Tag Archives: series

Sun Protection at Any Age

Vantage Point: Making Sense of Sun Protection

Hurray for warmer weather. I must say, I sure do love springtime and seeing all of our trees thriving and blooming. The color is coming back into our communities as the grass turns greener and people start hanging flowerpots on their patios. Although we are not quite in the summer season, the sun is making an appearance, which means summertime is near.

During the summertime, we all love to enjoy some time outdoors and enjoy the nice warm weather. Some of us like to go for a stroll around the park. Others might want to spend their time by the pool to cool off. I love doing that myself.

When getting ready for a pool day, I make sure to have everything I need by my side. I make sure I have my towels, snacks, water (to stay hydrated), and floatables for maximum relaxation. And the most important part of our pool day is having our sunscreen applied.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been great about applying sunscreen when being out under the sun, but the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to protect my skin. Since summer is near, I want to make sure I take the right precautions as my family and I spend time outdoors.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86% of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.”

It’s very scary to think how high these statistics are when we’re all under the sun on a daily basis. Reading these statistics makes me think twice about if I really want to spend time out by the pool. How do I know what sunscreen is giving me the best protection?

The Skin Cancer Foundation can help with that too. “Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. SPF or (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin.” They also say that people who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on a daily basis show 24% less skin aging than those who don’t.

After getting more insight into skin care and sun damage I will definitely enjoy my time off outdoors cooling down, just with plenty of sunscreen. I’m ready for summer 2018!

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.

Adventures in Vacationing

Long View: Adventures in Vacationing

Vacation season is upon us. Do you have all the tools you need for a restful and restorative vacation this summer?

I cannot envision a trip anywhere without my cell phone’s Google Maps app. It astounds me to think of some of the family trips I took with my parents and brother before cell phones. Imagine a family of 4, in a 4-seat, single-engine airplane, landing on a grass runway in the middle of lake country in northern Canada. No roads, no buildings, just trees and water. I still remember picking wild blueberries on the runway while we waited for the boat from the fishing village to come pick us up. How on earth did we get there without Google? Brave people, my parents.

In my 20s, my mother and I managed to drive our Volvo sedan across a pedestrian-only canal bridge in Sweden. We didn’t realize that fact until later that night while enjoying a glass of wine on the hotel patio across the street from the bridge. “You know Mom,” I said, “I haven’t seen a single car go over that bridge since we sat down.” It was the 1990s, no Google Maps.

My son Scoobs and I learned not to trust those GPS boxes in rental cars while in Panama. After getting the pleasant Spanish-speaking lady to start talking to us in English, she took us on a series of turns around the airport that had us stuck in a cul-de-sac surrounded by garbage-eating wild dogs. Back out onto the highway, she sent us south toward the Colombian border, rather than north to our resort, and turning left in Central America is apparently not allowed. I pulled up onto the highway median, agreed to the international charges, and Googled our way safely to the Westin.

On that same trip, we were amazed at the accuracy of Google Maps as it guided us into the jungles of Panama and over a wooden bridge made only of 2 very long 2x6s to the drop-off spot where we went kayaking. Why it was so hyper-accurate in the jungles of Panama, yet managed to send me onto a golf course cart path in central Illinois remains a mystery and a testament to that saucy little app’s sense of humor.

Health insurance information is also a vital tool to take with you on vacation. Thanks to the new Your Health Alliance phone app, you don’t even need to bring the actual card with you. Unplanned illnesses and injuries can happen. My 5-year-old little brother got the chicken pox for the second time while in Key West, FL. (Brave parents again.)

Another really nice tool Health Alliance provides to our Medicare family is Assist America. Assist America provides free help finding doctors outside of the United States, prescription refill assistance, and even emergency medical evacuation.

The crew I run with decided last year to take a 5-mile hike through the mountainous jungles of Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. A check of Google shows you how lush and beautiful it is, but it’s a far cry from umbrella drinks and endless beaches. After the 5-mile hike/death march, we went cave exploring under those same mountains, and at times, found ourselves crawling on hands and knees through narrow tunnels and over muddy boulders on our way to an underground lake. You can imagine what a bunch of 50-year-old adventurers looked like at the end of the day. I personally resembled a naked mole rat. Assist America may have been a welcome choice for evacuation back to our resort’s lounge chairs and endless buffet.

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.

Farmers Markets in Indiana and Ohio

Covered Bridge: April Showers Bring May…Farmers Markets

It’s that time of year again where the winter blues are finally behind us, the chance of rain diminishes a little each day, and summer is just around the corner. I thoroughly enjoy the abundance of sunshine and all the events this beautiful time of year brings to our local communities.

As most of us strive for a well-balanced lifestyle, I wanted to share a little information that might be useful to you or someone you know. One thing I love to do on a Saturday morning is browse the local farmers markets. Each one is unique in its own way and offers many different varieties of products, from homegrown vegetables and local honey to crafts and much more. This summer, I encourage you to get out and buy local while maintaining that well-balanced lifestyle.

To help you out, here are the local farmers markets in our area:  

Richmond, Wayne County: This outdoor market begins on May 5 in Elstro Plaza and continues every Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon, through the end of October. Also, from July until September, they have a weekly Tuesday night market from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Elstro Plaza as well.

Connersville, Fayette County: Starting in mid-May, this outdoor market is every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in the downtown courthouse parking lot.

Liberty, Union County: This outdoor market begins in May and is on Friday evenings from 4:30 p.m. until dark in the courthouse square.

Brookville, Franklin County: This outdoor market begins May 17 and runs until the end of growing season from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s located at the space in front of the Brookville Treatment Plant.

New Castle, Henry County: This outdoor market runs from mid-May through mid-October and is every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. It’s located on the east side of the Henry County Courthouse.

