Eye Health as We Age

Eye Health as We Age

According to a survey by the Ocular Nutrition Society, four in five baby boomers ranked their vision as the most important  sense. In fact, those same people said that they worry about vision loss almost as much as contracting cancer or heart disease. But only fifty percent said they visit an eye doctor at least once a year.

What is the best way to protect your vision as you age? First, you should get an eye exam every year. Your doctor can help  you know if you are at risk for eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Be sure to know and discuss your family history of eye disease.

You should also protect your eyes by not smoking and always wearing sunglasses with UV protection. Regular exercise is not only good for your body, but also contributes to eye health as well.

Finally, be aware of the role nutrition plays in eye health. Vital nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy. To increase these nutrients in your diet, eat greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, along with salmon, halibut, and tuna. If you think you have shortfalls in your diet, you can take a vitamin supplement specifically formulated for eye health.

Milk and Mood

Milk and Mood

In response to low-carb and low-fat diet fads, many people have sworn off milk products. Others may be sensitive to the effects of milk on their digestive or respiratory systems.

There is a benefit to drinking milk, that those who have given it up are missing. Milk can positively affect your mood. It is high in whey protein, which is a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan. Whey decreases physiological responses to stress, can enhance your mood, and boost memory performance.

A study conducted by Dutch and Yale University researchers found that whey increases tryptophan in the brain, which in turn leads to a higher production of the chemical serotonin. This body chemical boosts your mood and has the potential to enhance your brain’s performance during stressful times.

Whey has also been found to aid in weight loss, as it plays an important role in limiting hepatic fatty acid synthesis. This means that muscle tissue burns more fat when exercising. Whey also can help with mild depression.

So, what is the best way to get milk in your diet without any negative side effects? Try adding low-fat or fat-free milk sources such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and cultured dairy beverages like kefir. You can also add whey powder to a daily smoothie. Or simply drink some milk.

Most negative effects come from drinking too much milk. An 8-ounce glass, one cup, of fat-free organic milk every few hours will boost your mood and give you a steady stream of energy for the entire day.

What do Those Codes on Furniture Tags Really Mean?

What do Those Codes on Furniture Tags Really Mean?

Look under the cushions of a typical piece of upholstered furniture and you will usually find a fabric care tag. This tag should include an indication of the recommended procedures for maintenance and routine cleaning of that particular piece of furniture. Part of the tag will likely assure you that all new materials were used; this is a reference to the stuffing inside the piece. What you want to know, more, is how to keep this piece of furniture looking its best, so look for another tag.

The Cleaning Tag
You should find a tag that specifically lists a cleaning code. Before we go into what these codes mean, please note that these tags and codes are merely a guideline to assist you in spot cleaning only. The tag is also an indication to the professional cleaner how to avoid color loss, bleeding, browning or shrinkage during cleaning.

Fabrics are made from a variety of fibers including cotton, polyester, silk, rayon, nylon, polypropylene, acetate, acrylic, wool and blends thereof. They can be woven in a variety of ways, as well as having an unlimited array of dye methods, colors and patterns. All of these different combinations make avoiding possible cleaning reactions very challenging, but possible – if you know what you’re doing!

Improper selection of cleaning agents or methods can lead to permanent damage to fabrics. An example is crushed velvet. If it is treated improperly, it can lose its softness, luster and crimp. This sort of damage is irreversible. Many floral or multicolored patterns are printed on the fabric rather than woven into it. Extra care must be taken when cleaning these as the colors are only on the surface. The wrong chemical can actually remove the printed dyes, or destabilize them to the point that the colors run into each other. Again, this is uncorrectable.

So, effective and safe cleaning of your upholstered furniture means knowing how to clean it. Part of that requires deciphering the code, so here are the cleaning codes and their meanings:

W: This codes tells you to spot clean only with water based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. If your tag has a “W” be careful not to over wet the area or use any solvents.

S: This codes tells you the opposite of “W” – it says to spot clean only with a water free dry cleaning solvent. But remember to always pretest a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding. Be careful not to over saturate the material or to use any water.

WS or SW: When you see this tag spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or mild dry cleaning solvent.

X: This is a really important one which means to clean only by vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush. Never use any water or solvent-based cleaners on furniture that has this tag.

No matter what tag you see, remember these basic suggestions:

• Always clean spills promptly, and call Hansen Steam Way if you are in doubt.

• Never rub, but rather blot up liquids to avoid damaging the furniture.

• Always start cleaning from the outside of the stain, working your way in, to avoid spreading the stain.

• Do not remove cushion covers for cleaning as they may shrink or misshape and not go back on properly.

Color Tips for Room Decorating

Color Tips for Room Decorating

You may not realize it, but the colors in your room can make all the difference. Color can influence the mood and tone of a room.

Blues: Cool, calming, and a sense of restfulness.

Reds: Exciting and stimulating.

Greens: Cool, reflective, and relaxing.

Yellows: Bright and cheery, energetic and expansive.

Whites: Clean and inviting.

Choose one color to be your main focus and then accent it with one or two complimentary colors. Color can be anywhere in a room, from the walls and floors, to your furniture and accent pieces. Add fringe to pillow, put up new curtains, add color with candles— the possibilities are endless. Keep in mind also that lighting can change the way colors look in a room. When choosing colors, view them under the same lighting you will have in your room.

Buyer Beware

Buyer Beware

When you are in the market for a used car, it is important to know how many miles it has run. Unscrupulous sellers know it is possible to alter the reading on the odometer.

In fact, the Consumer Federation of America estimates that up to one in ten used cars have their odometer rolled back, a practice called “clocking” or “spinning.” This practice is illegal in all states, but it is hard for the average consumer to detect. Even digital odometers can be easily tampered with using devices made for recalibrating broken digital odometers.

If you are looking at a car that you believe has an odometer that has been set back, take a moment to inspect the brake pedal. If the pad has worn through to the metal beneath, it is a good indication that it has excessive miles. You may also want to lift up the floor mat under the brake and accelerator pedals to look for wear. If the driver’s seat is also very worn, it can mean that there are excessive miles on the car.

Examine the instrument panel closely. If it looks as if it has been tampered with, you should not purchase the vehicle. You may see fingerprints or scratches on the interior of the plastic cover or the numbers may not be aligned. Even without these clues, the vehicle may have been tampered with.

Finally, you can also request a CARFAX report on the vehicle. This can be ordered either by the seller or the buyer. To be absolutely sure, you should plan on having any used car professionally inspected by a qualified mechanic before purchasing.

Easing Your Financial Stress

Easing Your Financial Stress

According to surveys, up to 80 percent of Americans suffer from significant financial stress. There are lots of ways to work on improving your financial situation, but you also need to address the mental stress on you and your family.

Your first strategy to reducing stress should be to take an honest look at your financial situation. This may seem counterintuitive. After all, spending time analyzing the situation should increase your worry, right? Well, actually not knowing your financial state is the largest cause of anxiety. Denial is also a contributor. Not knowing if you can afford another car is different than knowing you cannot afford it. While the picture may not be pretty, at least you will know where you stand, and this is the only way to begin to improve things.

Next, consider which of your habits are leading to your financial state. This can be hard, as this often involves emotional issues related to money. For example, if you tend to lavish gifts on your friends, you may be trying to get them to like you more. If you buy a new car every couple of years, you may be insecure about how others see you. Examine how you emotionally connect to your money, and you may surprise yourself with how much is unnecessary spending.

So, once you are honest, know where you stand, and have confronted your financially-unhealthy habits, it all comes down to budgeting. Your budget is your roadmap to reducing your financial stress. If you go off course, your stress will simply increase. Coming up with a realistic budget and sticking to it are hard, but the benefits are enormous. Not only will you be able to meet your financial obligations, but your stress and worry will be reduced.

Is it okay for me to use those miracle stain removers I see on TV?

Is it okay for me to use those miracle stain removers I see on TV?

Whether you watch television during daytime talk shows, in the middle of prime time, or during a fit of insomnia at 2 a.m., you simply can’t avoid them: commercials, and infomercials, trying to convince you that some liquid in the bottle will magically remove any spot or stain you have on your carpet, no matter where it originated, how long it’s been there, or what type of carpet you have.

While it is possible that some of these products have some value, it is not possible that any product can do all of these things. Every fiber is different. Every spill is different. So there is simply no one-stop solution to clean everything. And, unfortunately, using some of these “miracle” stain removers in the wrong place can cause irreversible damage to your carpet.

Miracle Oxygen Cleaners

One popular product that people tend to try, and place great faith in, is the “Oxy” cleaners seen on infomercials. If you choose to use these cleaners, exercise caution. Professional carpet cleaning companies are seeing more and more damage being done to carpet by the oxygen bleaches in these cleaners. The damage can range from minor color loss to large permanent yellow stains caused by the chemical reaction with the carpet fibers.

Theoretically, these products should be safe if used according to the manufacturer’s directions. But there are things that can and do affect the chemical reaction and can make results vary greatly. For instance, the exact nature of the spot you are trying to remove matters. Some stains do not react well to oxygen bleaches, and can even become permanent if you use those products.

Another problem is sunlight. Under sunlight, the oxidizer becomes more chemically active and aggressive, resulting in heightened bleaching action. Remember, anything that has the ability to remove food coloring has the potential to destabilize the dyes used to give your carpet its color.

Other Product Promises

There are other products that use high pH detergents in conjunction with the oxygen bleach to help break down greasy spots and spills. While this can be quite effective in removing the offending spots, it can leave behind a residue that destroys the stain resistant properties of your carpet. This is not visible damage, however it is quite real. The result is an area that is “unprotected” and therefore vulnerable to permanent staining the next time something is spilled there.

Also, these highly alkaline residues are often quite sticky, attracting soils. So even though the spot goes away, the area keeps getting dirtier and dirtier. So you apply more cleaner and leave more residue, in a never-ending, frustrating cycle of futility.

If you had the ability to apply, agitate, rinse and thoroughly extract the chemicals, it wouldn’t be so bad. But removing all of the stuff you pour on the carpet can be quite difficult. So what can you do?

Your safest bet when you have a difficult stain is to call Hansen Steam Way before attempting to remove it yourself. We are an experienced carpet cleaning company, and can give you options as to the best way to handle the situation while avoiding any damage to your carpet. We can also give you tips for removing small spots in the future.

Boosting Your Brain Function with Exercise

Boosting Your Brain Function with Exercise

Brain function can diminish as we age. A report released by the Institute of Medicine suggests that maintaining physical activity can help preserve memory and attention as we get older. Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental abilities. They also show a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers believe that the benefits come from increased blood flow and an increase in brain-protecting chemicals. Exercise also seems to counter some of the reduction in brain connections that occur as we age. Doctors are not sure how these processes work or how effective exercise is in preventing mental decline, but they agree that exercise has many positive benefits for seniors and are hopeful that more research will lead to a better understanding of the mind-body connection.

Does Working Longer Help Your Brain?

Does Working Longer Help Your Brain?

While most people dread having to put off retirement, there may be a silver lining to working longer in life. Researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research took a look at the health records of almost 500,000 self-employed workers. They found that there was a three percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for each extra year worked after the age of traditional retirement.

Researchers have long known that there are several lifestyle factors that can reduce the risk of dementia. Those include a heart-healthy diet, exercise,  social engagement, and mental activities. They now believe that staying in the workforce can be added to this list.

Americans are slowly moving toward a later retirement age for many reasons. In a survey of 1,000 Americans, about one-third said they planned on  working until age 80 to provide for a comfortable retirement. This may seem to be a reluctant choice for many, but this new study gives some added incentive to those contemplating retiring later.

Cutting the Cost of Vet Care

Cutting the Cost of Vet Care

Every good pet owner wants to provide the best care for their animal companion. But veterinary costs can add up, making it hard to afford quality care. There are some ways to keep costs down while making sure your beloved pet is taken care of. These tips can help save you money on your pet’s  health care.

Get regular check-ups. Don’t skip your pet’s annual exam in order to save money. It can end up costing you in the long run. Yearly exams are a great way to detect problems early instead of waiting for big problems to show up. You will also be giving your pet preventative care instead of only treating illnesses when they happen, which can be costly.

Feed your pet well. High-quality pet food can be more expensive, but will help keep your pet healthier throughout his or her life. This can save you money on health care costs. Also be sure to avoid overfeeding your pet. Not only is this wasting money, but it can cause obesity which can then lead to health problems.

Spay or neuter your pet. There are long-term benefits to spaying and neutering your pet, including a decrease in the risk of uterine, ovarian, and  testicular cancer. Many local shelters offer low-cost or even free spay and neuter services. Call your local shelter to find out if you qualify for reduced-cost services.

Consider pet insurance. Finally, if you know that treating your pet’s injuries or illnesses would be a financial hardship, you should consider   purchasing pet insurance. Getting this coverage when your pet is healthy will ensure that you are better able to meet your pet’s health care needs in the future.

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