Numbers: Do you know the importance of each of your numbers?

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Know how your numbers are key to your health.

What are the key numbers in your life? I just turned 50. That is a number that seems like a real turning point. I like a viewpoint a friend shared with me: the first half-century is training and preparation for the better half!

Also, my daughter is graduating from high school. So, in her world the key numbers are GPA, SAT, ACT, and college fees.

Other numbers we keep close to us are phone numbers, bank balances, addresses, and birthdays.

Numbers and Health

Now I want to make sure you are aware of key numbers for your health. There is a reason for those labs at your annual physical. And there are goals for those numbers. When you see your lab results you will see your number and a range that contains all of the normal numbers. Ideally, your number falls in this range. If your numbers are little bit outside this ‘normal range’ for a little while, just talk with your doctor. If your numbers stay outside the range, your doctor will probably take action with medication, exercise changes, diet changes, or other plans.

Blood pressure – If you are under age 65, normal is less than 140/90. If you are over 65, some experts agree it’s ok for your systolic blood pressure (top number) to get as high as 150. Your blood pressure is one indicator of how hard your heart has to work. There are several medications that can be used to lower your blood pressure and protect your heart from having to work too hard. I am often asked about how low is too low for your blood pressure. That is not really determined by a number. It is found through symptoms. If you get really dizzy when you stand up, turn around, or try to walk faster, talk with your doctor. A little bit of this is expected with the medicines that are protecting your heart. If it is causing you to fall or keeping you from doing your normal activities, then let your healthcare team know.

Pulse – This is usually between 60 and 90 beats per minute. You can quickly check your own by touching the center of your neck and letting your fingertips slide to the soft area just to the side. Your carotid artery is there, and you can count the beats for 15 seconds then multiple by 4. The more you exercise, the more efficient your heart gets. So, really fit people tend to be at the bottom of this range. This should be measured when you are really at rest. If you are worried, in pain, stressed out, or in a conversation your heart rate will be higher. So, when this is measured, think quiet thoughts and don’t talk. If it gets and stays high, your doctor will order some more tests to check why. The same is true if your heart rate is slower than 60 beats per minute. Tests will be ordered to see what your heart is doing to cause the slow rate.

Cholesterol – We all have cholesterol, or fats, in our blood. This is normal. But there are healthy amounts and unhealthy amounts. These are the key numbers. For most people, your low density lipoproteins (LDL) number should ideally be under 100 mg/dL. If you have a strong history of heart disease, your doctor might have you try to reach an even lower goal. This is your ‘bad cholesterol’. Your high density lipoproteins (HDL) is your ‘good cholesterol’. Ideally you want this number to be over 40 mg/dL. Another cholesterol number is your triglycerides. This tends to go up if you have diabetes that isn’t well controlled. This number should be less than 150 mg/dL. Diet, exercise, and medications are all key in keeping these numbers in the goal range if you have high cholesterol (also called hyperlipidemia).

Blood sugar – Speaking of diabetes, this is a very important number for people with diabetes. It is important whether you have type 1 (requires insulin) or type 2 diabetes (can be treated with medicines you take by mouth, by inhalation, or by injection). Your blood sugar changes throughout the day. It is usually lowest before a meal and highest after. When you have not eaten for at least 8 hours, your blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL. (This is a ‘fasting blood glucose’.) Your healthcare team might ask you to measure your blood sugar at home. There are several types of monitors to do this. They might want you to check sometimes before you eat, sometimes after you eat, sometimes before bed, and sometimes when you first wake up. This will give them the best look at what your blood sugar does throughout the day.

Glycosylated hemoglobin (A1c) – This is another way to see what your blood sugar does over a period of time – about 3 months. It is a reflection of your average blood sugar over those months. People who do not have diabetes have an A1c under 6%. Current guidelines encourage a goal of less than 6.5% for people with diabetes. However, if someone is at risk for their blood sugar being too low your doctor might increase this goal closer to 7%. When people with diabetes also have other medical conditions, sometimes ‘tight control’ to under 6.5% is not possible or safe. Talk with your healthcare team for your specific goal and why that is the goal for you.

Body Mass Index (BMI) – This measurement is a reflection of your height, your weight, and your gender. It helps to define what is a healthy weight for you. The goal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. If your BMI is 25 to 29.9 you are overweight. If it is over 30 then you are obese. Your healthcare team will help you with a plan to get to a healthy weight and stay in that healthy range.

Blood Urea Nitrogen and Serum Creatinine (BUN and SCr) – These are important measures of your kidneys. They determine if your kidneys are clearing extra fluid, medications, and toxins from your body as they should. They can also tell your doctor if you are dehydrated from not drinking enough. As a pharmacist, I always look at these numbers when deciding if a medication is safe and at the right dose. When your kidneys are not working as they should, then it is hard to get some medications back out of the body. Another interesting numbers – Our kidneys start to very gradually slow down when we are in our late 30’s or early 40’s. This happens to everyone. So, with each birthday in our 50’s and beyond, these are important numbers to assess.

Aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase (AST and ALT) – These are measures of how your liver is working. Many medications are metabolized (broken down) in the liver. If these numbers are very high, then the liver is not able to do its job to break down the medication. These are numbers I always look at when evaluating someone’s medication regimen. It helps determine what medicines should be avoided and what doses are best for you based on your liver.

Number of Medications – Sometimes several medications are needed to treat all of your medical conditions. Sometimes they are not. The more medications someone takes, the more risk of medications interacting and causing problems rather than helping them. There is no ‘magic number’, but most experts agree that taking more than 4 medications regularly means you need to have an expert very carefully evaluate your regimen. This is to double check that your medication regimen is providing optimal good with minimal risk.

An Evaluation of YOUR Numbers

Are you curious about your numbers? At Meds MASH we specialize in these evaluations, especially in anyone over age 60. Do you want to better understand your particular numbers? Do want to know that your medicines are providing optimal good and minimal risk? Call us today! We have found that over 50% of our clients need a medication adjustment once an expert evaluation is done. These adjustments come from your own doctor with our collaboration.

You can call for your appointment at 410-472-5078 or e-mail at michelle@medsmash.com or through our website www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Have you read the entire Bible? I am on my second journey through the whole book. In the past I have read my favorite parts, read parts pertaining to Bible studies I was in, or read parts that others have recommended. After years of this focused reading, I thought I knew the Bible fairly well. But, here I am reading it all and learning so many new things!

I was recently working my way through the book of Numbers. I have to admit, I don’t find this to be the most exciting book. It can be downright hard to get through. But, I was hit by a new insight.

In Numbers God directed Moses through the exact, meticulous details of building the temple and the Ark of the Covenant.

  • He provided exact measurement for each aspect of the temple.
  • He described elements of the temple in extreme detail.
  • He gave exact specifications for each furnishing.
  • Each bowl and utensil was described in detail.
  • The role of each person in service to the temple was directed.
  • The clothing of each priest was designed to the last thread.

It hit me how incredibly precise is our God. Not any detail was left with precise design. God is perfect in every way.

Then, I thought about how sloppy I am in my communication with God. I pray, read my Bible, focus when I find the time. I squeeze God into the nooks and crannies of my day. Some days are much better than others. Even now as I am reading through the Bible in a year, I find myself rushing rather than deeply meditating on what I read.

Sloppy is NOT what God wants from me. He is more important than ANYTHING else in my life. My to-do lists, dirty house, and work schedule are not the priorities per God’s plan. They are the distractions. They are Satan’s best weapon to keep me away from a deep, life-sustaining life with my Creator.

How about you? Is your relationship with God truly all-in? What are your distractions?

Paul knew we would all face these distractions and temptations.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Paul also knew we wouldn’t do it just because anyone said so. Rather we are encouraged to stay focused on God to find and lead the life of peace and joy that is ours if we choose this path.

1 Corinthians 7:35 ESV

I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

I pray we can all keep striving to keep God at the center as in the words of David:

Psalm 19:14 ESV

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Blessings to you my sloppy but trying to be better friends!

Michelle

Medication Reconciliation – Why it’s important to you

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Medication reconciliation can keep you safe.

Have you heard the term ‘medication reconciliation’? Probably not, it’s an insider’s term within medicine. But it’s an important concept, and I want you to know about it. I want you to ask about it any time you find yourself going into the hospital, going to the emergency department (ED), coming out of the hospital, going into rehab, switching doctors, having any major changes in either your health or who is monitoring your medications.

The term medication reconciliation (abbreviated ‘med rec’) means taking your whole medication list and understanding, how you are taking it and when you are taking. It is about making sure that information goes with you any time you are making a transition. So ideally, at the moment you enter a hospital someone figures out exactly what you take, how you take it, and when you take it. It is awesome if you come with this information. You could carry that information with you and have it ready to share with your health team. It is a huge safety factor in your care. If they know exactly what you take, how you take it, when you take it, they will make much more informed decisions in your care. This is true in the emergency department, the hospital, moving to rehab, moving to assisted living. I applaud the pharmacists who do this well in hospitals, clinics, and other settings around the country.

If you come in with it ready, you have saved them a lot of time and effort. And, you’ve helped assure your own safety. This important information will help guide the next phase when they will make any modification depending on why you are in the health system and what your needs are at that time.

If you’re in the ED or the hospital for a particular reason, there may very well be a need for a new medication to treat the reason you’re there. It is important that any of those changes are communicated all throughout your stay within and beyond the health system.

Formulary

A little caveat that’s important is another important term to understand – formulary. There can be a number of different medicines that do the same thing. We call them medication classes, and each class could have several medications that do the same thing in the same way. Rather than carry every medication on the market, a hospital will carry a few in each category.   It is possible that the one you typically take is not on their formulary. They will switch you while you are in the hospital to one that is on their formulary. The name, color, and size might not look familiar to you. Be sure to ask questions when you don’t recognize your medicine. This is not harmful; it will not put you in danger. Medicines within the same class work the same way as the one your doctor had you on at home. But, it is a source of confusion when you go home or move to another part of the health system. It’s one of the reasons this medication reconciliation process is so important.

It is critical that you know that another medication, similar to the one you take at home, is being used in the hospital. You want, when you go home, to be switched back to the medicine you came in on, the one that was prescribed by your own primary care provider.

Many, many patients have run into difficulty when they go home on the medication the hospital gave them and they continue to take the one they have at home. This is called duplication of therapy. You are getting twice the amount you need – you have the one you have at home and the on the hospital gave you that do the exact same thing. So, using blood pressure as an example, if you are taking the medicine you have at home plus the one in the same class that you got in the hospital, you could lower your blood pressure too much. You want to avoid duplication of therapy; be sure for that class of medicine you are on just one.

Be sure to ask at the hospital if you can go back on the one you were familiar with at home that does the same thing as the one you got while in the hospital.

It is important that several people know exactly the medicines you take when you go back home or get to your next destination. You are one of them, of course. It is also important that anyone involved in your care such as your spouse, child, or caregiver involved in your care; your primary care doctor; any specialists; and your pharmacist know exactly how your medications have changed while you were in the hospital.

It is important that any intermediate step before you go home, such as rehabilitation, knows your entire current medication regimen. But, it is most important that you understand exactly what to take when you get home.

Medication changes while you’re in the hospital

What if problems related to your medication led to you going to the hospital? That is very often the case. Then, the medicines that led to your admission will be stopped or changed. If the problem that took you to the hospital was something new, then it’s likely that new medicines were added to your regimen. Again, it is important that you know what changes were made, why they were made, and exactly what you should do when you get back home. Ideally, ask your questions while you’re in the hospital, but if you get home and have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out for answers.

Medication reconciliation is something we often do at Meds MASH. People get home and realize they don’t really understand what they are to do. They have a list from the hospital, a list from rehab, and their home list. They wonder if anyone has looked at all of the medicines – the old ones, the new ones, and some from other doctors.   At Meds MASH we look at all of the medicines and make sure they are all safe together. We catch those duplications and clear them up with your doctors. One of the things we will do, with your permission, is get information from all of your doctors and from the hospital and pull it all together. Then, after the thorough analysis, any changes will come from your primary care doctor who is the gatekeeper and the one person responsible for all of your medicines.

