Here are some tools I recommend to make allergy season a little less painful.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies—and even if you aren’t one of them, you almost certainly have a friend or family member coping with allergies as pollen counts rise.
Aside from the usual over-the-counter remedies, you can take a few easy steps to remove allergens from your home. There are air filters built into vacuum cleaners that can remove and trap pollen, pet dander, dust mites and other particles. There are washers with a special allergen cycle that can kit dust mites. And a good dehumidifier can prevent mold from growing.
So whether you’re dealing with springtime allergies or year-round issues with household dust and other allergens, here some tools I recommend you use to make allergy season a little less painful.
Clean Your House With a HEPA Filter Vacuum
Unfortunately, not all allergens are in the air. All kinds of dust and grime can get caught in your carpet which will aggravate your allergies with every step. And while serious allergy sufferers may want to consider removing carpet from their homes entirely, most of us can manage with regular vacuuming to suck up dirt before it becomes a problem (weekly vacuuming is ideal).
The Electrolux EL402A is a a true silent performer, with their Silence Pro system for minimal noise and disription. This powerful vacuum provides deep cleaning suction on bare floors and carpets, while its HEPA filter captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants (great for allergy sufferers!). It also comes with a 3-in-1 crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery nozzle. This vacuum is bagless and easy to empty. Read reviews.
Consider a Roomba or Robotic Mop
While vacuuming is a simple solution to allergy problems, it takes a time and effort to do it weekly—and to keep dirt away you may need to vacuum even more often in high-traffic areas or areas frequented by your pets. If you’re having trouble finding the time, the Roomba 980 is the answer.
Despite its petite size, the Roomba 980 can do the cleaning of a conventional vacuum with its AeroForce cleaning system which is more powerful than previous Roombas.
The Roomba 980 cleans an entire level of your home: With Smart Mapping and vSLAM® technology, the Roomba® 980 robot vacuum seamlessly navigates your home, keeping track of where it’s been and where it has yet to clean. It cleans continuously for up to 120 minutes, then recharges and resumes cleaning until the job is done.
The Roomba 980 removes dirt from high traffic spots of your home using patented Dirt Detect™ Technology. Sensors recognize concentrated areas of dirt and prompt the robot to clean them more thoroughly. At just 3.6 inches tall, the Roomba® robot vacuum is designed to clean under beds, sofas, toe kicks, and other hard-to-reach areas. Its Cliff Detect sensors prevent the robot from falling down stairs or tumbling over drop-offs.
Its advanced Gen 3 motor gives the Roomba® robot vacuum up to 10x the air power in Performance Mode or when the robot detects it’s cleaning carpet, while its multi-surface brushes work together to pull in pet hair, dust, dirt, and large debris without getting tangled. Its Edge-Sweeping Brush is specially designed at a 27-degree angle to sweep debris away from edges and corners and into the path of the 3-Stage Cleaning System to be suctioned off your floors. The 980’s High-Efficiency Filter is made from a special material that captures 99% of dust, mites, and allergens as small as 10 microns.
This little unit is not only powerful, it also utilizes cutting edge technology while being so simple to use: You can use the IRobot HOME app to set your cleaning schedule up, and its Clean Map reports show where your robot cleaned, along with details such as coverage and duration from completed jobs. Plus, receive Push Notifications when your robot completes a cleaning job – all on your smartphone. Its also compatible on devices with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. All in all, the Roomba 980 is a terrific little household assistant!
While dust and dirt hide in the carpet, the grime on hard floors is often in plain sight. A vacuum will help pick up the dust bunnies, but damp mopping will do a better job of trapping dust and allergens instead of knocking them back in the air. Unfortunately, mopping is another one of those chores you probably don’t do as often as you should—and that won’t help the allergy-sufferers in the household.
If you can’t find time, outsource your mopping to the iRobot Braava 388t. This bot can sweep and mop using either a washable microfiber cloth or a disposable cloth (it’s compatible with Swiffer pads).
It makes neat back-and-forth passes across the room (three passes when mopping) to thoroughly clean the entire floor, covering up to 1,000 square feet (sweeping) or 350 square feet (mopping).
While it’s a bit less turnkey than the Roomba—you’ll have to replace its cleaning cloth, fill it with water or detergent for mopping, and manually start it each time you want it to run—it’s still a lot easier than doing your own mopping!
Use an Air Purifier
The air in your home could be packed with pollen, dust mites, pet dander and more potential allergy problems. An air purifier will filter the air, catching those particles before they set off your allergies.
Honeywell’s True HEPA Allergen Remover captures 99.97% of microscopic particles, including dust, pollen, tobacco smoke, cooking smoke, fireplace smoke, pet dander, mold spores and even some germs—leaving you with clean, easier to breathe air.
This Honeywell uses a quiet fan to pull air into the unit and through its filters, cycling the room’s air up to five times an hour to keep it allergen-free. This model performs well in large rooms, too, cleaning rooms up to 465 square feet.
Using this purifier is simple, with a push-button panel to turn it on or off and set the cleaning level. Though you will have to change the filters—this Honeywell has two—to keep it cleaning efficiently, a light on the control panel will tell you when it needs replacing, so there’s no guesswork. This Honeywell Air Purifier is consistently a top-seller good consumer reviews.
If you have specific concerns about VOCs (volatile organic compounds), mold, or other toxins, you can test your indoor air quality at home with a Home Air Check kit. My husband and I did this test, and it was simple to do.
Home Air Check offers a variety of test kits, and they are very thorough. If you need to get to the bottom of a suspected indoor air issue, I highly recommend doing this testing; it will provide you with actionable information and set your mind at ease.
Correct Your Air Humidity
If the air in your house is too humid (over 50% humidity), it can encourage the growth of mold and dust mites—both common causes of indoor allergies. A dehumidifier will help by removing water from the air and keeping the humidity level down.
This Frigidaire will remove up to 50 pints of water from the air before its tank needs to be emptied, meaning should be able to run all day without trouble, even in large rooms.
Operation is, like the name suggests, effortless—all you need to do is press a few buttons to select your desired humidity level and it will run until the tank is almost full.
Though you do have to empty the tank and clean the filter regularly (how often depends on how humid it is), otherwise you can just ignore it—and enjoy cutting down on home allergens. Read consumer reviews.
Though humid air can be a problem, dry air can also be a problem, irritating your nose and lungs.
The Air-Joy is whisper quiet, features 9 light settings, and comes with a tank brush and 2 ultrasonic disk cleaning brushes for hassle-free cleaning and maintenance. User reviews are excellent for the Air-Joy Premium, with many allergy sufferers heaping on the praise.
Use Your Washing Machine (and Hot Water) to Reduce Allergens
Washing bedding regularly—once a week—is key to keep it free of allergy irritating dust and dust mites.
Additionally, washing clothing, especially outerwear, frequently can help prevent members of the household from tracking allergens in from the outside.
You’ll also want to keep bathmats, towels, curtains, cushion slipcovers and throw rugs as clean as possible by throwing them in the wash, if you can (be sure to check the manufacturer’s care instructions first).
A regular cycle in hot water should suffice, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, many reviewers classify the Speed Queen TR3000WN as a great machine (some saying it’s the best one they’ve ever owned!).
And while we’re talking laundry, make sure you choose hypoallergenic laundry supplies. Some suggestions:
ECOS is made without dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates; it’sdermatologist-tested hypoallergenic, and pH-balanced. It also has built-in fabric softener to add freshness and reduce static cling (and save money).
Sun & Earth uses 100 % plant-based ingredients, which are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, compostable and biodegradable. These sheets are free from synthetics, scents, and UV brighteners. They are also and are vegan and cruelty-free.
If you want to avoid fabric softeners, these Housoft Natural Fabric Softener Dryer Balls are a good alternative. They are made with 100% organic New Zealand sheep wool, and are especially good for babies or those with sensitive skin. These dryer balls will soften and de-wrinkle your clothes in the dryer, while also cutting down on dryer time (which saves money and lengthens the life of your clothes).
Try an Allergy App
An allergy app can tell you what today’s forecast means for your allergies, which can help you plan accordingly. My favorite app is WebMD Allergy (for iPhone and Android) which creates a personalized allergy forecast with doctor-approved tips for dealing with your symptoms.
You can also use the app to look up general allergy information and track your symptoms day to day—a handy way to figure out what’s working to help keep your allergies in check!
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on reducing allergens in your home. By the way, if you suspect you are having allergic symptoms, but aren’t sure, Walk-In Lab offers discount allergy testing with no doctor’s order required.
The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) has long been a pest – feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating their human hosts. Bed bugs are a public health pest. Fortunately, however, they are not known to transmit or spread disease.
