Archive for October, 2009

Flu Alert: 10 Warning Signs to Call the Doctor

Melanie Haiken, Caring.com

I know we’re all anxious about swine flu this season, but the truth is that for most people, the flu–no matter what type of flu it is–doesn’t pose a serious danger. Colds and flu normally cause what doctors like to refer to as “self-limited” illness–this means you feel sick but eventually get better on your own. Typically there’s really no point in calling the doctor, because antibiotics don’t work on flu since it’s caused by a virus. Anti-viral medications, such as Tamiflu, aren’t usually necessary to recover.

In some cases, though, the flu develops into something more dangerous, such as pneumonia or other complications.

10 warning signs that it’s time to call the doctor:

1. High fever: over 101 degrees for more than a day.
2. Fast, shallow breathing or rapid pulse.
3. Difficulty breathing: feeling like you can’t draw in a breath or get enough air.
4. Chest pain: sharp or stabbing pains or aches when you breathe in; gets worse with coughing.
5. Repeated vomiting and diarrhea.
6. Decreased urination (or decreased tears, in an infant)–this is a sign of dehydration.
7. Dizziness when you stand up–also a sign of dehydration.
8. Blue or purple discoloration around the mouth.
9. Mental confusion or disorientation (that wasn’t present before you got sick).
10. Convulsions or seizures.

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t wait to call, because once pneumonia or other serious infection sets in, things can move quickly.

People at higher risk for severe illness include pregnant women, young children, and adults with chronic illnesses or weak immune systems.

Those of us caring for older adults feel particularly worried, because seniors are generally at high risk for getting very sick from seasonal influenza. The H1N1 strain is a little different in this respect; adults over 60 seem to be somewhat protected from it. Still, when older adults get sick, we need to watch them carefully to make sure it’s not developing into something more serious.

If you have any doubt whether you need medical care, call your doctor’s office and ask to talk to the nurse for more information. The nurse will quiz you about the symptoms you’re experiencing or seeing and advise you on what to do next.

via Flu Alert: 10 Warning Signs to Call the Doctor | Healthy and Green Living.

8 Ways to Sort Aging Parents’ “Stuff”

By Paula Spencer, Caring.com

“Christmas lights. Do not work.” Three boxes, so labeled and tucked in the basement ceiling joists, were perhaps my favorite find while clearing out my parents’ house. Well, those or the shelf of neat notebooks recording weekly bowling scores back to the 1960s. A dozen casserole lids, no casseroles. Spare stereo knobs, circa 1975. Enough yarn to knit a sweater that could encase the entire house and yard, Christo-style.

I tossed plenty of useless stuff while clearing out my parents’ home of 40-odd years, recently. (100 pairs of elastic-waist pants, anyone?) But I had it relatively easy, because my parents weren’t involved. (My mom had died and my dad, who was relocating, was sidelined by dementia.)

Most caregivers face the “junk wars” with still-living relatives. It can happen when you combine households because of the recession. Or help a parent downsize into assisted living. Or just try to make a crowded old house safer for an older adult in which to age-in-place.

Sorting through the accumulated years can be exasperating. Even a nightmare, if the person is a packrat, under stress, or hopelessly sentimental. (Which doesn’t leave too many people, I know.) Here are eight great tips to get you started:

1. Start yesterday

Just about everybody who’s been through the ordeal–whether they have to “de-junk” in crisis mode or not–wishes they’d begun sooner.

Tip: Appeal to the person’s sense of not wanting to be any “trouble”: “Dad and Mom, it will be a heck of a lot more trouble for me to sort through all this after you’re gone than to sit here and help you get a handle on it now.”

2. Snap it, then dump it

Take pictures of beloved objects before disbursing them. What is really important are the memories, not the stuff. Your parent is apt to have more fun looking at albums (or downloaded images online) than dusting and digging. Likewise, you can scan old documents.

Tip: Perfect summer job for an unemployed teen.

3. Box it and “forget” it
For stuff you’re pretty sure you’re not going to want to see again–but the resistant person insists is important–try some elegant boxing. Get official, sturdy moving boxes, carefully label contents, and relocate the clutter to a basement or storage unit. Nine times out of ten, it’s never asked about or seen again. But the person feels reassured that it’s safe.

Tip: For items worth leaving out, write the significance (where it came from, family meaning, etc.) on a piece of paper stuck to its bottom. Your own children may appreciate this tiny extra step.

