Hands Free Shoes Make Dressing Easier!

Hands Free Shoes Make Dressing Easier




QUIKIKS: Hands-Free, Rear Entry, Slip-on Shoes, Men's Brown Leather Casual Lace-up (11.5-W)




For many people it is a daily struggle to put on their shoes due to all sorts of conditions. Whether it be vertigo, obesity, chronic back pain, severe arthritis, Cerebral Palsy or Parkinson’s—there’s  a whole host of conditions that make it difficult for people to put their shoes on independently. So having hands free shoes not only allows these people to get into proper supportive footwear, but also increases their self-esteem. In addition, it unburdens the caregiver from having to do it for them.



How They Work


Quikiks Hand Free Shoes utilize a very simple, robust mechanism. There’s no electronics, no batteries, no Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi connections.

There’s a spring loaded hinge underneath the heel portion of the shoe which enables the rear portion to rotate backwards and create a huge entryway, making it very easy for people to slide their foot right into the shoe.

The entry becomes about 50% larger than a typical shoe, so you can slide your foot right in, and then as you step down, the motion of your foot going into the shoe, rotates the back of the shoe closed and it securely fastens with a magnet.

To get out, you simply do a little heel strike and the momentum of your foot swinging down breaks the magnetic hold. The shoes pop open and your foot slides right out. You never have to bend over or use your hands to get in, or to get out.







How Are Quikiks Different?


Due to the embedded Step-in-Go Technology™, Quikiks™ are the first fully-supportive, totally Hands-Free shoes on the market. .  Unlike flip-flops, slippers or clog-like footwear, Quikiks™ securely fasten and will not inadvertently slip off the wearer’s feet, plus they provide exceptional heel and foot support.

 The rear portion of Quikiks™ tilts back on a hinge allowing the you to easily slip your foot right in.  A little downward pressure on the heel closes the shoe up behind your ankle and it locks in place with a magnet (see illustration below).





To remove, simply strike the rear part of the sole on any hard surface and the momentum of your foot pops them open allowing your foot to come right out (see illustrations below).









Each pair of Quikiks™ comes with a set of medium-strength securing magnets.  Weaker and stronger magnets are also available upon request and are easily swapped out, so that the holding strength can be customized to YOUR abilities.  A spring in the hinge keeps the shoes in the OPEN position so they are ready to receive your foot the next time you want to put them on. 

There are NO batteries or electronics contained in Quikiks™.  The Step-in-Go™ System is a simple, robust mechanism that we hope will improve the quality-of-life for its users for years to come.



Features and Benefits


Besides being the world’s first truly hands-free shoes, Quikiks with Step-in-Go™ Technology provide many additional features to help keep your feet happy…


Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes -Features




Avoid Slip and Fall Accidents


Statistics relating to slip and fall accidents are quite staggering. Thirty percent of people over the age 65 have a slip and fall accident, which results in ninety-five percent of the hip fractures that occur. Fifty percent of older adults who have a hip fracture are unable to return home or live independently again.

It really can be the beginning of a downward spiral, which severely, negatively impacts the quality of their life and even their life expectancy.

There was a large study done by the University of Washington. It involved more than 1,300 subjects over a two-year period. They were trying to find out to what extent various types of footwear or even the lack of wearing footwear contributed to slip and fall accidents.

What they found was quite staggering:

Compared with wearing supportive athletic shoes, like sneakers, the increased risk of having a slip and fall accident for people wearing bedroom slippers, flip flops or going barefoot is up to a thousand percent.   



User Experiences


There have been some tremendous testimonials. A man in California bought a pair for his dad who used to get headaches bending over to put his shoes on. Now with the Quikiks, since he doesn’t have to bend over anymore, there are no more headaches.

Another gentleman in Florida who is living with Multiple Sclerosis bought a pair. He said that Quikiks enabled him to put his shoes on independently for the first time in 20 years.

A gentleman in the New York City area has had seven spine surgeries and wears a foot drop brace. He couldn’t put his own shoes on at all until he got a pair of Quikiks. 



Sizes and Styles


Quikiks Hand Free Shoes come in a variety of styles for men and women, some with Velcro straps. There is a casual dress shoe for men and a Mary Jane for women.  

For women, they range in half sizes from size 6 through size 11, and come in two widths—medium and wide. For the men, they go in half sizes from 7 to 14 in three widths—medium, wide, and extra-wide.

They come with shoelaces or Velcro straps that are meant to be initially adjusted to the wearer’s liking and from then on, they get in and out using the hands-free system.



Are They Covered by Insurance?


Quikiks are not currently but company owner Steve Kaufman is looking into that for the future.  For veterans, the VA actually has discretionary funds available, so the VA healthcare practitioners can purchase them outright and give them free of charge to the Vet in need.

Also in the New York City area, with a documented disability, you can apply through United Cerebral Palsy.

If your situation is appropriate, UCP will pay for the shoes. At this point, it is only limited to the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx in New York City. 






Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.




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Choose Green Cleaners For Better Health



Choose Green Cleaners For Better Health



We buy a myriad of cleaning products to clean and disinfect our homes, believing we’re creating a safer, more sanitary, and more comfortable living environment for ourselves and our families.

But did you know that some of the chemical ingredients commonly used in these household cleaning products have been linked to both short term issues like headaches and skin irritation, as well as longer term health problems including asthma and cancer?

Even if you don’t notice the impacts right away, remember that many of those cleaning products that go down the drain (e.g. toilet, sink and shower cleaners) end up back in our drinking water in trace amounts.

These chemicals may make household cleaning quicker and easier, but they are not good for our health or the health of the planet.



Household Cleaning Products May Do More Harm Than Good


In this age of super-consumption, marketers have trained us to seek out the brands that that deliver superlative benefits over the competitors…”the tightest ship in the shipping industry”, “the ultimate driving machine”, “the greatest show on earth”, “the best a man can get”.   We purchase these items thinking we are getting the most for our money, which will better our lives in some way. Sometimes more is not more. Consider household cleaning products.


“Industrial strength” is one marketing-infused brand attribute that suggests cleaning products will make our homes cleaner and that the job will be done faster, or cheaper, or all of the above. “Industrial strength” tells us the cleaning product is so strong that it really doesn’t belong in our homes. As consumers we are driven to want such products simply because we’re technically not supposed to have them! At least according to the marketers.



The truth is many ingredients in the common household cleaning products we’ve grown to trust are harmful to our health. As consumers why would we want such products around us, our families or our pets? The problem is, most consumers aren’t aware of the hidden dangers these popular cleaning products present to our health. Nor are they aware how pervasive these health threats are. 



Who Is At Risk?


Most products bear the warning “Keep Out of Reach of Children” in bold type on the label. As consumers, we believe that if our children don’t ingest these products they will not be harmed by them. Consider though that the most common methods of exposure are through the skin and respiratory tract. Children are frequently in contact with the chemical residues housecleaning products leave behind, by crawling, lying and sitting on the freshly cleaned floor. Children, especially infants and toddlers, frequently put their fingers in their mouths and noses, increasing risks for exposure. 

When infants eat solid food, how common is it that the food is placed directly on a high chair tray that has just been wiped down with a household cleaner or dish detergent? Another factor is that, pound for pound, children’s exposure levels are higher than adults’ because, although the amount of chemicals in an exposure remains equal, children’s bodies are smaller so the concentration is stronger, essentially.  Also, their immune systems are still developing.  


Thus, children are probably the highest risk population for chemical exposures through cleaning products. For many of these same reasons, pets may also be at risk. Other populations with a pronounced risk are breast cancer victims, the elderly, asthma and allergy sufferers and those with compromised immune systems.



Repeated Exposure


You may be thinking that the diluted aspect of off-the-shelf cleaning products reduces or altogether eliminates the threat of getting sick from your floor polish, window cleaner or air freshener. However many of the toxins found in these products (and so many other cleaning products) are bioaccumulative, meaning the chemicals do not purge easily from the body and over time even mild exposures can add up to toxic levels. In fact, a medical study recently conducted in Iowa suggests a correlation between certain occupations and bladder cancer. One of those occupations was cleaning services. These products are used repeatedly and routinely in the home to maintain cleanliness, increasing the chances for bioaccumulation of chemicals in the body.





What’s Lurking Under YOUR Kitchen Sink?


Research points to the toxic effects of not only active but also inactive ingredients – hazards that can affect the central nervous system, reproductive systems and other vital bodily systems. 

Consumers often don’t have the time or know where to go to find important information about the products they use. To make matters worse, the information is often presented in highly scientific language that may be difficult to interpret. 



But there are a growing number of consumer-friendly resources that can help us sort through all of this information and understand what we need to know to make the best possible choices for our families with regard to household cleaners, disinfectants and polishes.


For starters, the three essential categories into which most of the hazardous ingredients in household cleaning products fall are:


  • Carcinogens– Carcinogens cause cancer and/or promote cancer’s growth.


  • Endocrine disruptors – Endocrine disruptors mimic human hormones, confusing the body with false signals.  Exposure to endocrine disruptors can lead to numerous health concerns including reproductive, developmental, growth and behavior problems. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to reduced fertility, premature puberty, miscarriage, menstrual problems, challenged immune systems, abnormal prostate size, ADHD, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain cancers.


  • Neurotoxins – Neurotoxins alter neurons, affecting brain activity, causing a range of problems from headaches to loss of intellect



 Look At Product Labels


It can be cumbersome and time-consuming to research all of the ingredients in the cleaning products under the kitchen sink.  In general however, product warning labels can be a useful first line of defense. 

Cleaning products are required by law to include label warnings if harmful ingredients are included. 


From safest to most dangerous, the warning signals are:


Signal Word Toxicity if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin*
Caution One ounce to a pint may be harmful or fatal
Warning One teaspoon to one ounce may be harmful or fatal
Danger One taste to one teaspoon is fatal

 *for a 180-pound male


Even products with a cautionary label, it should be pointed out, may present health risks if used improperly or with repeated exposures over time. Good ventilation and skin barriers are very important when using any over-the-counter cleaning product. 




Chemical Groups to Watch Out For


We are exposed to countless chemical ingredients in daily life that may be harmful to our health – too numerous to outline here.  



You should know of some general categories of chemicals that should be avoided, however:



 Pesticides. One of the most counter-intuitive health threats is that of products that disinfect. Common sense tells us that killing household germs protects our health. However disinfectants are pesticides, and the ingredients in pesticides often include carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Pesticides are fat-soluble, making them difficult to eliminate from the body once ingested. Pesticides, including disinfectants, may also include alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs).


APEs. APEs act as surfactants, meaning they lower the surface tension of liquids and help cleaning solutions spread more easily over the surface to be cleaned and penetrate solids.  APEs are found in detergents, disinfectants, all-purpose cleaners and laundry cleansers.  They are also found in many self-care items including spermicides, sanitary towels and disposable diapers.  APEs are endocrine disruptors.



Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly known as a preservative. Many people do not know that it is also a germicide, bactericide and fungicide, among other functions. Formaldehyde is found in household cleaners and disinfectants. It is also present in nail polish and other personal care products. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen.



Organochlorines. Organochlorines result from the combination of hydrogen and carbon. Some types are highly deadly, such as DDT. OCs are bioaccumulative and also highly persistent in the environment. OCs are present in pesticides, detergents, de-greasers and bleaches. OCs are also present in drycleaning fluids. OCs are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.


Styrene. Styrene is a naturally occurring substance derived from the styrax tree. Styrene is most commonly used in the manufacture of numerous plastics including plastic food wrap, insulated cups, carpet backing and PVC piping. Styrene is also found in floor waxes and polishes and metal cleaners. Styrene is a known carcinogen as well as an endocrine disruptor. Exposure may affect the central nervous system, liver and reproductive system.


 Phthalates. Phthalates are most commonly used in the manufacture of plastics. Phthalates are also used as carriers for perfumes and air fresheners and as skin penetration enhancers for products such as moisturizers. These chemicals are classified as inert and as such no product-labeling requirements exist for phthalates. They are endocrine disruptors and suspected carcinogens. Phthalates are known to cause hormonal abnormalities, thyroid disorders, birth defects and reproductive problems. 


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted as gases suspending themselves in the air. VOCs include an array of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, and are present in perfumes, air fresheners, disinfectants and deodorizers. VOCs commonly include propane, butane, ethanol, phthalates and/or formaldehyde. These compounds pose a variety of human health hazards and collectively are thought to be reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, liver toxins and carcinogens.



The Worst Offenders:


Over the past few years there has been a push for greater transparency in ingredient labeling on household cleaning products. Yet, many of the most toxic chemicals are still commonly used in conventional household cleaners. A few of the worst offenders to watch out for on ingredient labels include:


  • Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Methanol, and Ethylbenzene are chemicals commonly used in disinfectants, tub and tile cleaners, and toilet cleaners. These compounds have been linked to nerve system damage, memory loss, reproductive system damage, and an increased risk of several types of cancer.
  • Bleach is a common ingredient in cleaning products, and many people buy them, believing it is necessary to get household items their absolute cleanest and whitest. But bleach is one of the most potentially dangerous and reactive substances around! When mixed with ammonia and acids it forms toxic gases that are highly irritating to the eyes and lungs.
  • Formaldehyde is used in air fresheners, antibacterial detergents, and carpet cleaners, and is a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, in humans.
  • Fragrance is a general term that can mask the presence of allergens and known hormone disrupting chemicals like phthalates.






To demonstrate an idea of how pervasive these substances can be under your kitchen sink, 2-butoxyethanol is a good example.

Although the signal word for this chemical is “Danger!”, it is found in no less than 108 household cleaning products as well as countless auto, hobby/craft and exterior home maintenance products, according to Household Products Database from the National Library of Medicine.


Synonyms for this chemical include butoxyethanol; butyl cellosolve; ethanol, 2-butoxy-; ethylene glycol mono-n-butyl ether (EGBE); ethylene glycol monobutyl ether; monobutyl ethylene glycol ether; n-Butoxyethanol. This chemical is an organic solvent, and a raw material used in the production of phthalates.


According to the Material Safety Data Sheet from one leading trigger spray cleaner degreaser, exposure to this chemical is reportedly associated with chronic blood and bone marrow damage. It affects the central nervous system, blood and blood-forming organs, kidneys, liver and lymphoid system. It is an eye and skin irritant. 

Exposure is generally through the lungs, skin, and mouth with 75% of total exposure attributable to the skin. Even vapors from this chemical can be absorbed by the skin. Under existing EPA guidelines, this chemical is considered a neurotoxin and a possible human carcinogen and has been found to cause cancer in animal testing. Symptoms of exposure to 2-butoxyethanol include central nervous depression, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and prominent headache. 


To avoid unnecessary exposure to this chemical, use rubber gloves when cleaning with products containing 2-butoxyethanol, ventilate the work area well and/or mask the mouth and nose appropriately. More favorably, avoid products containing this ingredient. 

It is important to stress that even products that may be perceived as healthy because their names include the words “green”, “citrus”, “lemon” or “orange” may contain this ingredient. The best advice is to read the ingredient label rather than trust the product name or marketing language.





Another harmful ingredient to watch out for is monoethanolamine, also known as MEA.

Other synonyms for this chemical are Ethanolamine; Ethanol, 2-amino-; 2-Aminoethanol; 2-Hydroxyethanamine.


This chemical is a surfactant and an emulsifier and can be found in nearly 50 household cleaning products including floor cleaners, tile and grout cleaners, degreasers, stainless steel cleaners and laundry detergents.

Additionally, this is found in 100 personal care products listed in the Household Products Database, especially consumer hair coloring products. MEA is also an antihistamine found in several popular over the counter drugs, the sedating powers of which are stronger than many barbiturates. 

As a cleansing ingredient, MEA is highly corrosive to the skin, potentially even causing bleeding to the exposed area. Inhalation may cause asthma attacks or damage the respiratory tract or lungs. MEA is potentially a neurotoxin. 

Repeated exposure to MEA can damage the liver and kidneys and has proven toxic in animal lab tests. One leading global chemical company admits the body of available research is insufficient to fully determine the health risks for humans.



Symptoms of Exposure


Symptoms of exposure to these types of substances include headache, backache, stiff joints, nausea, diarrhea, asthma or allergy attacks, dizziness, memory loss, stuttering, premature puberty, low sperm count, reduced motor skills, sudden mood swings, dyslexia, ADHD, anti-social behavior/autism and birth defects, among others.


Making Healthier Choices In Your Home


It is truly amazing that all these harmful ingredients are present in products that are supposed to improve our quality of life. Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, household cleaners are the only household products for which manufacturers are NOT required to list all ingredients. 

Certain ingredients (such as fragrances) are considered trade secrets and government regulations are designed to protect proprietary information. Without full disclosure, consumers can unknowingly submit themselves and their families to unhealthy exposures to these chemicals.


The safest course of action a consumer can take is to inform him or herself. Here are some suggestions:


  • Read product labels. Don’t use products with a signal word stronger than “Caution”. 
  • Research the chemicals listed on product labels through the Household Products Database, the Cosmetics Database, Toxnet and Scorecard (see inset for web addresses). 
  • Avoid products with fragrances. A clean home should smell like nothing at all.
  • Use homemade cleaning solutions made from good, old-fashioned common ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, lemon juice and borax.
  • Find and purchase cleaning solutions that bear the Green Seal logo. Green Seal certifies cleaning products to be effective at cleaning yet safer for human health and the environment
  • Interview cleaning services and hire one that is Green Clean Certified.


Taking a greener approach to cleaning can help you and your loved ones feel better physically. But you’ll probably also feel better mentally, knowing you are creating a safer environment for yourself, your family and your pets.


Useful Research Links:












Although it may feel overwhelming to scan the ingredient label of every cleaning product you bring into your home, in the end, it’s not much different than reading food or cosmetics ingredient labels. The products we use on a regular basis, whether in or on our bodies or in our homes, can have a profound impact on our health.

Probably the easiest way to ensure your home cleaning products are safe is to look for natural products from trusted brands. There are a handful of brands committed to ingredient integrity, environmental sustainability, and developing cruelty-free products.



Keeping It Simple – Natural Cleaning Product Recommendations:



Seventh Generation is probably the most popular and widely available natural cleaning brand on the market. The company is committed to reducing the environmental impact of production, ensuring product safety, and enhancing sustainability. Their products are safe for people, pets, and the environment, and the company fully discloses all ingredients.

The company makes a popular line of general household cleaners, including All Purpose Cleaner, Glass and Surface Cleaner, Shower Cleaner, Tub and Tile Cleaner, and Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

For those with fragrance sensitivities, look for several of these products in unscented, or “free and clear” varieties.

They also make a line of disinfecting cleaners, including Disinfecting Multi-Surface Wipes, Multi-Surface Cleaner, and Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner, and a line of specialty cleaners for Wood, Stainless Steel, and Granite and Stone.




Mrs. Meyer’s

Their Clean Day Counter Top Spray is available in  Honeysuckle, Geranium, Lavender, and Lemon Verbena scents.

All Purpose Cleaner – look for it in scents like Lemon Verbena, Lavender, Basil, and more.

Mrs. Meyer’s Surface Scrub is tough on dirt and grime, but won’t scratch delicate surfaces.

Use it on bathroom tile, appliances, and even for pots and pans!

Lemon Verbena is the most popular scent, but the surface scrub also comes in Geranium, Lavender, and Honeysuckle.




Method produces several types of natural cleaners, each made with biodegradable, non-toxic, and naturally-derived substances.

Their packages are 100% recycled and recyclable, and their products are never tested on animals!





This is one company that is highly committed to sustainable production practices and ingredient integrity.

Look for their All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner, Glass Cleaner, Wood Floor Cleaner, Furniture “Wood for Good” Polish, and Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

These cleaners come in pleasant fragrances like mint, almond, and citrus – no harsh fumes or artificial fragrances here!






BabyGanics is another great brand offering an extensive line of natural cleaners and bath/body care products.

The line was designed exclusively to be safe for the most sensitive populations, including pregnant women, infants, young children, and even pets.

All the company’s products are either fragrance free or naturally and delicately scented, with no toxic fumes or harsh residues.


Try their Multi Purpose Cleaner, All Purpose Surface Wipes, Toy and Highchair Cleaner, and Tub and Tile Cleaner.





Other Natural Cleaning Alternatives


Sometimes the purest, simplest, most effective, and most cost effective cleaners are items you probably already have already the house:

  • Lemon juice and vinegar are great for cleaning windows and cutting through grease, and vinegar is also useful for preventing mold formation.
  • Ordinary table salt (or sea salt) is great for scrubbing and scouring tough dirt and grime, and for helping to disinfect high traffic areas.



  • Baking soda is indispensable for natural household cleaning! It scrubs and scours, cleanses, deodorizes, and even helps unclog drains when mixed with vinegar.






Did I miss your favorite natural cleaner? Or perhaps you have a great cleaning tip to share. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!



The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier





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Managing Dementia Related Incontinence


Managing Dementia Related Incontinence


Dementia is a devastating disease that affects approximately 24 million people worldwide; its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, affects more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The disease slowly robs individuals of their memory, cognitive functioning, and eventually renders the person almost completely dependent upon others for their daily care. Though the causes are not completely understood, caregivers feel the strain of the disease daily as they help those affected with dementia to navigate the simplest of tasks such as getting dressed or eating meals.




Urinary and fecal incontinence can also be present in those who are affected with dementia. Though this loss in bodily functioning may be inevitable, it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to the patient and the caregiver.



Incontinence can be caused by a variety of issues, and it may help to understand some of those causes to help the household cope with it.

The National Association for Continence (nafc.org) relates that most people wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment. This delay in seeking help often exacerbates an already stressful situation for both patients and caregivers.

In its simplest form, urinary incontinence is when someone does not have complete control over when he or she urinates. It may appear due to several reasons, and to make certain which one it is, the patient should be examined by a physician as soon as possible.


Stress Incontinence

Women who have had a baby or two may understand this type of incontinence the best. A forceful sneeze or cough may cause urine leakage since the muscles in the pelvic region can be loosened by childbirth. Normally Kegel exercises (tightening and releasing the pelvic muscles several times per day) can provide some strengthening, although it may not work for all women.


Urge Incontinence 

The urge to urinate may develop suddenly, resulting in urine leakage. Many people who have this type of incontinence are not given ample warning to get to the bathroom in time before leakage occurs. It is fairly common in the elderly, although it can be a sign of a bladder or kidney infection. If an infection is causing the incontinence, antibiotics can generally clear up the condition within a short period of time.


Overflow Incontinence

This type of incontinence is more common in men than women and results from an overfull bladder that does not empty effectively. It results in urine leaking on almost a continual basis. A blockage in the urinary tract system is generally the cause, like an enlarged prostate or other obstruction. A physical exam is a must for this type of incontinence in order to accurately diagnose and treat the condition.


Functional Incontinence 

In this type of incontinence loss of bladder control is caused by other conditions. For example, the person who is arthritic and does not move well may develop incontinence due to their inability to get to the bathroom in time. As dementia develops over time, this type of incontinence may be more prevalent and possibly more frustrating to treat since the cause is a symptom of the underlying disease and not easily attributed to an infection or other issue.


Bowel Incontinence

This type of incontinence causes a great deal of distress for many persons with dementia and their caregivers. Bowel incontinence can be partial when only a small amount of liquid waste leaks before toileting. Complete incontinence results when the person is unable to control any aspect of the bowel movement.




Dementia Related Incontinence


A person with dementia is more likely to have accidents, problems with the toilet or incontinence than a person of the same age who doesn’t have dementia.






The reasons for this can include:


  • not being able to react quickly enough to the sensation of needing to use the toilet
  • failing to get to the toilet in time – for example, because of mobility problems
  • not being able to tell someone that they need to go to the toilet because of problems communicating
  • not being able to find, recognize, or use the toilet. If someone becomes confused about their surroundings, they may urinate in an inappropriate place (such as a wastepaper basket) because they have mistaken it for a toilet
  • not understanding a prompt from someone to use the toilet
  • not being able to, or forgetting how to, perform the activities of using the toilet, such as undoing clothing and personal hygiene
  • not letting others help with going to the toilet, perhaps due to embarrassment or not understanding an offer of help
  • not making any attempt to find the toilet – this could be due to depression or lack of motivation, or because the person is distracted
  • embarrassment after an accident, which the person unsuccessfully tries to deal with. This may lead to wet or soiled clothes or feces being put out of sight. For example, they may be wrapped up and put at the back of a drawer to be dealt with later, only to be forgotten about.


For some people, incontinence develops because messages between the brain and the bladder or bowel don’t work properly. This may mean people don’t recognize that they have a full bladder or bowel, or have the control needed to empty them. However, this is not a common cause of toilet problems and incontinence in people with dementia. It usually only occurs when the person’s dementia is more advanced.





Things to Try


If you can find a reason for the accidents, it becomes easier to find an approach that will help prevent them in the future. If, despite your best efforts, you are not able to determine a specific reason, try the following strategies:





Toilet Decal – Comes With Glow-in-the-Dark Switchplate Decal)


Around the house


  • Make the toilet easy to find. Clearly mark the path on walls and/or floors; ensure that there are no obstacles; label bathroom doors with words or pictures or both. Use nightlights in dark areas.








  • Colored masking tape around the perimeter of a toilet or colored water may prevent accidental misses due to perceptual or visual losses.
  • See if the mirrors in the bathroom are a problem: she may feel like someone else is in the room.
  • Remove any obstacles in the way in the bathroom, for example, plants or wastepaper baskets, so he can get straight to the toilet.
  • Leave the door open to the bathroom when not in use.



What the caregiver can do


  • Watch for visible cues that the person needs to use the bathroom. For example, the person may get restless, make unusual sounds or faces, or pace around the room.
  • Give her simple instructions.
  • Give reminders to go to the toilet regularly, e.g., every two hours, in the morning upon getting out of bed, at bedtime or before going out.
  • Choose easy-to-remove clothing, such as Velcro closings or elastic waists.
  • Direct him to the front of the toilet before removing clothes.
  • For men, try putting a decal inside the toilet bowl to have something to “aim at.”
  • Give a cue to get started, such as running water or certain words. Try to ensure that the bladder is completely emptied.
  • Leave her alone if she prefers, but stay nearby. You can tell her that you are “just outside the door if she needs anything.”
  • If staying seated is a problem, distract him with favorite items to look at or hold.
  • If incontinence during the night is a problem, make sure she doesn’t drink too much just before going to bed. But do not withhold fluids during the day.
  • Make sure he uses the toilet before going to bed.



For safety’s sake


If Accidents Continue

Once you’ve determined that there are no medical or medication problems causing the accidents, some of the above ideas might keep her dry and clean. If accidents continue to occur, products such as disposable underwear, incontinence pads, panty liners (for women) or protective bedding might be helpful. These may be useful at certain times or in specific situations. Use them only if necessary. Even when wearing pads, take him to the bathroom on a regular basis.




Incontinence can lead to skin irritation and make him feel uncomfortable. If clothing becomes wet or soiled, help him to change right away, wash with mild soap and warm water and dry afterward. Then provide dry clothes.


Day to Day

In the event of an accident, it is important not to get angry or draw attention to what has happened. This can cause embarrassment or more upset. Cleaning up after a parent or spouse is not pleasant.


Remember that accidents are caused by the disease; they are not his fault. He may be as distressed as you. Try to maintain his dignity with encouragement. Remain calm. It is important to remember that you are doing the best you can.



Seeking Treatment


In order to understand why someone has developed incontinence, a medical exam is definitely in order. Since there may be special complications due to dementia, it is best to start with the patient’s primary physician since he or she is most familiar with the patient and their health history. He may order a visit to a urologist, a specialist in urinary conditions for men and women. It is important to remember, however, that a urologist is a surgeon and may not focus on non-surgical solutions, like the ones that will be discussed later.


When visiting the doctor, bring a description of how incontinence is affecting the patient’s life, including an overview of their daily routine. Some doctors recommend keeping a continence diary to provide a four or five day “snapshot” of what is happening at home. Be prepared to answer questions like the ones suggested by the National Association for Continence.


The questions below are only a few from their suggestions.


  • How much water does the patient drink every day?
  • What foods is the patient eating?
  • Does the patient have any control over urination?
  • Is the problem better or worse during the daytime or at night?
  • Is it linked to a physical condition (inability to move quickly, for example)?
  • When did the incontinence first appear?
  • Is the patient upset by their incontinence?
  • How many episodes does the patient have and in what time period?
  • Does the patient understand the signal or urge to urinate or are they unaware of the need?
  • Is there a burning or painful sensation when the patient needs to urinate?



Treatment Options


If the incontinence is due to an underlying medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection or a bowel obstruction, treatment can range from antibiotics to surgical intervention. The decision, of course, will be based on the severity of the condition and the best course of action for the patient. It is important to remember that incontinence is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue that has developed with the patient.


If a medical condition is readily ruled out, the doctor may move on to other options like medications that treat the bladder’s urge to urinate or the frequency with which the bladder sends the “alarm” to the body that urination is about to occur. These medications are generally anticholinergics and have the effect of reducing frequent urges to urinate when the patient is unable to make it to a toilet fast enough. These urges may be made worse by the dementia since the signal that urination is about to occur may be misunderstood or misinterpreted by the patient.


Recently, however, researchers with the Wake Forest University School of Medicine uncovered a serious problem with older anticholinergic medications and medicines that are used to lessen the mental decline in cognitive functioning in some dementia patients. In many patients, the anticholinergic medications that treat incontinence interfere or counteract the medications that are also treating dementia. In other words, patients with dementia may experience a more rapid decline in mental functioning while taking anticholinergic medications. For these patients, treating the incontinence with medication is worse than finding alternative solutions for working with the issue. There are newer anticholinergic medications that were developed since the study’s original test results in 2003 and 2004 which may or may not have this effect. This is perhaps the best reason to discuss any medications that a dementia patient takes with their primary doctor before starting a new treatment course.


There are other non-medication or surgical methods that can be used to treat incontinence at home. Adaptive clothing may be able to help if functional incontinence is an issue.


Replacing hard-to-manipulate buttons and snaps with Velcro and zippers may be a quick fix if it appears that the patient is aware of the incontinence and wants to correct it without too much intervention on the part of the caregiver. This approach gives the patient more control over their environment and encourages independence. It also affords the patient the most privacy which is often a serious source of angst for many patients.


There are also incontinence products for all ages and sizes that may be helpful, although the patient may have difficulty understanding their use and disposal. Communicating the need for these products may be a challenge, and the caregiver may need to explain their use more than one time in order for the patient to understand.


Drive Medical Folding Steel Bedside Commode

Other methods may be home modifications or adding a portable toilet chair (commode) to the room(s) where the patient spends most of his or her time.


This method is relatively easy to implement, although it may need some additional explanation since patients with dementia wonder why the caregiver is altering the living situation or the layout of a particular room. Any approach that changes the daily routine of a dementia patient drastically should be undertaken thoughtfully and with as much input from the patient as possible.



The doctor may also recommend changes in diet, both fluid and foods, that can help treat incontinence. If bowel movements are not regular or consistent, then changing foods in the diet may make a significant improvement within a relatively short period of time. The patient may or may not resist such changes, especially if he or she has developed a resistance or affinity to particular foods due to dementia. It is important to discuss dietary changes with a physician or dietician so the patient is still eating balanced meals and snacks. Fluid intake should also be closely monitored.

Caregivers of dementia patients should understand that incontinence may be an inevitable part of the overall cognitive decline. As a person loses awareness of their surroundings, lifestyle, and loved ones, it is not surprising that loss of bodily functioning will also occur. It may be a tremendous source of frustration for both the caregiver and the patient.

Communicating the incontinence issues early with the patient’s healthcare team can help reduce some of the frustration that the household may have with the issue. Even though it can be an uncomfortable subject, it is important that the full needs of the patient be addressed. The sooner incontinence is addressed, the quicker the patient and the caregiver can begin to work with options that may reduce the frustration or embarrassment that is involved.


If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, there are two terrific books available on Amazon which I think you’ll find extremely helpful:  Surviving Alzheimer’s by Paula Spencer Scott and The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins.


Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical tips and soul-saving wisdom for caregivers by [Scott, Paula Spencer]








You may also be interested in:

Caregiver’s Guide to Coping With Incontinence

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Incontinence Protection Products for Home, Car and Bed

How to Buy an Elevated Toilet Seat

Your Guide to Shower Chairs and Bath Benches

Guide to Bathroom Grab Bars and Hand Rails

Help Your Older Adult Move From the Wheelchair to the Toilet

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Caregiver’s Guide to Assisting With Open Enrollment

Caregiver’s Guide to Assisting With Open Enrollment




It’s that time of year! From October 15 until December 7, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to change their choices for Part D (prescription drug) coverage, enroll in or change a Medicare Advantage plan, and (in certain circumstances) possibly change Medigap plans.


Just writing that sentence can give one a knot in the stomach. Too many choices, not enough information. Where should you begin?

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is an annual period of time (October 15 through December 7) when current Medicare users can choose to re-evaluate part of their Medicare coverage (their Medicare Advantage and/or Part D plan) and compare it against all the other plans on the market. After re-evaluating, if you find a plan that is a better fit for your needs, you can then switch to, drop or add a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. Medicare Advantage is also known as a “Part C” plan.

Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that have contracts with Medicare. When you join one, you get your Medicare-covered healthcare services through the private plan.





If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare. You’ll get your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgently needed care.

The plan can choose not to cover the costs of services that aren’t medically necessary under Medicare. If you’re not sure whether a service is covered, check with your provider before you get the service.

Medicare Advantage Plans may offer extra coverage, like vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay a monthly premium for the Medicare Advantage Plan.


First, your care recipient should have received an annual notice from the companies that are supplying their coverage.

Some of the packages look overwhelming and one just longs to discard them. But wait. At least take out the thinner booklet–the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)–and look at the first few pages.

 Some of the packages look overwhelming and one just longs to discard them. But wait. At least take out the thinner booklet–the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)–and look at the first few pages.

Is the plan premium going up? If so, is it going up a LOT? If the increase is 10% or higher, that indicates that there may be a better alternative out there.

What about the deductible? If it used to be zero, and now it’s not, that’s another indication that you may want to think about changes. The more difficult information to assess is changes in the drug premiums.

When you opened your packet, you saw the company had added another “tier” to the generic drugs. Your care recipient takes generic drugs. How will this affect them?




Is your loved one in a Part C/Medicare Advantage/ Managed Care plan? Do you have any idea what you paid out in copays this year? Were there unexpected expenses that the plan did NOT pay? Are they likely to recur? You may want to consider changing to a Medigap plan with fixed costs.