They can, however, cause other health issues (and they’re disgusting), so it’s important to pay close attention to preventing and controlling them.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Knowing what to look for is the first step in identifying and controlling bed bugs. There are many bugs that look like bed bugs so an accurate identification is a critical first step to avoid costly treatment for the wrong bug.
The types of bugs that look like bed bugs will vary somewhat depending on your region of the country, but these photos and descriptions will give you some good guidelines.
Adult bed bugs, in general, are:
about the size of an apple seed (5-7 mm or 3/16 – 1/4 inch long);
long and brown, with a flat, oval-shaped body (if not fed recently);
balloon-like, reddish-brown, and more elongated (if fed recently);
a “true bug” (characteristics of true bugs include a beak with three segments; antenna that have four parts; wings that are not used for flying; and short, golden-colored hairs); and
smelly, with a “musty-sweetish” odor produced through glands on the lower side of the body.
Young bed bugs (also called nymphs), in general, are:
smaller, translucent or whitish-yellow in color;
and if not recently fed, can be nearly invisible to the naked eye because of coloring and size.
Bed bug eggs, in general, are:
tiny, the size of a pinhead;
pearl-white in color; and
marked by an eye spot if more than five days old.
The life cycle sizes of a bed bug is shown in the photograph to the right.
During its lifetime, a bed bug will go through the following stages (Starting from the top left, moving counterclockwise):
1st stage nymph (1.5 mm).
2nd stage nymph (2 mm).
3rd stage nymph (2.5 mm).
4th stage nymph (3 mm).
5th stage nymph (4.5 mm).
Unfed adult female.
Unfed adult male.
Paying For an Exterminator
Unfortunately, bed bugs are the hardest insect to get rid of without calling an exterminator. It’s less about killing the bed bugs (which can be easy) as it about finding them, which is hard.
They smell chemicals coming and run deep into crevices, and even sideways. Because it can take up to four visits from an exterminator before your bed bug infestation has been solved, bed bug extermination can cost into the thousands of dollars.
If you rent your home (and since bed bug infestations happen more often in apartment buildings, this is often the case), the good news is that your landlord is probably financially responsible for the cost. So contact him or her immediately if you believe you have a bed bug problem. If they refuse to pay, you may even be able to deduct the cost of the exterminator from future rent payments.
Thoroughly Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
If you just have a mild infestation, you might be able to tackle bed bugs on your own. You’ll need a powerful vacuum–the plug-in canister kind work well, but something battery-operated or upright usually won’t do the trick. Vacuum all carpet, baseboards, switch plates, wallpaper creases, appliances, and any cracks you can find. Wash the vacuum canister with hot water to kill any eggs that may be there.
Next, hit up these same areas with a substance called diatomaceous earth, which you can find in pet stores or gardening stores. Diatomaceous Earth (often referred to as “DE”) is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton.
When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky. But it doesn’t hurt mammals. We can eat it. We do eat it! It’s in lots of grain based foods because lots of grains are stored with diatomaceous earth to keep the bugs from eating the grain!
All we really need to know is that it dehydrates the bed bugs and thereby kills them (but it’s safe for humans and pets), so sprinkle it or smear it everywhere you think the beg bugs may be living, including on the floor near your bed, all over your bed frame, and in any cracks in the wall near your bed.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Mattress
Now it’s time to tackle that soft, comfy home that gives bed bugs their name: your bed. To get bed bugs our of your bed, first strip it of all bedding and wash and dry it on the highest heat setting available.
Then thoroughly vacuum your mattress and box spring, focusing carefully on every crease and crevice. This means taking the fabric sheeting off of the box spring and getting inside of it.
When done, seal the mattress and box spring inside bed bug–proof mattress covers. It’s recommended that you leave the bags on for an entire year, simply putting the sheets and any mattress pads right on top of the bags.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Clothes
Even if you don’t think your clothes have been infested, it’s important to wash all of them to make sure you’ve gotten rid of bed bugs permanently. Wash and dry clothes, bedding, blankets drapes, cushions, pet beds, and seat covers in the hottest heat settings they can stand. (110º is recommended to make sure the bed bugs die.)
For fabrics that absolutely can’t stand the heat, you may be able to freeze bed bugs and their eggs to death. However, the EPA advises that temperatures need to get as low at 0ºF (quite low for most home freezers), and you should keep the fabric at that temperature for at least four days to make sure to kill the bed bugs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Car
As you’ve realized by now, bed bugs can get anywhere. That’s why it’s important to make sure you kill the bed bugs in your car. The process is similar to everywhere else in your home–first wash anything you can, including floor mats and removable seat covers. Give the car a thorough vacuuming, paying special attention to crevices and seams. Then sprinkle diatomaceous earth and leave for as long as possible before vacuuming again. If you suspect your car is infested, cover your seats in plastic for at least a month.
Avoiding bed bugs in your home can be difficult, since a bed bug infestation has little to do with sanitary conditions. Bed bugs can even be carried by birds and animals living outside and can enter through an open window!
To minimize your risk of bed bugs, you can buy encasements for your bed and box spring—this won’t prevent bed bugs from entering your home, but it will make the problem way easier to fix if they do.
You can also buy the ClimbUp Interceptor, which prevents bugs from climbing into your bed from the floor. Just note that the interceptor is kind of ugly, so you might want to hide it beneath a bed skirt (just don’t let it touch the floor).
Other good tips:
After you buy new or used clothes, throw them into a high heat dryer.
Limit clutter so bed bugs have fewer places to hide.
Inspect luggage and clothing after a hotel stay. You might want to wash clothes when you arrive home (and put in a high heat dryer) just to be safe.
Of course, there’s no way to guarantee that you won’t get bed bugs, but if you follow these tips, you’ll hopefully be saving your family from these persistent blood suckers.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on getting rid of bed bugs (and keeping them away!).
Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed.
The arrival of a new season can be an exciting time. Homeowners may have renewed vigor to start home renovations projects, or even tackle some cleaning and organization tasks.
It won’t be long now. The cold winter winds will give way to warm spring breezes, you’ll need to switch your HVAC system to cooling mode.
For the best indoor air quality this summer, give your home through a good spring cleaning before you switch your HVAC to cooling mode by following this brief guide:
Wipe Walls and Ceilings: Use a vacuum with HEPA filter to remove dust. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially prevalent in kitchens, with a solvent-free degreaser (test it first in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t mar the surface).
Reseal Grout Lines: The cement-based material between wall, floor, and countertop tiles is extremely porous and stains easily. Protect it with a penetrating grout sealer; it’s best to apply it with a small foam brush.
Vacuum and Shampoo Rugs: Synthetic carpets and rugs with waterproof backings can be deep-cleaned with a rotary shampoo machine and a hot-water extraction machine. Rugs without backings, including Orientals, require professional cleaning.
Dust Books and Shelves: Take everything off the Shelves, and brush shelves and books with a feather duster. Use the dust-brush or crevice tool on a vacuum to reach into tight spots. Wipe the spines of leather-bound books with a clean, soft cloth.
Clean Upholstered Furnishings: Take cushions outside and gently beat them by hand to remove dust. If there are stains, check the pieces for care labels. Use a vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions.
Polish Metal Door and Window Hardware: Liquid polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medium-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavier work. If tarnish doesn’t come off, try a stronger product.
Dust Your Home Thoroughly: This includes hard-to-reach places, such as the tops of ceiling fans and window casings. Always work from the top of a room down, vacuuming the dust that settles on the floor. Avoid using dusting sprays.
Wax Wooden Furniture: Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dishwashing liquid. Apply paste wax, such as Butcher’s wax, a few feet at a time with a cotton rag folded into a square pad. Let wax dry; buff with a clean cloth.
Ensure Fire Safety: Change batteries in smoke detectors (this should be done twice a year), and make sure units are free of dust. Teach everyone in your household how to use a fire extinguisher, and review escape plans.
Wash Window Screens: Using warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush; rinse thoroughly.
Clean Window Treatments: Many draperies and curtains are machine washable; check labels. Dry-clean fabric shades. Wipe wooden blinds with a damp cloth; warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid is safe for metal and vinyl blinds.
Wax Non-Wood Floors: Vinyl and linoleum floors that have lost their shine should be waxed with a polish designed for these surfaces. Most stone and tile floors can be treated with either a paste or a liquid wax designed for the material.
Preparing Your HVAC System to Keep You Cool This Summer
Your HVAC system has worked hard all winter, keeping you and your home warm. And after several months of non-stop running, it’s probably developed a little dust and debris of its own. This is exactly why you should take a little time to make sure it’s ready to run at maximum performance once the hot, humid days of summer roll in.
Before the weather starts to warm up too much, you may want to evaluate your home cooling needs and ensure that all equipment is in good working order.
Spring air conditioning inspections and tuneups are essential steps in system performance. Don’t take for granted that a system that performed optimally last year will do so this year when temperatures climb.
Various factors, including weather damage, dust and grime, mechanical wear and tear, and even rodent or insect infestations, can compromise HVAC systems.
Since HVAC systems have so many moving parts, a thorough inspections of such systems can save you headaches and money down the road.
Extreme weather conditions that come along with fall and winter can be especially taxing on homes and the systems that keep them comfortable. During a spring visit, an HVAC technician will perform maintenance on the air conditioner and make sure it is ready for the heat of summertime. This maintenance may include cleaning the unit, checking controls, calibrating the thermostat, lubricating moving parts, checking refrigerant levels, tightening electrical connections, and clearing any clogs.
You should also change the filter at the start of the cooling season. Chances are, you don’t swap filters each month (even though that’s recommended). But changing filters is one of the easiest ways to prevent damaged equipment. Make a note to inspect, clean, and replace air filters (if necessary) at the start of each season.
After all, your furnace has been running all winter and its filter has been trapping harmful pollutants like:
HVAC Spring Maintenance Checklist
Keep your cool with simple A/C maintenance
Clear leaves, brush and dirt from inside your air conditioner’s top grille.
Trim nearby shrubs and bushes to allow at least two feet of clearance around the unit.
Set the thermostat to cooling mode and run your air conditioner a few minutes to make sure it’s working.
Schedule an annual checkup of your air conditioning system.
Replace your air conditioner filter once a month. Dirty filters restrict air flow and can waste energy.
If you use a room air conditioner, install it on a north-facing wall to keep it out of the sun.
Move furniture a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls to increase air circulation.
Check windows for condensation and walls for water stains, which are signs of too much humidity.
Keep your home’s relative humidity between 30 – 50%.
Take control of home energy costs
Reduce air leaks in your home by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around doors and windows.
Use exhaust fans to reduce moisture in the kitchen or bath, but turn them off when they’re no longer needed.
Make sure your refrigerator’s seals are airtight. Test by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar out easily, the seal may need to be adjusted.
Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washer.
Turn off lights you don’t need to save energy and reduce extra heat in your home.
If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient model with two-stage cooling. Two levels of operation allow you to rely on the low setting most of the time.
Prepare dinner on your outdoor grill to help reduce your air conditioner’s load.
Check ducts for air leaks, including holes or separated sections.
Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed. As an added advantage, you could also install programmable thermostats if you don’t already have them, to keep cooling as cost- and energy-efficient as possible.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on getting your home and HVAC ready summer.
Your indoor air quality may be having as big of an effect on your runny nose as your outdoor environment.
Your indoor air quality is effected by factors both inside and outside of your home or business. Inside your home, indoor air quality culprits, like chemicals, volatile organic compounds, or molds can be fixed or controlled, but outdoor causes of poor indoor air quality – such as allergens – are something we’re often at the mercy of.
As we pass the first day of spring, indoor air quality is not something typically on our minds. The birds are chirping, trees are budding, and flowers are pushing up through the melting snow. It seems simple enough to open a window to freshen your home and improve your indoor air quality, but you might actually be inviting pollen and other allergens in as well.
If you’re one of the millions who suffers from seasonal allergies, your indoor air quality may be having as big of an effect on your runny nose as your outdoor environment. Seasonal allergies are your immune system’s response to an allergen – like a pollen particle drifting through the air – which often manifests as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, or sneezing. If you’re trying to escape the cornucopia of pollen outdoors and find relief this spring, your indoor air quality can have a big effect on these escape plans.
Check Your Air Ducts and Filters
To help keep your indoor air quality free of seasonal allergens, the first step is to have your ducts inspected and filters checked and replaced. Your indoor air quality is bound to be poor if this key part of your HVAC system is dirty or in need of repairs.
Allergens like pollen or dust can collect in your ducts or filters. Your system, doing its best to move air around your home, will actually help perpetuate poor indoor air quality by spreading that pollen to all rooms.
Inspecting your air filters, and replacing them if necessary, is also a key part of promoting good indoor air quality. Beyond providing a quick route to better indoor air quality, it also keeps your HVAC system running effectively which can prevent long-term problems from arising.
In regards to the HVAC, the low quality filters are porous and dion’t trap fine particulates of dust mites and pet dander, so using ahigh quality HVAC filters for allergies should be a priority.
The Micropartical Performance Rating or MPR is a rating scale created by Filtrete under the 3M company and it rates the filter’s ability to capture the smallest of airborne particles from the air (different companies use different scales). These particles captured are microscopic, ranging in size from .3-1 micron in size.
The rating helps customers properly evaluate the ability of the Filtrete filtration. The higher the MPR rating, the better the filter is at capturing the smallest particulates. The most common ratings for Filtrete filters are 300-2800 MPR.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has a slightly different scale for filters called the MERV rating. This rating goes from 1-16, the higher the rating, the more effective the filter for .3-10 micrometers.
MERV 7 to 13 are almost as effective as true HEPA filters at removing allergens, with much lower associated system and operating costs. This means that using high quality filters can actually help your HVAC system perform with more efficiency and keep the inside of equipment from accumulating dust.
If you are suffering with allergies, I recommend the Filtrete MPR 2800 Ultrafine Particle Reduction HVAC Filter. It captures micro-particles including: PM 2.5 air pollution, exhaust, soot, smoke, cough/sneeze debris, bacteria, viruses, and lint, dust, and pollen, and its electrostatic air filter has a Microparticle Performance Rating of 2800 (7 times better than non-electrostatic pleated filters). It captures 0.3 to 1.0 micron particles, and will last for up to 3 months.
Consumer Reports recommends the Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 as the best vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Strong airflow for tools and superb pet-hair pickup are top attractions of this Kenmore bagged upright. While you can get a fine performer for less, its price includes helpful features such as a brush on/off switch, which safeguards a bare floor’s finish and prevents scattering of debris; suction control (protects drapes); and manual carpet pile-height adjustment.
Use a HEPA Filter Air Purifier
HEPA filter air purifiers, either stand-alone units or professionally installed systems, can have a huge effect on your indoor air quality by offering a high grade of filtration and purification from more than just pollen.
Particle allergens such as mold, dander, and pollen are just a few of the antagonists found in the common household. Some of the best air purifiers will remove virtually all these airborne particles in a few hours or even less, ensuring you breathe pure air. While there may be some health benefits, these machines can be particularly life changing for people who suffer from allergies.
One of the most popular air purifiers currently is GermGuardian’s air cleaning system. The GermGuardian AC4825 is a 22 inch tall, 3 speed tower with UV-C light and Titanium Dioxide technology. This will purge the air in rooms up to 400 square feet quite efficiently. Judging by the rave reviews and some old fashioned comparison shopping, this unit is truly a great value.
It’s quiet, very lightweight and easy to move from room-to-room if you do so choose. The one two combo punch of a charcoal and HEPA filter kicks nasty particles to the curb. The Germguardian AC4825 also has its Energy Start qualification, meaning you are doing right by the environment and not sucking up an excessive amount of electrical energy to power it.
Your Air Conditioner Can Help
Your air conditioner can actually be a key part of keeping pollen out and having good indoor air quality. Pollen is water soluble; since your air conditioner was made to remove water from the air, a well-functioning unit can improve your indoor air quality just by doing what it does best.
While you may not associate snow with mold, your indoor air quality can be affected by molds released from its winter cover as the snow melts. Mold spores are released into the air as rotting leaves and autumn’s debris are uncovered and heated up by warmer temperature. This can have a great effect on your indoor air quality, especially if your air intake is near to the ground or has been covered by organic matter.
Consider a portable air conditioner (even if you have central air). Just because you have central air conditioning doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from a portable air conditioner. One of the leading causes of allergies is dust mites and mold spores. Sometimes central air conditioners can house these on their filters. Filters can be changed, but why not have back up.
Portable air conditioners offer removable and washable filters for easy cleaning. And this filter collects the allergens your central air conditioning unit doesn’t. In some cases – living in an apartment or dorm – you don’t maintenance the air conditioning system. If that’s the case, then having a portable air conditioner as back up is vital.
Portable air conditioners comfortably cool areas of your home that your central system doesn’t reach. Not only that but if you plan on entertaining and you need a little extra cooling, portable air conditioners are great options. They can pick up the slack when your system is not running. Your central air system can use all the help it can get.
A portable air conditioner doesn’t cost a lot to run; it can help cut your energy costs. You can use it to cool exclusive areas without running your central unit.
