The Giving Season

The Season of Giving is upon us! We give to make others happy…to see the smile on the face of a child, a grandchild, a grandparent. But here’s something interesting. It turns out that giving is EQUALLY beneficial for the person doing the giving. Greater Good Magazine has examined the research on this topic and we thought we’d share with you some of what they found. Here are five ways that giving is good for YOU!

1.Giving makes you feel happy. In 2008 the Harvard Business School conducted research on giving and how giving makes us feel. One interesting discovery in the research of Professor Michael Norton and his colleagues was that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves (even though those taking part in the study predicted that spending money on themselves would make them happier). In another study, Sonja Lyubomirsky, a “happiness expert” and professor of psychology at the University of California, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.

These good feelings actually show up in our biology. In 2006, Jorge Moll and his colleagues at the National Institutes of Health discovered that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with social connection, pleasure, and trust. Giving to charitable causes created a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also see evidence that engaging in altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

Do an experiment with yourself and see what warm and happy feelings you feel when you give to someone or to a cause you believe in.

2. Giving is good for your health. There has been a lot of research linking different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, wrote a book entitled, Why Good Things Happen to Good People. In his book, Professor Post talks about how giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.

It’s important to note that the giving you do does not have to be in the form of money. Stephanie Brown and her colleagues from the University of Michigan conducted a study with elderly couples and found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t. Interestingly, receiving help wasn’t linked to a reduced death risk. Researchers believe that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress. High stress levels are closely associated with a variety of health problems. In a study conducted by John Hopkins, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

3. Giving promotes social connection and cooperation. Maybe it stands to reason, but when you give, you’re more likely to get back. When you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others —sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.

These exchanges promote trust and cooperation and that strengthens our ties to others. Research continues to show that a key factor leading to good mental and physical health is having strong and positive social connections with others.

What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t just make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them.

4. Giving evokes gratitude. Research confirms that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can bring about feelings of gratitude.

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, co-directors of the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall.

Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, tells us that when you express your gratitude in words or actions, “you not only boost your own positivity but (other people’s) as well.” She suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness. Fredrickson writes in her book Positivity. “…in the process you reinforce the kindness of others and strengthen your bond to one another.”

5. Giving is contagious. When we give, we also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, concluded: “When one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people.” Amazingly, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others

So whether you donate money to charity, buy gifts, help others or volunteer your time this holiday season, your giving may help you build stronger social connections and even be the spark for an outpouring of generosity throughout your community. And, as a wonderful added benefit, don’t be surprised if you find yourself receiving a big dose of happiness in the process.

Your Heart in Our Hands”

Whether you’re seeking elder care services for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can provide you with the home care services you need to create peace of mind for you and your family.

Serving Seniors works with caregivers to provide and coordinate in home services, improving your loved ones quality of life and maintaining their independence.

Let us help you determine what essential senior care services are needed to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we provide:

  • Independence and safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal Planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertainment
  • Housekeeping
  • Assist with self-administered medication

Call us NOW for your FREE in home consultation. 315-382-4300

Fall 2017

FALL

When Autumn Comes
When autumn comes to drop its leaves
Unreconciled, the branches grieve.
To enter winter’s long goodbye.
Awaiting spring, again to sigh.
-From a poem by Robert Johnson

The seasons are a dazzling display of life’s ongoing and never ending transformations. From the cold dormancy and quiet white of winter, to the birth and fragile new growth of spring, to the warmth and unbridled green energy of summer, and finally, to the bursts of spectacular color as drifting and twirling leaves fall from tree branches to the cool earth…the seasons connect us with our own life transformations as well.
Fall is that time when trees put on their most amazing and dramatic display of beauty. The leaves will not live much longer, but before life leaves them, they will insist on being noticed. There is nothing quite as beautiful as that perfect most colorful leaf resting right at your feet as you walk on the path of life.

I can remember (Can you?) picking up some of those perfect leaves, those beauties, and pressing them in the pages of a book. Later, maybe years later, we open that book to find the forgotten leaf and it’s a wonderful surprise all over again. Fall’s beauty is difficult to ignore, so let’s not! The warm colors of the season bring a warmth to our hearts.

Fall is also a time of harvest, a time when we reap all that has been sown. The seeds we have planted throughout the year, and throughout our life, come to fruition. The small deeds, the love we have offered to others, the kind words, the hopeful and prayerful thoughts, will come back to us in ways that may surprise us and that may go unnoticed if we are not paying attention.

“Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled. The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season’s last crops.”
– Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis

These are changes that are indeed subtle and ever so gradual. Just like so many of the day to day changes in our own lives. The days shorten a few minutes each day until we look up and see the darkness where light had been our expectation. Fall represents a time of decline that holds its own dramatic beauty, much like our own lives.

Importantly, Fall is a time of “Giving Thanks”, a reminder as things slow down a little, that this is a time of year when family memories…some distant, some more recent, have been built. It’s a reminder of shared meals with people we care about, when we said out loud what we were thankful for over the past year. We must never lose sight of all the blessings in our lives, as gratitude is at the very core of our happiness. As we witness so many in our country going through homelessness and hardship, it focuses a brighter light on our own blessings, so often taken for granted.

Fall helps us to remember that “for all things there is a season”. That is the beauty of life, and of all the ages we experience in our lives. While youthful vitality is joyful, with age comes a wisdom and understanding that brings us peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May Fall’s beauty be a reminder of life’s changing seasons and the remarkable way each can speak to our heart. Each season has a story to tell, an interpretation of life’s meaning and of the natural progression of life. Each can tell us something about our own story.

Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Companion Care
  • Respite Care
  • Transportation To Appointments
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

The Longest Day—June 21, 2017

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month!
“The Longest Day” is all about LOVE… LOVE for all those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

June 21st is “The Longest Day” of the year. It is also the day chosen by the Alzheimer’s Association to focus on the need to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research. On this day, people from across the region and the globe will come together to organize or to participate in activities to raise money for this much needed research. Whether individually or as a group, they will doing something they love to raise money for those they love and for this important cause! Some examples of “The Longest Day” activities are: Sports, Exercise, Games, Hobbies, Arts, Parties and Events. To learn ways that you can participate, go to: www.alz.org/cny for lots of ideas and examples of the many ways people are getting involved.

Did you know?  Facts about Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease kills more people than Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer combined.

BOWL-A-THON

JUNE 21, 2017
6:00 to 10:00 PM
Green Acres Bowling Alley
3019 East Ave.
Central Square, NY
$20.00 per bowler
includes shoe rental
and 2 games
All proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Join Serving Seniors on June 21st as we raise money for Alzheimer’s research and increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. Be part of our event in honor of those living with the challenges of this disease and their caregivers.

COMING EVENTS

Socials with Serving Seniors
Get your creative juices in bloom
with this creative card workshop
Tuesday, July 11th from 1-3pm
$15
McDonalds-Central Square Near 81 exit
RSVP to info@cnyservingseniors.com

 

On September 14th we will be having a workshop entitled “Creating a Grandparent’s Book”. You will be given instruction and many wonderful ideas as to how to create a book of memories and photographs as a keepsake for your grandchild(ren).  It will be a gift created through your love and time and will be a way to share with them and pass down to them the story of your life. Well,
parts of it anyway. Mark your calendar and plan to join us.

 

Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

We like to Move it…Move it… Or

SeniorExercise1

The Wonderfully Amazing Extra Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

We’ve all heard, probably for most of our lives, about the many benefits of exercise. We know that exercise helps us to have a healthier heart, better flexibility, more stability, stronger bones. But there is more! Exercise has many additional benefits, especially for seniors.

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Dr. John Montgomery, a family physician, medical epidemiologist and vice-president of Senior Care Solutions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida tells us: “Many characteristics we associate with older age — like the inability to walk long distances, climb stairs, or carry groceries, are largely due to a lack of physical activity.”

Even so, for most of us this is not convincing enough information to get us up and moving. I know I am as guilty as anyone where this is concerned. Part of the reason is that I have never been an active person. I never really participated in sports, loved to take long walks, or used any of those pieces of exercise equipment that decorated the corner of my living room. According to AARP, 40 percent of people between 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. For people over 64 (and I fall into this group), that number jumps to 60 percent.

SeniorContemplating

Why is this the case when we all claim to want to live as long as possible and be healthy into our later years? “Some seniors are worried that exercise will cause illness or injury,” said Dr. Montgomery. “Others think exercise means they have to do something strenuous, which they may not be capable of. What they may not realize is that it could be more of a risk not to exercise,” explains Montgomery.

So, it is clearly true. Seniors can benefit tremendously from regular exercise. The Centers for Disease Control reports that seniors have even more to gain than younger people by becoming more active because they are at higher risk for the health problems that physical activity can prevent.

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Even moderate physical activity can help seniors to:

Increase mental capacity

Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain, and might promote cell growth there. Exercise — particularly if it starts early and is maintained over time — is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Okay, but even if we didn’t start early, research links physical activity with slower mental decline. That is something all seniors value enormously. (Source: Senior Journal.com)

Prevent disease

We are not invincible, especially as we age. The more things we can do to protect our health, the better our later lives will be. Exercise may delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and others, and may reduce overall death and hospitalization rates, according to the National Institute of Aging.

Improve healing

A fear many older people have is the fear of suffering an injuring. Injuries and wounds take longer to heal as people age. Regular exercise by older adults may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent. (Source: Senior Journal.com)

Improve quality of life

Living a long life is a wonderful goal, but what kind of life will it be? A new study has found that previously sedentary senior citizens who incorporated exercise into their lifestyles not only improved physical function, but experienced psychological benefits as well. Being healthier and happier go hand in hand. (Source: SeniorJournal.com)

HappySeniorCouples

Increase balance

Regular exercise helps prevent falls, a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and loss of independence. (Source: Senior Journal.com)

Increase life expectancy

Benefits are greater among the most active persons, but are also evident among those who reported moderate activity, according to the CDC.

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A little goes a long way

Starting from where we are…which may be no exercise regimen at all…can feel like a daunting task. It can be discouraging to even think about how much work is ahead of us. And, it can sound like it will just be too hard.

“When it comes to exercise for seniors, consistency is more important than intensity,” explains Dr. Montgomery. Researchers have found that you don’t have to engage in strenuous exercises to gain health benefits. “Moderate exercise, such as walking five or more days a week, can lead to substantial health benefits. Even brief amounts of physical activity, say 10 minutes at a time, can be beneficial.”

It’s never too late. Really!

According to the National Institute of Aging, exercise isn’t just for seniors in the younger age range. People who are 80, 90 or older can also benefit greatly from physical activity. Exercising regularly can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people age. In some cases, it can improve health and independence for older people who already have diseases and disabilities, if it’s done on a long-term, regular basis.

“The key is to find something geared to your fitness level that you enjoy doing,” says Montgomery. “And it’s important to start at a level you can manage and work your way up slowly.” Start by seeing your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Tips for sticking with an exercise program:

Have a plan

Identify obstacles and find ways around them. For instance, your fitness routine easily could run off track during the holidays and vacations. Look for hotels with a health club, and include a walking or biking tour of scenic or historic places in your vacation plans. If going to a health club or biking seems a bit advanced for you, you might try a DVD I came across awhile ago called, “Yoga for the Rest of Us”. It was a PBS program and it offers ways to adapt yoga depending on your abilities. It’s a great way to get started and I can tell you, I noticed benefits almost immediately.

SeniorYoga

Review your goals

If you start to feel it’s just not worth it, think about why you decided to change in the first place. Maybe you wanted to lose weight. Perhaps you’ve lowered your blood pressure or are beginning to control your diabetes. Reminding yourself of the goals you’ve realized and the ones you’re still striving for will help you push ahead.

Mobilize your support system

Call on friends, family members, or neighbors who have been your cheerleaders. They can encourage you to stick with it.

Be easy on yourself

Falling off track doesn’t mean throwing in the towel. Remind yourself that change, and building new habits takes time. The caterpillar doesn’t become a butterfly overnight, and neither will we. (Well, you know what I mean.) So, good luck, and know that you CAN do it. Start small and build your strength each day. In the years ahead, you will be so happy you did.

SeniorsTrying

The Grandparent Book

memories-grandchildren

This past week would have been my mother’s 95th birthday.  She passed away 16 years ago now and I can’t tell you how many times my sister and I talk about something we wish we could ask her… some recipe where we can’t read her handwriting, or some clarification on what happened to a family member, or a detail about her, or our history.  But that is not to be.  My sister and I are now the holders of all the historical information our family possesses.  We are the family “elders”, and we already know much of this will never be passed along.  We don’t have the time to tell it all, and no one has the time to listen.  What to do?

Well, many years ago my mother put together a “Grandmother’s Book” for each of her grandchildren.  This has been one of my son’s most valued possessions ever since she presented it to him.  He still consults it for a holiday recipe she used to make…carrying on some important traditions.  This past spring I created one for one of my granddaughters, just entering her teens.  The book I chose to use asked lots of questions about past memories to spur my thinking.  I included lots of picture too, of me, my parents, and my grandparents and so on.

As I began looking, I found there are many books sold that you can use to organize your ideas.  Here are a few examples:

the-grandmother-bookgrandpa-memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing is for sure… The grandparent book you write is likely to survive long after you are no longer here and will provide a personal link between you and your children’s children that will be long treasured and appreciated.  Here are some examples from my Grandmother Book to inspire you.

This is the book I chose to use…

grandmother-memories

I included some favorite family recipes.  Good eating when my great grandchildren decide to try them.

old-family-recipes

Information on my parents that my grandchild may not even wonder about until she is older.

old-family-photos

And some of my childhood memories as well.

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I must say that one of the nicest aspects of taking on this project is that it causes you to reach back into your memory bank to retrieve information you haven’t thought about in years.  There are more memories lurking there than you might think.  This is a gift of your time and your love, but it costs little to produce.  Most of the grandparent books run between ten and twenty dollars.  They can be ordered on line and delivered right to your door.

No doubt you have boxes full of pictures (well, I certainly did) and why not pass some of those along, for history’s sake.  I had lots of fun going through old pictures to pick out some for the book, and it actually helped me remember things I wanted to include.

Another thing I included in the book for my granddaughter was some of my favorite quotes.  It helps your grandchild understand the way you think and feel about life.

faith-in-your-steps

The Grandmother/Grandfather Book is not something you will complete in a couple days, even with concentrated effort.  It took me weeks to complete it, but when I was done I felt a great deal of pride in it.  I took photographs of every page because once I handed it to my granddaughter, this work of art was no longer mine.  Everyone I’ve ever known who has received one of these grandparent creations has loved it.  And this is a gift only you can give to them.  Have fun with it!

Barbara Murphy is an independent writer, social worker, and philanthropist. Barbara writes articles for Serving Seniors, Inc. The family and personal stories shared are Barb’s.

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This fall, we are thinking about having a workshop on “How to Create A Grandparent Book” for your grandchild.   We’d like to help walk you through this process.  Let us know if you’d be interested in taking part in such a workshop.   Tell us what you think.

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Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

Fathers Day 2016

FathersDay2016

On Father’s Day, we just naturally pause to remember and to think about all that our Dad has meant to us.  For each of us, that will mean something different.  Some of us will actually spend the day with Dad, making him his favorite dessert, pampering him a little, giving him a small gift…because God knows he doesn’t need anything or have space for one more thing.  That sounds like the “ideal” Father’s Day, and for those who will do that, I hope you understand and fully appreciate that the time we have with one another is fleeting.

Mark Slouka writes:  “I lost my father this past year, and the word feels right because I keep looking for him. As if he were misplaced. As if he could just turn up, like a sock or a set of keys.”

keys

When my dad was still with us, I used to call him every week, just to catch up…to give him my news and see how he was doing.  He lived about three hours away and I could and did make daytrips up to see him regularly.  After his death, I can’t tell you how many times the thought crossed my mind, “Oh, I’ve got to call dad and tell him about this!”  Or just.., “It’s been awhile…got to give dad a call.”   It took my brain the longest time to absorb the fact that he was gone and there would be no more calls.

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I don’t want this to be simply a sad story, however.  Being a spiritual person, I am able to see that people are not truly lost to us.  They do move on to another realm, however, and we have to get used to communicating with them in a different way.  I learned to ‘talk’ to my dad in my head and feel his presence as I did.  Sometimes I even felt I got advice from him, but that may have been because I understood how he thought well enough to know what he would have said to me if he were standing there.
While this works for many things, there is much that is no longer accessible to us once our Dad is not with us in physical form.

David Mitchell, in his book, The Bone Clocks, writes this:

“I’d love to know how Dad saw me when I was 6. I’d love to know a hundred things. When a parent dies, a filing cabinet full of all the fascinating stuff also ceases to exist. I never imagined how hungry I’d be one day to look inside it.”

nightstand

There are endless questions I have for my dad.  Tell me again what was in that secret barbeque recipe you used when you grilled that great chicken.  Yummmmm!  I just can’t seem to get it right when I do it.  What was it like for you?  The war?  Marriage?  Having me and my siblings in your life?  When you had your first job, working in the movie theatre as an usher, how much money did you make?  Did you get to watch the movies for free?  These are examples, and may not even be my actual questions, but you get the idea.  For some reason, we don’t take advantage of the time we have while our parents (or grandparents) are here with us to ask those things we’ll be wondering about once they are not.

LifeofPi

I notice often on Facebook that people talk about those they have lost…saying, “I’d love to have just one more day with him.”  Or, they talk about how much that person is missed.  And while I know that is clearly true and I have much respect for the depth of their feelings, my thoughts are often:  “Maybe you should look around and notice who is still here, who is still in your life at this moment, and go talk with them.”  Too often I see people ignoring those people they still have a chance to spend time with and ask those questions of.  Instead, their mind is consumed with wishing they had done it with someone now gone.   I’ve started saying this to people.  We never know how much time we have with those we love, so let’s go ask them all those things we will wonder about later.   Let’s hear their ideas and their thoughts and their memories of days gone by.

scrapbook

In his book, Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco wrote:

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

This year on Father’s Day, and maybe lots of days on either side of it, spend time with your dad and really talk to him. Ask him questions about his life.  Seek out those little kernels of wisdom harboring in his brain.  Gather the golden nuggets of knowledge he is holding and wants to share with you.  Find out what was most important to him in his life.  Generally, people don’t give us this unless we ask.  So, ask.  It will be time well spent, and you won’t have to look back some day in the future, wishing it had taken place much more often.

thankyoudad

nodaygoesby

Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

Mothers Day 2016

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Mother’s Day…that day in May when we take our eyes off all of life’s many distractions and focus instead on the woman who brought us into this world.  Our mothers gave us life, and from that we have created “a life”.  There are no doubt days when it feels more like a trial than a gift, but the fact remains that each morning when we open our eyes we are given one more day full of promise and potential.  One more day to make our mothers and ourselves proud.  And another fact remains…our mother’s gift to us of life has changed the world.  Indeed, Mother Earth is changed by our very existence.

mother-earth

Here’s an example.  Your mom had a baby…you.  Now, maybe you have kids, and maybe those kids have kids, and none of that would have occurred if it weren’t for that fact that you were born!   Actually, it’s all dependent on your mom having been born, and on her mom having been born, and so on.  It’s as if we are part of a long multi-generational drama.  Every day we add a new page to the story.

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Have you ever heard of the “Butterfly Effect”?  This says that “when a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world”.  It’s an interesting idea, but basically what it means is that small and seemingly insignificant actions or contributions on our part can create a huge impact on the world, often without our knowledge.  It’s about cause and effect, action and reaction.  So, just our being present on the planet has changed our world.  And if you add to that all the actions and contributions of our children and children’s children, the world has evolved in a different way because of our presence.  We acknowledge this with gratitude to our mom on this Mother’s Day.

butteryfly-effect

If one small act can influence everything, let us flap our metaphorical butterfly wings, and send some recognition, some acknowledgment, some love to our mother.  In case she hasn’t told you, Mother’s Day is more important to a mom than her birthday will ever be.   Thank you, Mom!  Thank you so much for everything!

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Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

MEDITATION (Part Two)

rock-sandAnd, now that we have helped you to identify the many benefits of meditation, we can talk more about how to meditate. First and foremost, let’s consider the fact that here is yet another way that you can improve your health and the quality of your life all on your own…without the need of a practitioner or expensive appointments or equipment.

Is meditation difficult?

dog-1It really isn’t! If you are willing to be persistent and give a few minutes to the practice of meditation each day…between 10 and 20 minutes…you will soon find that you miss it when you skip it for a day. Do you feel you can’t find the time in your life to meditate?

baby-sit-1Because meditation involves focusing on one thing, keeping yourself in the present moment, you can do this almost anywhere doing lots of different things. You could be walking in the park, doing the dishes, listening to a guided meditation cd or even a piece of music. Finding what best suits you may take a little time and experimentation. But that can be part of the fun.

HOW DO I MEDITATE?

The goal of meditation is to be firmly affixed to the present moment. This typically means concentrating on your breath – observing each inhalation and exhalation – and without consideration to other thoughts. When a “stray” thought arises, be quick to recognize it, and then turn back to the focus of your attention. And that doesn’t have to be the breath; any single thought, word or phrase will do.

aged-med-1Choose a position that you feel comfortable and relaxed with, whether sitting on a chair, upon cushions on the floor or lying on a mat. If you tend to fall asleep lying on the floor or bed, sit upright. A blanket or rug may be a necessary comfort if meditating in the cooler hours of the day or in cool rooms as your body temperature may drop a little during meditation and you may become chilly. Again, be sure to wear comfortable clothing.

aged-med-2Take a few deep breaths and begin your meditation by becoming aware of your breathing. Focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.

As thoughts come into your mind, as they will do, notice them in a detached way as if you were watching a rather uninteresting movie. Your thoughts will give rise to associated images, feelings and emotions. This does not mean you are doing something wrong in your meditation. Simply observe them briefly, and let them go…then turn your focus back to your breath (or word, phrase, or sound).

aged-med-3Watch every thought come and go, whether it is worry, fear, anxiety or hope, pleasure. Watch your mind like a detached observer and allow your mind to freely unfold and let whatever is there show up.

Studies show that 20 minutes a day is all that’s required to get beneficial results, like stress reduction. But as little as ten minutes a day can yield significant benefits. Indeed, other research has shown that even after 10 intensive days of meditation, people can experience significant improvements in mindfulness and contemplative thoughts, the alleviation of depressive symptoms, and boosts to working memory and sustained attention.

If you need more ideas or even demonstrations as to how to meditate, your computer is a great source of such materials. But by following these simple instructions, and sticking with it, you will discover what works best for you and you’ll begin to feel the benefits as well.

Help yourself to health!

Taking our health and well-being into our own hands gives us the power to change the way things are. The scientific community is finally catching up with what those who have practiced meditation have understood for thousands of years.

rock-sand-2John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. His latest work follows a study he and others published earlier this year showing how so-called mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function.

While hundreds of studies have been conducted on the mental health benefits of meditation, only recently have neuro-imaging and genomics technology used in Denninger’s latest studies allowed scientists to measure physiological changes in greater detail.

“There is a true biological effect,” said Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospitals. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”

WOW!

That truly is amazing! And all the more amazing because of how simple it is for us to access these wonderful benefits. Give meditation a try for at least ten days and let us know how it works for you.

meditate-questions

Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

MEDITATION (Part One)

rock-sandEveryone knows something about meditation.  A few of us are daily practitioners and love it.  Those folks can’t understand why we aren’t all meditating.  Some of us have tried meditation and been unsuccessful, at least in our own mind.  Some of us believe meditation to be something that only those crazy really “out there” people would do.  Everyone has at least heard the word and has some idea as to what that word means.   When we think of meditation, many of us probably see a picture in our mind’s eye that looks something like this.

meditate-1Let’s just say….if meditating requires getting into that position, particularly while sitting on the floor, forget it!  It’s not happening.  Fortunately, this is in no way required.  All that’s needed is a comfortable position in comfortable clothing.  In fact, you can meditate almost anywhere, even while walking or doing the dishes.  But more on that later.  First, there are a couple of important questions to be answered.

What is Meditation and why do it?

Meditation usually refers to a state in which the body is consciously relaxed and the mind is allowed to become calm and focused.  Meditation is both a technique and an experience…an excellent tool that helps us to relax our bodies and minds at a very deep level.  It also has many physical, mental and emotional benefits that recent research has been able to demonstrate.
Why meditate?  Let’s answer that question by taking a closer look at the many benefits of meditation.  Then we can talk about the “how”.

The Research

It has long been understood in a general way that meditation has positive effects for those who practice it.

Meditation has a surprising number of health benefits, including stress reduction, improved attention, better memory, and even increased creativity and feelings of compassion.  Research studies have also shown that meditation can help reverse heart disease, can reduce pain and can enhance the body’s natural immune system, enabling it to better fight disease.  Meditation can promote more positive emotions, the retention of emotional stability, and more mindful behavior (heightened focus during day-to-day living).

How can something as simple as focusing on a single object really produce such dramatic results? With the advent of MRIs and other brain scanning techniques we now have a much greater understanding of what actually happens in our brain when we meditate.   Indeed, as much of the research is showing, meditation causes the brain to undergo physical changes which are beneficial.  Neuroscientists observing MRI scans have learned that meditation strengthens the brain by reinforcing the connections between brain cells.

brain-1If you are interested in learning more about what the research tells us, in a kind of technical way, read the next few paragraphs.  It’s pretty fascinating!  Otherwise, you can skip to the section below the next picture.

In a 2009 research study with the descriptive title, “Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem”, neuroscientists used MRIs to compare the brains of meditators with non-meditators. The structural differences observed led the scientists to speculate that certain benefits, like improved cognitive, emotional, and immune responses, can be tied to this growth and its positive effects on breathing and heart rate (cardiorespiratory control).

The integrity of gray matter, which is a major player in the central nervous system, certainly appears to benefit. Meditation has been linked to larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter, resulting in more positive emotions, the retention of emotional stability, and more mindful behavior.   Meditation has also been shown to have neuroprotective attributes; it can diminish age-related effects on gray matter and reduce cognitive decline.

A study from earlier this year showed that meditators have a different expression of brain metabolites than healthy non-meditators, specifically those metabolites linked to a reduction in anxiety and depression.

Meditation has been associated with decreased activity in default mode network activity and connectivity — those undesirable brain functions responsible for lapses of attention and disorders such as anxiety, ADHD — and even the buildup of beta amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.

But it’s not just the physical and chemical components of the brain that are positively affected by meditation.  Neuroscientists have documented the way meditation  impacts  brain activity itself.  For example, meditation has been linked to dramatic changes in electrical brain activity, namely increased Theta and Alpha EEG activity, which is associated with wakeful and relaxed attention.

brain-before-afterSome of that is a little technical, but clearly it tells a good news story of the many ways that developing a practice of meditation can be a positive benefit in your life.

Watch for MEDITATION, Part Two, coming shortly.

Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300

Mindfulness

live_the_moment

…because it’s really all there is.

Living in the moment…sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?  And yet, if you have really tried to do it for any length of time, you quickly discover it doesn’t take very long for your mind to begin to wander.  You’ll find your thoughts drifting into the past or sailing off into the future.   In fact, the amount of time we actually spend noticing what is happening around us in the here and now, appreciating or even just observing the things present in our environment, is relatively small.

Take five minutes and do a little experiment on how long you are able to keep your attention completely on the present moment.   Was it more difficult than you expected?  Most of us would say, yes.

Oh, and by the way, watching television is not actually “living in the moment”.  It may feel like it’s right here in the now, but it is more accurately a way to pull us away from the present and immerse us in an alternative reality.

Why does it matter, you ask?  So what if my thoughts primarily dwell in the past or the future?  Well, no doubt you’ve heard it said that the present moment is the only one that really exists…where we actually create change…or create anything.  It’s the only moment where we can “act”.
live_in_the_present

One of the best ways to “live in the now” is to develop a practice known as “mindfulness.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn, a nationally recognized expert in the study and practice of mindfulness, defines it this way: “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

dandelion_seeds

So, let’s say that again.  Mindfulness is about paying attention, on purpose, right now, without judgment, to the experiences we are having in this moment, and this moment, and this moment.   In fact, we are never NOT in the present moment – we just lose track of that fact quite often.

So, how does mindfulness benefit us?  Why should we care about this?  Those mindfulness practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring our thinking under greater voluntary control foster general mental well-being, reduces stress, and promotes the development of specific capacities such as calmness, clarity and concentration (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006).

water_droplet

So, mindfulness is about developing ways to keep ourselves in the present for longer and longer periods of time. There are several disciplines and practices that can cultivate mindfulness, such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, but most of the literature has focused on mindfulness that is developed through what is called mindfulness meditation — paying attention, on purpose, without judgment, to the experiences happening in this moment.

There are many of us, perhaps all of us, who have at times felt “trapped” in reliving past problems or “pre-living” future worries.   If we understand that there is considerable evidence that chronic stress is damaging to our health, and that living in these past/future thought patterns can be very stressful, then it’s easy to understand how learning to practice mindfulness promotes health, fosters happiness, and increases appreciation and happiness in our lives.

mindful

Being able to achieve greater calm, clarity and concentration may sound like a rather amazing result from simply paying attention to the present moment, but when you think about it…for the most part our problems and fears do not exist in the present moment.  They result from things that have happened in our past or things we fear will happen in the future.  In this moment, we are simply sitting on the couch with the dog asleep beside us; it’s comfortably warm, and as we breathe in and out, we notice, we are alive.  There are things around us that remind us of people we love, or things we love, and those things give us a sense of comfort.  They have sentimental meaning, and to us they are beautiful.  Even though my knees may hurt in a minute when I get up to move around, right now I’m pretty comfortable.  That’s my moment.  Yours may look a little different, or a lot different, but you get the idea.

So, mindfulness takes practice.  It’s like any other discipline.  At first it takes quite a lot of concentration and may even feel a little exhausting to do it for a prolonged period of time.  So it’s better to build your mindfulness muscles slowly’, a little at a time.  Still, there is no doubt that you’ll begin to feel the benefits of it very soon.

mindful_cat

 

Mindfulness Exercises

Just like with physical exercise, mindfulness is a mental exercise that can feel difficult at first but get easier with time and practice.  Mindfulness exercises allow you to be able to identify, tolerate and reduce difficult, painful and even frightening thoughts, feelings and sensations.  Rather than having the sense that you are being pushed around by your feelings and thoughts, you learn to be able to have some control over them.

head_gears

Here are some mindfulness exercises to help you get started.

Mindful Observation

This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful. It is designed to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when we are rushing around through our day or through our life.

Choose a natural obtreeject from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.leaves

Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at. Just relax into a harmony with the object for as long as your concentration allows.  Try to see it as if you are seeing it for the first time.  Visually explore every aspect of the object. Allow yourself to be consumed by its presence. Allow yourself to connect with its purpose in the natural world.  Try to get in touch with the energy it emits.

 

 

Here’s another one:

Mindful Listening

This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way. Many of our reactions to sound are influenced by our past experiences, but when we listen mindfully, we achieve a neutral, present awareness that lets us hear sound without that filter, and without preconception.

Select a piece of music you have never heard before.  You may have music of your own that you’ve never listened to before, or maybe you could just turn on the radio.  Close your eyes and put on headphones if you have them.  Try not to be drawn into judging the music before hearing it simply by its genre, title or the artist’s name.   Instead, ignore any preconceived ideas you have and just let yourself get lost in the sound and the music for the duration of the song.  Even if it’s not music you would normally like, let go of your dislike just for now and allow yourself to soak in the sound waves, the melody, the rhythm.

The idea is to just listen, to become fully entwined with the sound and the experience of the music, without judgment.

Mindful Appreciation

In this last exercise, all you have to do is notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated. These things can be objects or people – it’s up to you. Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.

The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life.  For example: electricity powers your lights, the postman delivers your mail, your clothes provide you warmth, your nose lets you smell the flowers in the park, your ears let you hear the birds in the tree, but…

  • Have you ever stopped to notice their finer, more intricate details?
  • Have you ever sat down and thought about the relationships between these things and how together they play an interconnected role in the functioning of the earth?

I know, that can sound a little “heavy” and perhaps a little silly, but remember that this is an exercise to build your mindfulness skills.

Mindful Breathing

Here is one last thing you can do to promote mindfulness in your daily life, and it’s perhaps the most simple of all.  You can pay attention to your breath.  Really pay attention.  Notice everything about how it feels as you breathe in and breathe out.  Notice your breath as it travels into your nose, down your throat and fills your lungs….then leaves your body the opposite way.  Concentrate your attention fully on your breath for as long as you can.  Simple.

Health and well-being is our goal for you.  Providing you with ways to achieve that in the most natural and accessible ways is the goal for ourselves.  We welcome your feedback on any of the ideas we present to you.

If you are looking for information on mindfulness, you might be interested in this book by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

jon_kabat-zinn mindfulness

Finding Gratitude through Mindfulness

be_mindful

The very process of mindfulness generates a mindset of gratitude.  As you more fully notice the qualities of the things that make up your life experience, gratitude is a byproduct.   A little “present” in the present.

Serving Seniors: Providing Seniors With Peace of Mind

Whether you’re looking for yourself or your loved one, Serving Seniors can help provide peace of mind knowing you and your family are in good hands. Serving Seniors can be trusted to provide and coordinate services to improve your loved ones quality of life and maintain their independence. Let us help you determine essential services to keep you in your home.

Serving Seniors – Our family helping your family.

Here is a list of some of the services we offer:

  • Independence and Safety
  • Personal Care
  • Meal planning and Preparation
  • Health Encouragement
  • Entertaining
  • Housekeeping
  • Assistance with Self-Administered Medication

Call NOW for your FREE in-home consultation: 315-382-4300