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Caregiving Now!

Research, Trends, and Products
By Erin Hansen

Eliminating Immunotoxicants from the Home

With cold and flu season just around the corner, many invest significant time and money in taking measures to boost their immune systems and protect their health through the winter. Ironically, despite all these precautions, it’s not uncommon for people, especially elders, to get sick anyway. However, Debra Lynn Dadd, one of the world’s leading experts on chemical toxicity and author of Home Safe Home, says that cold and flu season may be intensified by exposure to toxic chemicals in our everyday lives. And even worse, these chemicals may actually cause cold and flu-like symptoms.

A healthy immune system recognizes foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria and fights them off. Unfortunately, our bodies are bombarded with toxic chemicals on a daily basis that leave our immune system compromised and vulnerable to infection. Again, this vulnerability is amplified in the systems of elders. Plastics, pesticides and pollutants of all kinds are found in most consumer products, and exposure to them can severely damage our immune systems. According to Dadd, there are so many toxic chemicals that can weaken the immune system that they’re given a special name: “immunotoxicants.”

On the other hand, sometimes what may seem like a cold or flu may actually be chemical poisoning. For example, during the winter, many people turn on their gas heat. Exposure to combustion by-products from burning gas can result in flu symptoms, says Dadd, symptoms not relieved by taking cold or flu medications.

In order to boost the immune systems of our older loved ones and protect their health all winter as much as possible, Dadd recommends five simple steps to eliminating immunotoxicants from the home:

1. Open a window. While the tendency is to keep the windows closed during the winter due to the cold, it’s a good idea to open one every now and then to let any toxic fumes from heaters out and fresh air in.

2. Avoid disinfectants. It’s natural to reach for a can of aerosol disinfectant and spray it everywhere to protect against colds and flu. But disinfectants contain many immunotoxicants. These toxic chemicals reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection from the germs they’re killing. Better to strengthen the immune system and kill germs with hot water or tea tree oil.

3. Eliminate nonstick cookware. A study from the Environmental Working Group through West Virginia University found that subjects with a higher level in their blood of a chemical found in Teflon had lower levels of a key protein that helps keep the immune system strong. For better health, try cast iron, clay, porcelain enamel, glass or one of the new PFOA-free “green pans.”

4. Remove permanent markers. These contain many immunotoxicants; use water-based markers instead.

5. Sleep on untreated cotton or linen sheets. All polyester/cotton and permanent-press cotton sheets are treated with a formaldehyde finish that can’t be removed and that can cause runny noses, itchy eyes and other cold or flu-like symptoms.

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Large Print Playing Cards

Large Print Playing Cards

LARGE PRINT AND TALKING ITEMS is a wonderful resource for large-print and talking games and commonly used items for the elderly. They understand that impaired vision and/or compromised dexterity shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying traditional pastimes and carrying out daily activities that we often take for granted. Their inventory includes:

Large Print Playing Cards for Seniors ~ The cards themselves are standard size, but have 1-1/2” numbers. Each suit is a different color, also, to make playing even easier!
Large Print Check & Deposit Register for Seniors ~ Features large print (24-30 point) type. Size is 8-1/2” x 3-1/2.” Contains 40 entry blanks.

Big Button Phone

Big Button Phone

Big Button Photo Phone ~ With this photo phone, your senior can call family and friends by simply touching their picture (there are memory slots for 9 photos that you program with the appropriate #s), making the phone especially useful for a senior who is somewhat forgetful or who has low vision and can focus on images more easily than on numbers. The Photo Phone contains a powerful amplifier that allows incoming volume to be increased up to 20+db . It also features an extra large keypad with high contrast numbers for visibility, tone/pulse dialing, and desk or wall mountability. Dimensions: 1.75 inch H x 7 inch L x 9.5 inch W.

Large Piece Jigsaw Puzzle ~ These low vision large print jigsaw puzzles have larger than average size pieces. They are easy to handle, easy to see, but still challenging. The larger pieces are also great for the very young, so grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy solving the puzzles together.

Extra large button TV remote ~ This oversized remote, featuring huge buttons, is for visually impaired seniors who need a very large remote to hang on to. The extra large buttons measure .62” on the 9.5” x 2.5” x 1.25” television remote. It controls most TVs, VCRs, cable boxes, satellite dishes and DVD players. Your senior may need assistance to initially program the remote ~ which comes with a lighted keypad that uses 2 AA batteries (first set included free) to their TV. Comes with setup instructions.

An old adage states, “With age, comes wisdom.” Hopefully that wisdom includes lots of good food safety information. Why? As we mature, our bodies change. Seniors become more vulnerable to illness and, once ill, it can take them longer to recover.

Knowledge of safe food handling is needed to help seniors stay healthy. It’s important to understand the effect of pathogens and other microorganisms on elderly bodies. The best preventative is understanding the safeguards necessary to remain free from foodborne illness. Some of the changes seniors undergo lessen the body’s ability to combat bacteria. For example, there is a decrease in stomach acid secretion, which is a natural defense against ingested bacteria. Over time, the immune system may become less adept in ridding the body of bacteria.

The sense of taste or smell, sometimes affected by medication or illness, may not always sound an alert when meat is spoiled or milk is sour. By knowing how the body changes and using safe food handling techniques, seniors can easily protect themselves and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Some seniors are homebound and must rely on delivered food. Others are new widowers with little cooking experience. Whether seniors are part of these groups or experienced cooks, adhering to the following up-to-date food safety guidelines is just plain good wisdom.


• Refrigerate or freeze all perishable foods. Refrigerator temperature should be 40 °F or less; freezer temperature should be 0 °F or less. Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to check the temperatures.

• Never thaw food at room temperature. Always thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in a microwave. When thawing in the microwave, you must cook the food immediately.
• Wash hands with warm, soapy water before preparing food and after contact with raw meat and poultry.

• Wash cutting boards and other work surfaces after contact with raw meat and poultry. Sanitize surfaces with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per quart of water before using them for other foods.

• Never leave perishable food out of refrigeration over two hours. If room temperature is 90 °F or above, food should not be left out over an hour. This would include take-out foods, leftovers from a restaurant meal and Meals-on-Wheels deliveries.

• Thoroughly cook raw meat, poultry and fish (see the following chart of internal temperatures). Do not partially cook food. Have a constant heat source, and always set the oven at 325 °F or higher when cooking. There is no need to bring food to room temperature before cooking.


These temperatures ensure that foodborne bacteria have been destroyed. For reasons of personal taste or texture preferences, consumers may choose to cook meat and poultry to higher temperatures.

• 145 °F – Beef, lamb and veal steaks, roasts and chops cooked medium rare (cooked medium to 160 °F).

• 160 °F – Egg dishes. Ground beef, veal and lamb. Pork, all cuts.

• 165 °F – Leftovers, Poultry, Stuffing and casseroles.


Eating Within Two Hours? Pick up or receive the food HOT … and enjoy eating within two hours.

Not Eating Within Two Hours? Keeping food warm is not enough. Harmful bacteria can multiply between 40 and 140 °F. Set oven temperature high enough to keep the hot food at 140 °F or above. Check internal temperature of food with a meat thermometer. Covering with foil will help keep the food moist.

Eating Much Later? It is not a good idea to try and keep the food hot longer than two hours. Food will taste better and be safely stored if you:

• Place it in shallow containers.

• Divide large quantities into smaller portions.

• Cover it loosely and refrigerate immediately.

• Reheat it thoroughly when ready to eat.

Reheating? Reheat thoroughly to temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming. In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate it so it heats evenly. Allow stand time for more even heating.
Consult your microwave owner’s manual for recommended cooking time, power level and stand time. Inadequate heating can contribute to illness.


Keep Cold Food Cold: Eat or refrigerate the food immediately. Cold food should be held at 40 °F or colder.

The Two-Hour Rule: Perishable food should not be at room temperature longer than two hours. Discard food which has been left at room temperature longer than two hours. For room temperatures over 90 °F, discard food after one hour.

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Seniors Need Wisdom on Food Safety.

3x Clip-On Medicine Bottle Magnifier

3x Clip-On Medicine Bottle Magnifier

Designed for helping elders read the labels on their medication, this magnifier easily clips on to most medicine bottles and weighs only 1 oz. At only $7.99, it’s an invaluable way to help safeguard against medication confusion. For more useful products like the MagRXTM Magnifier, visit

Nobel Prize-winning jellyfish research
brings possible Alzheimer’s cure into view
Decades of research into the chemistry behind the colorful luminescent glow of jellyfish have resulted in several major advances in the field of biotechnology and recently earned three research scientists a 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. But according to Mark Underwood, co-founder and president of the biotech company Quincy Bioscience, the contributions to science and medicine made by the three prize-winning researchers (Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Y. Tsien), may be much greater than first realized.

“We believe their work has unearthed a possible key for halting the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases,” says Underwood.

In 1962, researcher Osamu Shimomura discovered a protein within the jellyfish which glowed in the presence of calcium. This glowing protein, which Shimomura named aequorin, has since become one of the most important tools in biochemistry because of its ability to attach itself to other biochemical components. It can be used as a tag to illuminate previously invisible biochemical processes deep within cells. Combined with the enhancements made by researchers Chalfie and Tsien, the protein has become an invaluable tool in the laboratory.

But Underwood says that the glowing protein’s ability to bind itself to calcium may prove to be a far greater asset for scientists than its use as a colorful tagging mechanism.

“Too much calcium within a brain cell impairs its function,” says Underwood. “Unfortunately, we lose our ability to regulate brain cell calcium as we age because at about forty, our brains produce less calcium-binding proteins, allowing calcium levels to rise throughout the nervous system. Neurons are flooded with dangerous levels of calcium and our brains slow down.”

Aequorin, with its ability to bind to calcium and lower its concentration within a cell, can be used as a replacement for our own missing calcium-binding proteins, and thereby slow age-related loss of cognitive function, memory, and alertness.

The jellyfish protein is very similar to the calcium binding proteins found in the human nervous system which become depleted in age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Data demonstrating the neuroprotective ability of aequorin was first presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in 2006. Additionally, the jellyfish protein has no known level of toxicity to humans.

“We are truly blessed by the work of these Nobel-winning scientists for their vision and dedication. Their ground-breaking work has provided the opportunities to pursue the new application of this protein and to offer hope to the many that are afflicted with age-related disorders,” says Underwood.

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