Tag: advice

How To Protect Long-Term Cognitive Health

Cognitive health is not something to take for granted. Although a certain level of memory loss can be expected as people age, when the ability to clearly think, learn and remember is compromised, those changes can affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and should serve as a cause for concern.

Brain health should be a priority for everyone. The National Institute on Aging says brain health is an umbrella term that encompasses a host of factors, including:

· cognitive health, which is how well you think, learn and remember

· motor function, or how you make and control movements

· tactile function, which is how you feel sensations; and

· emotional function, or how emotions are interpreted and responded to.

Individuals can safeguard brain health – particularly cognitive health – by taking these steps.

Be More Health-Conscious

Working with doctors, individuals can put their health first. This includes getting routine screenings, managing chronic health problems, limiting or avoiding alcohol and nicotine products, and getting the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Manage High Blood Pressure

All chronic conditions cause long-term repercussions, but the NIA indicates that observational studies show having high blood pressure in mid-life increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life. Lowering blood pressure lowers the risk for mild cognitive impairment and possibly dementia.

Challenge Your Brain

Harvard Medical School says nurturing social contacts, engaging in stimulating mental activities like reading and doing puzzles, seeing new places, and learning new things can help keep the brain in top form.

Manage Stress

Stress can take its toll on the body, and there is reason to believe that it may adversely affect cognitive health as well. Make every stride to reduce stress, whether that involves taking vacations, meditating, laughing with friends and family, or engaging in relaxing activities that relieve stress.

Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D is linked to a host health benefits, including its potential to promote a healthy brain. Individuals can get more time outdoors to get vitamin D naturally from the sun and eat foods rich in vitamin D. If doctors find that vitamin D levels are exceptionally low, supplementation can help.

Pay Attention To Hearing Loss

Certain hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline, says Healthline. Researchers in Italy concluded that people with central hearing loss had a higher risk of mild cognitive impairment than those with no hearing loss or peripheral hearing loss. Individuals with central hearing loss are urged to speak to their physicians to determine if they can take preventive action to stave off further decline.

Cognitive health should be a priority. Adults can employ various strategies to reduce their risk of cognitive decline as they age.

How To Winterize A Vacant Home

A vast migration takes place when the temperatures begin to drop in the northernmost areas of the United States and even parts of Canada. No, it has nothing to do with feathered friends finding new roosts or certain mammals getting ready to hibernate. This migration involves the thousands upon thousands of people who retreat from one residence to head to another.

Snowbirds, as these migratory people are often called, are primarily retirees who split their living arrangements based on weather. Many spend the spring and summer months in one residence, generally in the northern portion of the country. Once the mercury begins to drop there, they trade that home for another in a more temperate locale, such as Florida, Louisiana, Texas, or even overseas. The Palm Beach Post reports that about 145,000 snowbirds flock to Palm Beach County alone each winter, raising the population by around 11 percent, according to the county’s official figures. Across Florida, an estimated 900,000 to one million seasonal residents stay a month or more every winter.

When snowbirds or other people leave their homes for extended periods of time, it is essential that they winterize properties that will sit vacant for months.

Protect Against Home Damage

· Consider turning off the water supply completely if you will be away for an extended period of time; otherwise, a burst pipe may result in significant damage.

· Drain all water in pipes by opening the faucets and flushing the toilets to clear the water from the tanks and bowls. Place non-toxic antifreeze in the toilet bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing.

· If you will not be draining pipes and turning off the water, set the heating system to 55 F or higher to help keep the interior and wall cavities warm.

· Keep room and cabinet doors open to allow heat to circulate to areas where pipes are located.

· Shut off the water to outdoor faucets as well as the washing machine.

· Close up openings to the house so that rodents and insects cannot get inside and use a home for shelter.

Keep Safe With Snow and Ice

· Make sure that gutters are free of debris, which can lead to potential ice dams and water collection around the foundation of the home.

· Hire someone to clear the sidewalks and driveway of snow and ice.

· Remove any tree branches that can be weighed down by snow and ice and fall onto the property.

Make The Home Look Lived In

· Forward mail to your winter address, stop newspaper delivery and arrange to have any package deliveries picked up while you’re away.

· Put motion-sensitive exterior lights and interior lights on timers. Set lights to come on at various times to discourage thieves or squatters.

· Ensure the alarm system is in good working order.

· Use deadbolts to secure doors and windows.

