Tag Archives: series

Trends Coming Full Circle

Vantage Point: Coming Full Circle

I don’t know why, but lately, everywhere I look, I see so many things becoming popular that are from “back in the day.” Yes, we all know as each day goes by, we’re getting just a bit older. We don’t feel it, but as I look back 3 or 6 months at a time, I notice subtle changes.

When I was growing up, my parents still owned a telephone that had a long swirly cord attached, and you had to sit in the kitchen to be on the phone. As time went on, I remember going to friends’ houses after school, and they had wireless home phones that they could take into their rooms.

I would go home and beg my parents to please get a wireless home phone. It took a lot of begging, but we finally got one. Now, I see that fewer and fewer people have home phones at all, and I personally miss them.

Then came the camera. As a child, my mom would purchase film for her camera, we’d take pictures, and once the film was full, we’d take it to the store and fill out an envelope with our information to pick up our pictures in a couple of days.

Then, digital cameras with an SM card came around. You could retake pictures as many times as you wanted and then choose which ones you wanted to print.

Now, most of us don’t even own cameras since we have cameras on our phones. Most people don’t even print pictures nowadays, they just save them to hard drives, social media, and the cloud. I’ve personally lost so many pictures when my phone has suddenly stopped working.

My younger sister recently had a birthday, and I asked for a list of things she might want. At the top of her list was an Instax mini camera. I had no idea what that was, so I looked it up online.

Of course, it’s the new version of Polaroid camera. Apparently, they’re the cool thing to have with all the young teens. I found it humorous that everything had come full circle. First, we had physical versions of our pictures, then we loved the digital versions, and now we want the physical versions again.

Everything really does come full circle, fashion, music, and even electronics. I myself am really considering getting a Polaroid camera so I can be part of the cool kids again.

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

Busting Stereotypes Across Generations

Long View: What Exactly Is a Whippersnapper?

I once told a youthful and entrepreneurial friend of mine that I was having trouble viewing his website. He responded, “You need to update your browser. A lot of older people use the one you have on your computer.”

I’ve found it best to pause before responding to comments like these. After counting to 5, I responded, “That’s called ageism-prejudice or discrimination against a particular age group.” I refrained from calling him a whippersnapper, although it was on the tip of my tongue. While he seemed to get my point of view, the incident started me thinking.

How often do we all make snap judgments based on stereotypes? More often than we care to admit. I rarely associate youth and wisdom, but that said, I know mature people who have managed to avoid accumulating any wisdom or insight during their lives. I guess we all associate youth with vitality, but we all know teens who are confirmed couch potatoes or spend inordinate amounts of time glued to their smart phones.

Here at Health Alliance, we work with some folks who require more support and information. Others want to cut to the chase and get on with their lives. Impatience doesn’t seem to be a trait associated with any particular age, does it?

It seems to be human nature to hold stereotypes dear, even subconsciously. We all have experiences that color our perceptions, so what’s the problem with making assumptions based on our own biases?

Prejudice stops us from fully experiencing the people in our lives. It’s easy to drop people into simple, broad categories and focus on more important things, like our own busy lives. The loss occurs when we dismiss people without getting to know them as individuals. Having preconceived ideas about any group saves time, but it diminishes our chance to get to really appreciate someone as a fellow human being instead of a representative of their subset.

I’m making a concerted effort to be more sensitive with the words I use, and I am trying to be aware when I make a snap judgment. I know some of you feel you are prejudice-free. Ask yourselves if you are truly non-biased or just kidding yourself.

Actually, I meant to say, ask yourselves if you are being naive and lacking in experience.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Tough Talks to Plan for the Future

Covered Bridge: Tough Talks Now Can Save Hurt Feelings Later

Have you ever noticed how much stuff you have packed in your house? It seems to have a life of its own! There was a point where I thought, “If I bring one more thing home, something will pop out of a window.” The thought of moving with all these treasures in tow is daunting.

Now imagine if you had to do so without notice or against your wishes. That would be a nightmare.

Sadly, I remember that a few short years ago, when my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his primary care doctor told him and my grandmother that it was time to downsize from their 4-bedroom home on 15 acres in the country to something a little more manageable.

He felt a part of his independence was being taken from him. But fortunately for him, being newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he had a little more say in his plans for the future.

I am sure some of you have older friends and family members who could find themselves in that situation or worse. At some point, they might not have a say in their future and need to transition suddenly from independent living to a group or assisted-living facility, whether the move is short-term or permanent.

It seems that talking about this tough situation ahead of time could save everyone a lot of pain later.

There are some early signs that it is time to talk about moving options. A change might be in order if they have trouble getting dressed or making their own food. Sudden changes in behavior or severe forgetfulness are more alarming and require fast action to protect your loved one.

Help your friends or loved ones have this conversation with their primary care doctors to assess their needs and their next steps and to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.

There you have it. And it wouldn’t hurt for all of us to plan for the future by simplifying our lives and possessions as we go along!

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.

Go Red for Heart Health

Long View: You Can’t Beat a Healthy Heart or 6 More Weeks of Winter

Just when you think the holidays are over and the thrill of the new year has finally tapered down, here comes February — Groundhog Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Mardis Gras, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents Day. February is a multi-themed, food-filled month of celebration.

We anticipate the shadow reveal of Punxsutawney Phil, we break out the football-shaped cheese ball to root for our team, we plan our menu of anything and everything on Fat Tuesday, and if that isn’t enough, we love to eat chocolates on the day of love. Then when it’s all over (and after a slight weight gain), we hit the mall for some comfy stretch wear with Presidents Day sale bargains!

But wait, how about doing something this month to celebrate our health and focus on our heart? If we can take advice from a small woodchuck about the weather, we surely can take advice from the American Heart Association about our health!

February is American Heart Month, and part of that is National Wear Red Day. For those of you who know me, my wardrobe pretty much consists of drab colors and neutrals, but this year, I broke out my red floral scarf for a splash of color as a symbol of support!

The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute encourage all of us to take action against this killer disease. Studies show that 80% of cardiac and stroke events may be preventable with education and action.

Find time to talk to your family and get everyone on board with heart health. Encourage healthy eating habits by making healthier versions of your favorite food. Choose foods and recipes low in sodium and with no added sugar or trans fats. When you shop, buy colorful fruits and vegetables, which are all powerhouses when it comes to nutrition, and stay away from dairy and meat products that are high in fat.

Fiber is important in your diet, and you can find fiber not only in fruits and vegetables, but also in beans, nuts, and whole grain. Take the time to read the nutrition labels on items, and check out the sodium content. (A general rule is, if anything has more than 250 mg of sodium, you may want to search for something with less.)

Physical activity can also help you stay heart healthy. It’s not only what you put into your body, it’s also what you put out. Exercise helps to improve heart health, and it can even help reverse certain heart disease risk factors. Our heart becomes stronger from exercise, which helps it pump more blood through the body and work at maximum level without strain.

Aerobic activities at least 3 to 4 times a week are the best. Choose walking, swimming, or biking, and allow for a good 5 minutes of stretching beforehand to warm up your muscles and a cool down period after you’re through. And of course, always check with your doctor before starting any new physical routine.

So this February, maybe forego indulging in lavish holiday food choices (remember that New Year’s resolution?) and celebrate in a new way. Go out and buy something red to wear to celebrate heart health AND 6 more weeks of winter, or will it be an early spring? Better check with Punxsutawney Phil before you go!

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

World Cancer Day

Covered Bridge: One Day, Awareness for All

It’s likely that we’ve all known or come across at least one individual who has touched our lives with their empowering story. What do I mean by empowering story, you ask?

I mean the story of a family member, friend, fellow co-worker, or acquaintance that leaves a chill in your bones when you listen to how hard they fought. The kind of story that leaves a lasting impression on how you view life. One that alters who you are, even just a little. And one that proves, when faced with hardship, struggles, and even death, these individuals gave it all they have. Their fight can come from something greater than any of us can imagine, a love of life so great that fighting to beat it is the only choice they have.

You see, February 4 was World Cancer Day, which is meant to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration. We regularly hear about different months dedicated to raising awareness about certain types of cancer, but World Cancer Day is awareness for all cancers.

Here at Reid Health Alliance Medicare, we highly encourage you to get preventive care, keep yourself healthy and educated about cancer, and have the tools to keep the ones you love in the know.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself from cancer from WorldCancerDay.org:

  • Quit smoking. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer. Quitting at any age can increase life expectancy and improve quality of life.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and make physical activity part of your everyday life. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of bowel, breast, uterine, ovarian, pancreatic, esophagus, kidney, liver, advanced prostate, and gallbladder cancers. Specific changes to your diet, like limiting red or processed meat, can also make a difference.
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption. Limiting alcohol can help decrease the risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bowel, liver and breast cancer.
  • Protect your skin. Reducing exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and other sources, like tanning beds, can help reduce the risk of many skin cancers.

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.

Healthy Resolutions like Fitness

Vantage Point: Healthy Resolutions Without the Cost

What just happened? I blinked, and all of a sudden, it’s 2018! The holidays came and went, and now it’s time to go back to our normal routines. I’m personally excited for spring to get here. I’m over this cold.

As I go back to my routine, I think of what I’m going to do differently this year. It is very cliché, but I really do look back on my previous year and reflect on what I can improve on for 2018. We can improve in every aspect of our life: relationships, work, finances, and health.

We all try to set goals and keep them for the entire year. But sometimes we set unrealistic goals, or we just don’t try hard enough. The most common goal I hear is having a healthier lifestyle. We all have at least one unhealthy habit that we want to kick to the curb. As I get older, I realize it is not about looking good or having “rock hard” abs, it’s about being healthy and strong.

There are so many ways we can have an active lifestyle. Many people would join a gym to reach that goal, but what happens if you can’t afford a gym membership? And the older we get, the harder it is to do heavy lifting or the more dangerous it is to use a treadmill.

We are so lucky to have an organization like the Wellness Place in the Wenatchee Valley. Its mission is “[t]o improve and enhance the health and well-being of community members through programs and education; inspiring every person to live their best life now.” Their current programs include targeting and supporting cancer patients, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and diabetes support services.

The SAIL program started in 2006 and focuses on balance and fitness for those 65 and older. Exercises that improve strength, balance, and fitness are the most important activities you can do to stay active and reduce your chance of falling as you age.

These classes are offered all over the greater Wenatchee area, and they’re no cost to the attendees. It is a great opportunity to kick off a healthier lifestyle for free. Learn more about the classes and when and where they take place and start your new year the right way.

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

What's in a Nickname like Sticks?

Long View: What’s in a Name?

Have you ever had a nickname? My oldest son, now 23 years old, goes by Sticks. Over the course of his life, I’ve given him at least a dozen different nicknames. This particular child needed a lot of nicknames because he was a kid who was constantly evolving, first in his own mind, but eventually for the entire world to see.

When he was about 16, he announced that he had taught himself to play the drums, which was a surprise to me since we did not own any drums. What we did own were 2 abused trumpets, gathering dust from lack of practice and the sudden desire to quit band and join the football team.

One night while on a vacation cruise, he played the drums like a rock star as part of a talent show band he had assembled with the other kids on board the ship. Stickle-Fritz was born in that moment. Now, I simply call him Sticks, and he is still a drummer for several different church worship teams. This nickname stuck.

Scoobs is my 19-year-old son, and he’s only had the one nickname (in shortened or altered versions) since the day he came home from the hospital. Scooby-Doo popped into my head as I lay him in his crib for the very first time because he was the most adorably pudgy little Gerber baby. He looked nothing like the animated goofy Great Dane, but a mother’s nickname doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but her.

It became Scooby-Snack when he was just so cute, I could eat him up. Scoob-inator when he played football and rugby. Today, he’s just Scoobs. (Sticks is rolling his eyes right now because his baby brother “is just so spoiled!”)

My freshman year in high school, a close friend of mine nicknamed me Lorelai-Poop. The name stuck. Over the course of 4 years of high school, it was truncated down to just the last 4 letters. You can imagine the “joy” it gives me to hear my high school nickname shouted out at the mall 31 years later. I’ve been trying to scrape this one off my shoe for decades. (Thank you Brad Hosford.)

The nicknames we give ourselves in our heads can stick too: Lousy-Dancer Larry, Bad-Golfer Gus, Can’t-Cook Carol. Give yourself a new nickname for the new year. Let’s take a page from Mr. Sticks and decide to become something even before we actually are. The way we talk to ourselves has a tremendous effect on the eventual “self” that we become.

Be kind to yourself in 2018. Challenge yourself in 2018. Soon you may find yourself becoming Likes-to-Boogie Larry, Getting-Better-Golfer Gus, Maybe-She-Can-Cook Carol. Sticks, Scoobs, and Poop will be pulling for you.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.