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Winter woes: Dry eye is more prevalent in winter weather

Our wardrobes aren't the only things that change when the weather turns chilly. Our bodies are often affected not only by the outdoor changes, but inside changes as well. The body part that receives most of the brunt from winter weather is our eyes.

Between the harsh winter winds and the dry heat radiating inside, our eyes can suddenly feel irritated and scratchy this time of year. In fact, exposure to these atmospheres can cause moisture to evaporate inside our eyes. As a result, our tear glands cannot adequately produce the fluid needed to maintain the eyes' protective, liquid coating. The result is itchy, dry eyes that can cause pain, blurred vision, a burning sensation or even watery vision as our eyes try to compensate for the dryness.

While it is difficult to avoid dry eyes altogether during the winter months, there are several steps that you can take to ensure your eyes stay soothed while indoors this season.

Help for the home

During the frigid winter months, a home's humidity level can easily dip below the 30-55 percent range required for our eyes to stay lubricated. Offset this dry air by using a humidifier in your home. An alternative is leaving off the exhaust in your bathroom while you shower.

Also, refrain from using a ceiling fan while sleeping at night, as drafts can also exacerbate symptoms. To keep this culprit in check, light a match in the room you are in to find where the draft is located.

Fill up on fluids

Even mild dehydration can negatively affect how dry your eyes feel, as cold temperatures can dampen the body's thirst mechanism and artificial heat hastens tear evaporation. Keep eyes hydrated by sipping water throughout the day. Also, increase your intake of fluid-rich foods like soup, fruits and veggies. Adding a cup of hot tea or water with lemon can not only keep you cozy on a chilly day, but ensure proper hydration as well.

Nourish your body

Many clinical studies show omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered essential fatty acids, may protect adult eyes from dry eye syndrome. Omega-3s support healthy tear production and keep eyes moisturized. In addition to omega-3s, other ingredients like Vitamin A, D3, green tea and evening primrose oil can significantly accelerate the time it takes to feel relief. A formula like EyePromise EZ Tears, which contains nine soothing ingredients to target symptoms from the inside, offers rapid results with the dietary ingredients mentioned.

Watery eye help

In cold and windy conditions, many complain their eyes water more than normal. Typically the symptoms of watery eye are excessive tearing, which is made worse by being outdoors. Wearing spectacles will provide protection against the wind, even if you don't usually wear them outdoors. In some cases, excessive watering of the eyes may be a sign of a blockage of tear ducts or infection of the eye.

If you are concerned about the health of your eyes - whether tear production is suboptimal or you suffer from watery eyes, visit your eye care professional.

winter-day 

Skill Swap: How Grandparents and Kids Can Learn From Each Other

grandparent-kid-teach-learn-stories-family-history-skillKnown for their wisdom and patience, grandparents pass down skills, knowledge and stories to both their children and grandchildren. Conversely, grandparents can also learn from their grandkids, especially when it comes to technology. Traditional skills and new trades and tools alike, both grandparents and grandchildren have a talent to bring to the table.

Whether they live in the same city or must rely on technology to communicate, grandparents, grandchildren and even parents can come together to learn from each other. In honor of Grandparents Day and celebrating family all year round, Intel offers some suggestions on activities for a grandparent-grandchild skill swap:

Savvy skills from grandchildren

Capturing memories. Grandparents are all about capturing memorable moments in photo form. While they most likely know how to use a point and shoot camera, the may not have mastered the art of a tablet or smartphone camera. Grandkids are experts when it comes to technology and will love spending time teaching grandma and grandpa how to take pictures, edit and create digital albums with them.

Friendly competing. Many grandparents love playing cards and board games. Some even join clubs where they get together with friends to play games like Bingo and Bridge. Grandparents may also enjoy the digital games that their grandchildren are always playing. Then, even when families are miles apart, they can still enjoy a little friendly competition through group or one-on-one digital games.

Reading redefined. Grandparents grew up in a world of hard copy newspapers, magazines and books and aren't always familiar with today's e-books and digital reading platforms. Grandkids can help Grandma and Grandpa set up a digital library on their tablet, All-in-One PC, 2 in 1 or smartphone and download a few of their favorite books, magazines or newspapers.

