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How to Keep Your Brain Happy, Healthy, and Strong as You Age

Use it or lose it.

We hear that phrase a lot when it comes to keeping our bodies healthy and strong. Use it or lose it is just as true for keeping our brains healthy as we age.

Learn Something New

People used to think that our brains stopped growing once we hit maturity. Science has discovered, though, that our brain changes throughout our entire lives.

Every time we learn something new, we activate or “fire” the neurons in our brain to communicate with one another. As neurons communicate, they create neural pathways that make sense of the learning experience and hold onto it. The neurons are now “wired” together. They are there when we revisit the experience, either to practice a skill or to build upon it.

The more you fire and wire your neurons, by challenging yourself to learn something new, the more networks you create and the stronger they become. That all translates into healthier brain function.

There are endless opportunities to learn something new that can both be enjoyable and help maintain cognitive health. Many of them can be found online or through phone apps.

  • Learn an instrument Think it’s too late to learn a new instrument? Think again! You can learn to play an instrument at any age. The only things you need are some decent instruction and the time and discipline to practice. You can find free beginning piano lessons or guitar lessons all over the internet. If your become more advanced most free programs have a paid option to match your skill level.
  • Learn to code You probably didn’t grow up with computers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to match wits with the younger generation. There are a ton of online sources for learning how to code for free.
  • Take an online course Many top universities offer free courses  Other good sources for academic courses include the Great Courses and Coursera.
  • Use your hands You don’t have to go the academic route to keep your brain sharp. Skills such as woodworking, knitting, and mechanics use different parts of brain. Vary your learning experiences and you can keep all areas of your brain in fighting shape.
  • Learn a new language Apps such as Babble make learning a new language fun and convenient. In bursts of ten or fifteen minutes, the apps give you daily practice that builds on previous lessons. Local libraries sometimes have access to free language-learning apps.

Keep Your Body Fit to Keep Your Brain Fit

We know exercise and staying active provide a ton of health benefits. Staying active helps you maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, and promote a sense of well-being. What you may not realize is that physical exercise is also good for your brain.

Studies have shown that exercise can have a protective effect on cognitive functioning. Physical exercise can impact the structure of your brain, increasing gray matter and preventing damage to it. Exercise increases bloodflow to the brain which helps prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduces the risk of dementia.

If you’ve been sedentary for a period of time, it’s important to speak with your doctor before increasing your level of activity. Reaping the benefits of physical exercise doesn’t have to mean trips to the gym, or hours on a stationary bike. Do something you enjoy. Take a walk in your neighborhood. Take a bike ride, play tennis, toss a ball around. Check with your local senior center to find out about local fitness classes and online classes for seniors.

Stay Connected Socially

Late adulthood can be a lonely time. We no longer have the structured interactions that happen at our jobs. If we have children, they are busy working and raising their own children. It all adds up to a lot of time alone.

Being alone can be enjoyable, but being alone too much of the time can lead to loneliness. In fact, an AARP Foundation survey found that one in three older Americans reported being lonely. Loneliness is a risk factor for many mental and physical heath conditions, so it’s a good idea to put your relationships front and center.

Staying connected with others can keep cognitive functions sharp and possibly reduce the risk of dementia.  Here are some ideas for staying connected:

  • Schedule a weekly phone call or video chat with important people in your life.
  • Volunteer for something you care about. You can help out at park clean-ups, teach English as a second language, or mentor a young person.
  • Take advantage of social media to correspond with others with similar interests.

Eat Right and Get Enough Sleep

What happens in one part of your body effects your whole body. If you want to maintain a strong healthy brain, you need to take care of the basics. With regards to nutrition, follow the 80/20 rule—aim to make 80% of what you eat nutritious food that will fuel your whole body. Save room for dessert and enjoy the indulgences up to 20% of your diet.

When we sleep, our brain consolidates knowledge from the day and flushes out toxins. Lack of sleep robs our brain of the opportunity to build neural pathways and to create memories. Sleep is essential to concentration, and learning. Be sure to catch enough zzz’s to keep your brain, happy, healthy, and strong.

 

Check out our services at Smooth Transitions.

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How to Manage the Stress of Moving

It’s no secret that moving is stressful.

For one thing, there is an avalanche of tasks that have to be performed in a fairly short time frame.

Then, there is the emotional aspect of moving. Every move involves sifting through belongings to some extent. Whether it’s photos, books, or dishes, the things we have in our home are a storehouse of memories which can bring up a range of feelings.

You don’t want the stress of moving, though, to get the best of you. There are a lot of ways you can ease the stress of moving and make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well.

Stay Focused on Your Health

It’s easy to let moving take over your life.  Sometimes you just want to power through so that things get done. Don’t push yourself too hard, though, or you may pay the price by getting sick.

First and foremost, you have to be vigilant in prioritizing your health.