4. Develop some questions to sort by
The specific questions depend on the situation, but you can make a game of it. Samples: When was the last time you wore it? (More than two years and it’s out.) Does it work? (If it doesn’t function, forget it.) Is this a sentimental thing for you or a memory you want to pass on to somebody else? Is there anybody who could use this more than you right now (a young family starting out, a charity)?

Tip: Focus on potential gains (less to clean, safer floors, money, helping someone else) rather than losses.

5. Distinguish saving from collecting or hoarding
It might all look like junk to you, but understanding the person’s motivation can guide the psychology you use on them. People reared during the Depression tend to save stuff because they “might need it someday.” (That would explain my Dad’s broken Christmas lights.)

Tip: Collectors might be persuaded to cash in on their collection(s) in this economic climate. Or work with them to plan ahead to divide a collection among, say, grandchildren as Christmas gifts.

6. Cope with it as an alternative to “American Idol”

Try easing a willing parent into a downsizing spirit by suggesting you spend an evening a week, or an hour every evening, having “Sort Time.”

Tip: Start nonthreatentingly small: a corner, a box of paper paraphernalia or photos, a bookcase.

7. Enlist professional help
Especially if it’s a crisis or you’re out of town, consider finding a senior move manager. These experts know not only what to do with all that stuff but, more importantly, empathetic ways to get someone to willingly part with it.

8. Think twice about grabbing it for yourself
Your own kids will thank you someday.

via 8 Ways to Sort Aging Parents’ “Stuff” | Healthy and Green Living.

Microwave-Free for 145 Days

Microwave-Free for 145 Days

December 7th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

On July 15th after making a post on the Dangers of Microwave Cooking, I decided to try going without a microwave oven for a while to see what it was like. For the past 145 days, I haven’t eaten any microwaved food at all — not even water.

Since reading those first few articles on the subject, I’ve browsed through a bit more info on the dangers of microwave cooking, but I can’t say I found anything that solidly convinced me one way or the other. From what I’ve read though, I can’t say that eating microwaved food is likely to contribute to optimal health. I find it interesting that microwave ovens are banned in Russia due to suspected negative health effects.

Like many of the personal experiments I run, this one gave me some interesting insights…

Easy to Transition

First, I was surprised at just how easy it was to let go of the microwave. It only took me a few days to get used to heating food on the stove instead of nuking it. At first I found it a bit more trouble to make a cup of tea, but now it seems normal to heat the water with fire instead of microwave radiation. I’ve found the time difference to be negligible, at least for the way I eat.

Healthier Eating

Secondly, I noticed almost immediately that I started eating different foods without the microwave. Obviously I dropped all frozen foods designed for the microwave, and I replaced them with more fresh foods, like stir-fried veggies. I also ate more raw foods. So this was a positive change because I was replacing dead, overcooked, nutritionally weak microwave meals with more whole, fresh foods. My overall diet became slightly healthier.

Better Tasting

Thirdly, I noticed that non-microwaved foods simply tasted better. I eat a lot of brown rice, which I tend to make in big batches, and I would often re-heat rice with the microwave throughout the week. Instead I began reheating it on the stove, and I found that stove-heated leftovers tasted much better. Also, certain foods that I would make in the microwave to begin with, such as oatmeal, tasted significantly better when make on the stove. I also preferred the texture of stove-prepared foods.

Better Feeling

Finally, I noticed that non-microwaved foods simply felt better to consume. I seemed to enjoy them more. I even noticed this with a cup of tea. I had been microwaving the water for my tea for years, and when I finally switched to the stove, I noticed the tea tasted about the same, but it somehow felt different. It was more satisfying, as if the tea was more energetic. I have no idea why. I never nuked the teabag itself, just the water. If you’ve been nuking hot beverages for a long time, I encourage you to try making a single cup on the stove for a change to see if you notice any difference.

Used Microwave for Sale

None of these are major differences by themselves, but taken as a whole, I found them to be more than enough to counter-balance the minor time savings from microwave usage. In fact, the taste/feel differences are strong enough that today I find the thought of eating microwaved food unappealing — even slightly repulsive. When I see something coming out of the microwave, I have an inner feeling of aversion to it, as if the dish has been sprinkled with rat poison. I sense that it just isn’t something I want to put in my body.

