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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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Get ready for cold and flu season

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With winter right around the corner, the number of respiratory infections lurking among us is on the rise. While there’s no miracle cure for the flu or common cold, here’s some advice to help you get through the season.

Preventing colds
While a wide assortment of preventive measures is routinely touted, the only way to truly protect yourself from the common cold is to wash your hands regularly and often.

Garlic, both fresh and in supplement form, can help reduce the incidence of colds and their duration.

As for vitamin C, while it doesn’t prevent colds, some studies indicate that it may slightly shorten them in people who take it on a regular basis.

Preventing flu
Flu prevention is a more serious issue. Of the millions of Americans infected last year, 80,000 vulnerable patients died.

While its effectiveness can vary from year to year, the influenza vaccine remains the single best way to protect yourself, and others, from contracting the flu.

Treating flu and colds
If you’ve gotten sick despite your best efforts, here are a few ways you can relieve your symptoms:

• Get lots of rest
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Use throat sprays and lozenges
• Use nasal irrigation
• Take over-the-counter drugs (analgesics, decongestants, expectorants, etc.)

Over-the-counter cold and flu medications can provide relief but be careful: most contain a cocktail of ingredients and some may be inappropriate under certain circumstances. Consult your pharmacist to ensure you select a safe and effective product.

When to see a doctor
If your symptoms are severe or last longer than ten days, consult a healthcare professional. Keep in mind that antibiotics won’t help combat colds and flus and that antiviral drugs are only recommended for patients who present a high risk for complications. In most cases, getting lots of rest is what’s required to get better.

Did you know?
Contrary to popular belief, cold air isn’t to blame for cold and flu infections. People tend to spend more time inside during the cold months, which increases the risk of transmitting illnesses.

Did you know?
Using a humidifier can help relieve respiratory symptoms, but only if you scrupulously follow the manufacturer’s directions. Unless they’re cleaned thoroughly and regularly, humidifiers provide an ideal environment for mold and bacteria to grow, which means you could end up breathing in more pathogens.

Did you know?
While using your hands to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing helps limit the number of pathogens you spray into the air, it also means you’ll be contaminating everything you touch afterwards. Public health agencies recommend that you sneeze or cough directly into a paper tissue. If that’s not possible, use the crook of your elbow or your upper arm.

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The importance of colorectal cancer screenings

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Colorectal cancer kills more people than breast and prostate cancer put together. However, early detection greatly improves outcomes among diagnosed patients. Here’s what you should know about getting screened for this cancer.

Why get tested?
If detected early, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer patients is 90 percent. However, only 39 percent of cases are found at this stage. Often, colorectal cancer doesn’t initially cause any symptoms. This is why being proactive about detection is vital.

Who should get tested?
People between the ages of 50 and 74 should undergo a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. These tests detect traces of blood in the stool that can’t be seen with the naked eye, which could indicate a tumor. Out of 1,000 tests, an average of 36 will come back positive, prompting a colonoscopy. Out of 36 positive tests, only four will be due to the presence of cancer.

How can I get tested?
Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe a test. You’ll then be referred to a collection center and provided with a test kit containing detailed instructions. It’s also possible to take the test at home. Ask your doctor what options are available.

Public health agencies recommend that regular colorectal cancer screenings begin as soon as someone turns 50, regardless of symptoms. Being proactive is the only way to detect cancer early.

Millennials beware
Colorectal cancer rates among young people are increasing. If you notice worrisome symptoms such as rectal bleeding or a change in bowel habits, consult a doctor without delay. While it may be due to a benign condition, young people affected with colorectal cancer are more likely to die because of a delay in diagnosis.

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5 major benefits of doing yoga

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Yoga is one of the few types of exercise that can be done by almost anybody, regardless of their age or level of fitness. Here are some of the key benefits you can expect as a result of practicing yoga.

1. Reduced stress. Yoga combines deep breathing, mindfulness and physical movement to create a meditative experience that makes you feel calmer.

2. Increased flexibility. Increasing your flexibility will loosen your joints and muscles. This will lead to better posture as well as fewer aches and pains.

3. Enhanced overall health. Yoga strengthens your muscles and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. It can also lower your blood pressure, decrease your cholesterol and increase your bone density.

4. Relief from pain. If you suffer from ongoing head, back or neck pain, yoga could help relieve or mitigate the discomfort.