Eaton, Preble County: This outdoor market runs from mid-May through the end of September and is on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Barron and Somers streets.

Greenville, Darke County: This outdoor market runs from June 2 to October 13 and is every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Darke County Courthouse at the corner of 4th and Broadway.

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.

 

Teachable Moments

Covered Bridge: Teachable Moments

Recently, we purchased a “new” home, only 54-years-young, to begin the next chapter of our lives. We were looking for simplicity as we moved from a home in the country that had farm animals and more fixer-upper maintenance than I ever care to share.

In the search for our new home, we wanted something that was structurally sound, with only a few items on the honey-do-list to update. We could handle a few updates, such as painting, flooring, or the like. We wanted to make sure that from the roof to the electric, we wouldn’t have to worry that something would go wrong in the next few years.

I know that’s never a guarantee (that just comes with home ownership), but I was determined to stay within our budget, and eventually something would come about. We spent our weekends and weeknights going to showing after showing, until we stumbled upon a delightful, quaint, ranch-style home that seemed to fit what we were looking for.

We decided to take our 7-year-old daughter with us to view the home. Our daughter walked in, and the first thing she said was, “What’s that smell?” The previous owners were in their mid-eighties, and the house’s smell reminded us of our grandparents’ old homes.

She then stared at the bathroom’s blue tiles with big eyes and asked if we would be updating that soon. She quickly exclaimed this was going to be her bathroom, because she loves blue. Our daughter also noticed the various brass fixtures and was not too fond of them.

She continued to search the house. Walking into the kitchen, she hollered for us. She pointed to that “thingy” on the wall. It was a wall-mounted telephone. Oh, how things have changed! We had to explain to her that people used to make calls from them, and some of them even used to have a rotary dial. Imagine her face contorting, unable to comprehend that one.

With all new things comes change. Those smells are memories for some of us, while to others they are new. Those thingies on the wall are what kept us in contact with our friends and family, regardless of distance, without the option of a text message or email that lacks personal touch and effort.

It really blew her mind when she realized those “stickers” she constantly wanted to use actually cost money and let us send letters overseas to our family serving in the military or birthday cards with a handwritten note, which may be the only one they received in the mail.

I hope to teach our daughter about the simplicity of days gone by, and I hope this will remind you of some of yours.

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.

Drive to Fight Stress

Vantage Point: Take a Drive to Fight Stress

When was the last time you took a drive to nowhere? I guess I should back up a bit. Have you ever taken a drive to nowhere? If you haven’t, I strongly recommend you give it a try.

It can be very refreshing to have time with your thoughts or to sing at the top of your lungs (without judgment), or both. I think the movement of the car, the feeling of forward progression, gives me a feeling of stress relief.

Stress is such a horrible thing to deal with, and to those who are experiencing it, you are not alone! In order to combat the stresses of life, maybe a nice drive to nowhere is in order.

My favorite drives have been mountain-related. I’m so lucky to live within an hour of the mountain roads and fresh air. We have a family cabin on one of the passes, and the drive up there is gorgeous.

We recently went up there to celebrate Thanksgiving, and the evening drive was spectacular. There was the faintest chill in the air, which made the light moisture on the roads start to freeze, causing a wonderful sparkling effect when our headlights hit the newly formed frost. Not only that, but the local radio station had just switched from general music to Christmas music, and the car was toasty and warm. Talk about an oddly magical drive and wonderful anticipation for a family-filled, country-cabin Thanksgiving.

These are the kinds of moments when you just look at the beauty and enjoy the ride that can really combat stress.

I used to make the same drive to Central Washington University every day for 4 years while I was getting my degree. I started off loathing the drive, but eventually the drive to Ellensburg and back became a solace for me.

I used the drive to school to really ramp up and plan what I was going to do with my day, how I was going to study, or what resources or help I was going to seek out while I was there. (I was and am still horrible with math.)

I used the drive home to really come back down from the stress of school, and by the time I got back to town, I was relaxed and ready for what the rest of the day held. I also sing in the car to combat stress, and there was a lot of singing in those days.

I know this may be an odd way to deal with stress, but you never know what might work and help relieve the tensions of life. Go ahead, take a drive, and even sing at the tops of your lungs. It helps!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

Finding Hidden Treasure

Long View: Finding Hidden Treasure

Recently, my husband and I attended a community meeting at one of our local libraries. Across the hall from the meeting, there’s a bookstore. Usually when I visit this library, the bookstore is closed. But this day, it was open, so my husband and I decided to peruse. What we thought would be a brief visit turned into an adventure.

The bookstore had a lot of friendly finds, from used books to magazines, videos, and gifts, all of which had been donated and were available for low prices. It had long rows of shelves hidden behind the walls of the library’s lower level. I felt like I was going through rarely traveled tunnels to find hidden treasures, like Indiana Jones in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There were books on just about every topic you could imagine. Not only were there printed books, but there were also audio books, large print books, and books in Braille.

The most memorable books my husband and I bought were about finance, agriculture, church hats, and dinosaurs.

The dinosaur book is this gigantic oversized book with vibrant, full-color drawings of every kind of known dinosaur. We didn’t see this book in the display window until we passed it on the way out the door. My 2 young boys are so fascinated with dinosaurs that we just had to go back in and buy it.

This newfound treasure was too good to keep to ourselves. My husband read it to my sons’ entire daycare class. It was so worth it to see their eyes light up on their little faces. Oh, the joy of finding hidden treasures!

Since my last visit to the library, I’ve learned there’s a whole week dedicated to libraries. National Library Week is each year in April, generally the second full week. This year, it’s April 8-14. It’s a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This is also the perfect time for us to plan another expedition to the library. We may even take the children with us this time to find some treasures of their own.

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.

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.