Surviving the “Dog Days” of Summer

Contributed by Vicky Spencer Rouse

Summer picture


It’s getting hot and muggy outside.   Late July into August is considered to be the Dog Days of summer, when the temperature gets above 90 every day, and most people just want to stay cool.

This is a particularly challenging time for people who are elderly, or have physical limitations. I am sharing a list I often use when traveling to warm climates with these individuals.

  1. Try to have outdoor activities either before 10:00 or after 3:00 unless you have a fully shaded location, and use sun block.  This includes car trips.  The 10:00-3:00 time period tends to use more gas to keep cool, and is busy, so before or after those times are better on hot days.
  2. Think about shortening an activity.  Like have grandma come in the last few minutes of a ball game then take everyone out for ice cream.  Grandma gets to cheer on the little leaguer while not being too effected by the heat.
  3. Bring WATER along with you.  We often freeze a few bottles before a car trip or outing, then let them melt during the day. Sodas, alcohol and other options may not keep you hydrated quite as well.
  4. Do NOT leave an elderly or disabled person alone in the car, or outside areas.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen very quickly.
  5. Consider an indoor/outdoor option.  If someone gets too hot they can go indoors without missing the party.  We often do indoor/outdoor cookouts.
  6. Bring along a washcloth and a zipper baggie.  You can put cool water on the wash cloth, then put the cloth around your neck to cool your body quickly.  Put cloth in zip lock to bring home.
  7. Splurge with a frozen treat!  (this is a popular suggestion for the kids as well)  Popsicles, slushes, ice cream sandwiches, frozen lemonades are all wonderful fun summertime cool snacks.  It takes longer to drink a slushie because it is partially frozen, so you can cool off.
  8. Consider being in the water.  A pool, lake, river, beach, any option can work. As an extra bonus, people can often move more in the water than on land because of no gravity. Make sure to use sunblock.

Hope these tips help you and your loved ones enjoy our Dog Days of summer.

If you want help with planning a vacation, or trip, contact Vicky!

Vicky Spencer Rouse  –  Special Needs Vacation By V     502-396-4834

Caring Beyond “How Can I Help?”

Contributed by Paige Hessel

I wrote a text to a friend today to check on his partner who has cancer. He thanked me and I followed up with “Please let me know what I can do to help”.

Nice words, and I’ll bet everyone who reads this has said them at some time in their life. I have said it several times to this friend. Today, I wrote a second sentence, “Can I make you some dinners?” To this I got an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!”.

If your heart is in a place of offering help, please be aware that sometimes the one you are reaching out to may be overwhelmed and not know what to ask for. Offer up whatever you are good doing. The more specific the offer, the more likely it will be accepted. In trying times, it can be difficult for someone to accept help or reach out and ask for it.  We all have these moment when we need to be superhuman for our loved one who is injured or ill, or going through a rough patch.  But the caregiver must get care as well.  It’s always okay to ask for help. Remember the old saying, “A problem shared, is a problem halved”.

When you are aware of someone going through something, whether it’s their own struggle or that of their loved one, I truly believe asking gently how they are is the best first step. Actively listen and allow them to lead the conversation.  This time talking with you could be a respite, or it could be an interruption.  You will know.

At the end of the conversation, say, “what can I do to help?” and then follow it up with, “I would love to come take your dog out” or “I have a new soup recipe. I’m going to make a big batch and bring some to you tomorrow, what’s a good time?” and perhaps the most helpful, “I adore your mom and would love to spend some time with her, how about I come over tomorrow and sit with her and you go out for a walk or lunch?”

The specific offer will likely yield a positive result.  Do what you can to help, it will be appreciated beyond measure.

holdng hands






Get Moving – Part Three: Just Dance!

Contributed by Paige Hessel


Dancing 2

The two previous posts have focused on more traditional methods of exercise and so I thought it would be fun to focus on another way to move; dancing!  Dancing is a wonderful way to stay active and social. Whether you go with your significant other or on your own, dancing is a fabulous way to stay connected!  I have recently seen several videos of senior ladies tangoing and I am amazed and inspired by them. Here is a link to my favorite one;


I read an abstract of a 21 year study conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY and it illustrates that a higher level of participation in “leisure activities”, such as card games, board games, golfing and dancing can result in a significantly reduced risk of developing dementia. That’s a pretty wonderful side effect of moving your body and having fun!



I can recall my parents having lots of parties throughout the years and invariably the living room rug got rolled back and records were stacked on the turn table and I watched grownups dancing in such a way that I rolled my eyes and giggled and said to my girlfriend “I would NEVER do that, so embarrassing!”

