Cold Weather Workouts

By: Vanessa Marino

The cold weather doesn’t mean you have to hibernate, it’s important to stay active even when the weather outside is frightful. Here are some tips to keep you motivated and moving during the cold winter months:

Working out indoors:

  • Take a walk in the mall – grab a friend and go for a walk inside the mall where you can stay warm and still break a little sweat.
  • Workout videos – there are so many workout videos available and exercise channels on your television that you can follow along in the comfort of your own home.
  • Take advantage of the gym – now is the perfect time to get started at a local gym; you can even hire a personal trainer or join exercise classes for more motivation to achieve specific fitness goals.
  • Do your chores – chores like sweeping, vacuuming and doing laundry are easy ways to get the heart pumping; 15 minutes of vacuuming burns 43 calories!

Working out outdoors:

  • The leaves won’t rake themselves – bundle up and get some yard work done like raking the leaves or shoveling snow.
  • Walk the dog – taking regular walks with the dog counts as a workout, even if the walks are short.
  • Winter activities – things like skiing, ice skating and building a snow man are good ways to be active and enjoy the cold weather at the same time.

Always be safe and use safety equipment when working out or trying new activities. If you have heart problems or other health concerns, it is best to check with your doctor before you begin any new or heavy activities.

How to Help a Friend or Family Member Quit Smoking (Part II)

 by Priya Small, MPH

It can be difficult to stand on the sidelines while a loved one continues to smoke and does not show any signs of even trying to quit. In a previous post  we looked at some ways to support a friend or family member who has no intention to quit. It might not be easy for you to let your loved one quit smoking one step at a time. In today’s post I continue to promote that step by step approach by suggesting that you consider “” your approach to supporting the smoker in your life.

The R.E.L.E.A.R.N strategy is grounded on the following research-supported idea: smokers pass through a series of 5 stages1 before they achieve success at quitting. These are the stages you should expect your loved one to pass through: 1) Having no intention of quitting smoking, (“Precontemplation”), 2) Thinking of quitting smoking sometime in the next 6 months (“Contemplation”), 3) Preparing to quit smoking in the next 30 days, 4) Action: Recently quit smoking within the last 6 months and committed to continue on this path 5) Maintenance: remained smoke free for more than 6 months.

The “R.E.L.E.A.R.N.” strategy for family members or friends of smokers is a modified version of Berlin and Fowkes’ “L.E.A.R.N.” model that you can read more about on page 33 of this document 2. R.E.L.E.A.R.N mostly addresses the needs of smokers in the Precontemplation and Contemplation Stages of Change.

Re-Define Success. Accept the smokers in your life for who and where they are at this point. Meet them where they are. Consider at least temporarily redefining success so that you do not get frustrated that your loved one is showing no signs of trying to quit. Redefine success as simply moving on to the next stage of change whether that is thinking of quitting sometime in the next 6 months (Contemplation) or preparing to quit in the next month (Preparation).

Empathize: Yes, you may have never smoked a cigarette in the past but as human beings, we all have the capacity to put ourselves in the shoes of a smoker and empathize. For example, you might say, “If I were a smoker, I would probably get frustrated too…”

Listen: Listen with sympathy.2 Listening can make a difference. Smokers probably receive more well-meaning advice than they can handle; this can cause them to shut down and tune out. What they need first is a listening ear.

Explain your perceptions of the problem. It is helpful here to reflect back to your loved one any insights they might be expressing. For example, do they feel conflicted about quitting smoking? They might say, “I know smoking is bad for me, but I need something to relax me.” This conflict is good. Clinicians are often trained to highlight such conflict between values a smoker might hold such as wanting to protect their health and the health of those around them and reasons they don’t want to quit. This is called “developing discrepancy”3. The reasons for quitting should come from the smoker.

Acknowledge: Acknowledge similarities and differences between your loved one’s views and that of their clinicians. For example, “so your doctor wants you to quit because he is concerned that you might get cancer. You don’t think that is always the case. Your concern is your cough.” Ask your loved one, what common ground they can find when comparing these 2 views.

Re-visit Recommendations: Give the smoker in your life room a safe place to explore recommendations from his or her clinicians where they are free to express their thoughts freely.   Raise consciousness by encouraging them to read articles that their clinician or care manager may have provided, with a no strings attached condition. Encourage your loved one to re-evaluate himself or herself.5 How does smoking relate to who they are and the values they hold dearly? Is it truly consistent with who they are?

Negotiate Encourage negotiation. Maybe your family member is not ready to quit smoking right now but maybe he or she is willing to verbalize thinking of quitting sometime in the 6 months or to start preparing to quit in the next month. Congratulations! You just got 1 step closer to your goal.


