Matt Gallardo

Think Spring

Matt Gallardo

Esther and her great grandsonToday’s guest post comes from Messiah Village resident Esther Snyder. We really enjoy her occasional contributions to the Lifeways blog. Please enjoy these thoughts from Esther.

The first day of Spring is long gone. It remains cold, windy and rainy. The Administrator of Residential Living has begun to close her newsletter messages to us with “Think Spring.” There are residents so eager for Spring they have decided to dress as though it were here. All this helps but does not quite do what a good sunny, warm Spring day does.

But there are signs that encourage us to believe Spring is just around the corner:

-Fuzzy Pussy Willows

-Colorful yellow winter aconites have already come and gone

-Crocuses have peeked their lovely faces out from under some snow

-Even the grass is taking on a tinge of green

-Daffodils and pansies can be found here and there


Our Village gardeners have planted early lettuce, onions and peas into the soft soil. The water table is in fine shape, and the harvesting should be great. That is if the soil gets dry enough to be cultivating in it. Many of these gardeners check daily the progress of their produce. Even the sweet gum tree next to my patio has buds on its branches. Then there is the promise of Easter. We are all claiming that the warmth of the season will be here to stay after Easter is here.

Sounds of the season can be heard. In fact, yesterday I heard an unusual rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Then there is the Easter Parade. I’m sure parents are getting those kids in fashion’s best finery. There are eggs to paint, hide and hunt. Certainly some happy kids will fall heir to a real live bunny or chick.

In these circumstances it is easy to think Spring. And Easter always reminds us of new life, hope and most of all eternal life. That is good news for those of us 55 and better.


Matt Gallardo

Messiah Lifeways At Home: Three Decades of Caring!

Matt Gallardo

It’s been a little over two years since we rebranded as Messiah Lifeways. And although I believe we’ve done a rather good job of educating residents, clients, the general public and even our own staff, the name change still confuses some people. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not the first time that the name has changed (please readIf It Ain’t Broken, Then Why Did We Fix It?).

For those who are still puzzled by it, here goes. The name Messiah Lifeways represents a whole host of different services and offerings to those age 55 and better in the Harrisburg region. We serve those who need care, want to be part of a community (both on and off the Mt. Allen Drive campus), are looking for zestful and purposeful living, or want a combination of each. Messiah Village still exists as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) and is still an integral part of our identity; however, it is no longer the overarching brand. Additionally, the name change was not part of a merger or buyout, but rather the evolution of whom we really are and who we serve. The moniker “Messiah Village” alone could no longer capture the spirit of the community outreach, services, and enrichment that are also a vital part of our identity. This broadening of our brand serves as a segue to today’s blog.

958683940_80s_collage_xlargeThis April marks 30 years of service by Messiah Lifeways At Home. It is a testament of our commitment to helping people live longer and safer in their own home. At Home, along with other community support services like the Adult Day program, and Respite typify our broad spectrum of services beyond Messiah Village. We have always been on the cutting edge of the senior care industry. Some of these innovations included opening a children’s day care center on campus in 1978, starting the adult day program in 1993, and the creation of the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning eight years ago. However, most significant was the non-medical home care service, which unbeknownst to many, started in 1984. Somewhat counterintuitive to most CCRCs, we give older adults more choice beyond just moving here.

Serving clients from Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and Northern York Counties, Messiah Lifeways At Home, formerly known as Messiah Village Home Care has been helping older adults with services such as assistance with activities of daily living, companionship, housekeeping, and laundry. As mentioned, this heritage and experience go all the way back to the Reagan administration, when a gallon of gas cost $1.10, and 80′s pop culture was in full swing, (see picture above). However, in the 80s and 90s, we didn’t tout this service all that much. This likely explains some of the disbelief when we mention that we’ve been providing home care for the last 30 years. But as competition and demand grew, consumers started to take notice. Fast-forward to the last several years, the offerings and exposure for At Home has really grown.

With home care services becoming more main stream, along with the expanding volume and desire for baby boomers to age in place, Messiah Lifeways At Home had become more vital to those who wished to stay in their own home as they aged. Several years back, we recognized that beyond traditional services like providing hands-on care, transportation, or housekeeping; we needed to offer other services like light maintenance, technology services, and emergency call systems as part of the solutions we provided. These services have assisted seniors in prolonging and fortifying their goal of aging in place.