Passed down pastimes from grandparents

Real home cooking. Make sure your secret family recipes are kept within the family. Grandkids can create a digital archive of grandma and grandpa's recipes on their tablet, PC, 2 in 1 or smartphone while grandparents teach them how to create the delicious feast from scratch.

Spotlight storytelling. Grandparents can spread their family history and make their life story last for generations when they share it with their grandchildren, interview style. As they talk about their childhood, school, career and more, the kids can take notes on their device or record the story, pairing anecdotes with photos to eventually create a digital memory book. The whole family will be able to look back and enjoy these memories for years to come.

Learning lost arts. There are certain skills learned in the grandparents' generation that some would consider "lost arts" today. Boy Scouts, etiquette class and home economics are not as common as they used to be. Grandparents can spend time teaching their grandkids these valuable skills, such as tying their favorite knots learned in scouts, sewing a button or a patch on a pair of pants, table manners and the art of writing a well-crafted thank you card. Grandkids can take notes as they learn to help them remember in the future.

Family time is precious. Take advantage of these ideas to broaden your horizons as both a grandparent and a grandchild. For more ideas and inspiration on family skill swapping, visit http://intel.ly/1LJdO9h.

Seniors Are Often in Denial About Hearing Loss: Are You One of Them?

Excuse me, can you say that again?” If this sounds typical, you’re not alone. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. with more than 40 million people suffering from it to some degree. Despite all this, only 30 percent of Americans with hearing loss (most of whom are seniors) seek treatment.

To find out why, the manufacturer of Siemens hearing aids polled several hundred seniors at a national conference. Despite most of them admitting to having hearing loss, the survey found seniors are quite passive about their hearing health. About one third of respondents admitted to having their hearing checked only once or twice in their entire life. When visiting their doctor, hearing was the least likely routine health check received — tied with a colonoscopy.

Seniors struggle with perceptions

Seniors completely overestimate how others will react to them wearing hearing aids, according to the data. The majority (51-67 percent) said they don’t wear hearing aids because they fear others will perceive them as “old, feeble or kind of dorky.” Some worry that wearing hearing aids will make them stand out in a crowd in a negative way. Ironically, the vast majority of seniors are not judgmental of another person wearing hearing aids.

Many respondents are also in denial over the social repercussions of their hearing loss. One in four said they don’t want to interact with someone who continuously asks them to repeat themselves, citing that person as “annoying.” Yet, when the situation is reversed, most seniors think it’s perfectly acceptable if they are the ones doing the repeating.

“What I find so interesting is seniors’ perceptions of what makes them look old,” says Emmalyn Loeffler, Au.D., manager of audiology for Sivantos, Inc. “While only one in seven seniors with hearing loss wears hearing aids, 50 percent of seniors admitted to having procedures more commonly associated with vanity, such as getting Botox injections.”

Outdated views of hearing aids

Another common concern among seniors is the perception of hearing aids themselves. Many still view hearing aids as

large, clunky devices that simply amplify sound. According to Dr. Loeffler, this is no longer the case.

“We refer to today’s hearing aids as ‘smart’ because they automatically adapt to your environment, learn your preferences, and intelligently focus on sounds you really want to hear. Most people can’t even tell you’re wearing them and some are even invisible when worn,” she says.  

Survey respondents were asked what new features and capabilities they would like to see added to hearing aids, and their answers reflected today’s technology-driven society:

  • 73 percent would like rechargeable batteries
  • 63 percent suggested adding wireless connectivity
  • 54 percent want hearing aids to be water and dirt-proof for outdoor use
  • 51 percent would like to control their hearing aids via a smartphone app

Many benefits to treating hearing loss

According to Dr. Loeffler, seniors who regularly have their hearing tested and are proactive in trying to address hearing loss are better able to maintain active social lives, extend their careers, and receive diagnoses of potentially more serious medical conditions early. Moreover, leaving hearing loss untreated makes it difficult to understand and follow a doctor's advice, respond to notifications and alerts (e.g., doorbells, car horns), or enjoy conversations with friends and family. All of these outcomes are frustrating and embarrassing, and some could be dangerous. Rather than ignoring hearing problems, Dr. Loeffler recommends the following:

  1. Be proactive about getting your hearing checked. Ask your doctor to test your hearing during your yearly checkup to be sure there are no changes. Medicare guidelines will cover diagnostic hearing exams if your physician suspects a problem, so if you are Medicare-eligible, your exam should be covered.
  2. Baby boomers and seniors are concerned about staying and looking young. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to wear hearing aids to treat hearing loss. Remember, hearing aids don’t make you look old. Not wearing hearing aids when they’re needed does.
  3. Stay socially active. A simple and painless hearing test can help avoid the irritation that arises from asking others to repeat themselves when you can’t hear. This will benefit you socially and in your career, if you’re still working.

4 Times to Ask for Help with Health Insurance Hurdles

Millions of people each year find themselves in transition with their health care coverage.

"The world of choosing health care coverage is becoming very complicated, especially for people making life transitions," says Tricia Blazier, personal health and financial planning director for Allsup. "Many people may not realize the true alternatives and options they have available, mainly because it's unfamiliar territory."

Cost is a top concern, according to a Healthline survey of 490 U.S. consumers, more than half of survey respondents, or 50.8 percent, said they would rather avoid seeking medical treatment than face the high costs or coverage limits with their health plans.

People often are unfamiliar with their plan's terms, costs and provisions. It's especially complicated when trying to make decisions about transitions between coverage, such as leaving employer coverage for COBRA or an exchange plan, or choosing Medicare alternatives.

Following are four reasons to consider seeking help with the health benefits coordination process:

Protect your spouse and dependents. Benefits coordination refers to matching your families' needs with the health plans available to them. One example is a retiree who is leaving work-provided health coverage for Medicare coverage. "If your husband or wife was using your retiree health plan, then they may be able to purchase a Marketplace exchange plan for less cost while you join Medicare."

Avoid gaps in health insurance coverage. Transitions between health coverage, such as leaving an employer for disability or retiring, can be complicated to navigate. As individuals move to federal insurance programs, such as Medicare, there are program rules and processes that can add to the confusion. "You want to make sure you understand how timing works as you transition from group health to another form of healthcare coverage," Blazier says.

Avoid penalties or unanticipated extra costs. Penalties are particularly important with certain types of health insurance coverage. For example, Medicare has penalties that apply to Part B and Part D coverage when individuals miss those enrollment windows. Another example is the coordination when moving to Medicare from a high-risk deductible health plan (HDHP) and a health savings account (HSA). "These are more complicated pieces of the puzzle when you are transitioning between types of health coverage, so it's important to talk to a health benefits specialist," Blazier says.

 Discover more options and better alternatives. While working, many people defaulted to a choice of health insurance plan from their employer. Transitioning to other coverage can open up new opportunities. "It's possible that you, your spouse and your children will each have a different type of health care coverage because it's available and it makes financial sense," Blazier says. Specialists in health benefits coordination also can supplement the assistance individuals get through their employer's human resources team.

For all of these reasons, it can be vital to work with a health benefits coordination specialist. Choosing health care benefits is an extremely personal decision, affected by variables such as the person's health and medical needs, financial situation, family situation and place of residence, to name a few. (BPT)

5 Ways Grandparents Can Stay in Touch with Family Anywhere

These days, it’s not uncommon for family members to live in different cities, states or even across the country. If your family lives far away, the distance can make it difficult to connect, especially with grandkids. Thankfully there are a number of effective ways to keep in touch with the ones you love.

Here are five things you can do to stay connected with your children and grandchildren, no matter where you are:

           Face to face from place to place. If you have a computer and a webcam, you can either video chat and/or video message. There are a number of free services that allow you to virtually connect with your friends and family face to face, from anywhere. Check to make sure your computer and your family’s computers have this capability, and then put it to use. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to say hello and see everyone’s smiling faces digitally, if you can’t do it in person!

       Stay in touch on the go. When it comes to connecting with loved ones near or far, you need reliable, affordable cell service. Relish in those special family moments with TracFone. With plans on America’s two largest and most dependable networks, TracFone gives grandparents, families and friends an affordable way to stay in touch through photos, videos, texts, email, social media and of course, a phone call. Stay connected with great, easy-to-use phones.