Testing Your Indoor Air Quality
You can test your home’s indoor air quality quite easily on your own with a testing kit. If a specific problem is found, you can then assess whether you can handle the issue or need to call the appropriate professional to take care of it.
My husband and I did this testing in our home, and it was a simple process, which saved us from paying a professional for a service call to do the testing for us (using a similar testing device).
There is a good variety of indoor air testing kits available to consumers these days, so there is really no reason to feel you have to call someone if you suspect your home’s air is causing health problems.
We used the Home Air Check, and were very satisfied with it. Their testing device provides a comprehensive picture of chemical levels that you are breathing when in the home. It also indicates a level of actively growing mold present in the home. Since these chemicals are tested simultaneously, this sophisticated analysis becomes less expensive than arranging for a professional to come out charge you for their time and several separate tests.
Also, the samples are collected without the use of toxic chemicals, so there are no health risks using Home Air Check. We were happy with the level of completeness, sophistication, prediction, and value of Home Air Check.
This is how the testing process works:
You use a small sampling device to collect an air sample in your home. The sampling time takes about 2 hours. Full instructions are included in the kit (and it is very straightforward).
After the sample is collected, you return the complete kit to the Home Air Check laboratory, where they analyze the air sample using sophisticated state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation for hundreds of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in home air. In addition, they look for 21 specific mold compounds that can be generated when mold is actively growing in a home.
A detailed report is then generated. In this report will be a Total VOC concentration level – a total of all the VOCs found in your home. The US Green Building Council recommends a TVOC level of less than 500 ng/L to be considered a healthy environment. (The median US home is about 1,200 ng/L.) A total concentration of Mold VOCs is also listed. Generally, this number should be less than 8 ng/L or you have active mold growth you need to find.
The report also includes a Contamination Index, which gives you a prediction of which sources or materials in your home may be responsible for these contaminating chemicals, such as gasoline, paint, adhesives, odorants, personal care products, etc. Home Air Check emails you the report within 5 business days of receipt of your air sample. You can then use their phone or chat line support to answer any questions you have and to help you improve your air quality.
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I hope this article provided you some practical information.
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.
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
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Coming up with gift ideas for grandparents or elderly parents can be a real headache for many people. Most grandparents have more stuff than they could possibly ever use.
There is nothing they need and very little they want. So, what do you give someone who has almost everything, and their house is already full of family photos, albums, personalized mugs, slippers and bath oils?
Here are some gift giving suggestions to get you started. Those gift ideas are perfect for any occasion.
Independence is a thing that seniors – and everyone, for that matter – really tend to value very highly. Maintaining independence promotes a sense of achievement that for many older people generates a great sense of self-worth and well-being.
The key to maintaining a senior’s independence is to keep them safe and one of the basic areas of safety is their home. This makes assistive devices very good gift ideas.
For the Bathroom
For seniors who have difficulty bending or limited mobility due to an injury, the bathroom is probably the most dangerous room of the house. Bathroom accessories, like bathtub grips, can provide a sense of security when using the shower and would be really appreciated. Make sure to offer to help install these handles for them.
There are several types of grips you can get, but probably some of the best ones are those that lock over the side of the bathtub. Unlike other grab bars that use suction cups for attachment, the ones that clamp into the bathtub wall will not slip out of position.
For the Kitchen
While the kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the house,” it can be a very dangerous place for our aging loved–ones. While cooking fires happen to all people of all ages, older adults have a higher risk of injury from these, in part, due to the fact that their responses and physical abilities diminish as they grow older. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), people over the age of 65 have a 2.5 times greater risk of dying in a kitchen fire than the general population.
Cooktops and ranges are most frequently implicated in kitchen accidents. Elderly people are more likely to forget to turn burners off after removing pans, leave food unattended on the burner or lose track of cooking times. Others that have arthritis or Parkinson’s disease can easily spill food and ignite a fire.
This makes an induction cooktop another practical gift idea for seniors who say they don’t want anything. The elderly or disabled will really appreciate the safety factor of induction cooking since there are no open flames and nothing will catch on fire. With induction cooking there is no direct heating of the cooktop surface.
Only the pot gets hot, so spilled food will never burn. This also makes it very easy to clean. Another big plus – these cooktops cook faster than gas and electric cooktops, which saves energy and money.
For Organizing Medications
An inexpensive way to help an older person remain healthy and independent is to support them in taking their medication every day. Managing medications can be a challenge for many old people, especially when certain prescriptions must be taken at specific times during the day. This task can be even more daunting for people with multiple diseases who often end up taking multiple medications at the same time. The more drugs they use, the more likely they are not to remember to take them.
One gift that can help simplify medication management, giving peace of mind and maximizing independence, is a pill organizer. They come in a variety of styles, from daily to monthly storage options, and variety of sizes.
Ask your elderly parents or find out how many pills they need to take and look for an organizer that has compartments big enough for them. Also, find a pill organizer that is easy to open, because many older people struggle with so-called “child proof” tops.
The MedCenter 31 Day Pill Organizer with Reminder System is a great option, because you need to set it up for them only once a month. It can also be combined with a reminder system, to make sure your older parents are taking their pills on time. The reminder system is a talking alarm clock that is easy to read even with impaired eyesight and easy to hear even with hearing problems. It also gives people, whose memories may not be what they used to be, useful reminders of what date and day of the week is.
Help With Groceries
An interesting gift option for elderly people who have everything is a voice-activated grocery and errand list organizer. Sometimes people forget things, like what they wanted to buy from the store, end up with a diet that resembles the worst of hospital food – microwave meals and frozen foods. An organizer like that can be very helpful.
The Smart Shopper Grocery List Organizer is a device that records your items, sorts them into separate categories and then prints a paper list that you take with you to the store. A person simply has to press a button and say what they need to purchase.
The sorting option can be very useful for seniors, because everything they need from each area in the grocery store will be grouped together and they won’t need to aimlessly wander the isles to find an item. Another handy feature is its magnetic back, which allows to keep the organizer on the fridge door.
The device has almost 2500 items in its database, but there are not all just grocery items. There are many errand items such as: Gas Station, Pay Bills, Dentist, FedEx, etc.
Home Cooked Meals
Home-cooked meals are so appreciated by older people who live alone or in an assisted living facility. Prepare several of their favorite meals and freeze them in portions so they can take them out easily and only have to re-heat them. If your grandparents live relatively close to you, you can make a gift certificate inviting them for one dinner a month at your home for a year. Offer to pick them up and drive them home, too!
Quality sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. In fact, sleep is as essential as food, and creating healthy sleeping patterns is just as important as eating right. Unfortunately, some of the most common problems the older generation experience are insomnia and sleep issues. An awesome gift that can help them deal with sleep disorders is a Sleep Sound Machine. Those machines play calming nature sounds that help people fall asleep faster, relax, or just block out distracting noises.
Since audio quality is very important part of masking distracting sounds, it is better to get a sleep machine with really good speakers. One such machine is Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine. In fact, Sleep+Sounds has all of the features you could possibly want in a sound machine – 30 rich and immersive non-repeating sound environments, adaptive Sound listens to your environment and responds instantly by adjusting audio volume, front panel lighting automatically dims for distraction-free rest, and a sleep timer.
This machine is also tiny and light, meaning that seniors can take it with them whenever they visit family or go on holidays.
For Mood and Well-Being
Older people, and those who are homebound or bed-ridden, sometimes don’t get outside enough and don’t get exposed to enough natural light, which can disrupt their sleep-wake cycle. If you are looking for a good, useful gift for an elderly parent or grandparent like that, consider getting them a light therapy lamp, such as the SunTouchPlus Lamp from Nature Bright.
These lamps mimic the brightness of the sun, stimulating the body’s production of vitamin D, and thus, boosting mood and well-being. In a way, they work like antidepressants, but without the side effects of the medications. They can also help those who suffer from winter blues, which makes them great gifts for Christmas, too.
When you look for a light therapy lamp, you need to make sure it emits 10,000 lux of light. “Lux” is a measurement of the intensity of light and 10,000 lux is the optimum light level that best mimics natural outdoor light. This means that it can be used for shorter time periods than a lamp that is not as bright. For comparison, the light on a typical, overcast day can be between 1,000 and 2,000 lux and on a very bright, sunny day – between 32,000 and 100,000 lux.
If you find a product that offers intensities higher than 10,000 lux, you should know that intensities higher than 10,000 lux have not been studied for safety or efficacy.