Lastly, just as Messiah Lifeways has evolved, so too have the options to age in place, with Messiah Lifeways At Home leading the way. To request information or learn more about the many different options available through Messiah Lifeways At Home, please call 717.790.8209 or go to\AtHome.

Matt Gallardo

Hoarding: Doubly Dangerous for Seniors

Matt Gallardo

Today’s blog is inspired by the fact that “spring has sprung” along with my odd fascination with watching the television show Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC. If you have never had the opportunity (or more so the misfortune) to watch this TV program, you’ve got to check it out at least once. Truthfully, it’s like watching a train wreck. I often find myself staring at the TV with my bottom jaw hanging wide open. Though many of the individuals suffer from deep depression or other psychological issues, it’s just hard to believe how some people are living in these “trash heaps” by their own volition. It’s sad to see, especially when it’s someone’s elderly parent, who in some cases have not seen their family in years because they were too embarrassed or defiant to allow anyone into their home.

For people in these extreme situations, psychological treatment and year-round cleaning is critical. However, for most of us a good spring cleaning should suffice, although high degrees of hoarding have small beginnings. Therefore, while spring cleaning, it’s important to not only clean, but downsize, recycle, and simply throw things out. This is especially crucial for an aging loved one who not only can amass a huge problem, they can also create health hazards. Even small amounts of hoarding or an unkempt home can create tripping hazards or obstacles to escape a fire. It can also lead to an infestation of critters, bacteria and germs, and air pollutants. For seniors, this can further compromise their immune system or exacerbate existing conditions like emphysema or allergies.

imagesCA0ZZ67KTake this spring with your aging loved one to provide a good corner-to-corner cleaning or even a deeper intervention to alleviate or eliminate these dangers.

Following are five tips to make it easier from

1.  Assess the situation and make a checklist. In addition to writing down the typical chores like washing windows, dusting, or scrubbing floors; be sure to also include the following tasks to reduce senior safety hazards.

• Clean out the medicine cabinet and dispose of expired medications or those no longer prescribed
• Throw away any expired food
• Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
• Remove clutter from walkways
• Replace light bulbs if necessary and ensure rooms and hallways are adequately lit
• Get rid of throw-rugs to eliminate tripping hazards
• Consider installing grab bars in the bathroom

2.  Schedule it. Just like a doctor’s appointment or other important commitment, block off time in your schedule that you can devote to spring cleaning. You may want to knock everything out in one weekend, or you may want to take it one chore at a time over several weeks, fitting it in when you have time. Either way, consider it time well spent with your loved one.

3.  Enlist help. Make it a family affair. The more the merrier. If you can’t convince family members to lend a hand, consider hiring help. A professional caregiver can assist with laundry, dusting, vacuuming and other light housekeeping tasks.

4.  Involve your senior loved one. It’s important to keep your loved one engaged and feeling useful, no matter what his or her limitations. If it’s not easy for Mom to get around, hand her the silver polish and silverware. Or give Dad a stack of papers to go through while you take care of the rest of the home.

5.  De-clutter, then clean. Seniors who have accumulated a lifetime of belongings often have so much stuff that it clutters the house and makes it difficult to clean, much less live safely in. Don’t just clean around the piles—tackle them first. But, be careful not to get trash-happy. Learn the 10 reasons seniors hang on to stuff and how to handle the clutter in a diplomatic manner.

D3C_7892Finally, be sure to address any problems you uncover while cleaning. You don’t want to see the fruits of your labor reverse back into a pig sty in less than six months. If you discover your loved one has piles of unpaid bills, expired food in the pantry, or hasn’t been cleaning up after the pets, perhaps it’s time for some extra help around the house. A little housekeeping help from a caregiver for just a few hours a week can help keep the home clean while offering your loved one companionship and support on a regular basis.

Another article you may also want to read on is Senior Hoarding Issues, the Breaking Point: Decoding the Problems of Seniors and Hoarding.

Lastly for additional help, housekeeping, downsizing or de-cluttering, contact Messiah Lifeways At Home by calling 717.790.8209 or go online to to see how we can help.


Matt Gallardo

Aging in Place, Yep- There’s an App for That!

Matt Gallardo

Smartphone-And-AppsLately at Messiah Lifeways, you’ve probably heard us talk more and more about aging in place and/or community.  We can help older adults both on and off campus age in place a number of ways. Programs like Connections or services like Messiah Lifeways At Home or Messiah Lifeways Adult Day Services can really help aging and disabled clients live safer and longer in their own home as their needs increase.

In addition to traditional home care services such as assistance with activities of daily living or housekeeping, Messiah Lifeways At Home also offers some really handy technology to make staying home a safer proposition. First off is the Philips Lifeline Emergency Call System, which I playfully call the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up button.” They also supply the Auto-Alert Emergency Call System, which has an added feature that can detect a fall and send out an automatic signal even if the person is knocked unconscious and is unable to press for the call button for help. Also offered is the Philips Medication Dispensing (PMD) System which is a piece of technology that can help clients and caregivers manage safe and consistent medication monitoring.

Whether or not these gadgets are an option for you or a loved one, technology is here to stay, and skeptics should embrace these possibilities. If it means longer and safer stays in one’s home – why wouldn’t you?

Another budding area of technology, to help seniors age in place, are apps (see definition above). The wonderful world of apps features what seems like millions of different programs for games, maps, weather, books, productivity, you name it. Some apps are just plain silly, but some have some practical, real world value, and these 5 apps featured on could come in handy for those looking to age in place.

The iCam and SwannView apps offer real-time or recorded video to help caregivers keep a closer eye on loved ones from afar. [Click here] to learn more about them.

Iconosys’s Tell My Geo is an app that uses global positioning to track and serve as a life line particularly for those with dementia who may wander or often lose their way. It also carries important medical data about that person. [Click here] to learn more Tell My Geo.

Next is Webahns Capzule PHR. PHR stands for personal health record and this iPhone app makes it easy for seniors and their caregivers to track and share health information. [Click here] to learn more about Capzule PHR.

Lastly is Sanofi-Aventis’s iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter that connects to the bottom of the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to help manage diabetes. [Click here] to learn more.

These are just a few apps that exist out there to make aging in place more feasible and safe. Like any new product, it is a good idea for you or a loved one to investigate these applications a little more closely before purchasing them. Lastly, in this ever-changing world of technology, Messiah Lifeways At Home offers a little known service to help those who may struggle a bit with new technology, smartphones and computers. They can send trained staff to your home to assist you with needs like setting up a new smart phone or tablet, downloading new apps or hooking up new computers. To find out more about this service, go to or call 717-790-8209.

Do you have a favorite smart phone or tablet app that could help with aging in place? Please share the information with others in the Comments section.

Originally posted 5- May, 2013
Matt Gallardo

”What to Do about Mama”- Book Review

Matt Gallardo

Everyone is a potential caregiver – BGM & BTB

wtdam_cWe have not done a book review in quite a while on the blog page. However, What to Do about Mama is categorically worth the read. It should not only capture the attention of previous and current caregivers, but it can also provide a potential glimpse into the future for nearly all of us. As the book states, “everyone is a potential caregiver” either for an aging parent, spouse, sibling as well as a disabled child, client, friend, or neighbor. The role of caregiver could be as short as a few weeks or for others it could last decades. Nonetheless, very few of us will ever be devoid of this altruistic and challenging role.

Co-authors Barbara G. Matthews and Barbara Trainin Blank open their hearts and bear their souls to share their challenging, heart wrenching, and insightful journeys as caregivers. Their personal stories, along with a host of other caregiving contributors, give detailed perspective on this physical, mental, and emotional roller coaster that it entails. Readers should heed the warning of how expectations, sharing responsibility, and the relationship between other family members can really deteriorate and/or shift. Furthermore, it highlights many of the unexpected realities of caregiving such as dealing with financial, legal, and medical issues of the care recipient.

Affirmation is also a big part of this book, particularly for those who served as a caregiver in the past. The relatable experiences can provide some absolution from the feelings of guilt, resentment, or remorse while “in the trenches.” If someone felt inadequate or felt guilty, What to Do about Mama shows that they are human and they should be proud of the job they did. For some of the contributors, I think the book was also a way to get those negative feelings off their chest without feeling judged. It helped them move beyond those difficult memories and to remember more of the joyful ones spent with their loved one.

For current caregivers, this is must read. As the authors express, this is not a caregiving textbook, and it is not written by “caregiving experts” but rather a guide featuring a collection of experiences and insights for caregivers by caregivers. It provides real world scenarios, anecdotes, and support to those in the position of caregiver. It tells the tale of what to do, what not to do, what did or didn’t work for them or what could work for you. They also reference funding sources as well as other resources to help your loved one age in place.

Lastly, the book also goes beyond caregiving in the here and now. It examines the residual effects of caregiving even after the loved one has passed, including the emotional aspect, relationships between survivors, and some of the legal and financial issues that can linger.

I recommend What to Do about Mama for anyone faced with the sometimes rewarding and sometimes unenviable task of caregiving for which most of us will encounter at some point in our lives. If you would like to learn more about this book as well as other resources to help caregivers manage and embrace the role along with avoiding caregiver burnout, please call the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225 or email


Matt Gallardo

A N-ice Surprise

Matt Gallardo

Today’s guest post comes from Messiah Village resident Esther Snyder. We really enjoy her occasional contributions to the Lifeways blog. Please enjoy these thoughts from Esther. – Matt

I was wakened by the scraping sound of equipment clearing the cars in my parking lot. At least 10 people, men and women, were scraping diligently and carefully. The first persons I recognized were our CEO, members of the Executive Team, as well as other staff members.

The ice was stubborn and required scrape after scrape after scrape. But they did it, and I thought, “They are going to age well with all that stamina!” I envied their vigor.

I had breakfast and readied myself for the day only to observe that another group had arrived to move the cars and have the lot cleared. They applied sand where necessary. I was simply overwhelmed with their care and concern for us residents.

My family has regular huddles to check in and discuss what is going well, what needs fixing, and what plans should be made for the future. We are meeting soon, and I won’t need any time to tell about this day around the Village Commons. The actions I saw wholeheartedly prove that the whole Administrative Staff cares about us – we don’t even need to ask!


Cold, snow, and ice! S-no-w problem. So far this brutal winter has necessitated two major snow clearing efforts in which staff from various departments have come to assist Campus Services, Grounds Crew, and Maintenance in all their hard work, in particular by delicately clearing away snow and ice from resident vehicles. In addition to these two major storms, this regular hard-working crew has been at it all winter long to make sure all the sidewalks, parking lots, and roads on campus are as clean and clear as possible. And for that we “thank-you” .

Matt Gallardo

The TinkerToy Effect

Matt Gallardo

The National Village to Village Movement

The Messiah Lifeways Connections program turns one year old this February and continues to grow and develop into something very special for its members stretching from Carlisle to Hershey. But a concept like Connections, though new to Central Pennsylvania, has actually been around since 2001. The Connections program is part of national movement called the Village to Village Network. Initially started by a group of aging neighbors in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, members of this “village model” made it possible for fellow seniors to stay in the community and their homes for as long as possible, a primary goal shared by most retirees and older adults.

As the idea of “aging in place” gains momentum particularly for baby-boomers, the introduction of new services and concepts to making this a reality is vital. Options like the Connections program adds another layer of support and complements the traditional aging in place provisions and services. Coupling it with assistance from family and friends or hiring home-health aides, modifying one’s home or purchasing adaptive equipment can create a safer and more enriching life at home. For others it has less to do with receiving support or assistance, but rather it serves as an opportunity for them to collaborate, support, and socialize with others in and around their community. These members volunteer their time, energy, and vision to for the betterment of the group and, if they need help in the future, other members will reciprocate when the time comes.

The Village Model Gets National Recognition

Recently the Village Model concept got some great exposure through NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Nightly News featured a story about Williams’ in-laws living in Connecticut that belong to a group just like Messiah Lifeways Connections called Staying Put in New Canaan.”