These steps and others can help protect a home while residents are away.

Rewarding Resolutions That Won’t Require A Major Commitment Of Time

Much like money, time does not grow on trees. That reality is all too familiar to busy adults juggling multiple responsibilities at work, at home and other places where they spend their time.

A time crunch can make it hard to commit to a New Year’s resolution. But resolutions, which are often focused on self-improvement, can be worthwhile endeavors. So what are busy adults to do? Perhaps the best approach is to choose resolutions that don’t necessarily require much time.

Exercise More

A commitment to getting fit and being more physically active is a popular New Year’s resolution. Though choosing such a path may seem like it requires a significant time commitment, the Physical Activity Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults perform at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. That might seem like a lot, but it can be combined with other leisure activities you already engage in. For example, a sports fan can watch the big game while on a treadmill or elliptical, while readers can swap the couch with an exercise bike as their go-to reading spot. Doing so for as little as a half hour per day can help you get the recommended amount of daily exercise without taking up a large chunk of your time.

Read More

Adults across the globe lament a lack of time to curl up with a good book. But some brief reading before bed each night can help adults achieve this goal and can even improve their quality of sleep. In fact, a 2021 study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Trials found that reading in bed before going to sleep improved sleep quality compared to not reading a book in bed.

Journaling

Journaling is another worthy resolution that won’t take up much time. Individuals can take 15 minutes out of their day to write down their thoughts and feelings and reflect on the day’s comings and goings. That simple activity can produce profound results, as the University of Rochester Medical Center notes that journaling helps people prioritize their problems, fears and concerns; reduce stress; cope with depression; and identify negative thoughts and behaviors.

Become More Organized

This resolution won’t take up much of your time. In fact, becoming more organized should free up time. A lack of organization can make it harder to meet work deadlines, keep a house clean, tackle everyday tasks, and keep a clear mind. By taking steps to be more organized, whether that’s through using a daily organizer, avoiding procrastinating in regard to cleaning up around the house or other means, individuals will gradually discover they have more free time to use as they see fit.

New Year’s resolutions need not take much time. Busy individuals can keep that in mind as they look for ways to improve their lives in the year ahead.

How To Celebrate The Holidays Away From Home

A popular Christmas song attests “there’s no place like home for the holidays.” For many people, a truer statement couldn’t be uttered. But sometimes life gets in the way of an old-fashioned holiday spent at home.

There are a number of reasons why individuals may not be able to spend the holidays at home. Active military service people may not be able to leave their posts to travel home. Some students studying abroad or even far away domestically may find getting back to their homes can be time- and cost-prohibitive. Some people may not be home for the holidays because work obligations keep them out of town, or because they have planned vacations to serve as nontraditional holiday celebrations.

Being away from some familiar sights and sounds of the holidays doesn’t mean celebrations should be any less special. Here are tips for celebrating away from home.

Find People In Similar Situations

Chances are you will not be the only person away from home, particularly if you are a student or someone on a business venture. Connect with others who are away from their families and do something together for the holidays.

Partake Of Local Traditional Activities

You may be used to baking sugar cookies for the holidays, but in a foreign country, the locals may make another type of dessert. Figure out how the locals celebrate the holidays and then take part in any way you can.

Volunteer Your Time

If you will be away or alone for the holidays, volunteer your time to help the less fortunate. Deliver meals to those who are not able to leave home, like seniors, or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Visit a children’s hospital and deliver small gifts.

Engage In Virtual Fun

Connect with people at home through the power of digital technology. Video conferencing services connect people who can’t be together in person. Utilize these apps and services to remote into a holiday dinner or when loved ones open gifts.

Cook Up Your Favorites

Evoke traditional holiday celebrations by cooking the foods you would normally enjoy at home. Those tastes and smells can transport you back to grandma’s kitchen or dad’s living room.

Stay Off Of Social Media

Being away from home during the holidays can be challenging, and that challenge can be even greater if you see photo after photo on social media of people you know spending time with their friends and loved ones. Tune out of your social feeds for a few days.

Invite Others To You

Maybe you don’t have the means of getting home, but you can bring those at home to you. Find out if anyone can plan a road trip, train ride or flight to where you are and then enjoy the holidays together.

Being away from home during the holidays may not be ideal. However, there are plenty of ways to maintain your holiday spirit when celebrating in unfamiliar surroundings.