Healthy Food Delivery
All of us would like to have our parents and grandparents around as long as we possibly can, so a healthy food delivery is another excellent gift choice. Sign your grandparents or elderly parents up for a food delivery membership, for example, and every month they will receive a package of the best orchard-fresh fruit of each season. It will not only make you happy to know that they will have something healthy to eat delivered every month, but you will be amazed how much your grandmother or grandfather will love this gift idea. Depending on their tastes, you can also sign them up for a cheese club, coffee or tea club of the month.
Now, this is neat … Old Time Candy Company sells nostalgic candy from eras past: you can select the decade you grew up in and purchase the candy you remember having as a kid! It’s a real trip!
Grandparents love to be sentimental and brag about their kids and grandkids, and when a holiday comes around, they often get overloaded with framed family photos and albums. Although seniors love receiving these photos, they probably have enough already and will enjoy getting a different sentimental gift.
A nice way to express your love for them is to show interest in their life’s journey. Give them a memory journal, for example. A memory journal is a book that contains all kind of memory-jogging questions about person’s life, and makes it easy for a senior to write his or her life story by answering those questions right in the book. This is a great way for them to record their life stories and pass them to the next generations.
Some good memory journals that will make fantastic gifts are:
Whether they are making a trip to the corner store, the farmers market, carrying stuff to friends’ house or waiting in line at the pharmacy to fill a prescription, a senior will appreciate the convenience of a carrying cart with a built-in seat.
Such a cart would also be a very nice gift idea for anyone who lives in a crowded urban area and uses public transportation when grocery shopping or enjoys going to local street fairs or other events where seating is limited.
Elderly people often suffer from a variety of age-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease. As a result, they have poor circulation and limited physical capability. Massage can help them relieve muscle pain, joint stiffness, poor blood circulation and even mental stress.
If your elderly parents or grandparents suffer from back aches and neck pains, then a massage pillow would be an amazing gift for them.
One massage pillow worth considering is the Etekcity Shiatsu Massager. This pillow reliefs pain using Shiatsu massage technique. Shiatsu (meaning “finger pressure”) is a form of massage that originated in Japan and applies gentle but firm pressure with the thumbs, hands, knees and elbows to different points on the body.
The pillow uses 4 rotating balls to provide deep-kneading motion, and heating elements to relax the muscles even further. The rotating balls do a pretty good job of simulating the kneading fingers of a professional massage therapist.
Because of its compact size, the Etekcity Shiatsu Massager pillow can apply concentrated pressure to specific areas of the body like the neck, shoulders, lower back, feet, calves etc., which are problematic areas for many people. Another excellent aspect of this massage pillow is its portability. It can be used almost anywhere – on different types of chairs, sofas and car seats.
Many older people have hobbies they love. Do a little snooping to find out what the senior on your gift list enjoys making. You might find a gift idea or two.
If grandma likes crafts, put together a nice gift basket with a hot glue gun, scissors, glue sticks, and other crafting supplies that she can use in different projects.
You can do the same for your grandpa and his favorite hobbies.
If they are not really able to enjoy active hobbies anymore (like fishing or golfing), get them a subscription to a related magazine so they can read about them.
Some Magazine Ideas:
Encouraging grandparents to take up new hobbies, or revisit old ones, can improve their quality of life.
For those seniors who still have access to a vegetable or flower garden, yard or patio, useful gardening accessories can make fantastic gifts.
And speaking of seeds, this White Mountain Garden Seeds Puzzle is a stunning vintage montage. It 1,000 extra large pieces; a puzzle lover who gardens would surely enjoy it!
If your parents or grandparents are retired farmers, who always obsess over the weather because it dominates their livelihood, or if they’re simply weather buffs, they will probably be happy to receive something useful, like a remote rain gauge, as a gift. It is a handy unit that can help them with their garden irrigation needs without getting wet or simply help them stay on top of the local weather situation.
Even a very simple gift, such as boot jack (or boot remover), can be really useful for gardeners, farmers and those who live in rural areas. The elderly will find this little gadget handy for slipping off their boots or shoes before entering the house.
For Watching TV
Watching television and movies can be such a pleasure as we get older. For older people who live with others, however, it can be difficult to negotiate a volume that works for everyone. An excellent gift that will allow people with hearing loss to listen at their own volume without disturbing anyone else is a TV listening device.
There are a number of TV listening devices on the market that can help an elderly person hear the TV better, but the best options available today are the wireless radio frequency systems. There are others that use infrared technology instead of radio frequency, but they have a drawback that can be very annoying. An infrared signal is “line of sight,” which means a person needs to be in front of the transmitter, with nothing in the way, in order to hear the TV properly. If they turn their head to the side, to look out of the window, for example, they will lose the audio for a second. In comparison, a radio frequency signal can transmit through walls or obstructions.
The Unisar TV listening devices are some of the best options, because they use wireless radio frequency digital technology (mono or stereo), which means that a person can walk into another room and will still be able to hear the TV. Another useful feature that a senior would appreciate in these devices is the built-in microphone that amplifies the sounds around you, thus, allowing them to also hear conversations in the room.
Brain Training Games
Brain-training games are great gifts for elderly people. Just as everyone can benefit from exercising their body, brain training can help seniors improve their memory, awareness, reasoning, and other cognitive skills. Whether these games delay dementia is still unclear, but constant brain challenges are certainly better than just watching TV.
Home Satellite Radio
A nice gift idea for an older couple that lives in the suburbs, or in an isolated rural community, is a home satellite radio and SiriusXM subscription. They usually don’t have as many choices, in terms of radio channels, as people living in big cities. With a home satellite radio they can enjoy tons of channels with, sports, news, talk radio, or their favorite music, especially if they spend a lot of time at home.
Other Inexpensive and Useful Gifts
Some people may feel that gift vouchers are impersonal, but older generations welcome them with open arms. They are useful and most importantly, they are clutter-free gifts. If you have grandparents or elderly parents who are on a fixed income, get them pre-paid cards for their favorite restaurant or for the grocery store.
Do a little snooping to find out what your elderly relative enjoys and uses the most. Many businesses that you may not expect to do in fact offer gift certificates, including:
Fleas are more than an annoyance — they can affect the health of their host dog or cat. A flea’s saliva could trigger allergies, and the itching and scratching that ensues can lead to a more serious skin infection. Infected fleas can also transmit tapeworms and bacteria — including bacteria that are harmful to humans. A large enough number of fleas can even cause life-threatening blood loss.
Unfortunately, fleas are not a problem that will go away on its own. In fact, ignoring a few fleas can quickly lead to an infestation. Female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day, many of which fall off and land in carpets, bedding and furniture. Once the larvae hatch, they remain inactive in cocoons for weeks or even months. Unsuspecting pet owners might think the problem is resolved after killing the adult fleas, but the life cycle will repeat weeks later unless eggs and larvae are prevented from maturing into adult fleas. Experts say the most effective way to keep fleas off a dog or cat is with a topical or oral medication.
If fleas are bugging your dog or cat, topical treatments like Advantage and Frontline can provide long lasting relief. I also found some great oral medications, and even a flea collar that’s safe and effective. There are other alternatives, too, but most generally are ineffective at best, and possibly hazardous at worst.
But before we go any further, be sure its fleas –
Not all scratching indicates dog fleas. Scratching of the ears may indicate ear mites or another ear infection. Scratching or licking other parts of your pet’s body may indicate a food allergy, or other irritation.
Fleas are about half the size of an apple seed, but may be as large as the size of a grain of rice. They’re jumping insects, with laterally flat bodies, and they have no wings. If you don’t see actual fleas, look for flea poop. Flea waste may collect on the skin of your pet, and will look like tiny crumbles of dirt.
What to Look For in a Flea Treatment
Works quickly and reliably. The best flea treatments should work quickly enough that your pet will find relief within a short period of time. If the first one you try doesn’t work, try something else.
Kills adult fleas, eggs and larvae. Some medications and treatments kill adult fleas only, so you may need to re-treat fairly often, or combine them with a second flea treatment to avoid re-infestation.
Causes few side effects. Most flea treatments have potential side effects, though those are mostly minor. However, others could be life threatening to certain animals. Cat owners in particular should avoid products containing permethrin and other pyrethroids.
Is easy to use. “Spot-on” topical treatments are quick to apply to a pet’s neck or back, while tablets can often be tucked into a treat like cheese or peanut butter.
Topical Flea Treatment
Also known as spot-on products, topical treatments are squeezed out of a tube and applied to the pet’s neck or back. One advantage of these products is that they generally contain insect growth regulators (IGRs), which prevent eggs from hatching and larvae from maturing into adult fleas. This means that a single application can completely eliminate fleas for up to a month.
However, these products have drawbacks as well. Although they’re generally safe for pets if applied correctly, they can irritate the skin or eyes of humans; should you come in contact with the product, it must be rinsed off promptly. Once applied, the product may take several hours to dry. During this time, it may rinse off in water, and the residue may transfer to other pets, furniture or humans. Moreover, some pet owners find the smell or feel of the spot-on treatments unpleasant.
Until recently, experts have said that flea collars are generally ineffective; some are toxic to pets and people as well. There is one exception, however, Seresto, which uses the same active ingredient as a well-rated topical treatment, Advantage, but in a slow-release formulation.
Seresto also has a tick killing ingredient. Seresto is pricey, so other options are more cost effective if you pet is indoors most or all of the time, but for pets that spend lots of time out of doors, it can make sense. No other flea collar receives much, if any, positive feedback from pet experts.
Oral Flea Medications
Flea control medications such as Capstar, pose no risk to humans, and they don’t leave any messy residue. Oral flea treatments tend to kill adult fleas very quickly, but most of them don’t contain an IGR to deal with the eggs and larvae. This means that pet owners must either combine the tablet with a second treatment that contains an IGR, such as a spot-on product, or keep repeating the dose until no new fleas are hatching. Another problem is getting a pet to take the pill.
While some users say their pets will gobble them happily if they’re tucked inside a treat, others — especially cat owners — find it very difficult to get them down their pets’ throats. Also, some oral medications are available only with a prescription from a vet.
Alternative Flea Treatments
Flea shampoos can provide immediate relief by killing adult fleas on the pet, but they don’t leave enough residue behind to kill new fleas as they hatch. As for flea dips, bombs, powders and sprays, many of them contain chemicals called pyrethroids, such as permethrin. Experts warn that these chemicals are highly toxic, especially to cats. Some vets say that products containing permethrin can be safe if you only have dogs in your household, but all warn to not use such products on cats or even on dogs if one is likely to come in contact with a cat. Permethrin comes in for the sternest cautions, but some experts also warn against the use of other pyrethroids as well.
Natural remedies are more controversial. I see lots of recommendations for them around the Internet, however, there’s little scientific evidence that they are effective in most cases. In a recent blog post, Nancy Kearns of The Whole Dog Journal says that she’s “never had much luck with the plethora of natural remedies out there.” And some natural remedies are rated to be just as toxic according the GreenPaws Flea and Tick Products Directory published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, and in some cases more so, than many of the topical and oral treatments recommended in this report
Shopping for a Flea Treatment
Talk to your vet first.
Your vet may have specific recommendations for products he or she thinks are the most appropriate. This is especially important in the case of pets that are weak, older, medicated, sick, pregnant or nursing, or that have previously had an adverse reaction to a flea control treatment. Additionally, some products are not suitable for puppies and kittens.
Check your pet’s weight.
All flea control treatments are packaged according to the pet’s weight. Don’t try to guess your pet’s weight or buy the wrong dosage because it’s cheaper. You might end up with a dosage that’s too low to kill the fleas or, worse, one that’s too high and causes serious side effects.
Read the directions.
Before you buy a product, take a look at the application instructions and make sure you understand them. Even if you have used the product before, review the directions to make sure they haven’t changed. Many reported illnesses in cats and dogs from flea control products are due to misuse. Lack of effectiveness is also often the result of improper application. Be especially careful not to use flea control treatments designed for dogs on your cat, or vice versa. Permethrin, a pesticide found in some topical dog treatments, can be lethal to cats.
Choose the right treatments.
Don’t waste your time with flea shampoos, dips, sprays or powders. Vets generally agree that these products are ineffective at best and toxic at worst. The same goes for “natural” remedies like essential oils and garlic, some of which are no less toxic than the most effective flea control products per the ratings at the GreenPaws Flea and Tick Products Directory.
Buy your flea remedies from your vet or from a reputable retailer.
Many products sold online, and sometimes even in stores, are counterfeits that may be ineffective or harmful to pets. Counterfeit versions of Frontline Plus are particularly common.
Are generics safe?
Frontline and Frontline Plus topical treatments, and Capstar oral medication, are available in generic formulas at savings ranging from a little to a lot. Experts say to avoid the cheapest generics as they likely won’t provide the same level of protection as better options. Also, though they might use the same active ingredients, the inert ingredients may differ, and that can be the difference between a treatment your pet tolerates well, and one that might irritate. Consult with your vet if you are unsure of any flea treatment.
Be wary of new products.
That’s the advice of The Whole Dog Journal, which adds that you shouldn’t feel pressured to change if a flea treatment that you’ve been using is continuing to work well. In addition, newer flea treatments have been subjected to less “real world” testing, which can often reveal shortcomings or hazards that lab testing fails to turn up. “We suggest that pet owners stick with older products until the safety of new ones has been established,” says Nancy Kerns, editor of The Whole Dog Journal.
If you don’t see it, ask.
Pet stores may not keep all their flea remedies on the same shelf. Some of them may be locked up in a separate case to prevent theft. If you don’t see the one you want, ask an employee where to find it.
Treat the whole house.
Money spent on a flea treatment is wasted if you don’t get the fleas out of your house. Vacuum carpets and upholstery daily, and discard the vacuum bag (outside the house) right away so fleas don’t escape. Also, wash bedding, and wipe floors and furniture.
Keep your eyes open.
After treatment, monitor your pet for any signs of a harmful reaction. Be prepared to contact your vet if necessary. Also keep an eye out for fleas that survive the treatment – a nit comb is very useful for checking your pet for any remaining fleas.
Some products can be re-administrated right away while others should not be. Follow manufacturer instructions to the letter and talk to your vet about additional treatment.
As the name suggests, a flea comb is a grooming tool used to comb through your pet’s fur. But unlike regular combs, the teeth of a flea comb are very finely spaced allowing the comb to physically trap and remove fleas, flea eggs and flea “dirt” from your pet’s fur. The tightly-spaced teeth on the comb are also useful for picking up and removing dander, dirt, and other debris from your pet’s fur.
Even if you don’t think your pet has fleas, using a flea comb periodically can help you identify fleas before they become a more difficult to treat problem.
Know what to expect.
Some flea treatments work almost immediately, some take a day or more for effects to be seen. Frontline and Frontline Plus work by over stimulating a flea’s nervous system, something that’s often mistaken for an increase in fleas or an adverse reaction (caused by a short-term uptick in flea bites) by anxious pet owners.
Flea Treatment Recommendations
The top two topical flea treatments for both dogs and cats are Advantage II and Frontline Plus. They use different active ingredients, imidacloprid and fipronil, respectively, to eradicate infestations. The two insecticides work differently, but experts say that when used correctly, they are both safe and effective.
Both products receive mostly positive reviews from veterinarians and pet owners, but we found somewhat stronger recommendations for Advantage II. Cat owners, in particular, tend to give Advantage II for Cats high marks for its effectiveness, safety and ease of use. While it does not work for every cat, it’s more consistently effective than any other topical treatment. Most owners also find it easy to apply and are not bothered by the odor.
Advantage II is a reformulated version of an older product called Advantage, first released in 1996, which killed only adult fleas. The current version includes an insect growth regulator (IGR) to kill flea eggs and larvae as well. Both the original Advantage and Advantage II get positive reviews from veterinarians, including those who specialize in cat care. Vets at the All Feline Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., describe Advantage II as “very safe and effective on cats.” However, reviews from cat owners indicate that in very rare cases, cats may have dangerous reactions to this treatment, so it’s probably wise to consult a vet before use.
Advantage II for Dogs is sold in several different dosages, for small, medium, large and extra-large dogs; as you might expect, versions for larger dogs cost a little more than those for smaller ones. Dog owners are not quite as enthusiastic about Advantage II as cat owners. Although most owners find it effective, dog owners were more likely than cat owners to complain that Advantage II either didn’t work or stopped working before the one-month treatment period was up. Veterinarian dermatologist Jon Plant, writing at the Itchy Dog Blog, notes a study, albeit in cats, that shows some drop in effectiveness toward the end of a month. He adds that “the Advantage line of products are generally very effective for flea control in most situations, when used as directed (monthly).”
Bayer (the maker of Advantage II) also offers Advantage Multi, which is offered by prescription only and in formulations for dogs and cats. It adds additional protections against hookworms, round worms and other parasites (depending on the species). However, it is not an all life cycle flea killer and is only effective on adult fleas, not flea eggs and larvae. The cat version is the only product that’s also FDA approved for use on ferrets (minimum weight of 2 pounds). One disadvantage to products in the Advantage line is that they don’t protect against ticks. If that’s a concern, a different product could be a better choice.
