30588481_wide.jpg

6 simple steps to avoid distracted driving

(BPT) – Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don’t yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn’t just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill’s Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

“I had to try the policy myself first,” says MacLennan. “Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company.”

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you’re on the road.

2. DND
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over “cellphone stops” along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren’t the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone’s top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you’ve arrived, safely, at your destination.

Read more
30556652_wide.jpg

Millennials prefer healthy habits, less likely to choose opioids to manage pain

(BPT) – Often spending their days hunched over phones, tablets or computers and their free time at spin class or playing sports, millennials are the next generation poised to experience chronic pain. Even at their young age, millennials say acute and chronic pain are already interfering with their quality of life.

But while older generations are more likely to turn to medication for pain relief, millennials’ preferred method is lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) in conjunction with September’s Pain Awareness Month.

The survey also found that millennials were half as likely as baby boomers to have turned to opioids to manage pain, and 1 in 5 millennials regret that they used the highly addictive painkillers.

But while the results reflect a positive trend, they also reveal a knowledge gap. The survey found many millennials were:

* More likely to obtain opioids inappropriately. One in 10 millennials (ages 18-36) obtained opioids through another household member’s prescription, compared to 3 percent of Gen Xers (37-52), 1 percent of baby boomers (53-71) and none of the silent generation (72-92).

* More likely to think it’s OK to take an opioid without a prescription. Nearly 30 percent of millennials thought it was OK to take an opioid without a prescription, compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers, 12 percent of baby boomers and 3 percent of the silent generation.

* AND less likely to dispose of leftover opioids safely. In fact, 1 in 5 millennials said they “did not know” the best way to safely dispose of opioids, and only 37 percent were aware that a collection center at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drug store was the best method of disposal.

“It’s encouraging that millennials see the value of opting for safer and often more effective methods of managing pain,” said ASA President Jeffrey Plagenhoef, M.D. “But clearly they are in need of further education because using opioids initially to treat pain can turn into a lifelong struggle with addiction.”

Learning how to manage pain is vital: 75 percent of millennials say they have had acute pain (which comes on suddenly and lasts less than three months) and nearly 60 percent have experienced chronic pain (which lasts longer than three months). The source of that pain is reflective of millennials’ lifestyle, including technology use (leading to eye strain, neck aches, hand or finger pain, wrist or arm pain), migraines and sports injuries.

It’s important to address pain before it interferes with quality of life by seeing the right specialist for pain management. Whatever the age, people in severe pain who don’t find relief through lifestyle changes should see a physician who specializes in pain management, such as a physician anesthesiologist who has the expertise and training to best help manage pain.

To help all generations cope with pain, ASA offers the following tips:

* Take a break from devices and gaming. To avoid aches from smartphone, tablet and gaming overuse, use devices at eye level instead of looking down for long periods of time, which puts strain on your neck and back. To avoid digital eye strain, look away from the screen every 20 seconds and don’t sit too close to the screen.

* Don’t be a weekend warrior. Whether you plan to hit the basketball court after many years away or do CrossFit weekly, ease into it. Warm up your muscles and stretch to avoid pain and injury. If you think you’ve been injured, see a pain management specialist right away.

* Remember to move. Whether you’re in the library studying or at a desk job, get up and move at least once an hour, if not more.

* Get healthy. Take charge of your health now and engage in healthy lifestyle changes before chronic pain sets in. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Quit smoking.

* Take and dispose of opioids the right way. If prescribed opioids, ask your physician questions about taking them appropriately. If you have leftover opioids, dispose of them at a collection center at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drugstore. This will ensure that others who have not been prescribed the opioids do not have access to them.

For more information about pain treatment and the importance of seeing a physician anesthesiologist, visit the ASA’s pain management page at www.asahq.org/whensecondscount.

Read more
31123585_wide.jpg

Is your hearing loss a barrier to a happy life?

(BPT) – Sheliadawn Fitch would wonder if it really was possible for her to hear again. But she would shove aside those thoughts, overcome by fear and uncertainty, telling herself she was doing okay.

Not that you could blame her. The vivacious Texan had been through a lot, having lost much of her ability to hear speech when she was around 40 years old. Following an air bag injury, she suffered from an ear infection that led to her profound hearing loss. Fitch’s hearing aids didn’t go far enough to restore quality hearing, so they were useless.

