Senior couple meeting with financial advisor.

Useful tips to help caregivers navigate the cost of care

(BPT) – When a patient receives bad medical news, it can be a paralyzing moment. It’s easy to see how any serious diagnosis can shatter someone’s life into a million pieces, but we often overlook what’s happening to the caregiver who’s devoting their time and energy to provide care. On top of the physical and emotional demands, the financial cost of caregiving is unavoidable.

What makes someone a caregiver? American caregivers support patients in a variety of ways. They can be young or old, live close by or miles away and provide care full time or part time. Many of us are caregivers – for our children, parents, siblings or even close friends. Maybe you are a caregiver who provides “hands-on” care now, but may be called upon to provide financial assistance in the future. It’s crucial for caregivers to make wise financial decisions about caregiving — for their loved ones and just as importantly, for themselves.

At 34 years old, Danielle Fontanesi had to give up her job as a full-time attorney so she could care for her husband, Matt. Matt was fighting acute myeloid leukemia and needed around-the-clock care while recovering from a stem cell transplant. Fontanesi wasn’t able to go back to work for more than a year, and found it challenging to find a new job given her employment gap, which cost her more than $175,000 in lost income. The cost of relocating next to a major cancer center where Matt was treated was also substantial.

“Not only did I lose income, I lost a year of career progression,” says Fontanesi. “We still had to pay our rent, car payments and hospital expenses, while not having income during this period.”

According to Gwen Nichols, MD, Chief Medical Officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society(R) (LLS), Fontanesi is far from alone in her financial plight.

“Again and again, we find that caregivers make huge financial sacrifices to care for their loved one,” Nichols says. “When you tally up the losses, it’s quite astounding: loss of wages, loss of health insurance, loss of retirement savings and the list goes on. These hold serious financial consequences for caregivers.”

Over time, the economic burdens of long-term medical care can create added distress for patients and caregivers that is often called “financial toxicity.” Financial toxicity occurs when growing out-of-pocket healthcare costs lead to serious financial problems. Out-of-pocket costs can include anything from hospital stays or outpatient services to medical equipment and medications.

To help caregivers navigate the cost of cancer care for themselves and their loved ones, Nichols offers these important tips:

Encourage your loved one to seek a second opinion: When appropriate, caregivers should help their loved one seek a second opinion. A second opinion can help ensure an accurate diagnosis, which can then guide your loved one’s treatment plan. An accurate diagnosis enables resources to be directed in a way that offers your loved one the greatest potential benefits, both in terms of a better health outcome as well as financial impact. When weighing multiple treatment options or in circumstances of uncertainty, it’s also helpful to gain a second opinion to help inform the best course of care and avoid the detrimental health effects and costliness of incorrect or unnecessary treatments.

Help start a dialogue: It’s crucial to have an open conversation with healthcare providers about financial pressures. You and your loved one should partner with their medical provider to understand the cost of certain services and treatments. This information can help empower you and your loved one to make the right decision for you and your family. For example, your loved one may be able to choose among treatments or select providers or treatment centers that offer the same or even greater potential benefit, but at a lower cost.

Be an advocate for change: Your voice as a caregiver is valuable, and can help shape discussions about the cost of care. Whether you act as an individual or part of an organized effort by a patient advocacy organization, you can make an impact by sharing your story about the financial hardships you’ve experienced. These firsthand accounts are vital for spurring action. To learn more about LLS Advocacy and how you can raise awareness about the cost of cancer care, visit www.lls.org/be-an-advocate.

Take advantage of available resources: Caregivers are often hesitant to seek help and are often unaware of the many resources available to them at their fingertips. LLS has free resources and support services such as online chats with medical experts, support groups, help with financial pressures, referral to other helpful local and national resources, and more. To learn more, visit www.lls.org/support/caregiver-support.

Nichols also notes that it’s crucial to take time for self-care and remember that your family is your first resource, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them for help. There are many ways for friends and family to lighten the load in this challenging time: assisting with home repairs, running errands, or preparing a meal. These kind gestures go a long way when there’s financial strain. After all, if you sacrifice your own health and well-being, you won’t be at your best to effectively care for a loved one.

