Monday, October 29, 2012

Using Play to Help Improve Your Child's Intellectual Development

We all want our children to grow up to be smart and to this end many of us will go to a lot of effort to try and help develop their reasoning skills and their communication. Some parents even go as far as to play Mozart to their children while they're still in the womb due to the rumours that this can help to improve their IQs.

While there is little evidence to support the latter method however, there nevertheless are ways we can help our children to develop the various mental skills they need to succeed without being branded a nut job by our peers and while actually enjoying time with our children. Of course these all involve actually interacting with our children or giving them objects for them to interact with.

Using toys then and games it's very possible to help improve our children's intellectual development, so how do you go about this, and how do you choose the toys that will help your children to grow and learn? Here we will look at how to make the most of playtime to help stimulate your children.

Choosing the Toys

First of all you need to be able to choose your children's toys wisely and pick the ones that will provide the best challenge and the most stimulation for them. Note that of course any toy will help your child to learn simply from their handling them and interacting with them, but specific toys and games can help to develop particular skills. For instance if you want to nurture your child's imagination and their spatial reasoning then Lego blocks can make a great gift once they're old enough. This way they will be able to have a go at basic engineering and can learn a lot of basic physics. On the other hand a drawing or colouring pad can also be good for creativity, while on the other hand puzzles and pegs are great for getting them to develop their reasoning skills and their memory.


What's more important than just choosing the toys themselves though is helping our children to play with them. If you can interact with your children using the toys for instance, then right away you will get more from them because you will be able to ask them questions and 'test' them. Games like pairs (also called memory) are of course great for improving memory, while you can also play simple board games with them.

Getting your children to play with friends and other children though can also be very effective at improving a range of cognitive skills. This is because they will not only be forced to communicate, but will also be able to share ideas and to learn from one another. Studies have shown that IQ improves at a more rapid rate when children engage in group play compared to playing alone - so look into getting toys that they can use with one another and with you and then encourage them to be social.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baby Boomer Health Insurance - Save Money

Before baby boomers get on Medicare health insurance, they are fending for themselves in the health insurance market.

That does not mean there are not ways to save money on your baby boomer health insurance prior to age 65... it pays to shop around.

I am now 67, so I have been on Medicare for two years... and I will admit having nothing but catastrophic insurance for 16 years prior to turning 65... I took advantage of the savings that Medicare offers me right now.

There is certainly no guarantee that the savings that I am enjoying now will continue... especially with the new health care legislation looming... do not be surprised if everyone's rates, including those over 65 go up when that kicks in.

So how can baby boomers save money on health insurance prior to age 65?

The simple answer is to go online and do your research... if you are reading this article that means that you are familiar with using the Internet for research and you should take advantage of the resources that the search engines offer.

My wife is 60, and noticed that her monthly health insurance bill went from $168 a month to $246 a month. after finding out online that cheaper programs offering essentially the same service were available from her current insurer... we called our current insurance carrier and signed up for a $182 a month policy. All with one simple phone call.

These money-saving opportunities are available to anyone willing to do some basic research online and spending a little time on the phone.

There are certain obstacles that prevent people from saving money, some of the most common are:

    Fear of having to find a new doctor
    Reluctance in changing from a company you are familiar with
    Not willing to put up with a hassle of shopping around

You can find out online what insurance plans they accept... if in doubt call the office of your current Dr. and asked them what plans they do accept.

Some are reluctant to change from an insurance company that they have been with for a long time... Insurance companies are not dummies and they know that people are reluctant to switch... the reality is that companies often offer much lower rates to obtain new customers... it makes a lot of sense to switch insurance companies every three years or so.

The last reason that baby boomers are reluctant to attempt to save money on health insurance... is the hassle of spending the time on the phone... with your current insurance company or a new one.

I don't like to spend a lot of time talking to salespeople on the phone either but when you look back on the opportunities to save money by doing so it seems to be a wise investment of time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Boomers and the Advantages of Fish Oil

There are many advantages to fish oil for everyone but especially for Boomers. One of the many studies done indicates that it minimizes the effects of age-related muscle loss. Muscle loss can be combated with exercise but as we age, exercise alone won't maintain our muscles. In the study, women were tested doing twelve weeks of resistance exercise training as well as taking the supplement. Those taking the fish oil strengthened their muscles by twenty percent versus the eleven percent improvement with exercise only. Some of the reason for this is that it also contains an anti-inflammatory quality. The omega3 found in fish oil helps muscles function at a higher level.

