Exercising With Parkinson’s Disease

Exercising With Parkinson’s Disease

 

Image result for parkinson's exercise

 

A Guide to Being Physically Active With Parkinson’s

 

 

Research has shown that regular exercise benefits people with Parkinson’s disease

Exercise:

  • reduces stiffness
  • improves mobility, posture, balance and gait

Aerobic exercise increases oxygen delivery and neurotransmitters to keep our heart, lungs, and nervous system healthy. General exercise may also reduce depression. Learning-based memory exercises can also help keep our memory sharp.

 

 

Best Exercise Options for People with Parkinson’s Disease

 

There is increasing evidence that aerobic and learning-based exercises could be neuroprotective in aging individuals and those with neurodegenerative disease.  

Facilitating exercise programs that challenge our heart and lungs as well as promote good biomechanics, good posture, trunk rotation and normal rhythmic, symmetric movements are the best.  Dancing to music may be particularly good for decreasing stiffness.

Although research on this subject is ongoing, it does appear that beyond aerobic activities performed with healthy movement patterns, exercises challenging the individual to change tempo, activity, or direction (what is referred to as “random practice” exercise) benefits people with Parkinson’s disease. 

It is also important to keep variety in exercise activities, because individuals with Parkinson’s disease often have difficulty in shifting from one activity to another or in performing two activities at the same time. Exercises that require balance and preparatory adjustment of the body are also important along with rhythmic activities such as dancing, skipping and cycling can maintain the ability to perform reciprocal movements.   Finally, exercises that promote attention and learning are beneficial.

 

Types of exercises that do this:

  • Walking outside or in a mall
  • Dancing
  • Yoga classes
  • Tai Chi classes
  • Stepping over obstacles
  • Marching to music with big arm swings
  • Sports (ping pong, golf, tennis, volleyball)
  • Aerobic/Jazzercise classes  

 

Types of exercises that promote cardiopulmonary fitness:

  • Paced walking (treadmill walking at different speeds and different inclines)
  • Hiking using walking sticks
  • Swimming with different strokes with the eyes open and closed not only challenge motor learning but also increase heart rate and provide good cardiopulmonary conditioning.

 

Types of exercise that do NOT challenge motor planning:

  • Riding a stationary bicycle without doing other activities
  • Weight lifting
  • Treadmill walking at a slow speed
  • Lap swimming can be very habitual and also automatic.  

 

These exercises for cardiovascular, endurance and strengthening could be enriched by performing simultaneous activities such as reading, writing, problem solving, singing, watching the news or a movie or throwing and catching balls. Exercises that demand attention, repetition, progression of difficulty with spaced practice over time are the best exercise routines to promote learning.

A note on bicycling: Parkinson’s disease impairs balance and reaction time. Traditional bicycles may pose a safety risk for some patients. Stationary, tandem and three-wheeled bikes are safe alternatives.

 

Example: Sunny Health Recumbent Bike (300 lb capacity)

 

 

Parkinson’s Study Shows a Specific Type of Treadmill Exercise Improves Walking in Patients With Parkinson’s

 

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore VA Medical Center found that Parkinson’s patients who walked on a treadmill at a comfortable speed for a longer duration—what’s considered a low-intensity exercise— improved their walking more than patients who walked for less time but at an increased speed and incline, a high-intensity exercise. They also found benefits for stretching and resistance exercises.

“Our study showed that low-intensity exercise performed for 50 minutes three times a week was the most beneficial in terms of helping participants improve their mobility,” says Lisa Shulman, MD, principal investigator and professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Walking difficulty is the major cause of disability in Parkinson’s disease. These results show that exercise in people with Parkinson’s disease can make a difference in their function. Exercise may, in fact, delay disability and help to preserve independence.

“Many patients ask us what kind of exercise they should be doing. Now we can tell them that this research shows that low-intensity walking, which most people with Parkinson’s can do, combined with stretching and resistance training may be the best option,” adds Dr. Shulman, who is also co-director of the Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The study compared 67 people with Parkinson’s disease who were randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups: walking on a treadmill at low intensity for 50 minutes, higher-intensity treadmill training to improve cardiovascular fitness for 30 minutes, and using weights (leg presses, extensions and curls) and stretching exercises to improve muscle strength and range of motion. Participants exercised three times a week for three months under the supervision of exercise physiologists at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. “We saw positive effects with all three types of exercise, but the low-intensity training showed the most consistent improvement in gait and mobility,” says Dr. Shulman.

“To maintain the best possible quality of life, people with Parkinson’s disease need practical, evidence-based advice about what kind of exercise will most benefit them over the long term. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has aimed to answer this question in its exercise funding to investigators such as Dr. Lisa Shulman and her team,” says Todd Sherer, PhD, chief program officer of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The Maryland research team measured participants’ cardiovascular fitness before and after training, and found cardiovascular improvement in both the low- and high-intensity groups. Other measurements included the distance covered in a six-minute walk and timed tests of walking short distances, such as 50 feet.

“The results of this study provide practical information to people with Parkinson’s disease to make decisions about managing their health and well-being. Our University of Maryland faculty members are committed to testing new approaches, such as exercise, to help patients,” says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

 

This Exerpeutic F2000 Recovery Fitness Walking Treadmill with Full Length Hand Rails is specifically designed for seniors and people in recovery.

 

 

Avoid Strength Training

Weight lifting is NOT the best choice of an exercise program for the person with Parkinson’s disease, particularly if it is the only exercise activity.  Individuals need to be careful how they perform strengthening exercises to minimize increasing stiffness and rigidity. When performed properly, strengthening exercises do have some value.

As one ages, more exercise must be performed to maintain muscle mass.  Muscle mass and strength allow an individual to complete daily chores and to maintain balance.  Additionally, strengthening postural muscles may help to maintain a more upright posture. Integrative, functional exercises other than weight-training may strengthen muscles in ways that are more beneficial to individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

 

Examples of alternative exercises to weight lifting:

  • Activities in a standing position strengthen legs
  • Pushing up to rise on the toes
  • Modified squats
  • Repetitively rising and sitting from a chair
  • Wearing ankle and wrist weights around the house or out on a walk
  • Push-ups or wall push-ups for arms

 

Light weights are just as effective as heavy weights in maintaining muscle tone and do not increase stiffness as much.  Walking with ankle weights and wrist weights can help strengthen while encouraging increased awareness of arm swinging and high stepping.

Example: These Nordic Lifting 5 lb Ankle/Wrist Weights are fully adjustable to fit anyone, and can be used on either the ankles or wrists.

 

Moderation is the best word for strength training without other forms of exercise. However, integrating strengthening and flexibility exercises into aerobic, rhythmic and learning-based exercise routines that are fun, engaging, progressing in difficulty and rewarding are the best.

 

Swimming is a Good Second Choice Activity

Swimming provides good cardiopulmonary training and maintains muscle strength.  However, lap swimming does not challenge balance or stimulate variety of movements.  Therefore, lap swimming is a second choice activity. However, since the arms, legs and head may be doing different things, it may increase coordination.  The resistance of the water increases stiffness in some people and decreases it in others.

 

Activities to try:

  • Adding resistance with paddles and trunk support – provides more opportunity for reciprocal movements and circling movements of the arms and the legs
  • Rolling and somersaults – in the pool are good for those who are particularly comfortable in the water

 

A Caution About Swimming

For individuals with Parkinson’s disease who have difficulty in breathing, swimming may not be a comfortable aerobic activity. Thus, swimming may be an appropriate choice of exercise for individuals who have enjoyed it in the past and are comfortable with the techniques and those with musculoskeletal conditions particularly of the knee and back. Swimming using certain strokes can also help increase shoulder range of motion.

 

Decreasing Muscle Stiffness With Specific Exercises

Exercises that require large, rhythmical movements through a full range of motion have been shown to decrease rigidity.  For example, in a program of aerobic exercise using music, there was a reduction in rigidity in 9 out of 10 participants immediately after the exercise program.

 

Exercises to decrease stiffness:

  • Large, rhythmical movements
  • Rotating the trunk
  • Vibration, rocking and swinging

 

Other considerations to decrease stiffness:

  • Avoiding tremors (e.g. touching the limb that is shaking to quiet the movement) can also decrease tension 
  • Decreasing stress in ones life – having fun, thinking positively about planning and carrying out challenging, socially engaging and learning-based activities
  • Cooling or warming the tense extremity can sometimes be helpful.

 

The Effect of Medication on Exercise

The best time to exercise is when mobility is best. For individuals who take medications for Parkinson’s disease, the best level of function often occurs about 1 hour after a dose of medications.  The answer to this question varies by individual. The individual reaction to the medication is also important.

 

Frequency of Exercise

The guidelines for people with Parkinson’s disease are no different from those without the disease (i.e. 4-5 times a week for at least 30-40 minutes).  This assumes that your heart is beating at 70 to 80% of maximum (220 – your age times 70 or 80%).

 

Make Exercise Fun:

Engage in group exercise, movement or dancing classes.  For many, participating in activities with other people, can be more stimulating and increase compliance.

 

Stay active and integrate exercise into your usual day:

  • Walk whenever possible instead of driving
  • Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • Take regular 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes (lifting the arms up over your head, performing wall glides, breathing diaphragmatically, getting up to get a glass of water, or putting theraband exercise bands on chairs to work on some strengthening)
  • Avoid long periods of time watching TV and or using a computer

 

Example: These exercise bands are a great way to gently work muscles at home.

 

They come in 5 strengths, and can be used for a variety of exercises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool Down After Exercise

A “cool-down period” is important.  After exercise, allow yourself a longer time for a cool-down than others would need (Individuals who exercised before developing Parkinson’s disease typically double their cool-down time).  

 

A cool-down period accomplishes 2 goals:

1)      Promotes a slow decrease in heart rate

2)      Allows the muscles time to cool down gradually so they do not become stiff.  

A cool-down period consists of the same exercise activity but at a progressively slower pace.  During the cool-down, all muscles need to go through a slow, full range of motion.  If you feel exhausted and want to fall asleep immediately after exercise, then you are not cooling down slowly enough.

 

Daily Learning

If you listen to the news, talk to someone about it.  Listen to educational programs and discuss what you learned.  Do crossword puzzles or participate in memory training programs on the web or from a CD.

 

Getting Out Regularly

If you are retired, consider volunteering your time to help others ( e.g. Red Cross, Meals on Wheels).  Move about in the community and learn the tricks of keeping your eyes on a target to improve stability. Carry a cane to let people know that it would be best not to bump you.

See Choosing a Walking Cane

 

Practice Writing

Learn to hold your pen lightly and write with big cursive type movements. Consider making the surface of your pen rough or sticky. This will help decrease the force of your squeezing the pen. Write by moving the whole arm, not just the fingers.  Practice writing to music and even say the words out loud as you write. Circle making big movements.

 

Your Voice Needs Exercise, Too

Talk slowly, clearly and loudly with a lot of expression of your eyes and your face. Have everyone speak loudly and slowly. If you find you continue to talk softly and quickly and people are having difficulty understanding you, then ask a friend to read and record some passages from a book. Then you put the head set on and hear your friends voice as you read the same passages.  This may strengthen the learning.

 

 

Helpful Walking Techniques

Often individuals with Parkinson’s disease have problems with abruptly halting or “freezing,” when walking.

 

To help decrease freezing, try:

  • Reciprocal arm swinging
  • High long steps
  • Scanning the environment and using visual fixation on an object in the distance or auditory cues (listening to music, singing to yourself, counting)
  • Thinking about making big steps to clear obstacles on the floor or marching (high steps)
  • Walking hand-in-hand, swinging the arms with a friend or family member
  • Having someone place their foot in front of you as a cue to step high and over
  • One person found that throwing pennies and stepping over them was helpful (“But,” he added, “don’t bend down to pick them up.”). 
  • Loud rhythmical clapping
  • Paced walking with high stepping. 
  • Using walking sticks (using them for sensory feedback and sense of stability may be more important than using a cane. Of course, using a cane or a walker can be helpful if there is a lot of weakness and stiffness.) 

Pushing one’s self to stay active should be the goal.

 

See Choosing the Right Medical Walker

 

 

Getting Out of Bed

For some people with Parkinson’s disease, getting out of bed may become difficult. First, you might practice rolling on your bed. Roll back and forth and get a rhythm. Then with some momentum, roll to your side and come to sitting. You might have a dresser near the side of your bed so you could touch the dresser for stability if you need to.

When specifically trying to come to sitting from lying in bed, roll over on your side. Push on your elbow and let your feet come over the edge of the bed and then sit up at the edge.  Sit there for a minute to adjust and then rise to stand and then walk. This technique is not only easier but better for your back.

 

This Stander Bed Cane can provide much needed support for getting out of bed.

 

 

Techniques to make it easier to move around in bed:

  • Wear satin pajamas or use satin sheets (but not both). 
  • Practice standing up and sitting down quickly from a chair without using your hands, to improve your transitional movement skills
  • Practice getting up quickly from a chair and taking a few big steps and then turn around and go sit back down. 
  • Practice safe skills by climbing and descending stairs.  

If you are seeing a physical therapist, the last three bullets are some of the activities that should be practiced.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

Exercise is a vital part of daily life for all people who want to stay fit and healthy. For people with Parkinson’s disease, however, it is more than just about staying healthy. For them, the right exercises can improve vital aspects of daily living, such as mobility and maintaining balance. Those with Parkinson’s Disease should speak with their doctor or an advisory group to work out a specific program to help them start or maintain an exercise program.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

 

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Natural, Effective Treatments for Male Impotence

Natural, Effective Treatments for Male Impotence

 

 

Many herbs show potential to be effective in improving men’s sexual function.

 

 

Erectile dysfunction is a condition that affects a man’s ability to achieve or maintain an erection suitable for sex.

The condition can affect men at any age, but according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, erectile dysfunction (ED) is most common when a man is 75 years or older.

Recent innovations in medical treatments mean that there are now more medications available to reduce ED. However, some men prefer to take herbal supplements as an alternative.  Image above: Nutriflair Horny Goat Weed Sexual Energy Complex.

Many herbs show potential to be effective in improving men’s sexual function, however, people should always exercise caution when taking any form of herbal supplementation.

The United States government does not monitor herbs, so use due diligence, and always purchase your herbal supplements from a reputable manufacturer.

 

 

Here Are the Herbs That Can Improve Erectile Dysfunction:

 

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for Male Impotence

 

What is it: DHEA is a supplement that mimics a natural steroid hormone in the body and may help treat ED in men.

DHEA supplements mimic the action of a natural steroid hormone.

The dosages for DHEA vary from person to person. Some men take between 20 and 75 milligrams (mg) for about 6 months, while others may take between 100 to 400 mg for up to 8 weeks.

How does it work: Natural DHEA levels subside as a person ages. Increasing the amount of adrenal hormone may help the body create hormones that improve sexual functions as well as energy levels.

Research: A 1999 study published in the journal Urology showed that DHEA treatment improved sexual performance. However, the study was a very small one.

Side effects: DHEA is usually safe when taken in low doses. However, acne can be a side effect.

 

Example: Pure Encapsulations DHEA

 

 

Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium) for Male Impotence

 

What is it: This Chinese herb has been used to reduce the causes associated with sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction. Women may also take it to reduce the incidence of painful intercourse and loss of libido.

How does it work: Researchers do not know the exact mechanism by which Horny Goat Weed works. But scientists believe it alter the levels of certain hormones in the body, which may in turn improve sexual performance.

Research: Taking horny goat weed hasn’t been studied in people. However, a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine studied the effect of a purified extract of epimedium on rats. It found that rats who received the extract of Horny Goat Weed demonstrated greater incidences of blood flow than those who did not.

Side effects: Using this herb could affect a person’s heart function. Those with heart disease should not take it as it can cause irregular heartbeat. The medication can also interact with other drugs.

 

Example: Nutriflair Horny Goat Weed

 

 

Gingko Biloba for Male Impotence

 

What is it: Ginkgo biloba is an herb that practitioners have used for thousands of years to treat a number of health conditions. Examples include dementia, anxiety, and poor blood flow to the brain.

Ginkgo has been used to treat many health conditions. Some believe it may improve blood flow to the male sexual organs.

How does it work: Proponents of taking ginkgo biloba for erectile dysfunction believe ginkgo dilates blood vessels to promote blood flow to the sexual organs.

Research: The Mayo Clinic rank the evidence for ginkgo in treating erectile dysfunction a “C,” meaning that there is unclear scientific evidence for the herb’s use.

According to Columbia University, ginkgo biloba may be effective in helping treat sexual dysfunction that has been caused by taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), medications prescribed to treat depression.

Side effects: Ginkgo can increase the risk for bleeding, and people who take blood thinners should not take it.

Other side effect risks include nausea, headache, stomach upset, and mouth irritation.

 

Example: Nature’s Bounty Ginkgo Biloba

 

 

L-Arginine for Male Impotence

 

What is it: L-arginine is an amino acid that scientists in the 1800s first isolated from animal horn. It is incorporated into supplements to increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body.

How does it work: When taken in high doses, l-arginine can stimulate blood vessels to become larger. This improves blood flow, which could help a man get an erection.

Research: L-arginine is often combined with glutamate and yohimbine hydrochloride as a treatment for ED.

In one study published in the Journal of Sexual and Marital Therapy, researchers gave participants a combination of l-arginine and pycnogenol, a supplement derived from pine bark.

After treatment for 3 months, 92.5 percent of the 40 men enrolled who experienced ED reported achieving a normal erection.

Side effects: Side effects of taking l-arginine can include stomach upset, including cramping and diarrhea. The supplement can also adversely interact with taking the medication Viagra.

 

Example: Havasu L-Arginine

 

 

Red Ginseng for Male Impotence

 

What is it: Red Ginseng is an herb that Korean herbal practitioners promote for its ability to treat erectile dysfunction. Another name for red ginseng is Panax ginseng.

There are several theories as to why red ginseng might help treat erectile dysfunction. More research is required to support these theories.

How does it work: Researchers aren’t exactly sure how red ginseng reduces erectile dysfunction symptoms.

One theory is that it influences hormones responsible for achieving an erection. Another is that it promotes blood flow through increasing the amount of nitric oxide.

Research: A 2008 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that red ginseng was often more effective than placebo when reducing ED symptoms.

However, human studies usually have a small sample size, which makes it difficult for researchers to draw firm conclusions on the benefits of red ginseng.

Side effects: Taking red ginseng can cause insomnia. However, researchers largely regard it as safe when taken on a short-term basis.

 

Example: Nutra Champs Korean Red Panax Ginseng

 

 

Yohimbine for Male Impotence

 

What is it: Yohimbine is a supplement made from the bark of an African tree. Before medications such as Viagra, doctors often recommended yohimbine as a treatment for ED.

How does it work: Yohimbine works by triggering receptors in the body that trigger the release of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. These can block the effects of other compounds that may otherwise constrict the blood vessels in the penis.

Research: The American Urological Association do not recommend taking yohimbine as a treatment for ED because of its many side effects. However, it has been shown to enhance libido and sexual motivation in animal studies.

Side effects: Taking this supplement is associated with many side effects. Examples include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and anxiety. Men should not take yohimbe without consulting their doctor first.

 

Omnia Yohimbine HCI - All Natural - Made in the USA
Example: OMNIA Nutrition Yohimbine HCL

 

 

Don’t Hesitate to Check With Your Doctor

 

Men should not be afraid to see their doctor about ED if they experience it.

There are many medications, lifestyle changes, and even counseling that could help a man reduce the incidence of ED. If he wishes to, and has discussed the treatment with his doctor, he may even wish to take an herbal supplement to reduce ED.

A man should see his doctor about his ED if he has experienced changes in sexual desire, changes in erectile function after taking a new medication, or other changes in sexual function.

The condition is very treatable. Men should never be afraid to talk to their doctor about ED as sometimes the condition can indicate an underlying medical condition that should also be treated.

 

Many potential causes of ED exist. These include:

  • anxiety
  • atherosclerosis, a condition that causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries
  • chronic kidney disease
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • heart and blood pressure-related conditions
  • history of injury to the penis or surrounding organs
  • stress
  • taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, appetite suppressants, and tranquilizers

Achieving and maintaining an erection requires several things to happen. These include sensory stimulation, increased blood flow, increased blood pressure in the penis, and the contraction of muscles in the penis. If one or more of these steps are interrupted, ED can occur.

 

 

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

-Laurie

 

 

 

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Important Tips for Traveling With the Elderly

Important Tips for Traveling With the Elderly

 

 

Travel may be one of the greatest gifts you can give Mom or Dad.

The trip may be to visit other family and, particularly, grandkids and great grandchildren. It may be an adventure to a destination, aboard a cruise ship or even a return to a home of long ago.

You may accompany your parent; or, if he or she can maintain some independence, the trip may be solo. Either way, there are some important considerations:

 

 

Research and Plan Ahead

 

Whether you will travel together or your parent will be solo, planning, reserving and confirming must be accomplished sooner rather than later. When the destination is resolved with target dates, research airlines, Amtrak, buses, cruise lines. For air and land transportation, seek the most direct and shortest travel times.

If there is a choice of three airlines, for example, enroll your parent in the no-cost frequent flier program for each. This should give you access to the lowest fares and possible benefits at the airport and aboard the flight, as well as for requesting special services.

Know that once very common, most senior discount fares are history, but there are always discounted flights through comparison sites.  For special senior travel deals and excellent customer service, I like CheapoAir.

 

 

Special Services

 

Request seat assignment in the rows designated for disabled travelers. And, importantly, request cost-free wheelchair service at every airport origination, connection and arrival location. If there is meal service aboard, advise the reservation system of any dietary needs.

If traveling alone, ensure your parent will have human assistance from the counter, through security, to the gate and then to aboard the aircraft. If staffed by an airline employee, there is no cost for wheelchair or assistance. If staffed by Red Cap-type personnel, you or your parent will be expected to tip for that assist. If you are traveling together, you can offer to handle the wheelchair.

If you don’t make and confirm all of these requests at the time of reservation, the airline, train or bus line has no obligation to make them available on check-in or while en route.

 

 

Documentation

 

A government passport is accepted as the highest level of identification by federal TSA security officers. If you or your parent do not already have a passport, consider applying for such months prior to your travel. Your local post office will have the application forms; or you can go online to access the information and forms. Official photographs are available at AAA offices and at many large drug and department stores. Personal photos are not acceptable. Two copies of the photograph must be sent with your application.

Request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center.

Make at least four photocopy sets of the passport, driver’s license, Medicare and insurance cards, travel tickets and itinerary, boarding pass (if secured in advance online), plus any physician prescriptions and/or statements. One complete set is placed in your parent’s hand-carry bag, another in his or her roll-aboard luggage. One set is forwarded to family at the arrival destination, and one is left at home.

Provide a prepaid cell phone, and program in your telephone number as the first emergency number.

Example: this inexpensive TRACFONE comes with a free $40 airtime bundle.

 

 

Packing

Hartmann Lineaire Carry On Spinner, Black, One Size

Pack light. For a person traveling with at least some limitation, aim to pack everything necessary in a roll-aboard suitcase plus a medium-size over-the-shoulder carry-on. Do not check the roll-aboard as luggage, as in-cabin flight staff will gladly stash it in the overhead rack. Such will save a lot of time at the final destination airport. (Image: the Hartmann Lineaire Carry On Spinner).

Bring copies of any prescriptions and/or physician statements in the hand-carry bag.

If Mom or Dad is toting gifts to relatives, do not wrap them. Place the items in the roll-aboard luggage.

If your parent is traveling alone, before you close up her or his carry-aboard bag, prepare and slip in at the top a note stating “I love you” and “I delight in your new adventure.”

For advice on finding the right travel bags for seniors, see How the Find the Best Luggage for Seniors.

 

Example: This Delsey Quilted Rolling Under Seat Tote is a convenient and high quality carry-on bag that rolls!

 

 

Safety

 

There are thieves everywhere, particularly, in high-traffic travel centers. Don’t give the scalawags any opportunity to steal from your parent.

 

Mom should not carry a purse but, instead a money belt worn under a blouse or a neat Passage Wallet hidden under her coat by a neck cord.

Example: Raytix Travel Money Belt

 

Dad should not carry a wallet in his back pocket but, instead, carry a travel passport wallet with a neck cord or as a hidden wallet tucked into his pants and secured by a cord to his belt.

Example: Zero Grid Neck Wallet With RFID Blocking

Advise Mom or Dad, if traveling alone, always to keep their carry-on between their feet when standing, or with the shoulder strap looped around the leg of a chair when seated.

For comfort, consider the purchase of a travel pillow, a c-shaped balloon that supports the neck and head when resting aboard transportation.

 

Example: Design Go Ultimate Memory Travel Pillow

 

 

Managing Medication

 

Most mature adults take five or more medications once or even several times a day. The transportation staff has no obligation regarding the medical dosing of your parent. But you can ask in advance that at a specified time (stated in local time), the staff remind Mom or Dad to take the medication. The alternative is to provide your parent with an alarm watch, or have a daily alarm set on their cell phone.  A travel pill organizer can make traveling with medication easier, as well.

 

Example: Vera Bradley Travel Pill Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example: This Extra Large 7-Day Weekly Pill Organizer with XL Case has compartments for morning noon, evening and bedtime.

 

 

Security Checkpoints

 

 

If Mom or Dad is in a wheelchair at transportation centers, access to and through TSA (transportation security administration) security may actually be quicker than through the long line of other travelers.

Brief your parent (or state to the TSA, if you are traveling together) about any medical condition that would set off alarms, such as surgical hip and knee implants. To avoid unwanted delays, get a physician’s statement about the implanted steel and make sure the senior has that documentation with them. Oftentimes, personnel will ask the elder to step aside and perform a wand screening, rather than passing through the sensors. If your parent is in a wheelchair, security will use a wand while he or she is seated.

Dress your parent in easily-removed (but safe) walking shoes. Security will probably want them removed. Present, if pertinent, any physician statement regarding your Mom or Dad’s medical condition or limitation.

Before traveling, explain to Mom or Dad that the security process is vital to her or his safety.

See Finding Practical Shoes for the Elderly

 

 

Destinations and Travel Options

 

 

The world of travel is open to just about everyone, even those elderly parents receiving care. Start a discussion with Mom or Dad to learn her or his travel wishes. Determine if your parent can travel solo, or if you want or need to share in the adventure. If you start with the mission of fulfilling a parent’s dream, you can’t go wrong.

 

 

Tours and Cruises

 

There are thousands of tour and cruise possibilities. Tours and cruises offer a unique service, in that they are totally planned, operated and staffed to deliver the promised program and destination discovery. Several tours operators, including Accessible Journeys and Flying Wheels, specialize in “accessible lifestyle vacations,” which cater to those with special needs and disabilities.

Cruise and tour accommodations are priced on a per-person basis based on double-occupancy. Therefore, if choosing a tour or cruise, travel with your Mom or Dad to provide caregiving assistance while in the room and during non-programmed times. A cruise or tour may be the ultimate escape and very civilized adventure.

 

 

Advanced Information for the Destination

 

If your parent is flying solo to visit other family, schedule a telephone conference with your relatives to go over the caregiving support your elder needs. Advise of your approach in assisting Mom or Dad, so that they do not assume to take the domineering and dictating role. Advise of your parent’s favorite foods and activities so that they can try to be accommodating during the visit, making it all the more “like home” for Mom or Dad. And, importantly, advise of the medical and medication regimen that must be followed. Also make sure that they have all important legal documents with them should an emergency arise (for example, if you are listed as their agent for the Advance Directive, be certain this information is with them should something happen).

