Tag Archives: planning

Taking Time to Relax

Vantage Point: It’s Time to Relax

Relaxation is the state of being free from tension and anxiety. When I think of relaxation, I imagine myself having no to-do list, sitting back, and watching my son play. Now that I’m raising a family, I understand the importance of taking time to just relax.

On the weekends, I tend to clean my house top to bottom. I get so focused on these tasks that by the time I’m done with my chores, I realize it’s already 5 o’clock on Saturday evening. I get so upset with myself because I spent a whole day cleaning instead of taking a stroll in the park, going on a hike with my family, or just sitting in the backyard and enjoying the nice summer weather.

Then, I rush to get myself together to go do something “fun” before night falls. This defeats the whole purpose of relaxing because I’m so tired by the end of the day, I don’t even get to enjoy the activities with my family.

I now more than ever see why it’s so important to take time to relax. Time and time again, I hear about all of the benefits of relaxation, like lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow to major muscles, improving sleep quality, and much more. I need to be the best version of me so I can be around and have a good time with my family.

This summer, I am trying something new. I’m giving myself small tasks to do at home every day after work, so when the weekend comes around, my workload isn’t so big. I’m also giving myself a set time frame to clean each Saturday morning. When I’m all done, it’s usually time for my son to take a midday nap, which gives me some dedicated “me time.” When he wakes up, I’m relaxed and ready to have some family fun.

So far, I’m really enjoying my new approach to handling my time. Sometimes, relaxing is much harder than setting up a new plan. There are a lot of reasons you might need a new plan too, like a diagnosis that requires you to try a different approach.

When that happens, our case managers are here to help you make your new plan work in lots of way. They can provide motivation, tools, and lifestyle skills to help minimize your risk of complications and share resources that are available in your community.

So get started finding a plan that works for you, and don’t forget to take some time to relax this summer.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.
Surviving the Sandwich Generation

Vantage Point: The Importance of Support While in the Sandwich Generation

My husband and I are starting to talk about future property purchases, which has led to many conversations about what we would want in a house or property. I want land. He wants something that he doesn’t have to fix up. Our conversations have swung from a giant, ridiculous wish list to then coming back to reality about what’s on that wish list.

One theme that I’ve been consistent with in all of our talks is that I want a place to take care of my parents when they get older in the future. This is so true for my mother, as her family has often lived into their 90s.

This notion of caring for them on my property has been solidified even further with how unsure Medicare is, how expensive the healthcare system is, and the fact that I want them to have the best care while staying close to family. I figure I can achieve this by buying a property that’s big enough to parcel out a place for my parents.

I haven’t really thought of all the logistics, but the plan is stuck in my mind, and it’s framing what kind of property and home I want. This type of thinking has also led to conversations with my father about what he thinks they would like and need, if and when the time comes for them to sell their home and live with us.

When this happens, if not a little before, I’ll officially be smack dab in the classification of the sandwich generation, the people who are responsible for not only caring for their own kids, but also for their aging parents. According to the CDC, as of 2008, there were 34 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States. I’m sure that figure is much higher now.

I saw my mother do this with her mother, so I’m not afraid of the season when it comes; I just want to be prepared. Being prepared means thinking now about what will make life easier for all of us in the future.

It’s also about knowing and looking out for the pitfalls. I’ve heard from many others that this season of life can be so rewarding while you’re in it, but it can also be very taxing, so it’s important to be extra vigilant in taking care of yourself. In order to keep loving others, we have to keep loving ourselves.

This means that sometimes you need a break! This break could be a spa day, a long walk, a furious cardio kickboxing session, or just talking to others who are in similar situations. It takes a village, right?!

I’ve compiled a list of some support groups for those who are in this situation. Some support groups are local, and some are virtual, but they are all there as resources for support. And if you want something more local that fits what you’re going through, you can always start your own support group. There are tons of advice and tips online on how to make a new group successful. I think the best advice I saw when researching this article was to keep it simple and to feel accomplished even if only 1 or 2 people show up.

Local Support Groups

Memorial Hospital’s support groups

Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Support Groups

Granger – For Spanish-Speaking Caregivers – Starting Soon
Estela Ochoa
Call 206-529-3877 before attending for location, time, and further details.

