Archive for the ‘Assistance’ Category

TIPS TO NAVIGATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Lincoln, Nebraska, Dec. 19, 2019 — With the holidays approaching, University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers are delivering top tips for navigating the season with good cheer. This listicle provides research-based recommendations on designing energy-efficient light displays; accommodating food allergies; adding healthy choices to the holiday buffet; recycling holiday decor; and decreasing stress to maximize the enjoyment of the season.

Counting calories in real time may curb overindulgence

During the holiday season, an average adult gains about a pound — which is often never lost. This trend may contribute to the U.S.’s increasing rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other long-term illnesses. 

Nebraska agricultural economist Christopher Gustafson is working to help people make healthier decisions about food consumption. In a 2019 study, Gustafson explored whether access to a real-time calorie counter would spur healthier choices. 

Compared to people without a calorie tracker, the participants who used the device had a more accurate view of the number of calories they selected over five sequential food choices. They also chose significantly fewer calories overall. The differences occurred in the last few selections, suggesting that people without a tracker overindulged down the line because they underestimated the caloric value of earlier choices.

This means people may make poorer choices at a later point in time — at dessert or during a second trip through the buffet line, for example — because they’ve undershot their caloric intake to that point.

Until free, real-time calorie trackers are available — a long-range goal of Gustafson’s research — people can help themselves by staying attuned to their actual consumption.

“At a time of year full of holiday celebrations — usually with tempting foods — people may be able to make their New Year’s resolutions easier to accomplish by trying to be honest with themselves about the foods they’re consuming now,” Gustafson said.

Boosting your home’s cheer, but not your energy bill

Holiday lights are beautiful, but they also sap power. Estimates from the Department of Energy indicate Americans’ holiday light use burns 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours annually — enough to fuel more than 800,000 homes for a year.

Luckily there are ways to mitigate power use without turning into the Grinch, said Jerry Hudgins, interim director of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research and professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering.

Using LED lights rather than traditional incandescent bulbs yields significant savings, he said. They’re more expensive up front, with an LED bulb costing about $1.50 compared to 25 cents for a same-sized regular bulb. But over time, the investment pays off: LEDs use up to 70% less energy than traditional lights, and they last roughly 10 times longer.

“Because of the lower electrical power requirements, LEDs cause fewer greenhouse gases to be emitted from electric power generation, and so are more environmentally friendly,” Hudgins said.

Another power-saving tip is to put your outdoor lights on a timer, so that they’re running during high-traffic times, when the greatest number of people will enjoy them. Hudgins pointed out that after midnight, few people are out and about to admire your display.

Beyond energy-saving tips, Hudgins recommends people stay safe with outdoor holiday displays by using extension cords that are rated for outdoor use and have the proper gauge wire size. A lower number, or gauge, corresponds to a larger diameter wire and can handle a higher electrical load.

“A long extension cord with small gauge wire can overheat if the electrical load is too high,” Hudgins said.

Helping yourself — and your dog — stay calm

Depleted bank accounts, time with the family and an onslaught of parties and events is enough to bring on the holiday frazzle for many people.

One solution? Jeffrey Stevens, associate professor of psychology and director of Nebraska’s Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab, said turning to your four-legged companion for support is a scientifically backed way to ratchet down the pressure.

“Our research has shown that briefly petting a dog can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety,” Stevens said. “So if things get a little overwhelming, spend some quality time with your pet to calm yourself and strengthen your bond.”

Remember, though, the holidays aren’t just stressful for people — dogs can get keyed up too, with extra UPS deliveries, guests in the house and packages on the floor to explore. Stevens said to watch out for dogs’ signs of stress — panting, yawning and lip licking in situations where those behaviors don’t typically occur.

“If it seems like your pet is stressed, make sure they have a quiet place to relax away from the hustle and bustle.”

Stevens launched the Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab in 2018, aiming to develop a better understanding of dog psychology and how interacting with dogs influences human behavior and psychology.

Enhancing children’s nutrition during the holidays

‘Tis the season for cookies, candy and sweets — but it’s also possible for families to celebrate the holidays healthfully by incorporating fruits and vegetables.

“You can make healthy foods festive by getting creative with fruits and vegetables to make fun snacks that are bright and delightful,” said Carly Hillburn, a Nebraska dietetics intern and collaborator on the Ecological Approach to Family Style dining program.

