How Technology Can Help You Look After Your Loved Ones

With the pandemic keeping us all indoors and away from our elderly loved ones (whether they are living at home, or in a skilled nursing facility), it has become increasingly important to properly harness technology as an effective means of communication.

To this end, our friend, Claire Wentz, from Caringfromafar, has written this exclusive article for our Regency readers. Thank you Claire!

How Technology Can Help You Care for Loved Ones Without Breaking the Bank

It’s often said that thanks to modern technology, the world has gotten smaller and people are now more connected than ever before. While this is arguably true in more ways than one, it can make for bittersweet situations. One can now move further away from family members and feel more comfortable as there are now more opportunities to stay connected. But on the flip side, loved ones like seniors and those with medical conditions are deprived of the physical care and attention they need.

Still, this doesn’t change the fact that their needs must be met, and you can take advantage of technology and the internet. This will not only help you bridge the gap, but it can also be indispensable in ensuring that your loved ones’ myriad needs are met, even from a distance, and without sacrificing your budget to boot. Here’s how.

Shop online for their needs.

No doubt, it’s the lack of physical connection that will be hardest for you and your loved ones, especially as it pertains to care. But just because you’re physically absent doesn’t mean that you can’t provide for their physical needs from afar. In fact, you can already purchase anything that your loved ones may need (e.g., groceries, medication) to make their lives more comfortable—from wherever you are in the world shipped straight to their doorstep, no less. It is for this reason that online shopping has become a real godsend, and it will serve you and your loved ones to really make use of it.

As a bonus, online shopping also comes with a good number of ways to save. For instance, Rakuten offers some tips on how to save at Target. Tips include getting a 5-percent discount by simply signing up for the Target REDcard. Better still, you save on hefty shipping fees for online purchases; plus they offer a time extension for returns. Downloading the Target app also is also worthwhile as you’ll never miss out on coupons and special discounts.

Stay connected.

Of course, probably the best use of technology when you’re taking care of a loved one long distance is communication. To date, there are countless apps available that you can use to constantly stay connected with your loved ones. Best of all, the only thing they make a dent on is your internet bandwidth, which is often negligible. It goes without saying that a substantial or even unlimited data plan is worth the minimal investment.

The apps are almost always completely free, too—or at least, cost mere cents. At present, most of these calling apps have video-calling, which is undoubtedly the next best thing to you being in the same room. You don’t even have to worry if seniors are comfortable using the technology as the best ones are very user-friendly, adaptable, and intuitive.

Wait, there’s more.

And while still on the subject of apps, it’s a real treat to note that there’s an app for just about any function you can think of when it comes to long-distance caregiving. There are handy apps that can be set up to ensure that they never miss a dose of their medication. There are also others that keep track of their blood pressure and sugar levels (to name a few) and would even alert you in emergencies, like falls.

It’s more than wise, therefore, to explore the most useful apps that will help you take care of your loved one from afar. Again, most are free or cost no more than a few dollars to buy, so you can give several a whirl and zero in on the ones that work best for you and your ward.

The world can seem big and overwhelming, especially when you’re away from the people you care for. But really, there’s truth in technology making it smaller, and with the right, budget-friendly tools and apps in your devices, you and your loved ones will definitely benefit from it.

Guidelines for Colon Cancer Screenings Updated

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer, the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US. It has lowered the age at which screening should start from 50 to 45, for people with an average risk of the disease. Those at higher risk, for example, people who have a family history of colorectal cancer or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, should start screening even earlier.

The revision was prompted by the results of an ACS study which found that colorectal cancer rates have been steadily increasing in young Americans. Even people in their twenties now have surprisingly high risk: someone who is twenty-eight years old today has four times the risk of colorectal cancer as someone who is sixty-eight years old.

There are several ways to screen for colorectal cancer. The ACS does not favor any of the tests any other. Instead, it advises people to discuss the various options with their doctor to determine which option is best for them.

According to the ACS, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90% — if the cancer is discovered before it spreads. Unfortunately, today only 39% of cases are diagnosed at this early stage.