On the day of travel, arrive at the airport or other transportation two hours early, to visit with your parent without pressure, share a meal or snack, review the travel plan and itinerary and, importantly, to use the wheelchair-capable restroom shortly before heading to the gate. The latter should reduce the need for your parent to access the small restroom during travel.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

 

Travel with Mom or Dad. You may find it to be one of the best experiences of your life. Yes, you continue to be a caregiver, but your travel and destination will probably prove to be an escape, a freedom because of the new setting, environment and opportunity.

Travel safely and well.

 

 

Suggested Reading:

Are you planning to travel with an elderly companion? 

I recommend  Planes, Canes, and AutomobilesConnecting With Your Aging Parents Through Travel by Valerie M. Grubb

This super-practical book is the go-to guide for adult children: it combines the author’s wisdom from years of traveling with her own aging mother with sensible tips, checklists, and sample itineraries to help readers plan and enjoy a vacation with their parents!  It’s an enjoyable, informative read, and it will make traveling more comfortable and fun for both generations.

Read reviews.

 

 

 

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

-Laurie

 

RushMyPassport.com

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Practical Shoes for the Elderly

How to Find the Best Travel Luggage for Seniors

Tips for Easier Senior Car Travel

Complete Guide to Medical Alert ID Bracelets

Simple Gadgets and Tips For Seniors’ Kitchen Safety

Anytime Gifts That Seniors Will Actually Use

Minimize Your Seniors Risk of Falling Now!

The Right Lighting Prevents Falls

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About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

Incontinence Management in Assisted Living Facilities

Incontinence Management in Assisted Living Facilities

 

 

 

Advice for Family Members for Managing Incontinence Supplies for Their Loved in Assisted Living or Continuing Care

 

A growing number of family caregivers are managing incontinence and incontinence supplies for loved ones in Assisted Living or Continuing Care Communities.  Here are some recommendations on how to manage your loved one’s supplies as efficiently as possible:

 

Get to know the caregivers and care manager for your loved one in the facility.

They should be able to share how the facility helps the resident manage incontinence, and take into consideration skin health, and budgetary limits on how much will be spent on incontinence supplies per month.

Some of the factors that affect your loved one’s incontinence are:

  • how many times the resident is being changed
  • when and if leaks occur
  • how the facility caregivers are helping the resident to manage incontinence overnight
  • what medications are affecting the resident’s incontinence
  • mobility concerns (lack of mobility obviously can affect the ability of a loved one to get to the bathroom in a timely fashion)

 

 

More changes per day means diapers, briefs and/or underwear don’t have to be super absorbent.

Super absorbent products (30 oz + of void capacity) are very popular in aging at home environments – these super absorbent products cost more on a per piece basis, but equate to less changes per day.

In an Assisted Living environment, its not uncommon to see caregivers administering up to six to eight changes per day; with a higher frequency of changes, it is not necessary to purchase super absorbent products when “value” selections will stretch your dollars much further.

 

 

Use booster pads for overnight use and for male “leakers.

A booster pad is simply an additional layer of absorption material that works inside of a traditional pull-up or diaper. Booster pads can add an additional 8 – 14 oz of absorption material and transform a value diaper into a super absorbent diaper for overnight use – and the caregivers should know to only use booster pads for nighttime use.

A Booster Pad can be wrapped around the tip of a male’s penis to deflect a void back into the diaper – an effective tactic for dealing with Male side-sleepers who are prone to leaking.

 

 

Don’t use mass market brands that advertise on television.

To stretch the family’s hard-earned dollar and for the assisted living caregivers who must use the supplies provided, there are a number of higher quality products that will better serve all involved, and that will cost less. Simply put, mass market brands put their dollars into advertising and shelf space – not into the absorbency or quality of their products, leaving caregivers and residents frustrated with their poor performance.  

NorthShore Care Supply specializes in incontinence products, and has an excellent selection of competitively priced high quality options. 

You can also find plenty of choices among Amazon’s incontinence supplies.

For more information on choosing the right incontinence supplies, see my earlier posts:

 

 

Write your incontinence directives on a piece of poster board, and tape it to where the incontinence supplies are stored.

This dovetails with getting to know your loved one’s caregivers, as mentioned above, and ensures that your directives are plainly communicated for any new staff or nighttime staff.

 

 

Speak up if you notice that some of your loved one’s incontinence supplies are missing.

Sometimes staff within assisted living facilities will “borrow” supplies from an adjacent resident room – rather than walking down the hall to a supplies closet. If this becomes the standard operating procedure, then you are subsidizing your loved one’s neighbors. That is why it is so important to speak to the caregivers and put out written instructions. So, if you notice your supplies are “shrinking,” say something!

 

 

Keep track of how much incontinence supplies are being used on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

For a resident with full-time incontinence that requires six changes per day (each change entails a new diaper/underwear + wipes + gloves), the cost can easily exceed $200 – $300 per month. A resident who has light incontinence and/or only nighttime incontinence can budget their monthly expenditure to under $100 per month.

 

 

Set up an auto-reorder of incontinence products when possible.

Once you understand how the assisted living caregivers are applying the incontinence products you are purchasing for your loved one, and you are keeping track of order/usage per month, set-up auto reordering – it will be easier for all involved.

 

 

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

-Laurie

 

 

Incontinence Care Products at Northshore Care!

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Important Things Your Loved One Needs in a Nursing Home

How To Buy Adult Diapers

Top Adult Diaper Products Reviewed

Incontinence Protection Products for Home, Car and Bed

Managing Dementia Related Incontinence

Coping With Incontinence – A Guide for Caregivers

Gifts for Nursing Home Residents

Install a Power Lift Toilet Seat for a Safer Bathroom

How to Buy an Elevated Toilet Seat

How to Wash Your Senior’s Hair in Bed – Full Instructions

How to Find and Shop for Practical Shoes for the Elderly

Shoes and Slippers For Swollen Feet

Ideas to Keep Your Dementia Patient Busy and Happy

Would Your Loved One Benefit from Weighted Blanket Therapy?

 

Tips for Easier Senior Car Travel

Tips for Easier Senior Car Travel

 

 

Car Travel is Challenging for Seniors and Their Caregivers

 

Traveling by car can be challenging for seniors. Whether they drive themselves or you’re playing chauffeur, simply using a car can be difficult. This can be caused by health conditions or the physical changes of normal aging.

For someone with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, or mobility issues, the difficulty level can be exponential. It may even take multiple people to help them safely into and out of a car.

This is important because most seniors travel by car, especially when visiting the doctor. This usually means frequent car struggles for both seniors and caregivers.

All seniors benefit if they have an easier time traveling by car. Seniors who can drive will feel more independent and confident. Those with mobility issues won’t have to go through such an exhausting ordeal.

Getting around more easily also helps seniors be more connected with family and friends, preventing the negative effects of isolation.

 

 

Gadgets That Really Help With Seniors’ Car Travel

 

 

Here are some aids that solve the problems that can make car travel so frustrating!

 

 

Grab and Pull Seat Belt Reacher

 

Kikigoal Silicone Seat Belt Grabber Handle

 

For those with arthritis or limited shoulder / torso mobility, it’s hard to reach up and pull the seat belt down. This reacher attaches to the seat belt and makes an extra long handle.

 

 

Seat Belt Extender

 

Extender Pros Seat Belt Extender

With limited mobility, it can be difficult to get the seat belt buckled. This seat belt extender makes it easier to reach and buckle up properly for a safe car ride.

Make sure to get the right size extender to fit your car’s buckle.

 

 

Seat Belt Opening Aid

For people with arthritis or limited hand and thumb strength, unbuckling the seat belt can be frustrating. This aid makes it easier to undo a standard seat belt.

 

Bucklebee Easy Buckle Release Aid

 

This Bucklebee Easy Buckle Release Aid is designed to reduce the unbuckling force required for a release by the rider.  It has a large grip for easy, ergonomic release, and remains attached to the seat for convenient. 

 

 

Seat Buckle Guard

Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s or dementia unbuckle their seatbelts while you’re driving. Dangerous!

This seat buckle guard is a good solution. Just stick your key in to pop the buckle open.

BuckleBoss Seat Belt Guard

This BuckleBoss Seat Belt Guard doesn’t allow your senior to unbuckle themselves in case of an accident or emergency, but it may be worth the risk if they frequently unbuckle themselves while you’re driving – a more immediate danger.

 

 

Swivel Seat Cushion

This cushion has a base that swivels. Seniors can just sit down, then easily swivel their legs into the car.

 

SOJOY Swivel Seat Cushion

 

No more struggling to lift legs and turn at the same time. The SOJOY Swivel Seat Cushion also makes it much easier for someone who’s helping them into the car. 

If the car has bucket seats, place a towel on the car’s seat to fill the gap and allow the swivel cushion to sit flat.

 

 

Auto Standing Aid

This removable handle fits securely into almost all driver or passenger side car doors. It’s a non-slip grip hand hold that lets seniors boost themselves up and out of the car. The Stander Handybar has a 350 lb capacity.

Stander Handybar

 

 

 

 

 

Auto Aids for Those With Limited Mobility

 

When older adults have limited mobility, it’s a struggle for them and you to leave the house. Getting into and out of the car can be almost impossible.

Without any auto mobility aids, helping these seniors into a car can take multiple people, making every trip to the doctor a major event. If you can’t get enough help from others, you could end up hurting yourself or might be forced to use non-emergency ambulance transportation (expensive!).

 

Transfer Board

To help your senior get from their wheelchair to a car, this Mabis Wooden Transfer Slide Board bridges the gap and makes it possible for them to scoot from one seat to the other without needing to stand. Reviewers say it has a weight capacity of up to 350 lbs.

Mabis Wooden Transfer Slide Board

 

 

 

 

Pivot Disc

Some older adults can stand up from a wheelchair, but can’t turn around to sit in the car. This disc saves you from injuring your back or shoulders while helping them turn around.

With this pivot disc, your senior stands on the disc and you can slowly turn them so their back faces the car seat and they can sit down.

 

North Coast Safety Transfer Pivot Disc

 

If you need to move someone from a wheelchair to the car, this Preston BeasyGlyder board can make that task easier and safer on both you and your senior. There’s a disc that slides along the board so you can push them from one seat to the other. They don’t need to scoot their butt and you don’t need to provide as much lifting or carrying support.

 

Preston - BeasyGlyder (For BeasyTrans Easy Transfer System )
Preston BeasyGlyder

It’s expensive, but may let you delay more expensive options like non-emergency ambulance transport, buying an automatic access lift seat, or getting an accessible van.

 

Final Thoughts

Auto aids are a worthwhile investment if it makes it possible to take your senior out of the house. Plus, even the most expensive of these options cost much less than a one-time ambulance transport.

 

Lauren's Hope Medical ID

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

You may also be interested in:

How to Find the Best Luggage for Seniors

Important Tips For Traveling With the Elderly

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The Right Lighting Prevents Falls

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All About Grab Bars and Hand Rails for Safety

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Shower Chair and Bath Bench Buying Guide

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Choosing the Right Personal Medical Alert System

Should You Install Bed Rails?

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10 Simply Fabulous Arthritis Aids

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Red Palm Oil Lowers Cholesterol

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Does Biosil Actually Do Anything?

Detailed Review of the SoClean CPAP Cleaner

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

Seniors and Guns – Do They Mix?

Seniors and Guns

 

Do They Mix?

 

 

The debate surrounding gun ownership has been raging for decades, and I want to preface this article by acknowledging that advancing age, by itself, should not preclude anyone from leading an independent life and enjoying their rights and privileges. However, when exercising one’s freedoms threatens others’ safety and puts oneself in danger, I believe some sort of intervention is necessary.

I find that a simple comparison helps me wrap my head around this heavily contested topic. Many families are familiar with the dreaded process of taking away an aging loved one’s car keys. Whether an elder starts getting lost while driving, experiences a few fender benders or near misses, or their eyesight or reaction time is worsening, at some point it becomes clear that they should no longer be on the road. In my opinion, guns are in the same category as cars. Both items are useful tools, but they can also be lethal, whether intentionally or accidentally.

In some areas, hunting is a popular sport. Many households have one or more guns used for hunting, and some people also own hand guns for protection. I feel that if an elder is cognitively sound and has good eyesight and reflexes, he or she should be able to possess a firearm for hunting and self-defense. I don’t feel that age alone should be a deciding factor with guns any more than it is with driving. But, as with the ability to drive a car, the time may come for many elders when owning a gun is no longer safe. That’s when the challenge of removing this hazard arises.

 

 

When is it Too Dangerous?

 

Continuing with the comparison between the ability to safely own a firearm and drive a car, the answer to this question is very rarely black and white. In fact, part of the difficulty with taking away an aging loved one’s driving privileges is that they usually haven’t harmed themselves or others or caused any property damage… yet. Their family members can see the writing on the wall and are anxious about what could happen if they continue getting behind the wheel. The trouble is that the time to cut an elder off may only become clear after something conclusive occurs.

Daniel C. Potts, MD, a neurologist at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, founder and president of the Cognitive Dynamics Foundation and medical director of Dementia Dynamics, LLC, feels that elders who are not cognitively impaired should be allowed to continue owning guns without any restrictions that are not already in place for the general population. “The case of documented cognitive impairment, however, would be different,” Dr. Potts says.

Cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and mental health disorders, such as depression and psychosis, are the biggest red flags for families to look for when deciding if it is still safe for a loved one to own a gun. Confusion, memory issues, inability to recognize or remember who friends and family are, impaired decision-making capabilities, delusions, hallucinations and paranoia can all contribute to a terrible accident.

“I personally feel that guns should be removed from the homes of those with documented dementia,” Dr. Potts explains, “or at least sequestered safely so that only family members with their faculties have access to them.”