Like the group here in Central Pennsylvania, Staying Put also connects its local seniors to a variety of practical resources along with social networking opportunities to help support its members. This idea of networking or “connecting” members is certainly nothing new. It harkens back to “the way things used to be.” It’s a reinvented notion of “neighbor helping neighbor” but in more formal and structured way according to Geli Losch, Director of the Connections Program. She goes on to say, “the number of volunteers helping, vendors working, and programs and events happening continues to rise. Members meet regularly to further enhance the program as it has evolved and grown during our first year.” It’s impact and value caught the attention of Holy Spirit Health System and PinnacleHealth System who became our first two community partners and founding sponsors last year.

The TinkerToy Concept

tinker toysFor some people, the Village to Village concept can be a bit hard to grasp. The ideas of members being part of a virtual village or network sometimes need a visual representation. Ms. Losch recalls a guiding group meeting where a member compared being a part of Connections was like being a part of a tinkertoy set, where pieces differ in length, color, and shape, but could still bond with each other, support each other, and ultimately build something unique and beautiful. This was such a powerful image that Connections has used the idea to help people understand and embrace the concept.

If you would like to learn more about the Messiah Lifeways Connections program or become a member go to or call 717.591.7223. If you’re interested in finding out if there’s a village near you or you’d like to join your local group, go to

Matt Gallardo

Messiah Lifeways: A Great Way to Beat the Winter Blues

Matt Gallardo

During the winter, depression is quite common for both seniors as well as their caregivers. Of them, many suffer from “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD. For people dealing with SAD, the lack of natural sunlight in the winter upsets the sleep-wake cycle and their circadian rhythms. It may also affect the balance of chemicals like serotonin and hormones such as melatonin in the brain, which can alter one’s mood. Whether someone truly suffers from SAD or just has an annual wintertime malaise, these colder darker days can be a tough for many. Combine that with flu season and other cold weather ailments and it’s understandable why many flock to places like Florida and Arizona during the winter. But for many, that just isn’t an option. Plus for caregivers who likely are still working or are being relied upon by their loved one, the best they could hope for is maybe a week’s vacation away from it all.

So whether you’re a senior or an aging caregiver, consider these tips that can help you beat those wintertime blues, particularly those available through Messiah Lifeways.


Exercise and activity are important year-round, but during the winter it is more significant. If you can’t go for a walk in the great outdoors, the next best thing is a regular indoor exercise routine. Fortunately, Messiah Lifeways offers both its residents and those age 55+ living in the community many opportunities to stay active and stave off the winter blues! Messiah Lifeways Wellness Coordinator, Heidi Koch, lists a number of winter exercise classes and programs that are open to residents, community members, and even SilverSneakers® participants. You can choose from options like Yoga, Tia Chi, Pilates, strength training, cardio, balance, nutrition, healthy cooking and aquatic classes. The warm water aquatic center boasts a comfy 90 degree pool and a spa to de-stress and relax! They can also provide fitness testing, wellness assessments, and personal training which are important facets to developing a winter fitness program. Prospective members can come to the pool or any of the exercise classes to “try it out” as a guest to see if the Messiah Lifeways Wellness is a “good fit” to meet their fitness needs! For more information or to set up a tour, call Heidi at 717.591.7222.


The physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of volunteering are powerful. From soup kitchens to mailing packages to soldiers or distributing toys to children in need, there are many charity organizations in need of help especially over the winter. At Messiah Lifeways our Volunteer Program enlists the help of all ages, but in particular residents and retirees from the community volunteer their time, talents, and spirit to other residents and clients. The hands-on work, emotional bonding, and the spirit of benevolence are enough to invigorate the body and soul through the harshest of winters. To learn more about Volunteering at Messiah Lifeways, please contact Lois at 717.790-8203.

