There's a whole lotta problems when it comes to the nuance of LGBTQ rights. Marriage is just the beginning, and thankfully we are starting to see people come up with solutions.
A purrfect combination of tech and tenderness.
Know someone who’s over 60 and feeling lonely? Help is just a phone call away. Purina Cat Chow has partnered with two non-profits in order to bring senior citizens some much-needed virtual therapy cat visits.
Wait…that’s a thing?
When we think of the term “therapy animal,” most of us are probably inclined to picture a dog. After all, canines dominate the therapy animal field at 94%. Felines, on the other hand, make up part of the other 6% (that’s combined with other animals). Anyone who has experienced that special, soul-soothing bliss that comes from stroking a purring kitty in their lap will tell you: those numbers might be off. Although therapy cats make up a smaller percentage of this segment, cats offer a wide array of positive benefits that make them wonderful therapy animals.
Just ask Roger and Sal – a couple of registered therapy cats – along with their handler Tracy Howell.
Since 2016, Tracy and Roger have been working with Pet Partners®, a non-profit that matches volunteer therapy animals of all kinds with people in need of a furry friend visit, including nursing facilities, assisted living, hospice centers, and children’s hospitals.
Sal is a mew addition to the team. But he’s already working very, very hard…putting his head on people’s thighs and letting them massage his paws. What a gig.
According to Pet Partners, who have had more than 1,500 felines registered in their Therapy Animal Program, certain populations prefer cat companions to dogs. For one thing: they’re more compact, and generally more quiet, making lap cuddles a much more Zen experience.
Plus, cats tend to be more particular about who they interact with, which can signal a nice little ego boost. “Cats have a reputation for being selectively affectionate. If a cat likes you, you’re special,” says Moira Smith, Pet Partners staff member, team evaluator, and cat handler.
Basically, it feels really good to be invited into the Cat Club. Some of Roger and Sal’s most loyal fans are, in fact, seniors – in particular, those with dementia.
“People think it must be hard to visit seniors with dementia, but it isn’t,” she told Upworthy. “They tend to repeat questions a lot so if you mess up your answer, chances are you won’t mess up the next time they ask. I’ve laughed so many times during our visits with seniors–just because you are older doesn’t mean you stop being funny.”
Where humor is not lost, connection is. With many of their family members passed on, living far away, or not allowed to visit due to COVID-19 restrictions, loneliness is a major issue seniors often face. This leads to depression, anxiety, and irritability.
That’s where Roger and Sal come in. A typical therapy cat visit consists of lap cuddles with warm blankets, nap time, and a bit of TV watching. Sometimes the seniors will tell Tracy about their own cats they once had, and how much they loved them.
During the pandemic, Roger and Sal have even excelled at their virtual visits. While nothing replaces the emotional engagement of one-on-one interactions, research has indicated that virtual animal content still brightens the mood.
Tracy agreed that even though they were not able to be in person, the trio has still been able to make a connection and keep people smiling and happy. Roger even performed a few tricks. Perhaps the affinity cats have for interrupting Zoom calls can come in handy after all.
The online visits have been so impactful that for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Cat Chow, Pet Partners and the Institute on Aging are working together to get more seniors, over the age of 60, connected to virtual therapy cat visits. By calling 800-616-5152, seniors can schedule one of 50 free virtual therapy cat visits with a Pet Partners therapy cat team. That means kitties like Roger and Sal are going to have VIP status, Very Important Pets, that is.
The whole project has been made possible by Purina Cat Chow, a company that knows all too well the healing powers of cats. During the entire month of May, for every Cat Chow Complete purchase, Purina will donate two cents per purchase, up to $25,000 to Pet Partners in support of their Therapy Animal Program. This donation will help more cats like Roger and Sal ensure more people have access to the therapeutic benefits of cats.
If you’re a cat-lover who would like to show support, you can find out more at catchow.com/therapy.
Photo courtesy of Purina® Cat Chow®
It only costs them a little more than $30,000 a year.
Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?
Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.
“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.
“We love to travel and we were searching for a way to continuously travel in our retirement that made financial sense,” she said. They looked into deals they could find through loyalty memberships and then factored in the potential sale price of their home and realized their dream was totally affordable.
The rough math makes sense. If it costs the couple $88 per night to live on a cruise ship, that’s $32,120 a year. Currently, the average price of a home in Seattle, Washington—where the couple lived—is $958,027 which would come with a mortgage that costs around $50,000 a year.