Yakima – For Caregivers
Location: St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
4105 Richey Rd.
Yakima, WA 98908
Meeting Time: 2nd Thursday of the month, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Contact Elaine Krump at 509-969-3615 before attending.

Yakima – For Spanish-Speaking Families
Call Manuel at 509-833-3334 before attending for location, time, and further details.

Online Support Groups

Caring.com has a broad list of caregiving groups for you to choose from. Access to these groups requires a free member account.

AgingCare.com has some groups for you to choose from, and you don’t have to become a member to access these groups.

Caregiving.com has online caregiving support groups, daily caregiving chats, and blogs written by family caregivers.

 

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

Pre-Planning for the End of Life's Stroll

Vantage Point: Pre-Planning Is Key Part of Life’s Stroll

There is nothing like a summer evening stroll—the sounds of people reminiscing on front porches, American flags flapping in the warm breeze, birds chirping, and children’s laughter. Smells of barbecue and freshly mown lawns tickle the nose as eyes feast on the sights of gardens overflowing with flowers and kids riding bikes as their wet swim trunks leave a trail of water from the city pool.

I think back to summers past and family celebrations. These are the nights I want to remember when the days turn shorter, darker, and colder. Walking past the town cemetery, I think about a recent visitor in our Health Alliance office. A distraught spouse tearfully informed us of an unexpected passing. She seemed so lost, not knowing what to do next, and looking over the tidy headstones, I decided I don’t want that experience for my loved ones.

Reaching out to Beth Pent, continuing family care and pre-need counselor at Jones & Jones-Betts Funeral Home, I learned funeral planning can be a lot like wedding planning. There are seemingly unlimited choices to reflect your expressed wishes and unique style, and planning ahead provides peace of mind. Everyone will need to have final arrangements someday, and if you don’t take care of it, the burden of planning and funding it will fall to the grieving next of kin.

Even if you choose not to have a service, there is still a long checklist of responsibilities and state- and county-required documents survivors must take care of, in addition to the transportation and handling of the body. Some choices require authorization, so pre-planning can record everything you think the executor of your estate will need to know to carry out your wishes.

Consulting with a trusted resource, like Beth, not only helps you determine your pre-made decisions, such as final resting place, but it also helps relieve family members from having to guess and possibly argue over what you would have wanted. Pre-planning encourages you to consider your loved ones and is a way you can help them through their grief.

Funerals can be a celebration of life, and I want mine to serve as my last gesture of love by taking care of everything I can ahead of time. I want it to feel like a midsummer-evening stroll that evokes a sense of family, friends, and community.

Planning for a Happy Retirement

Long View: How Much Money Do You Need for Retirement?

Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned,” is still true today, especially when thinking about retirement. I think about the possibilities once in a while, but it seems too far in the future to worry about it right now.

I know in my grandparents’ day, retirement didn’t require much planning. Most folks didn’t live long enough for it to be a problem. These days with modern medicine, longevity is a much more attainable goal. It’s the actions we take to prepare for it that have the most impact on our quality of life.

The United States Census Bureau says people age 90 and older make up 4.7 percent of the population 65 and older. That’s expected to be as high as 10 percent by 2050.

I used an online retirement calculator to find out how much I should have saved at this point in my career. The results indicated I was well under my goal. The predictions were based on a life expectancy of 92 years, a daunting prospect at this stage of the game.

I have been meaning to increase the amount I put aside for retirement, but it seems I just don’t get around to it. Benjamin would advise me to “never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Having looked into the future, I will definitely take some action. Even a slight increase now will make a difference in the long run.

“Obviously the earlier you start to save for retirement the better,” says Bob Ballsrud, executive vice president of Busey Wealth Management. “Our younger clients often invest in more growth assets because they have the time to recover from any temporary downturn. More mature clients often are encouraged to lower their risk because they will need to access the funds sooner. Either way, it’s the consistency of action and the appropriate planning that help you meet your goals.”

I know there are a number of factors to consider before retirement. It seems advance planning is the best course, or as Ben tells us, “Employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure.”

Plan Ahead with Health Insurance

Part of planning for your future is making sure you can cover medical and hospital costs when you need to. Learn more about Medicare, wellness, and health insurance in general at HealthAlliance.org.