Another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those given this supplement had lowered their blood pressure and improved their cardiovascular by lowering their triglycerides and regulating their heart rhythms. Omega3 can reduce the high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems and strokes experienced by many Boomers as they get older.

As Boomers age, Type 2 diabetes is also a threat, becoming almost epidemic. It has been discovered there is a definite link between omega3 and diabetes prevention. Taking a daily supplement of fish oil will help, along with exercise, a proper diet and weight loss.

This supplement is also suspected of being effective for inflammation, helping to alleviate depression and to improve memory and concentration. It is also believed to help reduce the risk of cancer, specially those that are hormonal such as breast cancer, and is believed to be an immune booster.

For those who have concerns about fish oil containing high levels of mercury or other contaminants, studies have shown that they are safe for use. It has been discovered that these contaminants are in the meat of the fish and not in the oil.

For those Boomers who have not exercised, eaten healthy diets, or looked after their health over the years and have slipped instead into sedentary lifestyles, it would be a let-down for them to look back at the vibrant youth they once were, who planned to conquer the world with great ideas and never thought they would ever be one of the 'old ones'.

We don't have to be! It is up to us and how we look after ourselves. We can change our lives at any time by simple lifestyle changes, by improving our diets, exercising, losing weight and including fish oil in our daily diets as many nutritionists suggest. By doing this, we are again taking charge of our own lives as we once did when we were younger. We don't have to wait and let life happen to us. We can be proactive in our health care choices and put off many of the diseases that come with aging.

I am one of the many Boomers who include fish oil in their daily diets. Taking a daily capsule, as I do, is one way but I also include other dietary foods like sardines, or foods that are omega3 enhanced such as free range eggs.

As Boomers, I believe very strongly in the importance of doing everything possible to stave off, as long as possible, any serious health problems, and adding a daily supplement of fish oil is one of the ways to hopefully do it.

Ms. Behnish has written many articles for magazines and newspapers on subjects relating to health, families, seniors and brain injuries. She has also published 'Rollercoaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)' about the first difficult year following a brain injury; 'His Sins', a fiction story about how the behavior of one person can affect future generations and, 'Life's Challenges, A Short Story Collection', a collection of twenty-one stories.

Monday, October 8, 2012

7 Secrets to Get the Baby to Sleep at Night

Babies are adorable and you simply can't just get enough of them -- or can you? Let's face it, one way or the other, babies are a handful. You will pretty sure agree with that especially if you're a new parent. Probably the major issue of most new parents (and even of those who have had more than one child) is putting the baby to sleep at night. Having a Sealy Baby Ultra Rest mattress or a Sealy Perfect Rest crib mattress alone simply won't do the trick.

Little ones have irregular sleeping patterns. As such, it can be quite a challenge to develop that night time sleeping habit. Then again, you can try a number of things to help them develop a regular sleeping time at night. Of the many ways to send the little one off to dreamland, here are seven that so far, seem to be the most effective:

1. Schedule Naps

One of the best techniques is to schedule the child's naps and stick to the schedule. It's usually ideal to have 3-4 quick naps during the day time and if possible, try to keep the child awake during the late hours of the afternoon so that he or she can sleep early at night.

2. Bedtime Rituals

Habits are developed because of regular rituals. Make a bedtime ritual -- give the child a warm bath, change him or her to his or her pajamas, give milk, read a book, or rock him/her to sleep.

3. Lullabies

Lullabies are a classic, their soothing melodies can surely send anyone off to dreamland (literally anyone because sometimes parents even doze off earlier than their kids when they listen to lullabies). It's ideal to get yourself one of those CDs that you can just play over and over again until the infant gets to sleep.

4. Serene Environment

Serene = quiet. Naturally, you will want to put the infant in a quiet place that he or she can't be disturbed. Most of the time, infants are light sleepers, so you need to make sure that nothing can disturb them. Also, you might want to make sure the area is dimly lit because bright lights makes it hard for the child to get to sleep.