Early detection, which begins with early screening, is expected to make a huge difference in outcome for those with the disease.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best care — including preventive care — in a patient-centered environment. This means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence

We also maintain the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

The Most Common Mistakes when Using an Inhaler

Inhalers are a daily fact of life for tens of millions of Americans, including 11 million with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Nevertheless, studies show that two-thirds of people do not use their inhaler correctly.

Research at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas identified nine separate steps required for using an inhaler, and found that no patient they studied — including those who had been using inhalers for years — had proper technique.

What happens when inhalers are used incorrectly? A study at Rice University found that without proper technique, only 7% to 40% of medication actually reaches the lungs of an inhaler user.

The most common mistakes include:

  1. Not shaking the inhaler enough before using it. An inhaler contains both medication and propellant. It needs to be shaken 10-15 times before each use in order to combine them thoroughly.
  2. Positioning the inhaler incorrectly. A deviation of as little as 5 degrees from the correct position can cause the medication to remain in the mouth, rather than reaching the lungs. Using a spacer aids in avoiding this problem.
  3. Inhaling and exhaling too quickly. To properly reach the lungs, each puff should be inhaled for approximately five seconds, held in for ten seconds, then breathed out through the mouth for ten seconds.
  4. Taking a second puff too soon. If instructions are to take two puffs of an inhaler, it is important to allow the first puff enough time to open the passageways so that the second puff can reach further. Taking that second puff too soon is not merely useless, it can lead to trembling and shakiness rather than relief.
  5. Not cleaning the inhaler. The plastic mouthpiece of the inhaler should be rinsed at least once a week. This removes build-up of medication that can block a full dosage of spray.

Using a spacer aids in avoiding both the problem of positioning and of inhaling too quickly.

Asthma and COPD lead not only to increased mortality, but also to reduced quality of life. Managing them properly is essential. COPD sufferers should enroll in a pulmonary rehabilitation program in order to exercise their lungs, increase their fitness, as well as learn how to manage their disease with medications, including proper usage of their inhaler.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in the most appropriate and patient-centered environment. This means always listening to our residents and patients and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence. And always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Entire Body

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is usually associated with pain and swelling in the joints. However, it can cause long-term damage throughout the body.

Unlike osteoarthritis, which is a wear-and-tear disease, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that RA causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue as though it were diseased tissue. RA is also an inflammatory disease, meaning that it causes inflammation in healthy tissue. Finally, RA is a systemic disease, meaning that the inflammation it causes can wreak havoc throughout the body, particularly if the disease is untreated.

The inflammation of RA can affect different parts of the body in a variety of ways.

The Joints

Although RA is usually associated with the joints in the hands and feet, it can also affect joints throughout the body, including the spine, the neck, the shoulders, the hips, the knees, and the ankles.

RA usually targets the synovium, the lining of the joints, inflaming it and causing it to swell. This leads to pain and stiffness in the affected joint. The inflammation also causes the cartilage between the bones to break down, causing severe pain and permanent damage in those with advanced RA.

The Nerves

The inflammation of RA can compress nerves, particularly in the hands or feet. If RA attacks the wrist, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Brain

Psychological and neurological symptoms, such as depression, brain fog, and behavioral or cognitive changes, can occur with RA. These are sometimes a result of nerve compression due to inflammation in the joints, or may result from systemic inflammation throughout the body. Medications for RA may also lead to cognitive issues.

The Heart

RA can cause life-threatening inflammation in the heart and blood vessels. Untreated, RA can lead to anemia, headaches, and fatigue. RA’s inflammation can damage the blood vessels, allowing plaque to build up more easily inside the arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The lining of the heart can also become inflamed, causing chest pain.

The Lungs

RA affects the lungs 80% of the time, though it is not usually severe enough to cause symptoms. Some people, however, have enough lung inflammation to develop pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lung tissue which can cause breathing difficulties.

The Bones

RA can cause osteoporosis, which is a loss of bone density and increase in bone brittleness. As is common with osteoporosis, it can lead to an increased risk of bone fracture.