5. Improved diet. People who regularly practice yoga tend to develop more awareness of how different foods make their body feel. Consequently, they gravitate towards healthier choices that make them feel great.

Wondering if yoga is right for you? Sign up for a class today and find out.

Types of yoga
Here are some of the most common types of yoga practiced in studios and homes across the country.

• Hatha yoga is a classic practice that combines deep breathing with various asanas or physical postures. It’s a great choice for beginners.
• Ashtanga yoga is a physically challenging practice that involves rapidly advancing through the same set sequence of poses every time.
• Vinyasa yoga is similar to ashtanga but doesn’t follow the same sequence every time. Props and modifications may be included.
• Hot yoga is practiced in a room heated to a temperature of up to 105 °F. The heat is believed to help practitioners move deeper into the poses. However, it’s not recommended for people with low fitness levels.
• Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice that focuses on holding floor poses for several minutes at a time.
• Prenatal yoga is a practice for pregnant women developed to increase pelvic floor strength and prepare the body for labor and delivery.
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Mental health: a crucial aspect of farm safety

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Mental health is a growing concern for American farmers. These workers are at an increased risk of developing stress-related health issues, and they’re also more likely to commit suicide than the average citizen. In honor of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 15 to 21), here’s some important information about the issue.

Risk factors
Mental health issues increase the likelihood of injuries and fatal accidents in an already dangerous workplace. Here are some of the factors that put farmers at risk.

• Long hours. Farmers are often forced to work long hours, leading to poor sleep hygiene. Lack of rest often exacerbates stress in addition to disrupting the ability to focus.

• Uncertainty. Farmers are at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather. In addition, fluctuating commodity prices mean that even a strong harvest doesn’t guarantee a profit will be made.

Financial uncertainty is becoming a big problem. The USDA reports that the U.S. farm debt relative to income is the highest it’s been in three decades.

• Lack of resources. Farmers need help, but there’s a lack of accessible resources. In addition, they’re unlikely to seek out the help they need, in part because of the stigma attached to mental health issues in the farming community.

While there are resources available like Farm Aid’s hotline — it saw a 109 percent increase in call volume in 2018 — there isn’t enough funding to provide concrete help to farmers.

What can be done
Awareness campaigns have sought to change the mindset around mental health in farming communities. Eliminating the stigma attached to asking for help is an important step in improving the situation. Public education about the challenges farmers face could also help raise awareness about the importance of this issue.

If you or someone you know is facing a crisis, visit the National Farmers Union Crisis Center at farmcrisis.nfu.org.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know is in distress, call 1-800-273-8255.

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Understanding ADHD: symptoms and treatment

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects between six and seven percent of people aged 18 and under. Despite its prevalence, it remains poorly understood. Here’s what you should know.

Symptoms
ADHD is a disorder characterized by a vast array of symptoms. Their type and intensity vary between patients, and distinguishing strong personality traits from symptoms can be difficult. In addition, the attention deficit and hyperactivity-impulsivity aspects of ADHD are separate.

Inattention symptoms include:

• Difficulty paying attention to details
• Difficulty focusing on and structuring tasks
• Tendency to forget things, especially those necessary for completing tasks (e.g. pencils and notebooks)
• Short attention span
• Easily distracted

Hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms include:

• Inability to sit still and frequent squirming or fidgeting
• Getting up at inappropriate moments
• Talking more than others
• Interrupting conversations or intruding
• Difficulty waiting for their turn

For ADHD to be a concern, a child has to exhibit extreme or disruptive versions of the traits above. In addition, boys are much more likely to show hyperactivity symptoms than girls. Remember that while difficulties with social integration and school performance are common indicators, they’re not enough to establish a diagnosis.

Treatment
A combination of medication and therapy is the most common treatment for ADHD. Given the high variability in types, there’s no universal treatment plan.

Since ADHD persists into adulthood in 30 to 50 percent of cases, promoting long-term management strategies is crucial.

Left untreated, ADHD is associated with poor academic performance, professional difficulties and higher risks for drug use and criminal behavior.

The incidence of anxiety disorders and depression is also higher in people with ADHD.

ADHD can have devastating consequences, and early treatment and management is key to helping those affected lead fulfilling lives. If you’re concerned about your child, be sure to speak to a healthcare professional.

