • Always protect your skin from the sun. That means limiting how much time you spend in the sun, slathering your body in sunscreen any time you’re outdoors, and wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and wide-brimmed hats to keep the sun off your skin and guard against wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer.
  • Don’t smoke. When it comes to smoking, it’s best never to start. But if you are a smoker, stopping now will help keep your skin looking young and prevent wrinkles. It’s never too late to reap the benefits of quitting smoking.
  • Stay out of the tanning bed. Don’t use tanning beds, period. Those rays will damage your skin, leaving you more prone to wrinkles (and possibly skin cancer as well).
  • Keep skin hydrated and moisturized. Drink lots of water all the time. Make it a healthy habit while you’re young and continue into your senior years. It’s also important to use a daily moisturizer if your skin is dry to keep it supple and smooth.