Family Files Facts for All Ages Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Parenting Newlyweds - Tips for the Transition Fri, 16 Mar 2018 09:58:00 +0000 The day you plan, dream and somewhat dread has arrived…..your child is getting married! It happened to me just last week-end. Every detail in place, my husband walked our daughter down the aisle to begin her new life as a Mrs. First of all, how in the world did I get this old? I mean, just yesterday I was changing her diaper and looking for her retainer in the trash can.

The day was beautiful and so was she. It was perfect and a fabulous time was had by all. I found myself just standing back taking it all in and at times felt like I was in a movie…watching it all happen. Surely this is not real….but as she danced with her father the tears rolled down my face and it became clear.

Now a new chapter of parenting begins. This shift in our relationship that has been developing since she left for college. I feel we have navigated this transition well and it must be due to the fact that she is an independent, capable, and strong-willed young woman. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to develop a great relationship with the independent, capable, and strong-willed young man she married. Do you see a pattern here? Together, these two make a pretty formidable team and I believe they will accomplish anything they set out to do.

I believe what has worked for our relationship has been a willingness to step back, guide and provide a soft place to land when needed. I like to think we are close and communicate well with one another. I truly think that this approach will continue to serve us well and maintain the strong bond we have with both my daughter and her husband.

That being said….I still went to Google and typed "relationships with your married children" to see what the experts say…because that is what you do, right?

Here are just a few of those helpful tips:

  • Only give advice if they ask for it and remember it is just a suggestion…they can accept it or reject it. Don't take it personally.
  • Help out financially when asked directly. When tough times come they may or may not ask you for help. Decide ahead of time with your spouse/partner how you will deal with it if it arises.
  • Avoid putting your values and standards upon them….let them establish their own traditions.
  • Give them privacy and try not to ask too many probing questions. Please, please, please… do not ask them "When are you having kids?"
  • Respect and do not belittle their decisions. If they make mistakes ditch the "I-told-you-so" attitude. Sometimes the best lessons come from working through the mess.

Remember to continually cultivate and nurture the relationship with your married child and their spouse….but most importantly….love them through it all.



It is Brain Health Awareness Week - March 12-18 Sun, 11 Mar 2018 06:00:00 +0000

The DANA Alliance for Brain Initiatives celebrates Brain Health Awareness Week every March to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.  To learn more about the Dana Foundation click here.

Here are lifestyle contributors to having a healthier brain. These are things you can work on throughout life.  It is never too early or late to start.

Maintaining a healthy brain is important for long-term brain health. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits not only contributes to your physical well-being, but also is also good for your brain! Health brains benefit from:

Quality Sleep

The importance of enough and good sleep for a healthy brain cannot be understated! Sleep affects both mental and physical health, helps you focus better, and even solidifies memories. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Consider the following to help you sleep better:

  • Keeping a sleep schedule, going to bed and waking at the same times daily
  • Sleeping a dark, quiet, comfortable environment
  • Exercising daily, but avoiding doing so within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Limiting the use of electronics before bed
  • Relaxing before bedtime with a warm bath or a good book

Heart Healthy Diet

Adopting a heart healthy diet not only benefits your heart, but also your brain. Food influences energy levels, mood, memory, and more and more studies are demonstrating the importance of certain nutrients for brain health. A diet including lean meat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and limited sodium and sugar are beneficial. Staying hydrated is also important, so ensure that you are drinking enough water on a daily basis.

Regular Exercise

Researchers are consistently reporting that what is good for our bodies is also good for our brains. As we age, our brains, much like our bodies, tend to slow down – including slower reaction times, increased difficulty learning new information, as well as problems with multi-tasking. Regular aerobic activity can improve your reaction time, provide better concentration, and increase your ability to focus on tasks. Aim to be aerobically active 30 minutes or more three times a week and have fun with it! Gardening, biking, swimming, or simply walking are excellent activities to get you moving!

Stress Management

While we cannot escape the stressors that come with life, stress is bad for your body AND your mind! When you are under stress, your brain releases the hormone cortisol. Small doses of cortisol are not harmful and are actually beneficial, but too much cortisol can have a negative impact on your brain. While it may not be possible to eliminate stress from your life, it is possible to reduce the harmful effects of too much cortisol and train your brain to handle stress more effectively. Regularly engaging in activities that you find relaxing is key. Practicing mindfulness techniques, listening to music, laughing regularly – including adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help you reduce the impact of stress on your brain!

