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Oct 012016

(NC) There are a lot of theories about how to best drive in the winter; some are myths and others are true. Test your knowledge to see if you can identify which of the following statements are popular winter driving myths and which are prized pointers to help practice road safety this season.

88446h1. All-season tires are fine for the winter season. Not so. While all-season tires are meant to keep you safe in occasional, transitional weather conditions, you need winter tires to safely ride through our Canadian winters. Winter tires feature unique tread compounds, like the flex-ice compound in Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tires, which allow them to remain more flexible in colder temperatures, providing better traction than all-season tires. All-season tires are less flexible and less effective when the temperature drops consistently below freezing, and especially when precipitation is added to the mix.

  1. Dropping tire pressure leads to better traction. False. Winter tires are designed to perform with no inflation pressure adjustment. A well-inflated, narrower tire can bite through snow down to the pavement where the tire can get better traction. As a general rule of thumb, you should always keep tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation, which can be found on the inside wall of your vehicle’s driver door.

  2. I am safer in an all-wheel drive vehicle. This is a myth. AWD is a performance feature, not a safety feature. AWD helps you accelerate and offers no advantage when you’re trying to turn or stop in snowy or icy conditions. Having the right tire for the season is a safety issue. Increased tread blocks, micro-pumps that absorb water, tridimensional sipes, and the tire compound all play a part in a tire’s overall winter performance and your safety on winter roads.

  3. To regain control while spinning, I should always steer in the opposite direction of the spin. This is true. It’s important to remember if you drive at a safe speed, allow ample distance to vehicles in front of you, and avoid sudden braking, accelerating, or turning, you won’t need to worry about slipping and sliding.

Find more winter driving safety tips at

Sep 302016

(NC) Every adult should have a will, no matter how large or small their estate. Without a will, your property will be distributed by means of an impersonal formula established by provincial laws. In essence, this means the government would write the terms of your will for

A valid will ensures your property will be dealt with according to your wishes and with a minimum of complications and expense for your estate. Without a will, your spouse may not receive as much as you would wish, your heirs will receive fixed percentages regardless of their individual needs, and a court-appointed administrator will handle your affairs.

When making your will it’s important to give careful thought to what persons, needs, or organizations you would like to benefit. It’s best to consult a lawyer or notary to ensure your will is properly drawn. And it’s much less expensive than most people imagine.

Here are the top eight reasons for drafting a will:

  1. Children/grandchildren: A will provides for the care of your children who are minors, enabling you to choose a guardian. Should both parents die, it assures children do not become wards of the court.

  2. Speedy settlement of affairs: Without a will, lengthy court delays could create undue hardship for your family.

  3. Estate planning: When skillfully drafted, a will allows you to incorporate tax saving measures and avoid unnecessary taxes. This in turns results in increased funds for your


  1. Simplify the distribution of your estate: By providing a blueprint and a list of directions, families will not have to guess about what you wanted.

  2. Peace of mind: A certain peace of mind comes from knowing you’ve drafted a will that sets out your true intentions.

  3. Questions of capacity: If a person loses mental capacity, for example, through Alzheimer’s, it’s not legally possible to write a will.

  4. Supporting your favourite causes: A will assures that you can continue to help organizations you have believed in during your lifetime, such as a health charity or a human rights organization like Amnesty International.

  5. Relieving any burden on your family: Reviewing the contents and nature of your estate and making your decisions known ahead of time makes it easier on other family members.

For a free information package on wills and bequests, write to Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON K1N 1H9.

Sep 272016

(BPT) – When a loved one is critically ill, hearing that it’s time for hospice care can be devastating news. On top of the emotional upheaval of coping with a terminal illness, you may be unsure what hospice care really is — and believe it’s just an indication your loved one will likely pass away.22847854

Yet the time your loved one spends in hospice care doesn’t have to be sad — for anyone. In fact, says Toni Norman, the senior director of hospice operations for Brookdale Senior Living, hospice can be a deeply rewarding time of great comfort for patients and their families.

“Hospice care is not about waiting for someone to die, and that’s unfortunately a very common misconception,” Norman says. “The goal of hospice is to provide to a patient, who has a life-limiting illness, the physical comfort and medical care they need to stay in their home for as long as possible, while at the same time supporting their caregivers. The hospice team helps families by educating, supporting and identifying any needs they have, ranging from chaplain support to finding mortuaries and veteran benefits.”

The decision to begin hospice care is a communal one, with the patient, caregivers, loved ones and medical professionals contributing to the dialogue. “A terminal diagnosis from a doctor usually begins the process of seeking hospice care,” Norman says. “Also, as a family member’s health begins to decline due to illness, conversations about end-of-life care are proactive and compassionate.”

Brookdale Senior Living’s hospice care providers often encounter common misconceptions about hospice care. Norman offers the truth behind some mistaken beliefs:

* Hospice is for the last few weeks of life. The hospice Medicare benefit is for the last six months, if the disease follows its normal course. “Most people who enter hospice have done so because they’ve received a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness,” Norman says. “But people who enter hospice often live longer, and with a better quality of life, than terminally ill people who do not go into hospice. Many are even able to come off hospice service if their condition improves.”

* Hospice means giving up. Hospice is actually a commitment to a high level of care for a loved one. “It means making them as comfortable and safe as possible so they may enjoy time with their loved ones for as long as possible,” Norman says.

* Patients are heavily medicated. Patients receive medication under strict physician guidelines, and caregivers closely monitor comfort care protocols so each patient’s pain and symptoms are uniquely managed.

* Hospice patients can no longer see their doctors. Patients can continue to see any of their previous doctors. Rather than taking anything away, hospice adds a layer of medical support.

* Hospice care ends when a patient dies. Because hospice cares for the patient’s caregivers and loved ones as well as the patient, hospice team members continue their support for 13 months after the patient passes away. The hospice team provides grief support for the families and will continue to work with them to address any lingering questions, and to help identify their needs.

“The hospice team is comprised of the assigned physician and nurses to provide the direct medical care to the patient, while a chaplain, social worker and bereavement counselor provide additional support and education to families and caregivers,” Norman says.

Hospice ideally occurs in a patient’s home, whether that’s a personal residence or assisted living community. It is a Medicare-reimbursed benefit, and most private insurance providers do also cover some hospice costs.

“End-of-life care isn’t just about taking pain medications to relieve symptoms until death,” Norman says. “It helps people gain emotional strength and carry on with daily life, while improving the quality of life. The goal is to help patients and their families make every remaining moment as comfortable and enriching as possible.”


Sep 262016

(NC) After a summer spent basking in the outdoors, fall is the perfect time to embark on home design and decor projects — and what better place to start than the kitchen? Whether you’re looking for a small tweak or planning a major kitchen overhaul, interior designer and blogger Jacquelyn Clark shares her top three kitchen design trends for Fall 2016.88223

  1. Lived-in kitchens. Your kitchen is your home’s heart, and the lived-in style brings this idea to life by being a true extension of the living room. Accessorizing is key for this look — so hang art in your kitchen, decorate with table lamps, and bring in comfortable seating.

  2. Unique finishes. Don’t be afraid to step your kitchen game up a notch or two. Trade in your builder-basic kitchen finishes for something that’ll really stand out. Push the boundaries with emerald green cabinets or copper hardware, which are both flooding the market in an unexpected and most beautiful way. For appliances, the unique look of GE’s slate finish is a welcome change from the sea of stainless steel. Available on refrigerators, ranges, range hoods, and dishwashers, the dark grey, stone-inspired matte look is a a new warm neutral that’s perfect for every style. Its magnetic surface is also great for displaying family photos.

  3. High contrast. A refreshing respite from the days of all things matchy-matchy, drama and high contrast are major design elements that are found virtually everywhere you turn. Peg-leg chairs set against a brutalist table, a burled walnut island in an otherwise modern kitchen, or pairing jet black and crisp white are great ways to bring in the unexpected and create a kitchen that really wows.

To learn more about GE’s Slate finish, visit And to learn more about Jacquelyn Clark, check out

Sep 252016

(BPT) – Each year, millions of people in the U.S. have an irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia, according to the American Heart Association. Heart arrhythmias are common and can be harmless. However, certain arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), may produce pooling and clotting of the blood which can then travel to other parts of the body, damaging the brain, lungs and other organs if not treated appropriately.pretty

“Heart arrhythmias are difficult to diagnose and may lead to serious health complications such as stroke,” says Dr. Richard Chang, a cardiologist at John Muir Medical Center in Northern California. “A patient who is experiencing symptoms like palpitations or faintness should see a physician immediately. It is important to remember that prevention is key. Early detection of AFib is important to reduce unnecessary medical visits.”