  • Keep your medical appointments.
  • Make sure you are taking all of your prescribed medications and doctor-recommended vitamins.
  • Continue with your normal exercise regimen. (Exercise relieves stress and helps you get better sleep. A double-whammy you don’t want to miss!)
  • Eat nutritious food and eat enough of it. That will keep your immune system from taking a hit.
  • Take time for relaxation, and continue to do the things that you enjoy.
  • Above all, be sure to get enough rest.

Try Relaxation Techniques

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn some relaxation techniques. You can try deep breathing exercises or do some guided meditations.

When we get stressed, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. By slowing your breathing, and doing “belly breaths,” you can slow your stress response.

To do belly breaths, place your hand on your upper abdomen, under your rib cage.  Inhale through your nose and count to four as you allow your belly to expand as you inhale. Your belly will flatten as you exhale. If you do even three rounds of belly breaths, you’ll feel more relaxed.

Apps, such as headspace or calm.com, offer simple guided meditations that you can do in about 10 minutes. Both Headspace and Calm.com have paid versions, but you can do a lot of meditating on just their free versions. Search for ‘guided meditations’ on YouTube, and you’ll find a ton of videos there as well.

Break Large Tasks into Smaller Actions

Moving is a huge endeavor, and it can seem overwhelming if you think of it as one big job.

The way to make it manageable is to break it down into smaller chunks that are doable.

One way to do that is to write a list of all the different type of things that need to be done for your move. Start with larger categories (find a new home, sell my home), and work your way down to smaller tasks.

For example, the category of “sell my home” could be broken down like this:

Those categories are still huge.  Break them down further.  “Get rid of old junk” might look like this:

  • Gather boxes, markers, and tape.
  • Label some boxes: Donate, Keep, Trash, Recycle
  • Schedule two one-hour sessions to declutter kitchen.
  • Ask a friend to come and help.

The idea is to break the jobs down into manageable tasks that you can accomplish in a fairly short amount of time.  You’re still getting it all done, but you won’t exhaust yourself in the process.

A spiralbound notebook or legal pad might be helpful for this.  There are also task-management apps, such as rememberthemilk and Trello that can help keep you organized.

Ask Others for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.  Start with family and friends.  They can help you think through how to break down tasks, make necessary calls, and start sorting and packing some of your things.

It’s important to have others involved in the process.  Not only can it ease the load of work, but having social interaction is good for your mental health.

You can also work with a senior move manager. A senior move manager can help oversee the whole moving process or help with certain parts of it.  They are invaluable for making the moving process less stressful.

If you’re looking for ways to keep stress down during your move, take a look at our services page, or give us a call at 216-381-7418. We’re here to help!

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Merger of Smooth Transitions & Armbruster Moving & Storage, Inc.

Press Release, Cleveland, Ohio

We are excited to announce that as of January 1st, 2019, Smooth Transitions Cleveland has been acquired by Armbruster Moving & Storage, Inc. Armbruster Moving & Storage has acquired Smooth Transitions assets, staff, and customer contracts. However, merged business will still operate under the Smooth Transitions brand. This is a wonderful opportunity to provide an even broader amount of services to those individuals that are making a life-changing move. Clients that are in need of help, are typically moving from a home they have lived in for 40-60 years. Combining the services of Smooth Transitions, with the ability and scope of Armbruster, will provide clients with the entire continuum of care during their relocation.

About Smooth Transitions Cleveland

Smooth Transitions Cleveland was started in 2004 by Michele Innenberg, and was taken over in September 2013 by Laura Armbruster.  Smooth Transitions provides individuals and their families the emotional and physical assistance needed in making a change in living arrangements. Typically, this involves a downsize of space; and will include services such as floor planning, sorting, organizing, packing, move coordination, and unpacking and settle-in. Smooth Transitions also provides services for the dispersal of household belongings after the move/downsize, to help prep their home for sale. 

About Armbruster Moving & Storage

Armbruster Moving & Storage is a full-service moving & storage company based out of Cleveland, Ohio. As a Mayflower agent, corporate relocation, and cross-country moves are top of mind. However, Armbruster provides local moving solutions to most of northeast Ohio and beyond.  Fully-equipped with local trucks, and expertly-trained staff, they are able to navigate throughout the numerous retirement communities in the area. Founded in 2001, brothers Chuck & Gary turned in their trucks to start Armbruster Moving & Storage.  The Armbruster Brothers set out to build a reputation of quality and customer service. Today, this reputation has been the foundation for what has become Armbruster Moving & Storage, an award-winning moving company driven by quality service and a family culture. 

Visit www.armbrustermoving.com to find out more information. 

Contact Info:

Laura Armbruster Farmer

Address: 2800 Center Road Brunswick, Ohio 44212

Phone: 216-381-7418

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Moving in Inclement Weather – How does it work?

During the snowy winter season here in Ohio, a question that we get frequently from clients is “how do you protect our stuff when it’s snowing out?” This is a fair question for anyone to ask. In the moving industry we take certain precautions to protect our client’s household items when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Protecting the floors is one of the major concerns for every customer. When the crew enters the home to begin the move, they should immediately lay down a layer of floor protection in the entryway. As they progress through the home with the customer, they will create a path of floor protection for each room as well as cover the stairs with rug runners (pictured above).  As the furniture is being moved from the home and into the truck the crew takes special care to pad wrap each piece completely before it leaves the home. These moving pads protect the furniture from any outside elements as well as protecting the furniture from any nicks or dings. Although this should be included with every local and long-distance move, it may be something you ask your mover before booking the job.

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Tips for the First Day Jitters!

For many of our clients, there is a lot of anticipation for the first day/week in their new home. Much like the first day of school, there are a lot of unknowns. From the building itself, to the staff and residents, this can be a huge change from living alone at home, or in an apartment. We have discovered some ways to help ease this transition, and make it less anxiety provoking.

The first thing would be to schedule to spend time in the community prior to moving in. A lot of communities will host you and your family for lunch and dinner, as a way to showcase their menu, amenities, and community. During these visits, make sure to take a tour to get an overall feel of the layout and key places. When you have secured a room, make sure to travel around the community, going to and from your new apartment. Take note of how to get to the dining room, laundry facilities, parking, and front desk.

In addition to attending a meal, try to attend a happy hour, or other community events. It is a great way to interact with current residents, and feel more comfortable upon move in. Invite your friends and family to attend as well. It is nice to have a familiar face in the crowd.

Start compiling a list of important numbers and facts about the community. One important number is maintenance. They will most likely help with setting up of your TV, cable, and Internet on move-in day. In addition, they will be the go-to for anything in your apartment that requires attention. Another number is the front desk. This person will be able to guide you in the right direction and answer many of your questions relating to meals, schedules, events, etc. If you have medications, the nursing number will be helpful for any questions you may have.

Lastly, be kind to yourself! No matter the preparation, there will be a period of adjustment. Know that there will be things you need to learn, and get used to, and over time you will get increasingly comfortable. Make sure to bring pictures, artwork, and furniture from your home that makes you happy, and makes your new place feel like home.

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We are very excited to announce an event this Thursday, December 14th, 2017 at The Weils Senior Living Campus in Chagrin Falls!

 

FREE & OPEN TO THE COMMUNITY

Come and learn how easy it is to move into Assisted Living!

5-5:30 pm delicious appetizers and holiday beverages
5:30-6 pm presentation by Laura armbruster, Smooth Transitions

Smooth Transitions Cleveland is a senior moving company specializing in household downsizing. Oftentimes, moving can be daunting with deciding what to take, nding a mover, packing and making all the other arrangements.

Our goal is to take care of all the details to help make your move stress-free!

Following the program, we will offer tours of our beautiful campus.

Laura Armbruster, owner and senior move manager with Smooth Transitions, has spent a lifetime in the family business of moving and relocating.

 

Smooth Transitions Flyer v2-2

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Preparing for the Move Back to College

It’s that time of year again! With many of our clients in the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ caring for their aging parents while supporting their own children, we thought this co-authored piece by one of our partners would be helpful..enjoy!

With the winding down of summer, many parents and students are preparing to move back to college. Whether that means traveling an hour or two away, or halfway across the country, this involves some advanced planning. The first piece of legwork to be done is to confirm what will already be provided at the chosen housing. It is important not to take too much in what can be tight quarters.

Next, is the strategic packing of the car/truck. The first items to be loaded should be essentials; those absolute ‘musts’ that cannot be purchased or shipped at a later time. One suggestion is to purchase boxes with handles, which can easily be carried upstairs. If there is a plan to store items in totes under a bed, or in the closet, pack the totes with extra, storage items. This will avoid unnecessary unpacking. If space is tight, think about the next holiday or trip home, and plan to pick up heavy sweaters and coats during this break. When packing clothes, avoid bulky suitcases, and instead use clean garbage bags as garment bags. They can be used again, and will easily lie on top of the other packed items in the car. Lastly, plan to pack a small tool kit, and cleaning supplies LAST. This will come out of the car first, and be easily accessible for cleaning and repairs prior to moving items in.

Day of logistics – check the school’s website and move-in information about where to pick up keys, and park the car. Once unpacking, avoid making the bed first. The bed can be a great place to unpack items, but could get dirty, so plan to make this last, after everything is unpacked.

If you are moving out of state, and this requires taking a plane, plan to ship items ahead of time. Also, plan to utilize national stores such as Bed Bath Beyond, Target, etc. where you can buy in one state, and pick up in another, to avoid long lines.

Another option is to use a long-distance mover. Several agencies have created alternatives to the traditional long-distance moves, and provide options such as full service containers, and more!

The Student Storage Program    

Since 2014, Armbruster Moving & Storage has provided moving services to Case Western Reserve students as part of the ‘Student Storage Program.’ CWRU has roughly 80% of their undergraduate students living in college-owned housing. These numbers coupled with the location creates congested streets during move-out and move-in periods for students. Instead of parents having to rent a van or truck, we provide curbside pick-up of student’s belongings. The items are inventoried and stored in our warehouse during the summer, and delivered back out when students arrive in the fall.

Whether you DIY or hire a professional mover, we wish you the best of luck and safe travels this coming fall!