Social and Emotional Support

Connecting with others and having emotional support enhances the function of your brain. Research has shown that both formal and informal interactions with others can stimulate and exercise the brain as much as doing puzzles. Socializing, having conversations, laughing and sharing is mentally beneficial. Maintaining social ties through participation in social activities like card playing, traveling, volunteering, or taking a class are ways to stay socially connected. Even activities like going to the movies with friends, attending church or social/civic clubs, or even going out to dinner can help you stay engaged with others and are good examples of brain exercise.

Challenging Activities

Challenging your brain with newness, novelty, and increasing difficulty is one of several things you can do to contribute to your own brain health. Brain exercise is more than just paper/pencil activities like crosswords, Sudoku, or find-a-word puzzles. Anytime you are learning something new like a new language, a dance move, or playing an instrument your brain gets a workout! Pick intellectually challenging activities that are of interest to you to increase the likelihood that you will stay with it. Once you have become very good at a chosen activity, take it up a notch to make it more challenging. As an example, if you are an excellent knitter and can make a blanket in no time at all, try learning a new stitch or pattern or making something more difficult like a sweater.

For a print out of this information click here.

Brain Foods - A heart healthy diet = a brain healthy diet Thu, 08 Mar 2018 09:59:00 +0000

Many of the risk factors for age-related memory impairment are the same risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. A brain healthy or heart healthy diet will help promote blood flow to the brain.

According to

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Drink skim or 1% milk
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains
  • Vary your protein choices by including beans and fish/seafood twice a week
  • Drink 6-8 cups fluid each day
  • Include foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids

Antioxidants — Protect cells from free radical damage, helping protect against Alzheimer's, stroke, cancer and much more.

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Grapes
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dried beans
  • Nuts
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meat

Omega-3 Fatty Acids — Help transport nutrients in and out of brain cells.

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Albacore tuna
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Shrimp
  • Flax
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts
  • Edamame
  • Specialty eggs

Limit or avoid fried, greasy foods, sugary drinks and snacks, and salty processed foods.

A special thanks to our Nutrition and Wellness Educator Jenna Smith for this information

Click here for Brain Healthy Recipes!

Talking with Your Teen about School Violence Thu, 01 Mar 2018 11:30:00 +0000

The primary topic in the media currently, is the mass shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. This has certainly brought about dialogue about gun control, mental health, and student safety in schools. Despite what has happened recently, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that school-related violence is actually lower than in previous years and statistically, school is the safest place for children to be. But it can be hard to believe statistics when you have an incident like the one in Florida – and at Sandy Hook and at Columbine. Our children need to talk about these incidences and other school violence – so what is the best way to talk with them about it? University of Minnesota Extension has a great fact sheet that is part of the "Teen Talk: A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers" series, that gives these great tips:

  • It is okay to express fear at what has happened and compassion for the students and families who have survived these horrors.
  • Explain that there is a difference between being different from other students and having severe problems that lead to extreme violence.
  • Express to your teen how important it is to let you or another adult know if s/he hears another child threatening violence towards himself or others.
  • Talk about what it might feel like to be an outcast at school and find out if your teen is having trouble fitting in.
  • Teens are aware of social issues so talk with them about bigger issues, like gun control and what they can do to help keep their school safe.
  • Talk with your kids about solving problems constructively. Help them to find appropriate solutions to problems without using violence.

The fact sheet also covers how schools can help kids stay safe and what is known about the teens that commit these types of crimes. Students who are potentially violent tend to exhibit more than one of the following:

  • Inability to recognize their own anger and redirect it so it does not lead to violent behavior.
  • Difficulty recognizing others' feelings.
  • Feeling no remorse.
  • Believing that the only solution is to take matters into their own hands.
  • No positive role models.
  • Feeling unloved at home and unaccepted at school.
  • Experienced either physical or psychological abuse, or neglect.
  • Inability to see their future.

