Employee Profile: Wendy Schrag, RN-BC, Vice President of Clinical Operations

Wendy has been a nurse for over 18 years and joined Touchmark 14 years ago. She helps ensure all health services across the company are effective, compliant, appropriate, and adhere to The Touchmark Gold Standard.

 

What makes working at Touchmark different from other retirement communities?

Touchmark is proactive and is always looking for ways to help residents lead healthy lifestyles.

 

What keeps you at Touchmark?

I appreciate the opportunity to be able to learn and grow every day.

 

How do you form relationships with residents?

I listen and try to respond to what they or their families say they need. I believe education is essential to understanding dementia and I enjoy helping all as they travel their journey.

 

What activities do you use to help residents stay healthy?

I work with my teammates to create new programs such as functional fitness or other leading options that we believe will help enhance residents’ health and wellness.

A Mouthful of Wisdom

The first few months of the New Year are a time for fresh beginnings and preparation for the future. Good nutrition is essential to good health and well-being, and March is Nutrition Month, making this a great time to check that your diet is on track for a happy and healthy new year.

The first step to optimizing your diet is to make sure you’re getting the right combination of nutrients. Look for a rainbow of food colors on your dinner plate, including proteins, fruits, whole grains, such as rice and wheat pasta, and dairy or other sources of calcium.

When they’re available, the best kinds of foods to eat are called “whole foods,” which just means they come from the earth to you, with minimal processing. Whole foods include any raw meats, raw fruits and vegetables, and unsweetened dairy products. (Whole foods don’t have to be raw when you eat them, just when you buy them!)

Whole foods are best because you can easily control their salt content, as well as any other ingredients. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat anything that comes in a box, but you should keep track of the nutritional content, serving size, and the fat and sodium levels available on the side of the box. Ask your doctor what levels are right for you, and compare this information to your recommended levels when choosing prepared and frozen foods.

Another important part of good nutrition that is easy to control is to make sure you’re getting enough water. It’s easy to forget to drink water, and doctors say that feeling thirsty can already mean you’re dehydrated — so try these handy tips:

  • Every time you take any medication, drink a full glass of water.
  • Always keep a glass of water next to your bed.
  • After every meal, drink a glass of water.
  • Eat plenty of foods with high water content, such as fruits and salads.

Eat and drink towards a healthier you, and make this year even better than the last!

 

Staying active is key to enjoying life

Joan Schnettler is all about being active. Whether it’s attending exercise class, taking computer classes, connecting with people around the world through her iPad, participating in Life Enrichment/Wellness programs, or going on Touchmark-sponsored trips, she’s always on the move.

“I really believe that you need to keep moving and stay active. You also need to exercise your mind just like you would your body,” says Joan, who has lived in a Touchmark home for the past six-and-a-half years.

After moving to Touchmark, she jumped in and immediately got involved in various activities. She walks to the Grande, the main building, for programs and the different classes. She also walks a mile each day, either outside or in the Grande. This is in addition to her exercise classes five days a week—three days of strength training and two days of aerobics.

As someone who likes to be on the go, Joan relishes Touchmark’s different trips. It doesn’t matter if it’s a day visit to The Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson to see a play or an overnight trip; Joan is on board. “I love how they extend my horizons,” she says.

Enduring love
Joan and her husband Jerry were best friends and married for 63 years. After the war, the couple settled in Milwaukee, where they lived for 45 years. An electrical engineer, Jerry built a career with Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, ultimately serving as president.

Joan, meanwhile, was a master homemaker and focused her talents on nurturing the couple’s children. Following retirement, she and Jerry spent the winters in Florida and summers at their lake home in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

“We moved to Touchmark to be closer to some family,” says Joan, who especially appreciated the support of others after Jerry passed away two-and-a-half years ago.

Keeping in touch with technology
Joan welcomes all of today’s technology. “It’s wonderful,” enthuses Joan when she talks about getting texts from her loved ones. “I bought an iPad and am going to the technology classes Touchmark offers to learn more about how to use the iPad. You can’t stop learning,” she says.

Attending the technology and other classes Touchmark offers allows Joan to expand her knowledge about a rich array of topics—and share laughter and learning with others.

“It’s a great way to be social. I love living here. I can have my own house, but yet I can go over to the main building for meals as well as all the programs,” says Joan. “I don’t want to just stay home and be a hermit.”

An advocate of whole-person wellness, Joan devotes time each day to attend mass.

She also enjoys exercising her brain by playing bridge, both online with people from around the world and with other residents at Touchmark.

“I really enjoy the people I meet at the different programs as well as on the trips,” she says.

“It is really a lot of fun.”

Eat smart to live healthier

As our bodies change with age, so do our nutritional needs and priorities. Appetites might decrease as a result of less physical activity, as a side effect of medication, or even simply from living in isolation.

Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is important at any age, as it contributes to maintaining physical and cognitive health. The best approach to healthy eating is to eat from all basic food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, quality protein, and dairy) and limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt.

In addition to choosing whole, balanced foods, the tips below address the unique nutritional needs of seniors.

  • Cut sugar intake—choose water instead of sugary drinks and fruit for dessert.
  • Use spices and herbs instead of salt to add flavor to your meals. Choose low-sodium or reduced-salt options when available.
  • Eat foods high in levels of vitamin B12, such as fortified cereal, lean meat, or some types of fish.
  • Choose foods rich in dietary fiber to avoid constipation.
  • Pay attention to serving sizes and calories to make sure that you are eating the right amount of food and meeting daily recommended values of nutrients.
  • Drink plenty of low-fat or fat-free milk for vitamin D.

March is National Nutrition Month, making it a great time to focus on mindful eating and making healthy choices.

Changing your eating habits is more than just a quick-fix diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Start small—take the salt shaker off of your table, switch to whole-grain bread, or pick up a few more fruits and vegetables on your next shopping trip.

Effective changes don’t have to be expensive or complicated, and can make all the difference in your quality of life.

This couple has walked in all 50 states and eight foreign countries

Meet Catharine and Bill ByrdMeet Catharine and Bill Byrd
This couple has walked in all 50 states and eight foreign countries

Catharine and Bill Byrd have always shared a love of travel—especially on their own two feet. In addition to each state in America, the couple has participated in walks in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Denmark, and Luxembourg.

Bill’s career offered him various job opportunities, which eventually relocated the family to Vancouver, Washington. That’s where the couple discovered their passion for Volkswalking.

“I was a dedicated mall-walker at that time,” recalls Catharine. “One day, out of curiosity, I attended a talk on Volkswalking. I went home and told Bill this was something we might like to try.”

So they tried it, says Catharine, “And we were hooked!”

“When Bill traveled for business,” she recalls, “we’d stay a few days longer and do 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) Volkswalks in the nearby states.”

Bill adds, “We did enough walking to keep our weekends busy for a number of years.”

The couple has now logged official Volkswalks in all 50 states and in the process seen some gorgeous scenery. “Volkswalking is a great way to see the country, because you see the little things that you miss when you’re zipping by in a car,” says Bill.

The Byrds became charter members in a Volkswalking group that began over 15 years ago in Vancouver. The club is still active, but Bill and Catharine tend to take shorter walks on their own these days or head out with a Touchmark walking group.

From Alabama to Washington
Both Catharine and Bill were born and raised in Alabama.

When Bill was just 18, the US was pulled into World War II, and he joined the Army. “I wound up in the infantry,” he says, “so that was really the start of my walking. Bill remained in the Army Reserves for 21 years, serving in both Europe and Asia.

After he returned from service, Bill enrolled in Auburn University in Alabama, where he met and married Catharine.

In those days, it was common for women to leave college once they were married, so Catharine dropped out of school while her husband finished his degree in Chemical Engineering. Later, Catharine returned to school and got her degree in Accounting at the University of Portland.

Right out of school, Bill landed a job at a foundry in Alabama. Soon, though, he and the family were transferred to southern California, and then to Columbus, Indiana. While there, he took a job with a competitor and relocated to Vancouver, Washington, where he and Catharine have lived for the last 40 years.

After earning her Accounting degree in their new home, Catharine taught in a business school. “Then I used my degree to volunteer in a lot of organizations, including our church as treasurer for almost nine years.”

The Byrds raised a daughter and three sons. They now boast seven grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren. The whole family gets together at least once a year.

Opting for easier living
A few years ago, the Byrds decided it was time for them to let go of the chore of maintaining their own home and yard.

“We already belonged to the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club, so we knew people here, and we were familiar with Touchmark.”

Still, they did their research and looked at other retirement communities in the area. In the end, they chose Touchmark.

“We liked the light and open feeling here at Touchmark when you walk in the front doors,” says Catharine. “And the people here are great.”

Bill chimes in, “And now we don’t have to drive crosstown to the fitness club; we just ride down the elevator.”

The Byrds originally moved into a Terrace apartment. When a larger apartment with more storage became available in the main building, they took it.

Staying physically and mentally active
Bill continues to take full advantage of Touchmark’s Health & Fitness Club. “I do yoga two days a week and work out on the machines the other three days,” he says. He especially likes using the pneumatic weight-lifting system and the rowing machine in his workouts.

Catharine used to take aerobic dance and now participates in the SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) class three days a week.

Walking is still a favorite way for them to get their exercise between classes and workouts.

They also volunteer on various Touchmark committees. Catharine is head of the Dining Committee, while Bill volunteers on the Interior and Dining committees.

“There are a lot of activities here to participate in,” says Bill. “In fact,” he says with a smile, “it can put a bit of a strain on you trying to keep up with it all.”

Catharine laughs with her husband. “There’s certainly no reason to be bored here!”

Since they have lived in Vancouver for more than 40 years, they also keep active with people they knew before moving into Touchmark.

A philosophy to live by …
Catharine says, “I’ve always looked at my life in terms of stages: the Alabama Stage, the California Stage, and so forth. I try not to look back and regret things … You have to always look forward to the different phases of your life.”

Although the Byrds have many medals to show for their accomplishments, they still have much to look forward to—and do so with the same passion they always have.

Fascinated with the past—and living a full life

Meet Joyce and Jim HolterMeet Joyce and Jim Holter
Fascinated with the past—and living a full life

If you want to know anything about the 70-foot, world-famous Hjemkomst (Homecoming) Viking Ship or the replica Hopperstad Stave Kirke (church), Jim would be delighted to take you on a tour of The Hjemkomst Center, where he is a docent.

If you’d like to know more about genealogy and how to use a computer to research and record your own family history, Joyce is your expert.

On any given day, you could also find Joyce baking her special bread that the grandchildren call Grandma Bread or working on her computer helping
update the Touchmark resident story album. Jim is just as busy, practicing with the Touchmark choir and volunteering at Touchmark’s convenience store.

Their cottage home is inviting, warmly decorated to reflect their Scandinavian heritage.

To Fargo—and back again
Joyce was born and raised in Kindred, a small town in the same county as Fargo. She and Jim met at North Dakota State University, where Jim completed his undergraduate degree.

The couple soon married and moved to Ames, Iowa, where Jim earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science in Veterinary Pathology at Iowa State University. While he was taking classes, Joyce worked in Student Services, learning to use a computer and build databases, a skill she has used her entire life.

After graduating in 1957, the couple moved to Casselton, North Dakota, where Jim was a practicing veterinarian for 15 years. They then returned to Ames, and Jim started a 20-year tenure as a professor at Iowa State University.

Also in that timeline, the couple raised four children—two girls and two boys—all of whom eventually graduated from Iowa State University.

“We retired young,” Jim says. “I was 61, and Joyce was 57.”

Their own hjemkomst (homecoming) eventually led them back to Fargo. Joyce says, “When it came time for us to retire, we came home to what was really home to us.”

A long-planned move
When they first retired, though, the Holters bought a home on a lake in Minnesota.

“At that time,” Jim recalls, “I said to Joyce, ‘When I turn 80, we’ll think about doing something different. And she held me to it!”

So when Jim turned 80, Joyce reminded her husband of his promise. “By that time,” Jim says, “I was getting tired of maintaining the lake home, mowing the lawn, taking care of the boat and dock … ”

Joyce continues. “When Touchmark had an open house, we went to look at their cottages.” And they both liked what they saw.

“Now,” says Joyce, “whenever we go and visit other folks in the community, we always come home and say, ‘Oh, we have the best place!'”

Jim adds, “We’ve lived in many homes, and this is about the most comfortable that we’ve ever lived in.”

Joyce, the genealogist, adds, “And after we moved in here, I found out that I have three third cousins living here, too! I could show you exactly how we are related!”

Enjoying each day to its fullest
Because both are half Norwegian (Jim is also part Dane), it is only natural that Joyce and Jim volunteer at The Hjemkomst Center at least one day a week. Joyce works in the business office, using her many computer skills, while Jim is a docent, guiding visitors through the maze of Scandinavian history. Joyce and Jim have traveled extensively, including three trips to Norway.

Jim just performed with the Touchmark Choir at the historic Fargo Theater. He practices with them every week, and they perform at area schools, other retirement communities, for a local Kiwanis Club, and for other residents. “What’s so unique about our choir,” says Jim, “is that the members range in
age from 22 to 101!”

Joyce spends a lot of time on her computer. “I have had a computer on my desk since 1976.” She learned to build databases early on, which has proved indispensable for her genealogy work, which she has been doing for over 25 years.

Joyce and Jim enjoy people and are very involved in the Touchmark community. “We love sharing stories and histories and believe everyone has a story.”

This couple share friendship, laughter—and technology

Meet Jim and Helen BastianMeet Helen and Jim Bastian
This couple share friendship, laughter—and technology

“We have two things to say,” Jim announces. “One, we laugh a lot. And, two, after 64 years together, we are still each other’s best friend.”

And what resonates between them echoes outward, as their laughter and friendliness touch everyone around them.

“You can’t believe all the wonderful people who live and work at Touchmark,” says Helen. “Everybody is so great. It is a very wonderful atmosphere here.”

Sharing rich and interesting backgrounds
Helen was born in Fargo, ND, then spent most of her childhood in Minnesota, going through the Moorehead public school system. In 1947, she graduated from the School of Chemistry at North Dakota Agricultural College (now NDSU). Then she entered Purdue University to pursue her master’s degree.

Jim was born and raised in Indianapolis, Ind. Soon after high school, he went into the Navy, enrolling in Radio Technician Radar School. In 1946, Jim entered Purdue University. He started out in Electrical Engineering but ended up with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He then went on to get his master’s and PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology.

Meanwhile, working on her master’s in chemistry, Helen met Jim. There must have been more than a little chemistry between them.

“We met at a football rally,” Jim remembers. “I walked right up to Helen, took her hand, and told her I was Jim. She told me she was Helen, and that started our relationship!” Jim and Helen both laugh heartily at the recollection. “It wasn’t like either one of us to act like that.”

It may have been a bit out of character for a couple of scientists, but the formula seemed to work. Helen and Jim married in 1950.

Supporting family and careers
“I never finished my master’s program,” says Helen. “After the war, with everyone returning home, I couldn’t renew my graduate assistant’s program, so I went into educational psychology.”

Jim chimes in, “Helen put me through my PhD program by working in a veterinary school as a lab technician.”

After that, Helen shifted her focus to making a home and raising their daughter and two sons. Once the  children were in school, she taught high school chemistry for more than eight years.

After Jim finished his PhD at Purdue in 1954, he joined Armour Pharmaceutical Company, working as a drug researcher for 32 years. Among his many successes, he helped lead the development of the first drug to relieve chronic pain caused by Paget’s disease of the bone.

When Jim retired in 1986, he continued doing consulting work with Armour and then with a Japanese company until 2000.

A passion for technology
Helen and Jim are fondly referred to as “early adopters” as they actively seek out the leading edge of technology.

Helen recently found herself one of only 100 people in the world who has an OrCam for home use. It is a tiny, smart camera for visually impaired people. Mounted to her glasses, her OrCam “sees” the book or newspaper page she is holding then orally “reads” it to her.

“Jim read about it in the New York Times before it was even available on the U.S. market,” Helen recalls. “We immediately got on a waiting list.”

When not using her OrCam, Helen is often on her iPad. She reads books on it, watches news programs, and looks up recipes. “You can find almost anything on an iPad.” She also uses it to keep track of her family— including their two great grandsons—on Facebook.

With wide-ranging interests, Jim has always been an inventor on the side. For instance, in 1967, he patented the first roller paint machine. More recently, he patented a new hold-bar attachment for treadmills. “I’ve made hundreds of inventions over the years,” Jim says, “but often found out someone else had beat me to the patent.”

Jim recently launched a new business. “I’m fully occupied with it,” he says. “I’m a true, honest-to-goodness, livewire entrepreneur … it’s exciting!”

In fact, Jim is completely absorbed with manufacturing and selling his latest invention: a device that “magically” attaches a cell phone to your arm or waist—on the outside of your clothing—via a strong magnet. “I have a minifactory and hundreds of products all ready to sell. It’s a 24-hour business.”

The business means Jim doesn’t have time to bake his famous cinnamon-craison bread anymore; however, he was recently elected to the Touchmark Resident Council. “I consider this a great honor, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Continuing their full lives
Moving to Touchmark has been a natural continuation of Helen and Jim’s full lives. What they enjoy most is the many opportunities for social interaction just beyond their front door.

“It’s so interesting to sit down and talk with any of these people,” says Jim. “Many of them were top in their fields. It’s unbelievable!”

“Such interesting stories!” adds Helen. “From farming stories to WWII pilots getting shot down!”

Other enjoyable activities are walking their miniature poodle Lucy and keeping close tabs on their great grandchildren. And laughing. “Yes, you could say laughter is our philosophy of life!”

Connecting through music

Family was the main draw for Stan Stewart when he moved to Touchmark. “I wanted to live closer to my son,” he says. When he and his son first visited Touchmark, he was impressed with the different levels of care available.

“It seemed like a good fit.” Once settled, he quickly grew to appreciate the community of people seeking social connection, something lacking where he had previously lived. “There, the residents had all grown up together, attended the same high school, and spent their whole lives there. It was hard. I have a lot more friends at Touchmark. The people here are more likely to make friends.”

Stan and his son Christopher, who plays flute, guitar, and piano, share a deep love of music, and the father and son attracted a large audience when they played in the Touchmark lobby. “The place was packed!”

Music was the path to a new friendship with Harry Kramer, who heard Stan singing, and the two men started talking about music. Harry, who started piano lessons at age 5 and has played keyboards for 30 years, says he’s impressed with the quality and range of Stan’s voice.

“I often accompanied my wife when we played at dances. She was a big hit when she played an electric bass guitar. She got the standing ovations, and I got all the sitting ovations,” Harry jokes.

Stan enjoys Harry’s sense of humor and says it’s better to perform with him than alone. The two now regularly play together, often treating residents to lively, toe-tapping performances.

Generations of music
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Stan says his love of music grew from deep roots. His greatgrandfather played the fife in the Civil War. His grandfather played the flute. His father was in the military, so the family moved around a lot before settling in Modesto, California. “I learned how to play the guitar in college, but my true instrument is my voice.”

“I communicate with people through music,” he says, adding that he characterizes his music as more of an avocation than a full-time job. After studying economics at the University of California at Davis, Stan pursued a career in business that included insurance and estate planning, much of that time in Modesto.

Singing semiprofessionally
The road to performing in public started when he played some chords on a guitar at the insurance office where he worked. A coworker invited him to his house for band practice, and the other musicians asked him to sing with them for an Open Mic night.

“The next night I was the lead singer for a band.”

Stan says there are two kinds of music: country and western. “If it doesn’t tell a good story, I’m not interested in it.”

He often opened his shows with the Johnny Cash signature song Folsom Prison Blues. Stan croons the opening lines: “I hear the train a comin’. It’s rollin’ ‘round the bend. And I ain’t seen the sunshine since, I don’t know when.”

Travel time to gigs with bandmates was often spent singing so they were warmed up by the time they arrived. “Once we were done performing, we walked off the stage and divvied up the money.”

After entertaining for 10 years in Modesto, Stan now is part of a duet, having formed a friendship through a shared love of music. “Harry is very talented and knows many of the songs I like to sing. He’s got the talent, and I just sing along,”

Harry credits Stan with reviving his love of playing. Dealing with the grief of losing his wife of nearly 60 years was “the most horrible time.” He says the community of friends at Touchmark helped him to embrace the idea that “life is for the living.”

Today, Stan and Harry take pleasure sharing their musical talents with each other—and spreading the joy of music to others.

Stan and Harry

Traveling Smart with Parkinson’s disease

With the change from winter into spring upon us, many of us start to feel the itch of the “travel bug.” But if you’re traveling with Parkinson’s, there is a lot more preparation required. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a companion, each individual needs to know how important it is for a person with Parkinson’s disease to anticipate the difficulties that may arise while away from home.

Planning ahead for seamless travel

When beginning to plan a trip, you first need to decide which mode of transportation will best meet your needs. Plane, train, or automobile? Does each mode of transportation offer the accessibility you need, or extra time to board

If you are going to fly, be sure to look up the TSA special procedures, which can help reduce stress and anxiety through the screening process, or consider enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program. You can print out a TSA notification card that describes your medical condition. There’s no need to explain your specific condition. Once you state that you have special needs or require extra time to board a plane, that’s all you have to say.

If you have a DBS (deep brain stimulation), ask your doctor to write a note to allow you to bypass electronic security and undergo other security checks instead. Part of the screening process can be done while sitting so you don’t fatigue as quickly.

Consider taking a wheelchair through the airport. Airport terminals are large and can be confusing to navigate, leading to a potential increase in stress levels. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when planning your trip and plan to arrive early so you have plenty of time and don’t have to rush.

Make sure that you pack three different sets of medications in three different bags to ensure that you will always have your medications in case a bag or two gets lost. Medications should be brought in their original labeled bottles. Liquid medications can go over the three-ounce fluid limit but should be packed separately from other fluids.

Research accommodations to relieve stress

Be sure to inquire about specific accommodations ahead of time. For instance, if you use a wheelchair or other mobility aid, confirm that your hotel room is wheelchair accessible and request a room near the elevator or on the first floor. Inquire about special accommodations that most hotels will offer at no extra charge, such as shower seats. If you’ll be sightseeing, confirm ahead of time whether the sites you want to visit offer wheelchair rentals and are wheelchair accessible.

If you are driving, ask about parking for your car. Many facilities offer complimentary or discounted parking if you display a “handicapped” sign. If you are driving to your destination, look for valet parking opportunities at restaurants, hotels, etc.

Once you have finalized your travel plans, keep them organized by carrying a printed itinerary, complete with emergency contact information or program them into your cell phone or iPad. Either print or send a copy of your travel plans to a friend or relative who is not going on the trip. It is imperative to always carry a cell phone with you and make sure that numbers and contacts are preprogrammed in your phone. If you are traveling overseas, be sure to have the address and contact information for the US Embassy. It is wise to have your passport with you at all times or locked in a hotel safe.

Getting ready for the trip

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before leaving on your trip. Keep your sightseeing schedule flexible, and build in mini-rests and one nap every day. Don’t try to pack your day too full of activities. This will only make you more tired and increase the risk of Parkinson’s flare-ups, which can lead to an unpleasant trip.

Making a packing list ahead of time can reduce anxiety over forgetting something. As your trip gets near, start packing slowly so you don’t get stressed about the process or forget something because you are in a rush. Sort out your outfits complete with socks, undergarments, and shoes. Include Parkinson’s-friendly clothing and accessories, such as wrinkle-free items, pants with elastic waistbands, or shirts that can be pulled over the head or with snap closures. Avoid clothing with buttons if possible, as it can complicate the dressing process. Pack needed assistive equipment (such as a walker), and always take a cane or walking stick, making certain your name is labeled on each item.

Staying healthy on the go

It is important to stay well hydrated, avoid caffeine, and eat salty snacks if you have postural hypotension. Wearing support stockings while traveling can also help reduce symptoms of postural hypotension.

Bring a bottle of water for taking pills as well as a light snack, if needed, to prevent nausea. Many worry that they will drink too much and then have to use the bathroom frequently, but changing positions frequently and stretching is important while traveling long distances, so use the bathroom as an opportunity to move around. Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol.

If you run into a situation where you are without medication, call your doctor’s office and ask them to send an electronic prescription to a local pharmacy. You should always travel with an updated list of your medications, the dosages, scheduled times for dosing as well as your allergies. This information will also be essential if you end up visiting a doctor’s office or emergency room while traveling. The National Parkinson’s Foundation created an Aware in Care Kit that is available through their website and is designed to help those with Parkinson’s disease receive the best possible care during a hospital stay.

Talk to your doctor before going on vacation to get tips on adjusting dosages if you are changing time zones; you may need to increase or decrease dosing of medication. You should avoid doing any type of medication changes two weeks before leaving for your vacation, as you don’t know how your body will react to the change.

Traveling does not have to end when Parkinson’s advances. By taking time to plan everything in advance, you can focus on having fun!

 

Take heart!

February is Heart Month, and as we approach the end of the month, this is a great time to take one more look at what you’re doing to make your heart the healthiest this year that it can be.

Below, Touchmark Director of Health & Fitness Operations Kim Lehmann lists the steps people can take each day to improve their heart. “Many of these habits we’ve heard before, but a few may surprise you.”

Healthy habits for the heart:

Food: Eat an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and good-for-you fats and protein. Limit the amount of red meat, salt, and potassium. Maintain a healthy weight.

Fitness: Exercise daily—cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance. Stand more; sit less.

Sleep: Strive for 7–8 hours each night. If you have sleep apnea, treat it.

Stress: Practice ways to reduce daily stress, such as meditating, devoting time to a hobby, etc.

Teeth: Brush and floss your teeth; the health of your mouth affects the health of your heart.

Alcohol: Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. The recommendation is one drink a day for women, two for men.

Socialization: Spend time with friends. Laugh.

Depression: Get medical help and treat depression.

Smoking: Don’t smoke. If you do, seek help to break the habit.

Take care of yourself: Visit your doctor. Take prescribed medications. Be aware women are at increased heart disease risk after menopause. Men taking the “blue pill” for erectile dysfunction are also especially at heart risk for heart disease.

Kim says with an increasing number of people taking pills that affect the heart rate, it’s important to not rely on general pulse targets when exercising. “If people are taking one of these medications, they want to work with a professional to determine what’s ideal for them so they don’t overtax the heart.”

Similarly, she says high temperatures can be problematic. “There’s a reason saunas and warm-water spas post warnings and caution people to limit their time. The increased temperature opens blood vessels, and people can become dizzy or faint if they’re exposed too long to the high temperatures.”

Along with being the number-one cause of death, heart disease is one of the leading causes of disability. “As we age, the walls of our heart thicken and stiffen. This can lead to inefficient pumping, which can bring on high blood pressure, increased fatigue, and exercise intolerance. By following healthy habits, we can minimize the effects aging has on the heart and enjoy each day to the fullest.”

For more information, visit: niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/young-heart-tips-Older-adults/Documents/YAH_TipSheet.pdf