Examples include making “Grinch Santas” by stacking green grapes, banana slices and strawberries, or placing sliced strawberries and bananas into a candy cane shape.

The EAT Family Style team also recommends:

> Getting children involved at mealtimes to pique their interest in trying their creations. For example, toddlers can dump ingredients into bowls and stir; preschoolers can use cookie cutters and rinse produce; and elementary-aged children can crack eggs and use vegetable peelers.

> Exploring healthy meals by engaging children’s senses and talking about nutritional benefits. Since children are curious about the world, ask them to explore their food using the five senses. You can ask specific questions about foods, such as “Did you hear the celery crunch when you took a bite?” or incorporate nutritional phrases into mealtimes, such as “Fruits will give my body energy.”

EAT Family Style is led by Dipti Dev, the Betti and Richard Robinson Associate Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies. Saima Hasnin, doctoral student in child, youth and family studies, and Rachel Maloy, an undergraduate in nutrition and dietetics, contributed to this article.

Building happier, healthier families through storytelling

The holiday season is replete with family time and intergenerational gatherings.

Nebraska’s Jody Koenig Kellas, professor of communication studies and an expert on interpersonal, family and health communication, said the family stories we hear and tell can have a significant and lasting impact on family members. For this reason, the holidays can be the perfect time to intentionally engage in storytelling to learn about or revisit family history and create stronger ties.

Koenig Kellas said family stories help create a sense of family identity; socialize members about family meanings, values and beliefs; cope with and make sense of difficulty and stress; and connect with one another. 

But her research shows that how families share stories is crucial.

“Families who engage in storytelling by being present and warm, who share the floor and build on each other’s contributions, who seek out and honor each other’s perspectives on how things happened or the meaning of the story, and who work together to create the meaning or moral of the story – these families report higher levels of health and happiness than families who are distant, disengaged, don’t take each other’s perspectives into account and don’t work together to build story meaning,” Koenig Kellas said.

In short, being mindfully engaged, other-centered and collaborative during the storytelling process is one avenue for promoting family satisfaction and closeness.

Giving your Christmas tree a second life

During the holiday season, decor often includes a fresh-cut Christmas tree. But after the ornaments and lights are back in storage, most real trees end up in landfills, where they can take years to break down.

But there are other options for your evergreen, according to Nebraska Extension horticulture educators Nicole Stoner and Sarah Browning.

Here are their tips:

> Create a backyard habitat to feed the birds: After stripping the tree of decor, move it to the south or east side of your home, anchor it securely and decorate it with strings of popcorn, cranberries or raisins to create a bird oasis. 

> Boost local fish habitat: If you take your tree to a local lake designated for Christmas tree recycling, it will be placed on the lake’s ice in the winter. When the ice melts in spring, the trees fall into the water and function as fish habitat.

> Sustain local parks: Lincoln has several recycling points for Christmas trees, which are collected, chipped and used as mulch or pathway cover in city parks and arboreta.

> Beautify your garden: Chip your tree and use it as garden mulch in the spring. Alternatively, clean up the tree and use it to make a trellis, which can be used to grow cucumbers up off the ground.

Staying merry despite food allergies

Many people love to indulge in the traditional dishes and flavors of the holiday season. But for individuals and families with food allergies, these food-filled events can become dangerous.

“Food allergies are potentially life-threatening conditions affecting millions of Americans, and the only way to prevent reactions is strict avoidance,” said Melanie Downs, assistant professor of food science and technology and a member of Nebraska’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. “Even very small amounts of food can cause reactions.”

But Downs and Eleanor Garrow-Holding of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team, a FARRP collaborator, said food allergies are manageable, even during the holidays. Here are their tips for event attendees:

> Contact your host and alert them of the allergy and precautions, including not having the allergen present, if necessary.

> Offer to go a little early and help clean.

> Offer to help the host cook the food.

> Have your child eat a snack before you go, so they’re less tempted to grab food when you’re not watching.

> Bring separate dishes that you know your child can eat.

> Remind your child about not eating anything that you haven’t OK’d first.

> Always be prepared with an allergy and anaphylaxis emergency care plan and epinephrine, if prescribed.

More information is available on the FARRP and FAACT websites, https://farrp.unl.edu and https://www.foodallergyawareness.org/education.

