Articles and Information from GA Foods

Celebrate Registered Dietitians and National Nutrition Month with GA Foods!

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Mar 8, 2017 1:46:09 PM

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(Pictured from left to right: Ashleigh Fabian, Registered Dietitian and Joann Pierre, Sr. Registered Dietitian) 

March is National Nutrition Month® (NNM). NNM focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme is "Put Your Best Fork Forward," which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices.

March is also when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates Registered Dietitian Nutrition™(RDN) Day. This year, RDN Day is March 8.

GA Foods’ Registered Dietitians

We are blessed at GA Foods to have a great Registered Dietitian team (a couple of our dietitians are pictured above!). They are highly trained in developing personalized nutritional plans for each and every customer. Our dietitians create meals and menu plans for customers seeking frozen and shelf stable solutions throughout the United States. They ensure the meals meet or exceed the USDA guidelines, and that all meals are low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar.

We asked our dietitian team a few questions about their jobs and nutrition, and are excited to share their responses with you! 

What is your favorite part about your job?

  1. Our favorite part is knowing that we’re impacting the lives of others every single day. And, that we get to work with an amazing team! 
What is a nutrition tip you recommend?
  1. We recommend to stop dieting and make a lifestyle change. Instead of depriving yourself of the foods you love, enjoy foods in moderation.
What is a common mistake you see seniors make with their nutrition?
  1. We see a couple common mistakes among seniors (and others!)
  • Not eating balanced meals (i.e. focusing on a sole food group such as starches and not incorporating protein/veggies)
  • Increased intake of sweets

 Can you provide examples of nutrition fads that aren’t true?

  1. “Low-no carb” diets are a popular fad because they can help people lose weight initially, but it’s not realistic or healthy to eat like that forever. Sugar is our body's main energy source, so we eventually return to eating carbohydrates. When people start eating carbs again, they gain the weight they’ve lost and usually more because their bodies are storing the energy source. It just becomes a cycle, and that’s why our best advice is to stay away from dieting and make a lifestyle change. We recommend to eat foods that are good for your body such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Are certain foods more likely to cause health problems?  Please explain.
  1. Processed junk foods contribute greatly to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases. These foods are addicting, and they don’t provide the nutrients your body needs. They are usually high in sugar, saturated fats, and calories, and they cause inflammation. 
  2. Our advice is simple: more whole foods, less processed. If you are going to eat processed foods, check the labels to make sure you are getting foods with low sugar, sodium, fat, and cholesterol.

National Nutrition Month 

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the purpose of NNM is to increase the public's awareness of the importance of good nutrition. Over the course of the next few weeks, our blog will focus on health education and eating tips as part of NNM.  

For more information on National Nutrition Month®, click here

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Topics: Nutrition, National Nutrition Month, Registered Dietitians, Best Fork Foward NNM

Can Home-Delivered Meals Improve Your HCAHPS Score?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Hospital-Post-Discharge-Meals.jpgThe Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the survey used to measure patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. The survey asks discharged patients 32 questions about their recent hospital stay. Patient perceptions and experiences directly impact your facility’s Medicare reimbursement

Patient satisfaction is a top priority. You can no longer focus only on patient procedures, diagnoses, and outcomes. You must consider how pleasant and comfortable the patients’ hospital stay is.

A positive hospital-patient relationship can instill trust and loyalty, which results in higher HCAHPS scores. A hospital’s reputation in the community may influence consumers, who have choices in their healthcare. It’s estimated that 67 percent of patients select where they want to go for medical care. 

Shifting Priorities

 “The patient experience in healthcare is ultimately the human experience," states Jason Wolf, PhD., president of the Beryl Institute. Research from the Beryl Institute shows: 

  • Patient experience remains a top priority around the world and throughout the continuum of care. 
  • Organizations are investing in providing a great experience for patients.  Currently, 42 percent of healthcare institutions have a chief experience officer role. In 2013, that number was only 22 percent, and the trend is growing. 

In 2013, one of the main goals of hospitals was to reduce noise. The focus has shifted now to making the following top priorities:

  • Service
  • Communication
  • Patient voice
  • Compassion
Hospital employee engagement programs are growing. Engaged employees are a key factor in driving a positive patient experience.  Every interaction with a patient matters. 

Care Transitions

Your transitional care plan can add to the positive experience for your discharged patients. The HCAHPS survey includes questions relating to care transitions:

During my hospital stay, staff took my preferences and those of my family or caregiver into account in deciding what my health care needs would be when I left.

Some things to consider before your patients return home: 

Will your patients have access to nutritious meals at their home? Weight loss and poor nutrition intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This could result in longer, more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse and readmission.

Do patients have family members to assist with grocery shopping and preparing hot meals? Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

When I left the hospital, I had a good understanding of the things I was responsible for in managing my health.

Patients will have a more positive experience of their stay if they feel the hospital still cares about them after they are discharged.

Are they aware of any dietary restrictions they may have?

Does their health plan include a post-discharge home-delivered meal benefit? If it doesn't, many hospitals are now providing meals post hospital discharge. This benefit is another way to boost the patient experience. Post-hospitalization programs that include the management of nutritional status and depression may reduce hospital readmissions. 

Nutrition care is a key component to improving patient outcomes. Malnutrition is one of the greatest contributors to hospitalizations and readmissions. 

Home-delivered meals can help extend a positive experience beyond your facility. Patients who receive home-delivered meals after hospitalization regain their strength and energy faster. Well-nourished post-discharge patients are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Providing post-discharge meals can help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home. 

Download White Paper: Transitional Care: Is Your Model Missing a Key Component? 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Post Discharge

Beyond the Sneaker - Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Silver Sneaker.pngSeniors have many choices when selecting Medicare Advantage health plans. Many plans include supplemental benefits like vision, dental, and fitness plans.

But, what do seniors really want from their health plans? They want benefits that help them maintain their independence and stay in their own homes. For many seniors, preparing meals after a hospitalization may be difficult. Many don’t have families who are nearby.

What do Members Look for in Supplemental Benefits?

In today’s market you need to ensure you’re providing the best member experience – while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

  • Home-delivered meals can reduce hospitalizations by 50 percent.
  • Members who receive home-delivered meals after a hospital stay regain their strength and energy faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Members like having a home-delivered meal benefit. In fact, 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximize member outcomes, while reducing healthcare costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic diseases

Home-delivered meals can help improve patient outcomes after an acute stay. Members with chronic illnesses will appreciate the ease and convenience that home-delivered meals provide.

Home-Delivered Meals Can Improve Star Ratings

Offering home-delivered meals as a benefit may lead to more satisfied members. This benefit may mean better star ratings for your plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will use 2017 star ratings to determine the bonuses it will pay to insurers in 2018.

McKinsey & Co. determined the top three domains that influenced scores. Take a look at how home-delivered meals can help boost your ratings:

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Health plans that added post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits saw a 3:1 return on investment.

Offer your members a benefit that will make your plan standout from the rest!

 Download White Paper - Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post Discharge Meals


    

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior health plans

Volunteer Management

Posted by Ritch Brandon on Feb 1, 2017 11:09:00 AM

Volunteer-Management.jpgVolunteerism is essential to effective day-to-day operations for many non-profit organizations, providing them with assistance and expertise that organizations with limited resources may otherwise be unable to obtain on their own. In other words, the time, labor and skills that volunteers contribute to these organizations help them do more with less, providing them the means to better serve their communities. However, reaping those benefits depends on the ability to attract and retain the volunteers your organization needs. Here we'll outline some key points related to volunteer management that can help in your efforts at doing so.

Who Volunteers and Why?

Attracting volunteers to your organization means marketing your mission and opportunities to the pool of potential volunteers in your area. Effective marketing begins with knowing who your targets – in this case, potential volunteers – are and what motivates them.

Who volunteers? According to figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24.9 percent of Americans volunteered between September 2014 and September 2015. Women volunteered more often than men, with 27.8 percent of women donating their time, as opposed to 21.8 percent of men. Individuals ranging in age from 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 volunteered in larger numbers than those of other age groups, coming in at 28.9 percent and 28.0 percent, respectively. Teens, ages 16 to 19, were more likely to volunteer than young adults between the ages of 20 and 24, with 26.4 percent of teens volunteering as compared to 18.4 percent of young adults. Married people had higher rates of volunteerism (29.9 percent) than individuals who never married (19.9 percent). Other groups with higher volunteer rates included parents with children under the age of 18 (31.3 percent), employed individuals – especially part-time workers – and people with higher levels of education.

Why Do People Volunteer? A study done by Australian researchers sought to answer that question, dividing volunteers into groups according to self-reported motivations. According to study authors, 20 percent of volunteers are primarily motivated by the opportunity to help others, while 15 percent are motivated by three primary factors: personal satisfaction, doing something worthwhile and helping others. 10 percent listed their primary motivations as follows: personal satisfaction, doing something worthwhile, helping others, social contact, to be active and to put skills and experience to use. 21 percent of volunteers were motivated by a family member or friend involved with a particular organization or cause. Finally, 16 percent of volunteers were motivated by feelings of obligation and/or the desire to gain work experience and skills.

Older adults, age 44 and over, are most likely to be motivated by a desire to help others, stay active, do something worthwhile, maintain social contact and use skills they have developed over a lifetime, while young adults are more likely to be motivated towards volunteerism as a means to gain work experience and skills, or by a friend or relative within the chosen organization. Married people with young children are most likely to volunteer for organizations that serve children.

So How Do These Facts Affect Recruitment and Volunteer Management?

First, they can help your volunteer coordinator or committee build individual profiles, or personas, of the type of person that would best suit the volunteer opportunities you have on offer. Doing so avoids a mistake common to many organizations – operating on the assumption that volunteers are similar, regardless of demographic or motivational differences – and helps create a more targeted and efficient recruitment process. Forming an accurate appraisal of the type of volunteers you need also helps in managing volunteers more effectively, increasing your odds of placing recruits in positions suit their personal motivations for donating their time, keeping them more engaged and satisfied for increased volunteer retention.

For instance, for the heath-related non-profit that needs volunteers to fill positions that involve fundraising, management, information technology, and operations, targeting recruitment efforts towards the well-educated middle-aged or older adult population is wise, since this demographic is often motivated by the desire to put their skills and experience to work for their community. If filling community volunteer positions is your goal, such as home visits or daily meal deliveries to seniors, volunteers of or approaching retirement age are often your best bet, since they tend to be motivated by the desire to help others and remain active. They also typically devote more hours to volunteerism than the average person are more likely to remain in volunteer positions long-term.

The basic take-away for non-profits who wish to improve volunteer recruitment and retention is that solid volunteer management must be a priority. Given the potential benefits of an efficient, effective volunteer force to your organization, matching the right person to the right opportunity is just as important in your volunteer work force as it is for paid employees.

Download Volunteer Engagement Tips

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Topics: Volunteers, Volunteerism

Volunteering Trends in 2016

Posted by Ritch Brandon on Jan 16, 2017 11:52:04 AM

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What motivates someone to volunteer?

And what are they volunteering for?

How many hours a month are they donating to favorite organizations?

 

Understanding trends in volunteering in the U.S. may be helpful to your efforts recruiting volunteers for your organization. Here are facts about volunteering that we have found.

Volunteering Statistics 2016

People of all ages volunteer their time.  For 2016, the percentages of the total number of volunteers in America by age were very similar.

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  • 18 to 34-year-old adults made up 28%
  • 35 to 54-year-old adults made up 33%
  • Adults aged 55 and older made up 34%

More women than men volunteer, 28 percent of women volunteer vs. 22 percent of men. Across all age groups and education levels, women volunteer more than men.

 

Family-with-Graduate-Mom.pngMarried people volunteer more than single people. Parents with children under the age of 18 are more likely to volunteer (31 percent) than people without children (26 percent).

Those with higher levels of education are more likely to volunteer. Of people age 25 and older, almost 40 percent of those with bachelor’s degree or higher volunteer.  Twenty-seven percent of employed people volunteer, while 23 percent of the unemployed volunteer. Employed volunteers are more likely to work full-time.

 

Why Do People Volunteer?

Understanding what motivates people to volunteer will help you recruit and keep volunteers.

A report from Verified Volunteers shows that 75 percent of younger volunteers (ages 35 and younger), prefer to use what they’ve learned in school or at work.

Kitchen Production Line_Volunteers.pngThose who are older (55 and over) aren’t as concerned with using their skills. They choose volunteering opportunities that help their communities in the best possible ways. In fact, 80 percent of those interviewed said they just wanted to help their community in any way they could. 

The Verified Volunteers research report shows most volunteers are repeat volunteers. More than 61 percent of volunteers return to assist the organizations they volunteer with. These volunteers give an average of 29 hours of their time each month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most volunteers work for religious organizations (33 percent of all volunteers).  Educational or youth-services ranks second (with 25 percent of volunteers). No matter the type of organization, the main activity of most volunteers is to collect, prepare and distribute food. This is good news for organizations such as Meals on Wheels or local senior centers.

Older volunteers tend to turn to religious organizations, while younger volunteers prefer to help out non-profits and educational services.

Numbers Are Down

From 2015 to 2016, the number of people who volunteered actually dropped. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics say volunteer rates have been steadily declining for more than ten years.

The president of VolunteerMatch believes the volunteering rates are falling because the United States doesn’t invest enough resources in non-profits. He believes that without resources, non-profits do not have the time or money to attract and engage new volunteers.

Volunteering Trends

The most recent U.S. data about the value of volunteers is from 2015:

  • 62.6 million people volunteered
  • 7.9 billion hours of service were provided
  • Volunteers contributed $184 billion of services
  • The estimated value of a volunteer hour in the U.S. reached $23.56. 

While volunteering may be down, people still want to help. And their help is invaluable. As you develop your organization's plan to recruit and retain volunteers, keep the reasons people volunteer in mind. Volunteers want to help in areas where they can do good in their communities. For more help with recruiting and retaining volunteers, download our free tip sheet, The Path to Volunteer Engagement.

Download Volunteer Engagement Tips

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Topics: Volunteering Trends, Volunteers, Volunteerism

Can Home-Delivered Meals Attract Members to Your Health Plan?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jan 6, 2017 9:59:35 AM

Baby Boomers.jpgNo one does their homework before buying better than a baby boomer. Just like buying a car or shopping online, when faced with the decision to select their health plans, research is a top priority.

Before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan, today's seniors are exploring all of their options. They take their time to compare healthcare plans and ask their friends and neighbors for recommendations. 

Today's Seniors Want More
Health plans with dental, vision, and gym membership benefits are more attractive to baby boomers. Boomers know that eating healthy and staying active are ways to prevent chronic health conditions. They are a generation of optimism, exploration, and achievement. Health and wellness, community involvement, and individual choice are key values. And they know eating well can help them to stay active. 

Baby boomers understand the importance of good nutrition. Home-delivered meals can make a benefit package more desirable. Sixty-five percent of boomers say they are living in the best homes of their lives and plan to stay. Their goal is to remain independent in their homes. Ninety-two percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Why Home-Delivered Meals?

Up to 60 percent of older adults may become malnourished during their hospitalization, which can lead to increased readmissions.  Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

  • Adequate nutrient intake through meals help seniors regain their strength faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls of the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • Weight loss can result in a 26 percent increase of the risk for hospital readmissions.   

Meals as a Benefit

Adding a home-delivered meal benefit to your plan will help you attract more members. And healthier members leads to reduced healthcare costs. Check back next week for an article on improving your star ratings! 

Download our eBook for more information.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior health plans

5 New Year's Resolutions Caregivers Should Not Make

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Dec 29, 2016 2:00:00 PM

 

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  1. The New Year provides an opportunity for new beginnings! The secret of making resolutions is to keep them reasonable. Don't place unreachable goals on yourself. Think of things you can do to change for the better and to make your life easier.

    Resolve for 2017 to take better care of you! To keep more balance in your life, here are five things you shouldn’t do:

    1. Over Schedule Your Time. 

  2. It’s important to not let others take advantage of your time and kindness. Schedule time to enjoy hobbies and pursue your interests. Consider finding a reliable person a few hours a week to provide respite care, giving you some free time. Professional respite care is also available for longer periods of time. Providing companionship for your loved one will give you a break, making you a better caregiver.

    2. Neglect Your Friends.

  3. Caregivers need to maintain a network of support and friendship. Friends can offer words of encouragement, and provide a sympathetic ear. They may also gain wisdom from your caregiver experiences. Activities with friends such as taking a walk, meeting for coffee, or just talking can provide a fresh perspective.

    3. View Everything As A Chore. 

  4. Caregiving will become less of a burden and more about spending time together if you connect with your loved one. Ask them about their life experiences, including the joys and the struggles. Sharing memories and family history will strengthen your connection and enrich your life.

    4. Do Everything Yourself. 

  5. Review what tasks you can outsource or delegate. Hire a cleaning or yard service to provide more free time. If you spend a lot of time preparing meals for your care recipient, consider home-delivered meals. There are local agencies (check Eldercare.gov) that offer home-delivered meals targeted for seniors. Many Medicaid and Medicare health plans cover the expense of home-delivered meals.

    5. Forget to Reward Yourself.  

  6. Being a devoted caregiver doesn't mean forgetting about your needs. Eating well and getting enough sleep aren’t luxuries! Besides staying healthy, it’s necessary to feel good about yourself. Visit your hair stylist, manicurist, or spa to look and feel your best. A well-deserved treat makes for a happier you!

    Congratulate yourself on all the things you do each day! 

  7. Wishing you a Happy New Year from the GA Foods family.

    Want to learn more about caregivers? Download our free infographic.

Profile of a Caregiver

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors

The Importance of Traditions

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Dec 21, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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Traditions are an important part of the holidays. They bring families together and create lasting memories. Whether it is baking cookies, caroling, or participating in activities, traditions connect multiple generations and contribute to a sense of comfort and belonging.

At GA Foods, we love holiday traditions! A few weeks before the holidays, we put up decorations in our front lobby, and we have a tree lighting ceremony with hot cocoa and treats. It is nice to take a break from the work day, de-stress, and spend time with co-workers. We asked our team to share their holiday traditions, and we’re honored to share them with you! 

  • Every year on Christmas Eve, my kids and I take a ride around town to see all the lights. I now have grandkids so we’re keeping this going for them. On Christmas day, we go to the local shelter to help feed Christmas dinner to the homeless. It‘s always a great experience and even though my kids always complain, they really end up enjoying it.   Tonya McArthur, Office Coordinator
  • My family and I get together every year on Christmas Eve to make cookies and go to Largo Park to enjoy the Christmas lights.   Karen Borders, HDM  Billing Supervisor
  • My family and extended family live all over the country, so every year has always been a little different. But luckily I married into a family where Christmas traditions reign. My husband’s family is Greek and so everyone is a “cousin.” (To be honest, I’m still trying to diagram the family tree to know who belongs to who!) Every year around Christmas time, they have a cousins' brunch where all of the “cousins” get together, present gifts to the little ones, tell stories of brunches past, and enjoy traditional holiday Greek cuisine. It’s fun for me to hear some of the legendary family stories for the first time that they’ve been telling for decades, as well as get a taste of a long-standing holiday tradition.   Beth Ann Valavanis, Senior Vice President | CFO

  • Our holiday tradition is Christmas jammies.  Every year, when I was young, I would beg my parents to open a present from under the tree.  Finally, on Christmas Eve, my mom would pull one present out for me to open. It was always Christmas PJs. It took me many years to figure out that my mom didn’t randomly pick a present for me to open. I have carried this tradition on with my children.  Even though they are both adults, they still get Christmas jammies every Christmas Eve.   Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD, SNS | Senior Marketing Manager

  • My family is Lithuanian, and every Christmas Eve we have a Lithuanian meal called Kūčios. We begin the meal with Oplatki, which is similar to a Communion wafer. Oplatki has a picture of the nativity scene, and it is blessed. We break off a piece to share with everyone and wish Christmas blessings. The table is set with straw and 12 meatless meals (one is cranberry soup!). There are also Christmas ornaments made of white straw that decorate the tree. Towards the end of dinner, everyone pulls straws and whomever gets the longest straw is said to live the longest.    Levinia Clark, RD, LDN | Nutrition Services Manager

  • Every Christmas Eve, my family goes to my Grandparents' house with all my extended family (there are now more than 50 of us!). My Grandparents always buy reindeer food for the grandkids (now the great grandkids) to throw outside on the snow (we’re from Wisconsin) after dinner. While all the grandkids are occupied with feeding the reindeer, Santa always comes and leaves presents in the basement! Now that I’m grown up, I really appreciate having my entire family in the same place, and it’s enjoyable for me to get to experience the excitement of Christmas through my younger cousins.   Jessica Fleigle, Marketing Coordinator

Traditions tell a family story. They honor the family members who are no longer with us. This holiday season, we challenge you to spend less time focusing on cooking holiday meals and buying presents and instead focus on being present. Remember to take time to enjoy the moment and appreciate your loved ones this holiday season. From all of us at GA Foods, we hope you have happy holidays!

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5 Things You Miss with Holiday Stress

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Dec 15, 2016 8:17:40 AM

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Remember the excitement of the holidays as a child? Everything seemed sparkly and magical. As adults, a lot of time, money, and energy is spent trying to recapture that childhood magic. But as the holidays approach, you may begin feeling more like the Grinch than the child inside of you.

Why are so many people overwhelmed and stressed during the holidays? Common causes are unrealistic expectations, too many commitments, and financial pressures. If you are a caregiver, the stress is multiplied. Here are a few special feelings and moments you may miss if you let holiday stress control you:

1. Celebration

Let go of the holiday dreams portrayed by Hallmark movies and Pinterest. You do not have to recreate your grandma’s gingerbread cookies or decorate every room in your house. Instead of spinning your wheels, take the time to celebrate and truly enjoy your family and friends. Focus on a few traditions that make the holidays meaningful to you and your care recipient. Caregiving or caregiver burnout may change your current circumstances, so be open to new ways to celebrate*.

To prevent caregiver burnout download our free eBook, A Caregiver’s Guide to Taking Care of You.

2. Joy

Psychologists report that it is the giver, not the recipient that receives joy from gift giving. Anxiety over finding the perfect gift will rob you of the pleasure from giving. In addition, if gift giving causes financial hardship, it may lead to even more strain. Begin with a gift budget and be disciplined about staying within that budget. Consider donating to a charity or doing a family gift exchange instead of buying something for everyone on your list. If time allows, consider handmade gifts. Recipients will appreciate the time and thought you put into making their gift.

3. Peace

Planning ahead can lead to a stress-free holiday, particularly if you are a caregiver. There are many free holiday planners available online. (This site has fillable forms!) Several holiday tasks can be done ahead of time. Find recipes that can be cooked and frozen. Ask others to help – including your children. Kids love wrapping presents and decorating the tree. Instead of focusing on buying presents and decorating, focus on being present. Enjoy the moment and take time to give thanks. And, to keep peace during the holiday season, don’t set high expectations of yourself and others. Be flexible and willing to change plans, if needed. 

4. Fun

The first rule of fun during the holidays, is do not overschedule. It is ok to say no, especially to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to do the things you enjoy. Visits with family and friends do not need to be limited to holidays only. If you are unable to attend a friend’s party, offer to meet them for brunch in January.

5. Good Health

Stress can affect your health, causing headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, stomach upset, and sleep problems. If you do start to feel anxious or stressed, take a moment for yourself. Spending a few minutes doing something you enjoy may be all it takes to re-energize. Also, many caregivers neglect their own health, so be sure to make healthy choices during the holidays, such as eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.

Take Control

Preventing stress is the key to surviving the holidays. Take control of the holidays, don’t let them control you. If a holiday activity makes you feel overwhelmed, re-consider if it is necessary. This holiday season, focus on making memories and enjoying your family and care recipients.

If you or someone you know has caregiver burnout or is ignoring their own needs, download our free eBook, A Caregiver’s Guide to Taking Care of You.

Download eBook

*Be sure to check out next week's article! We will be sharing favority holiday traditions from GA Foods' employees!

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Topics: Reduce Stress, Caregivers, Stress, Caregiver Burnout

10 Ways to Prepare Aging Adults for Winter Weather

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Dec 8, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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Extreme weather conditions like snow, ice, and heavy rain make the winter months a challenging time, especially for seniors and their caregivers. Winter storms make traveling difficult, and many businesses close temporarily. In order to make winter storms less stressful, we’ve created a list of 10 ways caregivers can prepare aging adults for winter weather. 

Click here to download our winter preparation tip sheet and emergency information checklist.

1. Schedule an appointment to have the heating system inspected. Many people neglect regular maintenance checks on their heating and air-conditioning systems. If the seniors you care for own their home, schedule an annual maintenance appointment to have the heating system inspected. Schedule the appointment before the winter season begins so that all issues can be taken care of while the weather is still warm. Ask the maintenance person to check for insulation leaks and poor ventilation in addition to inspecting the heating system. These small issues can lead to larger problems if they are not properly handled.

2. Purchase extra winter clothing and blankets, if needed. Severe winter storms can cause power outages, which means that those you care for will need to bundle up indoors. Make sure they are equipped with jackets, hats, gloves, and warm socks. It is also a good idea to have blankets in the rooms where those you care for like to spend most of their time. This way blankets are easily available to them wherever they are in house.

3. Stock-up on medications and medical devices. Make sure the aging adults you're caring for have at least a seven-day supply of their medications. Keeping a list of their medications along with the dose, frequency, and contact information for their prescribing doctors and pharmacists is a great resource to have when preparing for winter storms. It is also a good idea to keep back-ups of wheel chair batteries, oxygen, and other medical devices. 

4. Place emergency supplies in an easy-to-access place. Planning for a power outage during winter storms is very important. Have a discussion with the seniors you care for to decide the best place to store emergency supplies, including batteries, a radio, and flashlights. Store the emergency supplies in an easy-to-access and central location in the house. Also, stock up on extra toiletries like toilet paper, toothpaste, and hand soap.

5. Keep an extra supply of shelf-stable meals handy. Ensure the pantry is well stocked with canned items and other foods with long shelf lives that do not require refrigeration. Consider signing the seniors you're caring for up for a home-delivered meals program. Meal providers, such as GA Foods, deliver shelf-stable meals to the home...even during bad weather!

6. Winterize all vehicles. It is best to avoid driving during storms. However, if the aging adult in your care must travel, make sure their car is winterized. Take their car to the mechanic to have it inspected. Check the antifreeze levels, make sure the heater and defroster are working properly, put winter tires on the car, and store an emergency kit containing a windshield scraper, hats, mittens, a blanket, jumper cables, food, water, and a shovel, in the back seat.

7. Educate your members on heating their home and potential fire hazards. Make sure the people you are caring for feel comfortable operating their heating system. If they struggle to remember the steps, write down instructions on a sheet of paper and tape it on the wall near the thermostat. If they tend to be extra chilly during the winter months teach them how to use their space heaters and fireplaces, if they have them. Find a good place to put the space heater so that it is not near any curtains or other objects that could be a potential fire hazard.

8. Create an emergency contact list. Winter storms and severe weather conditions can lead to road closures and fallen trees and power lines, making it difficult to check in on the seniors in your care. Get to know their neighbors. Make a contact information sheet with friends and family who live close by, as well as neighbors. You may also consider giving a few trusted friends or neighbors a key to their home to check in on them in the event that you cannot.

9. Plan for the animals. If the seniors you're caring for have animals, make sure they have enough food and medications for their pets as well. Research volunteer organizations close by; some cities have volunteer organizations that help seniors take care of their animals.

10. Store road salt in the garage. Black ice lingers long after winter storms pass. Regularly check to make sure the driveway and sidewalks around the senior's home have been salted, especially if they walk outside to get their mail, so they don't slip and fall. 

Winter storms can happen without warning. Be prepared and eliminate unnecessary stress by downloading our prepartion tip sheet, contact and medication information chart, and winter weather supplies checklist. 

Prepare for Winter Weather

 

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Topics: Senior Health

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