Stress-Free Travel with your Furry Family Member

Summer is here, and that means family vacations, road trips and lots of outdoor fun. For many Americans, we’re not just loading up the car with kids and luggage. A recent survey by the American Pet Products Association found that 37% of pet owners travel with their pets, and for Baby Boomers that jumps up to 42%.

Taking your pet along for the ride can be a great way to enjoy your vacation without worrying about your dog or cat being lonely without you, facing anxiety about boarding or trying to find a pet sitter. It is also a lot of fun to have your pet with you to walk along the beach or take a ride out on the lake. But sometimes just getting to that vacation destination can be stressful for your pet.

Many dogs and cats associate a ride in the car with going to the vet. Others might get motion sickness, while some pets might just feel anxious at the unexpected movements of the vehicle.

Here are a few tips to help make traveling with your pet a little less stressful, so you can all enjoy a great vacation.

Make car rides a positive experience. Before heading out on a long road trip, introduce your dog or cat to the car as a fun experience. Go for short rides to the park or a friend’s house, and reward your pet with a treat after each ride.

Travel safely. Those great pictures of dogs riding in cars with their heads hanging out the window might look fun, but it’s better for your pet (and you) for them to be safely restrained inside the car. A dog with his head hanging out the window runs the risk of injury by unexpected obstacles such as tree branches or other cars. And dogs and cats left to roam the vehicle serve as a distraction to the rider. Consider putting your dog or cat in a crate while riding, to keep them safe and comfortable during the trip. If a crate isn’t an option, use a harness that you can attach to a seatbelt in the back seat. There are also a variety of car seats and travel harnesses for dogs available to purchase.

Keep nausea at bay. Many dogs and cats suffer from motion sickness, which not only is a hassle for you as the pet owner, but also adds to their unwillingness to get back into the car for another trip. You can try to avoid the nausea by only feeding your pet a small amount of food the day of travel, and try to feed them at least 3-4 hours before departing. Avoid any food during the car ride. While traveling, make regular stops every 2-3 hours to let your pet go to the bathroom and get some fresh air. Also keep the air circulating while in the car, so your pet doesn’t get too hot while driving, especially if in the very back.

Ease anxiety with a Comfort Companion.  Whether your dog or cat is in a crate in the car or harnessed in the back seat, a Comfort Companion can help keep them comfortable and ease travel anxiety. Our pillows are designed to hold a personal item of yours, such as an old t-shirt or sock, so the dog or cat is comforted with your smell. Having something familiar that smells of home can help decrease the nervousness some pets feel when riding in a car.

Improving the Quality of Life for Dementia Patients

So much of the time when we talk about issues facing people with dementia, the focus is on tips for prevention or news about treatment options. Those are both very important, but for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, maintaining a good quality of life is just as much of a priority.

Having a healthy social life, participating in activities you enjoy and maintaining good physical and mental health are important factors for good quality of life for everyone, and of course it’s no different for those suffering from dementia. Unfortunately, too many times our loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or dementia find themselves feeling isolated and alone. This can lead to depression and even further deterioration in cognitive abilities. On the plus side, when people with dementia have comfortable surroundings and interaction with others, they are happier and less likely to show worrisome behavior.

Below are three categories used to help measure quality of life. With a little creativity, you can find some good ways to help ensure your loved ones have the safe, comfortable and interactive environment that fosters good quality of life.

Social Engagement and Emotional Support. Connecting with others is very important for human beings. There are many ways to help provide the opportunities for social engagement for your loved ones with dementia that won’t put added stress on you as the caregiver. Look for support groups and adult care centers with groups specifically for dementia-care patients that can provide social interaction on a regular basis. You might consider an in-home caregiver who not only helps out with some of the daily tasks but also serves as someone to talk with and provide companionship. Church members and neighbors who visit on a regular basis are also good forms of support.

Meaningful Activities. It is easy to assume that our loved ones who no longer have the cognitive abilities they once did cannot participate in activities they would enjoy, but staying active is a vital part of maintaining physical and mental health. Find some things to do with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia that you can both do together (this way you kill two birds with one stone by providing social engagement as well). Ideas include activities such as reading a book or magazine out loud together, painting, playing board games or gardening.

Safe and Comfortable Environment. Having a regular routine in a living area that is both safe and comfortable is a primary factor in fostering good quality of life. Make sure your loved one has the necessary physical adaptations, such as bars in the shower and slip guards on hardwood floors, to provide stability and prevent falls.

