Get Better Sleep!

You may recall an article a while back on successful sleep. Well, sleep is so important to maintaining good physical and mental function, we are back with more helpful sleep tips! Remember, sleep is how your mind and body recharge, and without it, you cannot function properly. 

Here are some controllable factors to help with a good night’s sleep: 

Limit Screen Time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends you stop using electronic devices, like your phone or tablet, at least 30 minutes before bedtime. If possible, avoid watching tv or using your phone, computer, or tablet, in the bedroom. The blue light emitted from these devices restrains the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Instead, try reading a book. 

Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day. Having caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) later in the day can keep you awake at night. The level of caffeine in your blood peaks around one hour after consumption, and stays at that level for several hours for most people. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but it is recommended you do not consume caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. 

Pick the Perfect Temperature. Sleep experts recommend keeping the room around 65 degrees, to help induce sleep and support better sleep patterns. However, if you are used to sleeping in a warmer room, slowly decrease bedroom temperatures and see if it has a positive impact. Also think about the bedding and pajamas you are wearing – are they conducive to a “cool” night’s sleep? 

Avoid Eating Large Meals Close to Bedtime. While it may seem like a good idea to go to sleep on a nice full stomach, eating a large meal right before bed can lead to tummy troubles. If your stomach is still digesting food when you lie down, you may experience acid reflux, heartburn, or nausea, which can keep you up. Remember, sleep is a time for your body to rest and that’s impossible if you’re trying to digest a meal. It is recommended that you wait three hours after eating a meal to go to bed. 

Nap Smart. Naps can help reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve mood and memory, but try to nap smart. Keep naps short – aim for 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy. Take naps in the early afternoon. Napping later in the day (after 3 p.m.) can interfere with nighttime sleep. 

If you are struggling with healthy sleep hygiene, contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team for assistance! 

Happy Sleeping! 

Boost Your Brain!

It’s a well-known fact that regular physical activity is beneficial. It strengthens bones and muscles, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy and makes you feel better. Another benefit to physical activity is the positive impact it has on your brain! 

Being physically active improves cognitive health – it can improve the way you think, learn, problem-solve, and help you enjoy an emotional balance. Exercising can also improve your memory, reduce anxiety, and even help improve your quality of sleep. And here’s the best part – ANY amount of physical activity has been shown to be beneficial. 

Some of the effects of exercise on brain health happen immediately, meaning they occur during exercise or shortly thereafter, such as a reduced feeling of anxiety, improved sleep, and improved aspects of cognitive function. With regular physical activity, other long-term benefits occur, such as improvements in executive function (the ability to plan and organize, initiate tasks, control emotions), deep sleep, and more long-term anxiety management. 

What Can You Do? 

Being active might be easier than you think. Here are some ideas for how to stay active throughout the day. Remember – every little bit counts! 

Daily Chores – what might count as physical activity? Cleaning, gardening, laundry, and other household chores can count as activity for the day! If it’s getting you up and moving, it certainly counts. 

Be Active While Watching TV – think of ways to be active to reduce the amount of sedentary time in the day. Keep a list of activities, such as arm circles, marching in place, or leg kicks, to do during commercial breaks, while watching your favorite shows. 

Walk – walking is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do. Walk your dog, walk with a friend, walk to get the mail. Take the long way to get to dinner. Walk two times around the lake. Think of ways to get extra steps in! 

The pros of exercise are countless. The next time you attend an exercise or dancing class, talk a walk, or a dip in the pool, remember you are improving your physical health, and your cognitive health! 

If you need help determining which exercises might be best for you to, reach out to the Functional Pathways Therapy Team and we will be happy to help guide you!


If you squint your eyes, you can see 2023 on the fast-approaching horizon. It’s a time for resolutions and goals, as well as an opportunity to make sure you are incorporating all the dimensions of being and staying well. The key to embracing your greatest potential is through these seven dimensions. 

Wellness is being able to lead purpose-filled and engaged lives. By doing this, you can embrace your potential to pursue and optimize life’s possibilities. Your greatest potential lives in seven different dimensions: physical, social, spiritual, vocational, emotional, environmental, and intellectual. 

Spiritual: Finding purpose and meaning in life.
Examples: meditation, Bible Study, Church Service, Worship Service.

Vocational: Utilizing your skills, passions, and strengths to help others.
Examples: Tutoring, mentoring, volunteering, caregiving, Hobby Pines Group.

Emotional: The ability to cope with challenges and deal with feelings in a positive way.
Examples: peer counseling, stress management, humor/laughter, support groups.

Physical: Strengthening and caring for the body to stay as independent as possible.
Examples: Water Aerobics, Group Exercise, and regular doctor’s appointments.

Social: Emphasizes the importance of social interactions.
Examples: spending time with family, Game Play, Bingo, Pinecone Painters.

Environmental: Respect for natural resources and/or a strong connection to the environment.
Examples: recycling, taking walks outdoors, meditation, Garden Gro’ers.

Intellectual: Activities that stimulate and challenge the brain.
Examples: Game Play, Bunko, Mahjong, reading, puzzles.

Look at how you spend a week or month. Are you hitting all the dimensions listed above? Some of the activities you participate in, like group classes, may hit a few dimensions at once (physical and social). If there is an area that is being neglected, think about how you might set goals to include those into your routine to stay balanced. Reach out to your Functional Pathways Therapy Team to learn more about the dimensions of wellness and how to ensure you are setting yourself up for a balanced 2023. Happy New Year!

Setting Yourself Up for Success!

Pre-Game Preparations.
Plan out simple things to stay on track.

The holidays are HERE! Yes, that’s right, THEY ARE HERE! How are you celebrating? Whether you are cooking, heading out of town, visiting with family, or spending a quiet day at home, you have probably thought about your plans, made the arrangements, and have already begun your preparations. So, let’s talk pre-game prep!

With Thanksgiving behind us, let’s take a minute to reflect. You wouldn’t have waited until Thanksgiving morning to decide if your family was joining you or if you were joining them. Your stress levels would certainly be affected. You also (hopefully) wouldn’t wait until the morning of a holiday party to decide who to invite, or what presents to buy for people. Same logic applies to your health and wellness goals – whether you want to try a new exercise class, create healthier habits, or improve your endurance, the level of preparation that goes into each goal can have a notable difference in your outcomes and success.

Some Prep Tips:

Identify the Purpose – What is your goal? Is the goal to walk a an extra lap around Lake Latimer? Participate in a new or more challenging exercise class? Is it to feel better? Meet new people? Create healthier habits? Impact your numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, blood sugar)? It’s important to identify the purpose or goals so you can measure your success and plan how you will achieve it!

Set Yourself Up for Success – Once you know the purpose, make sure you know what you need to accomplish it. For example, you might need to get on the treadmill or Nu-Step in the Oasis (if it’s chilly outside) and get comfortable and supportive footwear if your goal is to walk more on our grounds. If your goal is to participate in a more challenging exercise class, you will want to check out the exercise calendar and perhaps ask a friend to join you.

Review successes/opportunities – Make sure you are considering what went well, what could have gone better, and adjust for next time. Did you achieve your goals? If you did – congratulations! What was easy? What was challenging? What would you change for next time?

There are many resources and tools available to make planning for and carrying out our health and wellness goals easier. These preparation concepts can also be applied to your daily and weekly tasks to make them easier! Planning out simple things, like going to the grocery store with a list, using a to-do list for your day, or working off a schedule for the week, are easy ways to stay on track. Reach out to your Functional Pathways Therapy Team to learn more about your fitness levels, as well as how you can prepare for success!

A Little Progress Each Day Adds Up To Big Results.”

Giving the Gift of Gratitude

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about giving gifts and spreading kindness. One of the best gifts we can give is that of gratitude. Gratitude, or the quality of being thankful, is something we can give without spending money, and can be just as beneficial for the giver as it is for the receiver, if not more so!

We are all familiar with how we can show gratitude for others – saying “thank you,” paying it forward, showing a random act of kindness – but we often overlook showing gratitude for our own health and well-being. Recent studies show that being grateful can improve our health, relieve depression, and broaden the mind. Experiencing positive emotions, as opposed to negative ones, leads to optimal levels of well-being, emotional wellness, and resilience.

While the “power of positive thinking” may not fix everything, it can certainly help. Acknowledging the good doesn’t mean denying the bad. Expressing gratitude for yourself can help you become more resilient, while also boosting your mood. When you feel good about yourself, others can feed off that. In addition, spreading gratitude into the world is infectious. Think of a smile – when you see someone smiling, you often smile back, don’t you? Put kindness, gratitude, and positivity out there, and you might just get it back!

Fun Fact: World Kindness Day is November 15th! Be kind to yourself and others!

Here are some ways to show gratitude and kindness for your own health and wellness:

Take a mindful walk. Spending time in nature can improve mood and memory, reduce stress, and increase levels of compassion. While on your nature walk, take in all the sights, sounds and smells around you!

Start a gratitude journal. Expressive writing can help process negative events and emotions but can also help focus on the positive ones. Becoming more aware of what you have can make you more resilient to stress and hardships. Start by making a list of the 5 things you are grateful for every day – your health, your family, your surroundings, etc.

Try a new exercise class or activity. Challenging your cognitive and physical wellness is a fantastic way to celebrate and honor yourself. What better way to show gratitude for yourself than to push to new limits? Try taking a new exercise class, learn a new skill or language, or a participate in a new activity such as wood working, gardening, playing cards or painting.

Do something for YOU! It’s easy, especially around the holidays, to get wrapped up in ensuring everyone else’s needs are highlighted. An important way of showing gratitude for yourself: Make sure you are carving out time for YOU!! This might look different for everyone – maybe it’s taking time to practice meditation, read your favorite book, walk outside, or spend time with your loved ones. Whatever it is, make sure you dedicate time for yourself.

Whatever method you choose, expressing gratitude is a win-win for your emotional and physical health and wellness! For more information on how you can improve kindness to your body and mind, contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team!

Just as water lilies retract when sunlight fades, so do our minds when positivity fades”


The Future of Wellness… Virtual Reality

VR (Virtual Reality) is where it’s at – the newest and latest technology is being hailed as a fun and interactive way to exercise, escape, relax, travel, and even participate in group activities. 

There are multiple platforms available that offer everything from guided meditation to hip-hop and other forms of dancing, to spa treatments and traveling (virtually) to favorite/desired destinations. Virtual Reality can be highly therapeutic and impact physical, mental, and social well-being. 

VR has been shown to have a myriad of benefits to users; some of the most notable benefits include: 

Mental Stimulation

Virtual Reality systems allow for a multitude of different uses, activities, etc. This includes things like activities for attention, memory, math, and other cognitive activities. 

Enhanced Socialization

Virtual Reality can be used as a tool to encourage socialization. For example, multiple users can interact with the same movie or participate in the same events and share their experiences with one another, thus promoting socialization. 

Reduced Depression

Many people, especially in today’s somewhat isolated environment, experience feelings of depression or loneliness. The ability to “travel”, interact and experience new places, even virtually, can impact someone’s mood and overall feelings of content. 

A Therapeutic Effect

Movement is life! Just getting people to increase their movement, activity, and engagement levels can have a positive, therapeutic effect on overall well-being. 

Besides offering a fun and interactive activity, Virtual Reality users report a decrease in feelings of stress, increased relaxation, and better overall mood. VR has also been hailed as a drug-free solution to many stress/anxiety-induced conditions. 

In summary, Virtual Reality may be part of a solution in helping to stay active and engaged. With options for all fitness, functional, and mobility levels, virtual reality will likely play a major role now and in future for maintaining and improving all 7 dimensions of wellness. 

If you would like to learn more about what Virtual Reality options might be right for you, or how Virtual Reality can help to increase activity and engagement, feel free to reach out to Eric Walker, our Director of Rehabilitation at 901.366.1819. 

Jen Callahan, Clinical Outcomes and Reimbursement Specialist, Functional Pathways

There’s More To It Than Meets the Air: BREATHING

We breathe in, we breathe out, usually without even thinking about it. Most of us probably take it for granted and overlook all the benefits mindful, conscious breathing can bring to our daily lives. 

Did you know??

  • Breathing is the only bodily function you can perform consciously as well as unconsciously.
  • The average person takes about 8.5 million breaths per year.
  • Breathing slowly with longer breaths can reduce food cravings.
  • The world record for breath holding is over 24 minutes!!
  • Emotions are regulated by how you breathe.
  • Everyone can improve how they breathe.