Three doctors recently wrote an important article about the need for accurate medication reconciliation. And they note that this process must be thorough to be meaningful. Several partial versions have been tried, and if it isn’t complete, it’s not helpful. It’s not going to keep people safe if it is not done right.

If a thorough medication reconciliation can keep you safe and healthy, please contact us at Meds MASH at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

This Biblical application might feel a little less associated with the health part. With medication reconciliation we are talking about making sure all of the information related to medication use is clearly communicated. If it is not done completely it isn’t effective. What about our compassion and how we reach out to others? How complete and effective are we?

Something has been weighing very heavy on my mind in the last week. It is the decisions we make about where our compassion lies. Who we can forgive and who we can’t. How do we spend our money and give our support and where we do we not? The thought that has been raised in my mind is – when we know someone is in need, and we do not know their sins, it seems to me it is easier to reach out and provide support for those needs. The example that got me thinking this is the refugee crisis. When you know there are millions of people who have been displaced, a lot of people have compassion for that and for their circumstances. What can we do to help those people and their dire circumstances?

The other things that made me think of this were more local. What are the needs of people who are making choices that are leading them to being in dire circumstances? It might be behavioral and lifestyle choices; it might be financial management choices; it could be self-care choices that lead them to circumstances where their life is not as secure as it might be. Their difficult circumstances are a ramification of lifestyle and self-satisfaction choices they have made.

I am connected to a place right now that serves the LGBTQ community and the HIV population. Some Christians find it easy to be very judgmental of this population and not share their compassion in this direction. Rather, they choose to share their compassion in other circumstances where the reasons and the choices are less known. Is this what Christ calls us to do? Are we called to show compassion or walk away?

Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery in Luke Chapter 8.

Luke 8:1-11 MSG

 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

Her choices were well known, and she was being very degraded. She was called before the council having been caught in the act.   The council members were ready to stone her. Jesus said those without sin could cast the first stone. We are so quick to categorize sins, but it doesn’t seem Jesus categorizes sins. What are we called to do as Christians? I am struggling with this and I’m challenging others to struggle with this, too. This is not a blog with answers. It is a blog with challenging questions. I would love to hear what people think.

Luke 6:37 ESV

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

It has become clear to me as a practitioner that sex as defined in the Bible, as designed by God does not lead to trauma, whether emotional or physical, and it does not lead to disease transmission or to promiscuity.

But in society, especially in the current waive of rules avoidance and focus on self, sex is being used in a lot of other ways. When used outside the way described by God, it does lead to a lot of issues. We create our own problems when we are outside this definition.

Another example heavy on my mind is substance abuse. The numbers of people caught in addiction and dying of overdose are astounding. This is a tragedy of great proportion! Yet the local rescue mission is struggling to stay funded. People who have been caught up in abuse and addiction who are now reaching out for help to leave that lifestyle are encountering limited spots available for rehabilitation. Yet Christians are looking for meaningful outreach and missions opportunities.

I am in full support of refugee aid, international response to crisis, local response to crisis, support of children in underserved areas, teens on mission trips, college students on mission trips, medical missions, and so much more. In addition to all of this wonderful outreach, I encourage us to search our hearts and God’s leading for our attitudes about reaching those in circumstances in our own community that are harming them.

I propose when we limit our compassion or draw a line for how we will consider using our resources, it is similar to an incomplete medication review.  Completeness and effectiveness are limited.

James 4:12 ESV

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

What is your response?

Blessings,

Michelle

 

 

 

 

9 steps to your best health

Taking 9 Key Steps to Your Best Health

9 steps to your best health
Here are 9 steps to get you to your best health

I know you want to feel good. I’ll bet you have a whole list of experiences in your plans for the future. You might be feeling great these days. You might be struggling with some health issues. You might be navigating some transitions in your life or some emotional conflicts.

I want you to be the healthiest version of you, in your best health! As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve broken a process into steps. I’m hoping by following these steps, your health continues and gets even better.

Steps to your Best Health

  1. Pay attention to your body. Remember when a new symptom starts; what makes it better; what makes it worse; how long it lasts; what you think caused it.
  2. If it is severe, scary, or won’t go away, be sure to tell your doctor.
  3. Before you see your doctor, make a list of the items in #1 so you won’t feel pressured to remember. Write your list and make 2 copies – one for you and one for your doctor.
  4. Take to all healthcare visits a complete list of all medicines and other substances you take, how you take them, and when you take them. This includes your vitamins, supplements, recreational substances, and over-the-counter medications. Include even the ones you only take for a stomachache, allergies, or a headache.
  5. Take notes during your visit. We all know how easy it is to miss something, forget, or get it all confused when trying to remember it all from memory.
  6. Make sure it all makes sense to you and you clearly know what you are to do next before you leave. It is ok to ask to hear it all again until you really understand. Once your doctor explains what is causing your symptoms and recommends a plan, ask when you should feel better.
    1. Too many times I have asked people what their doctor said and heard, ‘I have no idea; I couldn’t understand him/her.’
  7. If you receive a prescription for a new medication, make sure you know the name, what it is for, how to take it, and what you can expect. All medications have the potential for side effects, at least right at first, so know what these might be. Know if you will be taking it for a short time or a long time. Ask your pharmacist to be sure this new medication is not going to interact with your current medications. (Be sure your pharmacist knows everything you take.)
  8. Keep track of your original symptoms and any other changes you notice after you start your new treatment. If you don’t feel better in the timeframe the doctor told you, call and report that. If you feel worse when you start a new medication, let your doctor and pharmacist know. Either of them can help you determine if your new problem is caused by the medication and what you should do (do something to stop the side effects or give you a different medication).
  9. Take care of yourself! Once you are feeling better, make an effort to take even more healthy steps such as healthy eating and regular exercise. I know we hear that all of the time. That is because these are the changes that will truly help you feel your very best.

What is the link between medications and your best health?

You’ll note that some of the steps specifically include medications. Medications can:

  • Cure
  • Control medical problems
  • Make symptoms better
  • Prevent problems
  • Harm

Depending on the medical condition and the medication, any of these four good purposes or the bad effect can occur.

Medications are prescribed for at least one of the positive effects of medications. Your doctor and your pharmacist want the medication to play a direct role in you reaching your best health.

Medications can interact with other medications. The ONLY WAY your doctor or pharmacist can check for this is if they know absolutely EVERY medication you take. Medications can interact with other medications, with food, or with other medical conditions. That is why you want your healthcare team to know everything about your prescription medicines, your over-the-counter medicines, your supplements, you herbal remedies, your vitamins, and any recreational substance use. It is all important!

This is one of the key services we offer you at Meds MASH. If you want someone to very carefully evaluate all of your medications, your symptoms, and things you think might be caused by your medications, we can do that!

To get started, contact us at 410-472-4078 or www.medsmash.com/contact. Let’s talk about how we can help you reach your best health!

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I am reading a book that led to an interesting insight as I have been thinking about the stepwise approach to best health. The steps outlined above are each important to reaching your best health.

What about your best spiritual health?   After all, true health has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components. Nothing outranks your relationship with Christ.

The book I have been reading is related to our brain. A neuroscience physician has studied the brain and its function in the light of both science and the Bible. If you haven’t read, ‘The God-Shaped Brain’ by Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., I highly recommend it.

In a very insufficient summary, our brains are at their peak function when we are in a secure, peaceful, loving environment. The brain is a very adaptable organ. There is one part of the brain that drives our ‘fight or flight’ response. This is what happens when we sense we are in danger. When this part of the brain is functioning, all deep reasoning is blocked. All brain effort is focused on primal survival. It is when we are more relaxed that other parts of our brain creating deep thoughts, logical decision-making, and empathy can function.

I was in high school when Pac-Man was first available. We had to go across the state line to another nearby town to play it in a pizza restaurant. The object is to maneuver Pac-Man through a maze to eat as many ‘points’ as possible. Some of the turns lead to danger for Pac-Man or to dead-ends.

Strangely enough, living in love, peace, and harmony made me think of our life like Pac-Man. Picture, if you will, a large canvas with a circuitous, clear path that has no obstacles that you can see when you look down on the entire canvas. This path is full of points, many points. Surrounding this path, at every turn, there are obstacles. Many of these obstacles are distractions. They are things that feel good, things that look good, or things that feel necessary. From within the maze, you can’t see the clear path. You can only see what is right around you. Those distractions look so good! They often seem to be on the easiest route. They promise you lots of points. So, you easily get off track with the distractions.

Our brain, our life, and our health are at their best when we are on the clear path. And yet there is not one human on the planet who has not left the path and made mistakes. Not ONE! Only Jesus was ever able to do that.

We can each be so much more at peace and living in love when we stay on the path. There is only one tour guide. Jesus can and will tell you step by step which way to turn. He will tell you which items are distractions and which are on his planned path for you. Your brain will be functioning at higher levels as you live in peace and love.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God knew from the beginning, as soon as Adam and Eve ate the fruit, that we would be on this path with many distractions. Eden, before that fruit eating, was the only place where people ever lived in perfect harmony, peace, and love. As soon as those first people used their own will to go outside God’s command, everything changed.

To allow your brain to operate in its most effective way, and to live in love and peace, let Jesus be your tour guide.

Psalm 119:15 ESV

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

1 Corinthians 7:35 ESV

I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Here’s to being in your best health – physical, mental, emotional, AND spiritual!

Blessings,

Michelle

support for the sandwich generation

Are you the meat in the sandwich – for those caught in the middle

support for the sandwich generation
Support is available while you are the meat in the sandwich between children and aging parents

Have you heard of the ‘sandwich generation’? Are you the meat in the middle – still finishing the child raising and caring for aging parents? This sandwich generation is now different than it has ever been before. It is the older Generation X and the younger Boomer generation now in this position. This means this sandwich generation has more dual career couples, more divorces, and generally more independent people juggling the younger and older generations.

Certainly you are blessed when you have children who are nearly or newly on their own AND you still have your parents. So many of us miss that opportunity.

If you do have this opportunity, it can be very challenging. Typically there are several other things happening around the same time.

Other changes while you’re the meat in the sandwich

The sandwich phase usually comes while in your late 40’s through your 60’s. During this time some other commonalities are:

  • You’re at the peak of your career
  • Friendships/relationships are no longer made through your children’s activities
  • Your own health is changing
  • If you’re a woman, you’re somewhere near menopause which brings its own health changes
  • You’re thinking about your ‘bucket list’

Tips for you to be the best ‘meat’ possible

It is so easy to get caught up in the needs of your parents and children and to forget about you in the process. If you fall ill, get injured, or burn out, then everyone loses. I don’t mean to add to your pressure. I just want to encourage you to take care of yourself as the caregiver.

  • Sleep to maintain clear thinking and patience
  • Exercise to stay healthy and stay strong
  • Healthy diet with fruits and vegetables vs grab-n-go fast food
  • Time off to maintain your mental health

Resources to help you

There are many resources available to help you as you help your aging parents. With the aging of the population, the numbers and types of resources are rapidly increasing.

Medications are often involved when someone reaches a point where they have difficulty living without assistance. That is our specialty at Meds MASH. Over 80% of people we see have a specific medication issue that we work with you doctor to address to help you stay safe at home. For 100% of all people we have seen, we have provided important education about medicines and how to get the most from healthcare visits.

There are several types of services that can assist with safely aging at home or in a place designed for safe aging. There are homecare services that can provide someone to help with tasks such as companionship, housekeeping, bathing, cooking, driving, and more. There are independent living communities with assisted living options when needed. There are assisted living facilities at many sizes, price ranges, and amenities.

If your parents’ home would be safer with some modifications, look for a contracting that is a certified aging in place specialist. You can learn more at http://www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx

A certified aging life care manager is an expert on your local resources that can assist with healthy aging. I think of these people as one-stop-shopping for many of your questions and needs. You can learn more at http://www.aginglifecare.org.

Legal and financial questions can be complex. These are elements that are easiest to address while your parents are still fully in command of their own finances. That is a good time to plan for the future in case you, your siblings or other friends/family will assume control of those key areas of your parent’s life. Decisions about advanced directives, power of attorney, and memorial wishes are easiest to make while your parents are fully able to make their own decisions. However, even if you miss that window, these resources (elder care attorney and financial advisor) can help guide you through each step. Here is a resource that can help you find an eldercare lawyer http://www.naela.org/findlawyer.

This is a very brief overview of the many resources that exist to help you and your parents navigate this sandwich time of life. We are glad to help you navigate this complex time and to identify these helpful resources. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

This blog has acknowledged how difficult and consuming this time of life can be – in the phase of supporting children and aging parents. Resources and tips for self-care have been provided.

Another essential aspect for all of the complex phases of life is an awareness of the sufficiency of God.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

As in this verse, Paul is very clear that he was weak and unable to do what God called him to do. But, God was more than sufficient to get Paul through the many struggles, the imprisonment, the rejection, and the difficult travel.

To further understand that verse, let’s put it in perspective. Paul describes a health problem he had that he asked God to remove. Here is the response:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul further encourages us that Christ can sustain us through all of the highs and lows.

Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

We try and try to do it all ourselves. And, have you noticed how that doesn’t work?

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 ESV

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,

So, as you work through this complex time as the meat in the sandwich, remember the source of your strength. No, you can’t do it alone. So remember, you are NEVER in this alone.

Psalm 73:23 ESV

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: <a href=”http://cliparts.co”>Clip arts</a>

We need to be needed

We NEED to be NEEDED to maintain our HEALTH

We need to be needed
We all need to be needed even if it is to care for an African Violet

Have you ever thought about the link between being needed and health? As I’m thinking about it, that link could probably go both ways. I am wanting to tell you about the health benefits of being needed. But, I’m sure you could make a case that being overworked in constant demand can have negative health implications.

Think of a woman you know who went from caring for children and her husband to now being in an empty house with infrequent visits from children.

Think of a man or woman who worked in a very demanding job with a lot of responsibility who has now retired.

Often, we dream of the day everyone is raised and on their own. We dream of the day we reach the point of retirement.

Then, when that day comes you find yourself lonely. It is not as exciting as you expected. Reading books and relaxing can get boring.

Aging joints, accidents, and new medical conditions can create changes to retirement plans. Loss of a spouse can create changes to retirement plans. Children with jobs that take them away can create changes to retirement plans.

Social isolation

Social isolation is a real hazard to your health. Social isolation is when you don’t feel like your belong, don’t have much interaction with other people, don’t have people to call to get out and do something, and no/few close personal friends.

Social isolation can be bad for your health when it leads to drinking, being less active, or eating less healthy meals. It can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, or depression.

We all Need to be Needed

A very innovative program was launched in the early 1990’s called Eden Alternative. They call their method, ‘person-directed care’. When I first heard about it in the 1990’s a very clear picture was left in my mind. A senior living facility had enhanced their environment by bringing in a cat, a dog, birds, a garden on the lawn, indoor plants, and a baby chick. There was a woman who wanted to spend all of her time in her wheelchair. The physical therapists were trying all they could think of to encourage her to walk and get stronger. She refused. Then she saw the baby chick. She did not want it to be eaten by the cat, so she put the chick in her wheelchair and pushed it. That chick, of course, became a chicken that continued to get first-class rides in the wheelchair.

Even people who were extremely incapacitated were given ‘jobs’. Even if it was caring for an African Violet. Some planted and worked in the garden. Some fed and cared for the birds. Some brushed the dog. Residents could sign up for the responsibilities that met their interests and abilities.

It was impressive how depression, anxiety, and pain were so much better with these changes. Since that time, the Eden Alternative has grown and spread and documented even more inspiring outcomes.

New Ideas to Decrease Isolation

I know many people who live in areas where they don’t feel safe getting out to walk. Some no long feel safe driving. Some don’t have the desire to get out and about without a partner.

So, some really smart minds have been working on ways to keep all of the health benefits of interacting with other people. Here are some of the creative options:

Virtual senior center. Using technology, you can take art classes, chat with others, participate in yoga or tai chi, and other activities. There are a lot of ways to keep in touch with family, read to someone, discuss topics, and support each other with technology.

Concierge driver options. Uber and other driving services are starting to offer unique options to take the stress out of getting out. There are groups working on strategies to provide more helpful driving service for people with walking aids, ways to coordinate outings such as restaurant or art gallery trips, and ways to make driving services more easy to coordinate.

This is only a very quick overview of the importance of interaction with other people, the dangers of isolation, and some of the many new ideas being developed. Stay tuned; I think we will all be amazed at what is to come.

For more information about the need to be needed and the dangers of isolation, or for updates on the amazing new advances we are hearing about, please contact us at www.medsmash.com or 410-472-5078. We’d love to tell you more!

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We just discussed how our continued health needs us to stay active and engaged after retirement. Becoming alone is hazardous in many ways. We need each other. We never lose our need for purpose and fellowship.

And, we all have a purpose. We get so caught up in our daily details. We get so discouraged by our limitations, frailties, our weaknesses.

But, we are here for so much more! I’ve always heard this life is just a short, short preamble to a life of eternity in the presence of Christ! Can you even fathom that? I try then find it is so hard to begin to grasp!

We are assured of this truth numerous times in the Bible.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 5:24 ESV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Romans 10:13 ESV

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And while we are here in this life, we aren’t asked to sit around and twiddle our thumbs. We have a purpose!

Romans 8:28 ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Sometimes we wonder what that purpose might be. In my experience to date, the purpose can even change over time. Things happen that seem strange and nonsensical, then suddenly, it turns into something only God could have planned.

I do my best to not make my own plans but rather stay open to what God has planned. That’s not meant to be pious. I have learned through a lot of changes, huge mistakes, and amazing teachers that my life is more fulfilling when I’m doing what God is calling me to do. It’s become a really wild ride, but I wouldn’t miss it. In the darkest times I need to remember that God can turn it all into his purpose and his plan.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

I’m praying you find comfort in the promise of eternal life when God is Lord of your life. And, I pray you are asking Him for your purpose and blindly trusting Him to lead you on your personal adventure until He calls you to eternal life!

