Tag Archives: series

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Vantage Point: Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

We always hear how we need to spend more time with our loved ones. But it’s hard to find common ground with others. We might not like the same music or have the same hobbies and interests.

In March, many schools celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2, 1904). This is a great opportunity for kids to learn the legend of these children’s books. It’s always nice to hear kids get back home and tell us how they now know about “Green Eggs and Ham.” We have all grown up hearing these stories and catchy rhymes. Now we don’t have to worry about what we are going to talk about with our children or grandchildren.

Dr. Seuss has been such an icon for so many years. His books bring together so many families and generations. When we were children, we loved the funny characters in these stories and how much fun they had in their adventures. Dr. Seuss taught us that there is so much more to do on a rainy day than just looking out the window. That silly cat had so many tricks up his sleeve (or should I say his hat?).

These stories help with more than just letting your imagination loose. They teach us valuable lessons. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” really shows us that this holiday is not about material possessions but about being surrounded by the people you love the most.

“The Lorax” has a character that only thinks about himself and his success but doesn’t think about how his actions could affect the environment. This teaches us to think of the long-term effects of our actions.

Now when we spend time with our children or grandchildren, we can read them a Dr. Seuss book. Enjoy watching them take in all of the colors, characters, and rhymes. We can teach them the meaning of each story and share the stories we grew up with. We don’t have to struggle to find something we both like. Instead, we can really enjoy our time together. And why not get a couple of laughs in as well?   

 

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 son.

Understanding Prescription Details

Long View: Safety in the Details

Some people say I get into details too much. To some, paying attention to details is a strength. To others, it may be irritating. However, specific details make a difference, depending on the situation.

I remember an incident where a friend was going to meet me after I got off work. The friend called me to ask what time I was getting off work. I told them the time and asked them to meet me after. Well, I assumed they knew where to meet me since we had met before at the same place.

Instead, this person met me at the right time but at the wrong place. I was in front of my house. But they were in front of my workplace. The biggest issue was that at the time, I was commuting to work about 40 miles away, so I had to sit and wait until they traveled back. Time, money, and patience were wasted all due to an assumption, lack of clarification, and lack of details.

Earlier this year, I gave a presentation on health advocacy to a Parkinson’s disease support group. One of the important points was that it’s important for patients to speak up to their healthcare provider. It’s important to speak up about concerns, needs, and expectations. One of the things patients are encouraged to speak up about is their prescription medications. Some questions you should be asking your provider during an appointment included:

  1. What will the medication you’re prescribing do?
  2. How do I take it?
  3. What are the side effects?

There was a point made in the open discussion at this presentation on instructions about how often and when to take a particular prescription commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. An instruction on the medication label said to take it 4 times a day. Being familiar with this medication, the person knew the instructions usually said to take 4 times a day during waking hours. The person inquired about it and found that those details had been omitted by the pharmacist. But the doctor’s intent was for it to be taken during waking hours. This was an important detail for treating a Parkinson’s patient.

I’m not sure what adverse effect may have happened if the medication had not been taken during waking hours. But any risk is too much of a risk to take when it concerns taking medication and your good health. Following the directions of prescription medication labels can help you avoid the risk of having adverse reactions. It can also help you gain the full intended benefit of the drug. And it’s also important to ask clarifying, detailed questions before taking medication.

We want you to be your best and to take charge of your health. When it comes to your health and wellness, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. There is safety in the details.

 

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.

Getting Older with Grace

Covered Bridge: How Do You Know You’re Getting Older?

When I started working in the Medicare industry 15 years ago, I was ignorant about Medicare and insurance of any kind really. It seemed like a growth industry to me.

15 year later, I have a much more personal interest in the subject, having quite a few family members over 65. This aging thing is not as easy as I thought it would be. Things change.

I’ve made progress in the meantime. I also used to think being online and connected was not that necessary. Now I couldn’t live without it. Please note, the perception that older people don’t like to use technology is false. According to Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 seniors own smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013.

I have an almost 8-month-old and an 8-year-old and have “mom brain” most days. I used to take extra time getting ready for a big event or even a regular day. When I was done, I would look in the mirror and say, “You look very well put together.”  Now, when I go through all the same steps, I look in in the mirror and say, “You look clean.”

When did I stop hearing, “You look great,” and start hearing, “You look great for your age”? Probably around the same time folks went from saying, “I like your new glasses,” to “Your new glasses take 5 years off your face.” Ugh.

I’ve learned not to ask anyone how old they are unless they are under the age of 12. Even then, I would think twice about it. If anyone forces you to guess how old they are, make a fair guess, and then subtract 15 years. No one ever complains.

The Population Reference Bureau says that from 2014 to 2060, the number of people age 65 and older in the United States will more than double from 46 million to over 98 million. Surprisingly, people over age 85 are the fastest growing 10-year age group of the older population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Aging is tough. Often, we have to forgo many of the activities of our youth, such as:

  • Driving a car
  • Living independently
  • Eating anything you want
  • Staying up all night
  • Getting a haircut
  • Worrying about the small stuff (Oh wait, that’s a good thing.)

While I still have a way to go before some of these activities are things I have to forgo, I try to remember those family and friends that are maturing and reaching a stage where they may have to give up some of these activities. I try to show as much grace and dignity to them as I hope someone will show to me. Maturing is tough.

 

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.

Goal Progress

Vantage Point: Progress is Progress

It’s been a month since you put your best intentions forward and made your New Year’s resolutions. You’re now a month into those goals and making them work (or not) for you. So here might be the welcomed or dreaded question (depending on how you’ve kept to your goals): How are you doing? Have you totally fallen off the wagon, or are you still moving forward? If you’ve kept up your New Year’s goals, awesome! Keep moving forward and making your way to a better and brighter 2019. You are an inspiration! We celebrate your determination and your discipline to make things happen. Shine your light by sharing your tips with others around you. But what happens if January has come and gone, and you’ve fallen off the proverbial goal horse? Are you like me, where a cheat meal turns into a cheat day, then a cheat week, then a cheat month, and then to totally giving up your New Year’s resolutions, like I have in years past? To those out there struggling like myself, I say a mighty and loud, YOU CAN DO THIS! Get up, dust yourself off, climb back on the goal horse, and ride away into the victorious sunset. Braveheart speeches aside, how does one get back on track for their goals? Well, I can only tell you how I’ve managed to get back on mine, and that is with this thought: Progress is progress, no matter how small. I try not to look at my mess-ups, but to a new day where I make progress, no matter how small. I take it one day at a time, and I try to think about my choices before I make them. Is eating this or that going to help me make progress or hinder my progress? If it hinders my progress, I’ve really got to think about if it’s worth it. To some, a cheat treat is worth it, but only if it helps push you forward and past that craving rather than drag you down into the cheat meal spiral, which I’m famously known for. Cheat treats can also be altered to make them less of a hindrance. For instance, over the holidays, I made macadamia nut brittle rather than regular peanut brittle. It had less of the bad stuff, and I still got my brittle craving taken care of. Score! Sticking with my goals has led to finally hitting my 40-pound weight loss goal, but I’ve also fallen off for months at a time. During our Annual Enrollment Period in 2018, I totally fell off the goal horse, and I put back on 15 pounds, but a New Year’s refocus has put me back to my goal. Yes, I’ve floundered here and there, but I stay focused on the small decisions I make and decide if they would push me toward progress or in the other direction. Maybe it would help for you to keep a journal of the things that push you away from progress. Take that list, and master it, one thing at a time. Pretty soon, what’s pushing you toward progress will grow, and the list of those things pushing you away from progress will grow smaller and eventually be pretty much nonexistent. I know if I can do it, you can, too! Just remember, progress is progress, no matter how small. Let’s refocus and do this!   Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.
Winter Senior Games

Long View: Sack Those Winter Blues, Get Active at Winter Senior Games

When I was in high school, I had a crush on the hunky, curly-haired quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chuck Long. Sigh, just saying his name takes me back to those days.