RA is a progressive disease, and if left untreated, the symptoms will increase in severity, spread to other parts of the body, or both.

The most important action someone with RA can take is to see a doctor who will tailor a treatment plan for their symptoms. The plan should maximize the person’s mobility, while minimizing their pain and slowing the progression of their disease.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence — and always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

Finding Dangerous Inflammation with the ESR Test

The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test is a commonly-administered blood test that can reveal inflammatory processes in the body. The test measures how quickly red blood cells sink to the bottom of a test tube of blood. Inflammation causes higher amounts of protein in the blood, causing red blood cells to “clump.” These clumps are heavier than regular blood cells, and therefore settle to the bottom of the test tube at a faster rate in people afflicted with inflammatory diseases.

Although the ESR test is nonspecific, meaning the specific cause of the inflammatory response is not indicated by the test, it nevertheless informs the doctor of the need for further testing to determine the cause of inflammation.

The normal reference range for ESR is 1-13 mm/hr for males and 1-20 mm/hr for females. The normal range changes with age, as is expected since some degree of increased inflammation is usually found among older people. But for those whose ESR level falls outside of the normal range, the possibility of disease requires further investigation.

People with low ESR levels may suffer from leukemia; congestive heart failure; or an increase in blood thickness, known as hyperviscosity; among other conditions.

People with elevated ESR levels may suffer from any of a number of inflammatory diseases, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, thyroid disease, kidney disease, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

While ESR levels outside of the normal range do not always indicate serious illness, an out-of-range result will alert your doctor to check for underlying conditions.

With the availability of so many tests that can uncover potentially serious conditions, it is important to be proactive, visit your doctor regularly, and be willing to withstand the discomfort of a needle prick in exchange for the important information a blood test can provide. The earlier the diagnosis of any condition, the greater the likelihood of a good outcome.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence — and always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

How to Set an Effective New Years Resolution

As the holiday season draws to a close, and the last of the trimmings have been stored away, most people turn toward the coming year with a resolve to change something for the better. Whatever your age or stage in life, setting goals for self-improvement is a great way to refocus and get a fresh perspective for the new year.

Why is it, then, that so many people—as much as 92 percent of Americans—have all but forgotten their goals come February? Experts say that there is actually a method to finding a New Year’s resolution you can stick to.

Make it positive and enjoyable.

If you’re already dreading it before you start, you’re going to drop that resolution fast. Find something you will look forward to, or at least plan it in an enjoyable way. If you’ve resolved to be more physically active, choose an enjoyable exercise routine or do it with a friend. If you plan to organize your old papers and documents, plan a time of day to work on it, and reward yourself afterward.

Write it down.

Writing down your resolution will help you think it through clearly and plan for strategies for when the going gets tough. While you’ll probably be feeling eager to consume only carrot sticks and green beans for the first week of January, what will happen when that craving for sweets hits?

Get support.

There’s nothing like company when it comes to the journey to reach your goals. Get a friend or family member on board to help you stay focused and motivated.

Pick something small, concrete and doable.

This is probably the biggest factor in the goals that are achieved and the ones that are left to gather dust with the New Year’s party blowers. Don’t paint your resolution in broad terms; break it down into concrete, bite-sized chunks. Want to start eating more healthfully? Plan two ways that you’ll incorporate additional healthy foods into your diet. Dreaming of decluttering your home? Choose one room—or even part of a room!—and designate a specific time for it.

That said, here are six realistic goals that can be your springboard toward an accomplishing 2019:

  • Update legal documents. You never know when you’ll need them, and when you do, it’s usually too late. Draw up your will if you haven’t done so yet, and make sure your living will and power of attorney documents are in order.
  • Choose one area to improve in health. This is a biggie. Good nutrition, healthy sleeping habits, and regular exercise are vital in keeping your body fit for many more years to come. Don’t aim to work on all at once—pick one doable improvement, such as resolving to eat more veggies, and stick to it.
  • Learn something new about technology. One of the best ways to stay young is to keep up with the world around you. What better way than by learning about a useful technology? Skype and social media are great ways to keep in touch with friends and family, and learning new things has been proven to improve cognitive health.
  • Go for a physical. Checkups are ever more important as the body ages. Your doctor will be able to detect small problems before they develop into full-blown crises, and can also assist you in helping to maintain your good health.
  • Have that tough conversation you’ve been pushing off. There’s no time like the present! The start of the new year is the perfect time for a discussion about the future. Talk to your family members about plans for your future needs and care.

