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Integrated care team gives hope back to dialysis patient

(BPT) – Six years ago, Francis Hogan was doing what he loved most: playing golf. After his usual game, his ankle was swollen and painful. When he visited the doctor, he discovered the swelling wasn’t because of an injury. Something was seriously wrong.

Hogan’s kidneys were failing. He was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a condition that scarred his kidneys, leading to kidney failure. He needed to start dialysis or receive a transplant to survive. After a failed transplant, Hogan began dialysis treatments.

“Dialysis patients like Mr. Hogan typically spend 12 hours a week on a machine that cleans their blood because their kidneys can’t,” said Bryan Becker, MD, a nephrologist who leads DaVita’s integrated kidney care (IKC) programs. “This will likely be his reality for the rest of his life.”

With kidney failure, Mr. Hogan’s risk for hospitalizations increased: Most dialysis patients spend about 11 days a year in the hospital. Hogan also struggled to track his more than 20 pills — the average daily number of pills for dialysis patients.

Hogan gained access to DaVita’s ESRD seamless care organization (ESCO), an IKC program for Medicare patients, in Warminster, Pennsylvania. ESCOs are groups of dialysis centers, nephrologists and other clinicians working together to coordinate care across the health care continuum for dialysis patients.

Hogan’s care team includes a nurse practitioner and registered nurse in addition to his nephrologist and dialysis center staff. Care team coordination is an essential aspect of the ESCO care model, especially for interactions between dialysis center staff and care team members outside the center.

Teams have frequent meetings to discuss each patient’s health and mitigate potential issues. For example, Hogan’s team was able to reduce his daily pills in half by coordinating with his other specialists to create a better prescription plan.

DaVita, in particular, focuses on caring for the whole patient, a benefit Hogan saw after transitioning back to his dialysis center from a routine surgical procedure. In addition to managing Hogan’s post-discharge follow-up for a seamless transition, the team noticed something was different about him.

“He wasn’t interested in conversation and wouldn’t say his usual ‘Good morning!’” said Debbie Abbonizio, Hogan’s nurse practitioner. “He often lost his words, wasn’t hungry and couldn’t walk short distances without stopping.”

The care team met consistently to identify the root cause of his symptoms. After ruling out several possible diagnoses, the team realized Hogan’s recommended target weight for post-dialysis treatment was too high. Extra fluid was accumulating in his body and toxic waste was gathering in his bloodstream, causing his symptoms.

The care team slowly decreased the extra fluid in Hogan’s body. Hogan soon regained his health and began to greet his care team with a cheerful “Good morning!” again. Without the additional resources provided through DaVita’s ESCO, Hogan may have slipped through the cracks and been hospitalized repeatedly.

“I feel fortunate to be a part of the ESCO, where I have a team observing and supporting me daily,” Hogan said. “It gives me confidence about my ability to manage my condition. Every patient should get this kind of care.”

Hogan is grateful to feel better so he can spend more quality time with the love of his life, Carol, his wife of 57 years.

“Currently less than 10 percent of dialysis patients on Medicare have access to IKC programs such as ESCOs,” said Dr. Becker. “Yet these programs can make a significant impact on patients’ health-related quality of life. Why not make them available to all Medicare patients on dialysis?”

To learn more about DaVita’s IKC programs, visit VillageHealth.com.

The statements contained in this document are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CMS. The authors assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this document.

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Are you safe from BPA? The answer may surprise you

(BPT) – Based on how much you’ve heard about bisphenol A (BPA) in recent news articles, it would be perfectly understandable if you concluded that BPA is public enemy No. 1. It’s apparently everywhere at unsafe levels, and there is no way to escape.

Or is there? There must be somewhere we can go to avoid being harmed, but where? You will find the answer in a peer-reviewed study that was just published in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution.

At the outset, the researchers note, “[t]o evaluate BPA’s potential risk to health, it is important to know human daily intake.” After all, too much of almost anything would pose a risk to health. What we need to know is how much BPA people are actually exposed to and whether those levels pose a risk to health.

What the researchers realized is that an enormous amount of data on exposure to BPA is already available. It just wasn’t all in the same place where it could be most useful, until now.

It’s well known that people quickly eliminate BPA from the body through urine after exposure. Measuring BPA in urine is considered the best way to evaluate exposure to BPA since what goes in (i.e., exposure) comes out in urine where it’s easy to measure.

What the researchers did was search the scientific literature for studies that measured levels of BPA in urine. They found more than just a few studies: “[i]n total, we obtained over 140 peer-reviewed publications, which contained over 85,000 data [points] for urinary BPA concentrations derived from 30 countries.”

The researchers then sorted the data by age group (adult men and non-pregnant women, pregnant women and children) and country to assess where in the world exposure levels were safe or unsafe. That assessment was done by comparison of exposure levels with safe intake limits set by government bodies worldwide.

The results may surprise you: “[i]t is evident that the national and global estimated human BPA daily intakes in this study are two to three orders of magnitude lower than that of the TDI [Tolerable Daily Intake]…recommended by several countries.” In other words, actual exposure to BPA is hundreds to thousands of times below the safe intake limit.

Due to the large volume of data, the researchers considered their results to be representative, meaning they can be relied upon as an accurate measure of exposure to BPA worldwide. The results also provide very strong support for the views of government bodies worldwide on the safety of BPA.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answers the question “Is BPA safe?” with the unequivocal answer “Yes.” Similarly, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.”

So, to return to where we started, where in the world are you safe from BPA? Based on the data, and a lot of it, the answer is very simple — everywhere.

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4 back-to-school basics for a successful school year

(BPT) – With the summer months starting to cool, one thing is certain — it’s time to store the beach toys for next summer and dust off the backpacks and notebooks for the upcoming school year. Whether back-to-school season means returning to the routine of nightly homework or packing lunches in the morning, one thing that helps ensure the school year starts off safely and successfully is polycarbonate plastic made from bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA is a building block chemical used to make a certain kind of plastic known as polycarbonate, which has properties that make many of the items we use throughout the school year safe, durable and reliable. Polycarbonate makes products, like lab goggles or eyeglasses, lightweight and clear. Plus, polycarbonate’s shatter-resistant nature makes it all the more useful to keep classrooms productive and safe.

Take a look at our list of back-to-school basics to see how BPA is used in popular items to start the school year off right:

Sports equipment
For aspiring fall sport varsity athletes, polycarbonate is especially important. Strong, shatter-resistant polycarbonate is used to make helmets, sports safety goggles and visors used in football and lacrosse to keep athletes safe and performing at the top of their game.

Eyeglasses
When hitting the books hard, sometimes your eyes need a helping hand. Polycarbonate is used in lenses, making them highly shatter-resistant and extremely lightweight. This means looking cool and having a comfortable wear, while being protected from accidental mishaps in a book bag.

Electronic equipment
Accidents happen, but thanks to polycarbonate, students can avoid disaster. Laptops, tablets and cell phones are durable and break-resistant, and polycarbonate films help to prevent scratches on the screens.

Lab safety goggles
To prevent accidental injury to the eyes, lab safety goggles are an essential part of every school’s science projects. Polycarbonate gives these goggles their clear, shatter-resistant and lightweight properties.

Products made with polycarbonate help keep us (and our students) safe and set for a successful school year, and using BPA to make the polycarbonate for these products is safe as well. BPA is one of the most widely studied chemicals in use today, and government agencies around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have all agreed: BPA is safe in consumer products.

So clear out the cobwebs in your backpack, and stock up on these back-to-school basics to set yourself up for a successful school year.

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Age ferociously with this eating game plan

(BPT) – A healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons against age-related diseases, and for staying healthy and active throughout life.

Becci Twombley is sports dietitian for USC Athletics and Angels Baseball, overseeing the nutrition of 650 collegiate athletes and the 200 MLB and minor league baseball players within the Angels organization. The healthy practices she employs to keep her athletes fighting strong also apply as preventative measures for staying fit and active as we age.

“It’s vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a long and healthy life,” says Twombley. “Exercise and move 30 minutes a day and along with that, pay attention to what you put in your body.” Twombley’s prevention plan against age-related illnesses and conditions starts with a “food first” approach.

Diet has a profound impact on two of the leading causes of age-related illnesses and conditions: inflammation and being overweight, according to Twombley. “Maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels are two of the most important things anyone can do, along with keeping one’s weight under control.”

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be a chore, she claims. It is all a question of smart choices. Picking the right foods not only makes a difference in health risks, but also positively affects performance throughout the day at work and at home. While the answer is not in a single food, or even a handful, adding nutrient-rich foods like these Twombley recommends, and calls the “All Americans” of the functional food group, is part of a winning game plan.

Pistachios

Pistachios are a multitasking nut that has proteins and healthy fats, as well as three types of antioxidants. Those antioxidants help to decrease blood pressure and allow for good muscle recovery. Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a substantial lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. Pistachios may protect from heart disease in part by improving blood cholesterol levels. Pistachios contain relatively high levels of the amino acid L-arginine, which maintains the arteries’ flexibility and enhances healthy blood flow by boosting nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels. They’re also good for the eyes and skin, and have been found to positively promote weight maintenance.

Cherry juice

Twombley serves tart cherry juice to her athletes after their workouts as its targeted antioxidants help with muscle recovery, improving recovery time. In addition, it boosts sleep quality to help prevent anxiety and stress later on in the day.

Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a nutrient-packed snack that has many health benefits. High in protein, it can boost energy and muscle mass, which decreases as we age. It can also benefit digestive health if it contains probiotics. Check the label to see if it contains live and active cultures.

Beets

The deep red root vegetable increases the size of blood vessels, thereby improving the flow of oxygen that can get to muscles and tissues. For anyone with high blood pressure or suffering from cardiovascular disease, this is a good food to include.

Milk

A good hydration beverage that has protein, vitamin D and calcium like we often hear, milk also contains electrolytes for good muscle contraction.

Salmon and grass-fed beef

Both of these are high in omega-3, which is a really good healthy fat profile for overall heart health. They also decrease inflammation in the long term. Inflammation causes a lot of the diseases we fear as we age, whether it’s diabetes or cardiovascular health.

Beyond these foods Twombley identifies, the noted nutritionist has more tips for healthy eating.

* Look for different colors of foods at different times. Make sure they’re incorporated throughout the day.

* Eat often and in a good portion size.

* Shop for high quality whenever possible and pay attention to ingredients.

* Maintain balance. Make sure your plate has carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat in the correct amounts. Add fruits and vegetables to that to get the antioxidants.

* And finally, have a plan. Plan out what you’re going to eat that day and stick to it.

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How to Tackle a Dust-Free Renovation


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(BPT) – Kristen Johnson* loved her home, her family and their active lifestyle. She’d never want to change a thing — except for her foyer and adjoining dining room. When she and her husband first moved into their home, they had intended to refinish the hardwood floors in those areas in a darker stain to better fit their style, but life got in the way. Twelve years, two boys and countless birthday parties, pets and indoor soccer games later, their floors were covered in scuffs, scratches and stains, and some of their walls needed repair. To complicate matters even further, they had a wraparound staircase with a wood-tone banister that would also need to be refinished if they decided to change their floor.

With their big family reunion and a house full of people just weeks away, Johnson and her husband knew it was time to make a change. However, they couldn’t afford to disrupt their busy schedules, and they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of renovation dust getting all over their ceiling fans, cupboards or worse — especially with their son’s dust allergies. They knew if they decided to take on this renovation project, they’d need it finished quickly, and they’d need the entire project to be as dust-free as possible.

What’s the big deal about renovation dust? Beyond creating a huge mess, renovation dust is also a health concern. As any homeowner who has embarked on an interior renovation project knows, the resultant dust gets everywhere — even inside closed cabinets and in adjacent rooms. However, as problematic as the mess is, dust-related health hazards are of even greater concern, particularly to allergy sufferers. Traditional methods of mitigating dust usually involve extensive prep work, like hanging plastic sheeting and taping off doors, or doing a thorough post-renovation top-to-bottom cleaning. Both options are extremely time-consuming.

Is there a better way to handle renovation dust? There is a better way to handle renovation dust: by collecting it right at the source like the pros do. Professional contractors are used to dealing with renovation dust, and given the volume of work they do, they create dust far more frequently and in much greater volumes than the average homeowner or DIYer. Rather than spend valuable time on prep work or post-project cleanup or suffer through the use of uncomfortable dust masks, they use dust collection tools that capture and contain dust immediately as it’s created, before it can become a mess or airborne health hazard.

How Johnson tackled her dust-free renovation. Because of their tight timeline, Johnson and her husband decided to take on some of their renovation themselves using supplies purchased at their local hardware store, but they let the professionals handle the tricky floor/banister redo.

To repair their drywall, they patched the damaged areas using joint compound and a drywall sander, which together cost about $130. To make the sanding process dust-free, they added a Dust Deputy, which they connected directly to the drywall sander and to their wet/dry vacuum. They found that this combination captured virtually all the dust generated by the sanding. They noticed no dust in the air, and the Dust Deputy prevented the fine drywall dust from clogging their vacuum filter.

Even though they had the flooring contractor tackle the floor and banister, they saved a few dollars by removing the varnish from the banister and other hard-to-reach areas themselves. To do this, they applied a gel varnish remover using a brush (together about $20), then scraped the wet varnish residue using a Viper Scraper attached to their Dust Deputy and wet/dry vacuum. The scraper captured the residue, and the Dust Deputy contained it for disposal, without it ever reaching, or damaging, their vacuum.

Their big splurge was on the floor refinishing, which they left to the pros to tackle (about $2,500). To keep that process dust-free, they selected a dust-free contractor in their area who used a cyclonic Oneida Vortex dust collection system with HEPA filtration. In the end, they finished the project virtually dust-free and just in time for their family reunion, and they were very pleased with the results!

*Kristen’s last name has been changed for privacy.

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5 tips to solve separation anxiety in your pet

(BPT) – With good weather and flexible work schedules, summer time is the best season for spending some extra time with your pet. However, once fall comes, the kids aren’t the only ones in the family that experience the back-to-school blues. Separation anxiety can happen for many reasons among pets, but with the changing routine and lack of attention due to busy schedules, back-to-school is a common time when pet owners may start noticing changes in their dog or cat’s behavior. To support them during this time Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer offers five tips to address separation anxiety in pets.

1. Get your pet into a routine. Pets love routines because it makes them feel secure. During the summer, kids are always around to make things entertaining and exciting. When they suddenly disappear, some cats and dogs will feel sad and confused while others may experience real separation anxiety. It’s important to get your pet acclimated to the change by replacing their old schedule with a new one. This new schedule should include allocating time to play after work and keeping a consistent schedule when coming and going from the house.

2. Burn off some energy. Some pets deal with separation anxiety by engaging in negative or destructive behaviors, such as howling, excessive barking or chewing on inappropriate objects. A great way to keep your dog from doing this is to take them on a walk in the morning before you leave the house to help burn off some of that extra energy. For cats, consider playing with them at night as well — whether it’s making them chase a feather wand or play with a ball.

3. Create an interactive environment. Back-to-school season is a great time to buy your pet a new, interactive toy to play with. This will help mentally stimulate them and keep them occupied during the day when children are away at school. For dogs, chew toys are a way for them to relieve their anxiety, frustration and boredom. For cats, creating a play area — including scratching posts and cat furniture — can keep them entertained even when you’re not home.

4. Turn up the tunes and start with baby steps. Try leaving some soothing music on at your home while everyone is out of the house. The music will help drown out distracting noises that your dog may mistakenly associate with their family coming home. Some animal shelters have even found that playing calming music helps animals in their facilities relax. Additionally, help your pets adjust to a new routine by providing them with clear cues. For example, jingling your car keys prior to leaving for work each day can provide your pet with an important audible cue and ultimately, help with the transition to a new family schedule.

5. Spend time with your pet. It’s important to remember that while you may have had a long day, your pet may have been sitting at home feeling lonely, waiting for you to come home. Spending some quality time with your pet at the end of the day is critical to helping keep them active and mentally sharp. It may be tough to fit into a busy work schedule, but be sure to build some interactive time — whether it’s a walk or cuddle session —to benefit both you and your pet.

For more information on helping your pet deal with separation anxiety, check out this article on Purina.com.

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Is your family expanding? Protect what matters most with these nursery safety checks

(BPT) – You may have chosen the perfect color palette and all of your nursery furniture, but have you thought about some key safety checks?

“The arrival of a baby means you have to take a look at your home in a whole new light,” said Tarsila Wey, marketing director for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “Take the time now to help ensure your home is safe and secure.”

First Alert has outlined some crucial tasks to accomplish before the little one makes his or her appearance:

Maintain crib safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of children’s deaths under the age of one are caused by suffocation. Make sure that, when prepping the nursery, the crib meets safety standards, and avoid loose bedding or soft toys in the crib. After the baby arrives, the infant should sleep alone and be placed on his or her back on a firm surface.

Check your smoke alarms

Smoke alarms help protect your family, but in order to do so the alarms need to be present — and working. Install a working smoke alarm in the nursery and ensure that the rest of the home is properly equipped. The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Residential smoke alarms need to be replaced at least every 10 years. To find out whether it’s time to replace the smoke alarms in your home, simply look on the back of the alarms where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).

Protect from the “Silent Killer”

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year. Standard CO alarms are designed to alert people to high levels of CO (30-70 parts per million), which can be fatal.

However, lower levels of CO have also been proven to be harmful to infants. Fully protect your newborn from both high and low levels of CO with the Onelink by First Alert Environment Monitor, which provides protection for those most vulnerable to CO levels as low as 9 parts per million, and peace of mind for parents. Compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa Skills, it also monitors temperature and humidity, and notifies users of changing conditions.

Update the escape plan

It is important to plan and practice an escape plan for your home in the event of a fire. According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. This is even more important with the addition of a new member to your family. As a family, walk through the home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Identify two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. For the second story, place escape ladders near windows, and practice setting it up so you’ll be able to use it correctly and quickly in an emergency. Make sure everyone understands the plan, with special attention to carrying the newborn. Choose an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from your home, and make sure to practice your escape plan twice a year — and before the baby comes.

Create an emergency call list

Even though everything we need is on our smartphones these days, when a babysitter or nanny is with your infant, they might not be as prepared in case of an emergency — and you might not be either! Having an emergency contact list readily available can potentially save time and make everything go a little more smoothly when there is a crisis. Make sure the list includes family numbers, poison control, non-emergency numbers for police and fire departments, and neighbors’ phone numbers.

To learn more about fire and carbon monoxide safety and the Onelink Environment Monitor, visit FirstAlert.com or FirstAlert.com/Onelink.

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Pets help seniors stay healthier and happier, wherever they live, studies show

(BPT) – French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette once said, “Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” Pets provide meaningful social support for owners, and they can be especially beneficial for seniors. Ample research shows pet ownership delivers physical and mental health benefits for seniors, regardless of whether they’re living on their own or in a senior living community.

However, many older Americans still mistakenly believe moving into a senior living community means they’ll have to leave their pets behind. In fact, the fear they’ll have to give up a beloved pet is among the top emotional reasons seniors don’t want to move into senior living, according to author and senior real estate specialist Bruce Nemovitz. In an informal survey by Nemovitz, seniors ranked losing a pet as emotionally jarring as having to leave their familiar homes and possessions.

“Senior living communities like Brookdale Senior Living are all about supporting the physical health and mental well-being of residents,” says Carol Cummings, senior director of Optimum Life. “For many senior citizens, pets are an important part of their lives. It makes sense to preserve the bond between pet and senior owner whenever possible.”

Physical benefits

Pet ownership benefits senior citizens in multiple ways, research shows. Older people who own dogs are likely to spend 22 additional minutes walking at a moderately intense pace each day, according to a recent study by The University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University. Published in BioMed Central, the study also found dog owners took more than 2,700 more steps per day than non-owners.

Multiple studies have also concluded that pet ownership can help lower blood pressure, contribute to improved cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol.

Mental health

Interacting with pets also has many mental health benefits, especially for seniors. Spending time with pets can help relieve anxiety and increase brain levels of the feel-good neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine. Pets can help relieve depression and feelings of loneliness.

The online journal Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research reports multiple studies indicate dementia patients who interact with animals become more social, are less agitated and have fewer behavioral issues.

Pets in senior living settings

“For too long, some senior living communities didn’t recognize the value of allowing residents to bring their pets with them,” Cummings says. “That has definitely changed.”

For seniors looking for a community that will accept their pets, Cummings suggests a few questions to ask:

* What is your pet policy and what type of animal do you consider a pet? Generally, small dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rats, hamsters, fish, turtles and other small companion animals qualify for pet policies. Seniors should check to be sure their pet meets the standards of the community.

* What is your pet health policy? Typically, senior living communities that accept small pets will want them to be current on all vaccinations and have regular exams by a licensed veterinarian. Pets will also need to have any required state- or county-issued licenses.

* What, if any, kind of training do you require pets to have? Requiring dogs to be house-trained and cats to be litter-trained is standard. Communities will also want to know your pet is well-behaved and not aggressive. They may ask you to have pets obedience trained.

* Do you offer any assistance with pet-related tasks? Most communities will require residents be able to care for pets themselves, including feeding, walking, potty needs and health needs.

“Moving into a senior living community is a big change, one that most residents find positive,” Cummings says. “They gain freedom from home maintenance tasks and household chores, a socially rewarding environment, and as-needed support for healthcare and daily care. As long as seniors are still able to care for their pets, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to bring their best friends with them to their new homes.”

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Enjoy the latest trend in swimming pools

(BPT) – It was supposed to be a community swimming pool, but many people stayed away because they couldn’t tolerate the biting, nose-curdling odor of chlorine. Others experienced breathing and skin problems.

So the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Michigan, converted its 65,000-gallon chlorine pool into a saltwater pool. People who had stayed away are now coming back, getting exercise and therapy, while socializing with others.

The senior center is hardly alone. Across the country, traditional chlorine pools are being converted into saltwater pools, sometimes called saline pools.

Swimmers noticed the difference right away after the switch, making their pool experience much more enjoyable. The new system also meant softer water without harsh chemicals that sometimes required a shower to wash off.

Homeowners and pool managers have many motivations for converting pools from chlorine to salt, including:

* Simplified, more convenient maintenance. Saltwater pool owners don’t have to buy, transport, store and handle hazardous chlorine chemicals. This saves time and money.

* Water that’s gentle on skin, eyes, nose and hair. Saltwater pools have approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water and about one-third the salinity of human tears, with no unpleasant chlorine smell.

* A more environmentally friendly approach. Routine pool maintenance doesn’t involve the handling and storage of manufactured chlorine and lessens the need for other potentially hazardous chemicals.

How do they work?

Saltwater pools use a generator to convert the salt into mild chlorine that keeps the pool free of harmful bacteria. This chlorine is added to the water at a constant rate, displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount. Once the chlorine sanitizes the pool it converts back to salt. The process continues, over and over again, conserving the salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced.

The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s and today more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are saltwater, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.

The other good news for homeowners and pool managers is that pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater pool can pay off quickly.

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5 baby formula myths debunked

(BPT) – The MythBusters on TV’s Discovery channel tackled hundreds — if not thousands — of myths in their 19 seasons on the air, but many questions still surround one topic never covered: infant feeding. Baby feeding has many pervasive myths, especially about infant formula. Here are five of those myths debunked by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, family physician and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year:

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: It depends on the mother and her baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural and easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, in reality 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally — it can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief or used exclusively depending on mom and baby’s needs. Also, know that you can find help and support. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: You do not need to sterilize your baby’s bottles. This is another time saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for five minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (as long as it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal — just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each and every time.

Myth 5: Brand-name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store-brand formula are practically identical but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store-brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands. In fact, store-brand formula is clinically proven to support baby’s growth and development and proven to be just as well tolerated by your baby as those other brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store-brand formulas cost less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing. Think about all the ads you see on TV and all the samples that get handed out in doctors’ offices. In the case of those big brands, those marketing costs are passed on to you in the form of a higher price tag on each container of formula.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!

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