Frontline Plus, like Advantage II, is a reformulated version of an older product. The original Frontline killed adult fleas, as well as lice and ticks. The new version, Frontline Plus, also contains an IGR to kill fleas at every stage of their life cycle. It continues to protect against ticks and chewing lice as well, something that Advantage II can’t do.
Frontline Plus gets high marks for safety from both vets and pet owners.
Frontline works by over-stimulating a flea’s nervous system, making them hyperactive before they die. That can make it look like your pet’s flea infestation is actually getting worse as fleas that were previously unseen rise to the top of its coat, and that results in some negative feedback in user reviews, but vets have few reservations. Dr. Plant notes that Frontline Plus is “100% effective at 12 and 24 hours from 1 day to 28 days post treatment.”
There have been some reports, such as this article in The New York Times, indicating that, while fleas in a few parts of the country have become more resistant to fipronil (the active ingredient in Frontline), it and other treatments are still largely still effective in most regions. That’s echoed in comments by Dr. Thomas B. McMillen at the Mercy Animal Hospital in Cranston, R.I., who says “There have apparently been some resistance problems in Florida, but there is no evidence of that around here.” In a study published in Parasites & Vectors, a scientific journal, researchers Tad Coles and Michael Dryden find that reports of resistance to flea treatments is more likely to be caused by improper or insufficient application rather than resistance to the product by the fleas or other pests themselves.
Because the patent for fipronil has expired, generic versions of Frontline Plus are now available. Examples include Pet Armor Plus for Dogs and Sentry Fiproguard Plus for Dogs. Formulations for cats are also available, as are generic versions of the original Frontline, designed to kill adult fleas but not eggs or larvae.
Experts do sound some cautions, however. While the active ingredients are the same, inactive ingredients can differ. The Whole Dog Journal specifically recommends against using low-budget spot on treatments as they can be more toxic and less effective than those “made by the most reputable and responsible manufacturers.” Still, some vets and other experts consider generic versions of Frontline to be a reasonable alternative where budgets are a concern. If you are considering a generic version of Frontline or Frontline Plus, the best guidance would be to ask your vet. Finally, choose your vendor wisely as counterfeit versions of Frontline Plus have also been reported.
For Fleas and Ticks
For dog owners who want to control both fleas and ticks, another option is K9 Advantix II
Made by the same company that makes Advantage II, K9 Advantix II contains the same ingredients, plus an additional ingredient called permethrin that kills ticks and mosquitoes. Permethrin is highly toxic to cats, so K9 Advantix II is for use on dogs only. While permethrin is not generally considered harmful to dogs, reviews from dog owners suggest that K9 Advantix II is more likely to cause side effects than either Advantage II or Frontline Plus. Skin irritation is the most common problem, but a few owners describe more serious reactions. Still, K9 Advantix II appears to be an effective product for treating both fleas and ticks in dogs.
One Flea Collar to Try
In general, flea collars get a thumbs down from experts as being both ineffective and often toxic. One that breaks from the pack, however, is the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar.
This is another product that uses the same active ingredient as Advantage, and is made by the same company, but in a gradual release format that keeps pets pest free for eight months. There’s no IGR, but one’s not needed as the active ingredient is constantly killing fleas as they emerge. Seresto collars also have a tick-killing component, flumethrin, so they are a great choice for animals that spend a lot of time outdoors.
Vet feedback thus far has been largely positive, and the Seresto flea collar receives lots of user feedback at sites like Amazon.com, most of which has been very good. In a blog post, Nancy Kearns of The Whole Dog Journal reports using Seresto to keep her dogs flea free after an outbreak had been eradicated. “So far, so good; I haven’t spotted any fleas, and you can believe I’ve been looking,” she writes. Dr. Plant notes that it kills 100 percent of existing fleas on dogs within 24 hours, and re-infesting fleas in two hours. It’s also 98 percent effective on cats within 6 hours. One caution that he shares is that while the collar is rated to be effective for eight months, frequent swimming or bathing can reduce that duration.
Adverse reactions seem to be relatively rare. However, since this flea collar uses the same active ingredient as Advantage, if your pet has not done well with Advantage, Seresto also won’t be a good choice. Some complaints are seen about the cost, a concern that Kearns echoes as well, especially for those with multiple pets, but keep in mind that a single collar is the equivalent of eight monthly does of Advantage. Versions are available for both dogs and cats.
A Complete Flea Control Program
Treat the Environment
Indoor flea control involves mechanically removing all stages of the fleas, killing any remaining adults, and preventing immature forms from developing.
Start by vacuuming thoroughly, especially below drapes, under furniture edges, and where your pet sleeps. It is estimated that vacuuming can remove up to 50% of flea eggs. Vacuum daily in high traffic areas, weekly in others. Each time, seal your vacuum bag in a plastic bag and discard it immediately. Do NOT place mothballs or flea collars in the vacuum, since toxic fumes could result.
Use a product that will kill any remaining adult fleas and also stop the development of eggs and larvae. You will need a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator (IGR), such as Nylar (pyriproxyfen) or methoprene. This can be in the form of carpet powders, foggers, or sprays.
Foggers are especially good for large open areas. Surface sprays can reach areas such as baseboards, moldings, cracks, and under furniture where foggers cannot reach. Choose the product(s) you use with care, taking into account the presence of children, fish, birds, persons with asthma, etc. Your veterinarian can help you choose the appropriate products for your situation. In severe infestations, you may need the help of a professional exterminator.
Wash your pet’s bedding weekly and treat the bed and surrounding area with a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator.
Do not forget to also clean and treat your automobile, pet carrier, garage, basement, or any other place your pet spends much time.
Flea control in the outdoor environment generally involves eliminating the habitat in the yard and kennel areas where fleas are most likely to occur. Fleas tend to like it where it is moist, warm, shady, and where there is organic debris. They will also tend to be where pets spend more of their outdoor time. So be sure to concentrate on areas such as patios, under porches, dog houses, etc.
Rake away any organic debris such as leaves, straw, grass clippings, etc., to disturb flea habitat.
Wild animals such as opossums, raccoons, chipmunks and other small rodents can carry fleas. Try to discourage these animals from entering your yard, e.g., do not feed them.
Keep in mind that until all of the fleas in your home have died, you will probably still see some fleas, even on a treated pet, since some immature forms may continue to develop. This is especially true if you had a big flea problem to start with. Persistence is the key here. It is essential to keep following an effective flea control program for a long enough time to get rid of all of the fleas, in all life stages. This may take several weeks to 6 months or more, depending on your particular situation.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older adults complete at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Walking is one of the safest ways to fulfill this requirement because it’s a functional activity that is gentle on the muscles and joints.
Treadmills allow you to fulfill your daily activity goal year round, but how do you select the right treadmill for your needs? You can start by considering the size of the treadmill because you must make sure that it fits comfortably into your living space. The width of the walking belt is also important because you need room to hit your natural walking stride comfortably.
If you want to enjoy interval training and other walking exercises for seniors, the range of speed available on your treadmill is also important. While most seniors aren’t up for a treadmill run, it is reasonable to assume that you will want to pick up speed as you become more physically fit. Many seniors are surprised at how fast they can walk once they get accustomed to their treadmill.
Finally, look at the advanced features offered on some treadmills. You may want a built-in heart rate monitor to ensure that you’re working within your target heart rate zone, or you may prefer a console with pre-programmed workouts to ensure that you don’t get bored during your workout sessions. You may also look for a machine with a well-lit console to ensure that you can easily see the feedback delivered throughout your workout.
How to Choose the Right Treadmill For Your Needs
When used frequently, an electric treadmill is a wise investment that will help you fight against disease and illness while managing your mood and increasing your ability to continue daily activities without depending on your loved ones. While you may start shopping with your maximum budget in mind, it’s more important to find a machine that safely accommodates daily exercise and rehab for the elderly.
The treadmills recommended below are all suitable for older users because they have extra cushioning on the walking belts and safety features like the red key that locks the belt between workout sessions.
In addition to those basic features, you may want to consider the location of the speed controls and the start/stop button for added safety.
You should also think about the number of pre-programmed workouts that you will use and what type of programs will best fit your needs.
Some advanced treadmills now offer pre-programmed heart rate workouts that require you to walk with your hands covering the pulse sensors in order to create workouts based on your pulse. You may not need this type of advanced programming if you just want a basic treadmill to increase your daily activity level, but those interested in improving their cardiovascular endurance may consider investing in a treadmill with this capability.
Every senior will select a different treadmill based on their unique needs, so start by identifying what you want to accomplish with your machine. You can then match the available features to your needs and budget to select the best treadmill for your healthy lifestyle.
The ProGear HCXL 4000 is approved for users up to 400 pounds, and the extra-wide walking belt measures 20 inches. It’s also equipped with a 1.5 HP motor that is designed to operate quietly.