According to a recent presentation at the Heart Rhythm Society’s Annual Scientific Sessions, the longer a person is in AFib, the higher their risk of experiencing a blood clot and subsequent stroke, if not taking blood thinner. To diagnose AFib, a physician will typically conduct a physical examination, including heart-monitoring tests. Traditional methods include an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the timing and duration of each electrical signal of the heart. Holter monitors are portable ECG devices that are generally prescribed for a day or two to record heart activity. However, Holter monitors are restricted in their ability to identify AFib because they are difficult to wear and capture only limited heartbeat information.

More advanced technologies, such as continuous cardiac monitors, provide long-term recording and storage of the heart’s electrical activity. This is essential for detecting and documenting potential AFib, which can sometimes occur infrequently and without symptoms. These devices, such as the Zio system by iRhythm, records and stores beat-to-beat heart rhythm data in its entirety, including AFib burden, which can provide a more complete picture to a health care provider. Analysis of the beat-to-beat data allows for a faster, more accurate diagnosis by physicians and treatment for the patient. Additionally, the high diagnostic yield potentially eliminates the need for further testing, leading to reduced health care costs.

September is AFib Awareness Month. Visit today to learn more about the symptoms and risks of AFib and how continuous cardiac monitoring can help improve how heart arrhythmias are diagnosed and managed.

Sep 232016

(NC) Severe weather elements can put a strain on the outside of your home. Getting it ready for winter can help avoid costly repairs and could indirectly keep your insurance premiums low.264bfed19ede26e2b1b1b9304e255014

“There are a few simple steps that homeowners can take to prepare their homes for winter,” advises Tracy Laughlin, Vice President, Personal Lines, Ontario and Atlantic at Intact Insurance. “Making sure you’ve done everything you can to protect your home can save you money and potential damage.”

Here are some of Laughlin’s favourite home maintenance tips to help you make the best of winter without having to worry about your home.

  1. Clear gutters, roof, and drains. Having to fix your roof in the winter will lead to higher costs than it would in the summer. Inspect your roof for shingles that are warped, damaged or even missing to avoid an unwanted leak. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are securely fastened and that drainage is being led at least five feet away from the house to prevent flooding. It’s also important to drain and shut off exterior faucets and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing and make sure snow melts will drain away from your house. Proper insulation can also prevent ice damming in the winter.

  2. Seal them up. Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims in Canada. Before winter, check your windows and doorframes for air leaks, possible water leaks, and signs of damaged, weakened, or rotted wood. Seal all cracks. And don’t forget your storm windows and loose screens, repairing or replacing as necessary.

  3. Check your cooling and ventilation air systems. Examine any fireplaces and chimney systems to ensure no debris has collected. Any cracks or voids could potentially cause a fire. Change the filters on your furnace and make sure your humidifier works. Clean air is essential to good health, since problems with air quality can also lead to mould.

  4. Trim trees. Damage to homes from overgrown trees is one of the most commonly overlooked problems in Canadian winters. In fall, trim overgrown trees and shrubs to prevent ice-covered branches from thrashing against your home’s exterior. Remind your neighbours to do the same — falling branches from a neighbour’s yard could damage your home and put you both in a sticky situation.

Sep 222016

(BPT) – The topic of breast cancer can feel familiar — from October walks to pink ribbons, Americans know breast cancer. That is, until you or a loved one is diagnosed.

Suddenly, breast cancer moves from a topic that feels championed to a topic that is entirely too new, too unknown and too fresh. Suddenly, there is not enough information or resources to help a family cope.29877873

Nearly all Americans are aware that breast cancer poses a serious health threat to both women and men, but despite the vast awareness, many don’t know what it really means to fight this disease. According to a recent study conducted by Ford’s breast cancer awareness initiative, Warriors in Pink, more than 40 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with the day-to-day challenges patients face while in treatment, and even more, nearly 75 percent admit that they are unsure how to best support patients.

Loved ones not knowing how to help makes a difference because family and friends are proven to be patients’ greatest resources for getting through treatment.  Supporters may not know where to start in providing support, feeling that the issues facing patients are too big for them to solve. But what you still don’t know about breast cancer is that the little things matter more than ever. In fact, the ability to maintain day-to-day routines during treatment is one of breast cancer patients’ top concerns — second only to life expectancy.

“In terms of the day-to-day, it’s those tasks that were hardest for me,” says breast cancer survivor, Jenn Nudelman. “So my friends and family just came and did things. They didn’t give me a choice. A lot of times people reach out and say, ‘What can I do?’ But I’m not a person who asks for help. It was those friends who didn’t even ask, just acted, that I really shared the journey with.”

The key to care and being able to “just act” is being familiar with what types of support patients need most. When asked what type of support that is, patients report needing the most help with daily activities like household chores, errands and meal preparation while undergoing treatment.

“People brought meals to me,” says survivor Lisa Hedenstrom, “and my husband organized a lot of the logistics — taking me to appointments and helping me organize those appointments. Family and friends would come help with tasks for me, too. Because of them, I didn’t have to worry about grocery shopping or other types of tiring daily chores.”

Another survivor, Lori Redunski, could relate. “My husband hired a cleaning crew to come in and my kids would come home and see the lines in the carpet, smell the cleanser and feel comfortable in their home. It made our life so much easier,” she says.

These daily tasks are often overlooked, but every action taken to help patients to focus on their health and fighting this disease makes a difference.

“There are missing things that people don’t think about,” says survivor Heidi Floyd. “For example, if you need your side walk shoveled because of the snow, your lawn mowed or your pets cared for. Who has energy to walk their dog when they’re doing eight or nine hours of chemo or daily radiation?”

While help with these daily tasks undeniably lessens the burden on breast cancer patients, it’s important to remember that emotional care is also vital for those going through treatment.

“Through it all, you need at least one supporter who is genuinely there to do just that, to support you; to pray with you and to make you laugh,” says survivor Deborah Hayes. “Amidst trying to be strong throughout treatment and recovery, and making sure that everything in your personal life still gets accomplished, one really does need that supportive friend or group to share your innermost feelings.” 

To empower friends and family to take action and support the breast cancer patients in their lives, Ford Warriors in Pink offers free support services that make it easy to respond to their greatest needs — including cleaning services, meal kit deliveries, alternative hospital wear, online scheduling tools and more. These resources, available on their website at, allow loved ones who don’t know how to help to simply click and “just act” — without being asked. Additionally, the site offers tips and ideas on how to help patients have more good days during their journey.

“I was blessed with a great family and friends that were there to bring me support,” Redunski says. “But when people don’t have that support, they really need to feel comfortable with the resources that are available to them — whether through their doctors or online.”

Take the time to learn how you can make the little things add up to a supportive journey for the breast cancer patients in your life.


Sep 202016

(NC) With winter around the corner, drivers should know how their vehicle will handle in various situations so that they can be prepared for poor weather conditions.22768829

“While modern anti-lock braking system, electronic traction, and stability control technologies all provide added grip and handling regardless of the drive wheels, the driving dynamics of each vehicle are unique,” says Jacob Black, senior editor at He explains the pros and cons of each type in easy-to-follow language:

Front-wheel drive. FWD is the most common configuration in modern passenger vehicles. They’re less expensive to produce and offer a more efficient use of space since there’s no driveline routed through the cabin. With the engine usually located in the front of the vehicle, this setup also offers good traction from a standstill in snow and slush.

Rear-wheel drive. RWD is most often found on pickups and performance-focused sports cars or sedans. Pickups benefit from it when carrying a heavy load in the bed or towing. RWD in a performance car allows for more ideal handling dynamics and balanced weight distribution. But it can also provide less traction in slippery conditions and tends to oversteer when applying power during cornering, which some find unpredictable and unnerving.

All-wheel drive. Just as the name states, AWD systems are capable of delivering power to all four wheels, many of which are now able to divert additional traction from front-to-back or side-to-side, depending on conditions. Offering well-balanced driving dynamics and traction over a variety of road conditions, AWD also tends to suffer from higher fuel consumption due to the added weight and components.

The verdict. While all-wheel drive generally offers the best grip, it has a few shortcomings and can create a false sense of security. While there are theories about the optimal drive, a lot depends on the vehicle and its intended application. In many cases, having good tires is more important than which wheels the power is coming from. Remember that no matter what you choose, in the end it’s less about what you drive than how you drive.

Find more information at

Sep 182016

(NC) For the 11 million people in Canada living with diabetes or prediabetes, learning how to manage their disease becomes a focus in their lives. A diagnosis of diabetes is often perceived as a life sentence – there is a sense of loss of freedom in lifestyle choices. Coping with and managing diabetes can be challenging, as it entails sticking to a strict regimen, compounded with information overload particularly for insulin users.22236489

Manufacturers of needles, insulin injector pens, and blood glucose meters continuously innovate to bring new products to the market that make it easier to manage diabetes for those afflicted. Anyone living with diabetes has been told the importance of monitoring their blood glucose levels, and people often rely on their blood glucose meters as an essential tool for keeping them on track.

In an age when technology makes everyday life easier for the masses, innovations in blood glucose device technology are bringing connected health solutions to the Canadian diabetes community. New tools such as the Accu-Chek Connect system with Bluetooth capability make it easy to get accurate blood glucose readings, share and analyze stored data in a single, convenient device. The system comes with an app downloadable on iOS and Android platforms and an online portal which lets users access and share data with loved ones and healthcare providers in real time. Getting support and advice is literally at their fingertips.

Those looking for a better way to manage their diabetes can now benefit from smart technology and a web-based approach that enables meaningful and personalized actions to be taken for positive outcomes and self-care.

Find more information at

Sep 162016

(BPT) – At the airport, you take a moment to thank a solider in uniform who is returning home. On Veterans Day, you hold up a sign at your town’s parade to let those who have served know how much you care. Throughout the year, whenever you encounter veterans or someone currently serving in the armed forces, you show your appreciation for their service.23739194

Most Americans truly feel grateful to U.S. service personnel and take steps to express that gratitude. But what do you do for the families of veterans and active-duty, guard and reserve personnel? In many ways, these families sacrifice as much as their loved ones in service to the country.

It’s just as important to support military and veteran families; they are the reason their loved ones fight and their inspiration for returning home safely. Many military families cope with the emotional and physical injuries their loved ones in the service come home with. A stable, loving family can help a veteran make the difficult transition from active duty to civilian life, or help an active-duty person return home after deployment.

These families face significant hardships in support of their loved ones in military service. Forty-three percent of military families have moved three or more times in the past 10 years, according to a survey of military families, conducted by Vet Tix. These frequent moves cause difficulties for children adjusting to new schools, spouses finding jobs, and making new friends.

Everyone can make a difference for veterans, members of the military and their families. Here are ideas for meaningful ways to show your support:

Help them make memories

Veterans’ and military families often face financial challenges that can make it difficult to afford simple luxuries other Americans take for granted, such as attending a concert, show or sporting event. The ticket price for a game can easily exceed $200 for a family of four. In fact, the Vet Tix survey found cost was the main reason military and veteran families were unable to participate in entertainment opportunities.

You can help a military or veteran family make special memories and attend the show or event of their dreams by donating tickets or funds to Vet Tix. The organization provides tickets for sporting events, concerts, performing arts and family activities to verified members of all branches of currently serving military and veterans. The impact of the donation often goes far beyond a single day of fun.

For example, a Vietnam veteran living in Florida used tickets from Vet Tix to help rebuild ties with his wife and children. After he successfully reconnected with his family and community, the man’s doctor wrote a letter to the organization thanking them for helping lower the veteran’s PTSD-related anxiety.

“Many veterans face financial challenges while making the transition from military to civilian life,” says Joel DeLand, a U.S. Army veteran from Chicago. “Long-lasting psychological effects from military service can cause veterans to isolate themselves from others when they return home. I’ve personally used Vet-Tix-provided tickets to reconnect with friends by attending local events together.”

Visit to learn more and to make a donation.

Help care for their best friends

When military service people deploy overseas, some will have to leave behind a beloved pet. Not everyone will have a family member or friend who is able and willing to take in the service person’s pet for an extended period of time.

You can help by donating to an organization that fosters pets for active-duty military, such as Dogs on Deployment or Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet. You can also volunteer to foster a pet. These national organizations work to match members of the military who need foster care for their pets with families around the country willing to care for them. If you live near a military base, you can also contact the base’s command to see if they have a local program in place.

Help care for the whole family

Every member of a military or veteran family can benefit from support. You can help discharged veterans and military spouses by volunteering to be a career mentor. Contact the Armed Services YMCA to see if you can volunteer as a teacher’s aide for preschools and after-school programs that serve military families in your area.

Reach out to your local veterans or military support organizations and ask about adopting a military family. “Adoption” can be as simple as writing personal emails or letters of support, or offering financial help for specific needs, such as buying school clothes and supplies for children, or gifts during the holidays.

For a super-easy way to help, simply log on to Operation Homefront’s Amazon page where you can purchase and donate a backpack for a child in a military family.