Green tips for tackling fall lawn cleanup

  • Written by ARA

14083_B15_rgbEvery fall, the wind picks up, the leaves fall to the ground and the grass gets a little browner. It’s the time of year when the weather is unpredictable and storms can make even the neatest yards a mess.

Remington, a leading manufacturer of battery and electric power tools, has some tips to help make your fall cleanup greener and easier:

Clearing leaves from your yard can be a daunting task, but it’s an important one to keep your yard alive and green come spring. Using an electric leaf blower or blower vacuum versus using a rake or a heavy gas blower can help reduce the effort. While electric leaf blowers are limited in mobility, they require less hassle.

If you find more than just leaves in your yard after a storm, you may consider doing most of the cleanup yourself using a chainsaw, such as the RM1415A Limb N Trim, a 14-inch chainsaw that’s ideal for cleanup of fallen branches and logs less than 13 inches in diameter. Keep in mind there are many safety concerns to take into account when using a chainsaw to clean up the mess. Here are a few tips on how to use a chainsaw to help keep you safe this season:

* First, read the operator’s manual and follow suggested guidelines to remove fallen trees.

* Ensure the saw’s chain is properly tensioned before each use and all fasteners, controls and safety features are functioning properly.

* Make sure the bar and chain are always lubricated to prevent the saw from wearing out or cutting poorly. Check the bar and chain oil reservoir frequently to make sure it’s full or it will ruin your chain.

* Start the saw while standing on the ground and always hold the handle securely.

* Clear debris and small tree limbs from the chainsaw’s path, and beware of nails and other metal before cutting.

* Avoid saw “kickback” to prevent a serious chainsaw injury. Never let the tip of the bar come in contact with anything. Always reference the operator’s manual for proper chain saw operation.

Because My Wife Told Me To

  • Written by Dr. Alex Kraft
You’d be amazed at how many men come to our clinic and don’t know why they are there. Without playing too much into stereotypes, the reality is that women still visit the doctor more frequently than men and typically have multiple items to discuss or at least ask questions about. On the contrary, when men are asked about the purpose of the visit, the usual response is something like: “Because my wife told me to” or “I don’t know, ask my wife.”

Why is that?

This typically is not due to a lack of perceived problems on the part of men. Besides high blood pressure or high cholesterol which is hard to be aware of subjectively, aches and pains, or digestive disturbances are typically hard to ignore. And although all men are different, we are classically problem solvers. We love to troubleshoot, find solutions, and fix things. That’s another classical stereotype about men right? That women often want to talk about something while men simply want to fix it. So why doesn’t that seem to apply to their health?

There are many possible reasons for this. Men generally do know what their health concerns are. No, it’s unlikely that a lack of awareness is what fosters the male pattern of doctor avoidance. It is more likely a combination of conditioning (and possibly genetic hard wiring) that promotes men to be stoic, to tough things out, or to use mind over matter in a battle of will over physics. In playing sports, it sometimes pays to use the mind over matter trick to stay in the game. But in regards to long term health maintenance, this tactic rarely pays off. Just like cars or other machines, our bodies give us subtle signals before our body/the engine simply won’t start or the grinding noises appear. And while we can replace parts in machines, with our bodies it is much easier to prevent problems in the first place than try to “fix” them later. Treating high blood pressure in your 20s or high cholesterol in your 30s is much easier than treating heart disease in your fifties.

All of us have to die of something at some time —that’s inevitable. Yet, most of what does us in here in the U.S. is preventable or is possible to delay. As of 2007 (the last year for which this data is available), just about 50 percent of American men’s deaths are due to heart disease or cancer. Both of these conditions are possibly preventable. Hypertension and high cholesterol both contribute directly to heart disease and potential heart attacks, and both of these conditions are included in even the most basic health exam. In terms of cancer, the top leading causes of cancer related deaths are from lung cancer (i.e. smoking), prostate, colon, and skin cancer. Besides the lung cancer which, and this is not rocket science, can be prevented almost always by simply not smoking, the other three cancers are also part of regular yearly screenings after age 50. So right there, half of the most typical causes of death are possibly preventable. While the third leading cause of death for women can be prevented (stroke), number three for men is accidental injuries and that opens up a topic too big to discuss here. But the percentage of deaths from number three (accidental injuries) drops to 6.6 percent.

Looking at causes of death is sobering and obviously, it’s hard to enjoy your retirement if you’re not around to be retired. But equally important to staving off death is preventing illnesses, which decrease your quality of life. The knee and back pain which accompany obesity are not too much fun. Dealing with insulin or several other medications to control diabetes, hypertension or all of the above is also less than enjoyable. And the key is that most chronic illnesses do not develop overnight — they develop over decades. These are the reasons to eat as much salad as steak or to exercise at least as often as we watch sports. So, in the interest of long life and medication-free living, we should all thank the wives who “encourage” those visits to the doctor. And exercise can be fun, healthy food can be tasty, and the ability to golf or go hiking into your 70s and beyond makes it worth the discipline required. Now here’s another little secret; you don’t need to wait for someone else to make that appointment for you. It’s OK to make your health a priority for you and your family. We hope to see you soon.

Dr. Kraft is a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed acupuncturist. He may be reached at Health Moves 17311 135th Ave NE Ste. C-800 Woodinville, WA 98072, Phone: 425.402.9999 or www.Health Moves .org.


  • Written by Kevin Piasecki, PT, OCS, Quality Care Physical Therapy
Even though the “hot” summer days are over in the Pacific Northwest, athletes still need to remember to drink enough fluids when exercising.  Whether running in the Seattle Marathon, playing football or basketball, going on strenuous hikes, or cross country skiing, athletes need to maintain appropriate hydration in order to optimize performance.

As the body sweats in order to cool itself off, valuable water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) are lost.   The amounts lost depend on several factors, including fitness level, air temperature and humidity, clothing and strenuousness of the activity.  Water and electrolytes need to be replenished in order to maintain optimal levels of performance.

Often, athletes choose between water and sports drinks. Water is often perfectly adequate for moderate exercise lasting less than an hour.  For activities that promote a lot of sweating and/or last more than an hour, sports drinks may be necessary to help replenish lost electrolytes. The role of sports drinks is two-fold: 1) replenish lost water and electrolytes; and 2) provide carbohydrates to working muscles.

Choosing the “best” sports drink can be confusing and overwhelming.  There are dozens of drinks and flavors from which to choose.  Options include color, flavor, cost, caffeine, protein, carbohydrate, sodium, potassium.  Ideally, 8 oz. of sports drink should contain the following: 14-18 grams carbohydrate; 110-120mg sodium; 25-30mg potassium*. Following the above guidelines can help the serious athlete maintain performance during competitive or strenuous exercise.  If you have any questions regarding sports nutrition and/or exercise, contact your local nutritionist or physical therapist.  We at Quality Care Physical Therapy can be reached at (425) 486-6079.

* Vredenburg, J. Feed for Speed: Sports Nutrition for Peak Performance, Cross Country Education Seminar, Seattle WA (2011).

Fun? You should ask! A few tips for choosing the right retirement community

  • Written by Barbara Koshar

When visiting his favorite restaurant, my dad can’t help but tell the waitress a goofy joke or two. At the grocery store, he sometimes stops to coo at a baby just for the joy of watching a little one giggle. My sisters and I smile, sigh, and sometimes we even roll our eyes (although, we’re all closer to 50 than 15). He may still like to make silly faces, but that’s just Dad. At 83, he’s not ready to be a seriously grumpy old man. And that playful spark of his—is a quality I cherish. I believe my dad agrees with Oliver Wendell Holmes who stated, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old: they grow old because they quit playing.”

So what promotes happiness and a playful attitude? Research shows that seniors who move to retirement communities often benefit from a happier and higher quality of life. It’s simply wonderful to feel secure, be surrounded by pleasant and caring people, and enjoy a variety of fun and engaging activities.

Yet, many people are not familiar with today’s independent retirement communities because they are a relatively new concept. Most are for those 62 or older, but realistically folks in their mid-70s and 80s move in when they no longer want to cook and clean, they tire of maintaining their homes, or they have become isolated and alone. Many retirees move to be near their children.

Most communities offer comfortable apartment homes with various amenities. The rent typically includes meals, utilities, weekly housekeeping, scheduled transportation and social activities. The price of community living may seem high at first glance. Yet, a cost comparison between maintaining a family residence and moving to a retirement community may be surprising.

Many seniors maintain and heat large homes when they are only using a few rooms. They may pay professionals to do housekeeping, yard work, and home maintenance. And at some point, help with daily tasks can become necessary. Living in a community offers simplicity, opportunities to socialize, and peace of mind.

There are many choices when deciding where to move.