Blessings,

Michelle

Use reflective statements to enhance communication and decrease conflict

Communicate Your Way to Better Health

Use reflective statements to enhance communication and decrease conflict
Communicate to decrease conflict and increase understanding using reflective statements

How do you handle conflict? For most of us the answer is, ‘not very well’. Conflict can raise your blood pressure, constrict your veins and arteries, and make your heart beat harder and faster.

Did you know that communication is NEARLY ALWAYS at the heart of conflict. As people, we miscommunicate on a regular basis. Part of what makes good communication so difficult is that it involves at least two people. Once is communicating and one is interpreting that communication. Let’s take a look at both important parts.

Communicate a consistent message

I was at a retreat this weekend where we played a game about consistent messaging. Think about a time when someone was talking with you and their message was not consistent. Their words said something that did not match their tone or their face or their body language. Imagine someone saying, ‘I love you’ with a grimace on their face and a mocking tone. Or picture someone saying, ‘So nice to meet you’ while glancing around the room looking for someone else. Has anyone ever tried to express anger with you then started laughing? It is hard to express anger while laughing. Someone was just telling me a story about a toddler rearranging a bunch of decorations and falling into a box headfirst with her feet sticking out of the top. The decoration was too heavy and pulled her over. This parent had to stifle giggles and get a picture before retrieving and correcting the toddler.

So, when you are communicating, carefully think about saying the same message with your words, your tone, your eye contact, your facial expression, and your body language. That will help avoid misinterpretation.

Check for understanding

When you are the one communicating, make sure the receiver actually understands what you are saying. It is ok to ask them to repeat it back. Or to ask what questions they have. If we assume the other person understood exactly what we were thinking and trying to communicate, we can often be disappointed. Think about the last time you thought someone understood and they did something completely different than what you asked.

If you are the listener, this is a critical step to assure you are understanding the message.

Reflective Statements

When you are the listener, one of the best techniques you can use is ‘reflective statements’. State back to the person communicating with you what you hear them saying. Put it in your own words. Here are some examples:

  • You are saying you are upset about _________ because _________.
  • You are asking me to _________________ and have it done by _________.
  • ___________ frustrates you when he/she ______________.
  • You want to ________________ before you agree to a hip surgery.
  • You heard that I ______________, and it has upset you.
  • Your son forgot to _______________, and not you don’t know what to do.

When you respond with a reflecting statement, you are making sure you understood the person’s message. It is a chance for them to clarify if you misunderstood. It is also a chance for them to feel heard and understood if you are correct.

Making sure you understand before taking any action, even before getting angry, and help avoid a lot of conflict.

If someone is upset or angry and respond also upset and angry, the situation escalates quickly. I have seen this happen where the two people don’t even realize they are saying the same thing. Neither is listening, they are just yelling. Now that will really get your blood pressure up!

I have found that FREQUENTLY, what I think I heard and what the person really intended were different. Especially when the topic is emotionally charged. It is our natural reaction to get defensive when someone comes at us angry. It is very hard to listen well in that state. So, a really deep breath and a calm reflecting statement can often help the situation calm back down. Sometimes when we are angry or frustrated we just want to vent. Once the venting is done, and the recipient reflects understanding, the situation doesn’t seem so bad.

Communicate with your Healthcare Team

These same techniques are very helpful when you communicate with your doctor. Sometimes the news we receive from our doctor can be upsetting. The words used in medicine are big and scary all by themselves. It can be hard to understand all of the technical information.

I highly encourage you to state back to your doctor what you just heard. Say it in your own words.   This will help the doctor know where to clarify. I have had many patients get upset by a medical term that was actually no big deal. It just sounded scary. My grandfather, after 40+ years of smoking, a heart attack, a stroke, and stomach ulcers quit smoking cold turkey. We had been trying to get him to quit for years. None of those scary medical issues made him quit. But, when he was diagnosed with hiatal hernia he quit on the spot. [Hiatal hernia is when the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach can’t close all the way. This allows stomach acid to come back up giving you heartburn. For him, this was the mildest of his issues.] I ask him why. His answer, ‘That’s a really scary word.’ I was in pharmacy school at the time. I had all sorts of scary words I could have given him. Who knew that was all it would take to get him to quit.

So, I encourage use to be clear and consistent with your communication. And, ask clarifying questions and use reflective statements when you are receiving communication. Especially if it seems upsetting, make sure you really understand the message before you make any decisions. This could help you avoid a lot of conflict.

Your heart will thank you for managing conflict better and keeping your blood pressure down.

For more information about communication techniques for your health, please contact us at Meds MASH at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

When we react without first understanding, we often get ourselves into trouble. Throughout the Bible we see examples of people making bad assumptions followed by bad actions.

The people of Israel, after God had gotten them out of slavery and out of Egypt and led them through the desert supplying food and water and protection, still made bad assumptions. While Moses was on the mountain with God himself, they assumed he wasn’t coming back, so they made a golden calf to be their god.

Exodus 32:1 NIV

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

When Jesus was talking with his disciples about what was coming next for him, including his death, Peter jumped right in and disagreed.

Matthew 16:21-23 NIV

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

In the bible we are also told to expect miscommunication in the future. There will be false prophets and all sorts of misinformation.

Matthew 7:15 ESV

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

1 John 4:1 ESV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

We are called to be discerning. Ask questions. Get the full story. Make sure you understand and that what you hear matches the messages of the Bible.

I feel better when I read this passage. There will be no doubt when Jesus returns. Other people can claim what they want. I won’t believe it until it is this obvious:

Matthew 24:29-31 ESV

The Coming of the Son of Man

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

That doesn’t sound too subtle. So, until it is extremely obvious and visible to all of creation, let’s not fall for false messages.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Peace

Peace, Joy, and Health – What is the Link?

Peace
Peace and Joy can improve your health this holiday season

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! For many this is a season of wonder, excitement, friends, and family. It is a time of joy and celebration. The comforts of the season, and for many, the reasons for the season, are a source of peace.

Then, for others, this is a difficult season. It can be a reminder of loss, a lonely time, or a negative experience. I am regularly horrified at how people can hurt people. And hurt people tend to hurt people. It is a devastating trend.

Hurt and Health

The obvious connection between peace and health pertains to war. I am happy to see survivors finally being moved to safety away from Aleppo. War is definitely hazardous to health. Aleppo has been an example of how horrible things can get in the midst of war.

Conflict, abuse, hurtful words, neglect, oppression, and bullying are bad for your health, too. Anxiety, depression, and loss of hope are some common themes.

These cycles are hard to break. It can be challenging to find the hope.

I have seen in MANY patients that when this hurt is kept inside, it DOES come out. It can come out as depression, social anxiety, avoidance of people, and very often pain.

Peace and Health

Finding peace in life doesn’t only happen when things are perfect. Name the times in your life that absolutely everything was perfect. I’ll be surprised if you can find any at all. Rarely if ever are you in a place where there is absolutely no hurt, no mess, and all is good. So how do you ever find peace?

I have had the privilege of knowing many people, including many patients, who have found peace in spite of very turbulent events in their life.

Finding faith, meaning, and peace has been shown to improve quality of life in people with cancer. Some people bring these qualities into their cancer experience. Others find it in the midst of their cancer. I believe if this is true in cancer, it will be true with other chronic illnesses as well.

Another link is the association between giving to others and finding joy for yourself. Altruism and giving are linked with improved health. We often associate happiness with getting gifts. Now, it appears you will find even more joy if you focus on the giving of the season. Who could benefit from your giving today?

So, on this holiday weekend, seeking your source of peace and joy can actually improve your health. You physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health will all benefit.

For more information about the health benefits of finding peace in the midst of life, contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I know a lot of Christians who struggle to find the peace and joy of Christmas. The busy-ness, stress, expectations, obligations, traffic, and events can be overwhelming.

None of that sounds like peace.

The birth of Jesus wasn’t surrounded by shopping, parties, pressure, or obligations. There might have been some traffic with the census.   🙂

The songs like ‘O, Holy Night’, ‘Silent Night’, and ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’ paint a peaceful, serene event. The rich and famous were not present. The finest china and silver were not set in a well-decorated setting. No one compared value of gifts given and received.

Peace was mentioned to the very first people told about his birth.

Luke 2:14 ESV

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Jesus had several messages about peace during his ministry.

John 16:33 ESV

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 14:27 ESV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Jesus’ brother James understood the types of things that lead to our stress and frustration at Christmas.

James 4:2-3 ESV

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Paul tells us what we should do instead.

Galatians 5:22 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Jesus demonstrated this kind of life. Christmas is a time of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness. How delightful if we can stay focused on these principles as we celebrate with our loved ones.

I pray Paul’s blessing for you and your family this blessed Christmas.

Romans 15:13 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Blessings,

Michelle

Thanksgiving – Gratitude keeping you Healthy

thanksgiving-14-grab
A grateful attitude can improve your outlook and your health!

Gratitude, grateful, thankful, thanksgiving, appreciation

What do these words mean to you? What role do they play in your everyday life?

Wow, I am amazed how much information is available on this important link between gratitude and health. Just search for these two terms and see what all you will find.

What is gratitude?

This is being aware of all of the good things in your life. And it is being thankful for those things. Have you considered being grateful for:

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Food to eat
  • Clothes to cover yourself
  • Having a friend to call
  • Your job – current or past
  • A beautiful day

This simple awareness of and being thankful for these ‘little’ things can boost your health.

Note, it doesn’t have to be the biggest house or the softest bed or the tastiest food or the latest fashion clothing to be grateful. Gratitude focuses on what you have – all of the good things – rather than what you don’t have.

Expressing gratitude can:

  • Boost your spirits and sense of well-being
  • Boost your immune system making you less likely to get sick
  • Decrease your chances of heart disease
  • Improve your performance (grades, work productivity, concentration)
  • Bust your stress

There are many ways you can make gratitude part of your life. Here are a few recommended in a Harvard Mental Health newsletter:

  • Write a thank-you note
  • Go up and thank someone
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Keep a list of your thanks = count your blessings

See your day and your health improve by focusing on the positive.

Even therapy for mood disorders and approaches to negative thinking know this truth. I am quoting this from Rick Warren, “When you change the way you think, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.”

On this Independence Day weekend, as a country, we have much reason for gratitude!

For more information on gratitude and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We have so many reasons to be grateful!

Have you ever been in a ‘funk’ having a bad day and then remembered to be grateful? I have done this so many times. When all looks dark and gloomy, make yourself think about all of the things that are good and right.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’ll quickly admit I don’t always think to do this. I stay in that dark place far too long. Later, once I’m out I realize I had the ‘magic potion’ to leave that darkness behind. It was given to us by Christ when he died to erase our sins. It was given to us by God who maintained His love and focus on the good in the Jews through centuries of missteps (just as we live a series of missteps).

Lamentations 3:23 ESV

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I don’t even know where to begin selecting Bible verses to draw us closer to the benefits of gratitude. There are so many!!!

Psalm 118:24 ESV

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Ephesians 1:16 ESV

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

James 1:17 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

I feel energized, positive, and excited just reading these verses full of hope and promise! I am thankful for each person who takes the time to read this. May you be blessed by these assurances from God!

I pray you can stay focused on the many good things in your life this week and that can keep you out of the dark, gloomy places.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Quality of Life – your attitude and health

Slide1
Your quality of life is shaped by your attitude, and that also impact your health.

Your quality of life is different than just living. If you are breathing and your heart is beating, then you are alive. Within that life there can be a HUGE range in your quality of life. Quality of life is your overall well-being or satisfaction. How is yours?

Being satisfied with your life encompasses many different factors. There is no one ‘right recipe’ for gloriously high quality of life. Your quality of life will likely change throughout your life with your changing circumstances. But, some people maintain a relatively good quality of life in spite of their circumstances. It is interesting that the factors some people would rate as important don’t actually lead to high quality of life scores.