Running personal experiments like this helps me make decisions in the face of ambiguity. Now that I have a sense of what it’s like to live without a microwave for almost five months, it no longer matters to me if microwave radiation of food is harmful. I no longer need that piece of information to make the decision. The experiential data is enough that I’m happy to permanently dump the microwave. In order to go back to the old ways, I’d have to see new evidence that eating microwaved food was actually beneficial, and that doesn’t seem too likely.

via Microwave-Free for 145 Days.

Top 15 Cleansing Foods

When it comes to cleansing your body of harmful toxins, food really is the best medicine. You’ll be amazed to learn that many of your favorite foods also cleanse the body’s detoxification organs like the liver, intestines, kidneys, and skin, preventing harmful toxic buildup. Help ward off the harmful effects of pollution, food additives, second-hand smoke, and other toxins with delicious fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and beans.

Apples. Because apples are high in pectin, a type of fiber that binds to cholesterol and heavy metals in the body, they help eliminate toxic build up and to cleanse the intestines.

Avocados. We rarely think of avocados as a cleansing food but these nutritional powerhouses lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least thirty different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals.

Beets. Time to whip up some delicious borscht soup since its main ingredient, beets, contain a unique mixture of natural plant compounds that make them superb blood purifiers and liver cleansers.

Blueberries. Truly one of the most powerful healing foods, blueberries contain natural aspirin that helps lessen the tissue-damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while lessening pain. Blueberries also act as antibiotics by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They also have antiviral properties and help to block toxins from crossing the blood-brain barrier to gain access to the delicate brain.

Cabbage. Cabbage contains numerous anticancer and antioxidant compounds and helps the liver break down excess hormones. Cabbage also cleanses the digestive tract and neutralizes some of the damaging compounds found in cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke). It also strengthens the liver’s ability to detoxify.

Celery and Celery Seeds. Celery and celery seeds are excellent blood cleansers and contain many different anti-cancer compounds that help detoxify cancer cells from the body. Celery seeds contain over twenty anti-inflammatory substances. It is particularly good for detoxifying substances found in cigarette smoke.

Cranberries. Cleanse your body from harmful bacteria and viruses that may be lingering in your urinary tract with cranberries since they contain antibiotic and antiviral substances.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil. Loaded with essential fatty acids, particularly the Omega-3s, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are essential for many cleansing functions throughout the body.

Garlic. Eat garlic to cleanse harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites and viruses from your body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also helps cleanse build-up from the arteries and has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. Additionally, garlic assists with cleansing the respiratory tract by expelling mucous build-up in the lungs and sinuses. For the health benefits, choose only fresh garlic, not garlic powder, which has virtually none of the above properties.

Grapefruit. Add a ruby red grapefruit to your breakfast to benefit from pectin fiber that binds to cholesterol, thereby cleansing the blood. Pectin also binds to heavy metals and helps escort them out of the body. It also has antiviral compounds that cleanse harmful viruses out of the body. Grapefruit is an excellent intestinal and liver detoxifier.

Kale. Steam some kale to benefit from its powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds that help cleanse the body of harmful substances. It is also high in fiber, which helps cleanse the intestinal tract. Like cabbage, kale helps neutralize compounds found in cigarette smoke and strengthens liver cleansing.

Legumes. Add a handful of cooked beans to your next meal since they loaded with fiber that helps lower cholesterol, cleanses the intestines, and regulates blood sugar levels. Legumes also help protect the body against cancer.

Lemons. Excellent liver detoxifiers, lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C, a vitamin needed by the body to make an important substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (not the bottled variety) to pure water to support your cleansing efforts on a daily basis.

Seaweed. Seaweed could be the most underrated vegetable in the western world. Studies at McGill University in Montreal showed that seaweeds bind to radioactive waste in the body. Seaweed also binds to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. In addition, they are powerhouses of minerals and trace minerals.

Watercress. If you haven’t tried watercress add this delicious green to your next sandwich since it increases detoxification enzymes and acts on cancer cells in the body. In a study at the Norwich Food Research Centre in the United Kingdom, smokers who were given 170 grams of watercress per day eliminated higher than average amounts of carcinogens in their urine, thereby eliminating them from their body.

Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables assists with detoxifying harmful substances from your body. Who knew cleansing could taste so good?

Adapted with permission from: The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan by Michelle Schoffro Cook (John Wiley & Sons, 2006). Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook.

via Top 15 Cleansing Foods | Healthy and Green Living.