Unleash New Possibilities in Your Life

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Elaine likes to start her morning at the window and thinking about the possibilities of the day ahead. While her sight may be fading, Elaine’s search for the promise of each day is strong. The glimpse of a new flower in the garden or a bird sighting brings a smile to her face.

It is a philosophy that has served her well for more than eight decades. Elaine had two children and lost her husband in a war when both youngsters were still in diapers. She found new possibilities in the tragedy and went to work while earning a degree in nursing. Elaine went on working and helping people until her faltering sight took her independence and ability to drive. That is when Elaine moved to the senior community she now calls home.

fold-63623_960_720One of her favorite new friends is Clyde. Elaine sometimes forgets his name, and just calls him “Sweetheart”, but Clyde doesn’t ever seem to notice. Clyde always sits as close as possible to Elaine’s wheelchair. So close, some people stop and watch their sweet exchanges of affection in the lobby of the senior community.

Clyde and Elaine have a lot in common. She likes to share stories of her family and Clyde likes to listen. Both are avid birdwatchers. Elaine knows the names of the various species and Clyde seems eager to learn more about one of his favorite past times.

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Clyde is one of the few visitors Elaine ever has. She has outlived most of her family and friends. She looks forward to school and church groups who might visit the senior community on special occasions. But week after week, she knows she can count on her faithful friend Clyde to come see her. Elaine shares some of her favorite stories over and over again, and Clyde never tells her he’s heard that story before. He is the most patient and polite conversation companions one could ask for.

Clyde’s love of birdwatching comes naturally, but not his skills as a great companion. You see Clyde is a bird dog. He is a Pointer mix and a therapy dog, trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and rehabilitation centers. Clyde’s intensive training equips him to work with all kinds of people in a variety of situations.

Clyde and wheelchairClyde and his owner enjoy volunteering in pet therapy. They are part of the Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA Adoption Center PetReach Program. Since 1983, PetReach has sent APA staff, volunteers and their pets into senior care facilities and convalescent centers. PetReach was the first no-fee, pet-assisted activity program in the St. Louis area. You can get more information about volunteering, pet education, pet adoption and PetReach therapy dogs at the APA website: http://www.apamo.org/

Another nonprofit in the Saint Louis area with free dog therapy teams is C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Inc. CHAMP provides free assistance dogs and also offers a disability awareness education program, facility dogs and a reading program utilizing dogs. These are just a few of the services CHAMP has offered since 1998. Learn more volunteering, pet therapy, assistance dogs and other services at their website:   http://www.champdogs.org/ Spring_CHAMP5

Both nonprofits are a great way to help someone else. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself too! You never know what you’ll learn in the process. Think of the ‘pawsibilities’ of volunteering with or without a dog.

 

Simple Steps to Protect Your Sight

185807_1892727722166_3876335_nAfter a long winter, the sun’s warmth feels great. Just as our skin needs sun protection, the eye’s surface is vulnerable for potentially blinding sun-related diseases. The long days of sun filled recreation and many other spring activities can also lead to an increased risk of eye damage.

Dr. Mary Kay Migneco, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences instructor at Washington University School of Medicine, advises sunlight is a risk factor for several eye diseases including cancer: “Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can increase the risk for development of cataracts and macular degeneration. While non-vision threatening, lesions on the lids such as basal cell carcinomas are also at increased risk.”

It is important to start wearing proper sun protection at an early age to protect eyes from years of damaging rays. To be eye smart in the sun, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends you wear 99 percent and higher UV (ultraviolet radiation) absorbent sunglasses to protect your eyes:

• Choose wraparound sun-glass styles so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
• If you wear UV-blocking contact lenses, you’ll still need sunglasses.
• Add a hat to maximize protection; broad-brimmed hats are best.
• Limit exposure to UV-intense conditions: sunlight is strongest mid-day, at higher altitudes, and reflected off water, ice or snow.
• On cloudy days the sun’s rays can pass through.

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Anyone of any age and skin pigmentation is susceptible to ultraviolet damage and some people may be at a greater risk. Many factors influence sun sensitivity including medications. There are drugs that can make your eyes more vulnerable to light explains Dr. Migneco, “Photo-sensitizing drugs can lead to photophobia.”