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How to increase your appetite

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Have you noticed that your appetite isn’t what it used to be? A slower metabolism and decreased activity levels may mean you need fewer calories than you once did. Alternatively, certain medical issues and medications may cause your appetite to shrink. Plus, your taste buds can change as you get older, making meals you once enjoyed seem bland and unappealing.

However, though there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the reduction in your appetite, not eating enough can lead to significant weight loss and malnutrition. Here are a few ways to make meals more appealing and to get the calories and nutrients you need.

• Use spices and herbs. Try to avoid using excessive salt and sugar to improve taste, as these can be unhealthy.

• Eat with others. Some seniors find cooking for one difficult or lose their appetite due to depression or loneliness. If you’re faced with this issue, invite friends and family members to join you for meals. Alternatively, consider planning weekly meals with a church or community group in your area.

• Pack your meals with calories. A large plate of food may seem daunting when you’re used to eating small meals. Therefore, instead of upping your portion sizes, add nutrient- and calorie-dense foods to your meals and snacks like avocado, nuts, whole milk products and olive oil.

• Embrace finger foods. Do arthritis or shaky hands make using utensils difficult? If so, choose meals that can be eaten with your hands like sandwiches, fruit and pizza.

If none of these practices help, meal replacement drinks can provide you with the calories you need to flourish. It may also be a good idea to ask your doctor about appetite-enhancing medications.

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Upcoming Events

Sep
21
Sat
all-day Huge Annual Yard Sale @ YARD SALE
Huge Annual Yard Sale @ YARD SALE
Sep 21 all-day
Huge Annual Yard Sale @ YARD SALE
Huge Annual Yard Sale, Sept 19 – 21 Location: 136 Passage Manor Drive, Strasburg, VA Flash Sale: Thursday: 10am – 2pm  |  Friday: 8am – 2pm  |  Saturday: 9am – 1pm
Sep
23
Mon
6:30 pm Monument to Mosby’s Men @ Front Royal's Prospect Hill Cemetery
Monument to Mosby’s Men @ Front Royal's Prospect Hill Cemetery
Sep 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Monument to Mosby's Men @ Front Royal's Prospect Hill Cemetery
The Col. John S. Mosby Camp, SCV, will lead the annual ceremony at the Monument to Mosby’s Men, 6:30pm on September 23rd, at Front Royal’s Prospect Hill Cemetery. Past Camp Commander Richard W. Hoover will[...]
Sep
24
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 24 @ 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
25
Wed
8:00 am Senior Safety & Health Expo @ Moose Lodge
Senior Safety & Health Expo @ Moose Lodge
Sep 25 @ 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Senior Safety & Health Expo @ Moose Lodge
The purpose of the Expo is to keep our seniors safer and healthier, and to strengthen communication between the law enforcement and senior communities. And have some fun and fellowship along the way! Topics may[...]
10:30 am Children’s Art Class “Back to Sc... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Art Class “Back to Sc... @ Art in the Valley
Sep 25 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Children's Art Class "Back to School" Session @ Art in the Valley
We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor[...]
11:30 am Women In Networking @ Middle of Main
Women In Networking @ Middle of Main
Sep 25 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Women In Networking @ Middle of Main
Guest Speaker: Samantha Barber Topic: Voice for the Voiceless THIS IS A FREE EVENT – Please join us and other women looking to be inspired! “More than just another networking group.” FRWRC WIN is open[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 25 @ 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
26
Thu
12:30 pm Watercolor Painting Essentials @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Painting Essentials @ Art in the Valley
Sep 26 @ 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Watercolor Painting Essentials @ Art in the Valley
This class will teach you the necessities to create your own watercolor paintings. Setup of materials and proper studio techniques will be shown. Indispensable ideas about drawing and color mixing as well as paint application[...]
4:00 pm Sketching with Pencils @ Art in the Valley
Sketching with Pencils @ Art in the Valley
Sep 26 @ 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Sketching with Pencils @ Art in the Valley
Pencil sketching is a great way to capture a visual record of your experiences and ideas. This class will give students a strong foundation for making pencil images for a journal or sketchbook. Principles for[...]
Sep
27
Fri
10:00 am The Fundamentals of Oil Painting @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting @ Art in the Valley
Sep 27 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]