10 Simple Ways to Increase your Physical Activity

Regardless of your shape or size, physical activity has been shown to add years to your life and life to your years. But believe it or not, the benefits of physical activity are not restricted to exercise performed in the gym. In fact, one of the easiest ways to improve your health may be through increasing the amount of low intensity physical activity you perform throughout the day. For example, simply increasing the number of steps that you take each day is very likely to reduce your risk for diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Below are some practical ways that you can incorporate physical activity into your daily life. Try one or two of the options and once they’ve become part of your routine, try a couple more.

1. Take the stairs as often as possible.

This one is as simple as it sounds. If you have to go up two floors or less, opt for the stairs. The same goes if you have to go down three floors or less. Remember, every time you take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, you are making a decision that will positively affect your long term health.

2. Drink plenty of water.

If you are constantly sipping water throughout the day, you are going to have to use the restroom at least once an hour. Every time you have to go to the bathroom, you have a guilt-free excuse to go for a 5-minute walk to the restroom and back. It’s easy to forget to take a 5-minute walk-break every hour, but it’s impossible to forget to go bathroom!

*Added bonus – staying well hydrated may also reduce feelings of hunger so this is really a win-win.

3. Park as far from the front door as possible.

Another simple but effective tactic. Whether you’re at the mall, work or school, parking the car at the edge of the parking lot forces you to walk just a little bit further than you are used to. It will only add a few seconds to your trip, but if you do it everyday it could add years to your life.

*Added bonus – less chance of getting dinged by shopping carts and bad drivers.

4. Clean your home regularly.

Most people don’t realize what a good workout cleaning can be, especially if you have a large home. Cleaning involves plenty of walking, lifting, and stretching – all of which are very good for your body. Washing dishes by hand can also be an easy way to burn a few extra calories.

5. Gardening and yard work.

Yard work is great because not only does it increase your physical activity, it also gives you an excuse to be outside. Pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedge and raking leaves are all very physically taxing and like cleaning, they use a range of muscle groups.

6. Disconnect your cable for the summer.

Time spent watching TV is an independent predictor of disease, especially for kids. It’s not surprising when you think about it – the only time that most kids aren’t moving around is when they’re sitting in front of the TV. Get rid of the cable and suddenly you’ve got one less reason to spend your days sitting on the couch.

7. Buy a pedometer.

Pedometers are beeper-sized gadgets that count the number of steps that you take each day. They are a terrific way to measure the amount of physical activity you are getting and can also serve as a great motivator to make the decision to walk whenever possible. Aim for at least 10,000 steps each day. However, any increase you make is likely to bring health benefits, so don’t feel bad if you can’t get up to 10,000 right away.

8. Use active transportation.

Walking, roller blading, and biking are all great ways to get around, and they often take a lot less time than you’d expect.

9. Take a walk during lunch.

In an ideal world, we would all have 45 minutes for a relaxed lunch. If you happen to enjoy this luxury, consider taking half your lunch break to go for a walk either alone or with someone else you work with. It will help wake you up for the afternoon as well as giving you a chance to chat with your co-workers.

10. Go for a family walk after dinner.

It’s a great chance to spend some time together, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise all at the same time.

Disclaimer: While the activities suggested are all low to moderate intensity, speak to your physician if you have any health concerns before increasing your physical activity levels. The information here should be used as a general guide only, and should not be construed as specific medical advice.

Dress in Layers to Survive (& Enjoy) MN Winters

The wind is whipping and the forecast says the “polar vortex” is looming again. Days like today it would be nice to stay in my pajamas and slippers and never leave the house. For most of us, staying indoors all day is just not possible and I do like to get outside and embrace our winter season. I am going to give you a few tips about how to dress in layers to keep warm outside while enjoying the winter weather. Most of these apply to when you will be outside for an extended period of time.

My daughter enjoying winter at Powder Ridge.

My daughter enjoying winter at Powder Ridge.

To be outside on those really cold days you do need to dress warm. Buying a few pieces of warm clothing can make all the difference. I have found base layers to be a must. Your base layer is your next to skin layer. Many are made to “wick” or transfer sweat away from your body to your outer layers where it can evaporate. I have found this out the hard way. When I dress too warm and am not wearing a base layer with wicking ability I sometimes sweat and now that sweat is making me very cold! Once you get cold it can cause a misery so deep that you may never want to leave the comfort of the indoors again. With your base layers you can remove your heavier outer layers as you get warm. There are different ratings to base layers which depend on the level of activity you are doing and the outdoor temperatures. I find it best to be too warm, rather than too cold! 

After your base layer you have you mid layer. These are your everyday items such as tee-shirts and lightweight pants. These provide insulation and protection. You can also find mid layer clothing with wicking ability. I usually put on a tank top and long sleeve tee shirt (or two!) 

You can then move to your insulating layer. The purpose of this is to retain your body heat and provide warmth. I usually wear a larger loose sweatshirt or fleece sweatshirt as my insulating layer. You can buy pieces of clothing made specifically to be used as an insulating layer. 

Your last layer is your outerwear or shell layer. This is your jacket and snow pants. The purpose of this layer is to protect your whole body from wind and precipitation. There are so many of options to choose from in this category.  Ultimately, I find that if wind or water (especially wind!) can get through this layer, you will be miserable! It also needs proper ventilation, otherwise moisture (your sweat) will not be able to evaporate. I finally invested in a down parka which I love.   Although not very fashionable, it is very warm! Good gloves are also important and those little disposable hand warmers are amazing too. Throw one in your pocket and when your hands start to get cold put one inside your glove. I found I only need to use one and just alternate between hands to warm them up. I like to wear two pairs of socks as well. I wear a thinner pair of socks with warmer wool ones over that. I have had the same pair of black snowmobile boots for years and my feet hardly ever get cold. Again, they are not very fashionable, but they are warm! 

If you are starting from scratch you could be spending more money than you would like on these warm clothes. However, most of us Minnesotans have some of these pieces that we can add to. (Sporting Goods stores like REI, Cabela’s, and Scheels have a great selection of winter clothing.) I believe myself to be a true Minnesotan and love all four seasons. Winter is my least favorite season, but I have found many things to love about it. We all live here for a reason so let’s quit the complaining and get outside!  Well… you can complain a little bit!

This blog post was written by Stephanie Swanson, RN, Hospice Director at Divine Hospice Care.


Personal Care Attendant (PCA) – Kerkhoven, MN

Position Summary: Provides personal care services under the direction of the Registered Nurse or Therapist. The PCA is assigned to specific clients by the Registered Nurse or other appropriate professional and performs services for clients as necessary to maintain their personal comfort.

Reports to: RN Case Manager; Clinical Supervisor; Therapist

Open Positions:

Benson Office

  • PCA position in Kerkhoven; part-time hours, Monday, Wednesday, Fridays

To apply for a position: Please complete the entire application

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – St. Cloud, MN

Thank you for your interest in a career with Divine Home Care! This position has been filled. Please check back again soon.

Personal Care Attendant (PCA) – Montevideo, MN

Position Summary: Provides personal care services under the direction of the Registered Nurse or Therapist. The PCA is assigned to specific clients by the Registered Nurse or other appropriate professional and performs services for clients as necessary to maintain their personal comfort.

Reports to: RN Case Manager; Clinical Supervisor; Therapist

Open Positions:

Benson Offiice

  • Home Health Aide (HHA) and PCA positions in Montevideo; Part-time hours

To apply for a position: Please complete the entire application

Make Happiness a Priority in 2014

What brings you happiness and joy? Are you able to easily name a few things or do you Happinessreally have to stop and think about that question? Do you feel like you are just too busy to enjoy the little things life has to offer? In my opinion, being able to relax and enjoy life should be a priority.  Without occasionally taking a break from the stressors of life, we don’t give our minds and bodies time to relax.  We run down easier and this can can lead to illnesses and emotional instability.  [Read more…]

Healthy Habits – Amidst the Christmas Season

We have come to that time of year! For each of us, some of our lives get busier, some slower, some wait patiently while some struggle to bear the excitement.  Nonetheless, food takes a huge role in family and friends gatherings during the holidays.  

Most of us recognize the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Why is eating a healthy diet so important? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “A healthy diet can reduce the risk of major chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers.” [Read more…]

National Home Care Month!

November is National Home Care Month. This month is a time when the home care community joins together to celebrate and raise awareness about the many individuals who make home care possible. From an array of health, therapeutic and social services delivered to patients in their homes, to the patients themselves whose courage and independence inspires us all – we work together to provide affordable, cost-effective, appropriate care in the comfort of the patient’s home.

Home care allows people to live independently, providing vital support for families while improving a patient’s quality of life. Generally speaking, individuals are most comfortable in their own homes. “Home,” whether that is in your family home, an apartment, assited living or relative’s home, it is where people experience the greatest sense of security, stability and belonging. Those receiving home care include the elderly and persons with disabilities, as well as chronically ill and post-acute care patients of all ages.

Home care is an increasingly effective option for treating and managing a growing range of acute and chronic health conditions (i.e. congestive heart failure, diabetes, recuperation after surgery) outside of traditionally defined health care settings. Home care results in shortening a person’s length of stay in a hospital or nursing home by providing post-acute care that would otherwise occur only in a hospital.

A health crisis our country is facing can be summed up in two numbers: 5 and 50. These numbers stand for the 5 percent of patients who account for 50 percent of rising health care costs. For the top 5 percent of Americans who suffer from multiple chronic conditions, home care is the cost-effective answer to keep them out of hospitals and in their homes.

As the baby boomers in America continue to age, home care is projected to grow exponentially. Nurses, home health aides and personal care aides are among the top five occupations projected to see the largest increase in jobs in the near future.

The home care nurse managing and treating chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, helps oversee their client’s medications, check vital signs, monitor blood sugar levels and zero in on the most serious and oftentimes, most preventable health risk factors. In-home therapists help patients retain mobility and avoid injuries that could bring them back to the emergency room. Skilled home care agencies, made up of aides, nurses and therapists, help thousands of people with disabilities and medically frail or elderly patients avoid unnecessary or premature nursing home admissions and opt instead for the comfort of home.

We encourage you to join the growing number of passionate health care professionals that provide care and compassion and effectively work to provide high quality, cost-effective care at home!       

This blog was written by Little Falls RN Case Manager, Anne Janson.       

Alzheimer’s Disease – It’s Not Normal Aging

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Click here for an interactive tour of how Alzheimer’s affects the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease has 7 stages but not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate.  According to Mayo Clinic, the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease you may notice are increasing forgetfulness and mild confusion. Over time, the disease has a growing impact on your memory, your ability to speak and write coherently and your judgment and problem solving. If you have Alzheimer’s, you may be the first to notice that you’re having unusual difficulty remembering things and organizing your thoughts. However, you may not recognize that anything is wrong, even when changes are noticeable to your family members, close friends or co-workers.

Many times family will notice slight changes in cognitive and mental abilities that the person may not realize are happening. The family may notice their loved one having a difficult time counting change or remembering how to make a favorite recipe. It’s been said that you can see the difference between “old age” and Alzheimer’s disease: old age forgets where they put there keys, Alzheimer’s disease forgets what the keys are for. 

The Alzheimer’s Association provides a list of important points to remember about the disease:

  • Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, even though the greatest known risk factor is increasing age. (The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older). But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.
  • Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
  • Alzheimer’s has no cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with the disease and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset and prevent it from developing.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or have noticed signs and symptoms according to this information given, please contact your primary doctor to discuss your options and try to delay the progression. If you are a family member caring for a loved one with this disease, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Associations is a wonderful resource!  They provide a 24/7 help line (800.272.3900), access to support groups, connect you with local resources and are always working toward a cure.


This blog post was written by the RN Branch Manager of our Little Falls office, Lyssa Mooney.

September is National Preparedness Month

This month we are reminded to plan and prepare for disasters.  The Department of Homeland Security and the Red Cross want us to be aware of simple steps we can take in our pledge to prepare

We have already seen a number of disasters this year, including tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and most recently, Hurricane Isaac.  It is important to plan in advance as your family may not be together when disaster strikes.  Things to discuss with your family would be how you plan to get to a safe place, how you will contact each other, how you will meet back up and what you will do in different “what if” situations.

Making a plan involves a few simple steps that you and your family can do together.  Here is a helpful list:

  • Have enough supplest to last at least 3 days.
  • Designate locations where you can meet your family and also, designate an out-of-area contact.
  • Create an emergency supply kit. Include at least 3 days worth of water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, prescription and non-prescription medicine, batteries, weather radio, soap, toilet paper, clothing and bedding.
  • Learn first aid, CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator.
  • Learn how to turn off utilities in you home.  

Other important things to discuss and consider:

  1. “What if” questions. “If this happens… what are we going to do?”
  2. Your plan will have to be tailored to everyone in your family depending on their age and abilities.
  3. Do you have a plan for your pets?
  4. You can sign up to get monthly preparedness tips from FEMA by texting PREPARE to 43362

Disaster can strike at any time and being prepared is a family’s best defense. Click here to access your own Family Emergency Plan that FEMA has created for you to fill out and keep a copy of in your emergency kit.

This blog was written by Litchfield RN Case Manager, Becky Macik.