If you are taking any of the following common drugs, Dr. Migneco says it is vital to wear sunglasses and a hat whenever you go outside:

• Psoralens (used in treating psoriasis)
• Tetracycline
• Doxycycline
• Allopurinol
• Phenothiazine

Spring is often a time to tackle outdoor chores. Lawn mowers propel objects at high rates of speed. Regardless of the debris thrown by a mower, it will penetrate the cornea, cause intense pain and inflammatory response. These eye injuries are easily preventable with safety eyeglasses that are worn during yard work. Wear safety glasses while doing home improvement projects that involve grinding metal, sandblasting, power washing or leaf blowing.

Chores inside your home may present an eye injury risk too. Using hazardous products such as oven cleaner and bleach can impact your eyes. Common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year.

The aroma of barbeques and fish fries are a part of outdoor fun. Take care around the grill or fire pit, often the sparks or ashes that fly through the air can get into your eyes. Cooking foods that can splatter hot grease or oil can also put your eyes at risk.

Cookouts and picnics may take you into contact with poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak. If you come in contact with any of these plants keep your hands away from the eyes. Exposure directly to your eye will require medical attention.

Popular sports can also pose a risk to your eyes. A national survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology finds more than forty percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports. Most people do not wear protective eye-wear when playing sports like tennis or baseball. According to the U.S Eye Injury Registry, 5% of all eye injuries result from baseballs. Doctors say the smaller the ball, the greater the risk of an eye injury. Golf balls, tennis balls, and paint balls are the causes of common sports related eye injury.

Hitting the road on a trip? Put goggles in the trunk for car trouble. Spewing radiators can project steam at the eyes. Snapping bungee cords can hit the eye at 50 mph.
Everyone is at risk for eye damage and injuries but a few simple steps can help protect your sight for many seasons to come.

Owning a Pet Can Deliver Big Health Benefits and Much More!

We all know pets can be fun, but they can also have physical and mental health benefits. There are some surprising health benefits for pet owners. If you are not able to own a pet, volunteering or simply visiting a local animal shelter can give you a boost.

In this video report, Jim Morelli looks at the impressive medical evidence that owning a pet can deliver big health benefits. This includes babies who may receive extra protection against allergies from having a pet around.

There are many opportunities to get involved in pet therapy. For example, The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA offers an active PetReach Program. Since 1983, PetReach has sent APA staff, volunteers and their pets into senior care facilities, psychiatric units, convalescent centers and children’s hospitals. PetReach was the first no-fee, pet-assisted activity program in the St. Louis area. You can get more information about volunteering at the APA website.

Both of my health and mood boosting pals, a pair of Maltese, were adopted from the APA. Many shelters have purebred dogs and wonderful mixes from good homes who are looking for a second chance.

Both of these adorable pups with Santa came from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. Many shelters have purebred dogs.

Both of these adorable pups with Santa came from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. Many shelters have purebred dogs.

 

Yogurt Can Give You a Mental Boost and Help Your Favorite Cause

Recent research reveals yogurt has a lot of health benefits including calcium and an easy way to cut fat, calories and cholesterol in many recipes. Did you know certain types of yogurt may boost your mood? Doctors say yogurt made with the probiotics Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium give your brain an extra dose of happy-making neurochemicals!

In the video below, Robin Miller, MD, explains how yogurt can improve your mental outlook:

One of my favorite brands, Prairie Farms Dairy, sells dairy products free of artificial growth hormones. Prairie Farms represents over 700 farm families and their distribution system covers over 30 percent of the United States! Plus Prairie Farms charitable giving program, Our Caps, Your Cause, supports a variety of non-profit organizations enabling consumers to save money and support their favorite causes. The “Our Caps, Your Cause” program gives consumers a say in where the donations go.
Learn more about how Our Caps, Your Cause, supports a variety of non-profit organizations at prairiefarms.com.

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Gender Matters in Mobile and Broadband Access

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It may seem like everyone from pre-teens to savvy seniors has a mobile device or access to broadband these days. But this is not the case around the world. In many nations, women have considerably less access to mobile technology and the opportunity it offers.

For example, in Africa and in South East Asia, there is a big mobile phone gender gap. About twenty percent fewer women have access to mobile than men. This is a big obstacle for women because access to mobile allows them to access to information about health, entrepreneurship and all sorts of opportunities and advantages.

With the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, technology firms including Ericsson are working to highlight the potential of mobile technology in solving some of the world’s major challenges. Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg appeared as a panel speaker at the Social Good Summit, where the main theme is #2030Now. You can learn more about the summit at http://mashable.com/sgs/

One of the aspects under discussion includes the mobile gender gap following a Broadband Commission Report on the results of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender. Anne Bouverot, Director General of GSMA, spoke on initiatives to bridge the gap: “When you think about mobile, you think that everyone has access to mobile but in particular in Africa and in South East, there is a big mobile phone gender gap – it’s roughly 20% less women that have access to mobile than men. And why it matters is because when you have access to mobile, you can have access to information about health, access to information about entrepreneurship and all sorts of capabilities.”

