Friday, December 15, 2017

Being Grateful - Can Change Your Life

The concept of keeping a gratitude journal has gained attention as a focal point for brain writings and research. Forbes published an article within recent years that explored the value of keeping a gratitude journal.  

Something happens neurologically when we reflect on our choices, relationships and special events in our lives. Actively reflecting starts to hardwire neurological changes in the brain. If you’re constantly focusing on emotions that make you fearful, angry and resentful, they eventually get hardwired into your brain. The opposite outcome holds true for gratitude.  

Research has found that keeping a gratitude journal can help pull you out of negative patterns, and start you on a course that leads to positive thoughts and actions. Gratitude journals have been shown to be even more effective than simply focusing on having positive thoughts in your day.  

Keeping one has many different benefits:  

One of the biggest improvements comes with the ability to open up new relationships, or to communicate better in your current relationships. Reflecting and being grateful for the people that help you in life expands your empathy, and empathy is one of the cornerstones of healthy relationships.  

It also improves physical health. Research, published in 2012 in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, found that people stuck in negative emotional patterns feel pain more intensely than people who practice gratitude and positive thinking on a daily basis.  

Keeping a gratitude journal also helps people manage depression and feelings of aggression.  

A study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people who wrote in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes at night before going to bed experienced better quality of sleep on a regular basis.  

It also has a positive impact on self-esteem. Sitting down to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you’re grateful for ingrains the value of the experience in your memory. This also helps to reduce social comparisons, because focusing on what you appreciate about yourself impedes the negative impulse to judge others.  

Gratitude journaling has also been shown to be a therapeutic tool that can help people deal with conditions like PTSD and other stress-related disorders.  

It costs little more than a cheap composition notebook or simply maintaining a special file on your computer’s hard drive. I think you’ll find if you take the time to reflect on your life and the things you’re grateful for, results will be nothing short of amazing.  

Contributor: Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC. 

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society of America does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Hazards of Paying the Bills and all that Paper!

Paper may seem innocuous. It arrives our homes daily in the form of mail, magazines and newspapers, and it piles up often in a haphazard manner. We usually don’t give it too much thought. But for many people, especially seniors, and those living with Dementia (or as a caregiver), bills and personal papers can lead to identity theft and fraud.

The best practice for managing monthly bills is to shred all documents that contain personal information. It is recommended that documents be shredded, because thieves have gone so far as to steal garbage to obtain innocent victims’ personal financial information. Many banks and community service organizations offer a free "shredding day," and it's worth packing up a couple of file boxes, worst case, once or twice year, if you don't yet have or can't afford a personal/home shredder.

So, if you are receiving monthly bills in the mail, they should be shredded after paying them, or as soon as possible. Documents that are necessary for tax or other important purposes should be maintained for a period of time specified by your lawyer and accountant. However, such documents should be kept in a small locked, waterproof, fireproof filing cabinet so they can only be accessed by authorized parties.

In February 2016, the New York Times published an article about a scam artist who was able to steal many tens of thousands of dollars from a victim, simply by stealing a check that the victim had placed in the mailbox.

Once the criminal stole the check, he was able to empty significant amounts of funds from the victim’s account, because he had the bank’s routing number and the account number. This incident highlights another opportunity for criminal activity based on unsecured documents:  mail theft.  If you or a loved one are not using online bill paying, consider mailing checks in a secure U.S. Post Office mailbox rather than leaving the envelopes to be picked up in a personal mailbox attached to the house, apartment or out at the end of your driveway.

If you need assistance with bill paying, consider using a service. There are a number of services available throughout the country like the one I founded called, SilverBills. We receive, scrutinize and ensure that your bills are paid accurately and on-time. You no longer need to open envelopes, write checks or remember deadlines. Once enrolled in this type of service, you will likely receive a lot less paper in the mail and that will further decrease the potential for theft and fraud.

A last reminder: securely keep, and don't shred important paper documents like your social security card (which is not really a card - it's more like a piece of thick paper), certain tax, financial, legal, insurance and healthcare documents. Shredding is pretty permanent, so if ever in doubt, ask your attorney, insurance agent, banker or financial professional before shredding.

Contributor: Marci Lobel-Esrig founded SilverBills after witnessing the challenges faced by her elderly relative paying bills on time and correctly. Marci has been a practicing attorney for more than 20 years. Marci received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. degree Magna Cum Laude from Columbia College, Columbia University.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.