        Get social with your media. Social media isn’t just for the younger generation. Grandparents across the country are using sites like Facebook and Instagram to connect with friends and family that live far away. The best part is your grandkids are more than likely already using these platforms, so it’s easy for them to connect with you. Aside from communication, these channels are also a great way to stay up to speed on everything your loved ones are up to, so log on and start sharing.

        Write a letter. Although it’s great to hear your grandkids’ voices on a phone call or see them on video chat, there’s still something special and heartfelt about snail mail. Unlike emails that can get deleted, many people keep letters for years on end. Write your grandchildren a heartfelt letter and send it their way – show them that it can be fun to have a pen pal! Chances are they’ll cherish it, and may even send one back.

        Celebrate those special days. You already see or speak with your family during birthdays or holidays, so find other moments in time to keep communication going. Try calling your kids and grandkids on the anniversary of a special trip, or setting up a weekly phone call to hear more about a big event in their life and provide updates of your own. Also find unique holidays to get in touch. What better way to celebrate your day than spending it talking with the ones you love most. 

         Keep the lines of communication open with the suggestions above; even the simplest hello can be just the ticket to brighten someone’s day. To learn more about ways to stay in touch with affordable communication options from TracFone, visit www.TracFoneWireless.com. (BPT)

 

Sacred Heart Villa Provides Backdrop to Short Film

Sacred Heart Villa was chosen as the setting for a short film by Wyomissing’s own Justen Patrick Lander of Terrestrial Films, award winning director, writer, cinematographer, and editor.  The film, American Standard, features Bruce McClean as Edward Bracket, a nursing home resident nearing the end of his life. All he has left are his memories and a photo album. Edward passes the time each day waiting for his daughter to come and take him to the watch tower on the mountain that he can see outside his window. Then one day, Edward makes a decision to leave on his own.

American Standard, released in 2014, was selected for the 2015 Chicago International Arthouse New Hope festivals, the inaugural 2015 Reading Filmfest, and the 2016 Tiburon International Film Festival.

For more information, or to order a DVD, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

10 Ways to Save Water (and Money)

Water efficiency is the smart use of our water resources through water-saving technologies and simple steps we can all take around the house. Using water efficiently will help ensure reliable water supplies today and for future generations.

 

The average family spends $1,100 per year in water costs, but can save $350 from retrofitting withWaterSenselabeled fixturesandENERGY STAR®qualified appliances. Also, when we use water more efficiently, we reduce the need for costly investments in water treatment and delivery systems.

It takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use every day. In addition, heating water for bathing, shaving, cooking, and cleaning also requires a lot of energy. Homes with electric water heaters, for example, spend one-quarter of their electric bill just to heat water.

 

With climate change concerns, pervasive droughts, and high energy prices across the country, nearly everyone is looking for ways to conserve resources and cut costs. The good news is that by using a little "water sense" we can all save water, energy, and money.

 

Here are some tips for conserving water:

 

Inside:

  1. Shorten your showers. Close the drain to see how much water you use and adjust accordingly.
  2.  Match dishwasher and laundry machine settings to the size of the load being washed. Eliminate pre-wash or extra rinsing, if possible.
  3. Check all facets, pipes for leaks or unnecessary running.
  4.  Recycle excess indoor water for outside plants, flowers and gardens.
  5. Dispose of tissues, insects and other waste in the trash rather than the toilet to avoid unnecessary toilet flushing. 

Outside:

  1.  Sweep off sidewalks, patios and decks with a broom or scrub with just a bucket of water instead off washing it off.
  2. Strategically plan landscaping and plants to maximizeabsorptionand drainage. Be sure that plants are native to the area and flourish without the need of additional water.
  3.  Water lawns, plants and gardens in the early morning to reduce the loss of water from evaporation.
  4.  Mulch flower beds to help retain moisture in the soil.
  5.  Raise the lawn mower to keep the grass three inches high. This encourages grass roots to grow deeper and holdsoil moisture better. 

About Sacred Heart Villa

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms and officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.  The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day, and is open to the public. 

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit http://sacredheartvillapa.org. or visit us at http://www.sacredheartvillapa.org/.