She suspected she was a good candidate for cochlear implants, but the idea of going through with the procedure struck her with fear.

“I really thought that since I was an excellent lip reader that I could get by just fine,” says Fitch, who is now 54.

Eventually, things got worse. She faced missing out on fully participating in her daughter’s wedding and she was stricken when she realized people were actually avoiding her.

“Not only did that hurt my feelings, I was always the type who was overly involved in school, community and church events,” Fitch says. “Things just weren’t working out for me or my lifestyle.”

The silent affliction

Fitch is far from alone. Hearing loss is one of those silent afflictions that impacts millions. In addition, it tends to cut people off from the world so the general population may not realize just how widespread it is.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have hearing loss, affecting 17 percent of our adult population. When you look at the older adult population, the rate of hearing loss is even more startling. It affects one third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74, and nearly half of those over the age of 75, the NIDCD further states.

What’s more, a high percentage of people with hearing loss, like Fitch, find ways to cope with it rather than pursue treatments. Only 30 percent of adults ages 70 and older who can benefit from hearing aids try them, according to the NIDCD. Others with more severe hearing loss, like Fitch, may be reluctant to pursue other solutions such as cochlear implants.

This exile from the world can be lonely as well as debilitating. In several studies cited by the NIDCD, researchers have found the isolation imposed by hearing loss is one underlying cause of depression and decreased cognitive function found in adults who become prisoners in their muted world.

Is it time to look for a different solution?

If you’ve tried hearing aids but wondered if you were a candidate for cochlear implants, here are three signs that confirm you may be suffering from the effects of severe or profound hearing loss.

1. You avoid your hearing aids.

Fitch was outfitted with hearing aids. At first she was overjoyed she could hear sounds again, but it eventually dawned on her that something critical was missing from the quality of those sounds.

“I was hearing, but not really understanding,” says Fitch. “Everything was louder. I needed clarity, not just volume.”

In fact, Fitch got headaches from straining to sift through the din of background noise to understand what people were saying to her. Eventually, she had to abandon them and rely on her lip-reading skills.

2. Family dynamics are becoming strained.

With more severe hearing loss that’s not helped by hearing aids, you may notice changes in how your friends and family interact. Family members may frequently comment on the too-loud television or radio, or note the noise is interfering with their sleep. Perhaps they’re showing more frustration and impatience because they’re frequently misunderstood or asked to repeat themselves.

3. You dread rather than look forward to special occasions.

When there’s ongoing hearing loss, family milestones and special occasions may come with a special sense of dread and sadness, driving painful choices. Do you suffer through an unpleasant event or do you stay home and disappoint your family? Perhaps a family member who serves as your “human hearing aid” can’t attend and you can’t face the idea of attending alone without your “ears.”

Finding courage to take the next step

After seven-and-a-half years of living with hearing loss, it was the upcoming wedding of her daughter and the arrival of her future grandchildren that brought Fitch to the tipping point. She realized she “might miss all of it.” That startling idea finally gave her enough courage to ask a doctor for help.

One option for Fitch and others who suffer from profound hearing loss is a Cochlear Nucleus Implant System (www.cochlear.com). While hearing aids only amplify sounds, cochlear implants help make them louder and clearer. Improving the clarity of hearing may help someone better understand speech in both quiet and noisy situations. There are two primary components of the Cochlear Nucleus System: the implant that is surgically placed underneath the skin and the external sound processor. To receive the implant, Fitch needed a CAT scan and clearance from her doctor. Several weeks after the surgery, her new Cochlear system was activated.

“And I heard and understood from that day on,” she says.

“I didn’t miss those wedding vows, or the dance music afterwards, and most importantly, I heard my grandbabies cry their first cries.”

Views expressed herein are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for cochlear implant technology. Outcomes and results may vary.

Read more
shutterstock_491345536-5614

The key to personalized vitamins: Understanding medication and nutrient interactions

(BPT) – Technology, science and research are turning our world into a personalized powerhouse at our fingertips, including products made specifically for us delivered to our doorsteps. We wear personal fitness trackers to track our steps, sleep and heart rates. Personal trainers are commonplace to design fitness routines that are made just for us. Today, we understand that our family history, lifestyle choices and even genetics are predictive of our health needs and this information is integrated into our health care plans. With all of this personalization, our nutritional supplement options still deliver the same cookie-cutter solutions found in store aisles.

