The Top 7 Health Benefits of Gratitude

It’s been said that the two most powerful words in the English language are “Thank You.” But did you know that adopting an attitude of gratitude also can have a tangible, positive impact on your health? Here are some ways being grateful can boost your spirit and contribute to your overall quality of life.

  1. Lower Blood Pressure. In a 2007 study, researchers found that people were instructed to “count their blessings” once a week showed a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure.
  2. Lower Risk of Depression. According to Sanam Hafeez, M.D., gratitude reminds us that not everything in our lives is bad and can give us motivation and a sense of hope that can protect us from feelings of depression.
  3. Better Sleep. In a research project of 65 people with chronic pain, those who were assigned a daily gratitude journal assignment reported a half an hour more sleep than those who were not. In other studies, the discipline of gratitude has caused people to report a faster time to sleep, improved sleep quality and more alertness during the day.
  4. Reduces Stress. Because gratitude activates the parasympathetic nervous system, it can stave off stress which has very well-known destructive health implications.
  5. Increased Energy. Multiple studies have correlated vitality and gratitude, and because gratitude increases physical and mental well-being, it can lead to increased energy levels.
  6. Improved Self Care. Grateful people are more likely to exercise and take care of their health according to a 2012 study. They are more likely to have regular check-ups and take precautions to improve their health.
  7. Boost Mental Strength. For people who have experienced traumatic events, gratitude has been shown to help buffer the long-term impact of that trauma and can lead to much greater resilience.

Celebrating a Diabetic-Friendly Thanksgiving

November is American Diabetes Month, and this week, we may have an opportunity to see loved ones either in person or virtually to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ve put together a few diabetic-friendly Thanksgiving recipes in a downloadable cookbook that you can use this week for you.

While many patients and residents may have a clinical diagnosis for Type II Diabetes, there are some clinical presentation characteristics that can help us identify those who may be undiagnosed.

•          Increased thirst

•          Frequent urination

•          Extreme hunger

•          Blurred vision

•          Fatigue

•          Unexplained weight loss

•          Slow-healing sores

•          Tingling, burning, or numbness in feet and hands

•          Pain in joints or muscles

•          Frequent infections

•          Diabetic ketoacidosis

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Activities

Most people know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. This month, we remember those brave individuals we’ve lost and send lots of healing thoughts to those who still are fighting. Here are some ways you can foster a community of support to those women—and men—and their families.

Pink Pumpkins Why not!?

Organize a simple activity to have residents, patients, employees and family members paint or decorate mini-pumpkins in pink to spread awareness—and cheer—throughout residential and therapy areas.

Wear Pink

Raise awareness in the community by asking everyone to wear pink for a day or a week to remember, support and advocate for breast cancer awareness.

Host a Support Group

Work with a local oncologist and host a support group or event for women battling breast cancer to connect with each other, share their stories and offer support.

Hold a Hat & Scarf Drive

Collect or make hats or scarves to donate for women who are going through chemotherapy at a local center.

Support Prevention Programs

Host an information session with one of the community nurses, physicians or nurse practitioners to talk about how to do self exams and the importance of regular mammograms to catch breast cancer early enough for effective treatment.

Aging and Mammography

We’re living longer than ever. The median life expectancy for an 80 year old woman is nine years, so if you’re generally healthy, it can make sense to continue screening through the 70s and perhaps early 80s. As the American Cancer Society recommends, “Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer.”

Tips for Preventing Falls

Falls can put you at risk of serious injury. Prevent falls with these simple fall-prevention measures, from reviewing your medications to hazard-proofing your living spaces.  

  • Remove tripping hazards such as books, papers, shoes and boxes from hallways, and secure area rugs.
  • Install grab-bars in the bathroom, both around the toilet and the shower.
  • Keep frequently used items within easy reach, so you don’t have to climb or strain for them.
  • Make sure that both the inside and outside the home has adequate lighting so you can see your path while walking.
  • Alert your care or maintenance team of any damage or repairs that need to be made to walkways or steps and.
  • Wear sensible shoes with nonskid soles and a proper fit.
  • Poor vision is a major factor in falls. Get an eye exam at least once a year to keep prescriptions current and eyes functioning their best.
  • Consider adding extra personal by using a mobile alert system with GPS to access emergency help at any time.
  • Medication errors are one of the main catalysts for falls. Talk with your caregivers about any potential side effects of the medications you take to see if any may increase dizziness or impact balance and ways to mitigate this
  1. Stay active! Even gentle exercise can increase strength and balance, healing to reduce the risk of falls.

Understanding Loneliness and Ways You Can Help

Loneliness and social isolation might seem like conditions that are just “in your head,” but it’s important to recognize the signs and help those who might be impacted.

Types of Loneliness


When someone feels the lack of intimate relationships possibly due to the loss of a close partner or friend.         

  • Grief and bereavement support can help provide the tools needed to cherish that relationship and move forward to exploring new ones.
  • Incorporate activities to honor their loved one (e.g., make a scrap book or photo album).


Lack of satisfying contact with family, friends, neighbors and other community members 

  • Engaging in social activities can help mitigate this one. Encourage the person to dine with others and find activities that inspire them to interact including music, games and other activities hobbies.
  • If appropriate for the resident(s), incorporate education in the use of smart phones or computers for communication with family and friends.


Feeling of not being valued by the broader community      

  • Lend a listening ear.
  • Coordinate a small support group within the community where participants can share their stories, encourage each other and identify opportunities for community involvement.
  • Facilitate activities that engage the resident and the community in which residents assist the community (e.g., shelling peas for a local farmer).


The sense that life lacks meaning or purpose          

Often older adults feel they have moved from providing for their family to being becoming a burden on them. Help them find a new meaning and purpose such as the following:

  • Explore small chores in the facility such as:
  • Helping with a pet therapy animal
  • Watering or tending plants/gardens
  • Feeding the birds
  • Delivering mail or paper
  • Shower them with lots of appreciation for their contributions –                                                no matter how big or small.

Heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke

Aging on the inside and the outside, plus reminders about protecting the skin

Safe Summer Sun Tips from Reliant Rehabilitation

Summer sunshine abounds in June! And without the extreme heat of July, it’s a great time to be outdoors soaking up wonderful, bone strengthening vitamin D. Just remember simple sun safe tips.

Must-do sun safe sun reminders:

Whether you are a new believer in protecting your skin against harmful UV rays or have been a regular protector of your skin, it’s never too late to take precautions to help ensure you don’t get too much of a good thing.

•          Wear wide brimmed hats

•          Show us your shades – protect the eyes

•          Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts to keep cool but protect the skin

•          Make sunscreen a daily morning ritual

•          Take breaks in the shade and eliminate extended sun exposure

•          Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

•          Be sure medications don’t interact with the sun

Strike Out Against Potentially Devastating Brain Attacks

Learn the three types of risk factors for stroke. While you may not be able to change them all, there are still ways to stack the odds in your favor.

Non-modifiable risk factors

• Age    

• Gender    

• Race/ethnicity

Modifiable risk factors

• High blood pressure                                   

• Lack of exercise

• Smoking                                                                  

• Diabetes

• High cholesterol                                                     

• Atrial fibrillation

• Sickle cell disease                                                   

• Obesity

• Alcohol abuse                                                         

• Drug abuse

• Presence of other cardiovascular disease

Harder to change or possible indicators

• Obstructive sleep apnea                                        

• Migraine

• Certain infections                                                   

• Gum disease

• Blood markers like factor V Leiden, lipoprotein(a) or others

Stroke Awareness and Prevention

Understanding How Stress Effects the Body

Learn more about how stress wreaks havoc with your body during Stress Awareness Month. Never underestimate the damage stress can cause. Check out our fun infographic for some great tips for reducing stress.

Notice these signs of stress:

  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pounding heart
  • High blood sugar
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach ache
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system                           

Here’s how key body systems react:

Nervous System. When stressed, the body shifts its energy resources to fighting off the perceived threat. In what is known as the “fight or flight” response, the sympathetic nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make the heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream.

Musculoskelatal System. Under stress, muscles tense up. Over time this can trigger headaches, including migraines and severe cramps.

Respiratory System. Stress can cause rapid and more labored breathing—or hyperventilation—which can bring on panic attacks.

Cardiovascular System. Acute stress causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct the blood to the large muscles (including the heart) dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Over time, this can cause inflammation of the coronary arteries thought to lead to heart attack.

Endocrine System. With stress, the brain sends signals to produce “stress hormones.” When this happens, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would be available to give you more energy for “fight or flight,” but that otherwise can cause a diabetic reaction.

Gastrointestinal System. Stress may prompt you to eat more (or less) than normal. If you eat more or different foods you may experience heartburn or acid reflux. In addition, your stomach may have “butterflies” which can turn into nausea or pain, and your bowels might not absorb food properly resulting in constipation or diarrhea.

Enhancing the Quality of Life of Individuals with Lung Disease

Individuals with respiratory illnesses often take shallow breaths causing chest muscle weakness, reduced oxygen circulation, shortness of breath and fatigue. Effective pulmonary programs can increase quality of life and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.

Three types of breathing exercises

  1. Pursed Lip Breathing: Helps to increase the length of expiration

a.         Relax neck and shoulders

b.         Breathe in for two counts through nose

c.         Breathe out for three to four counts through pursed lips.

d.         “Smell the roses, blow out the candles!

2. Deep Breathing: Helps to calm nerves and exercise the diaphragm

a.         Inhale for 4 seconds

b.         Hold for 4 seconds

c.         Exhale for 4 seconds

d.         Hold for 4 seconds

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Helps train the abdominal muscles to aid during exhalation to fully empty the lungs

a.         Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below the ribcage.

b.         Breathe in slowly through your nose, so your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.

c.         Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.

Key Benefits of Breathing Properly: 

•          Endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, are released

•          Improved blood flow

•          Improves posture

•          Reduces inflammation

•          Detoxifies the body by releasing toxic carbon dioxide

•          Stimulates lymphatic system

•          Improves digestion

•          Relaxes the mind and body

8 Sweet Ways to Love Your Heart

February is Heart Health Month. Here are some of the top ways to keep the heart healthy and happy.

  1. Sleep. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night has been shown to reduce the amount of calcium build up in our hearts. Get to bed at a reasonable time or let yourself sleep in when you can.
  2. Be less salty. Adults should consume less than six grams of salt per day or about one teaspoon. Check food labels and cut down on added salt to foods and enjoy the natural flavors instead.
  3. Get fruity! (and veggie). Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables as much as possible throughout the day. Giving your body the nutrients it needs can be healing and give you and natural energy boost.
  4. Keep your hands busy. Knitting, quilting, woodworking, scrap-booking and other activities we do with our hands keeps our minds active and also can help reduce our stress levels.
  5. Dance. Saying to “exercise more” sounds like a chore but telling you to “dance” three or four times a week is a cardiovascular activity that will help to improve your strength and stamina as well.
  6. Laugh. When we laugh, stress hormones are reduced, endorphins and T-cells are boosted, and we can get a good ab workout when we have a good belly laugh. Considering all this, laughter actually might be nature’s best medicine.
  7. Stretch it out. Stretching can help improve your balance, strength and flexibility. It also helps reduce stress and can help improve heart health by helping you relax. Do some simple stretches throughout the day to stay nimble and loose.
  8. Eat breakfast. Eating a nutritious breakfast every morning can help maintain a healthy weight and get your metabolism awake for the day. Food is fuel, so eating a heart-healthy meal at the beginning of the day can help kick start a great day!

Credit: A Year of Wellness™,

Reducing Pain Naturally

Both acute and chronic pain can be debilitating and severely impact quality of life. What’s more, the number of people who have died from an opioid overdose has quadrupled from 1999 to 2015. Opting for non-drug pain management alternatives is preferable for both patients and physicians.

Acute Pain:

  • Acute pain is a warning sign that tissue damage has occurred or may occur.
  • Acute pain is a type of pain that is directly related to soft tissue damage such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut.
  • An acute pain signal is the body’s way of providing protection from injury or further injury.
  • Acute pain lasts for a short time (up to 12 weeks).

Chronic Pain:

  • Chronic pain occurs when the brain determines there is a threat to one’s wellbeing based on the many signals it receives from the body.
  • It can occur independently of any actual damage due to injury or illness, and may extend beyond the normal tissue healing time.
  • With chronic pain, the nervous system creates pain even after the physical injury/illness has healed.

Non-drug Pain Treatments:

  • Posture and balance training
  • Manual therapies including myofascial release and soft tissue mobilizations
  • Modalities including diathermy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound (limited duration)
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Energy conservation techniques
  • Adaptive techniques for completing common activities
  • Relaxation techniques such as Thai Chi, Yoga, distraction activities, deep breathing, meditation, socialization activities, hobbies, etc.