  4. Prochaska, J.O., Redding, C.A. & Evers, K.E. The Transtheoretical Modal and Stages of Change. In Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research and Practice, K.Glanz, F.M. Lewis, B.K. Rimer, 2nd Edition, 1997, Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.



A Look at Alzheimer’s 

Written By: Vanessa Marino, BA, CHE

More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s effects memory, thinking skills and the ability to carry out daily life activities. Although there are stages to the disease, from mild to severe, there is no cure and scientists have not yet been able to pin-point an exact cause for the onset of the disease. Even though the causes of Alzheimer’s are undetermined, there are some risk factors to consider and preventative actions that can be taken to lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors all come into play for one’s health and health complications; the development of Alzheimer’s is not ns such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as metabolic diseases like diabetes. Also, there are studies linking certain genes carried by some people and the onset of the disease.

How can the disease be stopped?

There is no sure way to prevent or even completely eliminate the chance of developing Alzheimer’s because the exact cause is still unknown, however there several things that can be practiced in order to lessen your risk. Eating a well-balanced diet, engaging in physical activity and participating in an active social life are all ways that can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Mentally stimulating games, puzzles and activities can also help.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease contact the Alzheimer’s Association at:

1-800-272-3900 (toll-free)
1-866-403-3073 (TTY/toll-free)


How to Help a Friend or Family Member Quit Smoking (Part I)

Written by: Priya Small, MPH

Helping a family member or friend to quit smoking can be frustrating to say the least. But keep in mind, this is the time when the smoker in your life may need you the most1. This series of posts will cover tips on how to support a loved one through the process of quitting smoking.

It can be liberating to realize that smokers pass through a series of stages before they achieve success at quitting. In fact, many need to step through these “stages of change”2 before they are even ready to quit smoking. Read the tips below and how to support that friend or family member who has no intention to quit smoking (also known as the Precontemplation stage 2,6).

Address Your Own Feelings

First, confront your own feelings. Jot down in a journal how your loved one’s resistance to quitting smoking makes you feel3. If you’re not the journaling type or don’t have the time, try quickly jotting down brief bullet points or phrases that describe how you feel. Having an outlet for your own feelings may help you remain calmer when talking to your friend or family member.

Choose Your Time Wisely

Watch for natural opportunities when your friend or family member is ready to talk to you and listen. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to getting this concern off your chest at the wrong time. Consider starting this conversation over dinner, in the car or during a walk and remember to choose your words wisely.

“Draw out” Instead of “Preach at”

Many smokers already know why their habit is unhealthy. What is critical is for you to draw out, at the right time, when they are ready, their own reasons for wanting to change.  Start by asking them their reasons for continuing to smoke: “Tell me what you like about smoking4.” Then try asking, “If you were successful at quitting, what might happen7?” “What will your life be like if you were able to quit4?” “How can I help?”

Avoid Arguing

If your loved one resists, do your best to avoid arguing. Many smokers who do not plan on quitting smoking have become disheartened from their unsuccessful attempts in the past6. This might not be the right time to have this conversation. What might a better time be? Consider a team approach. Who is the best person to help your family member or friend move to the next stage of readiness? Seek this person out5. A third party such as a doctor, nurse or care manager might be more objective and able to bring your loved one to the point where they are ready to proceed to the next stage: planning to quit smoking in the next 6 months (Contemplation Stage2,6).


  6. Prochaska, J.O., Redding, C.A. & Evers, K.E. The Transtheoretical Modal and Stages of Change. In Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research and Practice, K.Glanz, F.M. Lewis, B.K. Rimer, 2nd Edition, 1997, Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.

Humana At Home’s SeniorBridge team celebrates client’s 106th birthday

Not many people have an opportunity to celebrate a 106th birthday party, but recently care managers providing the Humana At Home private pay service through SeniorBridge did just that for retired dental hygienist, Jeanne Goldsmith. With the support of hourly home health aides and care management visits, Jeanne has been able to live independently in her New York City apartment for more than four years.

After a serious hospitalization in 2011 left Jeanne needing around-the-clock home care, her doctors did not think she could return home to an apartment she had lived in for more than 50 years and had shared with her late husband. She was struggling to keep up with her heart medications and appeared too physically frail to be navigating around her apartment without assistance.


Jeanne Goldsmith, center, celebrated her birthday recently with Humana At Home. Also present, from left were, Louise Enten, LMSW, Care Manager for SeniorBridge; Dawn Ingianni, RN, MSN, CCM, Regional Clinical Manager for SeniorBridge; Samantha Zacharias, Marketing Specialist for SeniorBridge.