Settled Into a Healthier Home

My Healthy Journey: Finally Settled

I finally have something to sit on in my apartment! After 3 months, I’m mostly settled in.

Moving requires a lot of organization, and as I told you before, this was a rushed and unorganized move, which is probably exactly why it’s taken me this long to get settled.

You may not realize how much being organized (or disorganized) affects your life and even your health.

One study showed that you’re more likely to suffer from stress and depression if your house is cluttered and full of unfinished projects. (This was definitely my house for the last 3 months.) Long-term stress is tied to heart disease, digestive problems, poor sleep, obesity, and cancer.

This long to-do list at home can actually prevent the cortisol (a stress hormone) in your system from naturally lowering throughout the day. This affects your mood, sleep, health, and more.

Planning can also be key to a lot of healthy life decisions, and that takes organization. This slideshow from Good Housekeeping highlights what organization is doing for you:

  • It reduces financial stress by avoiding late fees and unnecessary costs.
  • It helps keep good relationships with loved ones by helping you to keep your mood up and avoid arguments over lost stuff, forgotten appointments, and errands.
  • It increase your time for your favorite activities. Imagine every minute you’ve spent looking for your keys going toward your favorite TV show, music, or activity.
  • It protects your health. If you forget to take your meds or schedule doctor appointments, you really could be putting your physical health at risk, so make sure you put things in places you’ll see them, organize your schedule, or even download an app to help remind you.
  • It let’s you exercise more! One of the first things you lose from your schedule when things get crazy is workouts. Plus, when you’re constantly forgetting your gym bag, it’s an easy excuse to skip the gym.
  • It let’s you eat healthier. Healthy cooking takes planning, like finding recipes and buying the right groceries. Snacks you grab on the go and dining out can be huge calorie bombs, so plan ahead!
  • It helps keep your home healthy. One study found that dust can have arsenic, dead bugs, pollen, and dead skin in it. Plus, removing clutter can eliminate up to 40% of your housework.

Many people believe that we are a product of our environment and that a messy environment can affect all areas of your life, physical, mental, and emotional

Rally, our wellness tool, knows that organization can be an important part of your healthy journey, too, so it has a mission that challenges you to de-clutter for 10 minutes every day.

I finished unpacking and organizing all my bookshelves a few weeks ago but was waiting for my new couch to arrive before I shared pictures.

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Tootsie LOVES the new couch.

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Those beautiful watercolor paintings on the wall are prints by Kelly Eddington, my high school art teacher and the wife of one of our Health Alliance employees.

Ignore that lamp on the floor. I just need one more side table in here!

In case you don’t remember, this is what the shelves looked like, before the gold shelf got here:

Book Collection

This is them now:

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Everything is unpacked and on display, and finally getting to a place where I can use my living room feels so satisfying!

And now that I’m to this point, if I stick to the challenge of de-cluttering for a little bit every day, it should be easy to keep things looking nice.

Looking for some clever ways to clean up the messes in your house? Check out this list of 58 organization ideas and DIY projects.

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Fitness Binder

My Healthy Journey: Rally and My Fitness Binder

My move is complete! While I have no furniture outside my bedroom (partly from a very trying, calorie-burning, failed attempt to get a couch through my front door) all of my things and my dog have successfully made the transition.

A new kitchen and plenty of living room space for yoga (because falling down is a lot easier in a room with no furniture) have made it time to refocus on my healthy journey.

Right now, I’m working on small steps. I’ve bought some running shoes, and now that the weather has finally gotten up out of sub-arctic temperatures, it’s time to take action.

If you’ve followed my journey, you’ve heard about our wellness tool, Rally. Rally helps you evaluate your health with an easy test and then has you pick challenges in order to earn coins, which you can use to enter drawings for rewards.

Rally is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals each day, and I’m going to help connect you to ways to make your Rally goals happen. I’ve done a few of the challenges before, and while I’m not going to do all of them permanently, I am going to spend all spring testing them out and connecting you to resources to meet your goals.

The first two challenges that I’m going to test out and help you with are cooking at home more and tracking what you eat.

I had tracked what I ate before with a handy app called MyPlate. I still recommend it, but I’ve taken a different route this time.