Additional warning signs in teens include:

  • Name calling, abusive language, and threats of violence.
  • Preoccupation with weapons or violence.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Problems with drugs or alcohol.
  • Discipline problems at school such as truancy or expulsion.
  • Few or no close friends, feeling like an outcast at school.
  • Bullied or bullies others.
  • Preference for movies, TV, music, video games, reading, or clothes with violent themes.
  • Expressions of anger, frustration, or violence in writing or drawings.
  • Suicide threats or attempts.
  • Depression or mood swings.

To view the entire fact sheet and to find other resources regarding the prevention of school violence, check out this link

Be an Intentional Family Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:35:00 +0000

Most of us say that family is most important to us and that we put them first – but do we? 99% of families have at least one television and a 2012 Nielsen report stated that the average American watches 34 hours of live television per week – along with four to six hours of taped programming. Children engage in six to nine hours of media (TV, phone, computer, video games, etc) every day! By the time you consider school, work, sports, band and scholastic events, and youth groups, it is hard to figure out how to spend time with family members. But spending time together as a family is important. Research has found that children are better off in terms of academic and emotional well-being from time spent with parents. Family routines and rituals experienced in childhood also set the course for how one will organize their own family life in adulthood. Quality time with parents is important for children's growth and development and it helps children to develop in a positive way as they grow.

Sometimes you need to purposefully plan family activities – or be an intentional family.

  • Schedule "My Calendar Day" for each family member. On a specific day of the week, one family member gets to pick the dinner menu, select the TV show or activity to do.
  • Have a Sunday sundae.
  • Establish family rituals. The more rituals a family has, the better members will work as a team and become stronger as a family.
  • Have a family getaway.
  • Have lunch at school together.
  • Outdoor activities are especially important – make sure to "unplug."
  • Choose a weekly or monthly Family Night In, where you intentionally spend quality time together.
Adult Day Settings: Splendid for Individuals and Caregivers Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:56:00 +0000 Let us start with the name "adult day care." Well, that title could turn people off from the start, but do not let it. I realize that a stigma can come with the name of a service, and, to be honest, I never really cared for the term "senior center" either, but that is an article for another day. Whether you are familiar or not with adult day care centers, we are quite lucky to have a few here in our area. Today I want to share some general information about adult day centers, services that you can expect to find at them and the benefits for both the care receiver and caregiver.

An adult day center could have one focus or they could provide a combination or all three types of care: social adult day care, adult day health care and Alzheimer's/dementia specific daycare. All three have similar goals of providing safe, supervised care during the day while providing personal care, meals, social activities, recreation and, often, transportation. Individual services may differ from location to location, but generally, services you can expect include:

  • Social Adult Day Care – meals, recreation, socialization, outings and some health-related services and case management depending on the type of staffing.
  • Adult Day Health Care – provide the same as social plus therapy (occupational, physical & speech) based on assessed need and treatment plan.
  • Alzheimer's/Dementia Adult Day – a specialized adult day care with trained staff to meet the specific needs of those living with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Social interaction and recreation developed to meet the physical, cognitive and social needs based on abilities.

Why are these services beneficial to care receivers? The first reason is interaction with others. Socialization is so important, and while they love interacting with their caregivers, those being cared for need stimulation. New people, engaging activities, exercise, involvement, and socialization are all beneficial for both cognitive health and physical health. Getting up, getting dressed and going somewhere gives purpose. We all need a purpose in life and sometimes when failing in health, we start to lose a sense of purpose.

While at the adult day center, our loved ones can benefit from exercise, cognitive stimulation, social interaction, and interaction with peers, education and more. They can be a member of the club; a club where they can make new friends at a time of life people often experience a lot of loss. An adult day center is also a safe place where someone can monitor the individual's health on a regular basis.

Why is this service beneficial to you as a caregiver? Because you need a break! This may be just the thing to help you keep your job and feel secure knowing that your loved one is safe and secure while you are gone during the day. You can utilize the services to run errands or take a nap; it is good for your health. Often, caregivers tell everyone they are fine when in reality they are not. Physical and mental health are often at risk while caregiving. Caregivers often stop taking care of their needs and put the other person first. Burnout interferes with a caregiver's ability to function and is actually a leading cause of nursing home placement for care receivers. Use this time to take care of your own health and your own appointments, go see your friends and socialize. Go do something that brings you pleasure. Most of all, do not feel guilty. Caregiving is hard. With it comes hard emotions and hard decisions. In addition to the respite from caregiving, adult day centers often offer services to help caregivers as well; these include connecting caregivers to resources in the community and offering support groups.