The maximum speed for this treadmill is 4 mph, and that is adequate for most seniors walking at moderate to fast speeds. For an added challenge, you can manually incline the walking belt.
The 18-inch safety handles contain speed controls, and a key lock system secures the belt until you’re ready to begin your workout.
The Exerpeutic TF1000 Walk to Fitness Electric Treadmill
Whether your goal is to get your heart rate up for weight loss or to just add more physical activity into your daily life, the Exerpeutic TF1000 delivers adequate speed and walking space to meet your needs.
With a maximum speed of 4 mph, pulse grips to monitor your heart rate and a 20-inch wide walking belt, this is a treadmill that you aren’t likely to outgrow as your fitness abilities increase over time.
This is also a wise choice if you’re concerned about safety during your walks. The extra-long safety handles extend along each side of the machine, and a bright red button on the console allows you to stop the belt at any moment. A safety key is also offered to secure the belt between workouts.
Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill
While this is one of the most affordable treadmills available to seniors today, the Weslo Cadence R 5.2 treadmill is far from lacking in advanced features. This includes a large console loaded with six workouts designed by personal trainers.
The walking belt is 16 inches wide and 50 inches long, and the belt is cushioned for added protection of your joints and muscles. That cushioning is important if you plan on speed walking or going for a light jog, and with a maximum speed of 10 mph, the machine is suitable for high-intensity workouts.
If you’re concerned about the amount of space a treadmill may consume in your home, note that this is a folding model. Some seniors may need help raising and lowering the walking platform, but you can fold it up against a wall or roll it between rooms as necessary.
Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill
The Sole F80 is a mid to high range item. It comes with a powerful 3.5 CHP motor and a two-ply walking belt designed to reduce the impact on your muscles and joints for a safer walking experience.
The large console is equipped with an advanced sound system that allows you to connect an MP3 player for entertainment. You can walk at your own pace or select from eight pre-programmed workouts, two of which are based on your heart rate.
The belt on this treadmill is a generous 22 inches wide, but it is a larger treadmill that will consume more space in your home. The manufacturer warranty is also quite impressive with lifetime coverage for the frame.
LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill
The LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill is a mid-market electric treadmill. It’s suitable for users up to 300 pounds and features a 20-inch walking belt, well-lit color console and speed controls conveniently located on the handlebars.
If you’re concerned that you’ll get bored walking on a treadmill, you’ll appreciate the 17 pre-programmed workouts and your complimentary membership to the online LifeSpan Fitness Club.
You can walk or jog up to 11 mph, and there are 15 incline levels to ensure that your body is continuously challenged over time.
With a 2.5 CHP motor, this is a high-quality treadmill that will keep up with most seniors.
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Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease at home can be like sailing a ship through uncharted waters. Currents, wind shifts and changing weather patterns all influence the ship’s course on a daily basis.
The effects of Parkinson’s disease also present an unpredictable course and caregivers must continually seek solutions and a positive direction for the care they provide.
Barbara has been caring for her husband for over 10 years.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and she has remained steadfast with his care at home.
Through the years, she has been creative in developing practical ideas that save time, require less energy and reduce stress.
Most importantly, employment of these concepts has enabled her to maintain the dignity and independence of her husband:
Start Planning in the Early Stages
In the early stages of her husband’s disease, Barbara made an appointment for occupational and physical therapy consultations along with a home environment assessment.
This decision helped her to begin planning for the physical care and necessary home modifications to support her husband’s needs.
She offers these additional ideas for caregivers to customize their caregiving procedures as needs arise:
Wheelchairs — consider two separate chairs; one to use for indoor mobility and at the kitchen table (can be locked in place), and one to use for outings to the mall or family gatherings.
Walker — the best investment has been a four-wheeled walker with balloon tires, hand brakes and a padded seat. It glides over the ground and uneven surfaces and was paid for by Medicare and a co-insurance policy.
Canvas aprons can be purchased at craft stores. Cut the ties off and replace with elastic on the top to enable the care receiver to put it on without help. Vinyl or quilted bibs/aprons can also be purchased from medical supply companies. Place the bottom half of the apron underneath the plate for neater mealtimes.
Use cups or glasses with lids and straw holes to prevent spilling. A two-handled cup with a spouted lid can also be kept by the bedside.
If the care receiver has tremors, buy shallow soup bowls and edge guards for plates to keep the food contained.
Purchase utensils with weighted, built-up or angled handles to help hands remain steady.
As one can see, revising care procedures and modifying your home can promote successful caregiving. In addition, these ideas will uphold the dignity and independence of the care receiver. Learn from others who have walked in your shoes and set your sails for a new direction in providing care for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease.
Based on an article by Kristine Dwyer and Barbara Churchill
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Heated bedding of all types should meet current Underwriters Laboratories electric bedding safety standards.
It’s also important to read and follow manufacturer guidelines. Special care should be taken — or use avoided altogether — when selecting heated bedding for infants, the elderly, and those that are otherwise less sensitive to heat.
Pet owners are advised to consider low-voltage heated bedding, or a mattress pad that’s under the rest of the bedding so that it can’t be chewed on by a four-footed companion.
Durable, Machine-Washable Electric Blanket Materials
Some electric blanket manufacturers specify hand-washing only; however, trying to wrangle a large, wet blanket can be difficult — and it can be hard to rinse it thoroughly as well.
Machine-washable blankets are much easier to clean. When you do wash it, it shouldn’t pill, shed or bleed color. Always be sure to detach the power cords before cleaning.
Easy-to-Use Electric Blanket Temperature Controls
Because you might want to adjust the temperature in the middle of the night, you want the controls to be intuitive and within reach.
Many electric blankets and other heated bedding use digital controls, but others use analog dials. User ratings don’t seem to be influenced by the style of the controller, but we see some comments that in some instances, the dial can be easy to jostle. A few electric bedding products offer wireless controls.
Range of Electric Blanket Heat Settings, Including Preheating
To get the most use out of your electric blanket, throw, or mattress pad, you’ll want to be able to choose settings appropriate for everything from a cool summer evening to a winter blizzard.
Many electric bedding models offer 10 settings, though some, including our top-rated heated throw blanket, offer fewer without receiving very much negative user feedback over that.
Electric Blanket Automatic Shut-Off
An automatic shut off allows you to fall asleep safely with the blanket still on.
Electric Blanket Dual Control Options
Many couples sleep “differently” with one partner preferring a hotter or colder environment. Dual controls, which are usually found on queen-sized and larger blankets, allow each person to adjust the heat on his or her side of the bed. Some heated bedding take things a bit further by allowing adjustment of individual zones (such as the feet) for either user.
Things to Know Before You Choose an Electric Blanket
How often will you use your electric blanket?
If you live in a cold climate or often are cold in the evenings, you may want to outfit your bed with a reliable heated mattress pad. On the other hand, if you will only use the product a few weeks or months per year, a blanket may be more practical.
Measure your bed and electrical outlet.
Electric blankets and mattress pads are sold in normal bed sizes, such as twin, full, queen and king, but it’s best to be sure.
Most electric blankets have power cords that attach at the foot of the bed, with controls that stretch up to the head of the bed. If the cords aren’t long enough to reach a power outlet, you may need to rearrange your furniture. Most manufactures recommend that, for safety, extension cords not be used.
Do you have pets that sleep in bed with you?
Heated bedding can pose a hazard to pets if a claw or tooth exposes one of the heating elements. If you do sleep with a pet, experts suggest a low-voltage bedding option to minimize the risk of electric shock. In addition, a heated mattress pad is less likely to become a chew toy than a blanket that sits atop the bed.
Heated bedding won’t last a lifetime.
Judging from user reviews, all types and brands of heated bedding suffer from so-so durability — with the controls and heated wiring both being trouble spots.
While it’s never a bad idea to buy a model with a good warranty and then keep all packaging, receipts and other documentation of your purchase, user feedback indicates that warranty limitations and the hassle of returning the bedding to the maker lead most to just toss a blanket or mattress pad that has failed and buy a new one.
If durability is a top concern, electric mattress pads seem to enjoy a somewhat better track record according to experts and in user reviews.
Most heated bedding sold in the U.S. is made by one of three companies. Perfect Fit industries makes bedding under its own name as well as the Soft Heat, Select Comfort and Chattam & Wells brands. Sunbeam also manufactures the Slumber Rest, Therapedic and Imperial lines. Biddeford Mills makes Cannon, Sealy and Delightful Nights electric bedding.
While color choices, and materials and features (including the style of controller) may vary between brands and models, all heated bedding made by the same manufacturer will use the same core technology and should perform similarly.
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