Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Warm Up Winter With Wardrobe Savings

With the cold weather just around the corner we need to make sure our kids have what they need to make it through the winter months. Since my family lives in Northern California we aren't hit with the big snow storms like many states, but we still need to make sure we have warm clothes for those 20 degree days and the slight chance of snow once or twice a year.

Winter clothing is always the most expensive, mainly because there is more to them and they are usually made of a high quality material to keep you warm. Layering is always a popular trend with younger kids so the more garments you have on the more money you will end up spending. Living in California definitely has its perks on the weather conditions and we usually don't have really cold weather until January. This helps out a lot on saving money because we are able to buy winter clothing for Christmas presents. So we are killing two birds with one stone. Getting our kids what they need plus using it as a present that they already want.  We have girls so they love clothing, boots, and scarves. Ed Abbott, the Website Repair Guy lists twelve helpful tips for choosing winter clothing that will keep you warm and not break your budget.  Here are a few tips that I've found to hopefully help you save money for the upcoming winter months.

Save Money & Shop Smart
saving money
Winter clothing can keep you in style

and help you save money
  • See if any of last year's clothes still fit and are in good shape. Then make a shopping list of only what you need.
  • Ask friends that have older kids if they have out grown any winter clothes. I am always giving away my girls' jackets and sweaters to help another family save money.
  • Keep an eye out for sales at the shopping mall.
  • At the end of the winter season shop for next winter. You will find huge savings on jackets and boots at this time. I usually buy a few sizes up for my kids knowing they will grow quite a bit over a year. This is also a good time to shop for snow gear in the all sports stores.
  • Go shopping but be patient. If you see something you really like wait for it to go on sale. You can usually find some good deals over the winter holidays. All the department stores will be having huge sales from now until Christmas.
  • Find coupons online. Almost every online store has coupons. I always check out Retailmenot to see what kind of discount I can get before I buy anything online.
  • Buy jackets, boots, and scarves that will stay in style. Stay with neutral colors that can be used for a few years rather than just one. Remember when shopping, if it's not in style, kids will not wear it. It's not saving money if it's just hanging in the closet.
  • Buy new scarves to change the look of an outfit. Buy a few over the year of various patterns and colors and by the time winter comes they will have quite a few and then they can make an old outfit look new plus stay warm.
If you have a child that loves expensive trends give them an allowance when it comes to winter clothing. Sometimes it is easier to compromise if you know they will wear it. Give them an amount they get for each winter accessory. For example if you have a $50 limit for a jacket than they can buy one jacket or maybe they will look a little and find two on sale for the same price. My kids took it as a challenge to see how much they could buy for that amount. They were also learning the value of a dollar and to appreciate what they have.

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer

Monday, November 12, 2012

Celebrate World Kindness Day This Year

Anne Herbert said to,
"Practice random acts of kindness and
senseless acts of beauty."

That’s right — there is actually such a thing as “World Kindness Day” on November 13. But you don’t need that, right? I’m sure you consciously make the choice to be kind every day. In a perfect world, this would be true for everyone. However, we are flawed, imperfect human beings and sometimes we need an overt reminder to be selfless. Just think for a moment. How many times today already can you remember going out of your way to do something nice for someone else? Holding the door open or letting that car merge in front of you on your morning commute doesn’t cut it; that’s just polite. Let’s imagine that these things, hopefully, are expected in most situations. Have you done anything kind today that took some time or effort, without any chance of recognition? If you have, bravo! You are a shining example. For others, myself shamefully included, “life” and a busy schedule can get in the way of performing random acts of kindness. A whole day set aside to honor kindness is helpful for most of us.

At least one group of people thought this was the case. These people made a “Declaration of Kindness” on November 13, 1997. With this, an international holiday was born, with the intention to bring some light into an increasingly dark world. The idea of kindness has no borders and translates into every culture, making this celebration universally appealing. Everyone can relate to how good it feels to be treated kindly by others. Helping someone else doesn’t feel too shabby, either. In the famous words of Mark Twain, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

So get out there and perform selfless acts of kindness in honor of this day. Not sure what to do? First off, let’s define something. What are acts of kindness, exactly? According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, "When we go beyond duties that are expected of us and reach out to help another person or group of people, we are performing Random Acts of Kindness. Kindness and empathy are very closely related: kindness is the observable expression of empathy. We sense another person's need, we understand how it feels to be in need (due to our own past experience), and we decide to offer our help."

