Got Spring Fever?…Get some fresh air!

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It’s wonderful to again be able to take our residents for an “outdoor walk!” During the winter, we confine ourselves to walking the first floor halls of St. Anne’s. While they are spacious, it’s not the same as getting some good, fresh air. I am looking forward to seeing the blossoms on our flowering ornamental crab tree someday soon when I walk with them. I’ll probably even pick some to set on the reception desk here.

Trees, in fact, are very healthy. According to a study cited in a Huffington Post article, 850 lives were saved and almost 700,000 acute repertory symptoms were prevented in a single year by their mere presence. Did you know that trees actually remove pollution and make the air healthier to breathe, especially for people living in the city? This same article would have us believe so. It also shared the fact that polluted air can cause difficulty breathing for asthma victims as well as cancer, birth defects, lung injury and brain/nerve damage. Oxygen gained from a breath of fresh air can help energize you as well.

Stepping outside can be beneficial, even to one’s immune system. Being in close quarters with other people “exposes you to all sorts of germs,” according to . Exercise stimulates numbers of “natural killer cells.” Also, the scents of flowers can help your mood, and even pine can help with relaxation and lowering stress. Actually, with greater oxygen intake, more serotonin is produced, which also helps your mood and sense of well-being, according to yourstandardlife.com.

Fresh air actually cleans your lungs and gets more oxygen to your cells, improving your lungs’ cleansing action. Breathing fresh air can help your mental clarity. Your brain, in fact, uses 20% of the body’s oxygen. Fresh air also helps with effective food digestion, according to this source. Consequently, according to goodrelaxation.com, fresh air can even help you lose weight. Furthermore, it is noted, that blood pressure and heart rate are improved by fresh air.

So, be advised, don’t just stay indoors all the time, breathing the same air over and over. According to yourstandardlife.com, “breathing this stale air will not supply your body with enough oxygen to keep your cells fueled and functioning properly.” When you get a chance, get outside and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. If you live in the area, you could even take a walk over to St. Anne’s and visit our residents!

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National Pet Month – The Positive Effects of Animals Especially Dogs with People

Here at St. Anne’s, we have two dogs for our residents.  In honor of April’s “National Pet Month,” a well-qualified friend of ours wrote an article about the positive effect of our canine comrades:

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Our lab Gracie gives “kisses” to a resident.

Article by Judy Jacoby, RN, MSN, HAB, PHN

Dogs have been around for 15,000 years. Dogs were used to assist people with chores, to round up cattle and sheep, to monitor the surroundings of a home and to pull carts for the American Indians. 12,000 years ago, in Northern Israel, a human skeleton was found holding a puppy.

In the earlier years of civilization, dogs provided special duties. As early as the early 1800’s, dogs were used to assist police stations regarding high crimes. A dog was used to sniff out a criminal who could not be found a police search team. Due to the lack of police officers on a police force, dogs were used to do security rounds to ensure the security within towns.

During the last 55 years, we have seen benefits that affect the human body regarding the ownership or relationships with dogs. Paws for People, is an organization that explains the benefits of dogs in therapy. Physical benefits include how dogs assist with lowering the blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, releasing endorphins which cause a calming affect and diminishing physical pain. A dog can facilitate motivation in a person to recover faster in reducing loneliness. The act of petting a pet, produces an automatic relaxation response in humans and reduces the amount of medication that was previously required to relieve pain.

Studies indicated strong emotional benefits for people with depression when being around dogs. Interactions with dogs lifted spirits and lessen depression, decrease the feelings of isolation and alienation. In addition, dogs encouraged communication, provided comfort, increased socialization, reduces boredom and lowered anxiety. Studies done with children who have speech and emotional disorders showed that dogs helped resolve speech and emotional disorders. In children, dogs have been shown to help children focus better and improve literacy skills.

The dog provides an avenue for non-stress, non-judgmental and unconditional love. This produces self confidence and reduces self consciousness. Dogs in physical therapy with humans can assist with increased joint movement and improve the recovery time with walking. This maintains or increases motor skills and provides motivation to move more, stretch farther and exercise longer.

Studies conducted in the elderly, demonstrated that patients with chronic illness and cardiac issues have prolonged life due to owning a pet. Owner of dogs or those who are close to a dog find an avenue of physical health benefit with their companion. The presence of a dog in a room helped decrease blood pressure. Decreased depression and anxiety are also benefits that have been associated with having a dog close by.

As I pondered the benefits of walking my dogs, each morning and night I realized that I walk at least 2-3 miles a day. This daily routine with my dogs, has improved my health, increased my strength, made me realize how fortunate I am that I can smell the Spring air and watch the morning light wake up the mountains around me.

National Volunteer Week ~ April 12 – April 18

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This week, Americans celebrate National Volunteer Week. I thought this was noteworthy for us at St. Anne’s since we are blessed by the kindness of volunteers throughout the year and on special occasions as well. This commemoration has been recognized by the government and is also honored by various organizations on the local level. Not that our volunteers do this for selfish reasons, but according to an article on this week, volunteers can have the added benefits of “increased satisfaction, improved sense of belonging, lower blood pressure, increased protection from Alzheimer’s, and decreased mortality.” Who hasn’t felt the gratification of having lent a hand and getting a job done?

At. St. Anne’s, we will be honoring our volunteers at a special gathering in May, but I’d like to take the opportunity now to thank all those who volunteer at St. Anne’s in various capacities. For more information on our volunteer program, please visit: http://www.stannesguesthome.org/Volunteers.html.

On a personal level, I am grateful to the ladies who fill in for me, doing reading hour and Bible Study for me when I am away at times.

There are so many ways that our volunteers help us and we appreciate it!

If you are a St. Anne’s Volunteer, I’d be happy to share your thoughts on volunteering; please let me know!

April—Fair Housing Month

At St. Anne’s, along with our Basic Care unit, we also offer low-rent housing in efficiency departments.  (For more information on the distinctions between levels of care, see my article from last fall.)

I’d like to share an article which our former resident, Scott, wrote in our newsletter a couple years ago for the occasion of fair housing month:

Food, clothing and shelter are the absolute necessities of our life. All these are essential for all.

Beginning with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which focused on fair, non-discriminating housing, the federal government passed the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This insured the opportunity for everyone to be able to get a fair deal on renting and buying homes. Generally, in addition to the anti-discrimination aspect of housing, affordable housing is available to many people. Usually, on housing assistance, 30% of one’s income goes into rent with the balance taken care of through this Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program. St. Anne’s is involved in the HUD program.

April is Fair Housing Month. Social organizations, religions and the government help in getting people housing. There is still a problem of homelessness but there is a great effort today to make homelessness only a temporary situation for individuals.

News from St. Anne’s…April Fools

We had some fun with our resident newsletter, The Broadcaster, this month; we claimed that April Elves got a hold of our computers so the front and back pages are full of fun, made up articles of news from St. Anne’s.  If you haven’t seen it already, check it out!  If you’d like to get our newsletter via email on a monthly basis, please let us know; it is normally not available online.  Below is a preview of the first page.

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