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3 ways to save money on diabetes medications

(BPT) – Controlling the “ABCs of diabetes” — A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels — is difficult enough, but when you add that second C — costly medications — it’s easy to see how one’s levels can spiral out of control quickly.

According to the American Diabetes Association, for the 30 million people living with diabetes in the U.S., health care costs are more than double (2.3 times) the costs of those without diabetes. This is due to the ever-increasing costs of medications to treat diabetes and the chronic conditions that often accompany the disease, namely high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In fact, between 2002 and 2013, the cost of insulin has tripled, and newer cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering medication costs are also on the rise.

Now consider that in the U.S., more than 2 million children and adults living with diabetes do not have access to health insurance, and millions more are in high-deductible plans that can require high out-of-pocket costs. Lack of access to diabetes medications can lead to avoidable doctor visits, hospitalizations, amputations and even death.

The good news is there are several ways to save money on diabetes care without compromising on quality.

First, shop around. Medication prices can vary greatly by pharmacy.

Second, if you are not using insurance to cover the cost of prescription drugs, there are many ways to obtain prescription assistance. One way to start saving money immediately is with Inside Rx, available at https://insiderx.com, a free discount drug card program, which provides deep discounts on certain brand-name diabetes medications, including insulin and drugs that treat co-existing conditions such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Third, explore pharmaceutical assistance programs. Most pharmaceutical companies also offer financial assistance programs to persons who have trouble affording their medications and supplies.

By doing some research into these types of discount programs and databases, it may be possible to save thousands of dollars a year, while controlling your diabetes and enhancing your quality of life.

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Help yourself by helping others: Make a commitment to volunteer

(BPT) – Did you know that 35,000 hours of volunteering is the equivalent of working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year with no days off for 17 years?

For American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) member Sarah Brooks, who was recently recognized for volunteering more than 35,000 hours in service to military veterans, those are hours spent offering fellowship, kindness and attention to those who made sacrifices for our freedom. Brooks’ decades-long dedication to the military community has helped hundreds of veterans in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area. The veterans she serves have become her family, her lifeline and a blessing she never thought she would receive.

How did the 91-year-old come to dedicate her life to serving others? “It starts with a hello,” Brooks said.

Brooks shares her time between a veterans home, ALA-sponsored events and a veterans rehabilitation center. “A hello can be the bridge to a great interaction and a wonderful memory. In my 59 years of volunteering, I can say I don’t have a favorite memory from my volunteer efforts because every day is a new and beautiful experience,” Brooks said.

People can give back in many ways, such as donating material items like canned goods and clothes or offering financial support. But giving time is one of the most unselfish actions we can perform. By becoming personally involved with others through volunteering, we have the opportunity to deliver simple acts of kindness that can help others find healing, support and a new beginning. In addition, volunteering has real benefits for the volunteer. It can provide a sense of fulfillment that benefits our minds and bodies. Studies have shown that people who volunteer live longer, healthier and happier lives.

“When I returned home from military service in my early 20s,” said Victoria Pridemore, a former truck driver, battalion paralegal and division chief paralegal in the U.S. Army, “I wasn’t sure how I could serve my community since I didn’t have the means to donate monetary gifts to any organization. I realized I could have an impact on my community just through my actions and donating my time.” In 2012, Pridemore founded ALA Unit 1 in Washington, D.C., to help serve veterans and families in that area.

Now serving as president of the American Legion Auxiliary unit, Pridemore, 33, works with local community organizations to plan monthly volunteer events for ALA members and non-members in the area. Their local activities range from cleaning the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to holding a holiday drive for donations for inpatient veterans to send gifts to their family members. In 2016, ALA Unit 1 helped almost 200 veterans in the D.C. area.

While Sarah Brooks recently received a lifetime achievement award from the ALA for her 59-year commitment to service, Pridemore reminds us that there is no “small” act of kindness and service. “Every give-back moment is an opportunity to have a real impact,” she said. “A touch, a smile, just a brief conversation can make a difference in someone’s day.

“And, when a group of people do come together for a day of real service, it’s so fulfilling,” Pridemore said. “That is why I believe so strongly in the ALA’s mission ‘In the spirit of Service Not Self.’”

Pridemore and Brooks agree that all it takes is a few hours and a heartfelt commitment to caring to help change someone’s life. To learn how to get involved and volunteer, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.

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I am a strong woman!

Science-based suggestions for self-confidence

(BPT) – A recent study shows your perception of your own image has a profound effect on how you present yourself to the rest of the world.

Those findings could be empowering since even small changes to your self-care routine can significantly boost your self-confidence.

The study by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found those who believe in their own attractiveness view themselves as having higher social status. “The finding that your assessment of yourself shapes your view of yourself and others puts power into your hands,” the authors note.

Consider how these science-based suggestions may help you put your best foot forward when dealing with everything life throws your way.

* Get moving. Regardless of your fitness goals, the fact is you’re likely to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally after you exercise. Research also shows it can improve your self-esteem.

* Ramp up your smile. Scientists say our brains are zapped with an instant mood boost when we smile, and that boost is reinforced when others smile back. Further, whiter teeth can have a direct effect on our social and professional interactions, and they’re now easy to achieve through consumer brands like Rembrandt’s 1 Week Whitening Kit that can achieve professional-level results at home within a week.

* Let your body language communicate self-respect. Keeping your shoulders pulled back and your body straight and tall communicates confidence to your brain, studies show. Research found the most empowering stance is one in which your arms are held slightly away from your torso, your body is open and your head is up.

* Optimize color in your clothing. The right shade may light up your entire face and have a surprising impact on your mood. “Choosing the color of your office, your clothes or your desktop should not be taken lightly — colors do affect our moods and productivity,” states a recent article on Scienceofpeople.com. “When given the choice, picking a color that will work with you and not against you can only help.”

* Wear scent strategically. Because our brains link certain smells to positive experiences, research suggests we may be able to ramp up our confidence with scents that remind us of happy times. That’s why aromatherapy can help alleviate anxiety, depression and sleeplessness, and improve quality of life for those with chronic health issues, confirms the Mayo Clinic.

Bottom line: When you’re taking care of yourself and projecting your best self, you’re far more likely to project the confidence you need to deal effectively with life.

“Confidence can make or break a lot of things,” advises Lecia Bushak on Medicaldaily.com. “In our extrovert-centric society, confidence can get you a job, a girlfriend, and the courage to say no to people or situations that are toxic to you. Confidence is knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, too.”

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Houston-area resident reestablishes running career after total knee replacement surgery

(BPT) – In 2009 Tomball resident Carrie Rand started running and hiking to stay active, and it wasn’t long before she found herself competing in 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons around Houston. Unfortunately, the wear-and-tear on her right knee eventually led to a meniscus tear, subsequent surgical repair and frequent cortisone shots to diminish the pain.

By November 2015, the pain had become too much to bear. Carrie had stopped exercising altogether, had gained significant weight, and was miserable. “We have a game room upstairs in our house where our grandchildren can play. I couldn’t go up there to watch the kids because of the staircase. That’s when I knew I had to do something about my knee,” she said.

After consulting with her physician, she was told that her knee was “bone-on-bone,” and the cortisone would no longer provide her the relief she needed. She sought the opinion of Dr. Daniel Le, an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital, who concurred with the initial assessment, and suggested that it was time for Carrie to consider a total knee replacement.

Carrie was hesitant because she was only 52 years old at the time, and she assumed knee replacements were meant for people much older than she was — and she was also afraid that she’d always be favoring her new knee.

Dr. Le, who is on the forefront of joint replacement technology, convinced Carrie that by having knee replacement surgery she would not only be freed from the pain, but also regain the stability she needed to resume healthy activity. He chose to implant a MicroPort Orthopedics Medial-Pivot knee replacement, because of the implant’s ability to bend, twist, and rotate like a normal knee.

“Very little of what I do is purely medical or scientific — there’s real artistry as well,” said Dr. Le. “I take great pride in understanding not only the mechanics of replacing a hip or knee, but also the wants and needs of the people receiving those implants. By truly understanding patients’ hopes for the future, I hope I can deliver an experience that matches their expectations. With Carrie, it was important to give her an implant on which she could start exercising again.”

“Dr. Le performed the surgery on a Wednesday morning at 11:00, and I was up and walking by 2:00 that same afternoon,” said Carrie. “Immediately, I felt the difference. My knee was sore from the surgery, but there was no pain when I walked. My knee hadn’t felt that good in five years,” she remarked.

After completing physical therapy, Carrie broached the subject of running to Dr. Le at a follow-up visit, and he was encouraging of the idea. “Dr. Le reassured me that because I am young and healthy this knee will serve me for as long as I live.”

Carrie started running once again. And she found that her new knee gave her the stability to run comfortably. In fact, she ran her first 5K four months after her surgery — an amazing feat. Additionally, her new knee has allowed her to get back into shape, and since she started running, she has lost nearly 70 pounds.

“This surgery has given me my life back. I’m now able to do the things that I love — running and hiking and chasing my grandchildren — without pain. Heck, I’ve even started to take kickboxing lessons,” said Carrie. “I wish I would have had the surgery five years sooner.”

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Winter storm power outages on the rise – 3 ways to prepare

(BPT) – Winter storms can wreak havoc on roads, homes and personal lives. However, facing hours of cleaning up fallen tree limbs, shoveling snow or being cooped up inside with antsy kids might be the least of your worries. Experts predict more frequent and severe storms could lead to lengthy power outages that could affect thousands of Americans this winter storm season.

In fact, increasingly severe weather is the chief reason power outages are becoming more likely, according to a National Governors Association report. What’s more, a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the average outage lasts two hours and 20 minutes, but increases by 260 percent to six hours and 10 minutes when a major event like severe weather is involved.

While you can’t predict when a winter storm or extended power outage might affect your neighborhood, you can take steps now to prepare your home and family for severe weather events.

Stock up in advance

Nearly everyone has experienced long grocery store lines and cleared-out store shelves when news of a coming storm hits the airwaves. Spare yourself the aggravation, or possibly being caught without essentials if stores sell out, by stocking up on important items at home.

Keep enough bottled water and non-perishable foods on-hand to feed everyone in your family up to one week. Set these items aside in a “storm prep” box so you don’t dip into them until you really need them. Canned foods, protein bars, dry cereal and nuts are great options.

Never allow your supply of prescription medications to fall below a week’s supply, and make sure you stock up on useful over-the-counter meds such as pain relievers and cold remedies. Finally, keep a supply of batteries, flashlights and battery-powered lanterns readily available to ensure you have safe illumination when the power goes out.

Invest in emergency power

With the average length of power outages growing longer, many Americans are turning to generators to help ensure their homes and families stay safe and comfortable during winter storms. In fact, a report from the Society for Risk Analysis notes “a string of natural disasters and prolonged blackouts have motivated consumers to invest in personal generators at unprecedented rates.”

Homeowners have two options when it comes to back-up power; portable generators and automatic standby generators. Portable generators can be moved from place to place and are designed to power a few key items or systems, like a refrigerator or lights, using properly rated extension cords. These manually operated generators are usually gasoline-fueled and must be operated outside of the home.

Automatic standby generators like those from Kohler are permanently installed outside the home similar to a central air conditioning unit. They attach to a home’s existing natural gas or propane lines and turn on automatically within seconds when the power goes out; homeowners do not need to be present to operate. Standby generators can power an entire house, from essentials like the refrigerator, sump pump, lights and water heater to non-essentials such as TVs, computers and more. To learn more about automatic standby generators, visit www.KohlerGenerators.com.

After the storm

Once the storm is over, continue to be cautious. Check weather and traffic reports before leaving the house to determine if roads are closed. If you do venture out, stay alert for downed power lines. If you spot power lines that are down or damaged, call the power company immediately. Finally, check on your neighbors, especially the elderly, to ensure everyone is fine.

Preparation is the best way to protect your home and family during the winter storm season. Take action now, which includes a storm prep box and a backup power source, to keep your family safe and comfortable, no matter what the weather may bring.

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The most wonderful (and stressful) time of year. Could you be suffering from seasonal anxiety? Find out how to cope.

(BPT) – Hot cocoa by a crackling fire. The sounds of family and friends’ laughter heard throughout the house. Your favorite holiday movies on the television. This is the idyllic holiday scene. But what’s the reality? Statistics show us that the holiday season, portrayed as the most wonderful time of year, can also be a time when a few uninvited guests come knocking — stress, anxiety and depression.

If this sounds familiar, then you are one of the millions of people who experience holiday-triggered anxiety. One in five adult Americans already struggle with mental health disorders daily, and during the holiday season 64 percent of people with mental illness report that their conditions worsen, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Even people in warm-weather states like Florida, California and Texas can experience seasonal mental health issues around the holidays.

Why do so many people experience holiday-related anxiety? For starters, the emphasis on family time and togetherness can act as a constant and painful reminder that our lives may not look like joyful holiday cards — putting family conflict, loss, breakups and divorce under a microscope. The stress and anxiety of being confronted with family events, combined with travel, darker and colder days, unusually packed schedules, and lack of sleep can trigger behavioral health issues. Also, when busy and/or traveling, it’s common for people to deprioritize their physical and mental health.

But this doesn’t have to be your reality. You can give yourself the gift of telehealth! Many people, through their health plans, have access to virtual visits with licensed therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists — making it possible to manage mental health and enjoy the busy holiday season. Telehealth makes it possible to access quality care, 24/7, anywhere you have a smartphone or the web. Visit Teladoc.com/therapy to find out how you can access care from your home, on the road, or even right smack in the middle of your family’s holiday dinner.

“A combined 58 million American adults are living with either major depression (16M) or an anxiety disorder (42M), but in my experience, 100 percent of people will experience a stressor, or a loved one will need support, during the holiday season,” says Dr. Monika Roots, vice president of health services at Teladoc, the world’s largest and most trusted provider of virtual care delivery services. “One of the reasons I’m an advocate of telehealth for mental health is that it allows people to access care upon feeling triggered, not waiting weeks to get an appointment. After your aunt asks you why you’re single at the dinner table, for example, you can talk to someone immediately, making it easier to proactively manage stressors before they become major issues.”

How else can you help yourself or a loved one maintain positive mental health during the holidays? We asked Teladoc’s Dr. Roots for the top five ways to mitigate holiday-triggered anxiety. Here’s what she said:

1. Set boundaries. If you are overwhelmed by family, friends or work commitments, take quality time for yourself. A long walk or designated time unplugged from work or social interactions will help clear your mind.

2. Ask for help. If you need to talk to someone, don’t hesitate to get care. If you are away from your therapist or psychologist/psychiatrist, telehealth services are available by phone, web or mobile app. Check out Teladoc.com/therapy for more information.

3. Stick to a routine. If you are traveling, try to wake up, eat and go to bed at the same time as you normally would at home. Keeping an organized, regular schedule will help mitigate stress and anxiety.

4. Exercise. Maintaining physical health is key to maintaining mental health. Anything counts, even a walk around the mall while shopping!

5. Get some sleep: Try to log 7-9 hours a night. This will help improve mental focus and overall mood.

Many people don’t realize that they have access to a telehealth solution like Teladoc through their health benefits, or that these services offer mental health support. Further, as opposed to 25-day wait times for a mental health visit (according to the Kennedy Forum), you can see Teladoc licensed therapists and psychologists/psychiatrists within minutes, so you can get back to enjoying your holiday.

“I know that seeking mental help is deeply personal,” said Dr. Roots. “It’s my personal mission — and one that’s shared amongst all of us at Teladoc — to make sure no one ever feels alone as they navigate their mental health. If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety or depression this holiday season — or ever — please reach out to a doctor for support. If you do decide to try Teladoc, know that you can speak to the same person throughout your course of care, if you so choose.”

To learn more about Teladoc and telehealth’s role in mitigating holiday stress and anxiety, visit Teladoc.com/therapy.

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Say goodbye to winter blues with vitamin D-rich foods

(BPT) – Winter got you down? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect 10 million Americans, according to Psychology Today. Another 10 percent to 20 percent may have mild SAD.

Even if you don’t have diagnosed SAD, it’s not uncommon to have bouts of the winter blues. There are many reasons people experience a “winter funk:” cold weather, little sunlight, shorter days, limited outdoor activity, etc.

Additionally, between the months of November and March, the lack of vitamin D absorption from the sun can be taxing on your immune system and may also be contributing to your winter blues.

Dubbed “the happy vitamin” by some researchers, vitamin D could be the key to turning seasonal frowns upside-down. Maintaining vitamin D levels during the cold winter months may help keep you healthy during cold and flu season while also boosting your mood.

What’s more, vitamin D may help you maintain a healthy weight. It’s no secret that many people experience weight gain due to the flood of comfort foods available during cooler months. This, paired with lower physical activity, causes many people to put on a few winter pounds.

According to a study quoted in Men’s Health, a University of Minnesota doctor found that people with adequate vitamin D levels lost more weight than those with low levels, even though all study participants reduced their calorie intake equally.

To get all the benefits of vitamin D, start by adjusting your diet. Vitamin D occurs naturally in eggs and oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, but it’s important to look for foods that contain even higher levels of vitamin D to naturally boost your intake, especially in the winter.

“Food is quite literally one of the best medicines out there when it comes to improving your mental and physical health,” says registered dietitian nutritionist, Dawn Jackson Blatner. “One of my favorite tips for boosting Vitamin D intake is to simply swap out ordinary eggs for Eggland’s Best eggs, since you’ll automatically get six times more vitamin D — it doesn’t get any easier than that!”

In addition to added vitamin D, Eggland’s Best eggs provide superior nutritional benefits such as 10 times more vitamin E, double the omega-3s, more than double the vitamin B12 and 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs.

A healthy diet that uses mood-boosting ingredients doesn’t have to be boring. Get creative in the kitchen and try new recipes featuring vitamin D-rich ingredients like this BLT Salmon Caesar Salad from Eggland’s Best and TheAlmondEater.com.

BLT Salmon Caesar Salad

Makes two servings

Ingredients:

1 salmon filet, baked and seasoned to your liking; 2 slices bacon; 1 Eggland’s Best egg (large); 5 cups lettuce; 1/2 cup tomatoes; 1 avocado, sliced; 1 cup croutons; 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese; 2 tablespoons Caesar dressing

Directions:

Heat bacon in a skillet and cook completely; set aside and then cut or break into bite-­size pieces once cooled.

Soft boil the egg over the stovetop.

While egg is cooking, place lettuce in a large bowl and add tomatoes, avocado, croutons and cheese to the bowl; stir to combine.

Next, add the baked salmon to the salad, along with the bacon; add the Caesar dressing and stir to combine.

Last, add the soft-boiled egg and enjoy!

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3 simple tips to get delicious, balanced weeknight meals on the table

(BPT) – Weekday schedules get crazy, which is why the first casualty of all that chaos is the family dinner.

While most families say eating together is a high priority, day-to-day reality is different. According to a 2013 poll by NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, only half of children in the U.S. are in families that dine together. Yet research cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that children reap many benefits from regular family meals, from improved academic performance to developing a deeper sense of resilience.

But busy families can find time to sit down together more often, says Colleen Burns, a lifestyle expert and spokeswoman for Nestle’s Balance Your Plate program. To be successful, set the intention with good planning and smart strategies. What’s more, these meals can also be delicious and nutritious.

“When you have simple solutions in your toolbox to get those well-balanced and tasty meals on the table in the little time that you have, it lets you establish and keep an important family ritual,” says Burns, who is also a busy mom of six boys. “At the same time, you don’t get burned out, and that’s key to staying motivated and inspired.”

To help you get started, Burns shares her top three simple tips to get delicious and nutritious meals on the table quickly.

Shop the freezer section: When you’re in a time pinch, frozen foods have many offerings that set a good foundation for any home-cooked meal, Burns says. Oftentimes, the quality is just as good as their fresh counterparts, and they eliminate many steps of prep time, whether you’re looking at entrees, veggies or sides. On top of all that, fruits and veggies are flash-frozen, which locks the nutrients in place.

Don’t sacrifice: If you know what to look for when shopping the grocery aisles, you can find convenient entrees and sides without sacrificing taste or quality.

Burns recommends Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese as one easy solution that helps you get a great meal on the table. It has ingredients that consumers would use in their own kitchens, such as freshly made pasta, butter, cheddar cheese and milk. Burns likes to serve it as a side to marinated chicken (see recipe below) and roasted seasonal veggies, because it’s a simple solution that makes her and her family feel good about dinner.

Maintain balance: Look to a variety of entrees and sides to bring a nutritional balance as well as delicious flavors to your dinner menu. Burns recommends opting for lean proteins like fish and chicken served with fresh or frozen veggies. Check out her how-to video, https://youtu.be/fKcY-jiTWJg, to learn more.

Marinated Garlic and Lemon Roasted Chicken Drumsticks with Honey Mustard Sauce

10 chicken drumsticks

1 large lemon zested and juiced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 whole cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

1 pinch each salt and pepper

Minced parsley for garnish

Honey Mustard Sauce:

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

In a bowl, mix together lemon juice, zest, olive oil, chopped garlic, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Add chicken drumsticks and toss to coat evenly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When ready to cook, let chicken come to room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange chicken on oiled foil-lined sheet pan.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Flip chicken pieces and cook another 10 minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees and is no longer pink.

Make sauce in a small bowl by whisking together the mustard and honey.

Add water as needed for a workable consistency.

With a small pastry brush, brush sauce over chicken and broil 5 minutes until bubbly.

Place chicken pieces on a serving platter and sprinkle minced parsley over all.

Source: Nestle’s Balance Your Plate

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Senior guest? How to prepare your home for older visitors

(BPT) – Whether it’s for a special occasion or just because, hosting an older adult in your home can be a wonderful experience with lots of memory-making potential. However, for a safe and successful visit, you may want to make a few adjustments to your home before they arrive to make it more senior-friendly.

“Spending time with aging parents or grandparents is a wonderful experience for all generations,” says Sara Terry, Brookdale Senior Living’s senior vice president of resident and family engagement. “Creating a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere is the job of any good host and that is no different when entertaining seniors. Considering older adults’ varying mobility and comfort levels, there are a few adjustments you can make to your home to meet their needs.”

Whether your guest is staying short- or long-term, Terry offers these six tips to help you transform your home into a more senior-friendly environment so you can focus on what matters most: making memories with your entire family.

Outdoors

The walkways to many homes are cracked or uneven, which is a risk factor for falls. Make sure the pathway is cleared and easy to see, shovel show in the winter and sweep leaves in the fall. Stairs can be tricky to maneuver as well. If possible, add a ramp that leads to your door. If there are stairs, install handrails on each side. Entryways divided by a threshold can be tricky for someone with mobility issues. Eliminate this common tripping hazard when seniors visit.

Clutter

The easiest thing you can do is remove clutter (especially on the floor) to allow sufficient space for senior guests who may be in a wheelchair to maneuver around rooms. Remove or tape down all cords. Rugs may look nice but they are a leading tripping hazard. Remove all accent rugs from your home, and in areas like the entryway where you must have mats, make sure they are secured with non-slip material.

Light

Seniors need more light than you do in your home, particularly in notoriously dim areas such as entryways, hallways and staircases. Replace existing soft light bulbs with brighter or higher wattage ones and add motion-sensor lights to bathrooms. Adding night lights throughout your home is an easy addition that helps seniors see better, especially at night or on darker winter days.

Stairs

Ideally, a senior won’t have to navigate stairs, but if you have some in your home, you can make the space safer by having railings on both sides. Railings should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter to accommodate seniors with limited dexterity and aging grips. What’s more, help each stair be more visible by using contrast strips (available at your local hardware store).

Bathrooms

Make bathrooms safer by adding well-placed grab bars next to the toilet and in bathing spaces. In the shower or tub, add non-slip strips and a shower seat for comfort and ease of use. For guests who are staying awhile, consider adding a handheld, adjustable-height showerhead. Finally, set the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees as to avoid unintended burns.

Room selection

Whether your loved one is staying one night, one month or more, selecting the right room will increase their comfort and safety. One-level living is key, so if possible use a room on the main floor with easy access to the bathroom, kitchen and living room. Furniture, including the bed and chairs, should be at a good height (neither too low nor too high) to be easily used. Knobs can be difficult, so consider replacing round door handles with lever handles.

“In addition to these tips, I recommend having a conversation with your loved one before their stay,” says Terry. “Talk to them about what will make them feel at home in your home. What’s most important is enjoying your visit to the fullest and spending valuable time together.”

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