The creative part comes into play with the “sense another person’s need” part of the definition. There are so many fun and fulfilling ways to lend a hand and celebrate World Kindness Day. Start at home, for example. Make breakfast for a partner or family member. Write a letter to someone close to you to express your appreciation and love. Offer to do all the household chores for the day— from the dishes, to the trash, to the laundry. When is the last time you gave the household pet some TLC? Take him for a walk, or spend some extra time playing with her.

photo courtesy of blog.becauseiamagirl.ca
That takes care of the home front, but what about our communities? There might be non-profits in need of some volunteers, or a neighbor in need. Random Acts of Kindness.org has other suggestions for how to help our communities get stronger and become more vital.

 Here are some extra ideas:

That's the general idea. The goal is to brighten the day of everyone you come in contact with as much as you can. Keep in mind that kindness is inspiring. Even one random act of kindness can start a chain reaction with exponential effects. Little things mean a lot. Recently, I had an armful of groceries at the check out line, much more than I had intended to buy and of course, I didn't get myself a cart! The man in front of me moved his things off the conveyer and let me go first. It's a small thing, but it sure helped save me some time and discomfort. Something that small can really make someone's day. I know it made mine.

Start your own chain today and let us know what random acts of kindness you gave and/or received on World Kindness Day.

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 9, 2012

FamilyWize Joins United Way at College Prep Fair

Over the weekend of October 6 and 7, FamilyWize joined our friends at the United Way of New York City at the New Futuro 2012 Brighter Futures College Prep Fair for Latino Students and Families, the largest free college prep fair for Latinos. New Futuro is an organization that works with the Hispanic community to help students get into college and achieve their career goals by offering free bilingual support and resources to students and their families.

costs of college
FamilyWize attends New Futuro 2012 college prep fair.

Students and their families were invited from all over New York City to attend the college fair, which was held at Lehman College in the Bronx, and learn how to prepare and pay for college. Students had the chance to meet with hundreds of college representatives and community groups, attend workshops, and win scholarships.

With the help of our amazing volunteers, Joyce Klemperer and Marta Nunez, we were able to talk with hundreds of New Yorkers of all ages who didn’t know about the FamilyWize card. They were all excited to learn that help was available, once they got over their initial disbelief that it was too good to be true! Every dollar saved counts, especially when you are saving for college. We were all thrilled to be able to give out the discount cards and help these students save for their future.

United Way
Students learning ways to save for the costs of college.

We believe that it’s never too early to start thinking about the costs of college or saving money, so we were delighted to meet the students from Mosaic Preparatory Academy. This group of 2nd to 5th graders spent their Saturday morning at the fair picking up tips on how to start getting ready for college. When they stopped by our table to pick up some FamilyWize prescription drug cards they really impressed us with their dedication to their futures. We sent them home with cards and FamilyWize reusable shopping bags. 

costs of college
Young people attend New Futuro 2012 college prep fair
to prepare for the future with the help of
FamilyWize prescription drug cards.

We want to thank the United Way of New York City and New Futuro for inviting us to such a wonderful event and we wish the best of luck to all of the students we met!

Nora O'Brien
FamilyWize Staff member and Contributing Writer

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is a Low Carb Diet Right for You?

An introduction to low carbohydrate dieting

If you’ve considered weight loss dieting, you’ve no doubt heard the buzz about low carbohydrate dieting, also known as low carb dieting.  Here are some answers to common questions about low carb diets that may help you decide if it’s the right kind of diet for you.

What is a low-carb diet?


A low carb diet is one in which you avoid foods with carbohydrates, maintaining a much lower than average low carbohydrate count – maxing out at between 20 and 60 carbs a day, depending on which low-carb author or which low-carb diet. By comparison, the average American consumes closer to 500 carbohydrates daily in their diet.