The Best Diet in the World

Mediterranean diet: olive oil, cherry tomatoes, and a leafy green herbAs November draws to a close, I wanted to talk about a way of eating that has been touted as the healthiest diet in the world.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and we’ve been covering the topic extensively on our corporate blog.

Alzheimer’s disease is progressive mental deterioration that ends in complete infirmity and eventual death. Much is still unknown about the disease, but one thing is clear:

Following the Mediterranean Diet can reduce your chances of the disease. Fringe benefits include improving your heart health, brain health, energy levels, and overall physical well being.

These are ambitious claims for a diet to make, but eating in the Mediterranean way has proven health benefits. Let’s explore the diet and see how you can incorporate it into your own life.

The Mediterranean Diet: The Healthiest Diet on Earth

About 50 years ago, researchers discovered that Italians were living longer and healthier than Americans. In fact, all the countries along the Mediterranean Sea had lower incidences of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related diseases.

Today, study after study has shown that the traditional cooking in those cultures is the source of their health and longevity. Here are just some of the scientifically proven benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:

In fact, if you go back to every article we’ve written on various age-related conditions and diseases, you would probably find recommendations in sync with the Mediterranean Diet. Following this lifestyle is the single-most effective steps you can take to maintain your health long-term.

So what does the diet include?

Here are the key components of the heart-healthy eating plan:

  • Eating mostly plant-based foods. These include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Leafy greens are especially beneficial.
  • Substituting healthy fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, in place of butter.
  • Limiting salt, and using a rich variety of spices and herbs to flavor your food instead.
  • Eating red meat no more than once a week.
  • Eating lean meats, such as poultry, and fish around twice a week.
  • Avoiding processed foods, especially those with a lot of sugar, trans fats, and fake flavorings.
  • Exercising regularly and responsibly.

Following the Mediterranean lifestyle isn’t easy, but after a few weeks of eating real food and exercising, you’ll begin to feel much more energized. Your cholesterol levels will improve, you might lose that excess weight, and your heart will do better.

Even if you can’t give up all aspects of the standard (and unhealthy) American diet, even making some smaller changes can provide huge health benefits.

Here are some to get you started:

  • Drink flavored seltzer or water instead of cola.
  • Snack on roasted, unsalted nuts instead of potato chips.
  • Make one day a week your “vegetarian day,” and eat only fresh, plant-based foods that day.
  • Start taking a brisk, 20-minute walk every day.
  • Use canola cooking spray, instead of butter, to fry your morning omelet.
  • Visit your local farmers market and stock up on fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. Then grab one anytime you feel the munchies.

I hope these ideas can help jump start your journey to a healthier you. Let us know in the comments what aspect of the Mediterranean diet you’re going to incorporate into your current lifestyle!

Happy Thanksgiving—And National Family History Day!

photo of fall bounty, including pumpkin, squash, mushroomsToday, November 22, 2018, is Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving has its roots deep in American history, when the pilgrims held a festival to thank God and their generous native neighbors who helped them survive the first year in their new colony.

We celebrate Thanksgiving with families and friends gathering to share a bountiful meal and spending time together. What do families talk about when they get together for their Thanksgiving dinner?

Forget about politics, sports, or gossip. Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect time to talk about family history—family medical history, that is.

With all the advancements of modern medicine, knowing your family health history remains one of the most important tools in detecting and fighting hereditary diseases. It’s so essential, the U.S. Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving as National Family History Day.

This Thanksgiving, take some time to learn and document your family health history. It’s the best holiday gift you can give your family to ensure a longer and healthier future.

