June is Men’s Health Month!

June is Men’s Health Month!

If you are feeling worn down as a caregiver for an aging loved one, you are not alone. You may feel isolated, at times, desperately needing the support of others and seeking guidance as to how to make your life a little easier.  One thing is for sure, all across the country many of us are struggling to care for our loved ones. It’s likely that each one of us will be caring for a loved one in the future. And caregiving is not a short-term commitment.

Being a caregiver takes a toll. This is evidenced both emotional and physically. Unfortunately, our own bodies do not stop needing care while we provide care for others. Many of us are also providing for our own families, still maintaining a day job as well as needing to care for ourselves.  Coping as a caregiver means being able to discern not only your loved ones’ needs but knowing the importance of caring for yourself.

There are some basic “caring” support measures that we must offer ourselves. Remember, you are a very important person, and you need and deserve proper care.

  • Exercise Daily: Whatever our caregiving schedule, we can only take care of others if we take care of yourselves. Walk, run, stretch, lift weights, dance, and do whatever you do, but do some physical exercise 30-60 minutes four to six times a week. If you only have ten minutes a day to exercise, this better than no time at all. A walk around the corner is a great way to clear your mind. Exercise truly does relieve stress, increases your energy level and protect your health. Strength training two times a week will help keep your bones strong and your muscles firm. This is important if you are caring for someone else. Every morning, think through your day and try to anticipate little pockets of time you can devote to exercise. Take whatever measures you must to make it happen…do as if your life depends on it!
  • Accept Your Own Limits: As a loving caregiver, we want to be able to say; “I can do it all”, but we need to accept, that we also must care for ourselves.  We must proactively ask for help and support from outside. Taking good care of yourself and your loved one involves recruiting additional help at times.  Even if you feel you do not need extra help now, you will need assistance in the future. Everyone needs a break and time to enjoy their own life. It’s so much better to have peace of mind that the world will go on without you when you need or want time away. Talk to your doctor, a senior care professional, a pastor or others that you trust about your situation. Respite care is an excellent resource for giving you “time off” from caregiving to take care of yourself.   Plan ahead by making a list of people you can recruit to help you. Having options will help you manage the extra demands of your time and give you a sense of control.
  • Relax: Daily relaxation is vital to our own health. Deep breathing, meditation, praying, or doing whatever helps you to reduce stress. If possible, take time at the beginning and the end of the day to practice these techniques and any other available moments you can.
  • Talk: Everyone needs to share their own caregiving challenges and successes. It is always reassuring to know that you are not the only one having certain struggles. Find people you can trust and share your heart with them. Join a support group for caregivers. Just know that you are not alone and hearing another person’s story can be a great comfort. You may help someone else as you share your thoughts and feelings as well.
  • Schedule Time for Yourself: You may not remember the last time you left your responsibilities and just took time for yourself. Caregivers typically feel very guilty taking time away from their loved one. Taking time to do something that is not work-related will actually make you a better caregiver. Read a few pages from a book, window shop, take a nap or go to the beach. It is not just okay, it’s vital for your wellbeing.
  • Get Enough Rest: If you are lacking on your sleep, your body will soon let you know. Without proper sleep you’re putting your own health at risk. Try to get at least eight hours of rest each night. If you are required to be up at night with your loved one, take naps the following day when your loved one is sleeping.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet: If you are preparing meals for your loved one, this should be a good way to manage eating healthy for yourself. Just as you want your loved one to eat well, your nutrition is vital to your health.  Keep veggies and fruit available for snacks, eat whole grains, avoid high fat and carbohydrates, increase your water intake to six to eight glasses a day and avoid concentrated sweets and too much caffeine.
  • Get Organized & Simplify: Being a caregiver, a parent, a grandparent, a worker outside the home, etc. brings many demands of your time. Control those demands by recruiting your own family to help with chores at home.  Stay organized daily with whatever method works for you. Simplify by saying no to activities that may not fit the current demands of your time.

Caring for a loved one is a tough job. At times it’s frustrating, overwhelming and exhausting. It’s also one of the most rewarding jobs you will ever do. But, as a caregiver, you know your loved one is reliant on you and wants you to be healthy and happy. We all perform better physically and mentally when we are taking care of ourselves. So make sure you’re not forgetting to make yourself a priority.

Trim Your Electric Bill with These Energy-Saving Tips

Trim Your Electric Bill with These Energy-Saving Tips

As of the summer of 2018, the average US household spends $183 a month on their electric bill alone, and prices are steadily rising, according to the US Department of Energy.

The first step to demystifying your electricity bill, and hopefully reducing it, is to take stock of where you use the most energy. You can find a professional energy auditor to help you assess your home’s energy use, potentially for free, through your electric company or the Department of Energy’s website: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver. If you follow their efficiency upgrade recommendations, you could reduce up to 30% off your energy bill.

Here are their top tips:


Heating and cooling takes up the largest chunk of your monthly energy bill, but these tips can save you money while staying comfortable.

  • Clean your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit every 30 days to keep the system running efficiently.
  • Keep the blinds open in the winter and closed in the summer to minimize the need for running the air conditioner.
  • Using a ceiling or floor fan instead of your air conditioner can help to keep temperatures and costs lower in the summer.
  • Seal leaks, doors and windows. Weather-stripping and sealing leaks can reduce energy use by 15% to 30% a year, estimates the Department of Energy.
  • Buy a programmable thermostat. For as little as $20, you can automatically set your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day. Doing so can save up to 10% on your heating and cooling costs

Water Heaters

Water heaters are typically large energy consumers. The Department of Energy suggests lowering the temperature on your water heater from the standard 140°F to 120°F. This can reduce water heating costs by 4%-22% annually, without any noticeable difference in water temperature.


One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of saving money is to use LED bulbs, which last as much as 50 times longer and are 90% more efficient than traditional bulbs. Replacing your five most used lights with Energy Star approved LED bulbs can save you $75 per year.


Washing your clothes in cold water can substantially cut costs, since about 90% of the electricity used by washing machines is used to heat the water. The average household can save up to $40 per year using this tip. Also consider air drying your clothes when possible. Dryers are the most energy-hungry appliance in the average home. A typical dryer can consume as much energy per year as an energy efficient refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher combined.

When it comes time to replace your old appliances, consider an Energy Star efficient unit. While it might cost more for the initial investment, an Energy Star certified refrigerator will yield an average savings of $270 in energy costs over five years.

Energy Vampires

A typical American home has 40 products that are constantly drawing power, even if they’re not in use. Energy vampires like your phone charger, computer, television and coffeemaker, are responsible for 10% of your electricity use and can cost the average household $100 a year, according to the Department of Energy. Use a “smart” power strip and keep everything plugged into this single source, making it easy to turn off everything at once when these appliances are not in use. Smart power strips also automatically cut power to devices that are in standby mode.


It is also worth contacting your utility company about potential senior and low-income discount programs, energy-efficiency rebates and off-peak rates which can provide up to 30% discounts on standard rates.

By Caren Parnes




Leading Senior Care Company Offers Lower Cost, Greater Control and Consistency of Care

Novi, MI   – May 16, 2018 – Hallmark Homecare, Inc. is proud to announce its recent expansion to the Greater Southeast Michigan area.  The newest office of this rapidly-expanding Caregiver Search, Recruitment and Placement company will be directed by Carrie Akin and Tim Seipke, who has recently joined Hallmark Homecare as Franchise Partners.

Hallmark Homecare provides professional caregivers for the elderly, and is an affiliate of The Senior’s Choice, the largest and most recognizable membership network of senior care providers in the world. Founded in 1999, the company has served tens of thousands of seniors in helping them remain independent at home. A recent benchmark survey conducted by Home Care Pulse, a third party private duty home care survey company, showed that senior care business owners trained by the Hallmark Homecare executive team are consistently among the top performers in the nation when it comes to client satisfaction (scoring at or above ‘Best of Home Care’ in all 13 categories), a feat unreached by any other group nationally. Hallmark Homecare is also a member of the National Private Duty Association and the Private Care Association.

The Hallmark Homecare executive team’s years of experience in the senior care field revealed that many clients prefer to directly hire independent caregivers (rather than engage a traditional senior care agency) for a host of reasons, including significant savings. However, in doing so, clients open themselves up to great legal and tax risks. Hallmark Homecare provides American families with a one-of-a-kind solution to their senior care needs, with such benefits as:

  • Lower Cost – clients save 35% or more compared to a typical homecare agency.
  • Greater Control – clients directly determine their perfect caregiver, services and schedule.
  • Care Continuity – Hallmark never re-assigns a client’s preferred caregiver, as often happens with typical agencies, and also provides dependable caregiver backup service.
  • Stronger Client/Caregiver Bond – the Hallmark model truly allows the caregiver to become a client’s care expert.
  • Legal Compliance – unlike most registries and caregivers who promote themselves as Independent Contractors, Hallmark safeguards clients by providing professional liability insurance, arranging for worker’s compensation policies that protect both our clients and caregivers, and assisting with employment-related tax reporting.
  • 90-Day Unconditional Guarantee of Satisfaction – if within the first 90 days of service, your caregiver decides to quit or you decide to replace her for whatever reason, Hallmark will replace your caregiver for no additional fee.

“We are proud to join Hallmark Homecare in providing our community with a powerful senior care option, one in which families can legally hire quality professional caregivers directly to provide their loved ones with the in-home care that they deserve. We believe that families should have choices and not one model of care is right for all. Hallmark allows us to offer another solution to families,”  Tim Seipke.

To contact your local Hallmark Homecare office

Call 248 327 2200
e-mail cakin@hallmarkhomecare.com.

Nutrition is Important at Every Age

Nutrition is Important at Every Age

Nutrition plays an essential role in maintaining the health of seniors. Inadequate nutrition results from poor quality food choices and/or inadequate calories, both which can contribute to low energy, muscle loss, malnutrition, and obesity.

As we age, it’s common to have a reduced appetite. Your sense of taste and smell may also diminish which often leads to eating less. Although reducing caloric intake as your physical activity level declines is appropriate, you need be sure to get enough calories and nutrients to maintain healthy bones, muscles, and organs. Even if your daily calories match your activity level, calories from processed foods are lacking in nutrition and contribute to both obesity and malnutrition. You actually can be overweight and malnourished! So, limit foods that are high in processed sugars, saturated and trans fats, and salt. Instead, choose nutrient dense foods that will help you to stay energized and fit.

Even if you don’t feel thirsty, getting plenty of water to stay well hydrated is vital to maintaining healthy brain and organ function as well reducing the incidence of constipation. Be sure your fluid intake averages half your body weight in ounces.

Protein is a key nutrient for elderly adults to improve muscle health, help maintain energy balance, weight management, and cardiovascular function. A majority of seniors require more protein than when they were young. Although protein is important, be careful to not overeat protein which can contribute to kidney issues, gout, increased fat mass, and more. Talk to a licensed nutritionist or a doctor to know what’s best for you. Some high-quality protein options are:

  • Legumes— beans, lentils, peas
  • Lean animal protein—chicken, turkey, fish, limited beef
  • Eggs
  • Limited dairy (avoid if it causes GI issues)
  • 100% Nut butter

For a healthy digestive system and to avoid constipation and other problems, include fiber-rich foods at every meal. Soluble fiber is especially important for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Good sources of fiber include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oats and oat bran
  • Whole grains

Focus on filling your plate with vegetables, both raw and cooked. These foods are packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for a well-functioning body. Frozen fruit and vegetables without any added sugars or preservatives are a great option if spoilage is an issue. When preparing vegetables avoid unhealthy ingredients such as vegetable/corn oil and excess salt.

We often think of fat as unhealthy but it’s important for cellular and brain health, energy, hormones, and neurotransmitters.  Healthy fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Coconut
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives/extra-virgin olive oil

Healthy eating is important throughout your entire life; don’t let age be an excuse to eat junk. Remember that food is fuel and supplying your body with the best nutrient-rich fuel helps you prevent or manage chronic health conditions. It can also help you feel stronger and energized, allowing you to enjoy the golden years of your life.

Contributed by:
Marcy Kirshenbaum
Enhance Nutrition

The Rewards of Decluttering

The Rewards of Decluttering

There are obvious reasons to declutter. Safety: Clutter can trip us up. Efficiency: With declining eyesight, it gets hard to find things we use everyday. Focus: Messy environments can make it hard to process information.

Clutter is a growing problem today among all populations, and especially the elderly. To help your loved one downsize, create more room in their home and/or just make it safer to age in place, it is important to note the difference between hoarders and clutterers. Hoarders are obsessive and will often need a trained professional specializing in obsessive compulsive disorder to let go. Clutterers, the more common type, are more apt to let go with a little encouragement and support. This article deals with the latter.

Why Is It So Hard to Do?

Whether you want to pare down the stuff in your home, garage, or a storage unit, one problem is knowing where to start. The more we have, the more overwhelming it is. And for some of us the idea can be extremely anxiety-producing. A recent Yale study found that for some people, a part of our brain reacts the same way to the anticipated loss of valued possessions as it does to the idea of quitting an addiction. And there is the additional factor for  the elderly of not wanting to lose a connection with the past, whether that be old school papers or a favorite jar opener you’ve had in the family since 1969 (most of us have at least one of these things still hanging around the house!)

Some Tips for Success

  1. Get “buy in” from your loved one.Discuss the benefits for paring down, including potentially making some money from reselling your “stuff.” That can be through a yard sale, consignment shop, Craig’s List, or eBay. According to the New York Times, a well-planned garage sale typically nets between $500 and $1,000.
  2. Share the process.Come up with ways to make it an enjoyable activity you share, such as reviewing old photos or school papers together, or doing a “fashion show” to see what clothes to keep. Create incentives—such as an outing or meal after doing a certain amount of “work.”
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at once.Help your loved one develop a strategy that addresses a room at a time, and then a single task at a time, so they are not overwhelmed. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than three hours of sorting a day, which is about how long we can sustain focus without a break.
  4. Get organized.Consider preparing three bags or boxes and labeling them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. You might add a fourth box for things that need repairing, mending or dry cleaning, but don’t add more options than that. Put away what’s in your Keep pile at the end of each day and throw out or recycle what’s in your Toss pile.
  5. Be decisive.When it doubt, throw it out. Organizers often use the rule of thumb that if you haven’t used it/worn it/looked at it in a year, it’s time for it to go. When it comes to ornamental items or keepsakes, the other common standard is to only keep those things you really love and that give you pleasure. If that knick-knack your Aunt Marge gave you makes you cringe, it has no place in your home, regardless of the sentiment attached to it.
  6. Get professional help.If the job is just too big or you need direction, consider hiring a professional organizer. They can give you an overall strategy, or guide you through the process. Do a local search for “Certified Professional Organizers,” if you don’t have a referral for a professional.

Going through our possessions and ridding ourselves of things that no longer fit our lives is a process we can all benefit from. You may find that going through this process with your loved one will be a positive and rewarding experience for both of you. And you may just find you are motivated to do it for yourself as well!

—By Caren Parnes

Contributor for The Senior’s Choice

Preserving the Life Stories of our Seniors

Preserving the Life Stories of our Seniors

Many families today are discovering and preserving one of life’s greatest treasures…the stories in the hearts and minds of our parents and grandparents. In our digital age, more and more families are saving their cherished family memories in digital formats like hard drives and DVDs. They have recognized the value of recording these stories for themselves, their children, and generations to come.

The art of getting these stories has taken on many forms. Ancestry.com is a website where a loved story can be traced through genealogy. Memorable.com helps store a loved one’s physical memories of old film, photos, slides, and tape through digitization. StoryCorps is an independently funded 501(c)(3) organization. Its mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

In 1994, Spielberg funded a project to interview 50,000 Holocaust Survivors around the world. I worked on that project interviewing and recording the stories of those seniors. I was so emotionally moved by those stories that I started my company, Personal History Interviews, where we interview seniors one-on-one, and capture their unique memories.

When we encourage our aging loved ones to remember their past and talk about their memories and feelings, it validates the importance of their life’s experiences and strengthens family bonds. It reveals previously unknown facets of their character and past, helping us better understand who we are, where we are, and how we got here.

Through their own words, they are able to relive the accounts of their lives and experience a full range of emotion. These are not just the heroic stories of war or the building of a business empire. They are the real stories of struggle, failure, heartbreak, success, and love.

When you are ready to discover the treasures of your family, there are two major factors to consider when selecting a professional interviewer/videographer:

  • They have the best equipment. Their cameras, microphones, and lighting are going to give you the highest quality results. Remember, these treasured memories are going to last for generations to come and they should be preserved in the best possible manner. This is no time for the do-it-yourselfer!
  • They have the background and experience in working with and recording seniors. They have a plan with the best questions to ask to gain more insight into your loved one. Plus, having a non-family member in charge provides a blank page for stories to flow, which leads to capturing more memories that a family member may have not considered.

As we age, our memories not only seem more valuable, but more vivid. For many wistful seniors, the events of 60 years ago may be clearer than the day before. I encourage you to record these stories while loved ones are able and healthy enough to tell them.

Their stories are incredible!

Contributed by:
Dan Gelfond
Personal History Interviews