Craft An Entire Day Around Tree Shopping

Though retailers may begin playing holiday tunes shortly after Halloween, for many people, no date on the calendar marks the beginning of the holiday season better than the day they pick up their Christmas tree.

There are many different ways to acquire a Christmas tree. Some people prefer artificial Christmas trees that can be stored and taken out each year. Others make a yearly expedition to a tree lot or a Christmas tree farm to find the perfect fir or spruce. Historians believe a man named W.V. McGallard planted 25,000 Norway spruce seedlings at his Mercer County, New Jersey farm in 1901, essentially establishing the first commercial Christmas tree farm. By 1908, customers could visit the farm and choose trees for $1 each. McGallard helped create an entirely new industry that now accounts for 350 million trees being grown and sold in the United States every year.

Selecting a Christmas tree may not take more than an hour or two, but there are ways for families and other tree shoppers to maximize their time spent looking for a tree.

Bring Refreshments

Couple Christmas tree shopping with picnicking if the weather is amenable. Pack some foldable chairs into the vehicle (sitting on the ground on a blanket may be too cold) and bring along thermoses of coffee or hot cocoa. Snacks like granola bars, Christmas cookies or other filling treats can keep everyone satisfied and energized while they shop for a tree.

Pair Tree Shopping With A Trip To See Lighting Displays

Find the tree lot or tree farm and then scope out potentially scenic spots to view holiday lighting displays nearby. Neighborhood Facebook or other social media groups often tout homes that put up eye-catching displays. Ask around for addresses and plan your own tours.

Plan A Night Out

Everyone may be tired and hungry after a long day of Christmas tree hunting. Plus, it’s typically a good idea to wait some time for boughs to open before decorating. Use this opportunity to dine out and return home ready to decorate. Make it a regular occurrence that Christmas tree shopping is followed by a family meal at a favorite restaurant.

Watch A Classic Film

Many different holiday movies are broadcast this time of year and each enhances the Christmas spirit. While putting up the tree, play a favorite film in the background. What better way to enjoy decorating your own tree than by watching Charlie Brown adorn his meager evergreen at the same time?

Make a day of selecting and putting up the Christmas tree each year. Doing so can enhance the holidays and make for an entertaining way to spend time together as a couple or family.

3 Treatment Options For Breast Cancer Patients

Millions of women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Such a diagnosis is never welcome, but women should know that survival rates have improved dramatically in recent decades. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that, by the end of 2020, nearly eight million women were living despite having been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in the previous half decade.

One of the reasons for the improved survival rates is the efficacy of various treatments. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.® notes that doctors have various options to treat breast cancer, and they often devise treatment plans that include some combination of treatments. Though no one wants to imagine receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, understanding the potential treatments for the disease can help women and their families be more prepared should that day ever arrive. The following are three treatment options physicians may discuss with women as they begin devising ways to overcome the disease.

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is used to treat various cancers, including breast cancer. Chemotherapy employs various drugs to destroy cancer cells or slow their growth. The drugs administered during chemotherapy are known as cytotoxic drugs and may be administered orally or intravenously. The NBCF notes that chemotherapy is offered to most patients, though doctors will consider a host of variables before deciding if chemotherapy is right for a given patient. Those variables include the type of tumor, its grade and its size.

2. Radiation therapy

During radiation treatments, high energy rays are used to kill cancer cells. Only cells in the part of the body that is being treated with radiation are affected, so patients needn’t worry that other parts of their body will be hit with radiation. The NBCF reports that patients diagnosed with Stage 0 (DCIS) and most diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive cancer or higher can expect doctors to prescribe radiation therapy. Women who have had a lumpectomy also are likely to be prescribed radiation. Two main kinds of radiation are generally considered for breast cancer patients. External beam breast cancer radiation treatment delivers cancer-killing rays through a large machine. Internal breast cancer radiation is a newer treatment that injects radioactive cancer-killing treatments into the affected area.

3. Targeted therapy

The NBCF reports that targeted therapy is commonly used in combination with traditional chemotherapy. Targeted therapy attacks specific breast cancer cells without harming normal cells, which is why it tends to produce less severe side effects than chemotherapy treatments. Targeted therapy employs drugs to block the growth of cancer cells in very specific ways. One example cited by the NBCF is the drug Trastuzumab, or Herceptin®, which is given to women whose breast tumors have too much of the abnormal protein HER2. Though the side effects of targeted therapies tend to be less severe, women may still experience issues like fever and chills, nausea, headaches, and other symptoms after drugs have been administered.

Expanding breast cancer treatments have done much to improve survival rates for patients. Women diagnosed with the disease are urged to play an active role in their treatments and ask any questions they might have before, during and after being treated.

How to Easily Maximize Coupon Savings

Many items, including food and clothing, can strain a budget. As a result, many shoppers make it their mission to save money on their purchases, and coupons can be a great way to do just that.

According to a 2014 survey from the discount coupon site RetailMeNot, 96 percent of respondents regularly use coupons. In fact, Hawk Incentives, another deal resource, found that 40 percent of coupon users feel smarter when taking advantage of a deal. While there are some people who use coupons periodically, an entirely different type of shopper has mastered the art of maximizing coupon savings.

Learning how to follow such shoppers’ lead can save consumers substantial sums of money.

• Look for deals in your local newspaper. Begin by perusing newspaper inserts from local papers and match up the circulars to the stores you frequently visit. Pick the best deals you can find for products you actually use. You will not be saving money if you clip and utilize coupons but end up buying items that you don’t need and/or won’t use.

• See if you can stack coupons. Some stores will enable you to use both a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon at the same time. This is called stacking. Shop at stores that allow stacking to get better deals, particularly on food.

• Use discount code sites. Regularly check sites and apps like RetailMeNot for codes for favorite retailers. This is easily done before you head to the check-out line. Popular stores frequently run deals, and you may not realize there is a discount even if you’re in the store already. Oftentimes codes can be scanned directly from your phone. Other apps and resources enable you to load offers directly to a store rewards card. Investigate these possibilities for more savings.

• Automatically update your shopping cart. When making purchases online, utilize a plug-in site like Honey, which automatically scans its database of usable discount codes for the retailer you’re using. See if there are any applicable codes that can earn you a discount on the spot. If not, Honey will tell you that you have the best price.

• Sign up for mailing lists. While you may not want to inundate your inbox with spam, retailer newsletters and mailing lists will inform you about discounts and sales others may not know about. If you’re concerned about your email program getting flooded, designate a filter that will group these promotions into a separate folder.

• Keep coupons close. Coupons are only good if they’re available for use. Have a holder for print coupons or store digital coupons in a folder on your phone that can be easily accessed.

With these strategies in mind, consumers can increase their coupon savings considerably.

How to Find a Car That Fits Your Budget

Drivers in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle over the last couple of years likely discovered that the process of buying a car or truck is as difficult as ever. Prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, factory closures, supply chain issues, semiconductor chip shortages, and a bevy of other complications led to fewer vehicles on lots and much higher sticker prices on cars that were on the lot. That has caused people who are on strict budgets to reevaluate priorities and timelines.

According to Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of insights, consumers can’t expect to walk into the dealership thinking they’re going to find incentives or bargains right now. Plus, they may not even be able to see or test drive a vehicle they want. That reality makes now a great time for car shoppers to rethink their buying strategies.

Choose a different vehicle class

Tyson Jominy, Vice President of Data and Analytics at J.D. Power, says vehicle inventory in November 2021 reached record lows. Although there has been some improvement in 2022, consumers may still have to make some concessions if they need a vehicle promptly. SUVs and pick-up trucks have been some of the hardest inventory to find. Considering a sedan or even a compact car may be the only way to get a new car quickly.

Wait it out

Those with the luxury of time may continue to wait for inventory to increase and prices to decrease. Tech experts, including Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, expect chip shortages to persist into 2024. If a person’s vehicle is in good condition, it may be more economical to hold on to it a little longer and do the maintenance required.

Seek out no-markup dealerships

It may take some investigation, but there are certain dealerships that are not adding astronomical markups, also called “market adjustments,” to the costs of their vehicles. These dealers may advertise online, and car buyers can always call ahead to ask about markups.

Take what you can get

Lots filled with a variety of makes, models, colors, and features are no longer the norm. Shoppers will be afforded more flexibility in price if they’re willing to take what’s available.

Check with different lenders

The Federal Reserve increased interest rates in the middle of 2022 and it initially planned to increase rates a few more times throughout the year. People, particularly those who do not have the best credit, can do themselves a favor and shop around at different banks for the best loan rates – the loan may be less costly than what’s offered through the dealership. Also, certified pre-owned vehicles tend to come with promotional interest rates that are lower than the average APR, which makes them a viable alternative.