How do low carb diets work?


Counting calories
Example of a meal for a low-carbohydrate diet.
Your body needs energy. The two primary sources of dietary energy in the human diet are carbohydrates and fats. On a standard diet, your body will always opt for the easiest source of energy – carbohydrates. However, if you significantly limit your intake of carbohydrates, the body has no choice but to burn fat. Therefore, your body burns fat calories and, consequently, body weight.

In fact, most low-carb diets encourage you to consume more fat, healthy fats like peanut butter, lean meats, and nuts, since fat becomes your primary energy source. Even while consuming higher amounts of healthy dietary fat (such as olive oil or coconut oil), low-carb dieters have experienced weight loss. WebMd contains information about how low carb dieting works.

Why has low-carbohydrate dieting gained so much attention? 


There are four primary reasons for the recent high level of interest in the low-carb diet.
  • For weight loss, low carb dieting works.
  • Low carb dieting is different from traditional dieting and weight loss.
  • Low carb dieting challenges common beliefs about dietary fat.
  • The higher levels of protein that many consume while trying to reduce their carbohydrates has potentially serious health risks.
For many, low carb dieting works as an effective means of weight loss. Although low carbohydrate dieting is somewhat controversial, there is some evidence that indicates that a properly administered low carbohydrate diet can result in weight loss.
  • A study by Ontario’s University of Guelph concluded that carbohydrate restriction to 70 grams or less promotes weight loss and improves body composition, blood pressure, and blood lipids without compromising glucose tolerance in moderately overweight women. 
  • A study conducted by the Naval Hospital Oakland used a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and discovered that, over a ten-day period, subjects on the diet lost more body fat than a control group who fasted from all foods during that same 10-day period. 
I speak from personal experience, having lost (and kept off) 30 pounds in the previous six months while maintaining a relatively low-carb, high-fat diet.

But aren't all calories the same?


Carbohydrate count
Low carb dieting means cutting
out unhealthy carbs and adding
healthy fats.
Most of us have always been told that if we consume fewer calories than we burn, we will lose weight. But low carbohydrate dieting has challenged the idea that all calories are the same, even going so far as to say that you don't need to be counting calories at all – that simply by significantly reducing your carb intake without increasing your calorie intake, you will lose more weight.

And there is scientific evidence to support this. According to USA Today, some recent research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicated that those who consumed the same amount of calories on a diet that was low in carbohydrates lost more weight than those whose calories came from a low-fat diet. Specifically, participants in this study burned roughly 300 more daily calories on a low-carbohydrate diet than they did on a low-fat diet.

Is it safe? 


The answer to this question is one you should answer after doing some thorough research and consulting your doctor. The Livestrong website has some great links that answer questions about the safety of low carb dieting and things to consider if you have other medical conditions. Again, it is always wise to review this information with your health care professional before making changes to your diet.

While little evidence directly indicates that restricting carbohydrates is dangerous, or even that consuming more-than-average amounts of healthy dietary fats is dangerous, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that large amounts of protein can be dangerous. Too much of the unhealthy fats can also be dangerous. Some low-carb diet plans actively encourage high protein consumption, so it is important to be aware of the risks of high protein in the diet. It is also important to check with your doctor to see what your own health status is before undertaking any diet plan.

Some risks that are associated with high protein diets occur because the dieters are not following a medically or scientifically defined low-carb plan. If you decide to use a low-carb diet to lose weight, it is important that you follow it correctly. Some of the risks, such as kidney failure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and kidney stone, are outlined in this high-protein, low-carb diet article. As you can see, these risks can be quite serious.

The high-protein risks may be avoided by following a low carb diet that encourages eating a moderate amount of protein, balanced with green vegetables (most of which are low-carb) and small amounts of low-carb fruits, such as berries, avocado, lemons and limes.

Is a low-carb diet right for me?


Many experts agree that there is no one diet that is right for everyone. Whether it is right for you depends on your health, your body and your lifestyle. Talk with your doctor before starting any new diet. Don’t just “wing it” by changing to a low-carb diet without doing your homework; study and follow the dietary programs created by respected doctors or scientists.

What’s next?


In a follow-up article, we will look at other low-carb dieting information, such as how to do a low carb diet, the risks associated with attempting a low fat/low carb diet, how many carbs in a low carb diet and what to eat on low carb diet, including some recipes to help you get started.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

American Diabetes Month

gestational diabetes
People with diabetes can still
enjoy the holiday while
cutting down.

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has had to watch what she eats every day. The Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder of how diabetics can’t overindulge. My grandmother has wonderful discipline, indulging in a very small amount of sweets, and always ensuring that she eats on schedule to keep her blood sugar in check. I know my grandma is just one of many people with diabetes – and each person’s story is different.

I had a colleague whose daughter has diabetes. I remember times where the young girl forgot to bring her insulin to school, so my coworker would have to drive the medicine over to the school. This additional health responsibility can add stress to an already busy lifestyle. American Diabetes Month is a great time to recognize those American diabetes patients and their caregivers and bring greater awareness to the disease.

What Is Diabetes?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines diabetes as “the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy.” To make a long story short, the body counts on the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin so that the glucose created by the food we eat can get into our cells to be used as energy. When someone has diabetes, the body struggles to make enough insulin or to use it properly. The blood then becomes overloaded with the sugar that is produced whenever we eat.

The three major types of diabetes include:
  • Type 1 diabetes (juvenile-onset diabetes)
  • Type 2 diabetes (late-onset diabetes) 
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (carbohydrate intolerance).
Having diabetes is no small matter. Diabetes complications can include a number of very serious health conditions, including blindness, heart disease, stroke, and even amputations of the lower extremities. Those with diabetes need to have regular checkups to monitor various health conditions, paying close attention to their feet. Early detection and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers can help to reduce the chances of amputation due to diabetes.

Some other complications of diabetes include high blood pressure, kidney failure, and nervous system disease. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of many of these health issues. According to the American Diabetes Association, “diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates” in the year 2007 alone.

Diabetes Risk Factors

diabetes diagnosis
This photo from MCT News Service
shows people exercising even in the
colder months.
A diabetes diagnosis becomes more likely if certain risk factors are present. The American Diabetes Association reports that the most common risk factors for diabetes include being overweight, exercising fewer than three times per week, and being over 45 years of age. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history (parent, brother or sister with diabetes) are also risk factors for diabetes.

People of African American, Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander background may also have an elevated risk of getting a diagnosis of diabetes during their lifetime. If you have additional questions about your own risk for diabetes, be sure to speak with your primary care physician the next time you are at the doctor’s office.

You might be able to avoid, or at least delay, diabetes by eating a healthy and balanced diet that is not too high in sugars and sweets and by getting adequate exercise. Watching your weight, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, and staying active can do wonders for your health in general, but they have been shown to reduce the chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Our Family Wize articles Feeding Type 2 Diabetes and Type 1 Diabetes - Snack Helps have great tips on controlling diet.

Educational Resources Online for Diabetes

If you are an American with diabetes, or know someone who is, you can find a lot of helpful resources online to help you learn all about diabetes. You can stay up to date on diabetes news by checking out the following key diabetes organizations:
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) brings together health care professionals with the goal of helping people with diabetes to learn about and manage diabetes. According to the AADE, Medicare and some private insurance plans cover diabetes education.

To keep your diet fresh and delicious, or to help you make a special meal or treat for someone with diabetes, you might want to browse through some diabetic recipes online. Find the best ingredients to enjoy and those to avoid with tips from the American Diabetes Association. Then you can browse many diabetes-friendly recipes at Allrecipes.comMayo Clinic, and Diabetic Living.

November is American Diabetes Month, and it's a great time to raise awareness of programs and other resources that can help put a stop to diabetes. Diabetes is a lifestyle change, not just for the patient, but for the entire family as well. Be sure to do some research to make the transition easier, and meet with your doctor about any outstanding questions you may have.

Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

5 Fun Things to Do in November

It is that time of year when we all start to accept that the "good ole summertime" is gone for another year, and we will be relegated to inside activities during the cold winter. BUT that doesn't have to be the case.  There are still lots of nice days in November to get out and enjoy the sunshine and soak in some of that Vitamin D that we all need!  Check out at least five things you can schedule for the beautiful month of November!

fun activities
For your kids, plan fun activities
for when they are bored.


In a lot of areas November is the time of year that we see all those gorgeous fall leaves fall from the trees. Now is the time to get the kids outside for some fun activities when they are bored! Grab those rakes and leaf bags and get them moving while you get the yard cleaned up too!  Let them have some fun in the big piles of leaves! Maybe you have elderly neighbors that could use the extra manpower to help them with their fall cleanup too? 

 2.  SLEEP-IN DAY ~ Daylight Savings Time Ends

fun activities
Fall back and enjoy
Sleep In Day!
We gained an hour of precious sleep on November 4th, when we once again "fall back" as daylight savings time came to an end. Sunday, November 4th was "Sleep In Day". Did you take advantage of that extra hour to catch up on much needed rest? It is well deserved for all you busy parents trying to keep up with those crazy schedules these days! And don't forget this is the time of year we change the batteries in our smoke detectors.The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends changing your smoke detector batteries at daylight savings time.This will insure that they are working properly as you enjoy your extra sleep time!

November event
Honor veterans on Nov. 11.

3.  Honor our VETERANS Day!! 

November 11th is a day set aside to honor our Veterans who have fought to preserve our freedom in this country. On this day and every day we can all take time to seek out and thank those who have served and made tremendous sacrifices for us. This is a time to honor all those who lost their lives as well as veterans who fought for our country so that we can live in a free society. This would be a great time to tell the kids about volunteering at shelters or soup kitchens as we approach Thanksgiving as many of our veterans seek help from those agencies. This is an annual November event that we can all take part in.


This is one of my favorite holidays of the year. This is a time of year that we can reflect on all the wonderful things that have happened for us this past year. We can give thanks in whatever manner we choose for the blessings in our lives. I have been lucky enough to spend each and every Thanksgiving with our family.

This is a good time to take part in donating to the local Food Banks to make sure that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. Check with your local charities to see if you might be able to volunteer your time serving or helping in some way provide that special meal to those less fortunate. 

This is also a great time to check out some new recipes to add to the traditional family recipes we see on the Thanksgiving Day table each year. 

Buy Nothing Day
Shop on Black Friday or
stay home and relax!

5.  You Choose!  Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day!!!

Many people want to get a jump start on their Christmas shopping and have made a tradition of rising VERY early on the day after Thanksgiving also called Black Friday (or maybe not going to bed at all that night!) just to get the door buster specials at their local retail outlets! I have to admit I fell into the trap one year with my daughters. We hit the store at 5am to hopefully get the 50% off on electronics. The place was a madhouse, and I decided that I had experienced the event once and that was enough for me! I will willingly pay the extra few dollars just to avoid the chaos of BLACK FRIDAY.  I have also discovered that I will be able to find some of those same bargains in December when I start my shopping. I am, therefore, a member of the Buy Nothing Day crowd on November 23rd! But for those that just enjoy the experience, I applaud you! I will be thinking of you while I am snug in my cozy bed, sound asleep as you fight your way through the mobs! Happy Shopping! 

Whatever your plans are for November, I am sure that you will enjoy the time. Get outdoors while there is still beautiful weather because it won't be long before our winter sets in. Enjoy some family time and check out those organizations seeking volunteers to help with the holiday meals. It can be very satisfying to help others who need the help.

Cindy Foley
Contributing Writer 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Isolation: A Common Issue for Patients and Caregivers

Your friends don't know what to do. Your family members are uncomfortable around you and don't know what they should say.  Your new illness makes situations that used to be familiar to you feel like strange experiences, where you might not know who everyone is or what they are talking about. You feel lost and isolated even though you are in a room full of people.

Caregivers often isolate themselves too, as it becomes more and more challenging to fit in time with friends. A loved one's diagnosis of dementia means you will have to make medical, financial and even every day decisions for your loved one. This takes time away from other activities. Your loved one might need you to be with them around the clock, or to visit them several times a week, if they live in a care facility.

Isolation is not a conscious decision, it happens over time as caregivers are sandwiched in between caring for their loved one and working a full time job and/or taking care of other family members. Personal relationships suffer and it becomes difficult to have a social life for both people.

people who are lonely
Dementia is a disease with a
stigma that often results
in loneliness.
Dementia is a disease that carries with it a stigma that can cause your friends and even family members to back away from you because they do not know how to handle your dementia diagnosis. They might be uncomfortable visiting a care facility and traveling outside the home can be difficult for the person with dementia. All of this can cause both the patient and the caregiver to isolate themselves.

There are many causes of dementia, some types of dementia are treatable and can even be reversed to an extent. Others cannot. Alzheimer's is one dementia disease that cannot be cured and it is progressive.

The Alzheimer's Association lists Alzheimer's as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. 5.4 million Americans suffer from this disease; one in eight elderly Americans. Over 15 million caregivers now provide unpaid care that is estimated to value over $200 billion. These numbers are growing.

Complications of Isolation

Three years ago, I left my job to take care of my mom who developed Alzheimer's. She wanted to stay in her home, and I really felt that moving her to a care facility would be too disorienting and could possibly cause her to lose her will to keep going. In order to do this, I had to make many changes in my life. I no longer leave the house and work in a social environment or go to parties or get together with friends. Since mom became incontinent, it's more difficult to go to people's houses or go shopping or out to eat. It can be pretty lonely.

Here are some things that I do to keep active and to stay in touch with others;
  • Invite relatives over for dinner or a movie. It's best for mom if it's 1-3 people at the most.
  • Use social media to stay in contact with people who are interested in the same things I am. Caregiver support groups are a great place to start. 
  • Don't be afraid to reach out to friends and relatives and tell them that you are feeling isolated and sometimes need to talk. Ask if they can set aside a half hour a week just to talk, even if it's online. I was surprised to find that some of my relatives were also feeling isolated. There are many people who are lonely every day, and they may not even be caring for a sick loved one.
Aside from dealing with our own loneliness and lack of connection with other adults, there are some really practical reasons why caregivers do not want to isolate themselves.
  • If a caregiver gets hurt in the home and cannot get to the phone for help, the person with dementia will not be able to help them. If you are unconscious or bleeding and cannot help yourself, you need to know that someone will check on you each day.
  • Depression and anxiety over the future can cause both of you to experience a loss of quality of life. 
  • You might lose your ability to see changes in your loved one's condition because you are there everyday. Another person, a neighbor or family member, who comes in once a week can pick up on something you might not have noticed. 
  • Caregivers can get set into a routine that is no longer working effectively, but it's difficult to see that without anyone from the outside who can look in and give an objective point of view.
What To Do

Types of dementia
Pets are a great comfort to
people who are lonely.
  • Caregiver buddy system - find another caregiver who you can talk to.
  • Reach out to community networks such as a church or non-profit who can offer respite for you and companionship for your loved one.
  • Schedule regular doctor appointments so a medical professional can assess both of you and help you see signs of stress before they become overwhelming.
  • Have a regular schedule of some activity where you are expected, so if you do not show up, your absence can alert others that something might be wrong.
  • Have the newspaper delivered daily, even if you don't read it. Neighbors notice a pileup of newspapers
  • If you notice that an elderly or ill neighbor has not gone out food shopping, collected mail or put trash out, check on the person.
Being a caregiver presents many challenges, such as avoiding burn out. Avoiding isolation is key to keeping yourself healthy and able to face each day and the challenges it will bring. It can be hard and our natural inclination is to not want to bother other people or ask for help. Your health care professional should be able to put you in touch with a social worker who can make suggestions and give you the contact numbers for resources in your area that can help you and your loved one maintain your quality of life.

Caroline Carr
Caregiver and Contributing Writer