Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tips for a Clean Home and Healthy Cat

woman napping with cat

Cleaning Up After Kitty

Your fabulous feline may think cat hair is the ultimate accessory. If you don’t agree, start by getting a good vacuum cleaner. Look for one with strong suction that has a pet hair attachment. Don’t forget to vacuum chairs and curtains. Wear wet rubber gloves and run your hands over your cat’s favorite spots. Brush tape, sticky-side out, over your clothes. Buy pet bedding that’s easy to clean. And if your kitty goes outside, place a washable cushion where she goes in and out to catch muddy paws.
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cat cleaning paws
2 / 13

Keeping Your Cat Clean

Cats do a good job of cleaning themselves, but yours may need a bath if he gets really dirty -- or if someone in your house has allergies. Start by trimming your cat’s nails to prevent scratches. You can do it yourself with cat nail clippers -- ask your vet to show you how. Brush your cat to remove loose hair or mats. Use only shampoo for cats or kittens and keep water out of his face and ears. Dry him with a towel or blow dryer on low. Give him a treat at the end, so he’ll start to associate a bath with something pleasant.
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cat scratching ear
3 / 13

No More Fleas and Ticks

No matter what type of flea prevention you use -- spot-on-the-back, flea collar, pills, or shampoo -- follow the directions carefully. Don’t use products for adult cats on kittens, and never use dog products on cats. Whether prescription or over-the-counter, don't touch treated areas until they're dry.
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vacuuming cat hair off of carpet
4 / 13

Get Fleas out of the House

If your cat brings in fleas, it’s time for serious cleaning. Vacuum every day, including upholstered furniture, cracks in the floors, and along baseboards. Then replace the vacuum bag or wash the canister in warm, soapy water. Wash or replace any bedding where she sleeps (including yours), and consider steam cleaning your carpets. Use a flea comb on your cat, and then treat her with flea meds. Flea sprays are better than flea "bombs" to treat your home.
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close up of cat litter
5 / 13

Loving the Litter Box

Cats are creatures of habit, even when it comes to their litter. Some like the clumping clay kind without a scent. Try a little baking soda on the bottom to help with odors. Scoop litter at least once a day. Dump it all out and wash the whole box once or twice a week for clay litter or every 2 to 3 weeks for clumping. And while you may like liners and covers, your cat may disagree. Liners can interfere with scratching. And, to cats, covered boxes can stink like port-o-potties.
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cat in litterbox
6 / 13

Litter Box: Location, Location, Location

Like people, cats want a little privacy when they’re doing their business. But they also like to keep an eye on their surroundings. Tuck boxes out of sight but make them easy to reach, preferably at least one per level of your home. Keep them away from hot or loud appliances and noisy kids. Cats have sensitive noses, so keep smelly litter far from their food.
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man carrying cat
7 / 13

When Accidents Happen

Cats would rather use a litter box, so accidents are a sign something’s wrong. If your kitty’s upset about a change in your home, give her a little extra TLC. Don’t yell or punish her -- that will make things worse. Accidents also can be a sign of health problems like diabetes, kidney disease, urinary tract infections, or arthritis. Get her checked quickly before missing the box becomes a habit. Use an enzymatic cleaner to treat spots.
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snarling house cat
8 / 13

Why Do Cats Spray?

Spraying urine is how both male and female cats mark their territory. The urge is strongest if they haven't been fixed, so try to neuter or spay cats by age 5 months before the behavior starts. Stress can make your cat spray. So can scented cleaners, if he wants to cover the strange smell. Feed or play with him in areas he’s prone to mark. Keep likely targets -- new things, guests' belongings, and items he's already sprayed -- out of reach.
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hand holding cat food
9 / 13

Keep Food Safe

Both people and animals can get food poisoning from spoiled pet food, so treat your cat’s food like you do your own. Don’t buy damaged packages. Store food in sealed containers. Refrigerate leftover wet food right away. Replace dry food every day. Wash your hands well after you feed your cat. Keep her food and dishes away from areas where you prepare and serve your meals.
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kids and cat hanging out on couch
10 / 13