How Family History Affects Your Health

You already know that certain hair colors, temperaments, and talents run in your family. Along with blue eyes and a short temper, your parents may have passed down certain genes that make some medical conditions more likely.

Some common hereditary medical conditions are:

  • Arthritis
  • Certain cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke

When you know the health conditions your parents and grandparents had, you can start learning about them, take steps to prevent it, and find out if regular screening would be appropriate.

Tracing your family’s health history can also tell you how high your risk is. For example, if more than one close relative has a specific disease, your personal risk is usually higher than someone with just one relative with that condition.

How to Collect Family Health History

Tell your family members what you’re doing and why. Ask them to help you compile the information. You want to catalog data about your relatives related to you by blood, those are your parents, grandparents, children, siblings, and your parents’ siblings.

Here’s what you should look for:

  • Birth defects
  • Childhood health problems
  • Age of death
  • Cause of death
  • Common adult diseases

There are two powerful online tools you can use to document your family’s medical history, share it with your family members, and show it to your doctors when necessary.

  1. My Family Health Portrait from the Centers for Disease Control
  2. Family Health History Book from Genetic Alliance

Don’t push it off for another year. This Thanksgiving, start documenting your family’s health history.

Your loved ones will thank you.

Hope Lives: Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths? It claims more lives than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) wants more research and more treatment breakthroughs in the fight against the deadly cancer.

Each new study or discovery about lung cancer brings new hope to cancer patients and their families. More research makes more survivors, says IASLC, and raising awareness is the first step.graphic from IASLC for Lung Cancer Awareness Month shows a white ribbon with the trachea superimposed on it.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer develops when abnormal cells begin to grow uncontrollably in one or both lungs. The cells form tumors, usually in the cells that line the air passages.

The tumors can be either benign or malignant, and they block the lung’s main function of providing oxygen to the blood. When the tumors are malignant, they can also metastasize and spread to other areas of the body—such as the brain. When lung cancer becomes metastatic, it is usually not curable.

There are two main types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for the vast majority of lung cancer cases. There are several sub-types of NSCLC, each originating from different types of lung cells.

The three main forms of NSCLC are:

  • Adenocarcinoma—cancers that start in cells that secrete mucus and other substances. This is the most common form of lung cancer, accounting for about 40 percent of cases. It tends to grow slower than other forms of cancer, and is often caught in the early stages.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma—cancers that develop in squamous cells, the flat cells that line the airways. Around 25 – 30 percent of all lung cancers are squamous cell carcinoma, and it most often linked to smoking.
  • Large-cell carcinoma—cancer that grows and spreads quickly, making it harder to treat. It accounts for 10 – 15 percent of cases.

Treatment for NSCLC depends on the stage at which the cancer was caught. In early stages, surgery to remove the affected area may be enough. Based on individual cases, chemotherapy may also be recommended to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back.

Later stages of cancer are treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of several treatments. The more advanced or widespread a cancer is, the harder it is to treat and the worse the prognosis. 

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

There are very few symptoms of lung cancer in the early stages, so it’s hard to catch early. People at higher risk of lung cancer should talk to their doctors about getting screened annually, since there isn’t enough information about the benefits of regular screening.

Anyone who experiences the following symptoms should see their doctor immediately for a full workup:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight unexpectedly

Risk Factors of Lung Cancer

Smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer. But even being regularly exposed to secondhand smoke can raise your risk of developing lung cancer.

Other risk factors are exposure to radon gas, asbestos, and other airborne carcinogens, since our lungs are the first defense against these toxic substances.

Lastly, family history of lung cancer can also raise your risk of developing it yourself.

If you have one or multiple of these risk factors, discuss your options with your doctor. You may want to get screened annually, since some studies do show a significant benefit to regular screening. Medicare does cover annual low-dose chest CT scans for eligible beneficiaries.

If you smoke, you should also quit smoking as soon as you can. Even if you’ve smoked for years, quitting today can still reduce your risk of lung cancer! Every year that you’re smoke free reduces your risk more, to the point that a person who hasn’t smoked in 10 years has half the risk of dying from lung cancer than a person who’s still smoking.

The Great American Smokeout

Tomorrow, November 15, The American Cancer Society will host their annual “Great American Smokeout. It’s a 24-hour challenge to be completely smoke-free.

For more information, visit www.cancer.org/great-american-smokeout

 

Grief and Sleep Deprivation: Finding Ways to Cope

 

This exclusive article was written for Regency Nursing Centers, by Sara Bailey of www.widow.net

Sara will soon be releasing her new book entitled “Hope and Help After Loss.”

Coping with loss.

After losing a loved one, people manifest grief in many different ways. Crying, disorientation, distractedness, a lack of focus, and outward signs of anger are some of the more usual symptoms. One result that’s often overlooked is the inability to sleep, even though it’s a fairly common result of profound grief, residual feelings of guilt and anger, and uncontrolled thoughts at bedtime.

People often dismiss the seriousness of lack of sleep, especially those who are accustomed to feeling tired due to busy schedules and heavy responsibilities. But when insomnia persists, it can cause serious mental and physical problems, and could even do lasting damage. If you, or someone you know, have suffered a deep personal loss and can’t overcome insomnia, be aware that it’s a situation which must be addressed.

Consequences

Medical science has documented the effects of sleep deprivation for decades, having concluded that it is a serious medical condition. People who have insomnia suffer from loss of appetite, less resistance to illness, depression, anxiety, and a tendency to become frustrated easily. It can also lead to a loss of concentration during the day, which hampers one’s ability to perform well at work or in school. If you’re getting less than six hours of sleep a night, it’s probably time to try some new sleep strategies or seek the help of a medical professional.

 

Sleep environment

A poorly arranged bedroom is often a factor in sleep deprivation. If you shared your bedroom for years, it’s probably a good time to redecorate and pay closer attention to some key factors that directly impact your ability to get healthy, restful sleep. Try adding some new artwork and repainting walls and the ceiling, opting for soothing and restful shades which are conducive to sleep.

If it helps, remove reminders of the person you’ve lost until you’re emotionally ready to reintroduce them to your sleep environment. Install blackout shades on the windows to ensure no light gets in at night or early in the morning before you’re ready to rise. Your bedroom should be totally dark, quiet, and kept below 70 degrees to keep your body temperature down at night. If there are barking dogs nearby, or the neighbor tends to rev his engine, consider using a sound device to help mask it all, such as a white noise app on your smartphone or the FitSleep tracking device, which emits alpha waves that help induce deep sleep. As you redecorate, consider incorporating a Feng Shui layout to create a more balanced energy flow. This ancient Chinese philosophy is used to create a more harmonious space and bring positive energies into a home. If you want to take it to the next level, consider hiring a consultant to help you get the maximum benefits of this philosophy, but take care to avoid scam artists or people who claim they’re certified.

Sleep routine

Sometimes, getting your body used to a regular nighttime routine can help you overcome insomnia. Your body is attuned to the natural rhythms of day and night, so tapping into that affinity can only help. Make a point of hitting the sack at the same time every evening. During the hour leading up to bedtime, try taking a hot bath, meditate while listening to soothing music, read a favorite book, or do some grief journaling to empty your mind before bed.

Sometimes, meditating and relaxing your body one part at a time while lying still in bed can help speed up the process. Avoid naps late in the afternoon or after dinner, don’t ingest caffeine or other stimulants (this includes alcohol) in the evening, and be certain that all screens are turned off in the bedroom, including TVs, computers, and handheld devices.

If it doesn’t work …

If these strategies don’t help, don’t fight it. Get up and sit in a darkened room for a half-hour or so while you read a book or focus on some deep-breathing exercises. Don’t lay there getting more and more frustrated, which only worsens the situation.

Grief and the body’s reactions to it are natural responses, part of a mental and emotional healing process that everyone goes through after the loss of someone close. For the most part, lack of sleep is a normal reaction to grief. But, if it begins to impact other parts of your life and you’re unable to resolve the problem, consult a doctor or seek grief counseling.