According to New Nutrition Business and its report “10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2017,” personalized nutrition is the next big nutrition movement, as people want individually tailored diets. Personalized or precision nutrition is nutrition health care that considers the uniqueness of an individual to provide recommendations that are tailored to their needs and specific goals. When creating a personalized nutrition plan, it’s important to take into account holistic well-being; however, deciding what is truly right for you can be confusing.

“Personalized nutrition shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not a catchy-named pack of vitamins or nutrition plans curated from a few questions about how you want to feel, it needs to include everything that makes you unique, down to the medications prescribed by your doctor,” said Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, co-author of the new book “Age-Proof: Living Longer without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip” and Vitamin Packs science advisory board member. “Technology is creating amazing advances in personalized nutrition, but it’s only as good as the data it can collect and the information you are willing to share.”

Medication and Nutrition Interactions

Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population is taking prescription medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 68 percent of Americans are taking dietary supplements, based on the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) estimations.

With several new personalized vitamin subscription services launching, it’s important to select one that takes into account your diet, physical fitness, sleep patterns, lifestyle habits and family health history as well as your medication use. Some drugs can deplete nutrients while other medications add nutrients to the body. One subscription service, Vitamin Packs, delivers customized vitamins and nutritional supplements in daily packs based on what it learns during a free Nutritional Assessment. Its technology cross-examines more than 650 possible medication interactions and recommends only what an individual’s body needs.

Mixing Meds and Nutritional Supplements

* Taking a statin? You will want to add Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) because the average blood concentration of CoQ10 in blood plasma decreases within 30 days by an average of 50 percent.

* Taking a medication for allergies or inflammation? Consider adding vitamin D and calcium. These types of medications may reduce the absorption of calcium, which can lead to unnecessary bone loss. Supplementing with vitamin D and calcium may support bone health and adding vitamin D with calcium can have a greater impact on calcium absorption.

* Taking a blood pressure medication? You should know that taking an iron supplement two hours before or after taking this type of medication can decrease its absorption rate.

* Taking a synthetic thyroid hormone? Look at your supplement facts to be sure you’re avoiding soy, iron and calcium. Soy, iron and calcium, if taken within four hours of taking a synthetic thyroid hormone, may reduce the absorption rate.

Personalized nutrition, while exciting and impactful, should be focused on the whole person. Be sure to consult your health care practitioner before starting any dietary supplement regimen.

Read more
Easy Kid-Friendly Shrimp Kabobs on A Helicopter Mom-2236

5 tips to make family mealtimes more mindful

(BPT) – The hectic workday is over. As you pull into your driveway, you feel relief because you’ve finally escaped the cranky co-workers, the deadlines and traffic jams. Now you can spend the next few hours relaxing at home with your family. What better way to enjoy this time than with a delicious meal together?

Sometimes, the lingering stress can be hard to shake, especially if you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table. You can shed your stress and make this time together more meaningful. Consciously ease into the transition from work mode to family mode, and use these tips to make your evening meal more relaxing and mindful.

1. Take a breath.

As soon as you get home, just take a few minutes and chill out. What you’ll want to do is shake off any lingering “fight or flight” stress response that’s making you feel tense and on edge. With deep breathing techniques — the kind that get your belly moving — you’ll lower your heart rate and feel much calmer. Sit in your favorite chair, soften your gaze and start those long, drawn-out inhales and exhales, counting your breath if needed. Just by transitioning into this calmer state, you’ll set the right mood and standard for the rest of the evening.

2. Give the devices a timeout.

Being mindful is all about staying in the present and following each action with intention and awareness. But when your mobile device is pinging from the latest Facebook update, text message or news alert, that can distract us from this calm and aware state of mind. For now, while you’re preparing and eating the meal, put the devices out of reach — or in another room, if that’s practical.

3. Include the kids.

With devices out of the way, it’s also much easier and more pleasant to focus on the people in the room. If your kids are hanging around the kitchen, take it as a sign they want to be with you, so use this time to connect. A great way to do this is to include kids with the meal preparation. The youngest ones can rinse fruits and vegetables, cut soft foods with a butter knife and tear lettuce. Older kids can help measure ingredients, stir and whisk, and eventually peel foods with a paring knife.

