I will be the first to admit that for the majority of my life I didnt care to much about my health. I ate anything and everything I wanted, did minimal exercise, and never really made sure I was getting a good night sleep. Luckily for me, I am naturally very thin so putting on lots of weight was never a concern. However, after graduating college I made a lifestyle change and decided it was time to start controlling my diet, going to the gym 5-7 times a week, and making sure I am getting 7-8 hours of sleep. It's truly amazing the difference a healthy diet and regular exercise can have on your quality of life. Not only will your physical condition improve, but so will your mental condition. You will feel more energized, more confident, and stronger.
After looking through the first issue of the year in StrokeSmart magazine I came upon the article below. Although this article was found in a magazine geared towards stroke survivors, these 6 tips for wellness can apply to anyone. Check it out and get on the path to Wellness!
By Sara Palmer, PH.D.
If you made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, take a class or stop smoking, you've taken the first step toward wellness. Wellness is about feeling your best physically and emotionally: haing more energy, getting fit, relaxing and enjoying life.
When you're a stroke survivor, wellness is also about reducing your risk of a second stroke. Here are six steps you can take to reduce your future stroke risk and improve your wellness for the year ahead. But don't try tackling all of these at once. You'll have better success at implementing thse changes if you only take on one or two steps at a time.
1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
Medical conditions you may have had before your stroke can raise your risk for a second stroke or heart disease. These include diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Keeping these conditions under control - by changing your diet (less sugar, salt and fat), exercising, using medications, as prescribed and seeing your doctor for regular checkups - is essential to taking care of yourself and feeling well.
2. SLEEP TIGHT.
A good night's sleep renews physical energy and improves concentration, memory and learning. Sleeping well at night and taking naps can reduce the debilitating fatigue many stroke survivors experience. Scientists' recent discovery of a neural system that "scrubs" the brain and flushes out toxins during sleep may explain why your brain works better and you feel refreshed after a good night's sleep. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, keep TV and electronic devices our of the bedroom and create a relaxing pre-sleep routine (such as taking a warm shower).
3. DEAL WITH DEPRESSION.
It is very common to be depressed after a stroke. This state of mind can make you feel miserable and can raise your risk for other illnesses. Treating depression with mental health counseling or entidepressant medication can be very effective. Regular sheep, exercise and social support can also help.
4. EAT RIGHT.
Your diet can be nutritious and delicious without excessive calories. In general, diets with more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, less sugar, salt, red meat, butter and cheese are lower in calories, help control weight and reduce our risk of illness. Try eating smaller portions, enjoying your meal without distractions (like the TV), sampling some heart-healthy recipes, tasting new vegetables and using a sugar substitute. A dietician can customize a diet for your medical needs - to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, control blood pressure or manage digestive or swallowing problems.
5. GET MOVING.
Physical activity helps you lose weight, sleep better, feel good about your body, improve your mood and maintain the ability to do the things you enjoy. Choose an exercise you like and can do, such as walking, gardening, dancing or swimming, so you'll stick with it.
6. STAY SOCIAL.
Research studies show that social support is a key ingredient for mental and physical health cand recovery from illness, including stroke. Having a large number of social connections and a few emotionally intimate relationships (e.g. with a spouse or best friend) are linked with better recovery of abilities, including thinking and memory; less chance of becoming depressed; more accurately following medical recommendations; and better quality of life. Stroke support groups are an excellent way to find friends who know what you're going through.
Time for another video blog! This week Wendy discusses overcoming incontinence denial and shares a story from one of our valued patients. Its a quick video so give it a watch. Thanks as for tuning in.
Welcome back! We here at Men's Liberty talk a lot about Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). Not only are UTI's the most common hospital aquired infection but they can often times be prevented. Check out the video below and as Wendy debunks some of the common myths surronding urinary tract infections!
As some of you may know, this month is National Senior Independence Month. So it only seems fitting that we have a video blog that addresses America's aging population. As the "baby boomer" generation ages and more of them go into retirement, the number of seniors in America is going to be at an all time high. This video gives some tips on how to keep yourself in good health and remain independent as you age. Give it a watch!