5. Early to Bed, Early to Rise

Everyone has a body clock that tells them when to get some rest or when to get up. To "set" the child's body clock, you need to train him or her to wake up early in the morning, take only quick naps in the day, and sleep early at night.

6. Bed = Sleep

Even at a very early age, parents have to train the baby to associate the bed with sleeping. To do this, you should avoid doing other things on the bed apart from sleeping.

7. Mobiles

Mobiles have an unexplainable way to make anyone sleepy; anyone because even adults get sleepy by looking at them too!

These are just seven of the many other ways you can try to get the baby to sleep at night. Of course, it well surely help if your child has a very comfy bed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Boomer Generation - Getting Active

When Boomers get active, there is less likelihood of them experiencing psychological distress or serious health problems. In previous generations, those in the Boomer age group did not lead active lifestyles. That is, unless they had been farmers, or were forced to work longer because of financial necessity. But those were not activities they enjoyed so the health benefits were not the same.

Nowadays, Boomers are becoming more and more active as they retire and have more time and often more money. They are taking up tennis, yoga, walking, hiking, swimming, kayaking and many other activities they may have previously yearned to do but had no time to experience and enjoy. These physical pursuits will not only increase their strength and mobility but will help with their general health as well. Exercise is not only good for the heart but for their mental health too. It is also a great way to socialize.

The more active Boomers become, the better health they will have, and the more physical abilities they will develop which in turn will help them to retain their independence for as long as possible. Besides being physically active, it will be important to be proactive in their medical care by taking the preventative measures of having regular check-ups and eating properly. Regular check-ups should include, for women, annual pap tests and mammograms, and for men, regular prostrate examinations. Both men and women should have regular dental examinations and an annual physical exam which should include blood tests and periodic blood pressure checks.

It is important also to retain a positive attitude and to keep in close contact with others. Besides physical activities, remaining socially active is very important and can be done by having pot luck dinners, playing cards and board games, bowling, starting a book club, going to the pool or the gym with a friend or simply getting together for a cup of coffee and a few laughs.

More and more Boomers are taking activity-related vacations which may include scuba lessons, fishing expeditions, riding a camel in Egypt or going on a walking excursion of Paris. Or they may decide to dance the night away on a Caribbean cruise, go on an African safari or swim with the dolphins in Mexico. And some may go spelunking in any number of places, visit the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or explore the wonders of nature on the Galapagos Islands.

Whatever Boomers decide to do, it should be activity oriented in order to maintain good health and to remain independent. If necessary, they should push themselves out of their comfort zone so as to increase their activity levels. By pushing yourself a little passed where you feel comfortable each time is a great way to build on the level of fitness you have already achieved. The desire of most, as they age, is to remain independent and this is the best way of doing it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fourth Grade and Mrs Knoll

Growing up in a large Catholic family, of course I went to Catholic school, like all my brothers and sisters before me.

In the 1960's, most of the teachers were nuns, but there were a few stalwart souls who braved the low pay and were lay teachers. I'd like to tell you about my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Knoll.

Looking back as an adult, I can appreciate now the things she did for us... back then you pretty much sighed and put up with it, because you had to; But now, I can see where the woman was a qualified miracle worker.

Mrs. Knoll was a no-nonsense Caucasian woman of advanced years (at least it seemed to me being only 9). She probably was in her 60's and after my class graduated, she retired. She wore her hair in a take-no-prisoners bun, but still gave off the reassuring grandmotherly vibe with her plump visage and twinkling blue eyes. She ran her classroom with discipline but kindness and her heart was as big as anything, even if she WAS awfully uncool to a 9 year old.

She brought in her own personal electronic organ and played and sung with wild abandon; it didn't matter that she had a terrible voice, she raised her voice in praise, with great joy. She taught us songs and ditties and sometimes played songs while we worked. She did the most important thing, which was make that classroom a safe, secure place where children could learn.

She taught us the arts and made us memorize poetry and prose and then recite it in class. Not only did that teach us memory skills, but it introduced us to art and literature and provided public speaking skills. This was in the time when Catholic schools did not have art or music classes, and most teachers did not include these subjects.