I’m a writer at heart. I’ve been saying I was going to be a writer since I was 4, when I wrote my first book, which was about bears. (I realize this might make me sound like Dwight to you lovers of The Office, but my bears weren’t eating beets. They were being ballerinas and astronauts. You know, real bear stuff.)

While humiliating myself is always a fun side effect of blogging about my life, I bring this story up for a reason. I like writing things down, and I’ve always liked writing things down. There is nothing so satisfying as putting a physical check mark beside a task. I work on the Web team, and I still keep a physical planner and to-do list.

So I’ve decided that maybe I stopped keeping up with the app (conveniently right around the holidays) because there was no satisfaction or memory in it for me. If I write something down, I feel it and remember it. If I just select an item out of a digital list, I will not remember how many calories those Skittles are costing me every day.

So I’ve made myself a My Healthy Journey fitness binder. I’m using it as a one-stop, life-hub of organized information. It’s amazing.

I started with supplies. I bought a beautiful binder that I can live with carrying around every day.

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Then I gathered office supplies:

  • Plenty of paper (for printouts).
  • Grid paper, which is perfect for making lists. All of the little boxes make perfect check boxes right alongside your tasks.
  • Binder dividers, a three-hole punch, and a large variety of highlighters, pens, and markers.
  • Plus my laptop, grocery list, and coffee because no morning project unfolds well in my house without coffee.

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The first thing I did was waste a lot of time on Pinterest looking at fun, inspirational typography. As a writer and designer, I’m a font geek, and I decided that I would start each month of my binder with some hand-drawn, cute, inspirational quotes. My dog and I worked on this in bed while watching documentaries. (She hated it because it meant I wasn’t petting her…) While it might sound like a waste, it has truly made me love my binder. My beautiful binder and I have formed a loving bond through hours of coloring. I definitely recommend it.

Then I printed some things that are actually useful. First up is a weekly printable meal planner. If you search for that online, you can find tons of free downloadables, both with and without grocery lists. Or you can try the one I chose or this colorful other option. I opted for a simple planner and to continue to use my awesome Wonder Woman grocery list. Choose whatever works for you.

Then I printed off some calendars. I have a planner for work, but I don’t like to put personal stuff in it because not only do I sometimes show it to people when scheduling social media plans, but I also don’t look at it outside of work. So this calendar will have things like my dentist appointments, the dates my prescriptions run out, and the dates all my different bills are due. I naturally color-coded all of this with highlighters, like an organization geek.

The last important piece of the puzzle is a printable daily food log. Again, there are lots of these to download for free on the Internet. This blog inspired me to make the binder and has a log you can download, or WebMD has an especially good Food Journal. With a little computer magic, though, I made my own, which combined spaces for food, calories, and exercise and has a water section to remind me to drink more water. The best part about making it yourself is you can add anything you want. Do you want a space for vitamins, medicines, or even reminders for things like flossing? Add anything that you think a physical reminder will help you stick with. You can also download My Healthy Journey Food Journal (it’s two pages, so you can print it double-sided!)

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I’ve only been doing it for a week, but so far, I’ve noticed that I remember how many calories are in my food far better when I’m forced to calculate and write it down myself every single day. You really think about your choices when you know you have to add that candy onto your day’s calorie total. The menu planner also forces me to sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out meals. While I haven’t stuck to it perfectly, it really does make grocery shopping and cooking much easier to plan for.

And just in case you need some ideas when you sit down to plan, here are 50 Healthy Dinner recipes you can try, or follow us on Pinterest for new healthy recipes all the time.

And follow me on Instagram, where I share inspiration and my healthy journey, mostly through food.

Here’s a taste of the day in the life: bright green Pea Pesto Pasta, Raspberry Sorbet (a go-to dessert at just 120 calories a serving), and Pineapple-Lime Salsa Chicken Tostadas with Corn Guacamole for just 380 calories. (The chicken is of my own invention. I just put 2 chicken breasts into a crockpot with a small can of chopped up pineapple tidbits, a quarter jar of salsa, and the juice of a lime and cooked it on low for 8 hours. Then I shredded it for delicious, sweet and savory tacos.)

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Join me there in making cooking and health more fun, one image at a time!

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