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ud freontAre you thinking of making some changes to your home to make it easier to live in as you age, but just don’t know where to start? Many changes associated with implementing Universal Design features are fairly minor, inexpensive, and require little effort (i.e., changing round door knobs to lever door handles). Other changes, however, are more significant, more expensive, and may require a professional contractor. For example, a colleague of mine shared a story about her sister converting a closet on the main floor into a bathroom with a walk in shower and a laundry room in her 100 year old home in order to be able to remain in her home due to a chronic illness. Regardless of the type of change your home requires, once you make a decision to make modifications to your home, the next two steps are to decide on the extent of change you will make and to identify specific ways in which to implement these changes.

DECIDING ON WHAT HOME MODIFICATIONS TO MAKE

Once you recognize that your home or the home of a loved one is in need of modifications, whether for safety concerns or to enable them to age in place, it is important to carefully consider both the personal abilities and limitations of the person who lives in this home as well as which features in the home require attention.

An “assessment” is a comprehensive review of an individual’s mobility, sensory, environmental, and financial condition. This type of tool can assist in identifying what areas need the most attention and what home modifications might improve someone’s quality of life or make their environment more accessible and comfortable.

An assessment conducted by a professional can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to conduct and usually involves a fee. Individuals can also conduct their own assessments using free downloadable worksheets from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) web site.

LOCATING HOME MODIFICATION OR ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT PRODUCTS

Because working with adaptive equipment and universal design features may not be an area of expertise for the contractor you hire, you may have to find some of the UD shoppingproducts yourself. When shopping for supplies and equipment, make sure to ask for Universal Design products. They may require placing a special order, so be certain to give yourself and your contractor time for delivery. If you can’t find what you want at your local retail store, you can also look online for Universal Design catalogs.

PLAN AND CARRY OUT THE INSTALLATION

  • When you have decided exactly what you want to do, and the size of the job required, assess your own or a family member’s skill to accomplish the job. If you have a modest income, you may be eligible for a home assessment/home modification program in your community or county.
  • Check with your local Area Office on Aging, senior center, independent living center, or Community Action Agency for information on home modification programs available in your community.
  • Contact your Local Community Development Department. Many cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to assist individuals in maintaining and upgrading their homes.
  • Ask local Lenders and Banks about loan options. Some lenders offer Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM’s) that allow homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments.

Are there things that you can do to make your home more accessible? Remember to start by assessing your home, exploring your needs and developing a plan that will allow you to age in place.

SOURCES

Livable Lingo: Our Livability Glossary. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/tool-kits-resources/info-2015/planning-and-policies.html, July 16, 2018.

 

Written by: Kathy Goins, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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trekking

Experts recommend that that one should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. Although physical activity offers many benefits, there are also inherent risks such as developing knee, hip, and joint problems. If you walk on a regular basis, you might consider purchasing a trekking pole or two. Trekking poles are commonly used by hikers and backpackers to support their weight, improve balance, and lesson the stress on knees and joints. You can use one or two, but two will offer you the most benefits in terms of balance and stability.

Consider the many benefits of Trekking poles:

  • The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.
  • Walking poles improve balance and stability.
  • Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
  • Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.
  • Walking with poles may improve your mood.

Tips on purchasing trekking poles:

  • Trekking poles can be purchased fairly cheap at stores that sell sporting goods or camping/ outdoor equipment and range from $15-100 a piece.
  • Most are adjustable for height and for packing, or if you are going up (shorten) and down (lengthen) hills. The poles often come with rubber caps on the end that can grab pavement.
  • Consumers can choose among cork, foam, or rubber grips.  Each type of grip has its advantages and disadvantages, but cork might be most preferable for average walking.
  • Poles that have wrist straps and shock absorbers are best for relieving stress on knees, hips and other joints.
  • Most poles are made from aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are cheaper but are more prone to bending under stress.
  • Poles also have an adjustable locking mechanism, with some that twist to adjust and others that use a lever lock.

Using Trekking poles

Poles should be adjusted so that the elbow is bent to around a 90 degree angle on a flat surface. Wrist straps should be used to ensure balance and stability. There are several YouTube videos that provide instruction on use. For some activities and styles (hikes with rock climbing), Trekking poles may not be the best option.

References:

Physical Activity Basics. Then Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on 6/12/18 at https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

Could walking poles help me get more out of my daily walk? Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness. Accessed on 6/12/2018 at Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/walking-poles/faq-20057943

How to Choose the Best Trekking Polls. Outdoor Gear Lab. Accessed on 6/12/2018 at https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-trekking-poles/buying-advice

Author: Dan Remley, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

Eating Mindfully

When was the last time you paid attention to something you ate?

That might seem like a silly question, but all too often, we rush through our meals and snacks without stopping to think about what we’re doing: how our food looks, smells and tastes. I have to admit, even as a dietitian and food educator, I am just as guilty as the next person! I often eat lunch at my desk while working, since my office does not have a formal break room or lunch hour. Consequently, because my mind is focused on tasks other than eating, I consume my lunch without noticing its taste, appearance or texture.

pasta-salad-1967501_1920One day while eating lunch at my desk, though, I was struck by the saltiness of an olive in a bite that I took of Mediterranean pasta salad. The taste caused me to pause, eat my lunch one bite at a time, and pay more attention to the dish. In this instance, I was practicing mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness, which is the practice of paying attention in the present moment without judgement. Mindful eating is the practice of being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience as you eat (tastes, smells, textures, etc.) and the thoughts and emotions you have about your food. When you eat mindfully, you:

  • Use all your senses
  • Acknowledge your responses to food (i.e. like, dislike or neutral) without judgement
  • Become aware of hunger and satiety (fullness) cues

When you practice mindful eating, you allow yourself to choose to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body. And, not only do mindful eaters tend to enjoy their food more than distracted eaters; research suggests that mindful eating can help with weight control and also steer people away from processed food and other less-healthful food choices. The underlying premise here is that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to catch up with the stomach and register fullness after eating, so slowing down your eating may help you to realize when you’re full before you overeat.

If you tend to eat too quickly and need some strategies to slow down, try: cutlery-908480_1280

  • Eating with your non-dominant hand
  • Putting your fork down between bites
  • Taking a sip of water between each bite
  • Using chopsticks if you don’t normally use them
  • Putting away cell phones and other electronic devices
  • Practicing gratitude for your food as you think about where it came from and all the people who worked to bring it to you
  • Eating with others and having a conversation over your meal

 

Sources:

Carter, S. (2013). Mindful Eating. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/10/21/mindful-eating/

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

University of New Hampshire, Office of Health Education and Promotion. Mindful Eating. https://www.unh.edu/health/ohep/nutrition/mindful-eating

 

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

iced-tea-lemon-paper-straw-978364

One of the lesser-known benefits of consuming a diet high in polyphenols is its beneficial impact on your gut bacteria.

Polyphenols are natural compounds found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and wine. They provide amazing health benefits as they proceed through the digestive tract. The majority of polyphenol compounds stay present all the way down to the colon where they are then broken down by your gut bacteria into metabolites.

Polyphenol-rich foods provide nutritional assistance that helps protect the health and welfare of your gut microbiome. They should be included in your diet along with such heavy hitters as probiotics and prebiotics.

Polyphenols Increase Good Bacteria

Your body contains approximately 10 trillion human cells, but over 100 trillion “good” bacteria. They outnumber you 10:1, so you need to protect and support them with your food choices. They can be negatively affected by antibiotics, stress, and poor food choices (fast food, processed food). Polyphenols provide the same type of benefits as prebiotics, meaning that they increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut.

I am a 365 day/year iced tea drinker, and wanted to see if drinking black tea would provide a more beneficial effect on gut bacteria than green tea because it is fermented, whereas green tea is not. Tea is one of the most researched of all the high-polyphenol foods, with many studies showing a positive link between the prebiotic effects of tea leaves and their polyphenol composition.

What is exciting is that not only do polyphenols increase the number of beneficial bacteria, they also inhibit the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria. Catechin, a polyphenol found in tea, chocolate, apples, and blackberries, has been shown to significantly inhibit the proliferation of pathogens such as Clostridium histolyticum, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella.

Studies also show that tea consumption helps repress the growth of Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile, and Bacteroides spp.

Include Polyphenol-Rich Foods for Balanced Gut Flora

Eating polyphenol-rich foods on a regular basis, along with probiotics, prebiotics, and resistant starch will balance your microbiome and help you achieve good gut health! Below is a list of some of the most polyphenol-rich foods, ranked from highest in polyphenols to lowest (per serving).

Top Polyphenol-Rich Foods:

  • Black elderberry
  • Blueberry
  • Coffee
  • Sweet cherry
  • Strawberry
  • Blackberry
  • Plum
  • Raspberry
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Dark chocolate
  • Chestnut
  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Apple
  • Hazelnut
  • Red wine
  • Black grapes

 

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

 

Sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286313000946

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772042/

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/98/6/1631S/4577455

 

When did you last take a vacation day?

I’m not asking when you last took a vacation; instead, when did you take a day off for yourself?

Sadly, over half of Americans end the year with unused vacation days, collectively sacrificing 662 million days off. The Project Time Off report found that compared to employees who use all of their vacation time, employees who end the year with unused vacation time are lower performers: they are less likely to have been promoted within the last year and less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years. Furthermore, those who fail to use their vacation time report feeling more stressed than those who use all of their vacation time.

While I don’t always take vacations, about once a month I take a vacation day to spend time with my nephew. I call these days my mental health days. They provide me with a mental break from my work and allow me to spend time in a low stress environment. My nephew and I almost always spend time together outside, and we sometimes do activities together like coloring or reading story books. I find great joy in watching this little man explore the world around him!

A young boy playing outside in a play house

Playing “house” with my nephew

For me, these days are pre-planned. I believe that it’s important to take time for yourself to do activities that you enjoy to help prevent and cope with stress, and I try to practice that in my personal life. If this is a new concept to you, identify a few stress coping strategies you might use to take time for yourself when you need it, such as:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Working on a project in your home or yard
  • Doing yoga, tai chi or another physical activity
  • Pursuing a craft or hobby
  • Practicing mindfulness, gratitude or meditation

Additionally, you might find that you have days when it makes sense to use a sick day as a mental health day. Just as there are days when you find it better to call in sick to work than attempt to power through the day because you feel lousy physically, we all have days when anxiety and stress are too distracting to perform our best. When this is the case, go ahead and call off – and don’t feel guilty about doing so! If you had the flu, no one would blame you for calling off sick. Learn to prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

 

Sources:

Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). Stress Coping Methods. Ohioline. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Morin, A. (2017). How to know when to take a mental health day. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201707/how-know-when-take-mental-health-day

Zillman, C. (2017) Americans are still terrible at taking vacations. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/vacation-time-americans-unused/

 

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

IMG_2790

Some people are afraid to use plastic containers for food or drinks.  Other people use nothing but plastic due to the convenience.  Should we be concerned or not?

Some chemicals used in the lining of food cans or to make certain types of plastic containers include Bisphenol A (BPA), Perchlorate, or Phthalates.  Many of these have been absorbed by our bodies and found in our urine or  blood samples.  These chemicals can interfere with some of the hormones in our body.  The hormones affected include estrogen, testosterone, thyroid hormone, insulin, along with others. These hormones not only affect reproductive health but also heart, brain, and bone health.   They can also put you at increased risk for some hormone sensitive cancers like breast or prostate.

What precautions should you take?

recycle-44097__340Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Vinyl. This one contains phthalates.

recycle-44096__340Polystyrene Foam (One popular brand is Styrofoam.). The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers this one a possible human carcinogen.

recycle-43955__340 Contains BPA as it is mostly polycarbonate.

  • Try to limit your use of plastic containers for food and drink. Use stainless steel, glass, or ceramic containers for food or liquids.
  • Don’t microwave in plastic containers. Use glass or ceramic containers.  If you microwave in plastic, try not to use containers with the recycling number 7.  High heat can cause chemicals to leach out and to be absorbed in the food.  Don’t use cling wrap in the microwave, use a paper towel or a plate.
  • Try to keep very hot foods or liquids out of plastic containers. Cool foods and liquids before storing them in plastic containers.
  • Wash plastic containers by hand to avoid the harsh detergents and high heat in the dishwasher. If you do use the dishwasher, place them on the top rack.
  • Toss scratched plastic containers. It is possible for harmful chemicals to leach from them.
  • Reduce or limit canned foods. Most metal cans are lined with a coating that contains BPA. Eat fresh or frozen foods.
  • Avoid touching thermal paper. Paper used in thermal printers has a slick, slightly shiny coating which contains BPA.  Limit your handling of credit card and ATM receipts which are usually printed by thermal printers.
  • Use BPA free infant formula bottles and look for toys labeled BPA free. The FDA has banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.

In some cases, plastic containers are more convenient and safer.  Recommendations: If you need to keep food in plastic containers, try to use containers with the recycling symbol of

recycling-294385__340          recycle-44088__340          recycle-44089__340     or    recycle-44095__340.png .

Purchase stainless steel drinking bottles for your family and you.  Have some glass or ceramic containers to use for cooking and storing food.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator

Reviewer:  Misty Harmon, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator

References:

Dow, C. (2017). BPA: Still a Big Deal.  Available at https://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/food-safety/bpa-still-a-big-deal/

Ettman, L. (2017). Dodging Endocrine Disruptors:  Here’s What You Need to Know About Phthalates.  Available at https://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/food-safety/phthalates/

National Toxicology Program.  (2010). Bisphenol A (BPA) Available at https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/bisphenol_a_bpa_508.pdf

U. S. Food and Drug Administration.  (February 2018). Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application.  Available at https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm064437.htm

 

Have you ever stopped and wondered, how many calories are in your $1.80 guacamole from that popular Mexican style grill? Or in the mountains of ketchup that you have with your burger and fries?

At the height of grilling season, we thought that you might want to know the dietary details in your dips. By utilizing nutrition labels, and popularity, we selected ten separate dipping sauces and examined the caloric intake in one tablespoon. We chose some condiments like name brand mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise because of popularity, while others were for caloric content. After selecting all the sauces and dips, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and crack the code on these tasty condiments that we all love to dip in to!

When looking at popular burger menus, many take a large dip into your daily intake of sodium and calories. The Thousand Island Dressing included on some sandwiches increases the calories of the melt sandwich to almost 1,000.

condimentsUtilizing nutrition value labels, we compiled two graphs showing calories and sodium. The  graph shows four sauces contained over 45 calories per tablespoon. Thousand Island dressing was the highest with 130, while mayonnaise had 90, Ranch contained 70, and cheese dip or queso had 46. Each dip really packed a caloric punch for your average eater. The impact of these choices could, over time, result in weight gain. The American Heart Association recommends a 2,000-calorie diet, so with the additions of these dips, those 2,000 calories do not go as far. The healthier caloric dips were hummus, BBQ, guacamole, ketchup, salsa, and mustard.

Second, we tracked the sodium in a tablespoon of dip. The graph shows the rising level of sodium in the various dips and sauces examined. Each dip contained sodium, but some packed a larger punch. The worst offender was Thousand Island dressing. It containedInfograph Dip! (1) 290 mg of sodium per tablespoon, which is one fifth of your daily allowance based off The American Heart Association’s 1,500 milligrams or less recommendation. Some other hard hitters were cheese dip, mustard, ketchup, BBQ and ranch, which all had over 100 mg of sodium per tablespoon. Many people assume that fat-free means healthy, however, it can mean higher sodium to increase taste rather than improve health. So, if you are watching sodium consider a very low sodium or sodium free option!

The last component of the dip analysis was fat! The fat in many dips is low or minimal, but four dips made their mark, including the Thousand Island dressing. With nearly 11 grams of fat per tablespoon, the Thousand Island dressing topped the list in fat, as well as sodium and calories! Thousand Island dressing is the least healthy dipping sauce you could select. Salsa, hummus, and guacamole are all low in fat, calories, and sodium making them the best choices. With any dip, from ranch to guacamole, the key is portion control. A tablespoon of dip is not what we are accustomed to, so measure before you serve! Consider squirting out your regular personal serving of ketchup and then measuring it into teaspoons or tablespoons. How much do you use? When thinking about whether to dip or not to dip, consider all components of health – be it sodium, fat, or calories, and then dip in with moderation.

 

Writer: Ryan Kline, Student Intern, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County, kline.375@osu.edu.

Editor: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, harmon.416@osu.edu.

Sources:

American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WyPS-1VKh9M

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sodium-and-Salt_UCM_303290_Article.jsp#.WyPTblVKh9M

National Public Radio: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/03/28/295332576/why-we-got-fatter-during-the-fat-free-food-boom