Combating holiday blues in children

The wintertime hustle and bustle is overwhelming to some children, particularly those who have experienced a significant change in their life.

Nebraska Extension’s Lisa Poppe, who specializes in the social and emotional well-being of children, said holiday plans that are typically happy and exciting can be complicated by divorce, separation, remarriage or the loss of a parent or other important figure.

“When children are in these situations, the holidays may remind them of how their life was before, and the emotional conflict and stress can ruin their time,” said Poppe, who is part of the Metro Extension District.

Poppe provided the following tips to help children navigate the stress:

> Maintain family traditions even if a parent is absent. Children look forward to the normalcy of these traditions and feel safe in this routine.

> It’s OK if you don’t see everyone or do everything. Overscheduled children become burned out, overtired and cranky.

> Make sure children get plenty of sleep.

> Build in extra time for traveling, and bring plenty of snacks, games and books with you.

> Don’t forget to take care of yourself. When you’re overcommitted or on edge, children feel that stress.

# # #

WRITER: Tiffany Lee, Office of Research and Economic Development

7 Tips for Getting a Senior With a Loss of Appetite to Eat

7 Tips for Getting a Senior With a Loss of Appetite to Eat

Posted On 09 Aug 2019By : Kristen Hicks

A loss of appetite is an all too common symptom of aging. Anywhere from 15-30% of seniors are estimated to experience it, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) statistic. But knowing how common it is doesn’t make it any less difficult to face when a parent or senior loved one is affected.
Learn more from these seven tips that healthcare professionals have shared to get a senior with a loss of appetite to eat. Click the link for explanations.  (From A Place for Mom)

1. Consider therapy.
2. Eat off red dishes.
3. Find out what a loved one wants to eat
4. Make it easy to eat.
5. Talk to a doctor.
6. Think beyond mealtimes.
7. Try acupuncture.

https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/tips-for-getting-a-senior-with-a-loss-of-appetite-to-eat/

7 Gentle Exercises for Seniors With Arthritis

7 Gentle Exercises for Seniors With Arthritis

It may be hard for a senior to motivate themselves to exercise when they are experiencing an arthritis flare-up. However, according to the Arthritis Foundation, exercise may be the best way to improve your overall activity level and manage the pain.

Learn more about seven gentle exercises that you can pursue to improve your health and reduce your arthritis pain, without causing more stress to sensitive joints.

Before You Begin Exercising

All seniors should talk to their doctor before they begin a new exercise regime. Your doctor may want to test your cardiovascular health before you begin. They may also have valuable advice about exercises that are best for you considering your health conditions.

When you begin exercising, you should spend several minutes warming up whichever part of your body you are going to work – and be sure to exercise your left and right sides equally.

If at any time during exercise you feel pain, you should stop. Physiotherapists can help those who are struggling to exercise without pain.

Here are seven gentle exercises that you can pursue to reduce arthritis pain:

Arthritis in the Hands or Wrists

1. Fist Close: Maintaining finger flexibility is key for those with arthritis in the hands. This simple exercise can help. Simply ball your hand into a fist, slowly if it is challenging. Hold your hand in a fist for five seconds, or as long as you can. Release and repeat.

2. Wrist Bends: Some with arthritis find that their wrists get stuck or can’t bend as far as they need them too. This exercise can help, when practiced regularly. Place your elbow on a tabletop, with your hand pointing to the ceiling. Slowly push back your open palm with your other hand. Don’t push so hard you feel pain, but do try to go as far as you can. Hold for five seconds and release. Now push your hand forward, hold for five seconds and release.

3. Make an “O”: This last exercise may be a challenge if you have very serious arthritis, but it can also be very useful. Attempt to make an “O” shape with your hand. Hold your fingers together, bend your thumb, and gently try to touch your thumb to your index finger. You will get better at this exercise with time.

Arthritis in the Hips or Knees

4. Sitting Stretch: This exercise will gently move your hips and as a bonus, stretch your leg muscles. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Slowly bend forward at the hips and reach for your feet. Most likely, you will not be able to reach very far at first, so don’t push yourself. Over time you will become more flexible.

5. Step-Ups: Gently bending your knee will help relieve pain. You don’t need special equipment to do this. Instead, find the nearest staircase. Hold on to the banister for balance, if necessary, and step one leg onto the bottom step, then the other. Move backward off the step and repeat.