4. Simplify your menu.

Eliminate the stress of getting weeknight meals on the table, and build a list of delicious go-to meals that you can prepare with ease. For example, this recipe for Easy Shrimp Kabobs will allow you to get the entrée ready in minutes, plus the skewers and easy dips will make this a fun favorite with the kids. For more ideas and inspiration to make the weeknight meals more mindful and relaxing, visit seapak.com/recipes.

5. Slow down and savor the food.

Give yourself a few moments for mindful eating. Before earnest conversation begins, put your focus on the food you’ve taken the time to prepare. Put down your fork, and pay attention to the flavors, the textures and how you respond to them. No matter how hungry you are, don’t rush. Mindful eating is all about pacing yourself and staying in the moment to experience the delicious meal you are eating.

After a long day, you can make the evening meal more relaxing and enjoyable by bringing a mindful approach to dinnertime. When it’s time to eat, you’ll be in the right state of mind to enjoy your food, as will the people around you.

Easy Shrimp Kabobs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 12-ounce package SeaPack Popcorn Shrimp

Wooden skewers

Dipping sauces, such as tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit.

Place shrimp on baking sheet in a single layer so shrimp are not touching.

Bake 5 minutes on the middle oven rack, then turn shrimp over.

Bake another 5-6 minutes until shrimp are hot and crispy.

Using a fork to hold the hot shrimp in place, slide shrimp onto wooden skewers.

Serve with small sides of sauces for each person. For example, use tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.

Source: The blog A Helicopter Mom via SeaPak.com.

Read more
30299875_wide.jpg

Want to lose weight? Research proves a big breakfast is the first step

(BPT) – If you want to lose weight, you’re not alone. More than half of Americans desire to shed pounds, according to Gallup. This goal inspires people to take action in many ways, from increasing exercise to modifying meals.

One thing many people do is skip breakfast in order to lower calorie intake. While this may seem like a good idea to lose weight, research proves otherwise. In fact, eating a big breakfast followed by smaller meals throughout the day is the best method for weight loss.

A new study in The Journal of Nutrition investigated the relation between meal frequency and timing and changes in body mass index (BMI). The study found that “eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain.”

“When you eat your meal matters,” says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “The best way to eat for energy and weight is to eat a big breakfast, smaller lunch and light dinner because it mimics our days’ activities.”

Blatner explains that people are typically most active in the beginning of the day and so need the most fuel then. They slow down as the day progresses, and by dinnertime they need less fuel.

“But it’s not just about eating anything in the morning,” she cautions. “It’s important to pick nutrient-dense foods to fuel your day right.”

Blatner provides three tips for creating a wholesome breakfast that will give you energy and support your weight-loss goals:

1. Fruits and veggies

Wake up your taste buds and give your body important vitamins by eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies. Try shopping the farmers market for locally sourced in-season produce. A quick frittata with egg and chopped veggies or a smoothie bowl topped with fresh fruit will satisfy. If fresh produce isn’t available, frozen has optimum nutrients so it is a smart alternative.

2. Whole grains

Make whole grains part of your breakfast and you’ll feel fuller for longer. Oatmeal is a classic whole-grain breakfast option. Use whole-grain pancake mix to whip up some flapjacks. Bake muffins with whole-grain flour. Make cornbread with whole cornmeal. When shopping for cereal or other breakfast products, look at the label to ensure it’s made with whole grains.

3. Proteins

Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients for breakfast, but not all eggs are created equal. Swap out ordinary eggs for Eggland’s Best eggs, and you’ll get great taste and superior nutritional benefits with 10 times more vitamin E, six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s, more than double vitamin B12 and 25 percent less saturated fat.

Short on time in the morning? Try Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls that can be frozen and microwaved in minutes for a satisfying start to your day.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

Ingredients:

12 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado
6 individual-sized containers with lids

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers then set aside to cool.

Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.

Tip: Store in individualized microwave-safe containers with lids to make these bowls ready to reheat and go.

Read more
IMG_0157-2048

It takes a village: Integrated care team gives hope back to dialysis patient

(BPT) – Six years ago Francis Hogan was doing what he loved most: playing golf. After his usual game, his ankle was swollen and painful. When he visited the doctor, he discovered the swelling wasn’t because of an injury. Something was seriously wrong.

Hogan’s kidneys were failing. He was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a condition that scarred his kidneys, leading to end stage renal disease (ESRD). He needed to start dialysis or receive a transplant to survive. After a failed transplant, Hogan began dialysis treatments.

Hogan spends about 12 hours a week on a dialysis machine that cleans his blood. At one point, he had to track over 20 pills a day — a common daily average for dialysis patients. Also, Hogan’s risk for hospitalization increased: Most dialysis patients spend about 11 days a year in the hospital.

“Dialysis patients are some of the most medically fragile in our health care system,” said Bryan Becker, MD, chief medical officer of Integrated Kidney Care (IKC) at DaVita. “They need a tremendous amount of support managing their condition to reduce the risk of repeated hospitalization.”

Fortunately, Hogan qualified for treatment at an ESRD Seamless Care Organization (ESCO), a Comprehensive ESRD Care Model administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ESCOs are groups of dialysis centers, nephrologists and other providers who join together to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD. The ESCO model encourages providers to think beyond their traditional care delivery roles to provide patient-centered care that addresses health needs inside and outside of the dialysis center.

Hogan’s ESCO is one of several run by DaVita. His care team includes a dedicated nurse practitioner and registered nurse in addition to his nephrologist and DaVita center staff. The increased resources and focus on care coordination have made a big difference for Hogan.

The care team reduced Hogan’s daily pills in half by coordinating with his other specialists to create a better prescription plan. And, after a recent surgical procedure, the team not only managed his transition back to DaVita but also recognized something was different about him.

“He wasn’t interested in conversation and wouldn’t say his usual ‘Good morning!’” said Debbie Abbonizio, Hogan’s nurse practitioner. “He often lost his words, wasn’t hungry and couldn’t walk short distances without stopping.”

The team met consistently until the root cause of Hogan’s symptoms was identified. After ruling out several possible diagnoses, the team found his recommended post-treatment target weight was too high. Extra fluid was accumulating in his body and toxic waste was gathering in his bloodstream, causing his symptoms.

Hogan’s target weight was adjusted and the extra fluid slowly decreased from his body. He soon regained his health and began to greet his care team with a cheerful “Good morning!” again.

“I feel fortunate to have a team observing and supporting me daily,” Hogan said. “It gives me confidence to better manage my condition.”

Hogan also is grateful to feel better so he can spend quality time with the love of his life, Carol, his wife of 57 years.

“Currently less than 10 percent of dialysis patients on Medicare have access to IKC programs,” said Dr. Becker. “Yet these programs can make a significant impact on patients’ health-related quality of life. Why not make them available to all Medicare patients on dialysis?”

To learn more about DaVita’s IKC programs, visit VillageHealth.com.

The statements contained in this document are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CMS. The authors assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this document.

Read more
31601564_wide.jpg

Fire away: Enhancing your home’s safety with fire extinguishers

(BPT) – You check your alarms regularly and practice your family escape plan — but are you overlooking an essential component of home safety? Having fire extinguishers — and knowing how to use them — is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family.

“In America, a fire starts in a residential home every 86 seconds — and the rapid protection offered by fire extinguishers can make the difference between minor or insignificant damage and greater tragedy,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “However, because many Americans have never activated a traditional fire extinguisher before, many do not understand the essential role that fire extinguishers play in a home safety plan, and lack the confidence and know-how to use them properly.”

To help overcome this, follow these tips on fire extinguisher placement and usage to help ensure you and your family are properly prepared in case of emergency:

Compare features: When selecting a fire extinguisher, two of the most important features are size and intended use. Larger commercial fire extinguishers meant for public spaces may be too heavy or unwieldy for some family members. Select a home fire extinguisher that weighs 3 lbs. or less for easy handling. For home fire extinguishers, other features to look for include a metal valve and trigger, which offer the durability of a commercial grade extinguisher, as well as an easy-to-read color-coded gauge for accurate measurement. Spray times also vary by make and manufacturer, so select extinguishers that perform above the standard and feature longer spray times. Remember, a fire extinguisher that has been discharged is no longer effective, so consider rechargeable extinguishers which can be recharged by a certified professional if the unit is used.

Keep it in reach: If a fire breaks out in the living room but the extinguisher is elsewhere, you may not be able to access it before the fire grows beyond control. When seconds count, having an extinguisher nearby is crucial for rapid response. For this reason, place an extinguisher in each area of the home where a fire could potentially occur, including the kitchen, living room, each bedroom and the garage. In most cases, one extinguisher is likely not enough protection for an entire household. In addition, make sure that every responsible member of your household (including house sitters and babysitters) knows where each fire extinguisher is placed. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing fire extinguishers close to room exits so that you are able to discharge it and quickly escape if the fire cannot be controlled.

Know your ABCs: While they may all look similar, fire extinguishers have very specific ratings that indicate what kind of fire they are designed to extinguish. Extinguishers with a Class A rating are able to put out fires caused by wood, paper, trash and other common materials, while Class B rated extinguishers are intended for gasoline and flammable liquids. Class C rated extinguishers are meant for fires caused by electrical equipment, such as frayed cords. For general protection, it’s best to select a multirated extinguisher, such as the First Alert Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, that’s capable of handling most types of household fires. Beyond the Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, First Alert offers an entire range of extinguishers for home and commercial use.

Know how to use it: Every First Alert fire extinguisher includes instructions on proper usage, but a simple way to remember is with the acronym PASS:

* Pull the pin on the extinguisher

* Aim the nozzle low toward the base of the fire

* Squeeze the trigger

* Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Frequently repeat the acronym when practicing your family escape plan so that if a fire occurs, the response will be automatic.

Know when to go: Combating small fires with an extinguisher is one component of a fire response plan, but the primary goal should be safe escape. The first step in any scenario should be to call 911. In addition, a fire extinguisher is no substitute for having — and regularly practicing — a home fire escape plan, and ensuring that proper functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the home — one on each level and in every bedroom — to provide early detection. Keep in mind that alarms and fire extinguishers aren’t designed to last forever, and must be replaced at least every 10 years.

To learn more about fire safety, visit FirstAlert.com.

Read more
31342451_wide.jpg

Turning 65? Choosing the right Medicare Part D plan starts with 4 simple rules

(BPT) – If you’re turning 65 in 2017 or 2018, you’re one of 10,000 people who become Medicare-eligible each day. Choosing Medicare prescription drug coverage can be confusing, especially for the first time. You may have questions about which plan fits your healthcare needs and budget or how to enroll. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you know these four rules.

Rule #1: Lower premium plans may mean higher costs. Plans with a lower premium may end up costing more in the long run if they have higher drug copays, which can really add up.

Rule #2: Not every plan covers every drug. Drug lists (formularies) can change every year and so can the drugs you take. Be sure to check your plan’s formulary each year to make sure any medications you take are covered.

Rule #3: Check that there are pharmacies close to you. That way, it’s easier to fill your prescriptions. Select a plan with a wide range of “preferred” pharmacies, which typically offer lower co-pays than standard pharmacies in the network. Also, see if using a home delivery pharmacy or a 90-day supply could lower your costs even more.

Rule #4: Look for 24/7 access to pharmacists and Medicare experts who can answer questions about your medicines and offer drug safety tips, money-saving alternatives and expertise in drugs to treat specific conditions.

Also, remember to check the Medicare Part D plan’s Star Rating. This is the overall quality and performance rating (out of 5 stars) based on member satisfaction surveys and other measures by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

For more information, please visit www.Medicare.gov or www.RoadmapForMedicare.com. To talk to an Express Scripts Medicare adviser, call 1.866.544.3794, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week (TTY users: 1.800.716.3231).

Read more
_85A6117-1500

Advocate for your care: Recognizing and tracking symptoms of a rare blood cancer


Play Video

var bptVideoPlayer = document.getElementById(“bptVideoPlayer”);
if (bptVideoPlayer) {
var cssText = “width: 100%;”;
cssText += ” background: url(‘” + bptVideoPlayer.getAttribute(“poster”) + “‘);”;
cssText += ” -webkit-background-size: cover;”;
cssText += ” -moz-background-size: cover;”;
cssText += ” -o-background-size: cover;”;
cssText += ” background-size: cover;”;
bptVideoPlayer.style.cssText = cssText;
bptVideoPlayer.setAttribute(“poster”, “http://www.brandpointcontent.com/printsite/images/spacer.gif”);
var bptVideoPlayerContainer = document.getElementById(“bptVideoPlayerContainer”);
if (bptVideoPlayerContainer) {
setTimeout(function () {
bptVideoPlayerContainer.style.cssText = “display: block; position: relative; margin-bottom: 10px;”;
}, 1000);
}
var bptVideoPlayButton = document.getElementById(“bptVideoPlayButton”);
if (bptVideoPlayButton) {
bptVideoPlayButton.addEventListener(“click”, function () {
bptVideoPlayer.play();
}, false);
bptVideoPlayer.addEventListener(“play”, function () {
bptVideoPlayButton.style.cssText = “display: none;”;
}, false);
}
var mainImage = document.getElementById(“mainImageImgContainer_sm”);
if (mainImage) {
mainImage.style.cssText = “display: none;”;
}
var mainImage = document.getElementById(“photo-noresize”);
if (mainImage) {
mainImage.style.cssText = “display: none;”;
}
var assetGallery = document.getElementsByClassName(“asset_gallery”)[0];
if (assetGallery) {
assetGallery.style.cssText = “display: none;”;
}
var assetGallery = document.getElementsByClassName(“trb_article_leadart”)[0];
if (assetGallery) {
assetGallery.style.cssText = “display: none;”;
}
var assetGallery = document.querySelectorAll(“[src=’http://images.brandpointcontent.s3.amazonaws.com/31243842_web.jpg’]”)[0]; if (assetGallery) {
assetGallery.style.cssText = “display: none;”;
}
}

(BPT) –

Living with a rare disease can present a unique set of challenges, as people may experience symptoms for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, it may be challenging to locate a physician familiar with this rare disease, or to even connect with other patients facing the same diagnosis. For patients with polycythemia vera, or PV, a rare, chronic and progressive blood cancer that affects approximately 100,000 people in the United States, recognizing the symptoms of the disease can be even more challenging because they can vary over time and from patient to patient.

“Patients living with rare diseases don’t always know what to ask their doctor as they work to manage their disease, where to turn for resources, or what signs and symptoms to look for,” says Ellen Ritchie, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “PV can develop slowly and get worse over time. Its symptoms can be hard to spot, so it’s critical that those diagnosed with PV understand the symptoms and discuss any changes with their physician, as these symptoms may be a sign that their disease is not under control.”

Recognizing Symptoms

The symptoms of PV can sometimes be difficult for patients and healthcare providers alike to recognize. Some people living with PV may be asymptomatic, having no symptoms at all. Others could have symptoms for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. While not a comprehensive list, PV symptoms may include:

* Itching (especially after a warm shower)

* Dizziness

* Abdominal pain or discomfort

* Sweating (at night or during the day)

* Feeling of fullness, even when you haven’t eaten

Approaches to Tracking Symptoms

There are many approaches to tracking PV symptoms. Keeping a regular diary to record symptoms or changes in symptoms is one approach. There are also online trackers such as the PV Tracker Tool that can help patients monitor their PV symptoms. This tool can record previous entries and compile those results for sharing with your healthcare professional. Beyond tracking symptoms, it’s important to talk with your physician about your symptoms and to be knowledgeable about your disease.

What to Ask Your Physician

To ensure you have an informed conversation with your healthcare professional, come to all appointments prepared with a list of questions, as well as a rolling log of symptoms and any changes in their severity experienced since the last checkup. Possible questions you may wish to ask your physician include:

1. What are my target blood counts, and what are my actual blood counts?

* Hematocrit (volume of red blood cells)

* White blood cell count

* Platelet count

2. What is my treatment plan to keep my PV under control?

“All people diagnosed with rare diseases should advocate for their care and take an active role in managing their disease with their healthcare provider,” says Dr. Ritchie. “It is important to create a routine that not only includes monitoring blood levels, but also recognizing, tracking, and talking about symptoms with a healthcare professional.”

For tools to help track PV symptoms and additional tips on managing PV and other MPNs, visit VoicesofMPN.com.

Read more
1 2 3 4