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Seniors and sleep: Physical changes may interrupt life-long sleep patterns

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Maybe you used to be a night owl, watching late night television or reading past midnight.

But now? Some older people discover that, as they age, they become tired much earlier in the night and rise well before dawn.

This actually has a name: Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It shouldn’t be especially alarming, but it can be annoying. The natural circadian rhythms that coordinate body functions advance in time with age, so people get plenty of sleep (from seven to eight hours) but everything happens earlier. Experts do not know why this happens, but they usually treat the issue with bright light therapy, exposing the body to light when it should be awake.

Then there is insomnia. About 44 percent of older persons can’t sleep for a few nights per week. But insomnia can become chronic.

Medical conditions can be responsible for insomnia. Among them snoring, a primary cause of sleep disruption for 90 million Americans. Snoring can be due to weight and aging. Very loud snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, associated with high blood pressure, among other things. Sleep apnea causes people to repeatedly wake up as they breathe, then stop breathing. It can and should be treated, doctors say.

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The benefits of robot pet therapy

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Photo: Ageless Innovation LLCC / joyforall.com

You’ve probably heard of pet therapy, a type of animal assisted intervention used to improve a patient’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning. It’s been shown to be particularly helpful for seniors. But what you may not realize is that using robotic cats and dogs may be just as effective. Here’s what you should know about battery-powered pets.

Cats, dogs and dinosaurs
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, today’s robot pets employ motion sensors to simulate surprisingly realistic behaviors. They, purr, wag their tails, blink, vocalize and respond when petted.

One upside of adopting robot pets over real ones is that you’re not limited to common domestic animals. Aside from cats and dogs, you can purchase seals and even dinosaurs. Additionally, robotic animals won’t trigger allergic reactions. They also never get sick, don’t need to be fed and won’t leave you unpleasant surprises on the carpet.

Reducing loneliness
Owning a cat, dog or other pet can help seniors combat social isolation. Similarly, interacting with robot pets provides social benefits. They’re great conversation starters and encourage exchanges among residents in retirement homes, possibly because they remind people of pets they might have owned in the past.

A soothing presence
Robot pets can help stressed or anxious seniors to relax. They’ve also been shown to alleviate distress in patients with dementia. In some cases, they can help reverse language loss and may reduce the need for medication. Finally, they promote healthier lifestyles by giving seniors a reason to move and can sometimes help families connect.

Robot pets usually cost between $150 and $200, which make them a relatively affordable way to put a smile on a loved one’s face.

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7 tips to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome

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Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a condition caused by prolonged exposure to computer screens. It’s characterized by symptoms such as dry eyes, eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches and pain in your neck and shoulders. Here are seven tips that can help prevent or mitigate CVS symptoms.

1. Place your screen at arm’s length and 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. This will allow your head to maintain a natural position, reducing strain on your neck and shoulders.

2. Make sure light sources don’t cause glare on the screen.

3. Match your screen’s brightness to the ambient light to minimize stark contrasts that can increase eyestrain.

4. Blinking is your body’s way to keep your eyes moist and to clear away irritants. Studies show that staring at a screen makes us blink half as often as we normally do. If necessary, put a note on your screen to remind yourself to blink from time to time.

5. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.

6. If you wear glasses, make sure they have an anti-reflective coating. You can also get glasses specifically designed to reduce eyestrain due to prolonged screen time.

7. Use eyedrops to keep your eyes moist.

CVS symptoms aren’t permanent, but they can sometimes be exacerbated by an undiagnosed vision problem.

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5 ways to remember to take your medication

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Do you find yourself forgetting to take your medication from time to time? These five tips will help you stay on top of your treatments.

1. Use a pill organizer. This accessory allows you to keep track of what pills you’ve taken and when. Plus, using a pill organizer makes it easier to track medication you only take a few times a week as opposed to daily. Ask your pharmacist for help choosing a model that works for you.

2. Mark a calendar. Prepare an agenda or calendar to track the medications you take every day. If you’re the type who goes out a lot, you can get a small one that’ll fit in your pocket.

3. Set an alarm. Use an alarm on your watch or cellphone to keep track of when you need to take each medication. Cellphones allow you to set multiple recurring alarms so you don’t need to remember to program them every day.

4. Use memory prompts. Store your medications in places where you’ll see them. This will make it easier to remember to take them. For example, you could put morning pills next to the coffee maker and leave your evening pills next to your toothbrush.

5. Download an app. Medisafe and Med Minder are among the many apps specifically designed to help you remember which pills to take and when.

Remembering to take your medications can be difficult but using one or more of the above strategies is bound to help.

A tough pill to swallow? Some tablets can be cut or crushed if you’re having trouble swallowing them. Talk to your pharmacist to know which of your medications can be taken this way.

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Preventing vaginitis

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Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can result in unusual discharge, itching and pain. It’s caused by a change in the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina, which can be due to bacterial or yeast infections, various irritants or trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted parasitic infection).

It’s estimated that 75 percent of women will suffer from vaginitis at least once over the course of their lifetime. While the condition is usually easy to treat with over-the-counter medication, you can save yourself the inconvenience by following these prevention tips.

• Good hygiene is key, but avoid strong-scented and antibacterial soaps. Make sure to dry your outer genital area well, as excess moisture can cause fungal infections.

• Avoid products like vaginal douches, bubble baths, scented pads and tampons and deodorants. These can cause irritation and throw off the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina.

• Opt for white cotton underwear. Synthetic dyes and fibers can cause irritation.

• Don’t wear overly tight pants. Tight garments can increase moisture and yeast thrives in damp environments.

• Don’t wait too long to remove a wet swimsuit after using the pool.

• Avoid spreading fecal bacteria to your vagina by wiping from front to back after using the toilet.

In addition to the above, using latex condoms is a good way to prevent trichomoniasis and other sexually transmitted infections that can lead to vaginitis.

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How to get back into running

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Even the most avid runner takes a break now and then. However, it can be challenging to get back into the habit if you haven’t run for an extended period of time. Here’s how to hit your stride again, no matter how long it’s been.

Start slow
After a prolonged break, your body will become deconditioned. Be sure to start with slow, short runs and gradually work your way back up to your previous abilities.

Avoid injury

If you stopped running due to an injury, see a doctor or physical therapist to make sure you’re ready to start again. Even if you feel like pushing yourself, keep your runs slow for the first few weeks or so to prevent further injuries. Consider working with a trainer to make sure you have the right technique.

Cross train
Engaging in other types of exercise will increase your endurance and strength and make running easier. Swimming, cycling, lifting weights and yoga are all great ways to rebuild your muscles and get back into shape.

If you need help motivating yourself to keep running, consider joining a running group or signing up for a short race. Either or both of these things will encourage you to keep going.

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Rediscover rhubarb

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Rhubarb has a surprising number of health benefits. Here’s why you should grab some the next time you go grocery shopping, even if you’re not planning on baking a pie.

It’s rich in antioxidants
Cooked rhubarb is packed with antioxidants. In fact, it has many of the same beneficial compounds as kale does. Its red color is caused by the presence of lycopene and anthocyanin, both of which can help prevent heart disease and some cancers.

It keeps your bones healthy

Vitamin K helps your bones grow and repair themselves and promotes faster blood clotting. A cup of rhubarb provides about 45 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K and 10 per cent of the recommended daily intake of calcium for adults. Thanks to this, it can help prevent conditions like osteoporosis.

It keeps you regular
The high fiber content of rhubarb stalks can help reduce gas and bloating and make your bathroom trips a bit more comfortable. Another benefit of dietary fiber is that it can lower cholesterol levels, although a cup of rhubarb only provides nine per cent of your recommended daily intake.

As a bonus, rhubarb is mostly water, so it’s a good choice for calorie-counting diners.

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Upcoming Events

Aug
27
Tue
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
Aug
29
Thu
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
Aug
31
Sat
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
Sep
3
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
Sep
4
Wed
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
Sep
7
Sat
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]
12:00 pm 2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Sep 7 @ 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Golf – “Captains Choice Format” 12pm Shotgun “Tail Gate” Food and Drinks – 5pm to 8pm Golf + Food & Drinks $45 Tail Gate Food & Drinks Only $15
1:00 pm Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Sep 7 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year celebration @ Strokes of Creativity
Join us for our 1-year celebration on Sept. 7 from 1-6 pm. We will have demos, and Artist meet and greets. Unique and one of kind items, face painting, crafts and Chase from Paw Patrol will[...]
6:00 pm FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sep 7 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
In tandem with the 110th anniversary of the church building, the Front Royal United Methodist Church will host Homecoming ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th. Five previous pastors have agreed to return[...]
Sep
10
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 10 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]