  • For instance, many people would propose more money would increase their quality of life. Yet there are many miserable people who have a lot of money.
  • Many people would propose that better health is the key to quality of life. Yet there are sick/disabled/injured people with a wonderful quality of life and super healthy people who are miserable.
  • Some would list having many friends around as the key to quality of life. But there are some people who are at parties all of the time surrounded by friends who are miserable. There are others who lead very quiet lives with few friends who are very happy and content.

So what is the key to a magnificent quality of life? 

Your attitude

I have been very interested in the large range of responses people give when asked about their life satisfaction. I am not the only one interested in this. I have read many articles from all sorts of authors on the subject of health and attitude. If you are interested, to get started, just search for the terms ‘attitude and health’. I think you will be surprised by all that you find.

Will there be dark days when things are not going right? Will you lose loved ones? Can your life slip out of your control on more than one occasion? YES!

You then make a choice as to how you respond.   Your attitude matters.

Great example

Your physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health are all wrapped up in how you live your life. There will be many things that happen ‘to you’. But you alone decide how you respond. Here is a story I’ve read in many places that captures this truth:

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

  1. Free your heart from hatred.
  2. Free your mind from worries.
  3. Live simply.
  4. Give more.
  5. Expect less.

(Copied from this source.)

If you would like to know more about how your attitude impacts your quality of life and your health, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

How is your attitude? How easily do you become bitter, frustrated, angry, and discontented? Wow, doesn’t that happen so easily!!!!

The devotions that come to my e-mail every day from Pastor Rick Warren have been focused on envy for several days. What a nasty, cruel, pervasive worm is ENVY.

Doesn’t that negatively impact your day?

Paul outlines to Timothy many facets of living a God-centered life. And he repeatedly makes reference to the fulfillment, joy, and quality of life that comes with that kind of living.

1 Timothy 6:6-7 ESV

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

Paul tells Timothy about all of the pitfalls in this world. He even talks about how things will get worse the closer we get to the coming of Christ. So, finding contentment in the midst of so much negativity is not easy. It is a choice and an active pursuit. A pursuit that is well worth the effort.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 MSG

But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.

The following kind of advice from Paul makes me feel more at ease. I like the visual I get and the response from other people when this is put into action.

Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Now that you are on your road to a fabulous quality of life and true contentment no matter what is going on around you, here is some encouragement from Paul.

Ephesians 4:1-3 MSG

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

 

 

Hate and Health – Surviving These Days

Hate and ugliness can shape your life. It often comes out of nowhere. How you deal with it has a huge impact on your health.

You often can’t prevent it. You can’t predict. It hits you out of nowhere, so you can’t prepare for it. Yet, hate and ugliness touch most, if not all, of us at some time at least once.

What is the ugliest event that has occurred in your life? How have you been touched by hate? How did you handle it at the time? How have you handled it since?

As a nation and a global community we have seen and experienced acts of hate in so many forms recently. There is unrest stirred by fear, threats, and acts of terror. If this fear takes over in your life, your stress levels increase, your heart works harder, your risk of depression goes way up, anxiety increases, sleep is impaired, and your overall health declines.

Last week I talked about the health benefits of thinking about other people and their needs rather than focusing just on yourself. Altruism is very directly linked to improved health.

The other thing that was directly related to this particular medical mission to Jamaica from which I just returned was a tragic act of hate. The group with whom I worked, Teams for Medical Missions, www.t4mm.org, has been served for many years by long-term missionary couples in Jamaica. These couples have developed programs for children, programs for youth, programs to train ministers for local churches, built many houses, provided chronic and acute medical care by hosting medical mission teams, and so much more. They are Christian missionaries with a real passion for the people of Jamaica, in particular those in the more rural and underserved area of St. Mary Parish.

At the end of April, the two men of these couples were riding their motorcycles on some trails at the top of a mountain known to have beautiful views of the island. Two young men were in that area and heard the motorcycle motors. They decided to wait in a particular place where the motorcycles were sure to pass and ambush them. Both missionaries were killed. It was not a targeted act, just a needless act of hate.

This shook the entire island. The young men who had been actively served by events hosted by these couples for years now stay close to the wife who remains, and they have been staying at her house so she is not alone. The Prime Minister, head of island security, and many others have come to show their respect. Many people have expressed their sorrow in many tender ways.

These medical teams typically provide care in provisional clinics in four local churches once a quarter. People are given a 3-month supply of medication for chronic illnesses, and acute illnesses are treated. Many people in that Parish rely on those clinics for their medical care. I had the humbling experience of seeing the love and gratitude shared with the missionary wife and all of the team members. (All had been on these teams several times and knew the slain missionaries well. This was a very emotional trip for all who were simultaneously grieving and expressing the desire to keep moving forward.) Many residents expressed surprise the clinics were continuing. There was an expectation the mission would fold and return to the US after these deaths.

In spite of these acts of hate, the hope continues. Teri, an incredibly strong and faithful woman is staying and planning what the future can hold in this completely new scenario. Her grief is real and raw. Yet, she is not curled in a corner refusing to move forward.

Health in the midst of hate

The elements that are associated with maintaining health in the midst of hate are:

  • friends to talk to
  • people who care about you
  • a sense of self-worth
  • forgiveness
  • security
  • conflict management skills
  • religion/spirituality

These have all been linked with improved health.

And I will add having a source of HOPE. I believe hope is powerful in the midst of difficulty.

So, knowing that hate and ugliness can strike at any time, the best you can prepare is to take care of yourself, cherish your friends and family, develop your conflict management skills, and forgive others. Find your personal source of hope.  Like Teri, find ways to find hope and stay positive and undeterred in the face of hate.

For more information about hate and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Hate, terror, oppression, racism, and other ugliness are all around. And, the Bible gives us indication this will only get worse.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 MSG

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

I believe our role in these days is three fold:

  1. Be prepared

1 Peter 3:14-16 ESV

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

  1. Be discerning

Matthew 24:4-8 MSG

Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

  1. Be reaching out

Philippians 2:1-4 MSG

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

And another version of my favorite verses of the year about hope!

Romans 5:3-5 MSG

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Blessings,

Michelle