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Taking Care of Yourself While Providing End-of-Life Care

parent relative End-of-Life Care

When a parent or other family member receives a terminal diagnosis, you may suddenly find yourself in caretaking mode, from driving to doctor’s appointments and picking up medications to handling personal care tasks such as feeding, dressing, and bathing. On top of that, you’re probably feeling the pressure to keep up a positive attitude, even though positive might be the last thing you’re actually feeling. While you keep your loved one comfortable, however, there’s one very important task that you can’t afford to overlook: taking care of yourself. Here are a few ways that you can look after yourself while providing end-of-life care for someone else. Read more

To Mask Or Not to Mask: What the Science Says

Should I ware mask or not

As states reopen after stay-at-home orders, many are requiring face coverings in public places to help decrease the spread of COVID-19. The CDC and the WHO alike are now recommending masks for the general public. However, earlier on, both organizations said that we should not wear masks – a shift in opinion that may have helped confuse a lot of people about the efficacy of face coverings. However, the science is clear. Masks can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and the more people that wear them, the better.

Why did the CDC change its recommendation?

Back when the CDC was saying not to wear masks, the prevalence of COVID-19 was believed to be far lower than it actually is. For a disease that isn’t very common, it may not make sense to force a whole population to wear masks. However, we now know that the apparent low number of cases in the beginning was more likely the result of inadequate testing, providing a false sense of security.

Another concern was the limited supply of masks and the need to reserve them for healthcare workers. However, even when the supply of KN95 masks was panic-inducingly low, people could have been wearing cloth masks (even homemade ones) all along and, if they had, we could possibly be in a very different situation right now.

An increasing disease prevalence and a heightened awareness of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission are the two most likely reasons for the CDC’s change of heart. We now understand that viral load peaks before symptoms ever appear and that even normal speaking is enough to expel infected droplets – not to mention the fact that some people never develop symptoms at all, yet can still transmit the virus. For this reason, you cannot tell by looking at someone that they aren’t “sick.” Therefore, everyone should wear masks to protect both themselves and others around them.

Where is the evidence that the new guidelines are correct?

You may hear people say, “There is no evidence that wearing masks reduces transmission.” Don’t believe it. There is plenty of evidence to exactly the contrary, such as this review. If you aren’t convinced, here are an experiment and a peer-reviewed study that both show clearly that masks are effective at slowing the spread of infectious diseases.

However, the strongest evidence comes from the study of real-world environments. For example, one study compared the rate of transmission in over a dozen states before and after mask mandates. It concluded clearly that mask mandates do slow the spread of the disease. Another study examined the COVID-19 death rates in 198 countries and discovered that those with mask mandates or cultural norms that favored mask-wearing had fewer deaths.

There are also compelling case reports that strongly suggest that masks can keep people from getting sick even in high-risk situations. For example, one man with a dry cough flew from China to Toronto and then tested positive for COVID-19. However, he was wearing a mask, and none of the 25 people sitting closest to him contracted the illness. In another case, two Missouri hairstylists had contact with nearly 150 clients while they were sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore masks, and every client with whom they came into contact subsequently tested negative.

Who do masks protect?

Is your mask there to protect you or the people around you? Most experts agree that the biggest benefit is for keeping people with COVID-19 from infecting other people. However, you will still receive some benefit from wearing a mask, even if you are healthy. Masks can also prevent larger droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can remain in the air for longer and travel farther. And keep in mind that, as mentioned, you could be an asymptomatic carrier and not know it, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you aren’t sick, you don’t need a mask.

Does the type of mask matter?

While there have been studies that have compared various masks and materials, the top consideration for the general public should probably be comfort. That’s because the most comfortable mask is the one you’re most likely to wear consistently. N95 respirators are necessary only in medical scenarios. In general, surgical masks may be more effective than cloth masks, and they may feel lighter and more comfortable on.

The bottom line, however, is that any mask that covers your nose and mouth will help. Remember that the goal is risk reduction – not absolute prevention. If you are concerned that a mask may not be 100% effective – but it’s all you have – wear it. It’s almost certainly better than nothing. Consider this: if you have high cholesterol and your doctor recommends medication to help prevent a heart attack, you’ll most likely take it, even though you understand that this medicine does not prevent heart attacks 100% of the time. The idea is to reduce your risk – the same as with masks.

Are masks still necessary with social distancing?

There are three steps you can take that, together, dramatically lower your odds of contracting COVID-19: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Of these three, wearing a mask is the most important thing that you can do. Unlike transmission through inhaled droplets, there is actually little evidence that contaminated surfaces are a major source of transmission. One final thought to keep in mind: your eyes are a potential source of transmission, and your mask doesn’t cover them. Therefore, it’s important to keep your distance from other people and to wash your hands before touching your face – even while wearing a mask.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

5 Signs You’re Ready to Get Married

Ready to Get Married

Are you considering settling down with your better half and building a life together? Whether you’re at the age where a lot of your friends seem to be tying the knot, or you’re considering your second (or third or fourth) marriage, how do you know it’s the right decision? Here are five signs that you are truly ready to marry your partner and not just giving in to peer pressure.

1. You’re planning a marriage – not a wedding

Of course you’re excited about the wedding itself. It’s a big fun party that all your friends and family come to. Depending on your preferences, there may be music, flowers, food, gifts, perhaps even a theme. You may be furiously planning your rehearsal dinner, venue, decorations, cake, welcome bags for guests, and all the other fun details of planning a wedding. But is this why you’re excited about getting married? Remember that, while your wedding will last a few hours, your marriage will last for the rest of your life. Plan for that part first, and if you’re still all in, then feel free to start planning the party.

2. You know why you want to get married

People get married for a lot of different reasons. Some people are excited about having a big wedding. Some just feel it’s what they “should” do and want to be able to say they’re married. Some feel lonely or otherwise unhappy and feel that marriage is a solution. Some are pressured by their partners; others find themselves unexpectedly expecting. In and of themselves, these are terrible reasons to get married. Ask yourself what benefits you will get from marrying your partner as opposed to continuing your relationship the way it is now. Make sure that you and your partner trust each other, love spending time together, know each other very well, have similar goals, and know how to fight fair before saying yes.

3. You know and trust your partner deeply

As mentioned, it’s essential that you know and trust the person you’re considering marrying on a deep level. It’s not about how long you’ve been together. Just because you’ve been dating someone for five years doesn’t necessarily mean that you know them through and through. Before you get married, you should know your partner’s past as well as their hopes, dreams, and goals; likewise, they should know yours. Make sure that you know their shortcomings and still love them. (Spoiler alert: if you think your partner is perfect, then you don’t know them well enough to marry them.) You should also trust your partner completely. If you don’t, there’s work to do before you get hitched.

4. You have no interest in changing your partner

No one is perfect, and again, if you think your partner is, then something’s wrong. However, you should not only know them very well but also love them exactly as they are now. Marrying someone hoping that they will change is a huge mistake. Don’t think for a second that marriage will change them – it won’t. If anything, marriage is likely to exacerbate any existing issues in your relationship, not fix them. A wedding will not heal a rift, nor will it magically make your partner want to have kids, exercise more, do more housework, or get a better job – no matter what they say. Can you see yourself spending the rest of your life with the person you’re with just as they are now? If so, you may be ready for wedded bliss.

5. Your friends and family like your partner

When you first fall in love with someone, it’s easy to think that nothing else matters in the world. Once you make a lifelong commitment, though, you’ll quickly find that everything matters. This is a tricky one because, after all, you’re the one dating your partner, so why does it matter who likes or dislikes them besides you? However, a small rift can and will affect your life and relationship over the years. If the people you know and love don’t like your partner, where is your support system? Might you end up alienated or not invited to social events? Sure, you know yourself best – but your family and friends know you pretty well, too, so if they’re saying that you’re making a mistake, at least consider their views.

How to Be Happy in an Unhappy World

how to be happy

Do you ever feel like the world around you is just full of… unhappiness? That’s because it is. According to the CDC, in 2017, 479,000 Americans visited emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries. 47,173 committed suicide the same year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the US (after health conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as accidents). Read more

Staying Cool While You Stay in Shape

Cool Girl exercise on a ball

With summer temperatures heating up, many people are happy to be able to shed their winter clothes – and their winter weight – and get outside for some exercise. It’s certainly true that exercising outdoors is more fun in the warmer months, and that all that extra exercise is great for your body and your mind. However, there’s one thing to be careful about when you’re working up a sweat: the heat itself. When you work out in scorching heat, your body temperature can rise significantly, even if you’re in the shade. Never fear – you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and still stay safe with these tips for summertime workouts. Read more

The All-Day Benefits of Yoga

Yoga and Meditation

An ancient practice, yoga has become increasingly popular in our busy modern world. For a lot of people, yoga offers a kind of escape from their chaotic and stressful lives. This is true whether you’re in an ashram in India or on a secondhand mat in your own bedroom. There are endless reasons that people love yoga; many of them are about the way you feel during your practice. A good yoga session is quite cathartic; you’ll relax, stretch, meditate, challenge yourself, and enjoy the improvements you make from day to day. However, many of the benefits of yoga carry over beyond the mat into your everyday life. Here are a few of these benefits. Read more

COVID-19 Safety Tips to Keep You Healthy – and Sane

how to protect from covid-19

There’s no arguing that we live in a new world – one where a simple trip to the grocery store could result in a life-threatening illness. Or so it seems if you stay on top of the latest headlines. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction with so many people disagreeing, but a few things are indisputable: first, there is a new virus out there that we don’t fully understand; second, staying home is the best way to avoid exposure; and third, most people cannot stay at home day after day, so understanding how to protect yourself is key. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and give you peace of mind while we wait for a vaccine (the ultimate goal). Read more