Other less serious age-related factors that might at least warrant a healthy discussion about responsible gun ownership and safe handling techniques and storage practices include changes in eyesight, hearing loss, slowed response times, use of certain types of drugs that can affect mood, judgement, and alertness, and limited mobility and coordination. Even if an elder is emotionally stable and mentally competent, certain physical conditions can still contribute to dangerous mistakes.

 

 

Reasoning For Gun Ownership

 

Susan Madlung, RN, BScN, MSc Gerontology, Eden Alternative Associate, and Resident Care Manager at Langley Lodge in Langley, British Columbia, says that there is a larger factor to consider when addressing a senior’s gun ownership: their motives. This often boils down to their desire to feel protected and secure. As we age, we concentrate more on basic needs like shelter, food and safety.

“If an elder is in possession of a gun, my first step would be to ask them why, rather than jump to managing the gun itself,” Madlung notes. “If safety is their main concern, ask questions to determine what exactly is causing the elder to feel unsafe and whether the threat is genuine or perceived. Usually, the more vulnerable or isolated they feel, the greater the perceived threat will be.”

Ideally, if family members can come to understand the fear or uncertainty that causes an elder think they need a gun for protection, it can help everyone work together to devise a way to address these concerns and seek out other alternatives for improving comfort and security. This could include carrying pepper spray instead of a gun, installing additional security measures around their home, moving in with family, transitioning to a senior living facility with regular security patrols, etc.

“Addressing feelings of safety and social isolation can help to minimize their need for such a powerful weapon to protect themselves,” posits Madlung. “Improved feelings of safety will go a long way in improving quality of life as well.”

However, for some people and in some areas of the U.S., gun ownership is an essential part of life. For a senior, giving up their gun can be tantamount to giving up their independence and part of their identity. When understanding their need to hang on to a gun doesn’t help solve the issue, other means must be used.

 

 

Is Gun Safety Being Maintained in the Home?

 

If your senior does keep a gun in their home, you must ensure that it is properly and securely stored. Taking the necessary precautions is vital, but the weapon should still be easily accessed should the time ever come when it is needed. Here are five key safety measures for storing firearms at home.

Example: Stanley Biometric Gun Safe

 

Lock Boxes and Gun Safes

The safest way to store a gun is within a well concealed lock box or gun safe. This will prevent unauthorized access to the weapon, while also ensuring that you have it close at hand.

While some owners may choose to keep their gun safe in the closet or under the bed, it is safest to install a hidden one whenever possible. A sturdy lock box may also be adequate, though you must ensure that it is well hidden to protect your weapons from potential intruders.

 

Example: SpeedVault GunVault

 

 

 

 

 

Paragon Gun Cabinet

Keep it Locked

The National Rifle Association notes that safe and proper gun storage includes using a secure locking device. Two of the most common mechanisms are trigger locks and cable locks – the former is affixed around the weapon’s trigger to lock it in place, while the latter is a long steel cable that is looped through the action of the firearm to block its operation.

However, owners should never rely solely on mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, the NRA warns, as these can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules. Always remember that, while these devices prevent the weapon from being loaded or fired, they will not stop it from being stolen. That’s why it’s so important to use it in conjunction with a proper storage device.

 

Keep it Unloaded

The NRA recommends that gun owners should always keep their gun unloaded until it is ready to use. This is particularly important when you are storing your gun at home. Keeping your firearm unloaded at all times will help prevent accidents and injuries, even if it does accidentally fall into the wrong hands. It’s also good practice to store the bullets separately from the weapons.

 

 

Addressing the Issue

 

There is no single best way to tackle delicate subjects like this one. Your approach should depend on your loved one’s level of cognition, their physical health, their reasons for owning a gun/guns, and the nature of your relationship with them.

If Dad has been a responsible gun owner his whole life, has no signs of any impairment or age-related decline, and you two are close, it can’t hurt to discuss the possibility of one day having to sell his weapons or give them to another trustworthy family member for safe keeping. Discussing these matters early on can help an elder feel involved in the decision and prevent unexpected issues down the road.

If you have noticed behavioral changes in a loved one and suspect some sort of cognitive impairment, seeking a diagnosis early on is critical, whether they own firearms or not. Gathering as much information as possible will help the entire family be better prepared and enable you to address difficult issues as they arise. If the diagnosis is positive, work closely with your loved one’s doctor to ensure they understand that there are guns in the home. Just as with driving, a physician should be available and willing to help family members determine if safety is an issue and how to proceed while keeping everyone’s best interests in mind.

“Ideally, I think that a health care provider should have a discussion after the initial diagnosis with both the patient and caregiver, if possible, to talk about how to safeguard the home and environment,” suggests Dr. Potts. “This would include things like securing or removing any weapons, or at least having them supervised by another family member with access restricted for the patient.”

Many members of caregiver forums have offered excellent advice to fellow caregivers who are struggling with this problem. For example, one woman’s mother had always carried her gun for protection, but she became more fearful than ever after being diagnosed with dementia. She absolutely refused to give up her weapon, and her daughter didn’t know what to do. Another member suggested that the daughter take the gun to a professional and have it permanently disabled.

Countless caregivers have had to use the same approach with their loved ones’ cars to prevent them from driving. Removing guns altogether is the safest option. Disabling may be an alternative, but it also comes with hazards. Once the weapon is disabled, the elder should be able to enjoy the feeling of gun ownership without the risk of accidentally hurting or killing someone. Obviously, as with so many caregiving issues, you wouldn’t let your loved one know of the change. Just be aware that even a disabled weapon still poses a risk, since law enforcement and other individuals will react as if it is operational.

 

 

Finding Help

 

While gun laws and background checks are in place to prevent high-risk individuals from purchasing weapons in the first place, many seniors are unique in that they are not considered risky or unfit for gun ownership until later in life—after they have already legally obtained weapons.

Generally, this demographic does not pose the same dramatic public safety threats that are so often cited in gun control debates. But that does not change the fact that family members are concerned their aging loved ones may mistake them for an intruder, take their own lives or react violently to delusions they think are real.

If discussing these concerns with your loved one directly is not productive, it can be helpful to contact their physician, the local police department and even the family attorney for guidance on ensuring their safety and the well being of those around them. A police officer may be able to help confiscate and destroy the weapons. It may be difficult and heartbreaking to attempt, but revoking a loved one’s concealed-carry license is also an option.

Lastly, a handful of states feature Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) laws, which are also called red flag laws. They allow law enforcement officials, and in some cases family members, to petition for the immediate and temporary seizure of weapons from a person who poses a danger to themselves or others. The owner can then attend a hearing where the court determines how long the weapons will be held in custody. Washington, Oregon, California, Indiana and Connecticut are the only states who have enacted some form of this red-flag law, but others are considering them.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Ultimately, no family member wants to infringe on a loved one’s independence, but at some point, we must take responsibility for their well being and our own. Being a caregiver isn’t about doing what is easy; It is about doing what is best for those we love.

 

Based on an article by Carol Bradley Bursack, author of Minding Our Elders – Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.

 

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

-Laurie

 

 

You may also be interested in:

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Best Home Safes for Valuables and Guns – Reviews

Best Home Safes for Valuables and Guns

 

Home, Portable and Firearms Safes – Tips and Reviews of the Best

 

While no one likes to think that events like break-ins, fires and floods might happen to them, the truth is that these things can happen to anybody. Most people arm their homes with door locks, window locks, and fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as a way to forestall these disasters; so it makes sense to add a fireproof safe that can protect hard-to-replace documents, currency and large and small valuables in case of fire or flood. The general rule when buying a safe is to get the largest safe you expect to be able to fill — that way, you won’t have to invest in a second safe in the future. Image above – SentrySafe SFW123DEB

If you have guns, a safe designed specifically for handguns or long guns like rifles and shotguns will not only protect your weapons from fire, water damage and theft, it will keep them safely out of the hands of small children or unauthorized adults.

It may be tempting to head straight for the cheapest safes — but if there was ever a time to invest in quality, this is it. However, price is not always an indicator of quality either, and there are plenty of reports of pricey or even custom-made safes that owners felt seemed cheap or tended to collect condensation in spite of their cost. Regardless of price point, look for home safes that are rated by Underwriters Laboratory (using the UL mark) or Intertek (using the ETL mark). Testing from these third-party companies gives you an honest gauge of just how much fire or flooding the safe can withstand, and how well it will hold up against break-in attempts.

 

Fireproof Home Safes

 

Although they sometimes come with theft-deterrent features like relockers and pry-resistant hinges, a fireproof home safe’s primary focus is exactly what the name suggests: Defending the contents against a house fire. Most fireproof safes use either moisture-rich insulation or concrete amalgamate to do this, paired with doors that seal shut in a fire for extra protection. Many larger safes also come with a range of interior organizers, and some are waterproof against flooding or the firefighter’s hose.

 

What to Put in Your Home Safe

 

A home safe gives you 24/7 access to documents you might need from time to time without requiring a trip to your bank’s safe-deposit vault. 

 

Document How long to keep
Birth and death certificates Forever.
Estate-planning documents Forever. (Unless your executor knows how to get into your safe, also make sure he or she and your lawyer have copies.)
Life-insurance policies Until the term of coverage ends.
Savings bonds Until you cash them in at maturity (30 years in the case of Series EE bonds).
Stock certificates Until you sell the stock or have it converted to direct or street-name registration.
Tax returns At least seven years.

 

Portable Safes

 

For those who just want a layer of extra protection for difficult-to-replace documents such as social security cards, birth certificates or other small items, these highly affordable safes will probably do the trick. Most are fireproof and can be moved fairly easily; some are waterproof, too. Although these small boxes aren’t the best deterrent against theft because a burglar can just carry them off, many people choose portable safes primarily for their fire and water protection, then hide them so a thief cannot easily find them.

 

Gun Safes

 

Gun safes employ the similar security features to home safes, although gun safes are often designed for quick access in case you need the gun for self-defense. Second, although the federal government doesn’t require you to lock your firearms up, some states do; and some states levy penalties or criminal charges for allowing children access to firearms. Always check your local laws regarding firearm storage.

 

Best Home Safe Recommendations

 

 

Best Fireproof Home Safe:  The SentrySafe SFW123DSB

 

SentrySafe SFW123DSB

 

Of all the safes evaluated, the SentrySafe SFW123DSB offers the best combination of fire and flood protection at a reasonable price. It’s UL-rated for up to an hour in 1700-degree fire and against exploding or rupturing in a flash fire. This safe is also ETL-verified for impact resistance during a fire and flood resistance for 24 hours in 8 inches of water. This SentrySafe is a top choice for protecting USB drives, CDs, DVDs and portable hard drives.

The SFW123DSB offers fire and water protection at a good value, plus a few effective anti-theft measures. It’s UL-classified to survive up to one hour in a 1,700 degree fire, and also UL-tested not to explode or rupture when exposed to a flash fire in a 2,000 degree furnace for 30 minutes.

The SentrySafe SFW123DSB home safe is ETL verified for 15 feet of impact resistance in a fire (important because this simulates the performance of a super-heated safe that may fall through a floor or have a beam fall on it). With a guarantee that the interior won’t exceed 350 degrees, the SFW123DSB is also certified for protection of USB drives, CDs, DVDs and portable hard drives for up to an hour. However, it can’t protect photo negatives or floppy disks in a fire because they’re susceptible to heat damage at lower temperatures than some other media. Some prospective buyers misconstrue this to mean that you can’t store any electronics or media at all, but, in fact, it will effectively protect the above listed items. You also shouldn’t store pearls in this safe, because they sustain damage at relatively low temperatures.

The SentrySafe SFW123DSB is also flood-proof to a certain degree, with ETL-verified water-resistance for up to 24 hours in up to 8 inches of water. That waterproofing goes away, however, if you drill into the safe to mount it to the floor as a theft deterrent (the bolt-down kit is included).

That’s an impressive selection of disaster-proofing at a great price, and the SFW123DSB has a few anti-theft measures built in as well, including the pre-marked bolt holes and bolt-down kit, steel construction and pry-resistant hinges. However, the manufacturer doesn’t disclose how thick the steel is, and it’s likely that much of this safe’s 90-pound weight is due to the heavy, moist fire-resistant insulation, not steel; so it’s best to think of this as a disaster-proof safe rather than a theft-proof safe. Many home users take the extra step of hiding the safe in a closet to make it a less obvious target for would-be thieves.

Although the SentrySafe SFW123DSB represents a good value in disaster-proofing, there are a few quirks you should be aware of. Users are sometimes surprised to see that both the safe handle and the outer dial on the combination lock are made of plastic and feel a little flimsy. These cosmetic parts don’t have anything to do with actually locking the safe — but you do need them to open it.

Also, SentrySafe’s proprietary fireproof insulation, combined with the airtight/waterproof seal on the safe, produces quite a lot of condensation inside. Leave the desiccant package that comes with the safe inside, and consider adding more; and if you store electronics, watches, jewelry, photos or firearms in the this safe, they should be put into airtight containers first, to protect them from the condensation. SentrySafe offers a fire protection program that will replace up to $50,000 worth of belongings if they’re lost to a fire while in the safe — but you do have to enroll first. They’ll also send you a replacement safe if the one you bought is damaged in a fire.

Many users like the backup key lock on this safe, which can be used to provide extra security to the sometimes-fiddly combination lock. Note that it’s not an override key that can open the safe if you forget the combination; it’s just an extra layer of security. Also, you can’t set your own combination — you’re stuck with whatever the factory issued.

This line of safes has an interior capacity of 1.23 cubic feet, and users are sometimes surprised by how small the interior is, thanks to the thick fireproof walls.  The interior measures 13.8 inches by 12.6 inches by 11.9 inches, or just large enough to hold tabbed file folders. There’s a door pocket and key rack for quick access to small items, and one adjustable interior shelf tray that users say seems a little flimsy, so only use it for light items.