Vehicles are still expensive and in short supply, necessitating changes to how people buy their cars or trucks.

Distractions That Can Affect Efficiency At Work

Busy workdays are the norm for many professionals. Though most workers undoubtedly would prefer to feel busy rather than bored, it’s easy for professionals to succumb to burnout if they don’t get periodic breaks from the demands of their careers.

Burnout is a significant issue for working professionals. A recent survey of 1,500 working professionals from various sectors and backgrounds by the job aggregator site Indeed found that 52 percent of respondents were experiencing burnout in 2021. That marks a nearly 10 percent increase from a similar survey Indeed conducted prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Various factors, some of which are beyond individuals’ control, can contribute to burnout. Professionals who want to avoid burnout without taking a step back from their careers can look for ways to be more efficient during the day. Overcoming these common distractions can improve efficiency, which should help professionals free up time and reduce their risk of burnout.

Smartphones

A 2015 CareerBuilder survey of hiring and human resources managers from various industries found that employers cited smartphones and texting as the biggest productivity killers in the workplace. Professionals no doubt recognize how distracting their phones can be during the workday, and they may feel powerless to avoid them. But they’re not. Alter notification settings so the phone only delivers the most important notifications (i.e., children’s schools, meeting reminders, etc.) during the day. Turn off notifications from news, sports, and entertainment apps.

The Internet

The CareerBuilder survey found that employers believed the internet is the second biggest productivity killer. Professionals with a lot on their plates should do everything they can to avoid surfing the internet during the workday. The internet can be a rabbit hole, and even individuals who only intend to take a brief break from work to check the news or clear their head may soon find themselves moving from website to website while their work piles up. If it’s a mental break you need, get up and take a brief walk around the office instead of surfing the internet.

Emails

Emails are another significant distraction during a typical workday. To overcome the seemingly endless flood of emails coming from coworkers, friends, and family during the day, professionals can work in offline mode for a predetermined period of time each day. This affords the opportunity to work on specific tasks or projects without being interrupted by emails. Emails will still accumulate while the computer is in offline mode, but professionals won’t be notified as each message is delivered and will be able to work distraction-free until they turn offline mode off.

Meetings

Meetings may be well-intentioned, but they often compromise productivity and distract professionals from their jobs. A recent study titled “Meetings in America” commissioned by Verizon Conferencing found that 90 percent of professionals admitted to daydreaming during meetings, while 39 percent admitted they had fallen asleep during meetings in the past. Managers can help employees get more done and limit distractions by scheduling fewer meetings or reconsidering just who needs to attend meetings more carefully.

A distraction-free workday might seem unlikely, but professionals can take various steps to overcome the most common distractions in an effort to be more efficient.

How Much Should a Backpack Weigh?

Backpacks are handy tools that carry an array of gear. Students rely on them to hold books, while hikers and campers utilize backpacks to carry items such as food and beverages that keep them safe on trails. Even office workers may turn to backpacks to carry laptops or other tools of the trade.

Backpacks are handy resources, but overstuffed backpacks may cause injury. Backpacks should only carry the weight that people can handle, and there are guidelines that can help people safely utilize backpacks.

The weight of a backpack depends on the age of the person using it. Generally speaking, adults should not exceed 20 percent of total body mass when loading backpacks. That means a healthy person weighing 200 pounds should not carry more than 40 pounds in his or her backpack.

In regard to children, researchers indicate that a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of what the student weighs. Those findings are based on a Spanish study involving 49 primary school-aged children. Therefore, if a child weighs 70 pounds, he or she should only carry up to 7 pounds in the backpack.

Individuals also should follow a few other backpack recommendations to alleviate injuries. It’s not a good idea to wear a backpack hanging from only one shoulder. A backpack should be worn on both shoulders, and ideally with a lumbar strap. This will help to prevent muscular pains by providing well-rounded support.

A backpack with wide, padded straps can minimize pressure on the shoulders, back, and collarbone. Backpacks made of lightweight material will not add much additional weight to what’s being carried. Another tip is for children and adults to pack the heaviest item carried in the backpack closest to the center of the back to minimize strain.

Failure to follow guidelines may result in pain and injuries and have negative effects on balance, which may increase the risk of falls or other injuries.

Whenever possible, individuals may want to use trolley backpacks, which are on wheels. They can be dragged, alleviating the need to carry heavy loads.