I read a lot of articles and blog posts on caregiving, however, it is rare that I come across an article that is written to caregivers from a patients perspective. The post I bring you today is written byToni Bernhard, who has published two books and is cared for by her husband (who is also named Tony). If you enjoy this article, I would suggest checking out her website as well. Enjoy the read!
In August 2013, I posted “A Not-To-Do List for the Chronically III.” It led me to turn my attention to those who take care of us. In a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “Quality of life: impact of chronic illness on the partner,” JRSM, v. 94 (11) Nov. 2001, the authors stated:
…the most striking research finding is a tendency for the partner’s quality of life to be worse than that of the patient.
The people who are least likely to be surprised by this finding are not just caregivers, but those who are in their care. The study focused on partners and spouses, but I'm certain that the finding would be the same when the relationship of caregiver and “cared-for” is parent/child, child/parent, sibling/sibling… or a host of other relationships.
From my own personal experience, as well as from feedback from others, I’ve learned a lot about the life of a caregiver (called “carers” in most countries other than the U.S.). If you’re a caregiver, here is my Not-To-Do list for you.
1. DO NOT shy away from sharing with others that you’ve become a caregiver.
The reluctance to tell others about this life-changing, high stress event is particularly prevalent among men. They’re likely to hide it at work. They often hide it from their friends. It’s a sad commentary on our culture that we still haven’t found a way to make men feel comfortable sharing with others that, when they’re at home, they’re taking care of a partner, a sibling, a parent, or a grown child. They’re doing the cooking and the cleaning; they’re running all the errands; they may even be providing nursing-type assistance.
The consequence of caregivers hiding their role is that people who’d be willing to help don’t even know that help is needed. Not only can this lead to caregiver burn-out, it also helps account for why caregivers have a high incidence of clinical depression. The National Family Caregiving Association found that over 60% of caregivers who provide at least 20 hours of caregiving a week suffer from depression.
If you’re a caregiver, I hope you’ll talk to others about your life. If you’re the one being cared for, encourage your caregiver to share with others the difficulties he or she is facing. No one benefits from a caregiver “going it alone.” It may take only one friend to make a significant difference in a caregiver’s life: one friend whom he or she can confide in and talk to about how stressful and difficult life has become; one friend whom he or she can ask for help and support. “Troubles shared are troubles halved” is one of those good clichés.
2. DO NOT pretend that everything is like it used to be; you need time to grieve the loss of your old life.
Many people (including myself) have written about the need for the chronically ill—including those in chronic pain—to go through the same type of grieving process that’s triggered by other life-disrupting events, such as the break-up of a relationship or the death of a loved one.
If you're a caregiver, you need time to grieve too.
The drastic change in your life can be a shock. One day you were free to go out whenever you wanted and hang out with whomever you wanted. The next day, you were tied to the house and expected to understand how to take care of someone who may need help with the most intimate of life functions. Our culture does a poor job of prepare people for this very real possibility. (An estimated 45 million people in the U.S. alone are caregivers for elderly relatives or the chronically ill.)
In addition to grieving the loss of freedom, you may be mourning the loss of the relationship you once had with the person you're caring for. In my life, except when we were at our respective jobs, my husband (also named Tony) and I used to do almost everything together. Now when he goes out, he almost always goes out alone.
This past Christmas, Tony went to a holiday party—by himself. He rarely goes to these events anymore, but the couple who were hosting it issued a special invitation to him, so he went. He saw people from our smallish town whom he hadn’t seen for years. This is the type of event that would have been fun for us to “compare notes” about afterward. Instead, when he got home, he told me who was there and how they’d all asked how I was doing (a question that, once answered, tends to be a conversation killer, even though people ask with the best of intentions).
Pretending that everything is like it used to be doesn’t work: caregivers need time to mourn the loss of their old life and to adjust to their new one.
3. DO NOT attempt to be Super Caregiver.
Let yourself have “bad” days when, even though you’re doing what needs to be done for the person you care for, your heart isn’t in it and you wish you were free of the obligation and the burden. Don’t feel guilty if resentment arises now and then. Like everyone else in this life, you’re going to have good days and bad days.
On the flip side, don’t feel guilty when you have a good time. Be on the alert for that Super Caregiver mentality that has you thinking you’re not an adequate caregiver unless you’re giving the person in your care 100% of your attention and unless you’re sure never to have more fun than he or she is having.
Speaking personally, I want Tony to have a good time. It makes me feel less bad about the drastic change in his life and about the responsibilities he’s had to take on. As an added bonus, it makes me happy to know he’s having fun. Buddhists call this mudita—feeling joy for other people who are happy. It’s a practice to cultivate, and a wonderful side-effect ofmudita is that feeling happy for Tony often boomerangs, meaning it comes back at me so that I begin to feel happy myself, as if I’m having a good time through him.
A few weeks ago, he took our granddaughter, Cam, to see the Harlem Globetrotters. When I was growing up, my dad took me to see the Globetrotters whenever they came to town, so it would have been a treat for me to take Cam. But I couldn’t, so Tony did. My choice was to beenvious and resentful—or to be happy for Tony. I chose the latter. And so, throughout the afternoon, I imagined the two of them in their seats—Tony pointing out a dribbling sleight-of-hand that Cam might have missed, both of them laughing at the Globetrotters' antics just as I had. The result was that I felt joy myself, especially knowing that my caregiver was having a good time.
4. DO NOT be reluctant to share your challenges and difficulties with the person in your care.
Of course, every relationship is different, but sharing your struggles with the person you’re caring for can make the two of you closer, despite the many changes in your lives together.
Many caregivers are reluctant to share their difficulties for fear of making the person in their care feel worse. But sharing your struggles and even your sorrows can make the “cared for” person feel as if he or she is giving you emotional support. As a result, not only will you get that support, but the person you’re caring for will feel as if he or she is contributing to the well-being of the relationship. In addition, there may be important issues, such as financial constraints, that badly need to be talked about in order to avoid harder times down the road.
5. DO NOT become isolated yourself even if the person you care for is housebound.
Caregivers are often as isolated as the person they’re taking care of. If this is the case for you, consider asking someone to step in for part of a day so you can do something for yourself. Many communities have programs that provide this kind of support. In my town, there’s an organization called Citizens Who Care. They have a program called Time Off for Caregivers. Volunteers visit people’s houses for the specific purpose of allowing a caregiver to go out for a while.
There are also online support groups for caregivers that can go a long way toward easing isolation. Here are two organizations that can help: Family Caregiver Alliance,http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/home.jsp, and Empowering Caregivers, http://www.care-givers.com/. Connecting with others in this way benefits both you and the person you’re caring for, because it puts you in touch with others who understand the challenges you’re facing. Not only can this uplift your spirits and renew your commitment, it can also provide valuable information that will make it easier for you to carry out your responsibilities.
6. DO NOT neglect your own health.
You can’t be an effective a caregiver if you don’t care for yourself physically and emotionally. Ignoring your own physical and mental health can negatively impact both you and the person you’re caring for.
Caring for yourself is part of being a good caregiver for another.
© 2014 Toni Bernhard www.tonibernhard.com
Thank you for reading my work. My most recent book is titled How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow.
I'm also the author of the award-winning How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers
Wendy is back with a new video blog this week to give you tips on how to improve your health literacy. What are you waiting for, give it a click!
Well I am just over the three-month mark since receiving stem cell treatment and of course the question on everyone's mind is, "What is happening?" In short, a alot and a little. Huh? Take a chair, I shall elaborate.
First the little...When nerve injuries of any kind heal it's very much like the old TVs where you had to fool with the antennae to get a strong signal. It would flicker and fuzz as you narrowed down the hot spot. They give hints, and then come in clearer, for short periods, then longer, then permanent. Each nerve needs to undergo this process. Somethimes the changes are imperceptible at first then I notice a new feeling or a more accurate sensation or a stronger muscle contraction so that...little by little...progress. The lot of it is mainly in my core. I am now no longer using a chest strap as a safety precaution to keep me in the chair because my core control and strength is much improved. My therapy session on January 2nd at Push to Walk saw a major boost in progress. I am using my hip flexors with minimal help from the trainer. I am now doing flexion exercises both standing and sitting. As I activate the muscles to move my leg, the muscle groups in my thighs and hips are tightening. This mean complex nerve signals.
In response to a recent photo I posted on Facebook of my brother and I standing side by side in December of 2013 a family member posted one of us standing side by side in 1992. In the most recent I am standing in a gait-training harness that allows me to bear weight while standing flat on the floor. It stretches the tendons in my knees back to normal and helps me focus on the nerves needed for standing. It feels good to stand and feel the weight on my legs and the stretch of tendons and ligaments. The old photo was of course before my injury and I had completely forgotten about it. As I sat and stared at it for some time a deeper revelation of change being the only true constant in life settled in. It was like looking at somone else.
Strangely I did not feel the regret I thought it would drag up, but I did have a wish. I looked into the eyes of this young teenage...what I now realize was just a boy...so self-assured and strong on the outside, but insecure and self-conscious, looking for validation on the inside. I wanted to have a conversation with him. I wanted to tell him a few things, I thought about what I'd say. I'd tell him to slow down and relax. I'd tell him Jesus was not coming back before his 21st birthday. I'd tell him you may hate school now, but you'll long for these days to do over again. I would tell him to stop worrying what others think because they are just worried about what you think of them. Besides in three years they'll be gone only to show up 20 years later on Facebook fat or bald or with grandkids. I'd say, "Get over yourself, what you think you want in this moment is fleeting, it will change. If you want to be a man be quiet, listen, sit still, work hard, observe and give 100%." But above all, I would look that young man in the eye and I would smile, I'd tell him everything is going to be ok. It may get hard, real hard, but no matter what, be true to yourself. Stop trying to please others in what you do, say, wear and believe and follow your heart, your true will. You will make mistakes, but get up, do it again. When the dust settles you'll be the last man standing and standing on your own two feet.
I'll never get to have that conversation with the young man in that photo. He had to learn a lot of it the hard way and is still learning, but he's got muscle movement, he's got progress, he's surrounded by the coolest friends in the world and the stem cells are working.
So where do we go from here? Up. Forward and up.
Thanks for reading.
This week I would like to introduce the next featured employee of the week, Chris Berlin. Chris has been part of the Men's Liberty team for about 8 months now and works as one of our Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) processors. He is an important part of what we do because the faster he can process the LMN's, the faster we can get our product to our patients. So without talking too much, let me introduce Chris.
Name/Nickname: Chris Berlin
Length of time at BioDerm: 8 months
Position: LMN Processor
Born and raised in New York, Moved my senior year and finished High School in Spring Hill, FL. I didn’t plan on going to college but wanted to pursue a career in music instead. But with Spring Hill, FL barely being listed on the map of Florida, there aren’t many places for employment to sustain living on your own so I decided to go to Community College where I received my Associates Degree. While in college I opened my own sunglass distribution business where I was supplying wholesale sunglasses and eventually readers into many local and out of state businesses. I sold my business after college to go full force with my music career, but my friend and collaborator in music passed away, shortly after, at the age of 27 due to a cancer growing in his throat. I changed my vision, although grieving, and focused my future on my career in business and to grow my family, which I am now a proud father of a beautiful baby girl.
1. What 3 items would you bring with you if were stranded on an island?
- Lighter or something to start a fire
2. Top 3 movies of all time?
- Bad Boys 2
- A Man Apart
- Bad Boys (in that order)
3. How do you take your coffee?
I don't drink coffee
4. What is your dream car?
Chevy Stringray like the one you see in the movie Rush Hour.
5. What is your biggest pet peeve?
If someone tells me I did or didn't do something when I know for a fact I didn't or did do it.
6. What is your favorite color?
7. What is your favorite genre of music?
8. Who is your favorite sports team?
Not a sports fan.
9. List some leisure activities you participate in?
Working on cars (mostly accessories like car audio /video and some body modifications), photography, and traveling.
10. Comedy or action movies?
11. What is your biggest fear?
Not knowing all the variables to my future.
12. What do you enjoy most about working for BioDerm?
Everything to the environment, people, size of the company, my role in the company and how I feel about working for a company that truly helps people.
13. What surprised you most about Men’s Liberty/incontinence when you first started?
Men's Liberty is changing our patient's lives on a daily basis. Each day I am helping the medical community give options that they did not believe existed before I called their office. Once I explain the difference between Men's Liberty and any other product for male incontinence on the market, there becomes a clear choice of what really works.
14. What did you eat for breakfast?
15. What is your guilty pleasure?
Excessive planning of the future.
16. If you could pick one person to meet, living or dead, who would it be?
At least one of my grandparents, I have never met either from my mom's or dad's side.
17. If your life was turned into a movie, what actor would you play?
18. When you were young what was your favorite TV show?
Saved by the Bell
19. Where would you go on your “dream vacation”?
Go to Europe with my family.
20. If you were an animal what kind of animal would you be?
This week I have another blog to share, brought to you by Judy Oppenheimer. This was originally posted on Slate.com and the article discusses aging as a baby boomer and the stigma that can come with aging.
The Internet is awash these days with stories about aging parents—suffering, terminal, demented, irritating, just plain old old parents. How difficult it is to care for them, how to evaluate nursing homes, how to broach important subjects like wills, funerals, power of attorney, DNR, so on into the night. A recent articleurged people to use the holiday season to bring up these matters—after all, Mom and Dad will be right there, presumably eager to hear what plans you’ve made for their imminent collapse/demise.
OK. It makes a certain amount of sense. Baby boomer issues have had a stranglehold on the media for the past 60 years or so. There are a lot of us, and now we are aging. And dealing with aging parents can cause difficulties, true enough; it can be comforting to hear how others have handled these situations.
Comforting, that is, for those who have aging parents. Not always all that comforting to the aging parents themselves.
As a member of this latter group, I have drawn up a few pointers I’d like to share with everyone out there whose parents have managed somehow to get beyond 65, 70, 75, even further. Things to keep in mind:
We’re not dead yet. Most of us aren’t even that out of it. There is a certain facial expression many of us start seeing in our adult children around the time we hit 65. It involves a faint tilt of the head, accompanied by an intense, pained stare, not unlike that caused by a sudden gastro attack. I’ve named it the “uh-oh, she’s starting to lose it” look. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re either lucky or haven’t been paying enough attention (or are losing it). Nearly anything can bring it on: a mispronounced name, a forgotten date.
Undoubtedly, this look is a direct effect of all the attention given to the aging-parent problem lately. Recently a certain statistic has made the rounds, and it’s unquestionably a scary one: Fifty percent of all people over 85 are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. If that’s scary to you, dear children, think of how scary it is to us! But also remember the other 50 percent—those not developing Alzheimer’s. And those of us in our 70s who aren't part of that stat and don't need it forwarded to us, thanks. You too forget your keys now and then.
Other things, too, can bring on the look. Being less knowledgeable than one’s children about current cultural references, for instance. True, we may be unclear on which Kardashian sister is which, or even worse, what the point of knowing this is—but this does not mean we’re losing it. Same goes for our iPad learning curve. We were fully grown when the technology revolution roared into being. So, admittedly, it may take us longer to learn how to use some of the most popular tools of the day. (Though many of us have discovered that Google can be a senior’s best friend when it comes to memory, 18 percent of us are wedded to our smartphones, and way more are on Facebook). Does our lack of tech savvy bother you? Ha. Just ask yourself who is more at ease with everything tech out there today—you or your 4-year-old? And realize, while you’re at it, that you are NEVER going to be as at ease with all this stuff as your 4-year-old. And that’s just now: Imagine how hard it’s going to be to master all the new tech marvels coming down the road. That sound you hear in the background will be us, your parents, chuckling from the great beyond. Or possibly the next room.
Now, the grandkids. Too many of you assume we know nothing, as befits anyone on their way out, about raising children. One of my friends raised three of them, and is a pediatric nurse practitioner who operated a wellness clinic, and served as a professor at two medical schools. She is, however, 70, so how can she know anything about babies? Once when she was attempting to calm her crying 6-month-old grandson, she flipped on the TV to distract him. It worked immediately—but a few minutes later she heard a key in the door. She nearly wrenched her back trying to get the TV turned off before her son and daughter-in-law got inside. Because all TV is bad for babies, no matter what or when.
It’s not that I don’t trust the studies that say this. It’s just that we did things differently raising you because that was how it was done back then, and because for the most part, everyone does it the way it’s being done at the time. It takes a highly unusual person to forge her own path, make her own rules, particularly when it comes to child rearing, and most of us weren’t that unusual. We put our babies to sleep on their stomachs, let them bike without helmets, strapped them into poorly made car seats, and even worse, occasionally had a glass of wine while they were still in utero. We used white bread, and tuna fish and hot dogs and took everyone to McDonald’s. Horrifying, I know. We’re perfectly willing to learn today‘s rules and apply them to our precious grandchildren, whom, you undoubtedly have realized, we adore beyond measure. We understand the reasons behind the new guidelines. But it would be nice if you would realize we did the best we could back then according to the information of the day—exactly like you’re doing now—instead of giving us the “you did what?” routine. Who knows, there may even be more information and different rules coming down the pike that will affect your own grandchildren. You too may someday hear that sharp intake of breath that comes when a grown child realizes exactly how much jeopardy you put them in when they were growing up. I won’t even get into some of the stuff our own parents did.
But there are signs of hope. At a recent toddler get-together I attended, one little guy stumbled and fell, receiving a sizeable bump on his forehead. Amid all the hysterical fuss, I did what I would have done long ago—quickly prepared a cold compress. Later the mother told me she had seen how unexcited I was and instantly relaxed. “I knew then it wasn’t serious,” she said. Her tone was matter-of-fact, so I just nodded. I never let her know she’d made my day.
Judy Oppenheimer is the author of Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. She has written for the Washington Post Magazine, Washingtonian, and Salon.
Good day, Good day! For those are you that live up north, I hope your staying warm. I was recently forwarded this list of tips orginally posted on the Live Confidently website. Check them out and let us know if they help!
With the winter months upon us, many people who experience urge or stress incontinence may notice an uptick in bladder leakage issues. There was never a clear link between incontinence and cold weather until a 2005 study by Whittington Hospital in London found that cold temperatures were a major factor in increased urinary incontinence. The study showed that this could be for two reasons: one, because our bodies don’t sweat out excess moisture during colder months, and two, because cold weather induces bladder muscle overactivity and causes us to feel the urge to go more often.
Whatever the case, there are a few tips you can follow to make sure that you are prepared and ready to take on incontinence when the temperature drops.
Decrease your intake of caffeinated beverages. Coffee and other hot beverages that contain caffeine, like tea and hot chocolate, can stimulate the bladder and also act as a diuretic. It’s best to stick to water or non- caffeinated beverages such as apple cider or peppermint tea.
Use the bathroom before you leave the house. This will ensure that your bladder is empty and will prevent you from having to remove bulky winter layers to use the restroom.
Keep moving and wear a jacket. This will help to keep your body warm and your bladder muscles from tensing up.
Find the right protection. For a true sense of ease, it’s best to find the right incontinence products for your specific needs.
Do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comment section below.
As always thanks for reading.