When Jeanne, who is not a Humana insurance member, expressed how important it was for her to remain independent at home, her doctors recommended she learn about Humana At Home’s SeniorBridge services, which she could purchase on an hourly basis. A care management team, including Eileen Zenker, LCSW and Jerry Biga, RN, met with Jeanne to understand what was most important to her. They evaluated her home environment and the challenges she was facing, developed a plan that included a technology-driven medication pill box, provided a Humana At Home aide who could be with her in her home to provide 24/7 peace of mind, and scheduled doctor visits with confirmed transportation.

As Jeanne’s condition improved, Humana At Home care managers continually updated the services she was receiving, which included reducing the number of hours an aide was in her home in order to accommodate her personal preferences and her doctor’s comfort level. Jeanne says she is grateful for all the help she has received in getting her health back on track.

Having been a New Yorker for over 88 years, Jeanne shows no signs of slowing down—even doing yoga to help keep her fit. From recounting her time as a dental hygienist to the fine details of every apartment she has had in the city, Jeanne is as sharp as ever. The most common question she is asked is, “do you have any secrets for living a long-life?” Jeanne responds with some essential advice: “Bacon and eggs every morning – eat like a king in the morning, a princess for lunch, and a peasant for dinner.”

Humana At Home’s private pay SeniorBridge hourly and live-in home care and care management services are customized to meet the needs of individuals and families. To learn more, visit

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates, a prominent figure in the history of medicine, was referring to a concept many of us have gotten away from. It’s time to get back to basics. There have been numerous clinical studied exploring the many health benefits natural, unprocessed, and whole foods can provide us. Health starts from the inside out, so taking a closer look at our diet may be the ideal solution for lasting health benefits. See below for just a few foods that can have a big impact on your health.

Coconut: A source some essential fatty acids, lauric and caprylic acid. These are responsible for destroying virus and bacteria. Some additional benefits of coconut include: improve immune system, lowers risk of diabetes, strengthens liver, protects against cancer, and other immune diseases.

Blueberries: High in antioxidants, which improves circulation, and help purifies the blood. If you have anemia, this blueberries are a good food to eat. Blueberries have been found to improve memory and reduce signs of aging.

Salmon: Contains Omega-3 fatty acids that help fight heart disease. The essential fats in salmon additionally work to combat inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

Kale: Known for its cancer fighting properties and assists with detoxification supporting the liver. It has low calorie content and is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Quercetin and kaempferol are flavonoids found in large amounts in kale. These have been proven to have cardioprotective, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and blood pressure lowering properties amongst many others. The many benefits of kale are amplified when steamed.

Sweet Potatoes: Rich in beta carotene an anti-oxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body. This helps slow the aging process and reduces cancer risk. In addition sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin C and potassium.

Mushrooms: In Asia, mushrooms are used as a health remedy. Specific mushrooms like maitake have been found to treat the flu, blood pressure. Maitake and shiitake mushrooms both have been found to lower cholesterol by 7 and 12% when eaten daily.

These are just some of the amazing benefits eating whole natural foods can bring you. If you are already eating like this, you are providing yourself with longevity and better quality of life!

Written by: Heather Sumpter


Yoga Awareness Month: 4 Reasons to Take up Yoga

Written By: Vanessa Marino

Yoga is practiced for relaxation, but it also has so many physical benefits for the body. September is National Yoga Awareness month and what better time to give yoga a try, especially those aged 50 and older. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say that older adults tend to have less endurance, strength, flexibility and balance, four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent. Yoga can help in building all of these areas.

Endurance is important in older age because it promotes a healthy heart, circulatory system and lungs. Yoga takes breathing to a whole other level. By practicing yoga and incorporating deep breathing techniques, the body’s oxygen intake increases. More oxygen in the body allows for the working muscles to get the energy that is required.

Just about every yoga pose uses your own body weight for resistance and strength training. Continued muscle strength is essential in order to complete daily living tasks like carrying groceries, opening jars and lifting oneself out of the bed in the mornings. Yoga can help develop strength in your muscles and bones.

Flexibility also allows us to keep up with basic daily activities, but it seems it is one of the physical traits that gets lost first in old age. Yoga infuses stretching exercises in its practice to promote more flexibility in the body. Being flexible can prevent injury in our muscles and joints, a vital aspect to getting older.

Having good balance may be the most important thing for someone older in age. Healthy balance prevents falls, allows for easy and confident walking and stair climbing and just promotes independence in general. Yoga is easily based around the study of balance and core training. A strong core not only helps keep you balanced, but improves posture. Practicing even simple yoga poses can establish a good foundation for better balance.

I challenge you to try yoga! Allow for your body and mind to reap the benefits of this practice. Getting older is inevitable, but having a healthy body is very tangible for everyone. This month will be full of yoga awareness activities and events in just about every city. Click here to find events near you.