Considering the monumental number of breaths we take, ensuring they are as effective as possible is important to everything we do. Outside of supplying oxygen, effective breathing provides better food digestion, increased immune response, reduced stress and blood pressure, better sleep and mental clarity, pain relief, increased energy, and improved balance, just to name a few! 

To determine if you are a “good” breather or a “poor” breather, try this:

  • Put your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath as you count to three. When you do this, which hand do you feel moving the most?
  • If it’s your right hand (the one on your chest), you’re breathing from your chest. If it’s your left hand (the one on your stomach), you are breathing from your abdomen. You want to do the latter— breathe from your abdomen. 

No matter what your activity level, even if you are relaxing in the chair watching your favorite program, take a few minutes 3-4 times a day to be conscious of your breathing and try this exercise:

  1. Sit or stand comfortably with your back straight.
  2. Open the palm of one hand as wide as you can.
  3. Now with the pointer finger of the opposite hand, slowly trace your fingers while breathing.
  4. Breath in and trace up one side of your thumb, 1, 2, 3. Breathe out and trace down the other side of your thumb, 1, 2, 3.
  5. Repeat for all five fingers.

If you would like to learn more about how to utilize this and other effective breathing techniques, feel free to reach out to Eric Walker, Director of Rehabilitation at 901-366-1819. 

The Effectiveness of Multidimensional Programs – Brain Power

Food for thought: when is the last time you did something that truly challenged your brain? Perhaps the Sunday crossword puzzle, a game of chess, or learned a new skill, like how to speak a new language? In today’s world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the minutiae of everyday life, sucked into the world of television and social media, and forget about the things that are mentally, physically, and emotionally stimulating. 

Did you know that some of our body systems start to age as early as 30 years old? As part of the normal aging process, we tend to experience slower processing speed, increased difficulty with multi-tasking, occasional forgetfulness, and decreased memory of things that are newly learned. While some cognitive decline is normal, severe decline is not. Just like exercise and strength training can help stave off decline in muscle mass, there are things you can do to maintain a healthy brain and ward off cognitive decline. Your brain is like any other muscle, and it must be challenged regularly. A recent study through The Mather Institute showed that having a multi-faceted approach to cognitive training can have more of a positive impact than just the cognitive training itself. Participating in events that are cognitively stimulating has many benefits, but it’s even more effective when it’s partnered with stress management (emotional wellness), good sleep habits (Physical wellness), social engagement (social wellness), and brain health education (cognitive wellness). 

Kirby Pines has many activities and events that can be cognitively stimulating, such as Game Play, Poetry Group, Bridge, Line Dancing and Book Baggers to name a few. In addition to these activities, consider adding elements of emotional, physical, social, and cognitive wellness, to truly provide the best “nutrient-rich soil” for a healthy mind to grow and thrive. 

Here are some ways incorporate some of the other elements of wellness into your brain health approach: 

Stress Management: Being able to manage stress in healthy ways helps to create balance in life. Learning skills to manage one’s stress can be found through peer counseling, participating in relaxing activities, such as Water Aerobics or Worship Service, or connecting with nature. 

Healthy Sleep Habits: Remember the article a few months back about successful sleep? Sleep is restorative, and lack of sleep interferes with memory and learning. Your brain moves slower without sleep, and therefore you’re more forgetful and your attention declines. 

Social Engagement: Being involved with others is strongly linked to better brain function, so stay connected! Participate in a group event, like Group Exercise, a Travelers outing, or any other social event offered by Kirby Pines, or just connect with a friend for lunch. Whatever you choose, staying socially engaged is good for your mental and emotional health. 

Brain Health Education: Knowing ABOUT brain health is an important part OF brain health! Learning about the best foods to eat, the best things to do to stay cognitively intact, and what to look for in terms of decline are all important. There are many wonderful resources out there, like The National Institute on Aging, The Center for Disease Control, and even the Functional Pathways Therapy Team! 

For more information on how Functional Pathway’s Therapy Team can help you with your cognitive goals, please contact us! Remember: When all dimensions of our life are balanced, we thrive!

Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways

Staying Safe – Summer Travel Tips

It’s summer! Your plans may include driving out of town to visit family or friends for a long weekend, or something local like going to see the Memphis Redbirds play a game or heading to your favorite restaurant for a night of fine dining. Unlike in the winter, we tend not to think about weather conditions and travel safety as much. In the colder months, we are typically more cognizant of the weather forecast and freezing temperatures because they can hinder our ability to get to where we want to go. There’s nothing like a huge snowstorm in the forecast to ruin your travel plans or delay a trip! Although the heat may not seem like it’s as dangerous as the cold, it certainly brings its own potential challenges. Extreme heat can affect your car, and if your car should break down while you are traveling, the occupants can be at risk of heat-related illnesses, such as sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. 

With the summer in full swing, it’s a great time to talk about travel safety and what can be done to ensure you are as prepared as possible when you get behind the wheel or climb into a car, no matter how long or short your trip might be. If you plan to travel, or even head out for a simple trip to Kroger this summer, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind. 

Check Your Vehicle. It is important to make sure your car is in tip-top shape. You can run a recall check through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see if your vehicle has any critical safety issues here: You will also want to make sure your tires, cooling system, fluid levels, batteries, lights, and wiper blades are all functioning properly. Motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power-steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid can all be at risk of running dry in hot weather. Keep them topped off and double-check them before any long trips. And don’t forget to fuel up! 

Avoid Risky Behaviors. Don’t text and drive or drive distracted. Pick your music before you start to drive. Set your GPS and know where you are going before you put your foot on the gas. Limit your distractions as much as possible. Make sure you wear your seat belt, every trip, every time. 

Plan Ahead. Before you leave, make sure your vehicle is stocked. Even a well-maintained vehicle can break down, so it’s smart to have an emergency roadside kit in your car. This can help keep you safe, should you find yourself stranded. You can keep the kit in your trunk, and make sure it stays stocked! Some of the things to keep in your kit can include: 

Battery pack and charger cable for your cell phone • First aid kit
Flashlight and spare batteries • Flares and a white flag
Jumper cables • Tire pressure gauge Jack (for changing tires)
Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines 
Maps Notepad and paper

Take Care of Yourself. As the driver, it is important to make sure you are safe behind the wheel. Driving relies heavily on vision and response time, so it’s critical that those skills are intact. Visual acuity, or how clearly you can see, and field of vision, or how wide of an area your eye can see when you focus on a central point, are the two most important factors in terms of vision for safe driving. Vision screens and cognitive assessments are offered through the Therapy Department and can be a great tool to help ensure driver safety. 

For more information on how Functional Pathways could help you travel safely this summer, please contact our Therapy Team! 

Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways

The Magic of Water

“There’s plenty of water in the universe without life, but nowhere is there life without water.” ― Sylvia A. Earle

The summer season is one of cool breezes, longer days, outdoor events, trips to the beach, and time in the pool. As we inch closer and closer to summer months, we have an opportunity to celebrate our post-pandemic freedom and spend some much-needed time in the water. Although the pool is indoors at Kirby Pines, there tends to be an uptick in pool usage during summer months, no matter where you live. Time in the water … whether a pool, ocean, river, or lake, provides a sense of joy, laughter, and play, much like that from our childhood. 

Did you know that water has many known benefits for health and wellness? Hydrostatic pressure is pressure that is exerted by or existing within a liquid at rest with respect to adjacent bodies. When you are in a pool, that hydrostatic pressure compresses your skin, muscles, and joints, which can provide a wonderful cardiopulmonary workout, without adding stress or tension to your joints. The buoyancy and resistance of the water can help tone and build muscles while reducing pain. The natural viscosity forces you to move more slowly helping to rebuild muscle memory while also adding an overall sense of relaxation. The lighthearted atmosphere that water promotes is vital to the healing process for both body and mind. 

Kirby Pines has many water classes to choose from, such as Aerobics, Advanced Water Aerobics, and Men’s Water Aerobics. In addition, Functional Pathways is excited to announce the addition of water-based interventions as part of a comprehensive therapy care plan in a 1:1 setting. 

Some of these interventions include: 

  • Aqua Stretch (water based myofascial and manual treatment) 
  • Ai Chi (Tai Chi in water) 
  • How to Fall Safely (water-based) 
  • Stability, Mobility and Function (water-based) 

For more information on Functional Pathway’s aquatics programming and how it can benefit you, please contact our Therapy Team! At the very least, consider dipping your toes (and body) into the water for some quality time with family and friends this summer. 

By: Beth Reigart, Clinical Outcomes Specialist, Functional Pathways and Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways