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Knee replacements not for everyone

Knee replacements not for everyone

In older adults, cartilage in the knee joint can wear away, causing pain and limited movement.

A new study shows that, for the most serious cases of arthritis, knee replacement did improve quality of life. However, for most people the improvements were minimal.

The study published in The BMJ observed the results of 7,400 middle age and older adults who had arthritis of the knee or were at high risk for the condition.

If your knee pain is not severe, you might be able to get some relief and postpone knee problems by strengthening your thigh muscles.

Losing weight also helps. Each additional pound adds four pounds of pressure on the joints. Less weight equals less pressure and happier knees. But avoid high-impact jogging, aerobics, or jumping while you lose the weight.

According to the Harvard Health Letter, people with good range of motion in the knee have fewer pain symptoms. It’s important to be able to straighten out the knee. Try sitting on a bed with a pillow under the ankle. Then use your leg muscles to gently move your knee down and straight.

Osteoarthritis symptoms often get worse by standing on a hard surface for long periods or squatting (as an example, while gardening). Sitting on a low stool is better than squatting.You can also wear cushioned shoes or gel inserts.

 

Spend a little now… save a lot later

Spend a little now… save a lot later

Fall is the perfect time to do some maintenance on your home’s exterior. Warm weather and the higher humidity of  summer cause materials to shift and expand, then as the weather cools and the humidity decreases the process reverses. This can leave your home with areas that water, pests and rot can penetrate. Now is the time to act.

As Winter Approaches

Paint, caulk, shingles, wood, rubber, vinyl and siding are all affected by high temperature and UV radiation from the sun. As a result, the exterior envelope of your home may not be as “tight” as it was in the spring. As weather gets cooler,  materials tend to shrink and harden. Air is drier, resulting in further shrinkage as materials lose moisture. Rubber seals around doors and windows become brittle. Caulk separates from siding and trim, allowing outdoor air and damaging moisture to enter.

The wood around doors and windows can rot. High moisture levels encourage insects and termites to make your home their home. Hidden mold growth on wood, drywall and other porous surfaces causes millions of dollars in structural damage every year. Moisture is the primary cause. You can take a few easy steps to ensure your home is in good shape as winter approaches. Following is a list of things that you can check out and another list the ambitious homeowner can do, or which you can hire an inspector to check out for you.

Easy Fall Checkpoints

As fall approaches take a slow walk around your house and check the following:

• Visually check out all windows and doors. Look at the wood trim to ensure it is not rotted or pulling away. Check the caulk to ensure it is flexible and wellsealed. Pound in loose trim nails and re-caulk if necessary. Remove brittle, deteriorated caulk before resealing.

• Check weather stripping to ensure pliability and good seal. If you can see daylight around the door or window then you may need to install new weather stripping.

• Look around windows, doors, soffits and other areas for water intrusion. If you see dark stains or rotted areas you may have a leak and want to call a professional. After the leak is fixed you can replace damaged wood. Or, check out this great product called “Git Rot”, available at marine centers, for repairing rotted wood.

• If you have a basement check it for leaks by touching the wall, especially where it meets the floor. Sometimes, minor water issues can be corrected with sealing paint.

Getting Professional Help

If you are a very handy homeowner then do the following checks as well. Otherwise, hire a pro to:

• Have your gutters cleaned and checked. Ensure all downspouts are directed away from your house. If you don’t have gutters, consider having seamless gutters installed; they are actually quite inexpensive compared to other home improvements.

• Have the roof inspected. Many roofing companies will do this for free, just be sure to pick a reputable one. Ensure they look for gaps and issues around the chimney, plumbing stacks and any other roof penetrations.

• If you have a crawl space under your home, hire a professional to crawl under it once a year and check it out for plumbing leaks, structure issues, and animal infestation.

The old saying says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It can save you a ton of money in the long run as well.

Do You Breathe Easy at Home?

Do You Breathe Easy at Home?

How to Control Indoor Air Pollution

Pollution. We use the word to describe harmful or poisonous substances introduced into an environment. Water pollution, ground pollution, noise pollution, and air pollution are examples we most commonly relate to the outdoor environment.So it may surprise you to find that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published reports that indoor air is 2-5 and in some cases up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside.

This article will give you some recommendations to make your indoor air cleaner, healthier and safer. But first, the basics…

What is “Air”?
Air is a mixture of gases that make up Earth’s atmosphere. The part of the atmosphere that contains the right mixture of gases to support life contains nitrogen and oxygen, as well as trace amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, helium, neon and other gases. Air also contains variable amounts of water vapor. We refer to the amount of suspended water vapor as humidity.

Humidity Plays an Important Role in Indoor Air Quality
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends maintaining indoor relative humidity levels between 30% and 50% for human health and comfort. Higher humidity can create an environment where microbes can flourish and create an unsanitary condition. In addition, higher humidity can result in condensation of water on surfaces. This can hold soils and organic matter, creating a perfect incubator for mold,which can exacerbate asthma and allergies.

Air Suspends Particles
Most airborne particles are harmless. However, others can cause problems, particularly for those with asthma, allergies or immune disorders. There are four keys to keeping your indoor air clean and healthy: exclude, capture, clean and control.

Exclude – Keep contaminants out
Keeping contaminants out of the home is challenging because most airborne particles are tiny and can be everywhere. Pollen, carbon, mold spores, organic matter, insect matter, car exhaust, and plain old dirt enter the home, transported on air currents, clothing and shoes.

Reduce entry by keeping your doors and windows shut, removing shoes when entering and immediately changing your clothing after dusty activities like yard work.

There are other contaminants that originate from within the home. Pet and human dander, food particles, dust mites and their feces, cooking gases, sprays, chemicals, cleaning agents and many other particulates combine to reduce overall indoor air quality. Controlling these can be tricky, because they result from every day living activities. Your best defense is to capture, clean and control them.

Capture – filter and contain that which enters
When airborne particles enter your home, they remain suspended for a period of time. Large and dense particles drop out of the air and settle onto surfaces. Smaller, lighter particles remain suspended longer – some nearly indefinitely – and are best removed by air filtration devices and the filter on your home’s HVAC system.

Pay attention to the filters you use. Use high quality pleated filters. Don’t buy based on price alone. Get filters that are rated MERV 7 or 8. Higher MERV ratings may place excessive restriction on your ventilation system, requiring a change in configuration. Talk to an HVAC professional for more information about how to improve filtration on your ventilation system.

Clean – remove pollutants from surfaces
Eventually, particles settle on surfaces such as floors, furniture, counters, window sills, shelves and walls. Vacuuming and dusting removes most of the particles, but make sure that your vacuum cleaner has good filtration too.

Hard surfaces can be cleaned with electrostatic dusters or dust cloths that attract and hold particles, or by wiping hard surfaces with a damp cloth and wet mopping floors. Other surfaces such as carpet, area rugs and upholstery will require periodic professional cleaning to remove accumulated soils and pollutants.

Control – maintain equipment, humidity levels and filters
Proper maintenance is important. Ensure your vacuum cleaner, AC unit, range hood and other ventilation equipment are working properly. Clean or replace furnace filters at recommended intervals; usually monthly depending on the type of filter and environmental conditions.

Hansen Steam Way can help you breathe easier indoors with regularly scheduled professional carpet and upholstery cleaning. Call us today to set up your clean and healthy maintenance program.

Healthy Babies

Healthy Babies

Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) is  the sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of a child under one year of age and is sometimes referred to as “crib death.” Although no one knows what causes SIDS, there are some things you can do to make your baby safer.

Place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Although for many years, this was not considered good advice, studies have  now shown that this contributes greatly towards reducing the chance of an occurrence of SIDS. Not all babies should sleep on their backs however. Discuss this with your doctor if your baby has any medical, eating, or congenital problems.

Babies should never be placed in a crib or bed with large, loose, or fluffy blankets, pillows, or comforters. There should not beany gaps between the mattress and the crib frame.

The temperature in the room should be kept at a comfortable level. Do not allow your baby to get too warm.

Establish a smoke-free zone around your baby. Research indicates that cigarette smoke in your baby’s environment increases the risk of SIDS.

Breastfeed your baby, even if for only a short period of time. Breast milk contributes to your baby’s overall health and can decrease the risk of SIDS.

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.

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