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The ABCs of healthy aging


Back in your school days you learned to use the alphabet as the building blocks for words, but do you know the building blocks of healthy aging? Your education isn’t complete until you’ve reviewed the ABCs of aging well—in both mind and body!

  • A: Fight anemia
    While not caused by aging per se, anemia is a common condition in older adults and is often the result of more than one issue, such as poor diet, medications or hormone imbalances. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia—fatigue, feeling cold, paleness, weakness—talk to your clinician.
  • B: Break routine
    Make small changes in your daily routine to increase brain stimulation. Something as simple as taking a different route on a daily walk or trying something new for breakfast can be enough spark to keep your mind fresh instead of foggy.
  • C: Cultivate your relationships
    Staying connected with people is an important aspect of mental health. Maintain communication with your family and friends, especially after a significant loss or life change.
  • D: Dine with others
    Plan meals with friends and family several times a week. Studies show that those who share meals with others eat less than those who eat alone, decreasing your risk of overeating, and keeping your weight in check.
  • E: Eat healthy foods
    Did you know that a high percentage of adults in the U.S. consume more than double the recommended intake of sodium? Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, so skip the extra salt and focus on nutrient-dense food like fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.
  • F: Fight fatigue
    If you’re feeling tired during the day more often, having a glass of water and a high-antioxidant food, like prunes or blueberries, can revitalize the body and stimulate the mind. Continue Reading »

Fun Labor Day activities for the family


For many, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. Even though warm weather will likely carry on into September, Labor Day is often a last hurrah before students head back to school and routines get a bit more structured. Make the most of this three-day weekend with healthy, active ideas that the whole family can enjoy!

  • It’s state and county fair season, but you can skip the lines and deep-fried foods by having a backyard fair for your family. Set up tables in the backyard with healthy treats, games, a coloring contest and “livestock” exhibitions with pets or stuffed animals. Get out the washable paints for a face-painting booth, or host your own bake-off!
  • Another fun yard activity for a full free day is hosting lawn Olympics. Set up lawn darts, bag toss, badminton or other favorites and compete for the gold! Color in paper circles for the medals and hang them off of string or ribbon—you could even stack something safe to climb on for a podium for your closing ceremonies.
  • If you want to be active but don’t have yard space, check your local community calendar or do a search for 5K run/walks in your area.
  • Pack a snack, fill a water bottle or two and head to your nearest state or local park. This is a great opportunity to get outside and be active while enjoying nature.
  • Cool down by setting up a sprinkler or filling up water balloons.
  • Get some sidewalk chalk and have a Labor Day drawing contest. Make it more interesting with a patriotic theme or a recap of the other activities you’ve done that day!
  • Rainy Labor Days can still be fun! Have a Food Network-style cooking competition in your kitchen. Pick teams if you have enough people and choose one or two people to judge your culinary creations. Set up workstations just like they do in cook-offs on TV and have fun making dramatic commentary as you go.
  • See if your favorite local non-profit, church or other organization needs volunteers—the long weekend is a big fundraising time for some organizations but also a time when many volunteers are out of town or busy, making it a great time to get involved in a cause you care about.
  • When you’re tired out, set up camp in the backyard or living room! Grab your flashlights and set up a tent in the yard or a blanket fort in the living room. Snack on trail mix, grilled treats or s’mores (made over the fire or in the microwave!) and tell silly or scary stories or play music.

Does this seem like enough to fill a three-day weekend? Let us know what you plan to do in the comments, and if you try any of these ideas let us know how they turn out!

What to consider when selecting a primary care clinician


Finding a primary care clinician who you like and trust, and building a partnership with him or her over time is one of the best things you can do for your health. My goal as a connection specialist is to be the first step in navigating that process, taking the stress and anxiety out of finding a new primary care clinician, and talking through the process and answering any questions you may have so we can get you on the road to good health.

Research shows that people who have an ongoing relationship with a primary care clinician have better overall health outcomes and save money in the long run by doing yearly preventative visits. As you begin looking for a primary care clinician, consider the following:

  • Are the office hours or location convenient?
    Some patients want to have a clinician closer to their workplace versus their home, and Affinity Health System has several convenient locations to meet your health care needs. We offer same-day appointments, extended hours during the week and also weekend hours at some of our locations.
  • What do you want in a clinician?
    I often get asked how long a particular clinician has been practicing, or what their specialty is. If you have specific needs, like treating high cholesterol, or are interested in treatments such as integrative medicine or acupuncture, keep those in mind while you search.

Continue Reading »

Celebrating a healthy Thanksgiving

The proverbial Thanksgiving meal brings to mind images of buttery mashed potatoes, turkey with gravy, stuffing, creamy green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, cherry or pecan pie and many other tasty dishes. Who could pass that up?

Studies have shown that the average person will gain over one pound during the holiday season. While one pound seems harmless, research shows that this extra weight can be quite stubborn, still present a year later. When next year’s holiday season rolls around, another pound is put on and the cycle continues.

The average American will consume more than their fair share of food on Thanksgiving Day alone. Estimates on how many calories are consumed range from 3,000 to 4,500 calories just for that day.  Whatever the number may be, the fact is, Thanksgiving Day offers ample opportunity to “overdo it.”

However, there is a way to enjoy these classic dishes without going overboard, gastronomically speaking. Below are some tips to accomplish just that.

Start with smaller portions. This can be achieved in many ways. Using smaller plates gives the illusion that we are eating a lot as we fill it up. Another strategy is to cut down on the portions of each dish. Instead of two full scoops of mashed potatoes, try one scoop. You can always go back for more if you are truly hungry for more. Using these strategies allows you to taste a little bit of everything without overdoing it.

Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. This is one of the primary recommendations from MyPlate, and it makes sense. If you fill up first with vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and fruits, chances are you won’t feel that hungry for foods high in fat and calories.

Remember, dessert often follows the main meal. Pumpkin pie and other delicious desserts are often staples for Thanksgiving. To truly savor the flavors and aromas of these, eat them while you are still feeling slightly hungry. In the words of a child: “Save some room in your tummy for dessert!”

Beware of liquid calories. Good wines and other spirits may be offered during Thanksgiving. Juices and other sweetened beverages may be available to children. Practice portion control with these and try to drink water as well.

Get moving. It takes an average of one to three hours (longer if you are pregnant) for food to be digested. The more we eat and the more fat content is in the food, the longer it will take our bodies to digest it. To encourage digestion, take a walk after dinner or engage in another gentle physical activity.

The real purpose of Thanksgiving is..? Remind yourself that the celebration you are sharing with friends and/or family is about being thankful. It is about being with people you love and esteem while appreciating the blessings in your life. It is not about the food.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Depression during the holiday season

The holiday season is fast approaching, and we see lots of red, green, gold and silver in the stores and our homes as we prepare for upcoming celebrations. But for some, the dominant color of the holidays is blue.  Some may wonder, “How can this be?  I’m supposed to feel happy and excited, looking forward to spending time with family!”  Others may think, “How can the holidays be enjoyable when I have so much added stress with decorating, preparing meals, not to mention buying gifts when we hardly get by paying our bills each month. Where’s the money going to come from?” Finally there are those who may think, “I dread the thought of having another family argument at Thanksgiving because Uncle Jerry gets drunk and tells everybody what he really thinks!”

To survive, and even thrive, during this time, consider the following recommendations according to WebMD:

  •      Be realistic: There is no such thing as a “perfect” holiday (someone would have discovered it by now).  Concentrate on the traditions that make holidays meaningful for you and your family.
  •      Know your spending limit: Money is the largest factor for stress during the holidays, and is compounded by current economic strain.  Keeping your spending to a realistic amount will greatly reduce stress for both you and your loved ones.
  •      Share the tasks:  Expect (or allow) others to help with food preparation and other tasks.  Engage your children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews, etc.  in the preparation in an enjoyable manner to  continue old traditions or create new ones.
  •      Learn to say “no”:  It’s important to let others (and yourself) know you have limits.  Consider the positives in setting limits for others.
  •      Keep a regular schedule:  Eating, sleeping, exercising and limiting your alcohol intake are vital ingredients for managing stress and reducing depressive symptoms.
  •      Get support if you need it: This may be the first holiday season since the death of a loved one, a breakup of a significant relationship or seeing family member(s) you avoid due to conflict.  Although it may be difficult or embarrassing, asking for help can be more beneficial than doing it alone.  “Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” is a common myth for dealing with depression but it only further isolates individuals who need support.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

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