Plus, on a cruise ship, the couple doesn’t have to pay for groceries.
The Burks are able to live their dream because they’ve spent a lifetime being responsible. “We have been frugal all our lives to save and invest in order to achieve our goal,” she says. “We are not into materialistic things but experiences.”
Angelyn says that cruising takes the stress out of travel. “It is leisurely travel without the complications of booking hotels, restaurants, and transportation while staying within our budget,” she told 7 News. The couple travels lightly with just two suitcases between them and if they need anything, they just buy it on the ship or in the next port.
One thing the carefree couple should be concerned about on their never-ending cruise is COVID-19. The coronavirus is easily spread in close quarters and a cruise ship that recently docked in Seattle had 100 people on board who tested positive for the virus. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated before going on a cruise and that immunocompromised people should consult with their physicians before traveling.
Since leaving their jobs and the mainland behind, the Burks have been on a 50-day cruise around the Adriatic Sea, taking in the sights of Europe as well as a 51-day cruise from Seattle to Sydney, Australia.
The Burks really love cruising to Italy, Canada, Iceland and the Bahamas but their favorite is Singapore.
Looking to give it all up and go on a permanent vacation just like the Burks? Angelyn has some advice for those wanting to get started.
It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.
Michelle Santizo is a street medicine nurse working in Los Angeles, California. For her, the field of street medicine requires providing lifesaving health services in unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable environments, but is where she is most passionate about her work.
Nurse Santizo credits her parents for teaching her resilience, a necessary trait when providing care in places like tents, under bridges, in alleys, vehicles, at libraries, on the side of the freeway or even at a bus stop.
“Every corner of Los Angeles needs our services,” said Nurse Santizo. “It can be in a pristine, abandoned, trashed, or graffiti-filled neighborhood.”
Michelle | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com
Santizo prepares for the workday by loading her backpack with supplies before heading to a section of downtown L.A. known as “skid row” to care for her clients, who are typically people experiencing homelessness and living on the fringes of society without regular access to healthcare. As the child of immigrant parents, she experienced firsthand a lack of healthcare and basic necessities. Her mother fled from El Salvador as a young woman, arriving in the United States alone and without shelter.
“My mother told me that the only people that acknowledged her while sleeping outside on a bench [were the people going in and out of] the church that was across the street,” said Nurse Santizo. She said her mother instilled in her that there are many reasons why people are homeless and that each individual has their own story. “[She] taught me to never judge someone’s struggle … my mother’s inspiring upbringing taught me if you have the time to help the broken or disadvantaged, then take a moment to acknowledge or help in some positive way.”
Michelle and her mother on a beachCourtesy of Michelle Santizo
Growing up, Nurse Santizo watched her parents struggle to earn a living wage to keep up with the family’s needs. “My father worked nearly seven days of the week and my mother worked as much as she could in jobs like babysitting, cleaning homes or caregiving. Feeding our family was my parent’s main concern…healthcare and all the other important aspects of life became secondary or non-existent. My parents could barely make enough income to buy fresh fruit or vegetables,” she said.
The Santizo familyCourtesy of Michelle Santizo
That upbringing is what drove her to pursue a career in medicine, with the goal of giving back to underserved communities. “[Access to] medicine should not be determined based on your socioeconomic status. It should be a right for someone to seek healthcare when it is needed and important, especially for children and adolescents who will be the future of our generation,” said Nurse Santizo. She credits her lack of access to healthcare as a child for empowering her to keep pushing for change.
When the opportunity to practice street nursing arose, Santizo knew instinctively that it was the right fit. Every workday she has meaningful interactions, but one experience in particular had a lasting impression on her. She encountered a middle-aged man who had lost his job during the pandemic and was forced to live on the streets. Nurse Santizo approached, and he asked if she wouldn’t mind examining his feet. As she gently inspected the condition of his skin, she explained that he needed a thorough cleaning and a special ointment and offered to wash his feet and patch them up.
Courtesy of CeraVe
“This kind man stared right into my eyes and nearly cried, as he shared ‘no one has ever cared for me like this ever since I’ve been forced to live on the streets, nor has anyone ever acknowledged my existence,’” recalled Nurse Santizo. “I remember squatting on the side of the street while cars were driving by … my only mission was to devote that moment in time to servicing a person who needed my attention and love. As you can tell, I love what I do, and I could scrub feet for days when servicing the most vulnerable populations.”
