The importance of sleep is a given, as it’s in the news regularly, everywhere from checkout-line magazines to elite journals. But if you’re like me, sleep is one of the first things you’re willing to sacrifice when your schedule gets hectic. Why is this?
We hear again and again that skipping an extra hour of sleep does not add to our productivity; in fact, any amount of sleep deprivation can take quite a toll on our mood, our health and our cognitive abilities. One friend of mine recently mentioned that Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. And yet, so many of us inflict a mild form of torture on ourselves night after night, week after week, year after year. In a recent study, 30 percent of employed U.S. adults—almost 41 million people—reported sleeping fewer than six hours per day.
Insufficient sleep can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for fatigued workers and others around them—an estimated 20% of vehicle crashes are linked to drowsy driving. There’s even a connection between weight and sleep: People who sleep less may eat more and they’re at higher risk of obesity and diabetes.
So just how can we get more sleep? Here are a few definite tips to remember.
Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time: Even on weekends. Our internal “sleep clock” is a creature of habit and you can train it to be ready for sleep at certain times. One way to know you’re getting enough rest: you wake up naturally without an alarm (if you just laughed when you read that, you need to get more sleep!).
Make time for naps: If you’re running short on nighttime sleep, fight the urge to sleep late and instead make time for a one-hour, early afternoon nap. Doing this allows you to pay down your sleep debt without screwing up your internal sleep clock, which, as we said before, is a creature of habit.
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Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness that affects at least 5.4 million Americans, with one in eight older Americans having the disease. Occupational therapists offer treatments that can promote safety and enhance a patient’s quality of life, in addition to providing comfort and care for people with the disease and their families.
Alzheimer’s disease affects people’s personalities, behavior and memory. With occupational therapy, all of these areas can be addressed, depending on the stage of the disease, the setting and the therapy focus.
Occupational therapists are challenged to create a balance between patient safety and maximum independence. As a result of adding occupational therapy to their care plan, Alzheimer’s patients may see an improvement in the ability to use their cognitive skills, activities of daily living and other activities that help them to be more independent and experience a better quality life for a longer period of time.
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If you were very ill—too sick to communicate your wishes—what kind of healthcare would you want?
That’s the basic question behind an advance directive, an important legal document that everyone should have, but critical for those with life-limiting illnesses. An advance directive allows you to convey your decisions about medical care and end-of-life care to family, friends and healthcare professionals. It helps avoid confusion, which can add pain to an already emotional situation for the loved ones of the ill person.
Advance directives include:
Living will. This is a written, legal document that lays out your wishes regarding medical treatments and the life-sustaining measures you want and don’t want. These include the use of dialysis and breathing machines, your desire to be resuscitated if breathing or heartbeat stops, tube feeding, and organ or tissue donation. You can express your wishes to accept or refuse medical care in this document.
Medical or healthcare power of attorney (POA). This legal document is also written and it designates a person, known as your healthcare agent or proxy, to make medical decisions for you if you’re too sick to do so yourself. This proxy should be someone you trust who knows your wishes.
Do not resuscitate (DNR) order. A DNR takes effect if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. It is a request not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). DNRs are optional in advance directives.
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Now there’s a bigger reason to season your food than just a flavor boost — your health! Put away the saltshaker and pull out your spice rack. Many spices provide great health benefits and pack a powerful punch when it comes to disease-fighting properties. Whereas sodium contributes to higher blood pressure, which can lead to many health problems, spices can improve heart health, fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and more. So, the next time your food tastes boring or bland, consider grabbing one of these seven super spices and enjoy adding flavor to your food while improving your overall health, longevity and energy.
Cayenne pepper — This powerful red pepper is rich in antioxidants. Capsaicin is the potent compound that gives it its heat. Studies show that cayenne pepper has been found to aid in controlling appetite, enhancing metabolism and potentially stimulating fat burning. Try sprinkling cayenne pepper on hummus or guacamole for a dash of heat, or use it in marinades and dressings for a fiery flavor.
Cinnamon — Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant that helps give your immune system a boost and reduce inflammation. Research also suggests it may help lower blood sugar levels, helping to manage Type 2 diabetes. In fact, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon contains as many antioxidants as ½ cup of blueberries. Try adding cinnamon on whole-wheat toast or layer it in biscuit dough for a touch of sweetness.
Thyme — This versatile spice contains beneficial compounds called flavonoids that increase its antioxidant capacity. Just one teaspoon of thyme contains as many antioxidants as one carrot. Try sprinkling thyme on mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables. Add pizzazz to tuna salad or seafood with a few thyme leaves.
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For the adventurous travel therapist, a 13-week assignment in Wisconsin offers a state full of varied and interesting sites. From romantic cabins with cliff-side seclusion to sandy beaches to urban hot spots with exciting nightlife, Wisconsin offers a full range of fun activities and beautiful scenery, to boot.
Physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and speech-language pathologists are high-demand positions in Wisconsin right now. Three of the hottest areas for these jobs are Marshfield, Richland Center and Niagara. These opportunities include completion bonuses, sometimes up to $5,000, and many 360 Healthcare Staffing employees enjoy their Wisconsin experience so much that they “re-book” and stay for two or three more rotations.
360 Healthcare Staffing also offers temporary-to-permanent placements in Wisconsin, giving each employee an opportunity to “try out” a location before committing to a permanent placement.
So let’s take a closer look at this state and what makes it great.
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I was recently reading about the benefits of exercise. I know it’s a good idea, but I am always impressed by just how much evidence exists in support of both aerobic and strengthening exercise, particularly for people over 65.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older people of all ages and physical conditions can benefit from exercise and from staying physically active. It gives them the freedom and independence that allows them to live a full and active life.
Though we all know how important it is to stay active, it is equally important to exercise safely. Did you know that one out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year? One of Aegis Therapies core programs, Freedom Through Functionality (FTF), is modeled on clinical evidence and research about strength building. It is a highly effective way to increase an older person’s mobility, independence and alleviate his or her risk of falls.
Freedom Through Functionality is a unique machine-based strength-building program for seniors and includes Nautilus equipment modified specifically for the senior population, exercise programs developed by experts in geriatric rehabilitation and the clinical expertise to produce desired results.
The Nautilus equipment has comfortable seats and pads for postural support, controlled range of motion, enclosed weights and smaller weight increments to ensure that no matter what a person’s age or physical condition may be, they can exercise safely and to their physical potential. The program is monitored by trained personnel who work with individuals and make sure that they perform the exercises correctly.
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Serious, life-limiting illness is a time of radical and profound change for patients and their loved ones. During this transitional period, many deep questions often arise about the spiritual dimension of life, both in relationships with other people and perhaps with a power greater than themselves.
Spiritual care, from a wide range of traditions and styles, is a core service offered by hospice, and yet it is often perceived as representing the philosophies or teachings of a specific religion or sect. In fact, hospice spiritual care is much more than that.
We believe every person has a spiritual dimension, special beliefs about how the world is ordered, the meaning of living and a connection with the universe. This often takes the form of a faith that organizes and makes sense of this world giving meaning to patients’ lives. These life values play an integral part in the patient and family’s response to the life-limiting illness.
Hospice spiritual care offers to meet emotional and spiritual needs of patients at the end of life as well as the needs of their loved ones. The significance of spiritual care is different from person to person. For some people, this spirituality takes the form of organized religion; for others, it does not. Many need to make peace with certain issues in their lives or evaluate the meaning of life overall.
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For physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, helping others is a way of life. Day in and day out, these professionals provide compassionate, quality care with dozens of patients on a one-on-one basis. But caring for others can make them vulnerable to depletion, stress and fatigue. So how do these helpers help themselves?
Learning to manage the pressure is key because if they don’t keep themselves strong and in balance, they are not able to be there others. In fact, if therapists are stressed and don’t have a good outlet for that stress, they can potentially put their patients at risk. This is because people are more error-prone when they’re stressed, burned out, fatigued or ill.
Here are ten sure-fire ways to cope effectively with stress:
1. Exercise. This earns a top spot on the list because it’s such a powerful tool for reducing stress and increasing a sense of well-being. Study after study points out this fact. And you don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits—moderate, regular exercise is sufficient, from walking and yoga to gardening and swimming.
2. Keep a gratitude journal. Counting life’s blessings is an ancient practice. Almost 2,000 years ago, Roman poet Ovid said, “Thanks are justly due for boons unbought.” So buy yourself a small journal at your local bookstore, put it in your purse or bag and start keeping track of the wonderful things in your life. Do it every day and don’t repeat yourself. You’ll discover all manner of big and small things that make your heart grateful. Plus, this journal is a comfort when you’re feeling down—it’s a reminder that even in tough times, you are luckier than you think.
3. Identify stressors. The same things don’t stress everybody out. So know your stressors, acknowledge those triggers and develop a plan to deal with them. Some events are out of your control and require acceptance. Others respond to action.
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This August, as we recognize National Immunization Awareness Month, take the time to protect yourself against the upcoming flu season and all communicable disease by getting all your vaccines.
Contrary to what some may think, being immunized as a child is not enough. Immunizations should occur across the life span, from infants to the elderly. Older populations in particularly is especially vulnerable to illnesses. Common adult illnesses include influenza (flu), shingles, whooping cough, and hepatitis A and B. Some of these illnesses, once contracted, do not have a cure, and all may cause tremendous health problems, disability or even death.
Why are immunizations important?
Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. Yet, every year, tens of thousands of U.S. adults die from diseases they could have avoided with vaccination. Like eating healthy food, exercising and getting regular physicals, vaccines are important to your overall health. Vaccines are one of the most convenient, simplest and safest preventive care measures available.
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We’re counting the days and lacing up our sneakers as we get ready for the fourth annual WALK! with Aegis Sept. 24-28, 2012. This event celebrates Active Aging Week by motivating patients, residents and staff to become more active through the six dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, occupational, social, spiritual and intellectual.
The idea behind the WALK! with Aegis event is to reinforce the importance of nourishing our emotional, spiritual and intellectual health, in addition to maintaining our physical well-being, no matter our age.
Every day, patients, therapists, staff and other participants “walk” thousands of miles at these locations, while focusing on one of the dimensions of wellness. Participants who are in wheelchairs or unable to walk participate in alternative physical activities. All this exercise is measured and calculated to celebrate the number of miles “walked.”
Last year, more than 600 skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, independent living facilities and other locations participated. We plan for even more in 2012!
We welcome again fitness expert Chris Freytag, who last year led activities at Aegis Therapies client locations across the nation, including Minneapolis, Kansas City and Daytona Beach. She has been a driving force behind WALK! with Aegis since we launched in 2009 as a one-day event, helping us to expand it to the five-day celebration of today.
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