When You're Allergic to Your Cat

As long as your allergy’s not serious, you don’t need to give up your kitty. Keep her out of your bedroom, and buy bedding made for people with allergies. Use air cleaners with high-tech filters. Special anti-allergy room sprays can clear the air, too. Avoid dust-catching rugs, curtains, and cloth furniture. Clean your house (and cat) often. Better yet, get someone else to do it. And talk to a doctor -- preferably a cat lover -- about medicine that will help.
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close up of cat paw with claws
11 / 13

Should You Declaw?

Declawing is much more serious than just removing a cat's nails. It usually involves taking out the last bone of each toe and can mean a life of problems for them. There are easier options. Cats need to scratch, so give yours scratching posts and toys. Teach them what’s off limits by using a squirt gun or noisemaker, not by yelling or swatting.
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cat on dining room table
12 / 13

Can Cats Make You Sick?

It’s rare for healthy people to get sick from touching cats. Wash scratches and bites right away with water and mild soap. Always see a doctor for any bite, or if a scratch gets infected (red or swollen). Always wash your hands with soap after you clean litter boxes. If you’re using litter that can’t be flushed, throw away scoopings in sealed plastic bags.
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cats on floor with baby
13 / 13

Cats and Babies

Give your cat time to get ready for a new baby. Let him explore the nursery and get used to new smells like baby lotion. If you have to move his litter box, do it gradually. Let him get comfortable, but don’t let him nap on the nursery furniture. Cats cuddling up next to newborns can make it hard for babies to breathe. Close the door or tent the crib when your baby’s asleep to keep kitty out.
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Is My Cat Normal?

Cat Staring With Eyes Wide Open

What Is 'Normal' for a Cat?

Sleeping all day, chasing shadows all night, getting high on mysterious herbs -- that may be delinquent behavior for a teenager, but it's run of the mill for a cat. Learn more about the peculiarities of feline protocol so you can sort harmless kitty quirks from cat behaviors that could spell trouble.
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Young man with laptop and cat nose to nose
2 / 14

Face Rubbing

A cat rubbing her face on you is a sign of affection. Cats have glands on their cheeks and the corners of their mouths. When they rub up against your leg or other body part, they leave some of their scent on you. According to feline etiquette, that's a compliment.
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Cat Bringing Mouse to his Owner
3 / 14

Bringing You 'Gifts'

You've politely told your little predator, "No, thanks." But your cat insists on showering you with gifts of dead mice, birds, or lizards. Bringing you dead animals is normal, but it's best to keep your cat inside. Prowling cats can have a devastating impact on ground-nesting birds. Instead, give your cat toys she can hunt for inside. It will give her an outlet for her predator behavior -- and keep wildlife safe.
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Tuxedo Cat Drinking from Toilet
4 / 14

Drinking From Toilets

You've watched your cat's painstaking grooming ritual. Why would he go to all that trouble keeping himself clean and then drink out of the toilet? No one is sure why cats do this. Toilet water may taste fresher than stagnant water because it's changed with each flush. Don't worry about it unless you keep chemical cleaners in the tank. And if it really bothers you, keep the lid down.
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Excited Cat Eating Grass
5 / 14

Eating Plants

Eating small amounts of grass can be nutritious for cats. In larger quantities, it can have a laxative effect or cause vomiting. If your cat is drawn to eating greenery, take inventory of your houseplants. Many species are toxic to felines, such as aloe and philodendron, and Easter lilies, which are deadly.

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Cat Playing With Yarn
6 / 14

Eating Wool

In rare cases, cats are compelled to eat the inedible. For unknown reasons, wool is particularly appealing. Some suck on it. Some actually eat it. Some cats may even eat big holes out of sweaters. This behavior is considered compulsive and is most common in indoor-only cats. Talk to your vet about behavior modification. It may help to provide tasty alternatives, like catnip, grass, lettuce, or rawhide.
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Lazy Cat Lying in Beach Chair
7 / 14

Sleeping All Day

It may seem lazy, but sleeping or lounging around the whole day is a survival trait if you're a cat. As they evolved in the wild, felines developed a pattern for conserving energy. They hunt for a short period and spend the rest of the day sleeping. In house cats, the pattern is similar. A kitten will eat and play in brief bursts, but spend most of her time at rest.
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Green Eyed Cat Meowing
8 / 14

Motor Mouth

Just like people, some cats are more "talkative" than others. They may meow and whine throughout the day. Asian breeds, particularly Siamese cats, are prone to vocalizing. As long as your cat doesn't seem anxious or in pain, being a chatterbox is no cause for alarm. However, a quiet cat that suddenly begins vocalizing should be examined. The change in behavior could signal a medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
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Cat Kneading Woman's Stomach
9 / 14


Your new slacks may suffer a few snags, but your cat means well. When Tiger jumps on your lap to knead your legs, it means she's feeling relaxed, comfortable and secure. Kneading is learned very early in a cat's life. It's something most kittens do while nursing.
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Kitten Licking Fingers of Woman
10 / 14

Finger Licking

If your cat makes a habit of licking your fingers, there are several possible reasons. The first is that your cat simply likes the taste of your sweat or hand lotion. In some cases, licking can be a comforting behavior; it may be linked to nursing. If your cat licks you excessively and shows other signs of anxiety, check with your vet.
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Cat Rolling Around in Catnip
11 / 14

Getting High

If a pinch of catnip sends Fluffy into a state of bliss, you might wonder if your innocent furball is getting high. The answer is yes. Chemicals in catnip produce a response similar to intoxication. Because there's a genetic basis for it, some cats show an extreme attraction. Others show no reaction at all. In some cats, this naughty herb may even cause hallucinations. Catnip is not toxic to cats. However, eating large amounts can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. Catnip shouldn't be given to pregnant cats.
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Grey Cat Rubbing Face
12 / 14


Like people, cats are vulnerable to allergies, sinus irritation, and upper respiratory infections. Symptoms may include sneezing and a runny nose. Sneezing in cats is most often caused by a viral infection picked up from being around other infected cats. Other causes of sneezing may include inhaled allergens, blades of grass, or even tumors. If sneezing continues for more than a few days, check with your vet.
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Cat About to Pounce
13 / 14

Playing All Night

Cats naturally tend to be active at night, when their superior vision lets them sneak up on prey. Most domesticated cats adjust their schedule to be active when people are awake, but this doesn't always happen. If your darling is a night owl, try providing an intense play session and a meal right before bedtime. The burst of activity should wear Dracula out, so you can both get a good night's sleep. But if your older cat suddenly stays awake all night, check with your vet: It might be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
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Cat Hunting at Night
14 / 14

Glow-in-the-Dark Eyes

Many cultures, such as the ancient Egyptians, have admired cats as divine beings. The fact that their eyes glow in the dark only adds to the mystique. As it turns out, there's a fairly mundane explanation for this phenomenon. Feline eyes have a layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the retina. It helps facilitate their exceptional night vision.
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Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat

Close-up of cat licking its chops

Dangerous Foods?

Because they're such picky eaters, we sometimes think cats know what’s best for them when it's time to eat. But the fact that they'll walk away from a piece of bad meat doesn't mean they'll bypass an open can of tuna. And that can of tuna can be just as dangerous. In fact, you may be surprised to learn some of the common foods your cats should never eat.
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Cat looking at can of tuna, tongue out
2 / 19


Cats can be addicted to tuna, whether it's packed for cats or for humans. Some tuna now and then probably won't hurt. But a steady diet of tuna prepared for humans can lead to malnutrition because it won't have all the nutrients a cat needs. And, too much tuna can cause mercury poisoning. Remember the saying, "Honest as a cat when the meat's out of reach." Your cat will see an open can of tuna next to the sink as a dinner invitation.
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Kitten in defensive crouch against onions & garlic
3 / 19

Onions, Garlic, Chives

Onion in all forms -- powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated -- can break down a cat's red blood cells, leading to anemia. That's true even for the onion powder that's found in some baby foods. An occasional small dose probably won't hurt. But eating a large quantity once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause onion poisoning. Along with onions, garlic and chives can cause gastrointestinal upset.
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Milk pouring into glass, cat watching
4 / 19

Milk and Other Dairy Products

What could be wrong with offering your cat a saucer of milk or a piece of cheese? Most cats are lactose-intolerant. Their digestive system cannot process dairy foods, and the result can be digestive upset with diarrhea.
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Two kittens looking at two shots of whiskey
5 / 19


Beer, liquor, wine, foods containing alcohol -- none of it is good for your cat. That's because alcohol has the same effect on a cat's liver and brain that it has on humans. But it takes far less to do its damage. Just two teaspoons of whisky can cause a coma in a 5-pound cat, and one more teaspoon could kill it. The higher the proof, the worse the symptoms.
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Cat looking hungrily at grape cluster
6 / 19

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins have often been used as treats for pets. But it's not a good idea. Although it isn't clear why, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats. And, a small amount can make a cat ill. Repeated vomiting and hyperactivity are early signs. Although some cats show no ill effects, it's best not to give your cat any grapes and to keep grapes and raisins off countertops and other places accessible to your cat.
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Cat watching cream pouring into coffee
7 / 19


Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a cat. And there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and fits. In addition to tea and coffee -- including beans and grounds -- caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull. It's also in some cold medicines and painkillers.
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Kitten hissing at stack of white & dark chocolate
8 / 19


Chocolate can be lethal for cats. Although most cats won't eat it on their own, they can be coaxed to eat it by owners and others who think they are giving the cat a treat. The toxic agent in chocolate is theobromine. It's in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate. The most dangerous kinds, though, are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death.
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Cat eying bone and fat
9 / 19

Fat Trimmings and Bones

Table scraps often contain fat trimmed off of meat and bones. Both fat and bones may be dangerous for cats. Fat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause intestinal upset, with vomiting and diarrhea. And a cat can choke on a bone. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or cut the inside of your cat's digestive system.

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Cat gazing at raw broken egg
10 / 19

Raw Eggs

There are two problems with giving your cat raw eggs. The first is the possibility of food poisoning from bacteria like salmonella or E. coli. The second is rare problem in which a protein in raw egg whites, called avidin, could interfere with the absorption of the B vitamin biotin. This can cause skin problems as well as problems with your cat's coat.
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Cat gazing hungrily at salmon sushi
11 / 19

Raw Meat and Fish

Raw meat and raw fish, like raw eggs, can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. In addition, an enzyme in raw fish destroys thiamine, which is an essential B vitamin for your cat. A lack of thiamine can cause serious neurological problems and lead to convulsions and coma.
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Cat eating dog's food, dog looking sad
12 / 19

Dog Food

An occasional bite of dog food won't hurt your cat. But dog food is not a substitute for cat food. They do have many of the same ingredients. But cat food is specially formulated for a cat's needs, which include more protein as well as certain vitamins and fatty acids. A steady diet of dog food can cause your cat to be severely malnourished.
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Cat gazing on bowl of raw chicken liver
13 / 19


Small amounts of liver are OK, but eating too much liver can cause vitamin A toxicity. This is a serious condition that can affect your cat's bones. Symptoms include deformed bones, bone growths on the elbows and spine, and osteoporosis. Vitamin A toxicity can also cause death.
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Cat sniffing macadamia nut cookie
14 / 19

Too Many Treats

Eating too much too often can do the same thing to cats that it does to humans. It can lead to obesity and even diabetes.
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Cat looking up at rising bread dough
15 / 19

Yeast Dough

Before it's baked, bread dough needs to rise. And, that's exactly what it would do in your cat's stomach if your cat ate it. As it swells inside, the dough can stretch the abdomen and cause severe pain. In addition, when the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.
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Spoonful of medicine in front of yawning cat
16 / 19

Your Medicine

Ingesting a drug prescribed for humans is one of the most common causes of poisoning in cats. Just as you would do for your children, put all medicines where your cat can't get to them. And never give your cat any over-the-counter medicine unless advised to do so by your vet. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine. And they can be deadly for your cat.
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Cat sitting by open pantry
17 / 19

Kitchen Pantry: No Cats Allowed

Many other items commonly found on kitchen shelves can harm your cat. Keeping food items where your cat can't get to them and keeping pantry and cupboard doors closed will help protect your cat from serious food-related illness.
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Cat laying on couch with ASPCA phone number
18 / 19

If Your Cat Eats What It Shouldn't

No matter how cautious you are, it's possible your cat can find and swallow what it shouldn't. It's a smart idea to always keep the numbers of your local vet, the closest emergency clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center -- (888) 426-4435 -- where you know you can find them in an emergency. And if you think your cat has consumed something that's toxic, call for emergency help at once.
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Two cats eating chicken cat food
19 / 19

What Cats Can Eat

Cats are carnivores and need meat. Talking with your vet about the cat food you provide and following the directions on the label will help ensure your cat's diet is balanced and your cat stays healthy. An occasional taste of cooked boneless beef or brown rice can be an OK treat. But it's best to keep it small and infrequent.
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Forgetfulness and Aging: What's Normal?

Keep Calm and ... How’s That Go Again?

Odds are, you won’t be as flexible at age 60 as you were at 20. Or as fast. Or strong. Time affects your body, and your brain comes right along for the ride. Connections between brain cells that make and pull up memories change as we age. And the proteins and hormones that do upkeep in our brains don’t work as well. As we get older, it’s good to know the difference between typical forgetfulness and something you probably should mention to your doctor.
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2 / 15

It’s Not All in the Details

Typical: You forget to meet up with a friend but remember later on. You recall that wedding last year, but you’re a little hazy on who was there. You had that great phone call with Henry last week, but what does he do for work again?

Warning: You miss appointments left and right. You ask friends and family for details over and over again. You forget about events you went to recently or conversations you just had.
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3 / 15

Beware the Numbers

Typical: You make a mistake balancing your checkbook once in a while. You forget to pay a bill here and there. Or you just added 3 tablespoons of sugar instead of teaspoons.

Warning: It’s harder to focus, make a plan, and solve problems. Numbers feel like a foreign language, making it tough to follow a recipe or make sense of your household budget.
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4 / 15

When It’s Not Just Fun and Games

Typical: You need help setting the clock on the microwave or recording your favorite show. You blank for a minute on whether a straight beats a flush in poker or if it’s the other way around.
Warning: You can’t work your stove. You forget the rules of bridge or basketball or tennis, games you’ve played or watched for decades.
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5 / 15

Where Did I Put That?

Typical: You check your pockets, the kitchen table, your car. You go back over all your steps before, “Ah! My keys.”
Warning: You put things in odd places, like your phone ends up in the freezer. You can’t remember what steps to retrace, or you blame someone for stealing things.
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6 / 15

What’s Today Again?

Typical: Once in a while you have to stop and think about what day it is, but it comes to you, even if takes a bit.
Warning: The whole idea of time is confusing. You get what’s happening now, but trying to think about something that happened last week or is coming up tomorrow leaves you feeling lost.
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7 / 15

How Did I Get Here?

Typical: You stroll into the kitchen and can’t for the life of you remember why. You forget the occasional street name when giving directions. It might take a beat or two, but you remember how to get to familiar places.
Warning: You can’t find your way home or get lost or feel confused in places you know well.
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8 / 15

Hand Me the Whatchamacallit

Typical: You forget the name of something. It’s on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t quite reel it in.
Warning: You call things by the wrong name, sometimes really odd ones. ”Spoon” might come out “bed.” You stop in the middle of a sentence and have no idea what you were saying. You have a hard time following conversations.
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9 / 15

I Just Want a Little ‘Me’ Time

Typical: The mix of work, family, and social demands leaves you wiped out and craving down time, even from things you like.
Warning: You can’t keep up with sports teams you normally follow. You try to get out of spending time with people to hide the problems you’re having.
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10 / 15

Good Ol’ What’s His Name

Typical : You swear you almost have it, it’s right there, but … gahh! You just spaced on your friend’s name. Or you just called your grandson by your son’s name instead.

Warning: You actually can’t remember your son’s name.
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11 / 15

Lapses in Self-Care

Typical: You rush out of the house without brushing your teeth. Or, worse, zipping your fly.
Warning: It’s not just that you don’t remember to do things, you don’t recall how. You’re halfway through getting dressed and find yourself confused.
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12 / 15

Seriously, It’s Not an Issue

Typical: You’re concerned about your memory, but your family’s not. You remember when you forget things and what that moment feels like.
Warning: Your family’s worried about you, but you don’t know what they’re talking about. You’re not aware that it’s happening.
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13 / 15

If It’s Not Typical, Then What?

Lots of things can cause memory problems. People often worry about Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. That’s one possibility, but other things can be behind it, and some of those can be reversed. For example, It could be a lack of B12, a vitamin that’s key for your brain. Or depression, a thyroid problem, or even not drinking enough fluids.
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14 / 15

When to See Your Doctor

If any of those warning signs sounded familiar or it’s affecting your daily life -- your work, hobbies, and relationships -- go to your doctor. It’s also a good idea to see him if someone close to you wants you to get checked out. Normal memory problems can make you pause a moment, but they don’t keep you from going about your life.
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15 / 15

How to Prevent Memory Loss

Do all the usual things that are good for you: Be social, get exercise, eat well, sleep enough, and don’t smoke. Think of your brain like a muscle -- use it or lose it. Play games like crosswords and Sudoku. Read books or magazines that challenge you. Learn a foreign language or a new instrument. Do projects that take planning, like quilting or a garden.
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Inspirational Quote – May 12, 2018

Care about what other people think of you and you will always be their prisoner.”

I can certainly see the logic in this can’t you? Self-explanatory really, though I suspect we have all been guilty of this at some time in our lives and, perhaps, still are! We may subconsciously or not seek other people’s approval of what we do and, indeed who we are. Not realizing we are allowing them control over us and how we live our lives and, in fact, present ourselves to the World. Try doing what YOU want to do, the way YOU want to, how YOU want to, and you may be surprised at how liberated you feel, perhaps for the first time in a very long period. Refuse to be anyone’s prisoner ever again.

5 Questions for Lynne Twist

Lynne Twist is the founder of The Soul of Money Institute. She has talked to more than 100,000 people across the world about creating a healthy relationship with money. Here she answers the questions: What common obstacles do we all share? How can we align our values with finances? What does changing our relationship with money have to do with spirituality? What are the myths around money that keep us from feeling satisfied? How can the power of taking a stand transform lives?

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Brain-Boosting Benefits of Exercise

As we grow older, changes in our brains can affect how well we think. Regular physical exercise may help preserve the brain and may prevent memory loss and cognitive decline. That may be why exercisers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Regular exercise may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Exercise can help by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. People who don’t exercise may be more likely to develop cognitive problems as they grow older.
Staying active can also help beat the blues, lower anxiety, and improve your mood. Other benefits include reduced stress, better sleep, and more energy.
Aim to get 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise a week, along with engaging in muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days a week, for the most benefit. Try something new, too! Challenge your brain by learning a new skill, such as new dance steps or different resistance exercises.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before increasing your activity level.