We are proud to announce that HealthFlex has once again, been awarded a 5 Star rating from Medicare for Patient Outcomes and Quality of Care!
We are honored and thankful for having the opportunity to work with such an amazing community here in the Bay Area. A very big thank you to all of our amazing staff, nurses, therapists and all our supporters who have given us the opportunity to work with them.
After only 3 years, HealthFlex has been recognized as an industry leader, delivering superior quality care to thousands of patients. Many families have greatly benefited by choosing us as their home health providers. We hope to continue creating better, more efficient ways of delivering the best care, to your home.
As we look into the future of home care, we take a grasp on the changes and challenges we face and respond with innovation and advancement. Please stay tuned for our exciting Telehealth technology and Transitional Care programs.
The HealthFlex Team
One of the best – and easiest – ways we can support our own mental and emotional well-being is by remembering to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. This isn’t a virtue that is often supported in our culture, which often touts the benefits of “life in the fast lane” or “going for broke.” But it’s still important – and even more so as we grow older.
The little things in life are what we will cherish when we look back on our lives and enjoy fond memories. This could be the joy of time spent with close friends or loved ones, the first moments in a child’s or grandchild’s life, or even a lazy afternoon spent with a good novel. Or it could be enjoying the cycles of the seasons and the beauty of nature. It could be doing a simple kindness for a friend, or receiving one in turn.
Without slowing down to appreciate these small things, what is the rest of life made of? It winds up being nothing more than the daily grind of work, the various disappointments we all face, and the occasional crisis that comes out of nowhere. Between these events are the little things in life. And while individually they may seem insignificant, when they are added up, they’re really what make up the vast majority of what makes us happy in life. While we tend to think of life in terms of years, it’s really composed of the small moments that take place every day. Many of these can be forgettable on their own, but together they provide the richness that results in a life lived well.
So whenever you have a moment, appreciate it. Take time to see the little things that make your life richer, and try to be thankful for them when you can. If you find that you haven’t taken the time to slow down and step out of the daily grind in a while, do yourself a favor and take a quiet moment to spend with loved ones, friends, or just by yourself.
Your overall mood and energy levels during the day are highly influenced by the kind of sleep you’re getting at night. Unfortunately, many older adults report difficulties sleeping through the night, and as a result they have lower energy during the day. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you are getting the kind of natural, productive sleep you need to stay mentally focused and emotionally balanced and have a great day.
Maintain a regular schedule. Your body is on a circadian rhythm – the natural cycle between sleep and wakefulness. Only by maintaining a regular schedule can you avoid throwing it out of balance. Keep a regular bedtime, and get up at the same time every day. If you lost sleep at night, make up for it with an afternoon nap.
Increase daily light exposure. Getting enough natural light exposure is important for your body’s ability to maintain its circadian rhythm. Spend more time outside during the day. Avoid wearing sunglasses when possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day to let as much light into your home as possible.
Decrease light exposure at night. In our modern age, we are exposed to more sources of unnatural light than at any other time in human history – and this can have a negative impact on our ability to get enough sleep. Turn off the TV and computer at least an hour before going to bed, and turn off overhead bulbs in favor of softer light from lamps. Avoid reading from backlit devices in favor of ones with darker screens.
Make the bedroom a refuge for sleeping. Use heavy light-blocking curtains to make sure it is as dark as possible and reduce outside noise. Use white noise to cancel out any noise that does filter in, such as a fan or soothing, soft music. Keep your bedroom slightly cool and well-ventilated, as this will also help improve sleep.
Brushing and flossing teeth every day is vital to making sure they stay healthy. Plaque – the enemy of healthy teeth – can build up quickly on teeth that are not brushed regularly. And as we grow older, we become increasing at risk for tooth decay and gum disease, particularly if we do not brush and floss. Whatever your age, it’s important to maintain healthy teeth by brushing at least two times a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride; floss at least once a day; and get regular cleanings and oral exams from your dentist. Additionally, rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash can help lower levels of the bacteria that cause plaque buildup and gum disease.
During a dental exam, seniors can expect their dentist to conduct a complete history of their oral health as well as a full oral exam. Often a cleaning will also be in order. You should be ready to tell your dentist the date of your last dental check-up, as well as any emergency visits. Also, keep track of any recent changes in your gums or teeth, and whether you have recently had difficulty chewing, swallowing, or tasting food. Be sure to let your dentist know if you have had any pain or bleeding in your mouth, or if you’ve noticed any sensitive or loose teeth.
Your dentist should check to see if you have any problems in your bite or jaw, as well as the inside of your cheeks and tongue for signs of infection or ulcers. Finally, they will thoroughly examine your teeth to look for any signs of decay, monitor the condition fillings or crowns are in, and look for cracks or broken teeth.
Be sure to follow any instructions or advice your dentist provides about maintaining your oral health. If you take care of your teeth over the years, they’ll take care of you.
Meditation isn’t just for cloistered monks anymore – it’s becoming increasingly popular in mainstream culture as a method for reducing stress, improving emotional and mental well-being, and grounding oneself. Meditation is practiced by everyone from yoga instructors to high-powered attorneys, and can be done in many different ways. It doesn’t matter whether it involves saying a mantra out loud to calm the mind and focus the imagination, sitting quietly and concentrating on breathing rhythmically, or even praying to a higher power. All of these methods provide similar benefits to the person doing it.
Research has shown that meditation doesn’t just have perceived benefits to one’s mood and overall sense of well-being. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, mitigate chronic pain, promote healthy cells and even lower levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream. All of these meditative benefits provide improved health in both the short-term and the long-term, leading to fewer health problems later in life. And meditation can provide a calmer, more steady outlook on life. A recent study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta found that people who meditated regularly for six weeks exhibited less emotional distress and a lower immune reaction when they were presented with a stressful situation.
But that’s not all. Meditation can actually improve cognitive function and help build and strengthen connections in the brain. A number of studies have confirmed that meditating makes neural pathways more flexible and adaptable, which can help reduce anxiety and improve empathy. And a 2012 study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that regular meditation could actually speed up the processing power of the brain, improving cognitive function. And exciting new research has shown that meditation impacts the areas of the brain that are most effected by Alzheimer’s – potentially slowing the onset of the disease.
A case of the flu is an unpleasant experience for anyone, but because the elderly are especially at-risk for developing serious complications from contracting the flu, they should take extra precautions to stay safe during flu season. People between the ages of 70-80 have less immunity than seniors between the ages of 60-70, and are at even greater risk as a result. Here’s what seniors can do to reduce their risk of contracting flu.
- Get vaccinated Vaccines can help prevent 80-90% of those that get them from contracting the flu, and when more people in the population are vaccinated, the spread of flu is reduced significantly, protecting even those people who did not get the vaccine. Because seniors have higher risk of contracting flu, they should get the vaccine, particularly if they are in a nursing home or retirement community.
- Practice good hygiene Flu spores can remain viable on doorknobs, railings, and other surfaces for hours – so it’s important to frequently wash your hands and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching them. Caregivers for elderly persons should be especially careful to practice good hand hygiene to prevent transmitting infection.
- Avoid sick persons Most flu transmissions occur when a sick person comes in contact with an uninfected person, and coughs or sneezes in their direction. If you know someone is sick, avoid contact with them until you know they have fully recovered. And if you are sick, stay home from work and avoid social events in order to prevent spreading the flu.
- Maintain your immune system. Your immune system is going to be working overtime to help you recover if you do contract the flu – so it’s important to make sure you are giving it all of the tools it needs to stay strong and ready for the worst. Exercise and diet are two of the best ways to maintain your immune function. Be sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are packed with immune boosting compounds.
Fruits are delicious, nutritious, and colorful – but did you know that many of the molecular compounds that give fruits their vibrant color are also great for building your immune system? A number of different compounds give fruit their different colors, including acids, oils, and phytonutrients. These same compounds are used by the body to fight off infections and reduce inflammation. Eating a healthy amount of colorful fruit is one of the best things you can do to build your immune function. Different colors indicate different healthy compounds:
Orange and Yellow fruit typically contain the most vitamin C, among other nutrients. Citrus fruits get their bright colors from the more than 8,000 different flavonoids they contain. And flavonoids have been shown to have antioxidant properties, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function. They also not only have direct antibacterial properties, but also have been shown to actually work synergistically with antibiotics, boosting their effectiveness.
Red fruit have many antioxidant and immune-building properties as well. Cranberry juice has long been known to contain compounds that can prevent and treat urinary tract infections, and also can help reduce the need for antibiotics in elderly patients. Tomatoes get their red color from lycopene, a compound that also has antioxidant properties and helps promote cell health. And goji berries are becoming an increasingly popular “miracle fruit” that has been shown to increase the levels of important immune cells in the bloodstream.
Blue and Purple fruit are a great source of antioxidants as well. Blueberries get their color from a group of compounds called anthocyanins, which like lycopene are potent antioxidants. These compounds can help reduce inflammation and stress on the immune system. Red (or purple) grapes also contain anthocyanins, and regularly consuming grapes can significantly boost antioxidant levels in the body, helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as promoting longer life.
Spicy food is popular all over the world, from spicy chilies in Thai food to “atomic” hot sauce in Southern cooking. A number of studies have found that it may not simply be for the thrill a spicy meal gives our taste buds – there are a number of health benefits to spicy food, which may be why we crave spicy food. These health benefits can help improve heart health, prevent cancer and even help us live longer. As we age, these concerns become more important – so if you don’t already incorporate spicy foods into your diet, you may want to start. Here are some of the top benefits to eating spicy foods:
- Promotes weight loss Studies show that capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy chilies their kick, can raise the body’s internal temperature and improve metabolic processes, helping burn calories for up to twenty minutes after a spicy meal.
- Improves cardiovascular health Those cultures where spicy food is the most popular tend to have much lower rates of heart attack and stroke than the rest of the world. Part of the reason may be that capsaicin helps reduce inflammation, which is a major risk factor in heart disease.
- Lowers blood pressure Capsaicin has been shown to activate a receptor in blood vessels that helps relax them and lower blood pressure. Spicy foods also reduce the effects of bad cholesterol, another cause of high blood pressure and cardiovascular health problems.
- Prevents cancer The American Association for Cancer Research has found that capsaicin can kill certain kinds of cancer cells. And one of the key ingredients to many curry dishes and mustards – turmeric – may be able to slow the growth of tumors.
If you aren’t someone who tolerates spicy food easily, you can still get the health benefits of capsaicin and other spices. Green and red bell peppers have capsinoid, a molecule that is similar to capsaicin and may mimic some of its benefits. And mild curry dishes contain all of the benefits of turmeric and other spices – without the burn.
Spending time with grandchildren can be one of the most rewarding experiences of growing older. Grandkids are awfully cute, and spoiling them is practically a grandparent’s duty. And watching grandchildren grow, take their first steps, and learn is very gratifying. But it turns out that spending time with grandchildren isn’t just fun – it also has very important health benefits for grandma and grandpa.
A recent study published in the journal Menopause found that spending time with grandchildren just one day a week could actually lower grandmothers’ risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. In this study, the researchers tested the cognitive abilities of 186 women between the ages of 57-68, 102 of whom were grandmothers. They found that women who spend at least one day per week babysitting their grandchildren scored the highest on the tests. But they also found that those women who spent five days a week or more taking care of their grandchildren scored the lowest. They suggested that this was because these grandmothers felt their own children were demanding too much of them. The resulting emotional distress could have impacted their cognitive function.
So what does that mean for grandparents? The social interaction and enjoyment gained from spending time with grandchildren matters in terms of emotional well-being and mental ability – but there’s a limit to its effectiveness. If grandparents are being relied on as caregivers too much, ultimately it could have a negative impact on their quality of life and overall mental health. Grandparents should spend time with their grandchildren and get all of the benefits of doing so. But they should also make sure they are taking care of their own needs and looking out for their own emotional well-being.
For older adults, eating right provides numerous benefits, including improved mental capacity, better immune function, more energy, and faster recovery times from illnesses. Good nutrition keeps the body healthy and strong, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, bone loss, and diabetes. Good nutrition also helps keep the mind sharp and can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. And a wholesome diet provides more energy and improves mood and self-esteem. Here’s a short guide to nutrition for older people:
Women over the age of fifty who are not very active need about 1600 calories a day. That number goes up to about 1800 calories for somewhat active women and 2000 calories for very active women. Men who are over 50 need about 2000 calories a day. Men over 50 who are somewhat active need between 2200-2400 calories a day, while very active men need about 2800 calories a day. These numbers depend on height and weight as well, so they should consult with a physician for precise figures.
Foods older persons need
- Fruit whole fruits are preferred to juices, as fiber and vitamins are more available in them. A variety of fruits is important to getting a full complement of vitamins.
- Vegetables at least 2 cups of vegetables daily. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich in antioxidants and calcium. Again, variety is important.
- Grains whole grains are much better than processed white flour because they have more nutrients and more fiber. Try to select bread, cereal, and pasta that have the words “whole grain” in the ingredient list.
- Protein older adults who don’t have kidney disease or diabetes need a daily serving of about 25 grams of protein per 50 pounds of body weight. Rather than relying only on red meat for protein, try to vary your sources. Fish, legumes and beans, and nuts are all excellent sources of protein.