Tag Archives: education

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.

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager – Ages 15 to 17

Yearly well-child visits for your teenager help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Your teen needs to have yearly well-child 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 teen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Teenager’s Development

Your teen’s doctor can help you keep track of their key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you and your teen questions to help make sure your teen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each teenager grows differently. Some kids take longer to hit puberty, to be romantically interested in peers, or to worry about their future. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Spending more time outside the family, like with friends, peers, and dates
  • Worrying about their future, like going to college
  • More interest in romantic and sexual relationships
  • Wanting to try new things, which could include tobacco, drugs, or alcohol

See more milestones for your teens.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your teenager, your doctor will ask you and your teen to answer some questions about your teen’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do you often get any type of pain or headaches?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do you have trouble following directions?
    • Do you often feel sad or bored?
    • Is there someone you can talk to about your problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do you eat on a normal day?

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do you like going to school?
    • What do you like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do you participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
    • Are you experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Do you or your friends use any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friends questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in your family recently?
    • Do you have close friends?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Do you have any questions about your body?
    • Are you dating?
    • Do you know how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy?

  • Future questions, like:

    • Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your teenager, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your teen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your teen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your teen’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your teenager.

Know Your Family and Teen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, a new school, or the serious breakup of a relationship or a friendship.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your teenager’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health so that you’re always organized to talk to your teen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Teen Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your teenager by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or acne
  • Talking to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your teens eat right and get enough exercise
  • Changes in their behavior or mood or loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sexual development
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Helping them drive safely
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

After starting puberty, your teen’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your teens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your teenagers. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your teen’s member number to see what 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 teen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your teenagers or start searching for doctors in our network.