In order to keep your loved one home longer, utilize the services in your community to make the caregiving process more manageable. You may get pushback from your loved one or you may not like the idea yourself as new and unfamiliar can be hard at first, but it can also be so positive for all involved. If attending an adult day center does not go smoothly right away, do not give up. I encourage you to try to commit to trying it for at least a month. This way it can become a new routine for all involved before judging whether it is right for you and your loved one.

Many are concerned about cost. However, the cost can vary based on services offered and location. Price drives many decisions in life; however, the cost of adult day services is often about half the cost of in-home care for the same amount of time. The cost is also about half the cost of institutional care when budgeting out care options.

Insurance is not my personal specialty, it is best to check with your local adult day care service provider for the best understanding of financial assistance. To the best of my understanding, Medicare does not cover adult day care. Medicaid dollars may cover part of adult day care and adult day health if they meet the qualifications. VA benefits may provide coverage for adult day health services. Some long-term care policies will also help cover adult day services, check your plan or policy for more details. Check with your tax professional to see if any of the costs associated with your loved one's care can be deducted from your taxes.

According to the National Institute on Adult Day Care, they recommend that you choose a center that:

  • Assesses abilities and needs before admission
  • Offers services that meet your needs – transportation, health screenings, counseling
  • Provides activities to meet the need of your loved one: active/sensory program or recreational vs rehabilitative needs
  • Is a gateway resource for you to other community services
  • Follows state guidelines and has the appropriately trained staff/volunteers
  • Communicates clear criteria for terminating their services
To find an adult day center, you can call your local Area Agency on Aging. For more information on adult day services, The National Adult Day Services Association is a great national resource.]]>
To Spank or Not to Spank? Tue, 23 Jan 2018 14:30:00 +0000

I recently read an article on Facebook about a famous celebrity who admitted that she spanked her child when necessary. Knowing how the act of spanking as discipline can be a controversial topic, I proceeded to look at the comments left by readers of the article. Sure enough, for every comment like "spanking is abuse" or "you should never strike a child", there was an equal amount of comments such as "I was spanked as a child, and I'm just fine" or "spanking is not beating!" Americans do seem to divided on this issue, and even professionals tend to differ in opinion. Where someone lives, childhood experiences, religious background, and culture can all play into the decision whether to spank a child.

The stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that they do not recommend spanking. They feel that after years of research, they have found that spanking seems to lose its impact after a while, increases aggression and anger, and can lead to physical struggles to the point of harming the child. AAP says that although parents intend to stay calm, they often do not and then regret their actions later. They also add that while many adults who were spanked as children may have grown up as well-adjusted and caring people - that compared with children who were not spanked, these adults are more likely to have issues like depression, increased anger, alcoholism, and commit domestic violence and engage in crimes and other violence.

So what can a frustrated parent of an unruly child do instead?

There are many great resources available on the Web, but some quick tips from the Illinois Early Learning Project include:

  • Ignore or overlook attention-seeking behaviors – especially if they are behaviors that will not harm your child or others. Sometimes whining, bad language or tantrums need to be ignored and not rewarded with our attention.
  • Use consequences related to the misbehavior – taking away toys/items that are being fought over or misused seems to make good sense. Having a child help pick up a mess he made will encourage him to be more careful. Consistency is important.
  • Encourage positive behaviors – give children things they can do instead of always telling them the things they shouldn't do. Arrange their environment to be one that is conducive for what they are allowed to do. Use the "when/then" rule – when the children pick up their toys, then they can watch TV or play their favorite game.
  • Use timeouts wisely – it is better to use a timeout in response to behaviors that could be dangerous or harmful like biting, hitting, etc. Timeouts are for a child to calm down and regain control.

There are many other suggestions for effective discipline out there. A article that is worth looking into is called "Disciplining Your Child" by the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be found online at

Website that are also helpful are Parenting 24/7 found online at and Illinois Early Learning Project

I would imagine that this topic will continue to be a highly debated one and regardless of research, parents will continue to make their own decision to spank or not to spank – based on very personal and emotional factors.