Tag Archives: education

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

It’s National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, and you can learn more about drug and alcohol use and its effects, especially among teens, along with us this week or at an event near you.

What’s the breakdown of drug and alcohol use among teens? Learn more about protecting your teens.

Drug and Alcohol Use Among Teens

 

Comorbidity can affect both substance abuse and helping get those suffering from substance abuse the treatment they need.

Comorbidity and Substance Abuse

 

The health effects of synthetic cannabinoids, popular among teens, are unpredictable, and they can be harmful.

Health Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids

 

Driving under the influence of drugs can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

 

In the midst of the opioid crisis, drug overdose deaths are on the rise.

Overdose Deaths by Drug
Infographics via NIH

 

Get more facts about the effects of a variety of drugs, alcohol, addiction, and more from the NIH.

Understanding the Facts of Drugs

National Braille Literacy Month

National Braille Literacy Month

It’s National Braille Literacy Month, and despite growing technology, braille is still important. 70% of blind adults are unemployed, but of those who are employed, 90% can read braille.

Despite Tech, Braille Matters

 

There are over 60,000 blind children in the U.S., but only 10% of blind students are learning to read with braille.

Literacy for blind students depends upon braille, and it’s proven to help them gain independence and employment as adults.

Independence Through Braille

 

60% of blind students drop out of school, and not being able to read plays a huge part. Imagine not being able to reread a sentence as you’re learning new words or not being able to understand literature.

The Importance of Reading for Finishing School

 

Partially sighted children are the ones most likely to be left behind in both print and braille reading.

Partially Sighted Students Getting Left Behind

 

85% of blind students go to public schools, but many states don’t require them to teach braille, despite how it helps prepare students for the future.

Preparing Blind Students for the Future

 

Students who learn braille are more likely to finish high school, go to college, have better self-esteem, and get jobs as adults.

A Brighter Future with Braille

Tacking Seasonal Affective Disorder

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is when you experience symptoms of depression as the seasons change. Most often, these feelings are tied to the fall and winter. But you can take charge to feel better during these months.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter

 

Symptoms of winter-onset SAD include oversleeping, exhaustion, low energy, gaining weight, and appetite changes, like craving carbs and heavy foods.

Symptoms of Winter-Onset SAD

 

Symptoms of summer-onset SAD include trouble sleeping, agitation, anxiety, losing weight, and poor appetite.

Symptoms of Summer-Onset SAD

 

While doctors aren’t certain of the cause of seasonal affective disorder, some factors that contribute to it include how your biological clock, serotonin levels (which affect mood), and melatonin levels (which affect sleep patterns) are affected by reduced sunlight.

Factors Causing SAD

 

SAD is more common for those with depression, bipolar disorder, a family history of these conditions, and those living far from the equator with short days in the winter.

Risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

Seasonal affective disorder can cause people to withdraw from their social circles, affect their performance in school or work, increase the risk of substance abuse, worsen other mental health issues (like anxiety), and in extreme cases, lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Issues Caused by SAD

 

Treatment for this disorder can include light therapy, antidepressants, therapy, and relaxation techniques like tai chi, yoga, meditation, or art therapy. Talk to your doctor to find the right fit for you.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

New Year's Reset

Long View & Vantage Point: New Year’s Reset

Happy New Year, everyone! Here is hoping that 2019 is your best year yet. Now, I am sure my readers are thinking my next line will be something about what my New Year’s resolution is going to be. No, not this year.

I have a different take on 2019 that I would like to share. Resolutions make us obsess about outcomes. The outcomes are sometimes tied to successes, but they’re also sometimes tied to failure. So this year, I am substituting the term “New Year’s resolution” with “New Year’s reset!”

It seems like every year, many of us find a way to ring in the new year, like watching the ball drop on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” with the countdown “3-2-1, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!” Or maybe we skip staying up all together because this whole New Year’s Eve thing is overrated. Nevertheless, the next day, we close the book on last year, and just like that, we are on to a brand-new year and a brand-new start.

Starting that diet? Setting the goal for financial freedom? Both? These are the good old New Year’s resolutions, the imagined future, where we all vow to make a change. Our minds are set and ready to move on to a better us! “This is the year that you are going to do it,” we tell ourselves.

What I have learned over all the years is that my ready-set-go approach is good for maybe the first week or two (maybe the first month or two if I’m lucky). The adrenaline is high. I go out and buy all the organic fruits and veggies and local health food to fill the fridge. Then, I head out to the mall to find sweatpants and a matching headband, maybe even a new pair of shoes to walk and exercise away all those pounds (all on sale of course because I am trying to cut down on spending, too!). Now, it’s all set, and I can’t wait to start!

Next thing you know, good intentions are interrupted. In the mail, there’s an invitation to the wedding event of the year (with of course, lots of food and drinks to be served), and no doubt, I have to find the perfect dress and accessories to wear to the big gala. Or maybe it’s the annual Super Bowl party invite with more food and drinks (at least sweatpants are fine for this occasion). There go the resolutions, just like that! And here come the struggles and guilt with all kinds of mixed feelings! What about the diet and saving money? Why do I do this every year?

Why put yourself through that?

This year, wouldn’t it be easier if we lived in the moment and not the imagined future? If each day, we took a short, mindful pause? Stop and reset? What is going on around you right this minute? You might see the most wonderful sunset or maybe kids sledding down a hill. Maybe you hear the humming sound of the fan or just that peaceful serenade of silence.

You don’t have to worry about the entire year or even tomorrow, just be in the moment. Mindfulness is putting the attention on the present, and doing it purposefully. You aren’t imagining it, you are living it! Go out for a walk or take that spare change to the bank. Make it intentional! It’s that small space in time that you can slow down, replenish, and reset your mind and body.

In 2019, maybe we can all learn to hit the reset button and find how the power of taking just a few minutes of each day can lift your spirit, boost your mind, and achieve successes! Here’s to a wonderful start for 2019!

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

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

Happy Medicare New Year

Steps to a Happy “Medicare” New Year

Winter preparations are done. Winter festivals have ended, and end-of-year holiday celebrations are over. Just when you think you can sit back and relax, there is still one last item you may need to consider.

If you made any Medicare changes during the past Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7), there are some actions you can take that may help you have a happy Medicare new year.

If you enrolled in a new plan or your plan had changes during the Annual Enrollment Period, you should make sure you’ve received your new member ID card. This card contains the newest info for your 2019 care. Be sure to show your new ID card to the doctor’s office and pharmacist on your first visit of the new year so that they have your newest information on file. It’s also worth mentioning that with the new cards for the new year can come new deductibles (depending on the plan you choose), which start over at the beginning of the year.

If you decided to stay with Original Medicare, you’ll still use your Medicare card for hospital and doctor services. If you have not received the new Medicare card that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began issuing in April 2018, be on the lookout because they are all scheduled to be mailed by April 2019.

If you joined a Medicare prescription drug plan that works with Original Medicare, then the plan will mail you a card so you can fill your prescriptions. If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO, PPO, or POS), you’ll also get a new card to use for both healthcare visits (doctor and hospital) and for picking up your prescriptions.

If you need medical care or need to fill a prescription before you receive the ID card but after the effective coverage date, you may be able to use other proof of plan membership. Some examples are the welcome letter you got from the plan or even your enrollment confirmation number and the plan name and phone number.

If you elected to have your plan premium withheld from your Social Security check, don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it deducted right away. It may take up to 3 months from the time you made the premium withhold request before you start seeing your premium withheld from your Social Security payment.

The 2019 year is a great time to take advantage of your one-time “Welcome to Medicare” or annual wellness visit your plan offers to you. This benefit is usually no cost to you! It is designed as a preventive measure to help you take charge of your health, be advised of future needed preventive services, and establish a baseline for personalized care. And speaking of preventive measures, many Medicare Advantage plans come with a fitness benefit or provide access to physical fitness activities at no cost to you.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Fall Prevention Tips

Fall Prevention Tips

Falls cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and over 95% of hip fractures in older adults, and winter weather is just one reason for them. This week’s fall prevention tips can help you protect yourself and loved ones. Get your eyes checked each year, and always keep your glasses prescription as up to date as possible.
Healthy Vision
  Ask your doctor to review all your meds and see if there are other options for any drugs that might be increasing your risk of falling.
Your Medication
  Fall-proof your home. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings to stairs and improving the lighting in your home can make a huge difference. Fall Proof Your Home   Get enough calcium and Vitamin D with foods and drinks like dairy, soy milk, orange juice, and salmon, or take a regular supplement.
Nutrition and Weight Management Resources
  Get tested for osteoporosis, which can increase your risk of falls and serious injuries from falling. Remove clutter. A messy house can actually increase your chance of falling at home.
Warning Signs of Hoarding
  Get active! There are great options and resources for getting healthy at any age. Tai chi is especially helpful for improving your balance and leg strength.
Your Ultimate Guide to Fall Prevention
Holiday Safety Travel Tips

Holiday Safety Travel Tips

As you gear up for December travel, these holiday safety travel tips can help you stay healthy as you visit loved ones.

Stay healthy before, during, and after your travel with these simple healthy holiday tips.

‘Tis the Season to Be Merry and Healthy with Healthy Holiday Tips!

 

Making a drive this holiday season? Make sure you’re prepared.

Vantage Point: The Gift of Preparedness

 

Sudden snowstorm popping up on your holiday drive? Be prepared and know how to drive in the snow with these winter driving tips from AAA.

Fly nonstop whenever you can. People are more likely to get stranded at airports during holiday storms in layover cities. If you’re worried about being stranded, book a hotel reservation you can cancel ahead of time so you’re not scrambling when the storm hits.

Don't Get Stranded During Holiday Travel

 

Keep your phone or devices charged so that you can keep track of delays and the weather, call loved ones for help, or book emergency hotel reservations. Keep your chargers and a charging battery handy if you have battery issues.

Traveling with Your Charged Device

 

Follow the airline and airports on social media and check their feeds before and during your travel. You’ll be the first to get info about delays and gate changes, and they may be able to help you if you contact them with travel issues.

Airline and Airport Social Media Help

 

If you have an emergency while traveling this holiday season, know that you’re covered as a Health Alliance member with our partner Assist America.

Covered During Emergencies While Traveling