In my youth, sports of any kind ruled my world. Volleyball, softball, track and field, and basketball, I took a shot at all of them. I even earned a varsity letter for basketball in high school. I often say that the first thing God is going to let me do when I get to heaven is shoot the gap, slam through on the blind side, and sack the quarterback. But that quarterback will be someone I don’t like, like Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers, not Chuck.

Well, as it tends to happen, I grew up. I decided to become a Cyclone instead of a Hawkeye, got married, and raised a family. I stopped having crushes on college quarterbacks and started dreaming about minivans that could corner on a dime and the day my sons would stop taking swings at each other and just get in the car. Oh, and I went to work for Health Alliance, a company based in Champaign, IL, and full of Fighting Illini. Go figure. But I’ve always hung on to that love of sport. The body doesn’t always cooperate, but the heart is still alive and willing to give it a try.

February is a great month for all lovers of sport because Health Alliance is sponsoring the Winter Iowa Senior Games in the Quad Cities, and you are invited whether you’re an Illini, Hawkeye, Cyclone, or something else. You don’t need to be an Iowa resident to compete. In fact, competitors come from all over the United States. The only requirement is that you must be over 50 years old.

Still worried about the heart being more willing than the body? Don’t, everyone else is in the same boat because you compete with your own age group. Age groupings start at 50 and go up to over 90 years old. The playing field is even!

Registration is being taken for bowling, pickleball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and all track and field events. Events will take place throughout the Quad Cities, but most will happen at Augustana’s PepsiCo Arena in Rock Island. Yes, that is an indoor track.

Here is the best part. Chuck Long runs the Iowa Sports Foundation, the sponsoring agency of the Iowa Senior Games! Sometimes he even comes out to run the 800 meters in his age group. Making one’s heart go pitter-patter is an aerobic exercise, don’t you know? Come out and have some fun and shake off those winter blues.

The Winter Iowa Senior Games will be held February 22 to 24 in the Quad Cities. Register for events at IowaSeniorGames.org or by calling 1-888-777-8881.

Reading this article too late for the Winter Games? The Eastern Iowa Senior Challenge happens in April in Cedar Rapids, and the Iowa Senior Games is later this summer in West Des Moines. Check their website for all available events and dates.

 

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.

Writing a Letter to Yourself

Covered Bridge: What I Know Now

I have this idea, an idea that once changed how I handle and approach things that has stuck with me to this day. The advice, you ask?  

“I cannot say anything to make you feel any better in this season of life you are in, but I promise you time heals all things.”

While this advice seems so simple and is maybe even heard frequently, when you are 17, it is anything but.

This advice came from my great-aunt. She wrote to me (you know, actually on paper, with a pen, mailed with a stamp she purchased via USPS, and not in a text or email?) A meaningful letter that she took her precious time to send to me personally because I meant something to her. She has since passed, and I still regret not emphasizing just how much it really meant to me even after all these years.

While I know this may not be everyone’s cup of tea and is a little outside my own box, this idea might help change the way my daughters, niece, nephews, or grandkids view or handle a certain situation one day (should I be so lucky).

I was 17 and lost two friends in a vehicle accident, and that letter where she told me about a tragic loss she had is what gave me hope I would eventually make it through.

So here is the idea. Have you ever considered writing a letter to your younger self?  Your title: What I Know Now.

What if this letter could help someone through a tough time? What if this letter is something you leave behind to someone you love or is able to help in their time of need?

This will require you to remember your past while considering the present, written in an encouraging voice with compassion and understanding during a certain stage of your life so that another person can understand the message or theme.

Think about a scenario from when you were a particular age and how you would change that. What advice would you give to your younger self to do things differently? We all have a unique story to tell because we are all unique in our own ways.

Someone somewhere wants to hear all about it.

 

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.

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.