Category Archives: Education

Exercise Just Right for You

For Providers: Talking Exercise with Patients

Exercise has been a part of daily life for John Kim, a Carle family nurse practitioner, from an early age, but he realizes that’s not the case for everyone.

Kim, who started at Carle in 2015, stresses the importance of exercise with all of his patients.

“I talk about exercise consistently to every patient because not only can it treat comorbidities, but it can also prevent future illness and disease,” Kim said. “I believe exercise along with diet is the foundation of health, and so I make it a priority to talk about exercise with each patient.”

He treats exercise like a vital sign, having his certified medical assistant ask all patients if they exercise and how much.

“Asking about exercise as a vital sign has made it extremely easy to bring up the topic of exercise to each patient,” he said.

Kim offers his patients advice about how to get started if they’re new to exercise and offers ways to increase physical activity if they aren’t active enough. He caters each plan to each patient’s individual interests and lifestyle and tries to help them take one small step at a time.

“If I have a patient that is completely sedentary, I will find out what his or her interests are and try to tailor some kind of physical activity from that,” Kim said. “I try to shoot for my patients to start off with a number they know they can do, whether it’s 5 minutes or 20 minutes a day.”

He also has patients fill out exercise logs to help hold them accountable and initially follows up with them every 2 weeks or once a month until exercise becomes more routine.

Through it all, he’s learned that being patient and nonjudgmental is key.

“New habits take time to build,” he said. “So I make sure patients know that I am not here to ridicule them, but to encourage and support them as they try to build the new habit of exercising. I have found that when patients know that their provider genuinely cares about their health, it gets to the point where it motivates the patients to push themselves a little more, and I believe this is why I have many success stories of patients going from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active lifestyle.”

Key Takeaways

  • Discuss exercise along with vital signs for every patient.
  • Be patient about results, and don’t ridicule.
  • Set attainable goals with small steps.
  • Follow up frequently until exercise becomes a habit.
  • Have patients use exercise logs and bring them to each appointment
National Handwashing Awareness Week

National Handwashing Awareness Week

It’s National Handwashing Awareness Week, and washing your hands can significantly reduce the spread of disease.

December is a busy time, and between the rush of the holidays and the weather you are more susceptible to getting sick. Washing your hands can help you avoid germs.

Avoid Holiday Sickness

 

Teaching handwashing to a community can reduce respiratory illnesses in the community, like colds, by 20%.

The Value of Washing Your Hands

 

Know when it matters most to wash! Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before, during, and after making food, and after touching an animal.

When to Handwash

 

If you are sick, washing your hands after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze can help you avoid spreading it to your loved ones.

Fighting the Spread of Germs

 

You should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, and make sure to get under your fingernails.

Dry your hands completely to avoid bacteria. If paper towels are available, they’re better for removing germs.

Drying with Paper Towels

 

If you can’t always wash your hands, hand sanitizer is a great alternative. Buy a small bottle for your purse or pocket.

Hand Sanitizer for Cleanliness

Your Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, after Thanksgiving, the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period is among the busiest travel periods of the year. During this time of year, the number of long-distance trips increases by 23% compared to the rest of the year’s average. We can help your family have smooth travels with our ultimate guide to holiday travel with kids.

Traveling during such busy times is usually stressful, especially if you add children into the mix. Whether you’re planning a long drive to the grandparents or traveling across time zones this holiday season, these suggestions from Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, will keep your family safe, sound, and sane.

Entertainment

  • Apps – Make sure you download kid-friendly apps before the journey.
  • Toys – Coloring books, finger puppets, stacking cups, magic markers, make-believe computer or phone, and sticker books are great options.
  • Games – Our favorites include Bananagrams, Spot It, Mad Libs, Rubberneckers, Melissa and Doug Travel Hangman, and Travel Blurt.
  • Headphone Splitters – Headphones splitters allow two kids to share a device. They’re very practical in situations where it’s inappropriate to use speakers, like on a plane.

Safety and Comfort

  • Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes – Kids get dirty very easily when traveling. Eliminate these germs fast by being prepared with wipes and sanitizer, and improve your chances of avoiding a holiday bug.
  • Child Locator – Busy airports and train stations can quickly turn into a nightmare if your child gets lost. Many companies offer small tracking devices and smartwatches to help you locate them quickly in such a situation.
  • Medicine and First Aid Kit – It’s very important to be able to attend to your child quickly when they’re hurt or sick. Make sure you’re prepared before you leave by putting together a first aid kit and packing must-have medicine.
  • Ease Ear Pain – During takeoff and landing, give your kids a gummy candy, chewy food, chewing gum (if they’re old enough), or a drink to get their jaw moving and ease their ear pain.
  • Temperature – Layers are essential for the comfort of your children, especially on the plane where it can often be cold.