Conversely, are you paying for a Medigap plan, but your loved one has few, if any, physician visits, except annual wellness checks and preventive benefits? If your relative lives in the same area year-round, you may want to investigate Medicare Advantage plans with lower premiums and possible additional benefits like hearing and vision assistance.

It is wise to assess these things each and every year. But if you haven’t reassessed in at least three years, you need to think about having a “checkup.” A number of options exist:


  • Access free professional advice about Open Enrollment from a licensed benefits advisor.


  • Find a State Health Assistance Insurance Program (SHIP) counselor in your region. SHIP provides free, federally funded one-on-one Medicare counseling. You can visit the SHIP website or call their toll-free number at 1-877-839-2675. However, be forewarned—it is often difficult to access this program during the Open Enrollment period. This is a particularly busy time of year for SHIP so be patient with the office and be sure to call as early as October 1 for an appointment. You can also call your local “Area Agency on Aging” and ask if they are hosting any public information sessions about Open Enrollment that you can attend. This will provide you with a helpful intro to the topic, and you may even be able to ask questions publicly and privately.



SHIP volunteers and staff provide free, objective information and assistance to people with Medicare and their families, by telephone and sometimes in face-to-face sessions.


Your SHIP can help you:


  • decide when and how to get your Medicare coverage
  • compare various options for receiving your Medicare benefits
  • review situations involving both Medicare and your state’s Medicaid program
  • decide if you need additional coverage or different coverage
  • determine if you already have other health benefits in addition to or instead of Medicare
  • compare various ways for you to supplement your Medicare benefits and, in some states, help you compare benefits and costs of specific plans


You can also call  1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), the Medicare program’s toll-free number. You may have to wait. Try to call during “off hours.” Once you get an advisor, make sure that they tell you what your loved one’s “saved drug ID” and “password date” are so that you can use this information to do your own research on whether their drug formulary has changed.


*In most cases, you won’t have a right under Federal law to switch Medigap policies unless you’re eligible under a specific circumstance or guaranteed issue rights or you’re within your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment period.

By law, when you buy a Medigap policy, you have a 30-day “free look” or trial period. If you change your mind within 30 days of the day your policy started, you can cancel it and get a refund.

If you are switching Medigap plans, do not cancel your first policy until after your free look period is up. You may have to pay two premiums for 1 month. But you will be able to change back to your first plan if you need to.

Your state may, however, have expanded these rights.  Consult your state health insurance department to learn the rules in your area.


Recommended: Medicare for Dummies, 2nd Edition

In plain language, the new edition explains:

  • How to qualify for Medicare, according to your personal circumstances, including new information on the rights of people in same-sex marriages
  • When to sign up at the time that’s right for you, to avoid lifelong late penalties
  • How to weigh Medicare’s many options so you can be confident of making the decision that’s best for you
  • What Medicare covers and what you pay, with up-to-date details of the costs of premiums, deductibles, and copays—and how you may be able to reduce those expenses



Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.







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Space Heaters – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews


Space Heaters – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews


When the weather outside is frightful, a fire certainly would be delightful — but not everyone is lucky enough to have a fireplace. Instead, a space heater can offer a supplemental heat source in your home or office. It’s important to note that space heaters aren’t recommended as your only heat source, but they can be a great way to increase a room’s temperature a few degrees or provide warmth in a drafty space without overheating the entire home. Some owners say they also use portable heaters to lower utility bills, but this depends on many factors, like your fuel costs, insulation, how often your space heater is used and more.





Space heaters are useful for warming individual rooms or small areas. While they aren’t a good replacement for central heating, they can help raise the temperature a few degrees in a cold or drafty room, and can even lower your heating bill by a few dollars in some situations.

Chosen wisely and used properly, space heaters are also safe. In this, report I present the best performing space heaters as identified by expert reviews and user feedback, as well as what you need to be aware of to find the perfect space heater for your not-so-perfectly warm space.









Note that this report covers electric space heaters intended for use inside the home.

You can also find space heaters fueled by kerosene, natural gas and other combustible fuels. However, those are generally not recommended for use inside the home unless some type of venting to the outside is provided, and many states have banned unvented kerosene heaters for indoor use.





Scroll down for full reviews on the 7 best space heaters





Things You Need to Know About Home Space Heaters





What Every Good Space Heater Has


  • The right heat for the job. In most cases, the best heater will be one that heats up fast and distributes the heat quickly, using a fan — meaning a convection heater with fan such as a ceramic space heater or a forced air heater. Oil-filled radiators take a different approach; they are slow to warm and most lack a fan, but they retain their heat long after they are turned off making them a good choice for sleeping areas (where normally having an operating space heater is not advisable, experts say). Infrared heaters are best for quick heat, and many include a fan so they can cover a large space. However I recommend you ignore some manufacturer claims and keep expectations reasonable.


  • Easy-to-use temperature settings. Nearly all owners agree they need some control over heat output; the best heaters give you the option to set either a specific temperature (i.e. in degrees Fahrenheit) or a relative temperature (i.e. high, medium, low), which helps save energy.


  • Safety features: Most experts agree that the best space heaters include adequate safety features. Tip-over sensors are advisable, and an overheat cut-off is essential. Other things to look for in a space heater is a case that stays cool to the touch, heat exhausts that don’t become excessively hot, and nice, tight grills that keep the curious fingers of little ones away from heated elements.




Will a Space Heater Work For You?


In reading user reviews, one of the most-often cited disappointments is that one space heater or another failed to heat a space adequately. However, that’s often the result of unrealistic expectations — or inflated marketing claims — rather than a failure of the appliance.

Space heaters are designed for spot heating or supplemental heating for a small to standard-sized room. Seamus Bellamy at TheSweethome.com points out that the largest electric space heater you can buy for use in the U.S. tops out at 1,500 watts, which is sufficient to heat up no more than a room of 150 square feet (10 by 15 feet) or less.

A fan can help spread that heat out in that space faster and more completely, but can’t help a space heater cover a larger area. Performance can also be affected by external factors such as inadequate insulation or drafty windows or doors. Most of the heaters covered in this report are rated at 1,500 watts, though some also have lower-power settings for smaller rooms.



Does Noise Matter to You?


Reports indicate that most modern space heater are very good or excellent when it comes to keeping noise-levels reasonable, and that includes models with the most powerful fans. Still, if you will be using the space heater in an area where quiet is important, look for models that have the best feedback regarding noise.



Do You Need Consistent Heat?


Many owners rely on a space heater to deliver consistent heat, oftentimes while sleeping at night. However, experts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) strongly recommend that you never go to sleep with a space heater still operating.

For bedrooms, that makes oil-filled radiator space heaters a better choice; they are slower to warm up than other types of space heaters, but they retain heat much longer — hours after they are turned off. Models with timers that turn the heater on and off at preset intervals (such as in the morning or at bedtime) provide added convenience.



Do You Care What the Heater Looks Like?


If a space heater is used only occasionally or in private areas of the home (or office), appearance might not matter much. For some, though, an unattractive heater isn’t ideal. For aesthetes, design may be worth a higher price.


Types of Space Heaters


There are two basic types of electric space heaters: radiant and convection. Convection heaters — like convection ovens — move hot air around to create warmth. A fan blows air across internal heating elements and out into the room. This makes convection units especially effective for warming entire rooms or many people.


Ceramic space heaters are the most popular type of convection space heater. Electricity flowing through wires heats a ceramic element, which in turn heats the air. Almost all ceramic heaters include a fan to distribute the warmed air most effectively.

Some forced air heaters use a non-ceramic heating element to warm the air, and then use a larger, more powerful fan to spread that warmed air over a large area. Their fans can also pull double-duty to help cool rooms in the warmer months.


Convection also comes into play when liquid moves across a heating element. That’s why, while it might seem counter-intuitive, oil-filled radiator style space heaters are considered to be convection heaters, even though they lack a fan.

Oil filled radiators are slow to warm up, but they keep giving off heat long after they are turned off, making them a good choice for sleeping areas. Some radiator-style heaters use mica panels instead of heated oil to produce heat. These warm up faster than oil-filled designs, are lighter, and are flat enough to mount on a wall. However, they also cool down quickly, losing one of the key advantages of oil-filled radiators.


Radiant heaters, on the other hand, warm people or objects, not the air around them. The heat from these heaters doesn’t circulate well and can’t be used to warm a whole room, but for fast heat for a short time, they’re more efficient than convection heaters. Traditional radiant space heaters are a bit more “old-school” than convection heaters and seem to be falling out of vogue. However, infrared space heaters with quartz elements still have a place where the primary goal is heating a person or a smaller area, and some can do a lot more.



Finding the Best Space Heaters


To find the best space heaters, this report considered professional tests, expert reviews and user feedback. ConsumerReports.org has the most comprehensive coverage. Though not completely up-to-date, most of the space heaters covered there remain either current or available at retail.

TheSweethome.com’s coverage is a little more limited, but it looks at popular and well-reviewed space heaters, then tests to find a couple of top choices. I also rely heavily on user reviews, looking at feedback posted at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Walmart.com and elsewhere. These reviews provide an up-to-date snapshot of how space heaters perform, and touch on long-term factors, such as the reliability of a specific model, that are beyond the scope of most expert testing.

Using this feedback, I consider performance, safety and reliability to name the very best space heaters, along with some choices that could be worth considering for some buyers.



Important: Staying Safe With Space Heaters

Every winter, we hear of at least some space-heater related accidents, sometimes with tragic results. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and based on statistics compiled from 2007 to 2011, one-third of home heating fires and four-fifths of home heating fire deaths involve space heaters. However, when selected wisely and used correctly, space heaters can be quite safe to use.

This report only covers portable electric space heaters, which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), are the only type of unvented heater that’s safe for use inside the home. Combustion space heaters work by burning fuel, be it kerosene, gas, wood, etc., which results in having the byproducts of combustion, including carbon monoxide, enter your home if they are not effectively vented to the outside. According to the DOE, most states have banned the use of kerosene heaters in the home, and some states have banned the use of unvented natural gas heaters. Vented combustion heaters are safer, but since those are designed to be used in a permanent location next to an exterior wall (to allow for a vent to the outside), they are not exactly portable.

However, while there’s no carbon monoxide risk, electric space heaters still can be a safety hazard if used improperly. The best space heaters are designed to minimize those risks.


Things to look for include a tip-over sensor and switch that will turn the heater off if it is accidentally knocked over. Many heaters have tight grates to keep small fingers from reaching the heating element. Some have sensors that will turn the heater off if it detects an “object” (such as an infant or pet) sitting too close to it for too long. Many also have cabinets that stay cool to the touch. Only buy a space heater that carries UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or similar certification, indicating that it meets current safety standards.


Buying a safe space heater is only half the battle, using it safely is the other half. I found a number of solid, easy-to-follow recommendations from a number of authorities. Those include the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), the NFPA, the DOE and others.


Finding the right place to put your space heater is the first step:

Space heaters should be located on a level, hard and nonflammable surface — a ceramic tile floor is ideal. Don’t put a space heater on a piece of furniture. Keep it well away from the normal paths of foot traffic in your home to prevent it from being accidentally knocked over. Keep combustible materials at least three feet away in all directions. Typical combustibles found in your home include draperies, rugs and bedding. Except in cases where a space heater is designed for bathroom or outdoor use, do not use it in damp areas.

Space heaters should only be used under the direct supervision of a responsible adult. Children and pets should be kept away. Turn off the space heater every time you leave the area. Don’t go to bed with the space heater on, and don’t use it if there’s a person sleeping in the room.


There are electrical considerations as well: Avoid the use of an extension cord if at all possible. If an extension cord is absolutely needed, use the shortest length that works and choose a cord designed for high current draw (14-gauge or heavier wire). That said, “Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords,” the DOE advises.

Check the condition of the space heater’s cord on a regular basis. Look for tell-tale signs of a hazardous cord, including fraying or burnt or otherwise damaged insulation. If the cord doesn’t check out 100 percent, do not use the space heater.



The 7 Best Space Heaters



Best Ceramic Space Heater


Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat


The diminutive Lasko 754200 delivers big-time performance, warming up a small room or office in no time flat. Value is appreciated by owners and experts, and helps the Lasko 754200 edge out other, pricier and more feature-rich ceramic space heaters in reviews. The lack of a tip-over sensor is a concern, but this space heater has other crucial safety features including an overheat cut-off and a case that stays cool to the touch.

  • Heats well
  • Small
  • Good value
  • Lacks a tip-over sensor
  • Some say it is loud


For a small, inexpensive space heater, the Lasko 754200 often exceeds the expectations of experts and users. It heats quickly and effectively, and its 1,500 watt rating puts it at the top in terms of heat output among all electric space heaters — though its small size makes it better for a bedroom or an office rather than a large family room. Some owners say it’s a bit loud, but experts and other owners say it’s no louder than any other space heater equipped with an effective fan — a plus for better heat distribution. The lack of a tip-over sensor is a major omission, but that’s offset by other effective safety features.



Packs heat for a petite unit. For a heater of this size and price, the Lasko 754200 ceramic space heater is very effective, according to reviewers. The heater puts out a good deal of heat, and its powerful fan circulates the warm air quickly. Testing at TheSweethome.com put it in first place among tested space heaters of all types in heating an 11- by 13-foot room in the least amount of time. We see some durability complaints, but these are in line with what we see with almost all space heaters of all types.


Ease of Use

Not advanced, but straightforward controls. Though the Lasko 754200 has an effective thermostat, it doesn’t offer the digital display, remote control, or timer of some pricier models — which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective. Owners say they find the two knobs (one for temperature, one for fan) to be very intuitive and simple to use. The heater is also lightweight and easy to move. A long cord (six feet) makes placement without resorting to an extension cord easier.



No tip-over switch. A tip-over switch is often recommended for safer operation of space heaters, and the lack of one on the Lasko 754200 is a concern, but one that doesn’t bother experts and many owners it seems. There is an overheat sensor that will cut-off operation if the heater’s temperature exceeds a safe level. Reviews indicate that the case stays relatively cool during operation.



Noisy fan. We did see some complaints about fan noise, though not very many more than we see with other space heaters equipped with a reasonably powerful fan. TheSweethome.com tests the Lasko and says that its noise level is the equivalent of a refrigerator compressor running at a distance of six feet away. Seamus Bellamy adds that this is about in the middle of the pack among the space heaters the site has recently tested.


Best Oscillating Ceramic Space Heater


Lasko 6462 Full Circle Ceramic Heater with Remote


The Lasko 6462 is packed with features, including oscillation, which some experts hold is most effective in uniformly distributing heat. Controls are simple and intuitive, and a remote control lets you operate this space heater from your easy chair. The 6462 has a tower design, making tip-over a concern in light of the lack of a tip-over sensor, but other safety features, including overheat cut off, are present and accounted for.

  • Effective heat distribution
  • Oscillation to heat a space more uniformly
  • Lots of features
  • Not the best value
  • Thermostat might be inaccurate
  • No tip over sensor


The Lasko 6462 delivers ample features and ample performance, earning it respect from users and some expert reviewers. The oscillating unit covers a full 360 degrees, or can be set to swing over a smaller arc if it’s set against the wall or in a corner. This ceramic space heater is as feature packed as any, with digital controls and readouts and a remote control. Safety is good, but would be better if there were also a tip-over sensor.



A circle of heat. While a fan is important to spread out the heat in a room, oscillation distributes that heat out more evenly  — and the Lasko 6462 has both. This ceramic space heater is billed as being able to swing its heat over a full 360 degree circle, and the sweep can also be adjusted for maximum effectiveness when placed near a wall (180 degrees) or in a corner (90 degrees). The 1,500 watt maximum heat setting is the highest you can get with an electric space heater, though some other space heaters are judged to be a little more effective in heating a whole room or a nearby person in expert tests. Users seem plenty pleased, however. Reliability and durability are factors that typically pull down user ratings, but we spotted fewer complaints on that regard with the Lasko 6462 than with some competing space heaters.


Ease of Use

No sweat. The Lasko 6462 has digital controls on the unit and comes with a functional remote control. Some users say that the touch controls could be a bit better, but with the remote, you don’t ever need to actually touch them. Others welcome the fact that the remote is not a must to set up and use the heater — especially since many remotes sometimes go missing at the most inconvenient times. Testing reveals that the digital thermostat might not be accurate — and we saw a handful of user reviews that say the same thing — but most owners either don’t see the same problem, or consider it to be too inconsequential to comment on it.



No tip-over sensor. This is a tower heater, a type more prone to accidental tip-over than other types. That’s why we consider the lack of a tip-over sensor to be disappointing. However, the Lasko 6462 is otherwise well covered on the safety front. There’s an overheat cut-off that will turn the heater off if it becomes dangerously hot. In one professional test the surface is found to be cool to the touch when the heater is operating.



Powerful, yet quiet. Users report that the fan on the Lasko 6462 is pretty powerful. That’s why it’s notable to see relatively few complaints when it comes to fan noise. One expert test rates the 6462 excellent when it comes to keeping noise highly in check.




Best Decorative Ceramic Space Heater

Crane Mini Fireplace Heater, White



No one will confuse the Crane Mini Fireplace Heater with a real fireplace, not even if they squint real hard, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impart a nice aesthetic anyway. Users appreciate the warm glow that the mini ceramic fireplace gives off. Some like that you can use the fireplace effect without also bringing up the heat. Aesthetics aside, it’s an impressive performer heating-wise according to tests and user reviews.





Best Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater



DeLonghi EW7507EB Oil Filled Radiator Heater Black 1500W


If you want heat that lasts, even hours after the space heater is turned off, the DeLonghi EW7507EB oil-filled radiator is your best bet. It’s a great choice for a bedroom, where experts recommend against having an operating space heater while you sleep. The dual-event 24-hour timer will let you warm things up well before bedtime and again before  your alarm goes off in the morning. The design keeps the sides cool, and a remote control adds convenience.

  • Efficient
  • Quiet
  • Programmable timer
  • Long lasting heat
  • Slow to heat
  • No battery back up


The DeLonghi EW7507EB oil-filled radiator heats a room by electrically warming an internal supply of oil. The results closely mimic those of a traditional hot water radiator. That means that the DeLonghi doesn’t give off much heat at first, but given time, it can warm a large room with ease, according to experts and owners. Also, like a traditional radiator, the heat lasts a good long while after the electricity is turned-off, making it ideal for use in a bedroom, where experts suggest going to sleep with an operating space heater isn’t such a hot idea.



Slow starts, but exceptional staying power. Experts recommend oil-filled, radiator-style heaters for well-insulated rooms where the heater will be on for long periods. Like similar models, the DeLonghi EW7507EB oil-filled radiator takes quite a while to initially heat up, but it then provides steady, warm heat, even long after the power is turned off — and enough of it to earn at least one expert recommendation as a good space heater for larger spaces. Still, if you want spot heating or fast heating, a ceramic space heater like the Lasko 754200 is a better, more economical choice.



Ease of Use

Digital controls a plus … and a minus. The DeLonghi EW7507EB features an all-digital control system. Most reviewers find it easy to use, but some bypass the extra features and programming capabilities and just use the manual controls.

For others, the dual event 24-hour timer lets you raise and lower temperatures in up to two cycles of up to eight hours each over a day. That means, for example, you can set the radiator to turn on and get the room toasty before you awake, then turn off later in the morning, only to repeat the cycle before you turn in for the night.

There’s also a remote control for added convenience, but what’s not convenient is that the heater’s LCD display is judged hard to read by some. The timer also lacks  a battery backup — unplug the heater or lose power and you’ll need to reprogram the timer. Like all oil-filled radiators, the DeLonghi EW7507EB takes a while to warm up a room — one reason that the timer is such a nice plus. There are three output levels (700, 800 and 1,500 watts) so you can scale the heat output to the size of the room.




Stays cool to the touch. Touching a standard radiator when it’s hot is not a pleasant experience. However, the DeLonghi EW7507EB oil-filled space heater features a design that directs heat upwards, out of reach of children and pets, keeping its sides cool to the touch. There’s no tip-over sensor — but toppling this weighty radiator is something that’s unlikely to happen by accident. There is an overheat cut-off for added safety, and the remote control means you never have to touch the radiator at all to set or adjust it.

Oil-filled radiators sometimes draw complaints over operating odors, but the majority of user reviews that comment on the EW7507EB’s odor either marvel that it’s not an issue, or say that smells that can be detected when new are banished forever after a few hours of use.




A silent operator. Unlike other types of space heaters, oil-filled radiators lack a fan so they are among the quietest whole-room space heaters you can buy. Professional testers and owners agree, the DeLonghi EW7507EB is very quiet. We did see a few comments that noted a clicking sound when the heater cycled on or off, but most did not find it objectionable.



Best Forced Air Space Heater


Vornado AVH2 Whole Room Vortex Heater, Automatic Climate Control

The Vornado AVH2 is a forced-air space heater that can warm large or small rooms, and it does a good job at spot warming — when you want to warm an individual person rather than a larger space. It lacks much in the way of extras, but it’s judged to be easy to use. It’s also relatively safe around kids and pets with a cool case and exhaust outlet during operation. It can double as a cool-air fan in warmer months.






Best Designer Space Heater



Dyson AM09 Fan Heater, Iron/Blue




If style is more important than price, no space heater makes more of a statement than the Dyson AM09.

Reviews reveal that it’s also among the most effective space heaters for the cold months, and an outstanding fan for the cool ones. The bladeless design and cool case are pluses if young ones are around. But look elsewhere if value is a concern as you can find space heaters that are nearly as good for hundreds less.




Best Infrared Space Heater



Honeywell HZ-980 MyEnergySmart Infared Whole Room Heater


Most space heaters work by heating up the air, but infrared space heaters like the Honeywell HZ-980 work by heating up people and objects in the room. Many infrared heaters are cheap, lower power affairs, but the HZ-980 is quite different.

With a rated power of 1,500 watts, and aided by a powerful fan, this Honeywell infrared heater is judged by reviewers to do a great job of heating up a person, and a very good job in heating up a standard room.


  • Efficient
  • Great spot heating
  • Good safety features
  • Large
  • Plain aesthetics
  • Pricey


Plain and unassuming in its black plastic case, the Honeywell HZ-980 quietly racks up some of the better reviews among larger infrared space heaters. It’s feature packed, including digital controls and readouts, an energy usage indicator, a limited but useful timer, and a remote control.



Have reasonable expectations. Some competing infrared space heaters are victims of their own marketing, promising better energy efficiency and heating performance than they can reasonably deliver under most circumstances.

The Honeywell HZ-980 (made under license by Kaz), largely avoids most of that. Instead, testing reveals it to be a competent space heater that does a great job in spot heating, and a very good one in heating up even a reasonably large room. The manufacturer claims that the HZ-980 saves 35 percent in energy costs compared to a standard 1,500-watt heater, but that has not been independently verified. However, there is a built-in energy use meter for owners to monitor consumption for themselves.


Ease of Use

Digital simplicity. The clean, digital controls on the Honeywell HZ-980 are judged to be very good when it comes to ease of use, and we saw no notable user complaints in that regard. There’s a top-mounted control panel with digital readouts as well as a remote control. There’s also a built-in 8-hour timer, but it is adjustable only in one-hour increments — adequate but certainly not very flexible.



Strong safety features. The Honeywell HZ-980 is equipped with most of the safety features experts recommend. Those include a four-way tip-over sensor and overheat protection. The case stays relatively cool to the touch, but one expert testing organization comments that the area right around the heat exhaust can get a little toasty. Mommy blogger Cindi Riley notes the same thing, but adds that things don’t get hot enough to cause serious worry of a child being burned.



In the ear of the beholder. One independent testing organization rates the Honeywell HZ-980‘s noise levels to be excellent. Most of the limited user reviews we spotted agree, or are silent themselves on the issue.




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Magnesium a Great Help for Diabetics


Magnesium – a Great Help for Diabetics




Based on information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), magnesium is practically a wonder drug. Yet few people know about it, and few doctors recommend it. It helps maintain muscles and nerves, regulates blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and prevents heart attacks.


A study published through the American Diabetes Association shows that oral magnesium supplementation with magnesium restores serum magnesium and improves insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes and decreased serum magnesium levels, thus contributing to metabolic control.

In addition,  a meat-analysis of 9 trials in 2014 shows that that those with higher magnesium intake are 10-47% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. In the U.S., however, only about 50% of the population achieve the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium, which is 400-420 mg/day for men and 300-310 mg/day for women.


  • Source: Hruby, A. et al. “Higher Magnesium Intake Reduces Risk of Impaired Glucose and Insulin Metabolism and Progression From Prediabetes to Diabetes in Middle-Aged Americans” Diabetes Care. 2014: 37(2): 419-427.



This meta-analysis of 9 trials studying magnesium supplements in those with type 2 diabetes found that 360 mg/day resulted in lower fasting glucose levels, while another smaller and more recent trial studying obese, nondiabetic, insulin-resistant patients found that 365 mg/day for 6 months not only lowered fasting glucose values, but also lowered fasting insulin and insulin resistance, and improved insulin sensitivity.

In patients with other risk factors, such as mild hypertension, 3-month supplementation with magnesium was found to improve insulin sensitivity and pancreatic β-cell function. Low magnesium diets, meanwhile, have been shown to impair insulin sensitivity in just 3 weeks in otherwise healthy patients.


A study by Dr. Ka He of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues found that people who consumed the most magnesium in foods and from vitamin supplements were about half as likely to develop diabetes over the next 20 years as people who took in the least magnesium. 

Dr. Ka He and colleagues also found that as magnesium intake rose, levels of several markers of inflammation decreased, as did resistance to the effects of the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Higher blood levels of magnesium also were linked to a lower degree of insulin resistance.

“Increasing magnesium intake may be important for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing systemic inflammation, and decreasing diabetes risk,” He and colleagues write. “Further large-scale clinical trials are needed to establish causal inference and elucidate the mechanisms behind this potential benefit.”


  • Source: Magnesium Intake in Relation to Systemic Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, and the Incidence of Diabetes. Ka He, MD, ScD (kahe@unc.edu) et al. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2010/08/30/dc10-0994.abstract



There is more understood today about the relationship between magnesium and diabetes than ever before – and it is leading healthcare professionals to state:  If you think there may be diabetes in your future, now’s the time to make sure you are getting the magnesium your body needs on a daily basis.





In the book The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean, an MD and naturopath. According to Dr. Dean, nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, and it is often the primary factor in heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and most muscular problems.

The NIH says, “Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body… [It] is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.” And according to our own Amy Campbell, “Results from three very large studies indicate that people who consume a diet rich in magnesium have a lower risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.”



People with diabetes are more likely than those without to be low in magnesium. According to an article on About.com, “Elevated blood glucose levels increase the loss of magnesium in the urine, which in turn lowers blood levels of magnesium.” So getting enough magnesium is especially important in diabetes.

In spite of these benefits, medical authorities rarely recommend magnesium. That’s why I call it the forgotten mineral. For instance, people on diuretics (“water pills”) are usually given potassium supplements to replace the potassium lost through urination. But magnesium is lost the same way and rarely supplemented.

According to the piece on About.com, “Healthy adults who eat a varied diet do not generally need to take a magnesium supplement.”

Dr. Dean strongly disagrees. She says that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 350 to 400 milligrams per day, but for best health, we may need roughly double this amount. She says the Standard American Diet (SAD) provides very little magnesium. Soils depleted by factory farming may grow foods low in magnesium. Refined grains and processed foods have usually been stripped of most of their magnesium.



Dean isn’t the only one recommending this mineral. Drs. Andrea Rosanoff, PhD, and Mildred Seelig, MD, authors of The Magnesium Factor, state, “Mg has effects that parallel those of statins.”

In the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, they wrote, “Both statins and normal Mg levels prevent clotting, reduce inflammation and prevent [arterial] plaques. But statins raise liver enzymes, can cause [muscle damage] and have many other side effects, while Mg supplements tend to protect [muscles] and have temporary diarrhea or mild GI distress as the only side effect.”


The doctors point to studies showing that nations with low-magnesium/high-calcium diets — the US, Finland, and the Netherlands, in particular — have a lethal heart disease rate much higher than in nations with high-magnesium/low-calcium diets, such as Japan. Yet our medical system encourages statins and ignores magnesium.




Metabolic Syndrome


Because the risk factors for diabetes, are also the risk factors for heart disease,   clinicians and healthcare professionals refer to this group of risk factors as:  Metabolic Syndrome.   For a short time, it was known as Syndrome X, but it is simply this:     The factors when found together, increase the risk of Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke and Type 2 Diabetes.  Magnesium has a major role to play in each of these conditions, and all risk factors when present, suggest a deficiency in magnesium.



Metabolic, a word that refers to the biochemical processes that occur by the trillions every day in our cells – is also what magnesium does best:  325 metabolic, or enzymatic processes at the cellular level.    It is not surprising that magnesium, when consumed in recommended allowances every day – will minimize  the risk factors associated with Metabolic Syndromes like heart disease and diabetes. 

With widespread magnesium deficiency, it is entirely possible that magnesium is responsible for far more illness than originally thought, and its role in metabolic syndromes is better understood every year.



Metabolic syndrome risk factors include:


  • Known as ‘central obesity’ or ‘apple-shaped’ –  extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body
  • Insulin resistance. The body uses insulin less effectively than normal. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the body. As a result, blood sugar and fat levels rise.
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure, or hypertension
  • Aging
  • Genetic history of any of the factors
  • Hormone changes
  • Lack of exercise 



People who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse:


  • Excess blood clotting
  • Increased levels of blood substances that are a sign of inflammation throughout the body



It is no coincidence that each of these factors represents a process in the body dependent upon magnesium.   Multi-tasking magnesium, is the mineral that addresses each of these factors:


  • —  Magnesium is responsible for the production, function and transport of insulin by the cells
  • —  Activates cell membrane to help balance glucose levels
  • —  Magnesium is a natural blood thinner
  • —  Magnesium helps prevent and treat insulin resistance for Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • —  Magnesium in adequate levels in the body will reduce high cholesterol, or the “bad fat”
  • —  Metformin, the first-line drug of choice for people with Type 2 diabetes reduces high cholesterol, especially in obese patients, to help prevent cardiovascular complications. Interestingly, Metformin has shown to elevate  magnesium levels in the liver.
  • —  Individuals with poorly-controlled diabetes may benefit from magnesium supplements because of increased magnesium loss in urine associated with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • —  Individuals with chronically low blood levels of potassium and calcium may have an underlying problem with magnesium deficiency. Magnesium supplements may help correct the potassium and calcium deficiencies



Magnesium Levels in Patients with Diabetes


According to research, magnesium deficiencies have been seen both inside the cell and outside the cell in pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, stable diabetes and chronic diabetes (Type 1).    Prolonged magnesium deficiency is also directly related to increased incidences of heart disease typically associated with poorly managed diabetes.




Insulin Resistance


Insulin is a hormone.   It is produced by the pancreas in response to eating a meal to carry the blood sugar (glucose) produced from the meal to our cells for energy production.   Insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity refers to the challenge the pancreas is having in producing enough insulin to process the glucose in the blood.  

The more difficulty the cells have metabolizing glucose, the more insulin the pancreas wants to produce.   The metabolic process of people with diabetes is no different than the metabolisms of people without diabetes.   The only difference is in the volume of insulin produced, or the body’s ability to utilize the insulin that is produced.    When there is too much glucose in the blood, two problems result:  1) The pancreas will try to keep up by producing more and more insulin, and 2) excess glucose will be turned into saturated body fat. 

It can become a vicious cycle of producing more and more insulin that is less and less able to be utilized by tired cells who can no longer keep pace.  High sugar, high fat diets and a lack of exercise will make it even more difficult for the insulin to do it’s job.   And in an ironic twist, high sugar levels in the blood will make you feel lethargic, and even hungry, as the insulin is still scrambling to get the glucose to your cells to produce energy.  

Eventually, the body becomes somewhat immune to the insulin, and it is no longer able to metabolize the glucose at all.   But all the non-functioning insulin in the blood – known as hyperinsulinemia –  is linked to damaged blood cells, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and even osteoporosis.

Stress and illness can also cause increased insulin production.  



Magnesium and Diabetes


A characteristic of insulin resistance – where the body needs to produce higher volumes of insulin –  is that little to no magnesium is found in the centre of the blood cells.  This is referred to as intracellular magnesium.    We know there is a direct correlation between magnesium and insulin.   Magnesium is the one mineral that ‘twins’ with almost every other nutrient in one metabolic process or another, and the hormone insulin is no different.

Insulin has something to do with moving magnesium across the cell wall – inside and outside the cell.  Magnesium when found in adequate supply inside the cell, contributes to improve “insulin-mediated glucose uptake” which is a fancy way of saying magnesium helps insulin do its’ job. 

Conversely the absence of intracellular magnesium is responsible for impairing insulin action – meaning it’s not working – and a worsening of insulin resistance in both Type 2 diabetes and in hypertensive patients, that is people with high blood pressure.  

Study scientists also noted that reduced magnesium in the middle of the cell also resulted in “exaggerated calcium concentrations.”     The consequences of excess calcium are well-known in matters of the heart and calcification of organs and muscles – but this study would suggest that the imbalance of magnesium and calcium also has an impact on the management of diabetes.

The study is from the Institute of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Palermo, Italy entitled “The role of magnesium in insulin action, diabetes and cardio-metabolic syndrome X.”




Clinical Implications of Low Magnesium Levels


  • Insulin resistance is known to be directly related to magnesium deficiency
  • Diabetes-related diseases such as atherosclerosis (narrowed heart vessels that inhibit blood flow, usually as a result of high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol) and retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels of the eye) have an increased likelihood of progression when there is low levels of intracellular magnesium.



How  Magnesium Supplementation Helps


  • Loss of magnesium increases in periods of high levels of blood glucose
  • Corrects the deficit in intracellular magnesium levels
  • Decreases platelet reactivity
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Has a role in the release and activity of insulin transport in the blood
  • May protect against diabetes and its complications
  • Plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism



Doctor’s Best Magnesium




Suggested:  I like Doctor’s Best High Absorption 100% Chelated Magnesium is made with TRAACS, a patented, form of bioavailable magnesium that is chelated to optimize bioavailability. 

It is “not buffered,” meaning that is it not mixed with less expensive and less absorbable magnesium oxide, and it is  vegan, non-GMO, and gluten free.

 This is the best-selling magnesium supplement on Amazon, with over 1,700 reviews.






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Melatonin Helps Sundowning and Other Sleep Disorders



Melatonin Helps Sundowning and Other Sleep Disorders



For many elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, sunset can be a time of increased memory loss, confusion, agitation and even anger. 


Sundowning is a dementia-related symptom that refers to increased agitation, confusion and hyperactivity that begins in the late afternoon and builds throughout the evening.


For family members who care for those with dementia, witnessing an increase in their loved one’s symptoms of disorientation at sunset can be nothing short of troubling, if not also painful, frightening and exhausting.




Scientists don’t completely understand why sleep disturbances occur with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As with changes in memory and behavior, sleep changes somehow result from the impact of Alzheimer’s on the brain.


Some studies indicate as many as 20 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s will experience increased confusion, anxiety and agitation beginning late in the day. Others may experience changes in their sleep schedule and restlessness during the night. This disruption in the body’s sleep-wake cycle can lead to more behavioral problems.



Factors that may contribute to sundowning and sleep disturbances include:


  • End-of-day exhaustion (both mental and physical)
  • An upset in the “internal body clock,” causing a biological mix-up between day and night
  • Reduced lighting and increased shadows causing people with Alzheimer’s to misinterpret what they see, and become confused and afraid
  • Reactions to nonverbal cues of frustration from caregivers who are exhausted from their day
  • Disorientation due to the inability to separate dreams from reality when sleeping
  • Less need for sleep, which is common among older adults




Circadian Rhythms and the Biological Clock


Although most people tend to think that manifestations of body function such as temperature and blood pressure are constant throughout the day, the fact is that many functions change in cyclic patterns—especially those that are affected by hormones, such as cortisol.

These daily fluctuations, or circadian rhythms (from Latin: “about one day”), are fundamental to all organisms, from bacteria to human beings. Circadian rhythms help coordinate and synchronize our internal body functions, as well as our interactions with the external world.




Scientists are still learning about how the body maintains this synchronicity with its environment. Here is some of what they’ve found.




Deep within the brain, in the anterior hypothalamus, lies the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a dual cluster of thousands of nerve cells. This is the body’s circadian pacemaker, popularly known as the biological clock, which is powered, in a sense, by light.




The SCN receives signals from the outside world via the retina of the eye (the back inside lining of the eyeball, analogous to the film in a camera). When light strikes the retina, bioelectric signals are generated and sent to the SCN via a neural pathway called the retinohypothalamic tract. Signals are also sent, of course (via the optic nerve), to the visual cortex, where the sensation of vision is produced.




Melatonin—The Biological Clock’s Hour Hand


The signals that reach the SCN are processed and forwarded to a small number of other hypothalamic nuclei and to the destination of primary importance, the pineal gland. This is an endocrine gland whose pea size proves that, at least in terms of physiological importance, size doesn’t matter. What makes the pineal gland so important is the hormone it secretes: melatonin. This compound is the end product of a biosynthetic pathway that begins with the nutrient amino acid tryptophan.

Through a series of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, tryptophan is partially converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is partially converted to serotonin, which is partially converted to melatonin. (How “partial” each of these conversions is depends on many factors governed by prevailing chemical conditions in different parts of the body.)




Lights Out = Melatonin On


The relationship between light and melatonin is inverse. When the SCN is stimulated by daylight signals from the retina, it instructs the pineal gland to suppress melatonin production (though not entirely). Then, when daylight fades in the evening, the SCN’s lack of stimulation is signaled to the pineal gland, and melatonin secretion is increased many times over, creating a physiological condition of “biological night” in the person.

The circadian rhythm of melatonin secretion is so tied to the day/night cycle that the daily duration of the secretion (at high levels) is shorter during the summer, when the nights are short, and longer during the winter, when the nights are long.

By directly controlling the pineal gland’s melatonin secretion, the SCN indirectly controls many of the body’s circadian rhythms, including those affected by jet lag. Consequently, many physicians recommend supplemental melatonin for relieving the symptoms of this condition.

Studies have shown that melatonin is effective in phase-shifting human circadian rhythms either forward or backward, giving long-distance travelers welcome relief from both the physical and psychological effects of jet lag.



Melatonin Is Good for Insomnia


Melatonin has also been used successfully for treating insomnia. In a newly published meta-analysis on the effects of supplemental melatonin on sleep, the authors analyzed the data from 17 previously published studies and concluded that melatonin can significantly decrease sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and increase sleep efficiency and sleep duration.1

The fact that melatonin can be used for treating insomnia is especially relevant to the elderly. As people grow older, sleep problems, including difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep, become common. This is probably because a general disruption of circadian rhythms associated with declining melatonin production is characteristic of the aging process.

With melatonin levels declining as we age, it makes sense to think that melatonin supplements (taken in the evening, of course) may be able to help us achieve a good night’s sleep.



Melatonin Deficiency May Cause Sundowning


There is evidence that melatonin may also be able to help relieve some of the symptoms of an emerging twenty-first-century epidemic: Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

First described clinically in 1906, AD is the most common cause of dementia in those aged 65 or older. With the rapidly aging population in the United States (it’s estimated that 30% of the population will be 65 or older by the year 2050), projections are that 14 million people will develop this devastating disease during the next four decades.2,3



You may notice big changes in how your loved one with Alzheimer’s act in the late afternoon or early evening.  Fading light seems to be the trigger. The symptoms can get worse as the night goes on and usually get better by morning.

Disruption of the sleep/wake cycle is highly characteristic of AD, and a commonly observed problem in AD patients is a phenomenon called sundowning. This is a worsening (during the evening hours) of a constellation of cognitive and behavioral symptoms associated with the disease.



When someone is sundowning, they may be:

  • Agitated (upset or anxious)
  • Restless
  • Irritable
  • Confused
  • Disoriented
  • Demanding
  • Suspicious



They also may:

  • Yell
  • Pace
  • Hear or see things that aren’t there
  • Have mood swings



Up to 1 out of 5 people with Alzheimer’s get sundown syndrome. But it can also happen to older people who don’t have dementia.

Although there is no clear answer as to why this occurs, many researchers are coming to believe that declining melatonin levels may play a significant role.



Natrogix Ultra Pure Melatonin


A study in Current Neuropharmacology shows that Melatonin secretion decreases in Alzheimer´s disease (AD) and this decrease has been postulated as responsible for the circadian disorganization, decrease in sleep efficiency and impaired cognitive function seen in those patients.

Studies also show that Alzheimer’s patients with disturbed sleep-wake rhythms not only exhibited reduced amounts of melatonin secreted, but also a higher degree of irregularities in the pattern of the melatonin rhythm. 



According to scientific research, melatonin replacement has been shown effective to treat sundowning and other sleep wake disorders in AD patients.  Numerous controlled trials found improvement in such objective characteristics of sleep quality as total sleep time, sleep efficiency, and wake time during sleep as a result of melatonin treatment, as well as a trend toward decreased sundowning and improved sleep quality.  Several recent studies which reflect use of melatonin specifically in patients with dementia, demonstrated that melatonin reduces sundowning behavior, nocturnal activity, decreases sleep latency, and improves quality of sleep.




Melatonin May Help Alleviate Alzheimer’s Disease


A recent review by scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research in Amsterdam explains that declining melatonin production in the aged can not only affect their circadian rhythms but also play a role in the development and characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease itself.4

The authors cite research showing that aging is characterized by a progressive deterioration of circadian rhythms, due at least in part to degenerative changes in the SCN and the pineal gland, which result in diminished melatonin production.

They go on to cite studies showing that, in AD patients, the biological clock (SCN) is severely impaired, and the resultant degree of impairment of melatonin secretion is related to the severity of the mental impairment caused by the disease.

They state, “AD patients with disturbed sleep-wake cycle possess melatonin secretion rhythm disorders, and the disappearance of daily melatonin rhythm in AD patients is consistent with clinical circadian rhythm disorders, such as delirium, agitation, and sleep-wake disturbance.”

While it’s common in mainstream medical practice to use sedatives such as benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics such as haloperidol, to try to ameliorate the sundowning and sleep disturbances so commonly seen in Alzheimer’s patients, these drugs do little or nothing to help, and in some cases they may even exacerbate the problems.

This makes the use of melatonin supplementation seem all the more attractive by comparison, especially since it’s designed to rectify the very deficiency that caused the problem in the first place. The Dutch authors go on to state,


In AD patients, melatonin [supplementation] has been suggested to improve circadian rhythmicity, decreasing agitated behavior, confusion, and ‘sundowning’ in uncontrolled studies. Melatonin has also been suggested to have beneficial effects on memory in AD, possibly through protection against oxidative stress and neuroprotective capabilities.



Melatonin Is an Antioxidant and Neuroprotector


Natrol Time Release Melatonin

Oxidative damage to the brain caused by free radicals is thought to play a significant role in the cognitive impairments characteristic of Alzheimer’s, a disease in which free radicals are produced in much greater amounts then normal. These excess free radicals are known to cause significant damage to the brain, including the actual death of many neurons.

A review paper in 2000 reported that, in the autopsied brains of Alzheimer’s patients, there were many hallmark pathological changes caused by free radical activity, including oxidative damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids.5

Melatonin has significant antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, and it is believed that they may be important with regard to its role in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. It is intriguing to note that the precursor molecule 5-HTP (which can be taken as a supplement for the purpose of boosting serotonin levels) has recently been found to have a much higher antioxidant activity than melatonin.6


If your loved one experiences sundowning, it’s certainly worth trying a nightly dose of melatonin to see if it helps re-set their body clock. 


Experts also suggest these lifestyle tips to help minimize sundowning behaviors:

  • Try to maintain a predictable routine for bedtime, waking, meals and activities.
  • Plan for activities and exposure to light during the day to encourage nighttime sleepiness.
  • Limit daytime napping.
  • Limit caffeine and sugar to morning hours.
  • In the evening, try to reduce background noise and stimulating activities, including TV viewing, which can sometimes be upsetting.
  • In a strange or unfamiliar setting, bring familiar items — such as photographs — to create a more relaxed, familiar setting.
  • Play familiar gentle music in the evening or relaxing sounds of nature, such as the sound of waves.
  • Talk with your loved one’s doctor if you suspect an underlying condition, such as a urinary tract infection or sleep apnea, might be worsening sundowning behavior.


When sundowning occurs in a care facility, it may be related to the flurry of activity during staff shift changes or the lack of structured activities in the late afternoon and evening. Staff arriving and leaving may cue some people with Alzheimer’s to want to go home or to check on their children — or other behaviors that were appropriate in the late afternoon in their past. It may help to occupy their time with another activity during that period.


Do you have any tips to help sundowning?  Please share your thoughts and experience below.



  1. Brzezinski A, Vangel MG, Wurtman RJ, et al. Effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep: a meta-analysis. Sleep Med Rev 2005;9(1):41-50.
  2. Grundman M, Thal L. Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurol Clin 2000;18(4):807-28.
  3. Mayeux R, Sang M. Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. New Engl J Med 1999;341:1670-9.
  4. Wu YH, Swaab DF. The human pineal gland and melatonin in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. J Pineal Res 2004 Dec 21 (online pub date).
  5. Christen Y. Oxidative stress and Alzheimer’s disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71(2):621-9.
  6. Keithahn C, Lerchi A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is a more potent in vitro hydroxyl radical scavenger than melatonin or vitamin C. J Pineal Res 2005;38:62-6.




Recommended: The 36-Hour Day, 5th Edition

Originally published in 1981, The 36-Hour Day was the first book of its kind. Thirty years later, with dozens of other books on the market, it remains the definitive guide for people caring for someone with dementia.

Now in a new and updated edition, this best-selling book features thoroughly revised chapters on the causes of dementia, managing the early stages of dementia, the prevention of dementia, and finding appropriate living arrangements for the person who has dementia when home care is no longer an option.





Recommended: Surviving Alzheimer’s

Practical tips and soul-saving wisdom for caregivers







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Coloring For Adults is a Healthy Hobby

Coloring For Adults is a Healthy Hobby


Adult Coloring Book: Butterflies and Flowers – Stress Relieving Patterns

Coloring used to be reserved for children and the occasional adult who got to babysit them, but recently, the activity has found a different demographic.

What started as a niche hobby has now turned into an international trend, as adult coloring books find themselves on more and more bestsellers’ lists throughout the world. However, while this trend may be a fun way to pass the time, it’s the books’ therapeutic properties that really have them flying off shelves.

Art may not be able to cure disease, but it can surely make coping with it a lot better. Researchers have acknowledged the therapeutic qualities of art for years, and today, art therapy is used to help people express themselves when what they’re feeling is too difficult to put into words, such as when they’re faced with a cancer diagnosis.



Art Has Healing Power


Research shows this form of therapy often has tangible results. One 2006 study, for example, found that mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. Another study from the same year concluded that after only one hour of art therapy, adult cancer patients of all ages “overwhelmingly expressed comfort” and a desire to continue with the therapy.

“People with cancer very often feel like their body has been taken over by the cancer. They feel overwhelmed,” Joke Bradt, a music therapist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, told Reuters. “To be able to engage in a creative process… that stands in a very stark contrast to sort of passively submitting oneself to cancer treatments.”

It’s not just those with cancer that can benefit from the visual arts, either. Art therapy is also helpful among people dealing with a variety of other conditions, such as depression, dementia, anxiety, and PTSD.

Art therapy often involves using an art medium as a tool to help address a patient’s specific problem, but as you might have observed in your high school art class, some individuals are more artistically gifted than others. Those who judge themselves as bad artists may be more likely to miss out on the benefits of art-based therapies. Adult coloring, therefore, presents a creative venture without the need for artistic flair. One simply needs to color within the lines in order to get the desired effect. However, some experts suggest it’s this lack of artistic input from patients that prevents adult coloring from being considered a genuine form of art therapy.

“It’s like the difference between listening to music versus learning how to play an instrument,” Donna Betts, president of the board of the American Art Therapy Association told The Guardian. “Listening to music is something easy that everyone can do, but playing an instrument is a whole other skillset.”

Drena Fagen, an art therapist and adjunct instructor at New York University’s Steinhardt School, shared Betts’ sentiments: “I don’t consider the coloring books as art therapy,” she told The Guardian. “I consider the coloring books therapeutic, which is not the same thing.”



Here’s What Happens When You Color:



You Slow Down


We live in a world where being busy is the norm, and we easily get overwhelmed and overloaded by ever growing “to-do” lists. When you take time to color, you are actually slowing down. You are not focusing on what needs to be done next, but just allowing yourself to do something at a much slower pace.


Your Breathing Changes


Most adults are unaware of how they breathe throughout the day. Most fall into a bad pattern of breathing shallow or even holding their breath unconsciously as they focus intently on certain. Shallow breathing can contribute to rising stress levels as it prevents the body from getting an adequate supply of oxygen, which stresses the body. And the busier you are, the more prone you will be to breathing shallowly. When you begin to color, the breathing slows and deepens and you take in more oxygen, leading to a reduction in stress.




You Forget About Problems


When coloring you are focused on that task, and not on the problems from the day. Sitting down and taking the time to color has actually been shown to calm the amygdala, the area of the brain that controls emotions and motivation. The reduction of activity in the amygdala can help lessen the effect of negative emotions and allow you to let go of your problems for awhile.



You Remove Excess Stimulation


With all of the technology that everyone has access to, people are constantly being exposed to external stimulation from television, cell phones, computers and more. This constant stream of stimulation can actually increase stress levels significantly because it causes us to be connected to others continuously and causes us to be exposed to noise and light for longer periods than normal.

When you take time to color, you reduce external stimulation, which in turn reduces stress. It is best that if you wish to reduce stress through coloring that you color without a lot of external noise, such as the television or loud music. Silence is the best for true stress relief while coloring, but soft music will not overwhelm your senses and create stress.



Coloring Boosts Creativity!


When you color a beautiful pattern, it feels good to see the color that you are adding, bring that picture to life!  Many people are choosing to spend time coloring because even short sessions with a coloring book have been shown to ramp up creativity and increase the ability to focus.



Just like meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art.

Coloring may not be the best thing since meditation, but it definitely can help to reduce your stress level and give you a break from the demands of life. Coloring books can be relatively inexpensive, and you can also find a lot of coloring pages online that are free to download.





Some Coloring Inspiration



To see some absolutely magical coloring, watch this video below which uses the coloring book Magic Jungle by Johanna Basford.





The artist, Chris Cheng colored with Prismacolor Premier 150 Colored Pencils, and also used a Uni-Ball Signo & Souffle Gel Pen in the coloring book Magic Jungle.





Tips on the Use of Color

A useful tool for a discussion about colors is a color wheel. This wheel is composed of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Where the primary colors overlap, you’ll find the secondary colors orange, green and purple. In between are various other shades. 

If you want to achieve an amazing effect, try combining blue and orange for instance. If you prefer a more harmonious result, a combination of blue and purple would be a better idea.

How a color comes across partly depends on what colors surround it. A red area within a yellow surface will seem much darker than the same red area on a blue background.

If you keep these things in mind, you can play with color. For instance, try using contrasting colors to outline the bigger shapes, and then fill these in with harmonious colors.

Different colors evoke different emotions. Apart from personal preferences — what is your favorite color? — colors have a more universal psychological meaning. Well-known of course is that red stands for danger, passion, and fire, and white for purity and peace. But other colors also have a psychological effect.


Red: Danger, passion, love, fire

Blue: Power, dignity, clarity

Yellow: Energy, lightness, joy

Green: Nature, peace, fertility

Violet: Wisdom, spirituality, strength, healing


Associated with this topic is the so-called color temperature. Colors can be divided into warm and cool colors.

Warm colors are red, orange, yellow, and everything in between. Cool colors are blue, purple, green, and whatever shades are between them. In general, warm colors are seen as active, while cool colors are perceived as soothing. If you would like to give your coloring page an air of relaxation, choose many shades of blue and violet.




I hope you’ll give coloring a try.  It can be so enjoyable and relaxing.   Remember, you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy adult coloring, so don’t be intimidated.

The beauty about coloring is that there is no skill level that must be acquired before you are considered an expert. By the time we reach adulthood, it’s safe to say a majority of us have accomplished coloring in between the lines.

Even if you have never picked up a colored pencil in your life and completed a coloring page, it can still be pleasurable because you have nothing to lose.  Clinical psychologist Dr. Scott M. Bea mentions in Cleveland Clinic that “it is hard to screw up coloring, and, even if you do, there is no real consequence. As result, adult coloring can be a wonderful lark, rather than an arduous test of our capacities.”

In addition to this, most colorists have expressed seeing a finished product as one of the reasons they love coloring. Completing a coloring page whether you are new to the hobby or have been coloring since childhood, provides a sense of accomplishment. The instant gratification we feel continues our wave of positivity, which elicits more happy feelings.




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Washing Your Senior’s Hair in Bed: Step-by-Step Instructions


How to Wash Your Senior’s Hair in Bed

Step-by-Step Instructions







When they’re not able to get into the shower or bath, it can seem impossible to keep their hair and scalp clean. No-rinse shampoos, dry shampoo, or wiping with wet cloths are helpful, but aren’t quite as good as a thorough hair washing.


A real wash with water and regular shampoo will make your senior feel more comfortable and keeps their scalp healthier.


Most of us have experienced (at least second-hand) the issues that arise when someone is sick and in bed for an extended period of time. The hair gets limp and often oily, matted with sweat and will tend to begin to smell after a few days.



Short Term Solutions


The short-term solution is the use of a “dry shampoo” or a “no-rinse” shampoo. These are typically similar in purpose, but are intended for differing hair types.


Batiste Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is typically packaged as an aerosol spray that contains an oil-absorbing ingredient that can be brushed out of the hair once it has done its job.

It’s typically used with those who have oily hair or straight-to-wavy hair types.

You simply spray the powdery spray onto the hair at the scalp, let it dry (meaning allow the fast-drying propellant to evaporate) and use a natural-bristle brush to brush out the residue.

Before the creation of specific products for this purpose, many people would use talcum powder or corn starch in small amounts to produce the same effects.



No Rinse Shampoo Cap


No-rinse shampoos are liquid based, and usually come in a foaming formulation that is applied liberally to the hair and allowed to dry on their own without rinsing.

They often contain alcohol or other quick-drying ingredients as well as including leave-in conditioners to soften the hair and make it more manageable. These are used more with individuals with wavy-to-curly hair types and those whose hair tends to be dry or fly-away.

When my mom was in the hospital, the nurse used a No Rinse Shampoo Cap to wash Mom’s hair.  She just warmed the cap briefly in the microwave, put it on, and massaged Mom’s hair through the cap. Then she towel dried Mom’s hair a little, and let it air dry.  I was surprised to see what a good job it did at getting her hair and scalp clean.  This is a great option for a fast, no mess wash. 



Long Term Solution – A Thorough Cleansing


While dry and no-rinse shampoos are great for the short-term, after a while, they seem less effective as the hair begins to develop build-up. When this happens, you want to be able to give the hair a thorough cleansing. To do this, you need to look at the process a little differently than you might normally consider it.



What You’ll Need


Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Calming Lavender, 20 Ounce


  • Garbage bags and/or a few towels to line the bed and keep it dry
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Bucket of warm water
  • Cup for scooping water
  • Empty bucket to drain dirty water



Follow These 12 Steps


1.   Lay out all your supplies so you know you have everything you’ll need

2.   Line the bed to keep it from getting wet

3.   Fill one bucket with warm water

4.   Gently place your senior’s head into the inflatable basin

5.   Make sure the basin is set up to drain into the empty bucket

6.   Scoop warm water from the full bucket to wet their hair

7.   Use a small amount of shampoo; using too much will make it difficult to rinse out

8.   Scoop warm water to rinse hair completely

9.   If hair is very dirty, shampoo and rinse again

10. When hair is clean, gently remove your senior’s head from the basin

11.  Wrap their head in a dry towel to keep them warm and comfortable

12.  Make sure the basin is fully drained – you might need to tip it over into the bathtub



This video shows how to wash a bed bound person’s hair using an inflatable shampoo basin:





The DMI Basin is easy to inflate and stores easily and compactly when not in use. It has a convenient tube attached so you can drain the water into a large basin or the sink if it’s nearby. The bed shampooer is constructed of heavy duty vinyl for durability and is easy to clean. It even has a little built-in pillow for the head.




DMI Deluxe Inflatable Bed Shampooer Basin, White




The basin is extra deep and constructed of easy-to-clean heavy duty vinyl, and includes a 40″ drain tube.  It measures 24 x 20 x 8 inches.  Read the reviews.





Some Nice Extras for Comfort


  • Plugging ears with cotton balls to keep water from getting in
  • Lining the neck opening with a small towel to protect from scratchy plastic seams
  • Giving them a washcloth to hold on their face if they’re concerned that you might get water in their eyes
  • Using a soothing lavender-scented shampoo for a relaxing experience



It can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable.  The most important things to remember are to have everything you need in easy reach before you begin, and to do what you can to make the experience both relaxing and pleasant for both of you.


Please share your tips with washing a bed-bound person’s hair in bed.


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