Tag Archives: Vantage Point

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.

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.

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.

Purposeful Connections

Vantage Point: Purposeful Connections

Everyone knows that February is the month of love. It’s the month with the holiday where we buy our loved ones candy, flowers, a card, and maybe even dinner as a token of our love for them. We purposefully connect.

With that being said, how much time do we really spend purposefully connecting with the people around us, including loved ones, outside of designated holidays?

Technology has really enhanced our social connections with those far away, but in my opinion, it may be hampering our social connections with those close to us. What would happen if we took the time to connect to the people in our lives, no matter the day or relation?

If you want to connect to those in your life more, these are my ideas to get started:

  1. Call (yes, actually call) a friend or family member that may have moved away or who you haven’t talked to in a while, and start up a conversation. If the conversation sparks that I’ve-really-missed-this-person feeling for you, maybe invite them to something, like coffee.

  2. Give a compliment to someone, and really mean it! Plus, don’t forget to smile. If you want extra credit, maybe leave a nice note for your loved one where they will see it. No texts, actual paper and a pen.

  3. Limit technology time. I know this is a popular suggestion, but maybe just limiting the times that family can be on their phones, tablets, or video games, or even limiting phone usage while out at dinner will help.

And if you’re looking to make more meaningful social connections, volunteering in the community might be a good idea. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, all while giving back. The Harman Center is always looking for volunteers. Contact them at 509-575-6166 for more information.

This isn’t a be-all-end-all list, but it’s a list to get your creative ideas going. What are other ways that you can connect with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers? Someone in your life or community might really benefit from a kind smile and a sincere compliment. You never know what people are going through.

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.

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.

Making Holiday Memories Together

Vantage Point: Making Precious Holiday Memories

Holiday memories can be such a precious thing for so many people. I have fun and fond memories of numerous holiday eves and mornings with my family. When I was growing up, the night before a holiday consisted of sharing the holiday evening at a relative’s house, surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and maybe other family members, if they were able to attend.

When a holiday eve memory conversation starts up, we still to this day like to remind our parents how us 2 older kids (my cousin and myself) were always last to open presents, and how much we objected to that rule.

My holiday memories, however, are an ‘80s throwback when I recall them. I would often wake up before my parents (Hello! What kid didn’t do that!?), and spy on all my presents. I would then run into their room and wake them up, bursting with anticipation because I couldn’t wait to open my presents. This gleeful anticipation then turned into longing as I waited for my dad to put together “The Camera.”

“The Camera” was the typical, large and in charge, RCA camera of the ‘80s. We are talking VHS recording here. It often reminded me of a news camera, complete with the giant, blinding light. It seemed like it would take my dad literally forever to set this up in order to film my holiday morning memories.

My mother would finally call my name, after waiting what seemed like forever, and I had to play it like I had just woken up to a holiday present wonderland. (And like the camera had been placed there, all put together, from Santa himself…) So not only did I get to open presents (Finally!), but I also got this great memory of the most ‘80s camera, which we still laugh about.

Memories are so individualized to us, and not everyone has the same experience. This time of year, it’s important to look out for those who need a helping hand when resources may be tight and food insecurity is high.

There are food programs available in the area for seniors here in the Yakima Valley, such as Meals on Wheels. They have many site locations throughout the Valley. You can help give the gift of great holiday memories.

The holidays make me want to share my memories of holiday fun with family, snow, presents, and a large camera with a bright, white light that could probably land planes in our living room if we tried. I know that it’s a rather odd and really random memory, but it’s my family’s, and I still giggle over it to this day.

Now that I have kids, I hope that their memories are as fun and silly and original as mine, and that they look back on them with fondness. What fun holiday memories have you made or would like to make in the future?

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.

Change in the Air

Vantage Point: Change Is Near

As our days get shorter, our nights get longer, the temperature drops, and the cool crisp air hits our faces, we know winter is approaching. It’s also a reminder that the year is about to end, and a busy time is coming.

Our grocery lists start to get longer as we start preparing for Thanksgiving. We begin our research for recipes to outdo our dessert from last year. Then, we gather with our family and friends, share what we’re all thankful for, and of course, enjoy a delicious meal.

I personally start to reflect on the year I’ve had. Was this a good year? What would I do differently? Did my health change? Do I need to look at my coverage?

As you all know, we’re in the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is the time for you to reassess what type of coverage you might need for the upcoming year.

In September and October, Medicare beneficiaries’ mailboxes were full of marketing materials from many different insurance companies. So much information is provided that it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s coming in. Each company has different prices, networks, copays, and perks.

It’s hard to handle all of this alone. Your family might be able to try to help sort everything out, but even then, it is a hard task to take on without any background knowledge. You want to make sure you’re making the right decision for the year ahead and that you’re not missing out on the perfect plan for yourself. Who should you turn to?

Luckily, Health Alliance Northwest has a local office in Wenatchee with a staff ready to assist current or future members. Our local office is a great asset to our community. We know insurance is already hard, and getting help over the phone can be an added barrier. We’re able to sit down with you and your family to answer and explain any questions you might have.

Our Wenatchee office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and no appointment is needed to sit down with our representatives. We want to help educate you, put you at ease before the holidays begin, and make sure you’re ready for a new year.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in 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.