Planning

  • Passports – Keep in mind, children’s passport expiration periods are different than adult passports. Make sure you renew them 6 months before you plan to travel.
  • Monitor What Your Children Pack – Chances are they’ll want to bring many unnecessary things, which will make traveling uncomfortable for everyone.
  • Carry-On Tips – Pack at least one extra outfit for each child in case an accident happens. If you lose your luggage, the extra outfits will also help you avoid buying new clothes for the entire family. In the meantime, remember that Assist America can help you locate and retrieve your lost luggage. Finally, plan on bringing snacks like granola bars, cheerios, individual cheese and crackers packs, applesauce, or individual hummus cups.
  • Bring Surprises – Children love surprises and unwrapping things, and an early holiday gift could be used as a reward for good behavior.

About Assist America

Our plans include Assist America, a unique global emergency assistance program. They serve more than 40 million members worldwide. Their services include medical and non-medical services, like medical evacuations and repatriations, prescription assistance, medical referral, lost luggage assistance, and pre-trip information. Visit AssistAmerica.com or download the Assist America Mobile App on the Apple App Store or Google Play to access a wide range of travel assistance services directly from your phone.

Hot Cocoa and Winter Health Risks

Long View: Cold Hands, Hot Cocoa

I always remember December from my childhood, when the weather got subzero, and the wind was playfully whipping snowflakes around. School was out for the holidays, and my sister and I always loved to play outdoors, despite the frigid temperatures.

We would come downstairs with our garb, and Mom would get us all bundled up to brave the weather. Snowsuits, scarves, hats, gloves, and boots were standard outerwear those days. My mom would secure the scarf so that it would stay put, and the hat would cover my ears and my forehead. When she was through, I could barely see and hardly move.

I remember stiffly walking out the door, hoping that with more movement, I would loosen up enough to enjoy some of the winter wonderland we called our yard. Hot cocoa would be waiting for us when we came in, and it was like magic what that cup of warmth could do!

Today, I run out of the house without a coat, hat, gloves, or scarf, thinking, I’m just going to the car, then running in to work. My days of bundling up are over. This is what happens when you go from 6 years old to 60. But honestly, what am I thinking?

Winter health risks should be a concern for our aging population. (Hey, that’s me too!) The most obvious risk is the weather itself. Midwestern winters can consist of ice and snow. Driving is a challenge. Walking is even more of a challenge. Slips on ice are a major risk, so it’s important to wear the right shoes or boots with good traction if you have to go out.  

Hypothermia is also a common winter weather health risk. Hypothermia means your body temperature has fallen below 95 degrees, and once it gets to that point for a prolonged period of time, you can’t produce enough energy to stay warm.

Symptoms include shivering, cold pale skin, lack of coordination, slowed reactions and breathing, and mental confusion. It’s good to pay attention to how cold it is where you are, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. Also, make sure you’re eating enough to keep up a healthy weight. Body fat helps you stay warm.

Frostbite is another health risk during the winter months. Frostbite means your skin has been over-exposed to cold temperatures, and it usually affects the nose, ears, cheeks, fingers, and toes. It can be severe and cause permanent damage to the skin, and even progress to the bone.

Frostbite can affect anyone who is exposed to below freezing temperatures, in particular, those who aren’t wearing the right clothing. It’s important to wear layers, preferably 2 to 3 layers of loose-fitting clothing, as well as a coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf. Covering up your nose and mouth will also protect your lungs from the cold air.

As for drinking a cup of hot cocoa, well, that is a winter weather health benefit! According to a study at Cornell University, hot cocoa has almost twice as many antioxidants as red wine, and 2 to 3 times more than green tea! This winter, enjoy the magic of the season by keeping yourself safe and warm.

Mervet Adams is a community liaison with Health Alliance. She loves her grandson, family, nature, and fashion.

Long-Term Care Awareness Month

Long-Term Care Awareness Month

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, and 70% of those over age 65 will require long-term care in the future.

Preparing to Grow Together

 

Whether you’re already on Medicare or planning for the future, make sure you understand how Medicare will help you pay for long-term care.

Understanding Medicare and Long-Term Care

 

78% of adults receiving care at home rely on loved ones for care. There are 45 million informal caregivers in the U.S.

Getting Care at Home

 

92% of family caregivers make a major work change from full-time to part-time hours or take a leave of absence to be a caregiver.

Caregivers' Lives

 

11% of caregivers moved closer to a parent or family member to give them more care.