Comfort can also mean surrounding your loved one with items that bring joy, such as a soft blanket or a stuff animal. Research has found that stuffed animals provide similar tactile comfort as pet therapy, where stroking the animal has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce agitation and produce a sense of well-being. You can find a variety of stuffed companions, from pets to dolls to teddy bears, at Comfort Companions. All of our products designed for seniors are weighted to provide a feeling of security, and are the perfect size for adults.

Mother’s Day Gift for Alzheimer’s & Dementia Suffers

 With Mother’s Day just around the corner, many people are buying cards and making plans to celebrate with their mothers. It’s a time to give a little back to the women in our lives who have given us so much. But for children caring for a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, this happy holiday can be bittersweet. More than two thirds of the people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are women — our mothers, grandmothers and sisters. They are living with a disease that steals their memories and mental faculties, changing how life is lived for these special women who spent their whole lives nurturing and caring for others.

We know it can be emotionally difficult to spend Mother’s Day with a person who doesn’t even remember she’s your mom. But remember, most mothers appreciate spending time with people who love them. Giving the gift of time is one of the most precious gifts you can give.

We also understand that leaving mom can be hard any day, especially on Mother’s Day. This year, bring your mom a special gift that will bring comfort to her even when you’re not there to spend time sitting and talking with her. Our Daisy is a Comfort Companion designed especially for Alzheimer’s patients. Much more than just a stuffed toy, Daisy is designed to bring comfort when hugged and awaken the sense of touch, sight and smell. Daisy is weighted to bring a feeling of security when she sits on your lap, and is infused with lavender which is a soothing, calming scent.

A variety of bows and buttons and the signature daisy in the doll’s hair provide plenty of tactile stimulation and things to keep hands busy. Daisy’s bright blue eyes and happy smile will bring a smile to the face of anyone who holds her.

Not only is Daisy there with your mother every day, she also has a pocket for special keepsakes, so a part of you can be with your mother too. The pocket is the perfect size to hold family photos, a special necklace, or a treasured memento that’s meaningful to you and your mom.

While Daisy helps bring comfort to your mother, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for information for caregivers and to donate to help advance care, support, and research for this disease.

Anxiety is a normal part of childhood. We all remember worrying about the first day of school each year, stressing out about a test, or clinging to mom rather than spending the night away from home at a friend’s house. This type of anxiety is like a phase that will come and go.

Some children might have more than just the typical phases of worry. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that one in eight children are living with anxiety. Children who develop an anxiety disorder usually do between the ages of 6-12, and when left untreated, it can follow them into adulthood.

Signs of Anxiety

Whether anxiety is temporary or a child is struggling with an anxiety disorder, it is important to understand the signs. This can alert parents to the fact that their child is feeling anxious or panicked, and allow them to help their children deal with the situation.

Signs to look for include:

  • Excessive worry, about safety, health, potential dangers, school.
  • Complaints of headache or stomach ache, with no physical reasons.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Cries often
  • Becomes angry with no reason
  • Avoids participating in activities
  • Afraid of making even small mistakes
  • Becomes emotional or angry when separating from a loved one.

Helping Ease Anxiety

The most important thing to remember when dealing with a child who is worried or anxious is not to dismiss their feelings. Rather than telling them, “there’s nothing to worry about,” ask them to talk to you about their feelings. Show them you understand and that you can relate. Sometimes just being able to understand they’re not alone will help ease their feelings of anxiety.

It’s never too early to teach kids coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Just like adults, it’s good for kids to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals and exercise regularly in order to alleviate stress and anxiety. You can also practice deep breathing and mindfulness practices. And don’t forget the importance of play! Free, unstructured time outside or with their favorite toys is a good way to help ease anxiety in kids.

Providing a comfort item or transitional item is another way to help ease anxiety. Many kids do this on their own, keeping a special blanket or toy with them throughout the day as a tangible way to feel more secure. Comfort items can help reduce anxiety in the moment by providing a physical object to hold on to, to help divert the child’s attention away from what is causing the anxiety. Comfort items are also a way of training the brain to shift to other thoughts when anxiety flares.

At Comfort Companions, we’ve designed a line of products to specifically provide comfort for kids during times of anxiety. Whether it’s a child who is worried about spending the night with his grandmother or a girl who is nervous about the first day of school, our Comfort Companions are there to provide a safety net for stressful situations.

If your child is showing signs of anxiety or worry, be sure to talk with your doctor. Finding help and learning ways to cope are good ways to prepare our kids for good mental health into adulthood.
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