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Effective communication is the cornerstone of healthy relationships in that it gives couples the emotional tools with which to successfully address and resolve conflicts as they arise. Couples who have mastered the art of effective communication recognize it as an active process through which information is both exchanged and understood.

Have you been wanting to form a book club but didn't quite know where to start? Perhaps you've moved to a new area and want to meet people and make friends. This is how I started my book club.

Start with a book swap party
I began by hosting a book swap party (you can see more details in this post). A book swap party is low-key enough that you can invite mere acquaintances without it being weird. Invite your hairdresser, the mom who you greet at kid pick-up time at school, the neighbour you've been wanting to get to know better. Get them to bring friends. Remember, not everyone you invite will be interested in books, and of course not everyone will be able to come, so extend a lot of invitations.

When the kids are grown and you’re all alone, day-to-day life can become boring and lonely. For many empty-nesters, the solution is a furry companion. A pet can make every day more enjoyable, whether you enjoy playing fetch with a dog or holding a purring cat.
If you're housebound, a pet's companionship could play a role in preventing the depression that often goes hand-in-hand with loneliness. Pets can also be a boon for those who need to get out more. If you have trouble getting motivated to exercise, knowing that your dog needs to be walked every day forces you to get out of the house, enjoy the fresh air and stay fit.

Experts have identified numerous health benefits associated with pet ownership.

Exercise: Dog owners can enjoy the benefits of routine exercise; regular walking can aid in weight loss, heart health and diabetes management.

Stress Relief/Blood Pressure: A study of stockbrokers found that those who adopted a dog or cat had lower blood pressure readings during times of stress than those without pets.

Mood: Pets can reduce feelings of loneliness, and may reduce the risk of depression.

Heart Health: Some studies have suggested that heart attack patients with pets survive longer than their counterparts without pets. Also, pet ownership can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Research shows that Alzheimer's patients have less anxious outbursts if there is a pet in the home.

If the benefits of pet owner­ship sound appealing, consider adopting a cat or dog that needs a loving home. If a cat or dog is not an option, don't forget about birds, hamsters, rabbits, turtles and many other critters that might like to share your home!

If adopting a pet is not an option for you, you may want to consider volunteering at your local shelter or rescue group!

To locate the animal shelter nearest you visit http://www.adoptapet.com/animal-shelters.

Writing Your Life Story – Len Willett Stark
The Memoir Book – Patti Miller
Writing Your Life Stories – Bill Roorbach
Thinking about a Memoir – Abigail Thomas
Aging and Reminiscence Processes
P. G. Coleman
Memories are Made of This - author unknown
A Professional’s Guide to Older Adults’ Life Review: Releasing the Peace Within
J. Magee
Reminiscence – A. Norris
Reminiscence: Finding Meaning in Memories - author unknown
Reminiscence-Life Review in the Aged: A Guide for The Elderly, their Families, Friends and Service Providers – E. B. Adams
Reminiscence-The Key to Healthy Aging – Carmel Sheridan
The Voice of the Past: Oral History
P. Thompson

http://www.colapublib.org - County of Los Angeles Public Library Reference and learning
https://familysearch.org - The largest genealogy organization in the world
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com - Connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research
http://www.ancestry.com - The world's largest online family history resource
http://usgenweb.org -A group of volunteers working together to provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and all 50 states
http://www.findagrave.com - Locate listings of cemeteries
http://www.cyndislist.com - Comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online
http://www.lifebio.com- Helps people of all ages and backgrounds to capture life stories

With thanks to BoomerCafe.com

Back in the 1980s, when every baby boomer was young, “Golden Girls” was a huge hit on television, featuring four single women who were housemates. Well, guess what: they were the age of older baby boomers today. That’s why we liked a story we saw on the PBS NewsHour. As PBS’s online writer Margaret Myers puts it, more single baby boomers are taking cues from “Golden Girls” and building a future together.

Remember your first roommate? Your first roommate who wasn’t your sibling? It was probably in college or just after you graduated when you thought the world was open to a million possibilities, and you and your best friend would conquer the world. Well turns out roommates aren’t just wasted on the young. Baby Boomers are realizing the benefits of communal living, too.

With thanks to Familytreemagazine.com

Not sure where to begin your genealogy search? Follow this sure-fire checklist.

1. Gather what you already know about your family.
Scour your basement, attic and closets (and those of your family members) and collect family records, old photos, letters, diaries, photocopies from family Bibles, even newspaper clippings. E-mail far-flung relatives to ask whether they have records that may be of help for your genealogy quest.

2. Talk to your relatives.
Ask your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about their memories. Don't ask just about facts and dates—get the stories of their growing up and of the ancestors they remember. Try to phrase questions with "why," "how" and "what." (See our tips for oral-history interviewing.)

With thanks to Leigh Anne Wilkes From yourhomebasedmom.com

Learn a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own DIY Family Tree Chalk Board. Blogger Leigh Anne Wilkes used a frame from an old faded print she had hanging around the house. Her husband Jim cut a piece of thin masonite board to fit the frame (27 x 27) and she painted it with chalkboard paint. Then Leigh started going through all her old family photos. Fortunately for her several years ago she had scanned in all of her family photos so she already had them digitized. Leigh Anne didn’t want to use the original photos since they are safely tucked away in an archival quality scrapbook so she used copies.

It seems that new technology can bring out the worst in people. While mobile phones seem to accentuate people's rudeness, there's no need to be one of the "uncouth masses." Master your mobile-phone manners, and you'll be a model of digital-lifestyle politeness. Here are a few mobile phone etiquette tips to get you started.

Go Silent at the Movies
There's nothing more distracting in a movie theater than cell phones ringing and beeping like a choir of unwanted electronic crickets. They make it impossible to concentrate on the action or dialog. Be considerate of your fellow moviegoers, and set your phone to vibrate. Also make sure your phone is silent when you receive texts. The same courtesy applies in church, meetings, golf games, and libraries.

Don't Shine in the Darkness
Another movie-related tip: don't operate your phone in a darkened movie theater if it means activating your screen. The glow of your phone competes against the brightness of the screen. (Even Madonna was slammed for texting during a movie.) Next time you're at a movie, wait till it's done to look up Tom Cruise's filmography or to Tweet your favorite dialog.

Let It Ring, Let It Ring
When you're in a face-to-face conversation and your phone rings or you get a text, don't simply answer it or check the text. First ask, "Do you mind if I check that?" Wait for an answer; your conversation partner may actually mind. Don't assume that just by asking you have done your duty. Then, be willing to wait until your conversation is done to see who was trying to reach you. To be extra considerate, silence your phone for the remainder of the conversation.

Keep It Down in Public
Mobile phone users tend to talk far too loudly when in public. Don't be a shouter! Always keep your voice at a moderate level or even a bit lower than usual. Speaking on a mobile phone is sort of like speaking directly into someone's ear; a little volume goes a long way. The low-voice rule is doubly true when you're having a heated personal conversation. Never shout or yell on your mobile phone in public. The sheer loudness is incredibly annoying to others, besides, no one wants to hear your relationship problems.

Don't Look It Up
In the middle of a mobile phone conversation, there's little that's more annoying to your conversation partner than if you stop talking and look up something on your phone. While you're doing research, they're simply unable to communicate with you. Worse, if they suddenly need to end the conversation, they're placed in the awkward position of having to hang up without telling you first. To avoid these problems, explain first that you need to look something up. Then, ask if the other person minds if you hang up, do some research, and then call back afterward with the needed information.

Although most assisted living homes do a great job of caring for residents, they may lack the extra attention that a family member or close friend would give. You can help to make assisted living a more enjoyable experience by spending time with them, and helping with tasks that are no longer easy to perform.

1-Lunch or Dinner Companion
Assisted living centers try hard to provide nutritious and tasty meals for their residents, but may become routine. Taking your loved one to lunch or dinner can be a wonderful break and can help to spark their appetite. Pizza, pasta, Chinese food, or even fast food entrees can be a nice change from meals offered at the assisted living home.

2 –Transportation for Errands
Seniors may need assistance performing small but necessary errands like a trip to the post office, a stop to pick up greeting cards for friends and family, or a visit to the local drug store to pick up personal items. These small errands can make someone feel independent and engaged in daily activities that we may take for granted. By being their transportation and companion for these errands, you can help to make their world brighter.

3 -Escort for Movie or Theater Outing
Residents in assisted living often miss activities such as going to the movies or attending a theater show. You can provide an afternoon of entertainment and enjoyment by purchasing some tickets and taking them to an event. It's not difficult to pack up a walker or wheelchair, and you are likely to get assistance from the staff of the event.

4 -Medical Care Advocate
When visiting your loved one, it's always a good idea to do a thorough cursory assessment of their physical condition. Make note of issues, such as weight loss, personal grooming or changes in mental condition. Any significant changes should be a reason for alerting the director or social services advocate at the home. You may find that your loved-one may require a change of medication or a physical examination to determine the source of the problem.

5 - Companion for Outdoor Activities
Frailty or physical limitations may keep seniors indoors for long periods of time, although they may be nature-lovers at heart. Getting away for a while can be a great way to help a senior to refresh their thinking, attitude and physical health. The outing may be to a local park or beach area, where they can comfortably sit and enjoy communing with nature. In addition, you can take some photographs for them to enjoy in times that getting outdoors is not available.

6 - Shopping Partner
Increasing physical limitations may make it difficult for some to get out to a shopping mall or other venue, although they may still maintain an interest in clothing styles and looking attractive. Many assisted living centers offer trips to large discount stores, but getting on buses and getting around the store may be too much for loved ones to do on their own. You can help them indulge this impulse by taking them to the mall for an afternoon of shopping. Your assistance and supervision can make it a safe and productive trip that boosts self-esteem and mood.

Your loved one may have additional ideas for spending an afternoon away from the assisted living facility. Spend some time brainstorming with them about what they would like to do, and you will find a wealth of ideas for helping them to enjoy their golden years.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. This special day gives us a unique opportunity to show love and appreciation for these incredible women. To connect with the mothers around you, whether it’s your mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or sister, here are craft ideas that are cost effective, easy and meaningful, and sure to delight any mother.

•Paint a vase. Buy a mason jar (or use an old vase from home) and paint it using interior wall paint to paint the outside of the jar. You can even use one color as the base and another color to write an inspirational quote specifically for her. Tie a bow around the top and deliver it to her with hand picked flowers from the garden.

•Make a body scrub. Surprisingly, body scrubs are very quick and easy to make, and are a perfect way to help promote relaxation! Use ¾ cups of granulated white sugar, 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (lemon or lavender are fan favorites) and mix it with ¼ cups of melted coconut oil. Put it in a nice jar with a bow, and voila!

•Pot an herb garden. If the moms you love enjoy gardening or cooking, grab some seeds at your local nursery, and pot them for her to get it started. This type of gift will last longer than cut flowers, and she’ll be able to cook with them later on, too.

•Design a personalized bookmark. For all the book worms out there, this is a great Mother’s Day gift that will remind her of you every time she picks up a good book. Find your favorite photo of the two of you and print it out on thick paper stock. Punch or cut a hole at one end and then tie a pretty string or ribbon through it.

•Make a card. Nothing says “I appreciate you” than actually saying it. Use pretty paper to make her a card and write her a lovely note listing all the reasons you’re a better person with her in your life. This is sure to make her feel loved.

Come join us at our local Medicare and Information Vitality Centers for more Mother’s Day crafting. For more information or to RSVP for these events taking place in May, visit: https://www.ivhp.com/forhealthandliving

Caring for an aging loved one is simultaneously rewarding and also stressful. There are many logistics to consider, from managing medications and coordinating doctors visits, to ensuring wholesome meals and time with family and friends. Additionally, there are many longer-term decisions and logistics to plan for like finances, wills, home or estate maintenance, etc.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the daily motions, it can be easy to forget to live in the moment for both you and your loved one. While some loved ones are relatively independent, others may be more reliant on their caregivers. Either way, it is important to be as mindfully engaged in your time with them as you can and plan activities that fit their lifestyle. Something as simple as a walk or trip to the movies can go a long way. It will mean the world to them, but it will also be incredibly fulfilling for you as well.

As we all know, life is too short to get too tangled in the normal, everyday worries. In an effort to ensure you are enjoying the most of your time with your loved ones, here are our tips to keeping you engaged, mindful and stress-free.

1.Don’t wait to have the difficult conversations. Life has a way of throwing us curve-balls when we least expect them. Even if your loved ones are healthy and independent, make a point to sit down and discuss the financials and other important details before you need them. This will allow you to plan in advance and keep stress at bay.

2.Maintain a routine where fun is built in. Yes, doctors visits, medications and other obligations are a given. But fun should be built in to your daily routine, too! Taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood, having lunch outside in a park or playing a game should be part of your day. It’s a time to bond with one another and have a little fun!

3.Capture the memories and their stories. Our loved ones won’t be healthy and vivacious forever. Take some time to write down or record the stories they tell you about their younger days, and take pictures as often as you can. You’ll be so grateful to have these moments with them and to also have tangible keepsakes of them --- when they are no longer with us.

If you’re like the rest of us, “back when I was a kid” is a phrase you probably say a lot to your grandchildren. Indeed, so much has changed over the decades that have separated our childhood with theirs. Some days it might be quite challenging to connect with these younger generations.

Here are 4 suggestions on ways to foster your relationships with your grandchildren, not only to stay connected with them, but also to stay relevant and influential in their lives:

1.     Let them help you. We know all too well that kids are curious creatures. They like to be included and to feel like they have an important role in activities. Let them help you around the house (cooking, cleaning, gardening etc.). This will foster feelings of trust between the two of you while also building a solid foundation for their life skills.

2.     Cultivate a mutual hobby. Spending quality time with your grandkids is paramount. Try finding an activity or hobby that you A common interest can be anything from a favorite restaurant you always take them to, playing a sport or instrument, to learning how to fly a kite or building something together. Nothing makes a child feel more loved than dedicated time with their grandparents.

3.     Make your home kid-friendly. This might seem like a no-brainer, but working to make your house accessible and interesting for the little ones in your life can make all the difference. If you have a space for their toys or arts and crafts, for instance, will make them feel more at home.

4.     Read them books. Reading to our young ones is not only critical for their mental and creative development, but it is also a great way to foster a warm relationship with them. This is a hobby that spans the test of time, too. If you have older grandchildren, offer to read them a more current novel. This is a great way to spend quality time and encourages fun conversations, too. A weekly visit to the library with grandma and grandpa can be a great way to get started with a weekly reading hobby.

Inter Valley Health Plan hosts classes regularly on health and vitality. For a full list of classes in your area, please visit https://www.ivhp.com/forhealthandliving.


4 Ways To Connect With Your Grandkids

Inter Valley Health Plan

Caregivers Series: Living in the Here and Now For a Richer Life

Simple Mother's Day Craft Ideas

Six Ways You Can "Assist" A Loved One in Assisted Living

Inter Valley Health Plan

5 Mobile Phone Etiquette Tips

Inter Valley Health Plan

DIY Family Tree Chalkboard


10 Steps to Start Your Family Tree


The merits of single baby boomers living as housemates


Geneneology Search Websites

Inter Valley Health Plan

Learn How to Write Your Memoir- Check Out This List of Books

Inter Valley Health Plan

Pets Improve Your Well-being

Inter Valley Health Plan

How to form a book club


Effective Communication Between Couples