Moving Back for Loved Ones

 

Long-term care takes a physical, mental, and emotional toll on you, your caregivers, and other loved ones. Take steps to avoid burnout.

National Family Caregivers Month

 

Get resources and support if you’re a caregiver providing long-term care.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Movember Awareness

Movember and No-Shave November

November is Movember, and on average, men die more than 6 years earlier than women. Grow a mustache and help raise money for men’s health.

Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer in men in America. If detected early, 98% survive. Learn about early detection.

Fight Prostate Cancer

 

Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in young men. Much like breast cancer, it can be caught early.

Testicular Cancer and Young Men

 

Men aren’t encouraged to talk about their feelings, which can make mental health issues even harder. 3 out of 4 suicides in the U.S. are men. Learn more.

Men Opening Up

 

Set a distance goal to get moving for Movember to raise funds for men’s health. Use our member wellness tool, Rally, to join a challenge and set a goal.

Get Moving for Movember

 

November is also No-Shave November, so grow a beard and donate your monthly hair-maintenance funds to a good cause.

No-Shave November

 

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. A simple screening could keep you safe or find it early.

A Cancer You Can Help Prevent with Screening

Children's Preventive Care

Your Children’s Preventive Care and Physicals

Getting your kids to their physicals and checkups, where they can get covered children’s preventive care and screenings, helps them be their healthiest. It’s important not only that you know what’s recommended for their ages and what they need to stay up to date, but also that you get them to the doctor for this on the right schedule.

What Happens at Their Physical

Your child needs to have regular wellness visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their health information and history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Visit Schedule

Your baby needs to go to well-baby visits at:

  • 1 month old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 9 months old

Children need to visit their doctor at:

Adolescents and teens should visit the doctor at least once a year:

Choose a visit from the lists above to learn more about what will happen at that visit.

Children’s Preventive Care

Certain children’s preventive care and screenings are always covered, depending on timing and what your doctor recommends.

Newborns

  • Gonorrhea preventive medication
  • Hearing screening
  • Hemoglobinopathies or sickle cell screening
  • Hypothyroidism screening
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU) screening

Babies and Small Children

0 to 11 months
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Oral health risk assessment
  • Iron supplements for children ages 6 to 12 months at risk for anemia

Children

1 to 4 years
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Oral health risk assessment
  • Iron supplements for children ages 6 to 12 months at risk for anemia
  • Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
  • Developmental screening for children under age 3
5 to 10
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Oral health risk assessment

Adolescents/Teenagers

11 to 14
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Hepatitis B screening for adolescents at high risk
  • Alcohol and drug use assessments
  • Cervical dysplasia screening for sexually active females
  • Depression screening
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention
  • counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk
15 to 17
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Hepatitis B screening for adolescents at high risk
  • Alcohol and drug use assessments
  • Cervical dysplasia screening for sexually active females
  • Depression screening
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention
  • counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk

General

  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Hematocrit or hemoglobin screening
  • Lead screening for children at risk of exposure
Dental and Vision

Plans that meet the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits also include some vision and dental coverage:

  • Dental exam every 6 months
  • Cleanings, fluoride treatments, and X-rays
  • Fluoride chemoprevention supplements for children without fluoride in their water source
  • Yearly vision screening for all children
  • Most people can get help with their child’s glasses or contacts on their plan too

You can also buy extra dental coverage to add to your plan for a low monthly cost.

Immunizations

Vaccines, or shots, are an important part of your children’s preventive care. These should be delivered on a specific schedule to make sure your kids are protected at every age. Shots that are listed more than once at different ages include multiple doses to finish the vaccine.

Newborn
  • Hepatitis B
1 to 2 month
  • Hepatitis B
2, 4, and 6 months
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal conjugate
  • Rotavirus
6 to 18 months
  • Hepatits B
  • Polio
  • 2 flu shots (6 months or older)
12 months and older
  • 12 to 15
    • Hib
    • Pneumococcal conjugate
    • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
    • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • 12 to 18
    • DTaP
  • 12 to 23
    • Hepatitis A
18 months and older
  • Hepatits A
  • Flu shot once a year
4 to 6 years
  • DTaP
  • Polio
  • MMR
  • Varicella
  • Flu shot once a year
11 to 12
  • Tdap (booster to DTaP)
  • Meningococcal A, C, W, and Y (MenACWY)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – 2 doses
  • Flu shot once a year
16 years
  • MenACWY
  • Flu shot once a year
18 years
  • Meningococcal B (MenB) – Talk to your child’s doctor to find out if they need this vaccine.
  • Flu shot once a year

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and enter your child’s birth date to get a customized shot schedule.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your children’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.