SentrySafe SFW123DEB

Most of the varied model numbers on this line of safes simply designate different lock types or interior configurations. For example, the SentrySafe SFW123DEB  is essentially the same safe with a shelf instead of a tray and the addition of a locking inner tray/top-access drawer, which can also act as an additional shelf. You can also purchase extra trays, shelves and drawers for any of these safes separately.

One quick note: If you do purchase any version of the SentrySafe SFW123, inspect it for dents and other damage before accepting delivery. The construction is sturdy enough that you might not notice dents at first, and many users say that once they’re stuck with a dented safe, it’s not worth the effort to return it.

 

Best Portable Firesproof Safe –

The SentrySafe 1200 Fire-Safe Chest

SentrySafe 1200

 

In the portable fire safe category, the SentrySafe 1200 fire-safe chest draws excellent reviews for its UL-rated 30 minutes of protection in fires of up to 1550 degrees. It’s also ETL verified for keeping internal temperatures low enough to protect USB drives, CDs, DVDs and portable hard drives.

The SentrySafe 1200 is small enough to hide discreetly away or pick up and run with during an emergency, but, at 3.5 by 12 by 7.5 inches, it’s not exactly spacious.

This fire-safe chest draws the best reviews for being able to stand up to a fire. It’s UL classified to survive up to half an hour in fire temperatures of up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit, and ETL verified for keeping internal temperatures low enough to protect USB drives, CDs, DVDs and portable hard drives. It’s also an excellent value.

This is one of the few products where there is an owner review from someone who had it in a fire. That user writes that although the box itself was “neatly seared” after what the fire marshal estimated as 10 to 15 minutes of exposure, everything inside the box survived just fine. However, If this box is in a fire, it seals itself shut and will have to be pried open; SentrySafe will send you another fire chest to replace the old one.

 

Not For Burglary Protection

One place the SentrySafe 1200 does not excel is burglary protection, but that’s not what it’s designed for; after all, it’s deliberately built small enough that you can pick it up and run in case of a house fire. We also found a few scattered complaints about durability for the key-lock mechanism, but users say SentrySafe’s customer service did a good job of replacing defective products.

 

Size Options

Owners are sometimes surprised by just how small this fire-safe box is. The interior capacity is just .18 cubic feet, or 3.5 inches by 12 inches by 7.5 inches, so it’s long enough but not quite wide enough to lay a letter-size piece of paper flat. Most people use this 13.3-pound box for storing small but important documents — like birth certificates, social security cards and passports — and sometimes even for securing prescription medication, although there’s no rating to say whether it can protect meds through a fire. A similar lock chest is also available, the .17 cubic foot the SentrySafe H0100, that is ETL-verified for water submersion in case of a flood.

If you want a larger fireproof box, consider the SentrySafe FHW40100 large file safe, which is UL-classified for fire endurance for up to half an hour at 1,550 degrees. It’s also ETL-verified for a half-hour of fire protection for digital media, UL-classified against explosion hazards, and ETL-verified for water submersion in case of a flood or water from fire-fighting efforts. 

The biggest thing to be aware of with the SentrySafe FHW40100 file box is that its fireproof insulation has a high moisture content, which is part of what makes the safe so heavy. Although this offers excellent fireproofing, users are sometimes dismayed to see that the manufacturer recommends against storing anything that might be damaged by that moisture — including firearms, stamps, photos, watches and other jewelry with moving parts — inside the safe. Some readers store these items anyway, placing them in airtight plastic bags — often with a desiccant inside — to protect against that moisture.

With an interior capacity of .66 cubic feet, users say the fireproof and waterproof SentrySafe FHW40100 file box is large enough to hold several dozen full letter-size file folders (hanging or non-hanging) or four reams of paper, and it has a pair of straps in the lid to help secure smaller items. It comes with built-in carry handles on the side and isn’t meant to be bolted down — so technically it’s still portable — but at more than 40 pounds while empty, you probably won’t be moving it around much. Owners are sometimes surprised by how thick the safe’s walls are: Its interior dimensions are just 11.6 inches by 12 inches by 8.1 inches.

The SentrySafe FHW40100 comes with a flat key. If you prefer, you can buy the same fireproof, waterproof portable safe with a tubular locking mechanism — the SentrySafe FHW40220. The FHW40220 also has an in-lid organizer for small items, but draws a few complaints about its plastic handle breaking — something that should definitely be treated with care, given this fireproof box’s weight.

 

 

Best Handgun Safe:  The GunVault SV500

 

GunVault SV500

 

Both owner and expert reviewers love the GunVault SpeedVault SV500’s balance of security and quick, one-handed access with either hand. When you key in your pre-programmed access code, the bottom of the vault drops open to give immediate access. The GunVault’s 18-gauge steel isn’t going to keep a determined burglar out, but it’s still a solid deterrent, and it works great for securing your handgun from nosey adults or inquisitive children. The GunVault comes in a biometric version as well.

 

Quick Access

Quick access is why so many reviewers recommend the GunVault SpeedVault SV500. Its 18-gauge steel and keypad lock won’t keep a determined burglar out, but it offers reliable everyday security while keeping your firearm close and accessible.

When you tap in your personal combination on the four-button keypad, the bottom of the GunVault SpeedVault SV500 drops open, giving you instant access to your firearm. There’s also a small light to illuminate the vault’s interior. The SpeedVault can be mounted for right- or left-hand access, and it’s approved by the California Department of Justice. If the keypad stops working or the 9-volt battery gives out, a back-up key will still open the vault. There’s an audio and light-up warning to let you know when the battery is nearing the end of its life.

With the GunVault SpeedVault SV500 you can program your own three- to six-entry access code, even pressing more than one button at once as an “entry” in the code — which makes for more than 12 million potential combinations in all. Users generally love how well this unit works, although they do say the keypad is a little touchy if you try to key in your code too quickly, and some wish it didn’t make an audible “clunk” when opening, although they also say that’s not a deal-breaker. Speaking of sound, the GunVault also defaults to beeping when you key in your code, but there is an option to silence the keypad. If you think someone has tried to access the SpeedVault without your permission you can activate the tamper detect feature, which will illuminate a red light if someone has keyed in an invalid access code, or a green light if no invalid codes were entered.

Owners say the GunVault SpeedVault SV500 is easy to mount, although several are frustrated by the tiny installation screws that come with it; you may want to consider using longer screws and securing the vault to something that can’t be easily carried off or ripped apart.

It’s also available in a biometric version, the GunVault SpeedVault Biometric SVB500, although user feedback on that model’s fingerprint scanner is mixed. Both the biometric and keypad versions come with an override key to immediately open the vault in case the other mechanism fails.

 

 

Best Biometric Handgun Safe:  The SentrySafe QAP1BE

SentrySafe QAP1BE

The SentrySafe QAP1BE is one of the best biometric gun safes on the market. It’s small enough to stick in a drawer but offers quick access to your handgun, draws plenty of praise for being sturdily built, and can be bolted in place as an additional theft deterrent. The biometric fingerprint reader is the SentrySafe QAP1BE’s best feature, reading multiple fingerprints and working almost flawlessly for quick access. There’s a keypad and key lock backup as well.

This 12-pound steel box can hold one J & K size resolver or a full-size semi-automatic handgun. You can also mount it in place to make it a better theft-deterrent but, again, its strength is keeping children and inquisitive adults away from your firearm while still allowing quick access when you need it.

The SentrySafe QAP1BE has a pry-resistant steel door, a foam interior to protect your handgun, and easy one-handed access: Just tap the fingerprint scanner to “wake it up,” then press your finger to the biometric scanner for one second and it’ll pop right open. You can program multiple fingerprints for access to this safe, allowing more than one person access with either hand or, say, with a different finger in case one is bandaged. A compression gas strut lifts the lid for quick, quiet access to your firearm, although users say it’s not completely silent: You’ll hear a sound variously described as a thud, thunk or click.

Most users say the biometric reader works very well once it’s programmed, even if you have unusually rough or worn fingertips; however, if you put your finger on the scanner at an angle, it might take several tries to get a good reading, and access can take a couple of seconds. You can also use the keypad entry or backup key lock to get in. The QAP1BE can only be mounted horizontally. It’s not meant to be mounted on vertical services, because there’s no lip to hold the handgun in place once the safe is open.

While SentrySafe doesn’t disclose the thickness of its steel casing, the QAP1BE draws a lot of praise from users for being thick and heavy. The SentrySafe QAP1BE runs off four AA batteries, and has an indicator to let you know when battery life is running low. If you would rather skip the biometric scanner and go for a key-operated version, it’s available with a keyed lock or electronic lock, or in a two-pistol version.

 

 

Best Long Gun Safe:  The AMSEC BF6032

 

AMSEC BF6032

 

Protecting your valuable guns from damage or theft should be a top priority, and for that you need the AMSEC BF6032. It stores up to 20 guns, is ETL-verified for two hours of fire protection at 1200 degrees, and it’s UL-rated for resisting up to five minutes of sustained attack protection with typical tools. At 913 pounds, no one’s running off with the AMSEC BF6032, either. It’s pricier than some, but most say it’s well worth it.

The BF6032 is the smallest in a series of residential gun safes that is built using the same techniques and material that you’ll find in many commercial safes.

Not all of AMSEC’s safes are built in the USA, but the AMSEC BF6032 and the larger safes in its line (the BF6030, BF6636, BF7240 and BF7250) are. The AMSEC BF6032 has a 1/2-inch plate steel door and 2-inch walls, the latter a combination of AMSEC’s proprietary poured DryLight fireproofing insulation and two layers of steel.

 

DryLight Insulation

The DryLight insulation is a concrete amalgamate that, unlike the moist fireproofing material used in SentrySafe’s fireproof safes, doesn’t generate condensation inside the safe.

Thanks to that DryLight insulation, the AMSEC BF6032 is ETL verified to provide two hours of fire protection at 1,200 degrees, with the interior temperature staying lower than 350 degrees; it’s also UL-rated as a residential security container (RSC), which meets California DOJ standards and means that it can resist up to five minutes of consistent attack with typical household tools including pry bars, hammers, chisels, a handheld drill and screwdrivers. This safe has a UL-listed Group II lock with hard plate and two relockers, and is covered with a lifetime warranty against theft and fire.

 

Stores up to 20 Guns

The AMSEC BF6032 can store up to 20 guns — although depending on how you configure the interior storage, that capacity may be reduced — and weighs a hefty 913 pounds. That weight in itself is a theft deterrent; nobody is going to just pick this safe up and run off with it, and users are generally very happy with its build quality. “This safe is like a piece of fine furniture. I wish I could put [it] out in my living room,” writes one.

The end result is a sturdy safe that is well-made enough to draw high praise from Capra, who also points out that the AMSEC safe’s Palusol intumescent door seal is the industry standard for fire protection.

The AMSEC BF6032 represents a hefty investment, but it’s one of the best ways to protect another investment you’ve already made — those valuable weapons — and of course it’ll keep your guns safely away from inquisitive children or adults as well.

 

Stack-On 14-gun safe FS-14-MB-E

Best Inexpensive Gun Safe: 

The Stack-On FS-14-MB-E

 

If the AMSEC or other high-end gun safes are a bit above your price range, reviewers suggest taking a look at the Stack-On 14-gun safe FS-14-MB-E. Fire-resistant up to 1400 degrees for 30 minutes, it also will do a good job of discouraging thieves and keeping young children (or unauthorized adults) from accessing your guns. The FS-14-MB-E is also versatile, with adjustable shelving if you prefer to use it just for general storage.

The Stack-On is more widely available at retail than the AMSEC, is fire resistant up to 1,400 degrees for 30 minutes, and conforms to California DOJ standards.

 

Stores up to 14 Guns

 

This safe can store up to 14 guns depending upon the type and configuration, although things get a little tight if you’re storing them with scopes or light attachments.

The FS-14-MB-E isn’t quite as theft-resistant as pricier models, but owners say it seems as if it would be plenty hard to break into; and at 290 pounds and 55 inches tall, no one’s going to pick it up and haul it off by hand.

The interior features four adjustable shelves that make it versatile enough to use for any of your valuables. However, the manufacturer does not recommend storing CDs, DVDs, photographic negatives or other delicate storage media in this safe.

There are a couple other quirks to the Stack-On FS-14-MB-E safe that you should be aware of: lots of owner comments that the carpet install isn’t so great, and there are sporadic complaints that the electronic lock goes through 9V batteries very quickly. The carpet isn’t a deal-breaker for most, and if you’re concerned about the lock, this safe is also available in a combination lock version.

 

 

Where to Put Your Safe

The best place for your safe will depend on the design of your house, but there are some trade-offs worth considering. The master bedroom tends to be the first stop for burglars,  so it might not be the ideal site for the safe. Your basement could be better from a fire-protection standpoint; there’s usually less down there to burn. But if your home is located in a flood-prone area, the safe might be at greater risk in the basement.  You could also consider the home office or a crawl space under the stairs.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

No one wants to think about the possibility of coming home to find all of their most precious processions missing. Unfortunately, whether the cause is burglary, fire, or a flood, it can happen to anyone. These occurrences are particularly scary because there isn’t any warning beforehand.

And when it comes to your firearms, controlling who has access to them is fundamental to gun safety. Burglars are first and foremost, but think too about anyone else who may be in your home: children, visitors, babysitters, house-sitters, friends with spare keys, etc.

Luckily, buying a safe for your home is a simple way to make sure that your valuables and firearms are protected, no matter what.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information. 

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

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The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

How to Find the Perfect Elliptical Machine for a Safe, Quiet, Low Impact Workout

 

An elliptical machine provides a workout that resembles a combination of walking (or running) and climbing in place. Ellipticals feature oversized pedals that move with the motion of your legs.

Many people like ellipticals because they are easier on the joints than walking outside on a hard surface or running on a treadmill. You can go as fast or slow as you’d like on an elliptical machine, and in either forward or reverse to vary your workout. In addition to giving you a great cardio workout, most ellipticals have moving handlebars that provide full-body resistance as you pedal in place. One great feature of a home elliptical is that it is very quiet, so you won’t disturb your downstairs neighbor — a big plus for apartment dwellers.

(Example Image aboveNordictrack Spacesaver SE9i Elliptical Trainer)

 

Full Size Elliptical Machines

 

Full-sized ellipticals offer a range of workout options, from intense to easy, as well as the ability to work your upper body and lower body; some even offer the option to isolate the upper body (most allow you to isolate the lower body). Many also feature plenty of nice touches — like LED screens, cup holders, tablet rests, fans and more — to make your exercise session a bit more pleasant. Some even offer Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync your workout with your smartphone and various fitness apps.

 

Compact and Portable Elliptical Machines

 

If you simply don’t have the space for a full-sized elliptical, we found a couple of very highly-rated home ellipticals that give you a great workout, but have a relatively small footprint — some are even small enough to tote to the office. One drawback is that these elliptical machines are designed to have one, relatively low-intensity workout level. However, users who are just trying to move more, who describe themselves as “un-athletic” or who simply want an easier workout love them.

To find the best home ellipticals, I looked at a few important factors: Smooth, stable and quiet performance; easy-to-use features and controls; long-term durability and reliability; and a good warranty backed by responsive, helpful customer service. Consumer Reports is the only credible professional organization I spotted that tests and ranks ellipticals, but there are some other good expert sources that review individual ellipticals.

Most importantly, I evaluated hundreds of customer reviews to gauge owners’ satisfaction with the features and usability of their home elliptical machines. This information, along with expert evaluations, led me to finding the best ellipticals for any home fitness regimen.

 

What You Should Look For in an Elliptical Machine

 

  • A heavy flywheel. In general the heavier the flywheel, the smoother the motion. Look for one that weighs 25 pounds or more.
  • Enough resistance levels. To maximize your training, the elliptical must progress with you as you get more fit. Most ellipticals have at least 16 levels of resistance; higher-end models have 20 or 22 levels to choose from.
  • Quiet magnetic braking. Almost every full-sized modern elliptical uses magnetic braking for resistance. The mechanism should adjust smoothly and quietly between resistance levels, with no clunking or jerking.
  • Appropriate stride length. The actual feel of any given stride length can vary between brands and models but, as a general rule, the longer the better, especially if you’re tall.
  • Adjustable stride length. You can get by without this feature but if several people of different sizes are going to use the elliptical, it can make everyone’s workout more comfortable.
  • Adjustable incline. Changing the incline serves two purposes at once: altering your stride length and shifting the workout focus to different muscle groups, lending more variety to your workout.
  • Comfortable handlebars. Make sure the handlebars, moving or stationary, feel comfortable when you hold onto them and pedal; it’s hard to exercise when you feel awkward. This is a common complaint with elliptical users who end up unhappy with their machines.
  • Easy-to-use controls. Resistance and incline should be easy to control from the center console or moving handlebars. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to stop the workout to make adjustments.
  • Strong warranty and solid customer service. The warranty should cover parts for at least five years and labor for at least one. The manufacturer should be easy to reach, and quick to respond to consumer complaints.

 

Things to Consider Before Shopping for Your Elliptical

 

Does it fit my available space?

A typical full-sized elliptical is about 79 inches long by 30 inches wide by 63 inches tall, and many front-drive ellipticals require additional clearance to the rear when in use. Don’t forget to measure your ceiling height, too; most ellipticals will add an extra 1.5 feet to your own height. If you have less space, you may want to consider a compact or portable elliptical.

 

Does it fit me?

If you’re especially tall or short, look for an elliptical with a longer or shorter stride length. That said, the only way to know how well any stride length suits you is to get on the machine and exercise for a few minutes. Is the motion comfortable? Do you have plenty of room for your limbs (knees and elbows especially) within the elliptical trainer’s frame? If not, look elsewhere. Comfort is key.

 

Who will use it?

If more than one person is going to use the elliptical, everybody should try it out. If the users are of very different sizes, you may need an elliptical trainer with an adjustable stride length to comfortably accommodate all of them.

 

Should I have it delivered or assembled?

When you pick up or receive your elliptical, it will arrive in one or more large, heavy boxes. Often the shippers will deliver boxes to the curb, but won’t bring them into your house unless you pay an extra fee for “inside” delivery. If you’re handy, patient, and able to get the elliptical into your home on your own (even if that means carrying it piece-by-piece), DIY assembly can be a viable, but time-consuming, option. If you don’t have the time or patience to mess with it, consider paying for a professional delivery and assembly service (typically about $100 to $200).

 

How often will I use the elliptical trainer?

If you’re committed to long, frequent workout sessions, it pays to invest in a machine with the highest build quality and the most durable parts.

 

Do I want movable handlebars?

Although movable handlebars provide a moderate upper-body cardio workout, many exercisers prefer holding onto the stationary handlebars instead. If you’re in the latter group, you can sometimes save money by opting for an elliptical that comes without moving handlebars.

 

Elliptical Machine Reviews and Recommendations

 

Sole Fitness E95

 

Best Home Elliptical Machine

 

The Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical’s super-smooth ride, sturdy frame, auto-adjust incline ramp and extensive warranty make it hard to beat. It’s also a great value compared to other high-end ellipticals, which typically sell for much more. Its eddy current braking system is quiet and dependable, the heavy flywheel makes for a smooth ride, and owners largely have good things to say about Sole’s customer service.

Of all the ellipticals I evaluated, the front-drive Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical  boasts the best combination of stability; durability; useful features; smooth, quiet resistance; and affordability. It’s a top pick at Consumer Reports, with Excellent ratings for ease of use, heart rate features and safety; Very Good ratings for ergonomics, exercise range and construction. AT Fitness Equipment Source it gets 4.5 stars out of 5, with the experts there calling it “Sold, Stable & Rugged – A Winning Combination.” Users agree, saying it feels very solid, like a gym-quality elliptical. Many say that they, and sometimes other members of their family, use it every day, multiple times a day.

The Sole E95 offers 20 levels of eddy current braking — the gold standard for quiet operation and reliability — and is backed by a solid warranty: Lifetime frame coverage, five years on parts, and two years of labor coverage. Sole Fitness has an excellent reputation for customer service; owners say they’re prompt, efficient, and honor their warranty with no hassles.

The Sole E95 also has a plethora of useful features, including an incline ramp that power-adjusts between 0 and 40 degrees (adjusting the stride length between 20 and 22 inches); 10 workout programs, including two custom workouts and two heart rate control workouts; cushioned, adjustable foot pedals that angle slightly inward to reduce stress on your joints; a 9-inch LCD console that tilts for easier viewing; and handgrip controls for easy adjustments to both incline and resistance. Users say the built-in sound system and fan are just adequate — but we see similar feedback for those features on almost every elliptical — indeed, on almost every piece of home exercise equipment we review. The Sole 95 is also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can wirelessly sync your exercise stats with your smartphone and a variety of fitness apps.

 

Best Mid-Priced Elliptical Machine

 

Sole Fitness E35

It’s a bit lighter than its big sibling, the Sole E95, but the less-expensive Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical is equally praised by reviewers for its quality build and durable components. It has a slightly smaller LCD screen, but its 30-degree incline and a plethora of adjustments and programs earn a lot of praise. Owners love the great value this machine represents, saying it’s a club-quality elliptical at a price that’s very reasonable.

The Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical shares the same excellent build quality and warranty, and almost all of the same features — including the 2017 Bluetooth upgrade. The LCD screen is a little smaller (7.5 inches), the max incline is a little lower (30 degrees), and the flywheel is a little lighter (29 pounds instead of 34). It’s also got just a bit smaller footprint and a lower upper weight limit — 375 pounds to the E95’s 400 pounds. However, the E35 gets just as good of reviews from experts and owners for performance and features.

At Fitness Equipment Source the Sole 35 earns a 4.5-star rating, as well as a Best Buy designation. They note that it’s one of the lowest- maintenance machines you can get at any price range. John Carlzon at Top Ten Reviews puts the Sole 35 at number four on his top ten list after research and testing, saying it, “gives a smooth and substantial workout.” The only con he notes is that there are only 10 preset workouts. Owners agree with Carlsen, giving the Sole 35 above-average ratings and saying they’re very pleased with the build quality and the various workout options.

That’s not to say that the Sole E95 and Sole E35 are perfect. The most common complaint we found for both was occasional squeaking or clicking noises from the foot rails. Most users say lubricating the foot rails will resolve this, while others simply let Sole’s excellent service department take care of it. These ellipticals also require assembly — unless you pay for assembly on delivery. While assembly is not necessarily super difficult, it is time-consuming and there are lots of parts to keep track of — some of which are rather heavy. Assembly is much easier, users say, if you get organized first, take your time, and enlist the help of a friend.

 

Best Inexpensive Home Elliptical Machine

 

Schwinn 470

 

For most people, the Schwinn 470 elliptical will be a good fit for their exercise room without making their wallet lose too much weight. Reviewers say it’s stable and quiet, with 25 levels of eddy current braking. Included in its impressive array of features are 29 programs, including options for beginners to advanced users and a customizable setting. The 470’s 20-inch stride length, smooth operation and a decent warranty combine to make the Schwinn 470 an excellent value if you’re on a budget.

Bargain-priced ellipticals tend to have short, choppy strides, but the front-drive Schwinn’s 20-inch stride length is the equal of many high-end home ellipticals. It has 25 levels of eddy current resistance (another great feature for the price), and users say the motion is smooth and stable, even for larger users — its maximum weight capacity is 300 pounds. You can also create up to four user programs, something that impresses the folks at Top Ten Reviews.  

At Consumer Reports the Schwinn 470 earns ratings of Very Good across the board for ergonomics, exercise range, ease of use, construction, heart rate features and user safety. It’s also named a Best Buy there. It’s the number five pick (out of 10) and Top Ten Reviews, but their review is disappointingly devoid of testing notes, even though they say they tested for this roundup. Rather, they call out the 470’s features for praise, and there are plenty of those.

That includes 29 preset workout programs, with custom programs available as well. The display is fairly small, but still a nice touch at this price point. It displays time, distance, speed, calories burned, resistance level and more.

There are 29 preset programs, as well as the ability to design four custom programs. The automated inclined adjusts up to 10 degrees. A three-speed fan is also a nice touch to keep the user comfortable.

The Schwinn 470 is compatible with a chest strap-style heart monitor, but one is not included.  I like the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor and Fitness Tracker.

 

Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor

 

The Schwinn 470 also has a USB port for data export to Schwinn Connect and MyFitnessPal.com — online tools to help users upload and track their workout data and fitness goals; the USB port can also be used for charging your portable gadgets.

 

Best Compact Elliptical Machine

Sunny Air Walk Trainer

 

The Sunny Air Walk Trainer is as highly rated as ellipticals costing much more, but is lighter and much more compact. It does not have the bells and whistles of a full sized, high-end exercise machine, but most say that it provides all you need if you just want an effective, low-impact exercise option. Owners note that it’s very quiet and is uncommonly comfortable to use.

 

Best Portable Elliptical Machine

 

Stamina In-Motion Portable Elliptical Machine

 

Reviewers say the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical may take some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll love it. It’s little more than a set of wheels you pedal, but it’s extremely portable and many dedicated exercisers take it to work, on trips, or keep it in their dorm rooms.

 

 

You can adjust the tension to control workout intensity, and use it standing or sitting, in forward or reverse to add variety.  The Stamina In-Motion also has an electronic fitness monitor which displays the number of strides per minute, total number of strides, exercise time, and calories burned.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Elliptical training combines the best of stair climbing, cross country skiing and running in a low impact, variety rich workout.  Runners will benefit from the non-impact movement as a complement to their running and older users will appreciate the fluidity and ease of the motion.  It is a highly effective cross training activity that is viable for anyone from beginning exercisers to elite athletes.

 

 

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

-Laurie

 

 

 

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Should Your Dog Take a Glucosamine Supplement?

Should Your Dog Take a Glucosamine Supplement?

 

 

 

 

Joint problems like arthritis and inflammation afflict dogs as they age just like they do with humans. These issues can slow your dog down and make movement painful, reducing their quality of life and long-term health.

These conditions are particularly prevalent with large breed dogs, and especially labrador retrievers, though it can affect any dog, no matter the breed or their size.

All is not lost however, and – again, just like with humans– there are plenty of diet supplements for dogs on the market that can improve any joint issues Fido may be suffering with. Although unable to provide a total cure, the best supplements can relieve pain and, if started early enough, even serve as a preventative measure.

One such diet supplement is glucosamine, which you may be familiar with as a human supplement to help ease joint stiffness and the symptoms of arthritis.

Glucosamine for dogs is similar to the human formulation and can prove a valuable tool in the fight against arthritis regardless of the stage the arthritis is at.

In essence, glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound found in the connective tissue and fluid around joints. The supplement is simply a synthesized version of this.

(Image above – K9 Care Labs Chewable Joint Supplement)

 

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

 

It can be quite difficult to detect whether your dog is suffering from arthritis, as our canine friends tend to hide their weaknesses and suffering as an innate defensive response.

Having said that, look out for the following clues that could be signs of joint discomfort in your dog:

  • A decrease in activity and sense of lethargy. They may be particularly hesitant on long walks, and running up and down stairs
  • Tender to the touch, particularly around their hind legs and hip joints
  • A restlessness when lying down or sleeping, indicating pain from swelling and inflammation

 

 

Your Vet’s Advice

First things first, always consult your vet if you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis or a similar joint problem and they will be able to provide tailored advice and medication to best fit your dog’s needs.

Otherwise, you can make your dog as comfortable as possible by:

  • Providing them a healthy, balanced diet (remember to reduce their portion sizes accordingly if they are less active than normal)
  • Giving them plenty of rest and avoiding stressful environments
  • Giving them plenty of love and attention
  • Supplementing their diet with substances like glucosamine and other vitamins and minerals to help slow and support the aging process

Image above:  Deep Dish Cuddler Bed for Joint Relief (also available in Jumbo size).

 

Glucosamine Benefits for Dogs

 

By taking glucosamine regularly, in the manner advised by your vet, your dog can expect to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Pain relief from muscle inflammation, bone loss and arthritis
  • The rebuilding of lost cartilage
  • Improvement in joint function and movement

Consequently, you’ll notice that your dog has more energy and freedom to move, leading to a greater quality of life and an array of other health benefits.

Additionally, taking glucosamine as a preventative measure for arthritis will mean your dog is less likely to need medicated pain relief in their future.

 

Comparing Glucosamine to Veterinarian Pain Medication

 

  • Glucosamine is cheaper than pain medication
  • Glucosamine carries less risk of unpleasant side effects than pain medication
  • Glucosamine is less likely to react with other supplements, dietary intake and medicines than pain medication

 

You can start your dog on glucosamine at any age; just remember to consult your vet so that they can advise on the best dosage tailored to your pet’s particular needs. As a diet supplement, it carries low risks of side effects and can prove preventative for arthritis and other joint problems later in life.

Having said that, if your dog begins to develop signs of arthritis, or if they are already in the full throes of the disease, glucosamine supplements are still a valuable tool in your dog’s health kit.

If you suspect that your dog may be developing joint problems or arthritis, consult your vet so you can begin treatment and glucosamine supplementation as soon as possible.

 

 

How to Give Your Dog a Glucosamine Supplement

 

Your vet should be able to advise on the correct dosage of glucosamine for your dog, taking into account such factors as their weight, age and the extent of their problems.

It’s imperative that you do consult a vet before administering supplements or other medicines to your dog: only a trained professional will be best placed to know how your dog will react to a certain formula.

Often, your vet will advise your arthritic dog be put on an initial ‘administration’ or ‘loading’ phase, featuring a high intake of glucosamine in a short period, followed by a ‘maintenance’ period with a lower dosage over a longer time span.

Many manufacturers of glucosamine for dogs will have special formulations like flavored chews, liquid, or crumbling tablets to add to food. It depends on your dog’s sensibilities which one they best prefer and are most likely to ingest.

Some manufacturers include additional vitamins and minerals in their glucosamine supplement formulations to provide extra support and benefits to your dog.

Some popular added substances include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: to reduce inflammation and improve the condition of skin and coat
  • Sulfur and sulfur-containing compounds: helps to rebuild cartilage and joint health while improving the condition of skin, hair, and nails
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): reduces stiffness and inflammation
  • Manganese: strengthens bones

 

 

Glucosamine Side Effects are Not Common

 

The side effects for a dog taking glucosamine are rare although not unheard of, and usually avoided if you follow dosing advice from your vet.

  • Allergic reactions: dogs who suffer from shellfish allergies may also be allergic to glucosamine supplements. Your vet will either advise a lower dose of the supplement or recommend a plant-based formulation.

 

  • Interactions with blood sugar: glucosamine supplements can interact with your dog’s blood sugar levels, particularly if they are also taking blood-thinning medication. Again, consult your vet for tailored advice.

 

  • Gastrointestinal upsets: glucosamine supplements can be a little harsh on your dog’s stomach and digestive system, occasionally leading to flatulence, vomit, and diarrhea. The best way to combat this is to administer their dosage with food or lower their dose, after consulting with your vet.

 

The Best Glucosamine Supplements for Dogs

 

Below, I’ve rounded up and reviewed what we consider to be the best glucosamine supplements for dogs currently available on the market.

 

 

NUTRAMAX Dasuquin With MSM

Trusted manufacturer Nutramax are the people behind the best glucosamine supplement for dogs on the market with their all-round joint support chewable tablet, Dasuquin With MSM.

 

Pros:

  • Dasuquin is most complete joint support supplement on the market today
  • It’s a chewable tablet that’s easily digestible
  • Its formulation includes Chondroitin Sulfate, ASU (avocado and soybean unsaponifiables), MSM and green tea to effectively reduce stiffness and other symptoms of arthritis
  • Dasuquin With MSM benefits from over ten years worth of clinical use and research
  • It’s suitable for long term use and effective when used for arthritis, hip dysplasia and other joint problems

Cons:

  • It’s quite expensive in comparison to other supplements on the market

 

 

 

Another Nutramax product, Cosequin DS, is in second place and is well known for being potent and fast-acting – hence why it’s vets’ favorite glucosamine supplement for joint health.

 

Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus with MSM Chewable Tablets

 

Pros:

  • Cosequin DS is the most recommended supplement for joint health among veterinary professionals
  • It contains glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate, MSM and manganese
  • It’s a chewable tablet so is easily digestible and has a light liver flavor
  • Suitable for use on dogs of all different sizes, ages, and joint symptoms
  • The supply lasts for a long time and is particularly economical once your dog progresses on to the maintenance stage and requires lower dosages
  • The initial administration stage is very strong and works quickly in relieving chronic joint problems

 

Cons:

  • Particularly fussy dogs may not enjoy the very light taste of the chewable tablet

 

 

 

These PAH Hip + Joint Chews are full of potent and fast-acting vitamins and minerals, promising pain relief, joint support and an extra glossy coat for your dog.

PAH Hip + Joint Chew Supplement

 

Pros

  • PAH Hip + Joint Chews contains extra-strength glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin and Omega-3 fish oils
  • The Omega-3 ensures a strong and glossy coat, as well as providing additional anti-inflammatory support
  • Formulated in a chewable tablet with a delicious chicken flavor
  • Made in the USA using a cold pressed manufacturing process which ensures no active ingredients are lost
  • It works quickly and effectively to combat joint problems and comes with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied
  • It’s gentle on your dog’s stomach

 

Cons

  • Some users have commented that it’s difficult to halve the chews without them crumbling – be sure to use scissors or a super sharp knife if you try!

 

 

Offering something a little different, TerraMax Pro’s Hip & Joint Advanced comes in a liquid form and is easy to combine with food and water – perfect for fussy eaters! 

Additionally, it contains a high dosage of the glucosamine and other helpful compounds.

 

Terramax Pro Hip & Joint Advanced (Liquid Form)

 

Pros

  • Hip & Joint Advanced contains an unmatched 1,600 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate and 1,000 mg of MSM.
  • It’s also fortified with Hyaluronic acid which helps the rebuilding process of cartilage and joint tissue
  • It’s a liquid formulation which is absorbed faster and more efficiently into the bloodstream than tablets are
  • TerraMax manufacture their supplements in the USA, and they last for a long time with a money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied
  • All ingredients are rated at human grade and are distilled to provide the purest form.
  • The liquid is free from gluten, corn, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, starch and soy derivatives

 

Cons

  • As it’s in liquid form, this glucosamine supplement doesn’t last as long as the other solid products on this list.  The manufacturer recommends that you keep the bottle in the fridge after opening it.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Arthritis will afflict most dogs as they age. Unfortunately, dog owners and veterinarians rarely notice the early warning signs of arthritis because dogs tend to hide soreness and discomfort until the arthritic changes in joints have become severe.

Supplements to the dog’s diet – such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) – can assist in decreasing inflammation and improving your dog’s ability to repair and strengthen joint tissues. And while high-quality supplements are very safe, they tend to work best in combination with other forms of arthritis treatment.

You can be proactive by giving your dog a daily joint supplement. And of course, be sure to check with your vet if you suspect any joint problems. Image above:  Gypsy Rock Dog Mug.

 

Pet Medical ID Tags by Lauren's Hope

 

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

-Laurie

 

 

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Dog Shampoo Buying Guide

Dog Shampoo Buying Guide

How to Find the Right Dog Shampoo For Your Special Pet

 

But first – do you actually need special shampoo for your dog? … or can you just use human shampoo?  It might be tempting to simply use human shampoo and conditioner instead of specialized pet products to bathe your dog, but it really isn’t a good idea. Image above: Kreative Arts Modern Giclee Dog Prints.

Although the odd occasion may not do them much harm, frequent use of human products can be harmful to your dog and certainly won’t do the condition of their skin and coat any favors. There are 2 major reasons to avoid using human shampoo on your dog:

 

Skin pH levels

Human shampoo tends to be marginally acidic in order to best clean our skin, which has a pH somewhere between 5.2 and 6.2. Dogs, on the other hand, have an alkaline skin pH of up to 7.5 – using such acidic human shampoo on them could break down their skin mantle and make them vulnerable to bacteria and parasites.

 

Sensitive skin

Dogs are generally much more sensitive than humans as their skin only has between 3-5 layers, in comparison to humans with 10-15 layers. As such, our skin can take more of a battering from harsh products and chemicals while your dog will be more easily irritated. Such irritation leads to dryness, scratching and abrasions.

If you have to bathe your dog with human products – perhaps in a particularly smelly emergency with no pet products at hand – try to opt for mild formulations used on babies and children. Dr. Debora Lichtenberg VMD states in Petful, “veterinary dermatologists recommend Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo frequently for sensitive dogs.”

 

 

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

 

How often you need to bathe your dog will vary from breed to breed and also depends on their individual lifestyle and habits.

Let’s say they like to spend time outside, playing in the dirt; in this case, you would generally expect to bathe them around every four to six weeks or so. If your dog gets smelly in between full shampoo baths, opt for a simple plain water rinse in between.

Dogs that spend more time indoors and rarely get dirty will require less regular baths. Depending on how smelly they get, a bath somewhere between every 2 to 3 months would be about right.

Double-coated breeds, such as Labs, should really only be bathed every three months – or even less often – unless they get particularly smelly. Their oily double coats will dry out from too much shampooing, depleting the insulating, protective properties and waterproofing their coat has.

Just as with humans, shampooing too often has a tendency to dry out the skin and hair, leading to irritation, scratching and in extreme cases maybe even lesions.

With excessive shampooing a dog’s hair quickly loses its natural shine and can also become damaged, brittle and broken. If your dog’s fur has ever felt rough to the touch, this could well be the reason.

The best way to prolong time between baths and keep your dog looking healthy and clean is to commit to a daily brushing schedule.

On the other hand, your dog does need that regular shampooing in that 2 to 3 month range; although it’s a cardinal sin to bathe your dog too frequently, not bathing them at all will also put the health of their skin and coat at risk.

Unlike humans who breathe in allergens, dogs absorb them through their skin.  If you decline to wash your dog – or don’t wash them enough – all of the dirt, debris and bugs your dog may have picked up on their travels will hang around in their skin and hair until they’re absorbed. This can lead to irritation, scratching and eventually – in extreme cases – lesions.

 

 

Quick Tips For Washing Your Dog

Bathing Tethers

 

Before Bathing

Brush your dog to remove any tangles and debris caught in their hair, and prepare the room for bath time by by assembling products ready to use, laying down towels or waterproof sheets and keeping treats on hand to reward good behavior. 

Of course, you will want to remove your dog’s collar and lead (if they need to be restrained, use a muzzle or a special bathing tether).

Warm up the water to lukewarm, and line the sink with a non-skid mat for your dog’s comfort.

 

In the Bath

Introduce your dog to the water slowly by spraying their backs first and keeping the power on low, allowing them to get used to the sensation. Protect your dog’s face from the shampoo and water by applying a little petroleum jelly around their eyes and putting cotton balls in their ears.

Use a soft shampooing brush in the direction of hair growth to best lather in the shampoo and avoid any tangles. Use the brush again to gently clean the paw pads.  Then, rinse thoroughly by wetting the head and face first before working your way down the rest of their body.  Keep rinsing until the water runs clear.

At this point, some owners choose to use a special dog conditioner to seal the hair cuticle and keep the coat shiny and full of moisture. Follow the steps as for shampooing, making sure not to get any chemicals in your dog’s eyes.

 

Once Your Dog is Clean and Rinsed

Lift your dog out of the bath and wrap them in an absorbent towel. Avoid rubbing them dry as this can tangle their hair; blot the coat instead. They will probably want to shake themselves dry too.

Make sure your dog stays in the warm until they are completely dry.

 

 

Dog Shampoo Reviews and Recommendations

 

Lume.le Shower Curtain Set

 

There’s no one product that suits all dogs and the shampoo you choose must suit your dogs specific requirements and the job at hand.

 

To help make sure you find the right product for your needs, I’ve split the products  into 5 categories:

  • All natural, organic shampoos.
  • Heavy duty shampoo.
  • Hypo allergenic Shampoo.
  • Shampoo and conditioner combined
  • Conditioners

 

 

The Best All-Natural, Organic Dog Shampoos

 

These shampoos contain only natural ingredients, suitable as a general purpose shampoo for most dogs and breeds. Gentle yet highly effective.

 

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo

Earthbath is well known for totally natural dog care products that are intelligently formulated to effectively clean dirty dogs.

 

Ingredients:

There’s no irritating soap in this shampoo, which is good news for dogs with sensitive skin.

There’s also no parabens, phosphates, synthetic dyes, perfumes, gluten DEA, enzymes or SLS/SLES.

Oatmeal and aloe vera combine with purified water to combat skin irritation and moisturize, while coconut based cleansers, Vitamins A, B, D and E and food-grade vanilla and almond extracts create a truly luxurious, natural dog shampoo.

 

Pros:

  • It’s made of natural ingredients, is guaranteed cruelty free and is made of biodegradable packaging. You won’t be hurting your dog or the environment!
  • The oatmeal and aloe will combat and heal your dog’s itchy parts while effectively re-moisturizing their skin and hair.
  • There’s no soap so it’s gentle and no-tears.
  • The vanilla and almond extracts make for a beautifully scented dog.
  • It lathers very easily.

 

Cons:

  • Seriously smelly or dirty dogs may need a heavier duty shampoo than this all-natural offering.

 

Why I recommend it:

With a great smell, all natural ingredients and a gentle formulation that will also heal sensitive skin, Earthbath is an obvious top choice.

 

 

 

 

WAHL Oatmeal Shampoo Concentrate

 

Wahl is another natural shampoo manufacturer, and has various formulations and scents to choose from, depending on your preferences and your dog’s needs.

 

Ingredients:

Wahl guarantee that all their ingredients are solely plant-derived.

This shampoo contains oatmeal, aloe vera, coconut, lime and lemon verbena to soothe dry skin and restore some much needed moisture.

There are no harsh chemicals included and it is guaranteed to be PEG-80 (Sorbitan Laurate) free.

 

Pros:

  • Totally natural and soothing ingredients ensure this shampoo is safe and gentle for use on your dog.
  • Oatmeal helps to heal your dog’s dry skin and provide welcome itch relief.
  • The shampoo is concentrated so only a small amount is needed to create a rich lather.
  • There are a variety of scents available aside from this Coconut & Lime Verbena formulation: Lavender & Chamomile, White Pear, Cornflower & Aloe, Eucalyptus & Spearmint, and Lemongrass Sage.

 

Cons:

  • Some users found the scents quite strong so it may not be suitable for people and dogs with allergies or a particularly sensitive sense of smell.
  • Again, the natural ingredients and gentle formulation mean that very stinky dogs may still need a heavy duty cleaning.

 

Why I recommend it:

Wahl ensures your dog gets a thorough clean and smells fresh after a round with this shampoo while protecting your dog from any harsh chemicals and irritants.

 

 

 

 

Best Heavy Duty Dog Shampoos

For times when your dog rolls in something particularly dirty or smelly like animal excrement or perhaps motor-oil, gentle shampoos just aren’t going to make the grade.

So it’s a good idea to keep a heavy duty shampoo in reserve, not for general routine use, but for the inevitable, particularly grimy emergencies. You won’t go wrong with either of the following two.  Image above: 7 Wall Arts Handpainted Dogs on Motorcycle

Barklogic Aloe & Flaxseed Deodorizing Shampoo

 

BarkLogic’s shampoo is also all-natural and made of plant-derived ingredients, but is heavier hitting on serious odors with its natural deodorizing qualities and refreshing scent.

 

Ingredients:

This shampoo has a long ingredient list but is guaranteed to be made of 100% plant and mineral derived components.

Most importantly, it is free of sulfates, phthalates, PEG, DEA, Triclosan, Gluten, artificial colors, dyes and fragrances that can all cause irritation.

 

Pros:

  • It eliminates odors on contact, working like a detergent to gently lift away and dissolve dirt and debris from your dog’s coat.
  • A totally plant-derived ingredients list ensures the product works gently on your dog’s skin and is also hypoallergenic and non-toxic.
  • It’s suitable for vegans.
  • The shampoo is easy to work into a rich lather.
  • It’s biodegradable and made in the US.

 

 

Cons:

  • The lemon scent is very subtle – you may need to repeat the shampooing once or twice if you’re after a truly refreshing scent.

 

Why I recommend it:

As an effective deodorizer but sporting an all plant-based ingredient list, it’s hard to go wrong with this Barklogic shampoo – it may be heavy duty in its effectiveness but not in its deployment of chemicals.

 

 

 

Synergy Labs Veterinary Formula Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo

 

 

SynergyLabs produce a variety of popular dog shampoos, some with excellent deodorizing qualities, but this particular formulation stands out for its seriously heavy-duty action on dirty dogs.

 

Ingredients:

This shampoo isn’t as packed to the nines with chemicals as its cleaning qualities may suggest.

Aalongside de-ionized water, there’s a variety of foaming agents, glycerine, DMDM hydantoin, tetrasodium EDTA and fragrances.

In order to protect your dog’s skin and coat, it’s also enriched with Vitamin E, aloe vera, shea butter and wheat protein.

 

Pros:

  • It possesses three times the number of active cleansers of its competitors, ensuring that dirty dogs are dealt with easily and effectively.
  • It boasts an exclusive ‘Dirt Repel’ formula.
  • It’s scented with subtle and refreshing green apple and tea perfumes.
  • The Vitamin E, aloe vera, shea and wheat protein work to restore moisture to your dog’s coat and skin while ensuring that none of the natural oils are stripped away.
  • It lathers easily and is concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

 

Cons:

  • Some owners of particularly smelly dogs have reported that the fresh, clean smell is not very long-lasting, sticking around for only a few days after bathing.

 

Why I recommend it:

The Synergy Labs Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo is very effective on dirty dogs – particularly those who have rolled in something stinky – without being too harsh on their skin and coats.

 

 

 

 

Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoos For Sensitive Skin

 

 

Some dogs suffer with allergies and sensitive skin, Labradors being particularly prone it seems when compared to many other breeds.

For these poor souls, many standard shampoos can leave them feeling irritated and uncomfortable, with the inevitable scratching and biting that follows sometimes leading to broken skin and further complications.

The obvious answer is hypo-allergenic shampoo formulated specifically for dogs with allergies. Image above: CafeTime Pillow Case.

 

This 4-Legger Dog Shampoo could have easily ended up in my favorite organic shampoo selection, but its amazing moisturizing qualities means that it’s a firm favorite for dogs with sensitive skin.

4-Legger Dog Shampoo

 

Ingredients:

It’s actually certified to organic food standards so you can be sure that there’s nothing but the safest of natural ingredients in here.

As well as coconut, olive and jojoba oils, there’s also aloe vera and essential oils like lemongrass and rosemary. There are no parabens, DEA, MEA, PEG, DMDM hydantoin, alcohol, sulfates or artificial fragrances and colors.

 

Pros:

  • It is specially formulated for sensitive skin with an abundance of natural moisturizers that heal the skin and coat without stripping natural oils. There’s even anecdotal evidence that it works well on dermatitis conditions.
  • The lemongrass and rosemary essential oils are natural flea and tick deterrents.
  • It’s made in the US, 100% vegan, not tested on animals and the packaging is recyclable.
  • It’s hypoallergenic and gentle enough to be used on all skin types and age brackets.

 

Cons:

  • Some owners have noted that the consistency is significantly thinner than other shampoos – be careful when pouring it out of the bottle!

 

Why I recommend it:

As well as being hypoallergenic and specially formulated for sensitive skin, this 4-Legger shampoo smells great, helps to keep pesky fleas and ticks at bay and is totally natural and safe to use.

 

 

 

 

Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo

Vet’s Best have formulated a good value shampoo ideal for dogs with sensitive skin and allergies, which is ‘no tears’ and restores moisture to their coats.

 

Ingredients:

The main ingredients are Allantoin, Panthenol, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.

 

Pros:

  • It’s hypoallergenic and designed to thoroughly cleanse and re-moisturize dry skin, soothe itching and re-energize brittle coats.
  • There’s no soap, guaranteeing ‘no tears’ at bath time.
  • It won’t affect any topical flea or tick treatments you may have applied.
  • Some owners reported a reduction in hair shedding after using this shampoo.
  • It’s so smoothing that you won’t even need to use a separate conditioner afterwards.

 

Cons:

  • It’s quite difficult to work this shampoo into a lather due to its runnier texture.
  • As it’s hypoallergenic, there’s no scent to this shampoo. While some owners may like that there’s a neutral smell, others may be disappointed.

 

Why I recommend it:

This Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo is an excellent no-frills, great value, hypoallergenic shampoo that cleans your dog effectively while restoring moisture to their coat and skin. Plus, no tears means bath time doesn’t have to be traumatic!

 

 

 

 

What About Conditioners For Your Dog?

 

After bathing your pooch, it’s likely you now have more water on the floor and all over yourself than there ever was on your dog. So yes, we hear you – why would you want to spend even more time on the job of bathing?

Well, shampoo removes all the grime from your dogs skin and coat but a side effect of this is leaving each hair ‘open’, where oils can escape and unwanted contaminants might enter. This can leave hair dry and brittle.

Also, all the brushing, scrubbing, lathering and drying that a good clean requires results in broken and damaged hair – no matter how carefully you work.

Using a conditioner repairs damaged hairs, fills in cracks, restores elasticity, prevents oils from leaving the hair and seals it against contaminants entering.

At the end of the day, using a conditioner results in a stronger, healthier, shinier looking and all around better coat. Using a conditioner after bathing is certainly better than never doing so.

 

I recommend the following conditioners:

 

Isle of Dogs Silky Coating Conditioner

This Isle of Dogs Conditioner not only smells great but is also gentle enough to be used regularly. It promises to transform your dog’s hair into silky, lustrous locks.

 

Ingredients:

This conditioner is notably more chemical heavy than many of the other products we’ve discussed, but it’s undoubtedly a heavy hitter when it comes to smoothing out your dog’s hair.

The full ingredients list includes PEG-40 castor oil, PEG-12 dimethicone, DMDM hydantoin, aloe barbadensis leaf juice and a number of strengthening proteins.

 

Pros:

  • It’s very effective on tangled hair and restores moisture to the coat immediately. Some owners have described ‘run-your-hands-through-it silkiness’.
  • The jasmine and vanilla fragrance is subtle and attractive.
  • The abundance of aloe leaf juice and proteins in the formulation help to manage and maintain a silky, strong coat in the long term.
  • It lathers well, rinses off really easily and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.

 

Cons:

  • There are a lot of chemical ingredients so it won’t be suitable for owners looking for a more natural conditioner.

 

Why I recommend it:

This great value Isle of Dogs conditioner will immediately put paid to any knots, tangles or matts in a dog’s hair and leave them with a healthy and beautifully glossy coat.

 

 

 

 

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Conditioner

Perfect to use after a good wash with the Earthbath shampoo recommended above, this all natural moisturizing conditioner goes a long way, recommended to dilute 1 part in 16 parts water for use.

 

Ingredients:

There’s no artificial or synthetic ingredients in this all natural conditioner, the ingredients consisting of: Purified water, vegetable-derived conditioner, colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera and organic shea butter.

 

Pros:

  • The Stuff works on all hair types to condition, detangle and penetrate matting.
  • The inclusion of colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera moisturizes and soothes irritated, itchy and dry skin.
  • It doesn’t wash off topical flea and tick treatments (saving money on re-application.)
  • It’s concentrated and so a little goes a long way. Nice for the budget conscious.

 

Cons:

  • Try not to spill or spray any of the product into the dogs eyes as it can irritate – though this is true with the vast majority of products on the market.

 

Why I recommend it:

Eartbath has a solid reputation with the vast majority of users giving this conditioner 4 or 5 stars and positive feedback.

It’s all natural, in biodegradable packaging, so it’s kind to your dog and friendly to the environment.

However, it’s the results that most speaks volumes. This stuff simply works 🙂

 

 

 

 

Best Dog Shampoo & Conditioner Combo

 

Although a separate shampoo and conditioner will give the best results, combining the two into one product can still give a great performance, leave your dog with a healthy, clean, shiny coat – But more importantly cut down on the total time it takes to bathe your dog.

Here’s a quick look at two of the best combined shampoo and conditioners.

 

Paws & Pals Shampoo & Conditioner

This Paws & Pals 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner is one of the most popular on the market thanks to its natural formulation and sheer effectiveness at cleansing and conditioning your dog’s skin and coat.

 

Ingredients:

Certified organic, there are only natural ingredients to be found in this shampoo and conditioner, such as aloe vera, jojoba and coconut oils, oatmeal, shea butter and rosemary. There are no parabens and only naturally derived foaming agents.

 

Pros:

  • The ingredients list is all-natural, high quality and organic, guaranteeing a gentle, non-toxic yet effective clean.
  • It’s suitable for vegans, made in the USA and recyclable.
  • Dry and itchy skin will be soothed by the unique combination of aloe, shea butter, oatmeal and natural oils – prepare to see an instantly glossier coat too!
  • The added conditioner will detangle and smooth your dog’s coat.
  • There’s no soap in this product and it’s guaranteed to be no-tears.
  • Works into a lather and rinses out with ease.

 

Cons:

  • It’s relatively expensive in comparison to some of its competitors although you do get a lot of product for your money at 20 ounces.
  • The fragrance is very subtle.

 

Why I recommend it:

As both a shampoo and conditioner, this Paws & Pals Dog Shampoo and Conditioner combo  provides a complete bathing experience for your dog. With all natural ingredients too, you can be sure of a gentle and effective clean.

 

 

 

 

Earthbath Mango Tango Shampoo & Conditioner in One

This one-stop shop shampoo and conditioner is from the renowned Earthbath who make great all natural pet products.

 

Ingredients:

The Mango-Tango is made up of purified water alongside a variety of plant-derived cleansers and conditioners.

It contains aloe vera, Vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as glycerine, natural preservatives and mango essence.

There’s no SLS/SLES, DEA, phthalates, enzymes, parabens, artificial dyes or perfumes, soap or gluten, so it’s kind to a dog’s skin.

 

Pros:

  • It’s totally natural so you can be sure of a gentle yet thorough clean and condition of your dog’s skin and coat.
  • The added conditioner detangles, softens and promotes shine to your dog’s hair with long-lasting effect.
  • The mango scent is really refreshing.
  • It won’t affect any topical flea treatments.
  • It’s vegan and the packaging is 100% biodegradable.
  • It lathers and rinses out easily.

 

Cons:

  • It isn’t specialized to deal with any significant skin or hair problems so you may need to look elsewhere if your dog has issues in this area.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

 

So there you have it, some super recommendations for the best dog shampoo and conditioners.  There are hundreds of options out there, some good and some bad. Hopefully our little guide will help you to avoid the bad ones and buy the right product to keep your dog’s coat and skin in tip top condition.

 Just remember that the best shampoo for your dog is not your shampoo! They have very different needs. Image above: Wittsy Glassware Dog Lover Wine Glass.

 

Pet Medical ID Tags by Lauren's Hope

 

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

-Laurie

 

 

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