Well guess what?  Now I am the one to roll back the rug and put some great music on shuffle and dance the night away with my friends.  There is no shame in cutting loose and letting your body feel the music. Bringing music into our lives helps to foster a better mood and finding your sense of rhythm helps with ambulation and balance.


There are classes you can take if you want a more structured experience, but I always just loved to go to a club with a live band and dance with my friends.  It’s really all about what you are most comfortable doing, but don’t hesitate to try something new. 


Don’t forget that dance IS exercise and you still need to pay attention to things like proper footwear and stretching.  It’s easy to get lost in the music and before you know it, you’ve been dancing all night.  Trust me, you’ll feel it the next day!  So be sure to prepare your body for the fun it’s about to have!







Art and Cognitive Health (P. Hessel)

Art and Cognitive Health – by Paige Hessel

 USS Constitution at Tripoli

The USS Constitution “hove to” at Tripoli

From where I sit at work, I look at this painting by Louisville, KY artist Larry Curry throughout my day.  Sometimes I catch myself day dreaming about where that ship has been and where the sailors are going next.  Just as often, I study the brush strokes and the rich color palette. The painting hanging in our office is just one of many Mr. Curry has painted of the tall ships and other vessels. Mr. Curry, 80 this year, is a prolific painter with a very clear vision. He is a testament to the powerful effect of creative activity on cognitive health.

I read about a study that showed remarkable results; A study conducted with the Levine School of Music in Washington DC studied 300 seniors – half enrolled in an arts program once a week and half not enrolled – over a two-year period.

The study reviewed the health and social functioning of the participants before, at one year and at the end of the study. The results revealed that those who attended the arts program had better health while those who did not attend saw their health deteriorate.

In addition, the arts group used fewer medications, felt less depressed, were less lonely, had higher morale and were more socially active. (

I can recall going to art classes as a child; at the Louisville School of Art in Anchorage and at the Louisville Free Public Library. I loved these Summer classes and always looked forward to them. I think my mom getting me into art classes when I was very young helped to develop my passion for visual art. Because of those early experiences I became involved in the art world professionally in my 20s and 30s and now, in my 50s I am still producing and have every intention of following in Mr. Curry’s footsteps and keep working for three or four more decades.


Please take a closer look at Mr. Curry’s body of work,

and at


Top 5 Benefits of Breathing Deeply

Submitted by Holly Hamilton

Breathe Deeply


Many times when I think about aging better, I think of my own grandmother in her last year of life. Her doctor often admonished her to sit up straighter and take many deep breaths throughout the day. Read below for some of the many ways that deep breaths help our bodies and brains. 

1. Breathing Detoxifies and Releases Toxins
Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing. If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins i.e. other systems in your body must work overtime which could eventually lead to illness. When you exhale air from your body you release carbon dioxide that has been passed through from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body’s metabolism.

2. Breathing Releases Tension
Think how your body feels when you are tense, angry, scared or stressed. It constricts. Your muscles get tight and your breathing becomes shallow. When your breathing is shallow you are not getting the amount of oxygen that your body needs.

3. Breathing Relaxes the Mind/Body and Brings Clarity
Oxygenation of the brain reducing excessive anxiety levels. Paying attention to your breathing. Breathe slowly, deeply and purposefully into your body. Notice any places that are tight and breathe into them. As you relax your body, you may find that the breathing brings clarity and insights to you as well.

4. Breathing Relieves Emotional Problems
Breathing will help clear uneasy feelings out of your body.

5. Breathing Relieves Pain. 
You may not realize its connection to how you think, feel and experience life. For example, what happens to your breathing when you anticipate pain? You probably hold your breath. Yet studies show that breathing into your pain helps to ease it.


They say it takes 30 days to create a habit. I’m starting now to improve my own breathwork! 


Excerpted from

Just Breathe

Get Moving – Part Two (by P. Hessel)

Get Moving- Part Two

Strength Training for Folks Over Fifty

 Seniors exercising       Senior exercise

My 80-something mom moved recently, putting her house on the market. She loves her condo and while it’s bittersweet for me to imagine never having another Christmas at the house I grew up in, I am grateful that she is in a safe and secure environment.  After my stepfather passed away, I constantly worried about my mother being alone in her home. It was a pretty big house, lots of stairs with no security system. She had been casually house/condo hunting on and off for a few years, but then suddenly it was a done deal!  As I was helping her unpack her pantry items a few weeks ago, I picked up two cans of green beans from a box and did a couple of arm curls. She saw me out of the corner of her eye and said “What are you doing?”. I showed her again and then handed her the cans. She lit up when she realized she had “dumbbells” in her kitchen cabinets!

It is imperative that we move our bodies at any age. Staying flexible will help ward off aches and pains that come with a sedentary lifestyle.  It’s always advisable to consult your doctor before starting a fitness program.  When you have the all clear don’t hesitate to get started!  Many hospitals have exercise programs for seniors, perhaps there is a community center near you that has one.  I recently joined a national chain fitness facility and I can say I have never been more motivated or comfortable in a gym environment. People from all ages work out and I am constantly inspired seeing folks over 50 using weight machines, barbells and dumbbells.

If you join a facility, ask if there is a trainer. Fortunately, my membership includes unlimited personal training.  You may have to pay for a session, but having a professional show you the correct way to use a machine or lift weights is worth the small extra expense. 


Keep the following in mind:

  •   If you work out with a partner, you are more likely to stick with it
  •   Don’t skimp on appropriate footwear. Your feet are your foundation and if you are lifting weights, you want to be stable and properly supported.
  •  Don’t overdo it!  Remember; the heavier the weight, the more you will add bulk.
  •  Always start with lighter weights and stick to sets of repetitions, or reps.  When you exercise in sets, you can keep track of your improvements and accomplishments!
  •  Change up your routine. Maybe spend 20-30 minutes on the treadmill on one day and then work on your upper torso the next day.  By switching up the muscle groups you are working on, you are less likely to injure yourself.
  • Always stretch before and after you work out to minimize risk of injury.
  • Remember to have fun!







Live Your Best Life!

Submitted by Holly Hamilton

Happy Seniors

As we age in this fast paced, changing and challenging world, it pays to explore how others are coping. I found the below article excerpt on Huffington Post, from 02/20/2016.

Here are things to remember:


1) You are worth making your life as enjoyable and meaningful as possible.

Whether or not your kids are home, or visit very often, you have value. If you never fix an apple pie because the kids aren’t home to eat it, but you love it? Fix a pie. Take a couple of pieces to a neighbor.

2) How you spend your time is important.

If you love to go fishing, but the guy you always went with you is too shaky on his feet to go, then ask around at the tackle store for others who might be interested. Or ask one of your grandchildren to go. Or just go. Go tell fish tales to your friend. He’ll appreciate it.

3) Keep a sense of humor.

Negativity is catching.

4) Feeding your relationships is vital.

If you can’t get to Seattle to see your brother, learn how to use FaceTime and give him a call. If your best friend moved across town, meet in the middle for a cup of java or a glass of wine. Establish a new tradition with her. Roll with the change, instead of focusing on what used to be.

5) Search for what you have control over.

I can’t say this enough. To look for what can feed your spirit and allow you to feel a part of your family, your church, your community, takes courage.

Apathy is a killer of joy. If I don’t care anymore, if I decide things are too much trouble to try or do, then life will pass me by.

It’s one thing to choose solitude.

It’s another, to give up.

You can read more of Dr. Margaret Rutherford on her website.






Get Moving – Part One

Written and submitted by Paige Hessel


This series will introduce various ways to get exercise and keep our bodies in motion.


When did aging get such a bad rap?  Aging is a natural, organic progression.  It will happen to all of us, no matter how many advertisers tell us we can stop the hands of time by buying this cream or that serum. What we need to do is appreciate our bodies more and strive for healthy aging.  We cannot stop aging, we cannot reverse the years, but we can stave off many ailments just by moving. We all know that doing puzzles is good for exercising our brains but it is equally important to get up from the couch, push back from the dinner table, take a break from the computer screen or TV and go outside for a walk.


Walking is a perfect aerobic exercise; it encompasses the cardio workout we all need (elevated heart rate) and you can incorporate a bit of strength training too by including ankle weights or carry small dumbbells and naturally swing your arms as you walk. Be sure to wear appropriate shoes, and dress in comfortable, bright clothes to make you easily visible to drivers. If you do walk at dusk or after dark, it is wise to wear a top which has reflective material.


Here are a few suggestions to get the most out of your walking “workouts.”

  • Walk with a buddy.  You will be more likely to stick with it if you commit to walking with someone.  It’s also safer to walk with someone in case something happens.
  • Be sure to stretch for a few minutes before you start walking. This allows your muscles to warm up and you are less likely to have pain or cramps.
  • If you have a dog, walk it! What better way for you and your furry friend to both get some exercise? Walking with your dog helps to foster a very strong bond.  This allows your dog to recognize you as part of his/her pack.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you walk in your neighborhood keep an eye out for break in the pavement, tree roots, etc.  Many parks have paved walking paths.
  • In bad weather, consider walking at an indoor mall. Don’t allow a rainy day to derail your routine!

When you begin a walking program do not try to make it a 5K from the start.  Remember, we all had to crawl before we could walk.  You can minimize injury and burnout by gradually increasing your distance and time. Depending on your level of fitness, a walk to the end of the block might be a good way to start. And if you are over 45 years of age, do talk with your doctor and let him/her know you want to start walking for fitness.

The Power of Music on Memory

written and submitted by Paige Hessel, Care Coordinator



Recently, a friend posted a video by French musicians, Les Rita Mitsouko called Marcia Baila. I clicked on the link and was instantly transported back to the mid-80s. Memories rushed back; dancing with friends, very late nights, lots of laughter, pancakes consumed somewhere between 2 and 3 am and more dancing.  I found that I was smiling throughout the video. I commented to my friend who posted it what happy memories it brought back.  Memory is a curious thing. There are parts of our memory we rely on constantly such as recalling passwords to email and to unlock our cell phones, birthdays, anniversaries, addresses and phone numbers.  Then the memory we call upon somewhat frequently; where did we leave the W-2’s we got in the mail a few weeks ago?  Finally, we have deep memories from our childhood and forward which we don’t necessarily recall with any frequency but they are part of the fabric of who we are and being able to get back in touch with these memories can be comforting.


The impact of music on our memories is profound and incredible.  I hadn’t thought about the song Marcia Baila for over 30 years and yet when I watched the video, I easily recalled so many details of that period of my 22-year-old self.  Who I was with, where we went, the cars we drove, the friends we were with.  Imagine how music can impact our seniors, or those with Alzheimer’s or other memory issues!


While reading more on this topic, I found a website called Music and Memory and spent quite a bit of time reading and watching videos of how their program has changed so many lives.  Music and Memory provides iPods pre-loaded with specific music for each client. Their ongoing research suggests


·         Participants are happier and more social.

·         Relationships between the participants, their families and caregivers deepens.

·         The participants enjoy a calmer, more supportive social environment.

·         The program believes that personalized music is another tool to allow professionals to work to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications.



It is important to use referential music, so think about your own memories of your loved one. When you were growing up, what was the music in your household?  My dad listened to a lot of Big Band records, so I know that Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller would be on his playlist.  Once you assemble the music you think will be most relevant, be sure to pay attention to the reaction it evokes. Remember, a song may trigger an unhappy memory as well.  There is a Fine Young Cannibals song which tears me up every time I hear it, because it reminds me of a really sad break up.


There are many resources which support the belief that music can assist those living with memory loss and the concept is really a very simple one; music allows everyone an opportunity to remember time, place, and feelings.  Details may remain fuzzy, but what is important is how your loved one feels when listening to songs from their youth, or their wedding day, or maybe the day they met their first grandchild.


These are a few articles I found which were really engaging:


Music-Memory Connection Found in Brain

Help Spread the Music


Is Music Therapy and Effective Dementia Treatment?


Story of Henry – Music & Memory iPod Project – Alive Inside Documentary





Technology is Your Friend!



by Holly Hamilton, Administrative Assistant

Technology is your friend! Would anyone have believed it 50 years ago that we would communicate with little computers in our hands? Let alone that, but the signal would reach anywhere in the world, via reflective dishes in space? I would have chuckled at you.

According to Wikipedia, Home alert systems were conceived and developed in Germany in the early 1970s by Wilhelm Hormann with the aim of developing new comprehensive structures for ambulatory and non-ambulatory care for the sick, the elderly, those who live alone, and people with disabilities.

Hormann’s concept of “home alert” (Hausnotruf) is thus to be seen as fairly broad, including the communication of biomedical data and social communication, and not limited to use as an “elder alarm”. This has been set forth extensively in the research literature on PERS.

The technical implementation succeeded with the help of AEG-Telefunken Backnang GmbH and was presented to the international public early in 1980. In 1982 the Hausnotruf PERS system was distinguished with the Frankfurt Innovation Prize of the German Economy by the Wirtschaftsclub Rhein Main e.V. (Rhein-Main Business Club) in Frankfurt-am-Main.

In 1975 American International Telephone Company offered an emergency home phone system similar to Hormann’s. The user wore a medallion around the neck that when pushed delivered a preprogrammed message to several phone numbers.

In the 42 years since then, the technology has only improved! CareBuilders at Home can assist you with the right medical alert system for your situation. No long-term contracts, UL Listed Monitoring Center, and Price Lock guarantee! Please call us at 502-458-2273 for more information.