Arthritis in the Ankles or Feet

6. Ankle Circles: Seniors may wish to hold onto the side of a chair, for balance, when they try this exercise. Stand up and raise one foot off the floor. Point your toe and draw a circle. This moves your ankle through its full range of motion. Draw five circles and then change direction. Be sure to do the other ankle too.

Arthritis in Multiple Areas

7. Swimming: It can be especially challenging to exercise when you have arthritis in multiple joints. One way to relieve pain and move all of these suffering joints is by swimming. Water takes the weight off all of your joints so you can move them further with less pain. If you can no longer swim, or don’t enjoy it, you can join water aerobic classes where you spend most of the time standing on the bottom of the pool.

It may be a challenge to adjust to a new exercise at first. However, seniors with arthritis have a lot to gain from trying a few gentle exercises a day.

How do you deal with your arthritis pain? Which gentle exercises are your favorite? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

Related Articles:

7 Gentle Exercises for Seniors With Arthritis posted by Kimberley Fowler

YOUR MEDICARE RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS

Did you know that Medicare has an ombudsman to help you resolve complaints you may have about your healthcare? Congress created the job of Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman to assist people with Medicare with their inquiries, complaints, grievances, appeals, and requests for information. The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman also shares information with Congress, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and other organizations about what works well and what doesn’t work well to improve the quality of the care you get through Medicare.

If you need help with a Medicare-related inquiry, there are several ways you can get help.

1. Call your plan. If your inquiry is related to your Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plan, contact your plan first using the phone number on your plan member ID card. Your plan is the best resource to resolve plan-related issues.

2. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. If your concern is related to Original Medicare, or if your plan was unable to resolve your inquiry, contact 1-800-MEDICARE for help.

3. Contact the SHIP. The State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) provide free, high-quality counseling to people with Medicare regarding their benefits, coverage, appeals, and complaints. SHIP counselors are volunteers who often have Medicare themselves, so they know the issues and they’re not trying to sell you anything. Find your local SHIP at https://www.shiptacenter.org/

4. Contact the Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. If you have been unable to resolve your concern with your plan or 1-800-MEDICARE, ask a 1-800-MEDICARE representative to submit your complaint or inquiry to the Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will help to ensure that your inquiry is resolved appropriately.

Time-saving features of the “My Social Security” account

my Social+Security

It’s National Social Security Month and this year we’re highlighting some of the time-saving features of the my Social Security account. Once you create an account, you’ll see that we already have your work history and secure information to estimate what you could receive once you start collecting benefits. With your personal my Social Security account, you can also:

  • Request a replacement Social Security card;
  • Set up or change direct deposit;
  • Get a proof of income letter;
  • Change your address;
  • Check the status of your Social Security application; and
  • Get a Social Security 1099 form (SSA-1099).

For over 80 years, Social Security has worked to meet the changing needs of the American public. Today, you can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, as well as take care of other business.

Knowledge is power. You care about your friends’ and family’s future, so encourage them to create a my Social Security account. Celebrate National Social Security Month by learning what you can do online anytime, anywhere at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Sincerely,
Jewell Colbert
Regional Communications Director
Kansas City Region
(816) 936-5740
kc.rpao@ssa.gov
Securing Today and Tomorrow

Nebraska Medicaid Vote

Even well-off Seniors may need Medicaid one day. Please vote yes.

 

Lincoln – DIABETES WORKSHOPS BEGIN OCTOBER 24

Adults with diabetes, their family members and friends are invited to attend a series of free Aging Partners workshops from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays from October 24 through November 28.  The five-week Diabetes Self-Management Workshop will be held at Ambassador Health, 4405 Normal Blvd.

The workshop is free, but a suggested contribution of $4 per class is appreciated.  Pre-registration is required by calling 402-441-7575, and class size is limited.  The following topics will be discussed:

  • Determining what to eat and when to exercise
  • Monitoring blood sugar
  • Caring for feet
  • Communicating with family and health care providers
  • Managing low and high blood sugar
  • Dealing with stress and learning relaxation techniques
  • Setting small and achievable goals
  • Increasing self-confidence
  • Feeling better and taking charge

More information on Aging Partners is available at www.aging.lincoln.ne.gov.

%d bloggers like this: