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Aug 262016

(NC) With the warmer months coming to an end, look inside and give your home a few strategic updates to stay on-trend this fall.home

Artisan goods. Home experts say the popularity for unique artisanal goods is only set to increase. This trend is fueled by the desire to support local independent makers and to showcase interesting one-of-a-kind pieces. Artisan goods make great conversation starters and are easy to find at a neighbourhood market or craft show. Look for mixed metals, especially brass and copper, for bonus style points.

At the window. Tailored designs that fit the form and function of the room are key, such as room darkening shades for the bedroom and vertical blinds for sliding patio doors in the living room. Hidden cords and a wireless aesthetic help create a seamless aesthetic while offering improved child and pet safety.

Fabrics. Rougher textures like linen and tweed work well with the natural vibe and organic glamour trending this season. Granny florals are also making a comeback, as are bold graphic and geometric prints.

Colours. The subtle pastel hues that were all the rage at the beginning of year make way for richer, warmer, darker shades like elegant jewel tones. Feature fashionable colours in easy-to-replace accessories like accent pillows, and stick to timeless neutrals or more subdued versions for staples like window treatments.

Smart tech. The connected smart home is set to become the standard, so get in on it early for extra chic cred. New tech solutions are seamless and convenient — imagine being at work and having the ability to go online to close your window shades, turn on lights or change the temperature within your home. Now you can adjust your shades remotely with PowerView Motorization, available on a wide array of Hunter Douglas window treatments.

Find more décor inspiration and a local retailer online at

Aug 232016

remote(NC) Patients who need long-term home care couldn’t do it without the added support of family and friends who serve as unpaid caregivers.

While the rewards of caring for someone are great, there are also many challenges. The findings in the recently released report The Reality of Caring: Distress among the caregivers of home care patients make that clear.

The report, put out by Health Quality Ontario, the provincial advisor on health care quality, finds that these patients are affected to a growing degree by cognitive impairment, functional disability and frail health. Notably, the rate of distress of caregivers, at 33 per cent, has more than doubled from 2009/10, as has the number of caregivers who were not able to continue looking after someone.

The report underscores the critical need for support for caregivers. One such support is Telehomecare, an Ontario Telemedicine Network program that combines remote patient monitoring with health coaching by phone to help people with congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — and those caring for them — manage their condition in the comfort of their own homes.

The program provides patients with simple equipment connected to a computer tablet that securely sends off vital sign data for daily monitoring by a nurse, at no cost to the patient. Telehomecare saves time spent travelling to appointments, to the tune of eight to nine hours per month for both patients and their caregivers. That’s time saved and stress avoided.

But most importantly, Telehomecare serves as a lifeline for those caring for someone with a chronic condition. As one caregiver said: “It was a great relief and support to be able to recognize and control potential crisis/anxiety with this condition…we always received quality advice and speedy assistance.”

Reported another caregiver: “My father somewhat understands his condition. The primary care at home is delivered by myself or my mother. We already knew the signs and symptoms but Telehomecare enabled us to better monitor his vital signs.”

To learn more about Telehomecare, patients and family caregivers can visit or call 1-855-991-8191.

Aug 212016

(NC) Does the thought of summer ending make you feel a little blue? Cheer up and embrace the season changing with these entertaining autumn activities.fall 1

Go for a hay ride. Pack a blanket and hot chocolate and head out for a hay ride. A scenic tour of your area is a fun way to enjoy a fall day while getting cozy with your loved ones. Take in your local scenery of mountains, valleys, hills or plains and their beautiful fall colours. You can still appreciate nature if you live in the city — take a day trip to the country or visit a large park.

Tailgate at a community sports game. Fall and back-to-school mean your kids are picking up their favourite sports again. Whether it’s soccer, lacrosse or football, take your friends and family out to the game and have a tailgate party. Everybody will love a hamburger or hotdog, a few warm drinks and some pregame fun before the home team battles its rivals. Remember, fall afternoons and evenings can get chilly, so have a lightweight jacket handy like the WindRiver weathered jacket fall 2from Mark’s.

Create colourful crafts with the kids. Put those fallen leaves to use and create works of art with young ones. Art projects like leaf painting, murals and collages are great for the whole family and keep the kids busy and happy on those colder fall weekends. Many creative projects can double as home decorations — save those pinecones for a stunning vase display, perfect for a dining table centrepiece.

Get lost in a corn maze. Take your family to a place where getting lost means having fun. This activity is great for kids and adults of all ages, and provides a great backdrop for taking lovely photos. A maze requires a lot of walking, so make sure you’re prepared with good walking shoes like the Skechers Flex Advantage sneaker available at Mark’s.

Get cozy. Above all, make sure you take a moment to actually sit and watch the gorgeous colourful leaves fall from the trees. Boil some tea, bundle up in your favourite sweater and cuddle up in your lawn chair one last time.

Aug 192016

(NC) You know your home is an investment and with the recent rise in property values you may be considering selling in the foreseeable future. Professional stagers are experts at making changes that will appeal to the most general home buyer. But you don’t need a pro to achieve this effect in your own home.home

Staging your home doesn’t have to be complicated — clean up, depersonalize and keep it feeling light. Your potential home buyer will feel right at home in no time with these four project ideas that’ll get you the look for less.

  1. The power of paint. No other home improvement project delivers a higher return on investment than a fresh coat of paint in the perfect colour. Clean and brighter colours inside will give your home a spacious, airy feel while a neutral exterior increases curb appeal. Consider Para Paint’s Princess Cut PF 57 or Jo Jo Whitewash PF 17 for indoors; and Humberstone PF 74 for exteriors, a modern option for your trim, garage door or front door.

  2. Focus on the kitchen. More than any other item in your kitchen, cabinets take up the most real estate as they are the largest visual feature. But you don’t always need to replace them —simply paint or re-stain the door and drawer fronts. And don’t forget about hardware as this simple switch can change your look and pull together the room’s style. Change, add, or update lighting, as it will make all the difference in the overall viewing of the space, especially after a fresh coat of paint. Buyers always favour a clean, fresh looking kitchen.

  3. Cut the clutter. Your goal should be to make your home as clean and airy as possible. Remove personal elements and tidy desks and shelves to exude an easy, elegant feel. To truly pull in the highest bids you’ll want to make visitors feel as if they can live there and move in right away.

  4. Light and bright. Proper lighting is key so replace all missing pot lights and burned out light bulbs. Layer lighting so that there is no single point of light. Before visitors come in, open the shades and turn on the table lamps and chandelier. Mirrors are a great way to reflect your multiple light sources and make your space look larger. After that, keep your furniture and accessories minimal and bright. If you have the opportunity to paint older wood furniture, white or light grey will do the trick.

On the day of your showing don’t forget that smell is very important, so air out your home, light candles or use air fresheners scented as baked goods or vanilla that are sure to create a homey feel and allow buyers to see your home in their future.

Aug 172016

(BPT) – No one really relishes the idea of growing older and experiencing the health issues that can accompany aging. If there was one thing you could do to significantly improve your chances of staying mentally sharp, physically healthy and independent throughout your golden years, wouldn’t you do it?29690447

Exercise has health benefits for people of all ages, and it’s especially important for seniors. Regular exercise can allow people 65 and older to live independently, reduce their risks of falling and breaking bones, and lower their chances of developing serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, joint issues, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet only about 40 percent of Americans between 65 and 74 meet physical activity guidelines, and activity levels decrease even more as people grow older, the CDC says.

“Everyone wants to discover the fountain of youth, that medicine or treatment or face cream that will keep them looking and feeling great well into old age,” says Brian Zehetner, director of health and fitness for Planet Fitness and co-author of “Working Out Sucks (And Why It Doesn’t Have To).” “But that secret has already been discovered. It’s exercise, and it works just as well for senior citizens as it does for people of any age group.”

If you’ve never really exercised before, or want to increase your current exercise level, you may have thought about joining a gym. You may have even walked into one intending to join — and walked right back out when you saw it was crowded with young, fit people. Your experience wouldn’t be unique; a Planet Fitness survey of seniors who don’t go to the gym found more than a third say they find the gym intimidating, and more than half of those who are intimidated say they fear being judged by other members.

“We call that ‘gym-timidation,’” Zehetner says. “It’s that feeling that others in the gym will judge you for being less than perfect, and it can keep people of all ages, including seniors, from getting the exercise they need. But it doesn’t have to.”

People older than 60 who exercise on a weekly basis feel 12.3 years younger than their real age, the Planet Fitness survey found. In comparison, those who don’t exercise claim to feel only 5.6 years younger than their actual age. Gym-going seniors say they go to feel better physically (91 percent), live a longer life (70 percent), feel better mentally (64 percent) and socialize (37 percent).

Zehetner offers some advice for seniors to overcome gym-timidation:

  • Start slowly. Whether you’re new to exercise in general or just new to a gym environment, everyone has limitations. It’s important to know and respect yours. It’s frustrating to injure yourself while trying to improve your health, and as you get older it takes longer to recover from injuries. Be safe and smart by going slowly, and establishing a foundation that encompasses cardiovascular conditioning, strength training and flexibility.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. New and unfamiliar exercise equipment can be intimidating, but it’s important to work out safely. Your gym’s trainers and staff are there to help ensure you know how to use the equipment safely and effectively.

  • Don’t be too distressed or discouraged by discomfort. People of all ages can experience stiff joints, muscle soreness and other minor discomforts when they begin to exercise. These are all signs your body is aware of the stress you’re putting it through and is responding and adapting — it’s part of the process of getting more fit. Exercise will become easier over time, and it won’t take you as long to recover from discomfort.

  • Find a workout buddy. Having a friend along can be motivational when you try something new. Even better, working out side-by-side with a buddy can help you measure the intensity of your workout. If you can carry on a conversation while working out, you’re getting a moderate level of activity. If you can’t talk without pausing for breath every few words, you’re getting a more vigorous workout.

  • Take advantage of special promotions to try out a gym to see if it’s the right one for you. In honor of National Senior Citizens Day on Sunday, Aug. 21, anyone 60 and older can work out at a Planet Fitness location for free between Sunday, Aug. 21 and Wednesday, Aug. 31. If you decide to join a participating location, you can take advantage of a promotional pre-paid rate of just $99 for the whole year. to learn more.

Aug 162016

(BPT) – Grandparents play a unique, important role in caring for family members of all ages. Here are some ways that you can help keep babies and moms safe and healthy.grand

Helping babies sleep safely

Grandparents can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. To help your grandbaby sleep safely, make sure you:

  • Always place your grandbaby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.

  • Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.

  • Keep loose bedding, blankets, quilts, crib bumpers, soft objects and toys out of your grandbaby’s sleep area.

  • Do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke around your grandbaby.

“Researchers have learned a lot in the past 20 years about how to keep infants safe while they sleep,” said Dr. Catherine Y. Spong, Acting Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which leads the Safe to Sleep(R) campaign to educate caregivers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

“Grandparents often help parents take care of infants, including during sleep times, but they may not know that the recommendations for safe infant sleep have changed since they had young children,” said Dr. Spong. “It is important for grandparents and all caregivers to know how to create a safe sleep environment for baby.”

For more information about safe infant sleep, visit

Supporting moms and moms-to-be

In all the excitement over a new baby, sometimes a mother’s health, including her mental health, can be overlooked. Research shows that as many as 1 in 10 women experience postpartum depression. However, mood changes and other symptoms of depression can take place anytime during pregnancy, not just after the baby is born. Because of their unique role in the family, grandparents may be among the first to notice that something is wrong.

Moms’ Mental Health Matters, another NICHD initiative, describes the signs of depression and anxiety related to pregnancy and birth and offers ways to cope and seek help.

“New mothers may be hesitant to admit they’re feeling depressed or anxious, but supportive family members can make all the difference in helping to identify symptoms and encouraging moms to reach out for help when they need it,” said Dr. Spong.

For example, during pregnancy and after birth, a mother may:

  • Seem to get extremely anxious, sad or angry without warning.

  • Seem foggy and have trouble completing tasks.

  • Show little interest in things she used to enjoy.

  • Seem “robotic,” like she is just going through the motions.

  • Have trouble sleeping.

  • Check things and performs tasks repeatedly.

  • Have difficulty caring for herself or the baby.

If you notice any of these signs in a new mom, encourage her to talk with a health care provider – or offer to make an appointment for her. If you need to find a health care provider in her area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For support and resources in her area, contact Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773).

To learn more about maternal mental health and find resources, visit

Aug 142016

(NC) A will is more than a simple outline of the final distribution of your property and effects. It’s an occasion to plan for the financial support of the people and projects that you have actively supported during your lifetime. It can also be the time to finally help those people and groups you always intended to support, but didn’t have the resources for.will

While everyone involved in estate planning agrees with the need to make a will, remember that it is your will, so focus on your own wishes and feelings. A will is an important document, but if it doesn’t express your wishes, it’s not done well. Talk it over, consider the future, make a draft, and think again. Your will is probably one of the most important and personal documents you will ever prepare.

Every person should have a will — make sure it covers at least these seven essential points to avoid difficulties in the future:

  1. Make sure only one will exists.

  2. Determine who you want as your executor, the person who will carry out your wishes in settling your estate.

  3. Carefully plan for your dependents.

  4. Name a guardian for young children.

  5. Detail specific monies or gifts to friends, relatives or charities.

  6. Consider what people or organizations mean a lot to you for the residue of your estate. One’s church, a charity, or a favourite organization like Amnesty International are often on this list.

  7. Put in writing the details of your funeral arrangements.

Laws about will-making and taxes vary from province to province, and formulating the specific wording necessary to ensure your wishes are carried out may require the help of a lawyer. Experts strongly recommend that you seek legal advice when making out your will.

For a free information package write to Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Avenue East, #316, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 1H9.

Aug 122016

(BPT) – Men don’t have the best track record when it comes to taking care of themselves. It’s safe to say we all know someone who is just plain stubborn about going to the doctor. Even if they exhibit clear symptoms that should be checked out, say wheezing, chronic fatigue or worse, it can be a challenge to get them to seek medical

Of course, not all men are like this. In fact, as a whole, men have been getting better about taking care of themselves, according to new data gathered by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“Men have begun paying more attention to their health and acting to maintain good health,” says Wanda Filer, MD, MBA, president of the AAFP and a practicing family physician. “They are getting physical exams, increasing their exercise activity, and getting their health care from their regular doctor.”

With this encouraging news, it’s important to remember that men’s health is still a big concern. By keeping the following three points in mind, you can help yourself, or a loved one, lead a longer and healthier life.

Health care is preventive, too.

It’s a common misconception that you go to the doctor only when you’re sick or not feeling well.

So, what’s the most common barrier that prevents men from seeing a doctor?

Answer: themselves. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the AAFP, 31 percent of men wait until they feel extremely sick before seeing a doctor, and 21 percent say they have no reason to go to a doctor when feeling healthy.

As Filer says, “Not feeling sick is not necessarily the same as being healthy.”

Early detection and preventive care are two of the most important ways to maintain health and prevent potential health concerns from becoming major problems.

Step away from the screen.

Though more men exercise in 2016 than they did in the AAFP’s 2007 survey (80 percent vs 74 percent), many men still spend a considerable amount of time looking at screens.

In the 2016 online survey of 916 men across the country, the AAFP found that men spend, on average, about 20 hours each week working at a computer and 19 hours in front of a television.

While it’s nearly impossible to avoid screens in this day and age, men should be motivated to take on more physical and active hobbies that can reduce stress and improve their physical health.

Develop a relationship with a family physician.

An important step men can take to ensure they receive regular checkups and preventive care is to regularly visit a family physician. Nearly eight in 10 men (79 percent) have a regular doctor or health care professional they see when they are sick or want medical advice, however, a family physician not only treats the whole person, but the whole family. This is because an individual’s health should be a concern for the entire family.

The value of a family physician is that they perform routine checkups, immunizations and screenings. They can also treat chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis and depression.

“If more men develop ongoing relationships with their family physician, their perception of good health is more likely to become reality,” said Dr. Filer.

To learn more about men’s health, visit

To learn more about the 2007 & 2016 surveys, visit

Aug 102016

(NC) Assume seniors and technology are like oil and water? Most people do. But studies show that the Internet and smartphones are firmly entrenched in the lives of many seniors and older people are not uniformly filled with dread at the thought of learning a new

As health and fitness apps and technology become increasingly more common, more seniors are getting in on the action. In Ontario, for example, programs like Telehomecare are specifically designed for older persons coping with chronic conditions like congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The program puts remote patient monitoring technology in the home and marries it with health coaching by phone. A recent patient experience survey of about 200 Telehomecare participants aged 75 to 84 found that more than 98 per cent were satisfied with their experience.

The program provides, at no cost to patients, simple equipment connected to a computer tablet that securely sends off vital sign data for monitoring by a nurse who also provides health and self-management coaching. Progress reports are then shared with the patient’s doctor.

When patients join the program, a technician teaches them how to use the equipment. Tellingly, about 95 per cent of Telehomecare patients responded positively when asked about the usability of the equipment. Said one patient: “What a great tool Telehomecare is in particular for the elderly and disabled, and people distant from the care they may need.”

Perhaps the greatest upside to Telehomecare is the reduced need for patients to visit the Emergency Department or a primary care provider, reported by 82 per cent and 76 per cent of patients respectively. “I’m almost home-bound. Telehomecare was a significant help and contribution to my home care and saved me many trips to my doctor,” said a patient.

Patients and family caregivers can learn more about Telehomecare at or 1-855-991-8191.

Aug 102016

(NC) It can be easy to think that because you and your family never get sick, you are safe from the flu. But you should know that viruses and germs spread through our everyday interactions, and no matter how much we wash our hands, sometimes we can pass them on. The influenza virus is no different — it can unknowingly be passed on through droplets from sneezing or coughing. The best fluway to protect yourself, your loved ones and your neighbours is by getting an annual flu shot.

Though healthy adults can fight off the flu, seniors and other vulnerable populations may not have the immune response to fight back. These vulnerable groups include children under five years old, pregnant women, people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, people age 65 and over, and people with existing health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and obesity.

An average of around 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized and approximately 3,500 die due to influenza-related complications each year, making influenza a major public health concern. Canadian seniors account for up to 70 per cent of total flu-related hospitalizations and up to 90 per cent of total flu-related deaths. While most people can recover from influenza in as few as seven days, seniors generally take longer to recover, and may be at higher risk of developing more severe complications.

Fortunately there are preventative measures that Canadian seniors can take to help ensure they are protected against the flu, including getting a high-dose influenza vaccine specifically designed for seniors. The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recognized this high-dose vaccine’s improved protection against influenza and greater immune response in seniors than the regular influenza vaccines. This vaccine is only available to seniors if they pay for it as it is not yet covered by the provinces. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if this vaccine is right for you.

Find more information and ways to help ensure this new flu vaccine developed for seniors is publicly funded at