Location, amenities, and costs all need to be carefully considered. I believe, however, you should take fun seriously too. Why grow old when you can stay young in the right surroundings. When visiting retirement communities, I suggest you observe the people you meet and ask yourself these questions.

1. Is the staff friendly and accessible? Ask how long staff members have worked there and look for a low turnover. You benefit when surrounded by people who are not only professional, but pleasant and enjoy their work so much they stay.

2. Will you enjoy socializing here? Take the time to chat with a couple of residents.

3.  Are some of your favorite hobbies on the activities list? Is there something new and fun you’d like to try? Ask if you can meet the activities director and arrange a visit during an event, activity, or class that interests you.

And another tip: Ask if trial stays are offered. If they are, pack a bag and spend the night. A trial stay will allow you to experience the personality of the community and help you decide if it’s the right retirement option for you.

When not working in the marketing office at Fairwinds-Brittany Park, Barbara Koshar writes, enjoys photography, and sometimes she playfully annoys her teenage daughter by singing silly songs in the car. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. © 2011 Barbara Koshar

Caring for your mom and dad: cost effective tips to create an accessible bathroom

  • Written by ARA

14008_B27_rgbMany boomers caring for their aging parents don’t realize that their bathroom is the most important room in the house.

Remodeling a bathroom for an elderly parent can make life not only safer, but also more enjoyable, improving comfort and personal dignity. Temporary fixes like plastic bathtub seats and toilet frames with elevated seats can be rickety, but even worse, they can be depressing and demoralizing.

Upgrading to new fixtures built with accessibility in mind can cost less than you might think. Upgrading helps maintain independent living for the elderly, and is a wise investment for any home, given that anyone can experience temporary disabilities, such as surgery or broken bones.

Try these helpful ideas to create a bathroom that will look great and work wonderfully for you and your loved ones well into the future.

• Switch to an ADA-compliant faucet. Some faucet handles require a surprising amount of force to operate, and knobs can be difficult to twist for seniors. Instead, try an ADA-compliant single lever faucet that allows for easy on-and-off operation without the need to grip. This faucet style, which complies with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), also has an adjustable hot limit safety stop that helps reduce scalding. This simple and inexpensive alteration will make washing up more comfortable for elderly parents and grandparents, and is also a great excuse to perk up the look of your bathroom.

• Try a taller toilet. Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 15 inches, but many manufacturers have recently introduced models that are an inch and a half higher. These taller commodes make sitting down and getting back up less stressful on the body. Bring high style and performance as well as comfort to your bathroom by upgrading to a luxury toilet. Porcher offers several elegant “Right Height” toilets in sleek, easy to clean, one-piece styles.

* Think about accessible storage. Keep bathing and grooming accessories neatly stowed out of the way to reduce trips and falls, and to keep them clear of wheelchairs. Accessibility and functionality are essential when planning for convenient storage options in the bathroom.

• Make it easy on the eyes. High-gloss paints and tiles can produce an uncomfortable glare, so introduce matte finishes for better visibility. Choosing wall and floor colors or patterns that contrast is another great way to increase visual perception of space and help older adults feel more confident as they move about the room.

• Replace an unused bathtub with a walk-in shower. Holding on to the ability to bathe independently is key to aging gracefully and with dignity. The ubiquitous tub/shower unit in so many homes may be uncomfortably high for the elderly and disabled to step over, and too low to sit down into for bathing. American Standard has a unique low-cost solution with its walk-in seated shower that features a wide, contoured, full-sized seating area with recessed front to make standing or sitting while showering comfortable and easy. This unit has a low 3-inch threshold for easy access in and out, plus a built-in wrap-around grab bar for added safety.

• Provide a spa-like walk-in tub. Why shouldn’t Mom have her own home spa? The greatest generation is also the “bathing generation.” Boomers’ parents are more likely to benefit from replacing an old, under-used bathtub with one of today’s walk-in tubs. Installing a walk-in bathtub or shower system with a built-in seat brings back a measure of independence in self-care. Many walk-in tubs are designed to fit perfectly in the space of a conventional tub for easy installation and are now available with luxurious special features. American Standard offers a smart QuickDrain option that removes water in less than two minutes, so there is no need for a long, cold wait for the tub to drain before opening the door to exit the bath. American Standard walk-in bathtubs are available with advanced features like whirlpools and combo massage systems, so bathing can be safer and more luxurious for aging parents and for you.