Catholic schools are notorious for no air conditioning, and we all watched the outside temperature gauge because, as childhood rumor went, if it went over 103F we got to go home. As a child I never realized what a scheduling nightmare that would be to call all those parents and hope they were available to pick up their children; and of course, this was before the days of cell phones and instant contact solutions. So, I can only remember one time we got to leave early.

On those very hot days, when you had gulped down lunch so you could get out to kickball and get picked for a team (even if it was last), you tore around the playground and when the bell rang, you stood in line, panting and sweaty, ready to go back into the classroom. Being a smart lady, Mrs. Knoll had us line up, girls on the right, boys on the left. She would wait for all the other classes to go inside and then she would march us to the restrooms, where the girls would go in first and then line back up; then the boys would go in. You got paper towels and wet them and wrung them out. You then put them around your neck or on your head, or you sucked on them to get the coolness on your face. She would march us into class, where we would all lay our heads down on our desks and she would start to read aloud. Instantly, we calmed down and were transported to the Island of the Blue Dolphin, following Karana, the Indian girl on her island as she discovers she is alone. Just when it became exciting, she would close the book and tell us to get out our math books.

In later years, I would teach elementary school and I marvelled at her wisdom. She might have been old and underpaid, probably underappreciated; but she knew children. She understood their needs and took them to places to open their minds. She inspired them to learn and provided a safe environment where everyone was equal.

I wish I could have let her know how 40+years later, I can still recite the lines of poetry she assigned me; how I remember her math games and holiday homemade treats she made in her wee hours at home. How the love came through and we were better for it. We need more teachers like her today so our children will use their imaginations, read, sing and learn. So, up there in heaven, thanks, Mrs, Knoll. You made my fourth grade something I have remembered all these years. You made me a better teacher and touched a new generation of children.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Contigo Water Bottles Appeal to Seniors Like No Others

If you are like I am, "up there in years," trying to drive and manipulate your water bottle while doing so can be dangerous to your health. This doesn't even take into account the major inconveniences (such as, dropping the cap while trying to steer, spilling your water, or maybe even the bottle springing a leak around the lid because you didn't get it capped just right).

So then you are left to drive while continuing to hold your water bottle (and maybe even with wet clothes) until it's convenient to pull off the road and dive for your lid that has fallen down onto the floor out of sight (not an easy trick for us age-impaired citizens!), or maybe it landed somewhere in the middle console, or maybe it even bounced way back under your seat.

Whatever, it is a bothersome situation.

Well, you need to become acquainted with Contigo water bottles, because they can alleviate all of the above! Yes, you read that right.

Contigo has a line of water bottles that will fill all your needs for water on the go and that eliminates the need to screw with a cap (pardon the pun!), because Contigo has come up with an ingenious little alternative that allows you to press the button to drink and then release it, all of which allows the bottle to re-seal itself so that it cannot leak!

So how's that for simplicity in modern technology? (Of course, those of us farther along in years know that modern technology is usually anything BUT simple, right?)

Now if you don't like the idea of drinking out of plastic, rest assured that the kind of plastic that Contigo employs to provide these little beauties is 100% free of BPA, which, according to what the Mayo Clinic states on its site that "... there is 'some concern' about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children... The FDA now shares this... concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply... and in food containers."

Another really handy feature of the Contigo bottles is the carabiner clip that they have attached to the bottle's handle, making it really handy to carry around, as it can be clipped onto a belt loop, purse, backpack, or anywhere else you can think of where it would be feasible.

A couple of other things you will like is that the Contigo water bottles are dishwasher safe and come with wide open mouths to accommodate your adding ice cubes, whereas so many similar products do not.

Here are a couple of "don'ts" when using the Contigo:

1 - Never ever put it in the microwave.
2 - Never ever use harsh cleaners like bleach or abrasives.
3 - Never ever put it in the freezer.
4 - Never fill it above the lid threading.
5 - Never fill it with carbonated drinks; as with any other container, the carbonation may cause it to spray or leak.

Conveniences and features aside though, Contigo provides a large selection in a variety of gorgeous colors, from turquoise to hot pink to charcoal and many others, so you're sure to find one that appeals to you. Tip: Contigos make great gifts, and you're sure to find one in just the right color for whoever you are gifting.