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Keep Your Brain Healthy By Feeding It With Words

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A good book is good for your health

In this digitally age, the Internet offers fast connections, videos at an accelerated speed and instant access to information  – all at a much faster rate than reading a traditional book. After all, why spend time flipping through 476 pages of Harry Potter when we can watch it in 3 hours on TV with sound effects and captivating graphics? Why waste time skimming the newspaper when we can access YouTube or even turn on NBC to the charming Brian Williams for updates instead? Even though we know that 99.9% of the time books offer a better experience, we still opt in for convenience and snuggle up to Netflix blockbusters instead of perusing through great novels.

However, recent studies suggest that reading information rather than streaming it online has better long-term benefits for the brain. Swapping the remote for a book can help fight against diseases while increasing memory and improving your social cognitive skills. Below are three benefits to how being a bookworm can boost your mental state and keep your brain healthy.

Reading may prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Just like exercising to keep the heart healthy, we need to stimulate the mind for a good workout to enhance our brain horsepower. According the study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adults who regularly challenge their intellectual curiosity with hobbies like reading, playing chess, or solving a Sudoku puzzle are 2.5 times less likely to be develop Alzheimer, a fatal brain condition that typically occurs after the age of 60.

The research conducted by Dr. Robert Friedland surveys people in their 70s and collected data on how participants enjoy their pastimes during early adulthood from age 20 to 39 through midlife from 40 to 60 years old. The study finds that subjects engaging in regular stimulating hobbies like reading a novel or knitting a sweater reduce the risk of Alzheimer from early on because they produce healthier brain cells to fight off destructive Alzheimer cells that kills off our brain neurons. The research emphasizes that though intellectual stimulation from early childhood does not completely immune individuals from the disease but trading in TVs for books will help delay the process.

 “Brain power unused is brain power lost”

Additionally, reading in the long run keeps your mind sharp when as you age. A study published in Neurology journal assesses that subjects participating in stimulating activities like reading throughout their life develop 32 percent slower cognitive decline compared to those who suffer 48 percent faster memory loss due to passive activity like watching TV or talking on the phone. Since the task of reading requires more processing than digesting a speech, sound, or image, your brain requires more function to infer information from sentences. It involves greater concentration skill to formulate and create a visual from just words alone. Therefore, invest in your memory by exercising it with books and physical activities. Instead of a movie night, have a slumber party with your family and friends for some intellectual fun, food and fiction!

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Reading enhances your social awareness

According to NPR, losing yourself in a literary fiction can expose you to a greater understanding of how “other people are thinking and feeling” (http://n.pr/1nqSAQz). In contrast to the clear-cut, drawn out protagonists and antagonists from popular movies, characters from literary writing require more complex analysis since they are usually not fully developed. They rely on readers to interpret their actions and push the audience to extrapolate their thoughts and emotions in order to create a complete narrative. “This is really the very same processes that we engage in when we try to guess other people’s thoughts and feelings and emotions, and to read their mind in everyday life,” Emanuele Castrano, Psychology professor of The New School for Social Research, further explains.

Whether you’re indulging yourself with the latest celebrity gossips, restaurant reviews, or political opinions, save at least an hour out of the day to immerse yourself in some compelling paperbacks and plot twists. Processing words not only improves your intellect and critical thinking skills but it also gives you the unique power to pause, think, and reflect—habits that will keep your brain healthy over time!

For more tips on how to maintain a healthy mind, visit us at MD Home Health, until then read a book.  

 

 


The Power of Therapeutic Writing

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The therapeutic power of art has been known about and explored for centuries. Whether through painting, music, or writing, both artists and non-artists alike have used these mediums of expression as effective ways to heal the soul. It may not seem like it at first, but an easy way to start healing your soul and improving your psychological well-being is to simply keep a diary or daily journal. Releasing pent-up stress and anxiety onto the page can do wonders for your emotional health and general happiness.

Writing Therapy

Believe it or not, diaries aren’t just for teenagers and they’re not just full of adolescent ramblings. In fact, there is a very important reason why teenagers keep diaries and why we could stand to learn a thing or two from this very common high school practice. The teenage years are an especially difficult time because of constant hormone shifts, awkward maturation processes, and crucial life transitions that can affect mood and mental health significantly. Keeping a private journal is an instinctual way that adolescents learn to grapple with these changes in order to help stabilize their emotions. As we get older, we tend to lose or “outgrow” this instinct, but it can be helpful to relearn it with age, because the power of therapeutic writing doesn’t diminish even if we have survived adolescence.

Writing Therapy

Mental health professionals have also picked up on the importance of therapeutic writing. Many psychologists and counselors use art therapy during sessions and psychological interventions as part of a concerted regimen aimed at expressing, understanding, and coming to terms with problematic thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Because of the uninhibited nature of many expressive art forms, journal writing can help us identify how we are really feeling and how we can improve upon that. It also helps that it’s cheap, essentially risk-free, and nearly anybody can do it. All you need is some paper, a pen, and anywhere from ten to sixty minutes a day. 

It’s important to remember, however, that persistent situations involving serious emotional and mental health problems should always be dealt with by a mental health professional. While therapeutic writing can help alleviate everyday stresses, it shouldn’t be considered a replacement for professional therapy. For more information on the importance of mental health and when professional assistance is required, visit us at MD Home Health. Otherwise, get writing and start healing!


Art Is Beauty, Art is Therapeutic

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Woman Painting

For hundreds of years, art has been both beautiful and therapeutic and will only continue to provide benefits as time goes on. Art can literally freeze a moment in time and even freeze the viewer as they ponder the meaning or theme of the artwork. Emotions can be demonstrated brilliantly with art and can help the viewer release or better understand their own emotions. There are numerous philosophical and psychological benefits that come with the beauty of art.

Art therapy has become much more accepted over the years and is becoming a serious therapeutic contender in the world of therapy. These days art is not only being used for appeal in the home or office, but used to improve physical or mental healing. This intriguing form of therapy revolves around the creative process of art, allowing those who do not feel comfortable expressing themselves with words to use creative art instead. This can even be done without creating the art yourself but rather using art that has already been made.

Even the average person who does not necessarily require therapy can greatly benefit from either creating art or viewing it. Expressing yourself through art can often show you things that otherwise might not have comprehended, especially if discussed with an art therapist. Art therapists are trained to help their patients through creative expression. Self-exploration is a major part of art and can also lead to new conclusions. A convenient benefit of art therapy is the fact that you don’t actually need a therapist, but rather a willingness to open up and express yourself through art.

The many benefits of art therapy:

  • Improve Mental and Physical Health
  • Help with Emotional Abuse
  • Help Those who are Bipolar
  • Helps to Better Understand Yourself
  • Improve Cancer
  • Improve Social Skills
  • Reduce Post Traumatic Stress
  • Reduce Pain
  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Reduce Tension

For more information regarding art therapy, contact our experts at MD Home Health today and begin to live healthier tomorrow.


Cognitive Training Exercises

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Cognitive training exercises target a group of mental processes that include attention, memory, producing and understanding language, learning, reasoning, problem solving and decision-making.

Cognitive training exercises provide mental benefits for people of all ages.

Lumosity – the leading brain training program designed by neuroscientists ­– is currently known as the web’s #1 brain training program. Lumosity is a free online program that offers games in the areas of memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing and problem solving. While you’re having fun playing games, you’ll forget that you’re also training your brain.

Cognitive Training Exercises Provide Mental Benefits

Over 35 million people and climbing already use Lumosity.com with positive results.

“Competitive rowing requires focus, flexibility, alertness, and strong peripheral vision. Lumosity training has increased all these for me: I am able to maintain my focus on the finish line for the last kilometer of each head race, I am able to adapt to new situations I encounter during these events, I am much more focused on the task at hand during training and racing, and I have increased the range of my peripheral vision. Thanks, Lumosity, for helping a fifty-something win medals!”

–      Linda E.

It’s possible that cognitive training exercises provide mental benefits for people suffering from dementia, as well. Although more studies need to be conducted in order to state that cognitive training exercises can prevent or delay dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, a WebMD article stated that a number of studies have shown the benefits of staying mentally active.

“I play to keep up with my 2-year old and to hopefully stave off Alzheimer’s or any other deterioration of the brain.”

–      Whitney M.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, you can seek help from MD Home Health Home Assist.

“I will not hesitate to recommend MD Home Health and MD Home Assist to my friends and family when in need of home care services. Thank you for everything you did for my husband and me.”

-Kent & Adriana M. Patient April 2010

MD Home Health Home Assist has specialty programs for Alzheimer’s/Dementia for individuals in their homes or group facilities. Services are available 24 hours per day/seven days per week and are provided on a visit, hourly or daily basis.

For more information on how cognitive training exercises provide mental benefits, contact MD Home Health Home Assist today for your free in-home consultation.


Directly Hiring a Caregiver to Save Money? Pt. 2

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Directly Hiring a Caregiver to Save Money? Know ALL the Risks and Costs Before Doing So. (Pt 2)  By Dave Hildebrandt, Executive Director of MD Home Health/MD Home Assist

Another area of consideration in directly hiring consists of taxes and insurance.  The IRS states that individual employers are liable for Social Security and unemployment taxes on the wages paid to a direct hire.  If you are considered to have “willfully” failed to withhold these taxes, you will be liable for not only the taxes but interest on the amount of underpayment and civil fines of up to $100,000 as well as possible criminal penalties.

Now, how about insurance? What if the caregiver is injured on the job? Back strains and falls are very common with home care.  Will your homeowner’s policy cover it, and if so, will the policy limits be sufficient?  What if the caregiver causes your loved one a serious, life-threatening or fatal injury? Will they have malpractice insurance that will compensate you for the costs? And finally, if the caregiver should break or steal any of your personal property, will they have a bond to reimburse you for their replacement?

All of these concerns are very real.  All of them can cost a family considerable amount of money and possibly even their lifetime savings should the worse occur.  But most importantly, the safety and welfare of your loved one may be at risk unless you can insure that all these steps are followed before allowing a privately hired caregiver into your home. Sure, the costs and time commitment of performing all these steps is probably more than you ever imagined, but do you really want to cut corners when dealing with the health care of your love one?

When considering ALL the costs and risks associated with the hiring of a competent caregiver, it becomes obvious that directly hiring may not be the most prudent route to go. Your alternative to direct hire? Hire a reputable, experienced agency to assume all the costs and risks associated with hiring, training, taxes and insurance, thus allowing you to give 100% of your attention and support to your loved one with the goal of them getting better or at least reaching maximum comfort.

For more information about MD Home Health or MD Home Assist, rate quotes, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us via: MD Home Health/MD Home Assist.


Directly Hiring a Caregiver to Save Money? Pt. 1

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Directly Hiring a Caregiver to Save Money? Know ALL the Risks and Costs Before Doing So. (Pt. 1)  By Dave Hildebrandt, Executive Director of MD Home Health/MD Home Assist

A recent study revealed that the cost of full time non-medical home care will average $45,000 per year in the state of Arizona (based on 44 hours of care per week). Given this, the tendency for some families will be to try to and economize by directly hiring a care giver to save money, rather than going through an agency.  This is a classic example of the phrase “penny wise, pound foolish”. Before taking this step, it is important that the consumer or family be aware of all the risks and costs associated with directly hiring a caregiver to save money.

There are basically two areas that a family must address when directly hiring a caregiver to save money: the caregiver’s personal background and clinical skills, and the administrative costs of taxes and insurance.

The first part to consider is the steps involved in conducting a background verification of a caregiver.  Once you have identified a potential candidate, which in and of itself is not always easy, you will need to interview them, run a criminal background check, credit and DMV check, verify their citizenship, their automobile insurance, and their list of references. Also, if they are licensed (CNA or RN/LPN), you will want to know if their license is current, in good standing, and if there has ever been any disciplinary action taken against them. Finally, you will want to be sure they have no communicable diseases, specifically TB, and have taken First Aid and have a current CPR training certification.

Should all of the background verification go smoothly, you will then need to be able to determine the actual competency of the caregiver, especially if you are requiring special skills that will be needed to provide the care. Are you qualified to do this?  Do you really want to use your loved one to test their competency?

And finally, suppose your direct-hired caregiver is sick, wants a day off, gets injured or simply doesn’t show for work.  Will you be prepared with a list of qualified and trained alternate caregivers who will report on a moment’s notice?

For more information about MD Home Health or MD Home Assist, rate quotes, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us via: MD Home Health/MD Home Assist.


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