According to the most recent report, approximately 580,466 people were experiencing homelessness in America in January 2020. Most were individuals (70%) and the rest were people living in families with children. The full effect of the pandemic on the homeless populations across the country have yet to become clear, and hard data will not be fully known until late 2022 or early 2023.
“Bringing medicine to people who are not able to seek medical assistance due to their inabilities whether it be homelessness, chronic illness, or mental health has always been my true calling … to serve the broken, the sick, the vulnerable and the ones who really need a second chance at life,” said Nurse Santizo, a reminder that no one knows what another human is battling.
To recognize the healthcare professionals that are so often giving to others before themselves, CeraVe seeks to spotlight those that go beyond the call of duty for their patients and communities. The brand is honoring nurses such as Santizo in the second iteration of a docuseries titled Heroes Behind the Masks Chapter 2: A Walk In Our Shoes.
Follow along in the coming days for more stories of heroism, kindness and love.
There are times and places for breastfeeding advocacy. This isn't it.
By now, you've likely seen news stories about the baby formula shortage in the U.S. According to CBS News, the formula shortage has been coming for months, with supply chain issues, labor shortages, product recalls and inflation creating a perfect storm and hampering manufacturers' ability to keep up with demand.
The shortage is causing intense stress for families that rely on formula as retailers resort to rationing purchases and customers find store shelves empty of major brands.
It's genuinely a crisis. And unfortunately, some breastfeeding advocates are using the shortage to tout the benefits of breastfeeding: This isn't a problem if you breastfeed! It's "free!" It's "readily available!" It's nature's perfect food! It's "what God intended!" It'll never be recalled!
Folks? Now is not the time or the place.
To be clear, I'm an enormous fan of breastfeeding. My mother is a retired lactation consultant and I was raised in La Leche League meetings. I breastfed my own three kids through toddlerhood and pumped breastmilk to feed my adopted nephew. I've written articles and made videos defending breastfeeding in public. I am enamored with the miraculous way our bodies can grow a whole person and also create food for that person. It's amazing. Breastfeeding is awesome in my book.
But I also live in the real world. I know that breastfeeding doesn't always work out for a huge variety of reasons, none of which I have the authority to judge. I know how most moms agonize over every decision they make and how easy it is to feel shamed for not doing what people tell you is "best." I know that baby formula saves lives.
For years now, there's been a slogan battle between "breast is best" and "fed is best," when really neither statement is really accurate. The "breast is best" idea is a simple way of stating that breast milk is the most nutritionally beneficial food for most babies. That's not a judgment; it's the medical consensus. The "fed is best" idea is a simple way of stating that the most important thing is that a baby is fed. That's not a dismissal; it's reality. But neither statement encompasses the complex truth, which is that there's a lot of bad information out there that makes informed decisions difficult and that there are millions of individual circumstances that can impact how a baby ultimately gets fed.
However, none of that matters when there's a baby formula shortage. Babies that rely on formula need it. And they need it immediately. Period.
Now is not the time to advocate for breastfeeding, no matter how passionate you feel about it. Parents impacted by the formula shortage are already worried enough; adding to their stress with messaging that might induce guilt or shame is an entirely crappy thing to do at this moment. It's like saying to someone who fell off a boat and is floundering in the water, "See, this is why people should learn to swim." That's not advocacy—it's cruelty.
I know that some people will take any and all mention of breastfeeding as a slam on formula feeding, and I'm not of the mind that people should avoid talking about the benefits of breastfeeding in general. But there are times and places for advocacy and education and there are times and places where it's not helpful at all. We're in the latter time and place right now. This formula shortage might naturally push some new moms toward breastfeeding, but it's not a situation that should be exploited to convince people to breastfeed.
If we want to be helpful, the best thing we can do at the moment is to offer advice and support that may actually help. Dr. Steven A. Abrams, MD, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests the following when a parent is in an urgent need situation. These are things we can help with:
A lot can happen in a night!
Ah, prom. A quintessential teen experience that somehow manages to take every single one of those high octane, conflicting emotions felt during the entire school year and condense them into one solitary evening. All while everyone is dressed in elegant evening wear.
Though prom began as early as the 1800s as a simple cotillion, it has evolved over the years to become more extravagant—what with “promposals” and limousines and celebrity appearances. But, it has also evolved to become more LGBTQ inclusive and challenging of old gender rules.
Prom is (and continues to be) such an integral part of teen culture that it’s the central plot of many well loved rites-of-passage movies like “Pretty in Pink,” “She’s All That,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Hopefully, your own prom was more like these movies, and less like “Carrie.”
But the truth is: for many of us, prom really was somewhere between a romantic comedy and a horror movie. For every romantic slow dance and first kiss there were also plenty of fashion disasters, alcohol experiments gone wrong and relationship drama. Lots and lots of relationship drama. Successes and failures, if you will.
In honor of prom season, Jimmy Fallon asked his “Tonight Show” audience to share some of their most memorable prom fails on Twitter. Here are 20 that were just too hilarious and/or relatable not to share. Hopefully it will help you love your own #PromFail.
Fallon went first.
“My friend ripped his tuxedo and spent the night crying because he thought Men’s Wearhouse was going to sue him.” – @jimmyfallon
“A guy I knew rented a tuxedo and died on his way to prom. It wasn't damaged, so his family decided to bury him while wearing it, but forgot it was just a rental and they didn't buy it, so they ended up with a huge debt and the other partygoers had to help them pay.” – @jon_jonz
“A friend of mine was planning on going with a girl he had liked for many years. He was so nervous, he got Very drunk, then ended up throwing up all over his rented suit AND spending the night in jail for underaged drinking as he was entering, so she had to go alone…" – @Sallyjo25
“Our limo driver was pulled over at the venue and turns out he was driving with an expired license and we had no way to get home so we had to scramble during prom to find another limo." – @allieng07
“My date’s ex-boyfriend showed up to the prom and won her back. He didn’t even go to our school. I still paid for their room.” – @chrisfreas
"I was walking up to a girl in the cafeteria to ask her to prom and someone threw a big piece of cake and hit me in the head right as I got there. Long story short, she went with someone else and I became known as 'cake boy.'" – @gumgumerson
"I was dumped on prom. That’s it." – @beastmodemom247
"End of the night, stepped outside the perimeter to see my date off. A total distance of about 10 feet. Well within eye shot. Was denied re-entry because 1. I went on the grass (a real excuse they used) and 2. They genuinely thought I was a stranger crashing the party." – @L_Drumer
"We didn't have a prom in 90's UK but did have a disco. I don't imagine U.S. proms had a quality beige buffet of sausage rolls, chicken legs, vol-a-vents & chips; & a DJ who waited till each record ended before lifting it off the player and putting the next one on!" – @Optimist_Eeyore
"One year they played "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line - the grind pit immediately vacated the floor and the only ones left were like 8 of us that decided to square dance while everyone left to quench their thirst off the dance floor." – @TotallyVannah
"The Prom King and Queen were twins. Their slow dance song was "Truly Madly Deeply". They pleaded with the DJ to find another song, and when asked why, they yelled "We're twins!" The DJ quickly picked another song: "Always be my baby." The king walked away, grumbling.” – @overbaughs
"Walked in dressed to impress including fake fur. Walked beautiful self to bathroom sat down and realized the feet next stall facing towards toilet. I had been so self absorbed I walked into mens room.” – msyvonnne2u
"My date's friend was trying to impress me by breakdancing. He ended up slipping on his own sweat and broke his wrist in the process. I guess he put the break in breakdancing.” – overbaughs
“My girlfriend and I broke up right before my senior Prom! She ended up not going at all, so when we won queen and king, my friend just yelled out 'that’s one lonely castle”'! – @claydoughrocks
“A bunch of the girls in my class all got their super puffy, super expensive dresses from the same place. By the end of the night, they were stuck sitting because their dresses were falling apart. Meanwhile, 18 years later. I still have my maybe $200 dress.” – SaiyanaBrief
"My husband and I are teachers. We were chaperones and he was doing the Russian bottle dance and tore his meniscus. Life’s little reminder he was 40.” – MrsMieschigan
“Our prom was booked at a hotel resort. When prom committee went to decorate and setup the space. There was a huge wedding party already in progress. Wedding party offered more money so resort Mgr took it. Took 3+ yrs in court to get the $21k fee they refused to refund.” – @DingleBob
“I wore the wrong spanx under my dress, does this really need more explaining?” – @itstherealmeboo
“After leaving prom my date and I were involved in a 9 car accident on the freeway. Just bruises luckily, and hey we got to ride in the same ambulance together.” – @Wayren
For the last one, let’s just say a picture’s worth a thousand words: