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.

 

What is Glaucoma?

(This blog post was written by Sarah Johnson, Marketing Director for Divine Home Care.)

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month and I wanted to take the opportunity to touch on this serious topic. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the eye’s optic nerve and will cause vision loss or blindness. There is no cure for this disease once vision is lost. However, by getting regular eye exams, you can help protect your eye sight and slow the progression of glaucoma if you’re already affected by it. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

This is me after my first surgery to remove the cataract.

This is me after my first surgery to remove the cataract.

Glaucoma is a really important topic to me personally because I am monitored regularly for the disease. I was born with a congenital cataract (a clouding of the lens) in my right eye. I had the cataract removed when I was two years old, wore a bright blue contact for five years and spent a few years wearing a patch over my “good” eye to strengthen my “bad” eye. The patch was the hardest part for both my parents and myself. When I was seven, I had a lens implant surgery and have regular eye exams to make sure the implant is where it should be and more importantly, to monitor the inner pressure of my eye (IOP).

Preparation for my lens implant surgery.

Preparation for my lens implant surgery.

A brief overview of our eye anatomy (stay with me):

The front part of our eye has fluid that flows through the pupil and absorbs in the bloodstream. The eye’s drainage system helps this process. When it is working properly, we have normal eye pressure, but when the drainage system becomes clogged, fluid builds up in the eye and the pressure increases. Normal eye pressure is different for everyone. When eye pressure is at a level that is higher than the individual can tolerate, the optic nerve can be damaged, causing glaucoma. Therefore, high eye pressure can be a serious risk factor for glaucoma. Another risk factor is high blood pressure. Divine Home Care works hard to educate people on the importance of heart health and this is another reason why. Other risk factors of glaucoma include:

  • African Americans: glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians
  • People over the age of 60, especially if you are Hispanic
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Trauma to the eye: most common cause is sports-related injuries

What you can do:

Know the risk factors – do you fit into one of the categories above? If so, schedule an eye exam right away. Because glaucoma usually doesn’t have any symptoms, early detection by your eye doctor is critical. There are many different tests that can be done to diagnose the disease. Whenever I visit my eye doctor, she measures my inner eye pressure - it is a totally painless test. Make your eye health a priority in 2014 and schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today!

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...]

Nursing Scholarship Winners

This was a very exciting spring for us at Divine Home Care! It was the first year that we gave away $1,000 scholarships to five seniors going to college in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing. In order to be considered for the Divine Home Care Nursing Scholarship, students had to meet the following criteria: 1. Plan to pursue a degree in nursing 2. Graduating with a GPA of 3.0 or better and 3. Be passionate about caring for others in the healthcare field. We were absolutely blown away by the talented, involved and caring seniors that applied. Below are our scholarship winners! [Read more...]

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

With June 1st right around the corner, I wanted to make sure to squeeze this blog in before then. May is National Stroke Awareness month and it’s an incredibly important issue to bring awareness to. If you take only one thing from this post, take this: call 911 immediately if you or someone else is having a stroke. Early treatment will save lives and help prevent extensive damage caused by the stroke. [Read more...]

Paying for Home Care – Utilizing your Medicare Benefit

“How much does it cost?” This is one of the first questions people typically have when it comes to utilizing home care services. Divine Home Care accepts all forms of payment, however, I am just going to focus on utilizing your Medicare home health benefit in this post. [Read more...]

Employee Spotlight – Showing Appreciation for our Caregivers

This month, Divine Home Care launched a new program to recognize our caregivers. We know the importance of hiring and retaining great employees to help make our company the best it can be. The Office Manager from each of our offices will choose one of their staff to feature in the Employee Spotlight section of our quarterly employee newsletter. Below are this quarter’s recognized employees! [Read more...]

Brighten Dark Winter Days – Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Winter Blues

I was asking around the office this morning to see if anyone had any ideas about a blog topic I should write on today. One of the nurses said, “Write about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s that time of year and I’m really noticing the winter blues myself.” This sounded familiar so I went back through our old blogs to see if I’d written on this topic before. Wouldn’t you know I wrote on this very topic exactly one year ago today! A sunny, warm beach is definitely on my mind and I find myself feeling very sluggish on a daily basis the last few weeks so I thought I would post the blog again to remind myself and all of you how to cope with the winter blues. [Read more...]

Giving Back

At one of our offices about a month ago, we were discussing what we wanted to do for a little office Christmas party. Normally, we draw a name from the hat and spend $15-$20 on that person, have a potluck lunch and then exchange those gifts. This year was a bit different. We got to thinking – as fun as it is to receive presents, there is nothing that we want for $20 that we can’t go out and buy on our own. There are, however, millions of people in this world who go without every single day and our $20 gift would mean the world to them. [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...]