The Broadband Commission Report “Working Group on Broadband and Gender: Doubling Digital opportunities – enhancing the inclusion of women & girls in the Information Society” presents policy for promoting gender equality agendas in national policy-making, as well as practical policy suggestions to expand women’s access to broadband and boost female participation in the Information Society. The five policy recommendations are: integrating gender and national ICT and broadband policies; improving sex-disaggregated ICT statistics and measurement; boosting the affordability and usability of ICTs; improving relevant and local content online; and finally initiating an action plan to achieve gender equality in access to broadband by 2020. You can access the broadband report at http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-groups/bb-doubling-digital-2013.pdf

Mobile technology and broadband is a gender issue in some areas.

Mobile technology and broadband is a gender issue in some areas.

Social Media Savvy Seniors and Boomers Busy Online

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People are discussing photos they share on Pinterest, the blog on their travels or the app they are using to track their fitness and exercise schedule.  These conversations on technology are not restricted to the local social media clubs; they are hot topics for senior services communities like Laclede Groves near Saint Louis and coffee shops where baby boomers meet.

Social media savvy seniors and boomers are busy online.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends. Social media savvy seniors and boomers may also be boosting brain power new research suggests.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends.  Social media savvy seniors and boomers may not be the first to try the newest app or gadget; but are eager to adopt them once the technology is mainstream.  Older users on social media are active to discuss and share travel, health, hobbies or search for products, values, and discounts.  The social and digital contribution of these connected seniors is impressive! Baby Boomers are 80 million strong and growing.

In just five years, 50% of the US population will be 50+ projects Nielsen Research. (August 2012)

US Boomers’ Internet usage now is impressive:

– 33% of all online users

– 33% of all social media and Twitter

– 33% are heavy internet users.

Currently, there are about 21 million online seniors (those aged over 65 years old) in the United States according to Forrester Research, (June 2012).

Forrester finds 49% of digital seniors in the US are using Facebook.

– 91% of online seniors use email

– 59% have purchased products online in past three months

– 46% send/receive photos by email

– 44% play solo games online

– 24% sign up for coupons/freebies.

Staying connected online and through social media may be a great way for seniors to stay healthy. One recent study shows social media can give older adults a brain boost.  Researchers at the University of Arizona taught some seniors, over 65, how to use Facebook and then put them through cognitive and memory tests.  The new Facebook users fared 25 percent better on the tests than seniors who did not use the social network.

Boomers were raised in front of the TV and have always embraced media and technology. The size of the screens is now shrinking as they continue to grow with a constantly changing tech landscape that could help keep them young and connected for socializing, shopping and entertaining themselves on social media.

To see some of these savvy seniors in action on Facebook, I suggest you visit the Lutheran Senior Services page on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LutheranSeniorServices.

Small Business Owners Can Make their Own Spark & Create a Bang for the 4th of July

The call is going out around our small business for a portable grill this week, as employees are planning a cook-out.  Our pre-Independence Day cook-out will be a small affair, an opportunity to say good-bye to a colleague and get together in a casual setting. 

Many people will be getting together around grills, parades, and festivals in the coming week and small business owners have an opportunity to be heard above the bands and fireworks. Members of Congress will be joining state and local officials at parades and other public events around the July 4th holiday to connect with their constituents. This gives entrepreneurs an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with lawmakers about how issues before Congress impact their business.

 

Some of the hot topics impacting the nation’s small firms include:  health care reform, energy costs, the “Employee Free Choice Act” and the credit crunch.  There are also many state and local issues impacting small business under consideration  where you probably have something to say—so do it—say it
  Go up with a hot dog or pie in hand and tell your representative what you think.  I suggest pie or brat as a way to get a few minutes with them before they continue making the rounds among constituents.  You may create a spark with your lawmaker that will be glowing long after the July 4th fireworks have faded!

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The innovation, creativity, and diverse small business landscape are the focus for SBTV.com’s senior producer, Danita Blackwood.  Before joining SBTV.com, Danita produced the nation’s highest rated local morning newscast at NBC affiliate, KSDK-TV in Saint Louis.  Her extensive journalism experience includes line, field, and special event producing of both local and national news events.   Danita draws on a background as a producer, reporter and anchor for a number of affiliate television stations around the country.