Engage in Social Activities

It is widely acknowledged that social engagement is related to many positive outcomes in older adults. People with more social ties have been found to live longer, to have better health, and to be less depressed.¹ Unfortunately for many older adults, social circles can shrink due to illness or death, friends moving away after retirement or to be closer to family. Socialization may also suffer when they give up driving or their physical mobility becomes impaired. And lastly, the cold winter months and shorter days make it more challenging for people to socialize. But there are more and more programs and services created for seniors to revitalize and reactivate their social lives. One such option relatively new to Central PA is the Connections program. A Connections membership gives seniors from across the mid-state the chance to volunteer for each other, barter services from one another, but also offers a burgeoning social circle. This reincarnated form of “social networking” rekindles the ole’ drop in visit, outings to the movies or dinner, book clubs, membership committees, parties, and more. The possibilities are limitless, and the benefits are immeasurable. To learn more about Connections, call Eileen at 771.790.8223 or go online and checkout the membership portal or check out the January 2014 newsletter.

Another great choice is becoming a member of your local senior center. With over 350 members, Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More is a great place to escape isolation for a few hours a day to socialize and connect with others especially during the winter. Members can nosh with each other at lunch and holiday meals. They can also join in on activities ranging from Tai Chi and line dancing to computer classes, book clubs, and card clubs. There is something for everyone. For more information, call Lorraine at 717.697.5947.

Seek Professional Help

Hopefully physical activity, social and civic engagement can serve as effective tools in the battle against the winter blahs. However, there are many levels of depression, and climbing out of it is no easy task. If you or your loved one feels hopeless, maintain a constant negative outlook, have significant changes in appetite, and are fatigued, irritable or restless, it could be a sign of clinical depression. Speak to a professional about treatment options so you can beat the wintertime blues.


 ¹ National Research Council. When I’m 64. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
Matt Gallardo

Don’t Become a Statistic This Winter

Matt Gallardo

Snow, ice, and freezing cold temps are upon us due to this “polar vortex,” which, by the way, I didn’t know was a “thing” until several days ago. Nevertheless we are only one week into the New Year and the Mid-West and Northeast have been hammered with snow storms and/or super cold temps. Welcome to the heart of winter.

imagesCAUYBW4LConditions like these are hazardous for anyone, but they can be downright dangerous for older adults. Along with cardiac issues exacerbated by cold weather exertion, hip, wrist, and ankle fractures during the winter months are quite common. In my experience from days as admissions director for Messiah Village, our Wagner transitional rehab would often see a rise in slip and fall fractures, particularly after foul-weather events. These injuries can also have some dire consequences in the elderly. According to the US National Library of Medicine it is estimated that the death rate in the elderly is as high 30% for up to a year following complications from a hip fracture. So it’s very important for seniors to be careful about falling or suffering injuries while shoveling snow. A study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), taken from, estimates that 11,500 people (all ages) are sent to the emergency room each year with snow-shoveling injuries, and those 55 or older are four times more likely to suffer cardiac-related symptoms than are younger adults. “The cardiovascular demands of snow shoveling are increased by the freezing temperatures that typically accompany snowfall,” said the study’s senior-author, Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Not only is the heart’s workload increased due to shoveling snow, but cold temperatures also add to the chances of a heart attack in at-risk individuals.” Furthermore, some older adults that may already have some mobility issues could become more at risk of falling while venturing out or they may just withdraw into their homes for the winter altogether. Either scenario is not good.

Minimize Risk

So what can you do to avoid these risks? Orthopaedic surgeon James Gladstone, M.D., co-chief of sports medicine at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, offers these tips for staying safely on your feet:

Do the “hustle” shuffle. If you must walk on ice, walking in a shuffle or moving your feet only slightly apart provides better balance than your normal stride. Bending your knees just slightly as you walk will also help you keep your balance.

Walk sideways on inclines. When walking on an icy incline such as a driveway, turn sideways. Then walk in side steps, by taking a step and bringing your other foot up to meet your lead foot, instead of your usual gait of one foot in front of the other. Walking this way while also slightly bending your knees will give you more balance and stability.

Watch out for icy patches. Take care when exiting cars, buses and trains or when walking up and down outdoor stairs. Keep your eyes open for patches of ice.

Have someone check the safety of walkways before you venture out and be sure they have shoveled, salted or secured the path for you to safely travel on.

If you must shovel snow, here are some tips for doing it safely:

Warm up your muscles. Shoveling is a vigorous activity. Before you go outside, warm up your muscles with some light exercise for 10 minutes.

Push, don’t lift. Push the snow to the side as much as possible, instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist.

Think small scoops. Small amounts of snow are easier to lift, and you’re less likely to strain your back. Never hold a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched — it puts too much weight on your spine.

Avoid twisting. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.

Get Some Helping Hands

Another tip is to ask for help or hire help to deal with the challenges that winter weather poses, whether it’s shoveling or simply walking or driving from icy point A to slippery point B. You can hire help for many different chores or needs, and not just for snow removal. Several of the more treacherous places for icy and slushy conditions are sidewalks and parking lots. Many home care agencies like Messiah Lifeways At Home can help alleviate the risk involved. They can provide door-to-door transportation to and from appointments, go grocery shopping or run errands for you, and even take Fluffy or Fido out for a walk. Having this type of help can be a life saver, literally. So this winter, be safe, be smart, and stay away from the emergency room.

If you’d like more information about staying safe this winter, please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717-591-7225 or email To contact Messiah Lifeways At Home directly, call 717-790-8209.


Matt Gallardo

A Different Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

Matt Gallardo

stock-footage-new-years-resolution-listIf you’re like most of us, each New Year we come up with idealistic resolutions that are going to change our lives for the better such as, “I’m going to lose weight, “I’m going to take better care of myself,” or “I’m going to try something new or start a new hobby.” So we go into the New Year committed and enthused but several weeks later many of us crash and burn. Just ask your local gym how many people sign up for a membership in early January and, by February, they’re never seen or heard from again. Resolutions can be a good starting point and are well intentioned, but the habitual failure may be due to the approach we use. Forcing yourself to go to the gym or quitting a bad habit cold turkey likely hasn’t worked in the past. Young or old, we should consider taking a different approach to achieve our resolutions. Try something a little different this year. Instead of joining a gym to lose weight, take ballroom dance lessons or try volunteer work that requires some physical activity. Rather than trying to commit to a rigid diet, take small steps like not eating after 7pm or not grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Particularly for our retired readers, let’s examine some alternative resolutions for those ages 55 and better.

Find a “Second Act” or “Encore Career”
Volunteers in Motion Nov 2013 062You can still commit to losing weight this year, but attack it from a different angle. Upon retirement, some people become less physically active once they remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of full-time work. So this year to lose a few pounds and stay active, try volunteering or getting a part-time job. If you keep busy and stay involved, you can avoid winter sluggishness and stave off weight gain. We have many residents and family members who volunteer at Messiah Lifeways and are constantly on the go. The physical, social and emotional benefits of volunteering are tremendous. Also during the holidays, stores hire part-time staff to handle the larger holiday crowds. Or throughout the year you can lend your talents and spirit to a job that is more gratifying than stressful. Encore careers can create a new beginning, can help you stay active and you can make a few bucks while you’re at it.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please call Lois Hutchison at 717.790.8203 or click here to learn about on for volunteer opportunities at Messiah Lifeways. You can also check out RSVP of the Capital Region online to learn about volunteer opportunities available in the greater Harrisburg region.  If you’d like to consider a part-time job or a “second act” or “encore career” check out, which is a website dedicated to helping people over the age of 50 connect with employers locally and across the nation for part-time and full-time jobs.

Don’t Just “Exercise” Your Body
Picture 183A large part of New Year’s resolutions revolves around being healthy and feeling good. In addition to seeing your family doctor on regular basis and taking your prescribed medications, taking control and managing your individual health concerns is paramount. As people age, the likelihood of developing chronic health conditions like arthritis, congestive heart failure, obesity and diabetes grows. So, of course, physical exercise and staying active are key to staying healthy. However, exercising the mind is also very important. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are great, but consider more active ways to “exercise” your brain and integrate it with a new hobby or interest for the New Year. Learn to play an instrument or learn a new language, join a book club, or take some courses through a local community college or programs like Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning®. One could also get involved with advocacy groups like the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg or become an Ombudsman through the PA Department of Aging.

Whatever you choose as your resolution this year, switch it up and make it count. To learn about more ways to stimulate your mind, body and soul, contact the Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225 or email

Happy New Year!

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