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by Joyia Emard

There’s a story many seniors in America aren’t telling. After a lifetime of work, of raising families, and contributing to history, you may be surprised at what’s in store this year for seniors you know. One in four of them will suffer a fall.[1] For many of them, the fall won’t be serious. But for many more, it will be. The number of American seniors who die from falling accidents has risen sharply.

You may be wondering if the upward trend in falling accidents has something to do with the upward trend in the senior population. After all, we are living somewhat longer, and we are living in the midst of an aging baby boom generation, so with more American seniors there would logically be more falling accidents. But in the same study, the CDC corrected for the population growth in American seniors and found the number of deaths from falling rose a shocking 31% between 2007 and 2016.

“Deaths from unintentional injuries are the seventh leading cause of death among older adults, and falls account for the largest percentage of those deaths,” says the CDC report.

If the trend holds, 30,000 seniors are expected to die as a result of falling this year. Emergency rooms will see 3 million visits for fall-related injuries. And the CDC has named California as one of 30 states that saw a significant rise in mortality rates from falling.

Are we trying to scare you? Maybe a little. But that’s because there is something you can do to reverse this trend. The National Council on Aging[2] urges seniors to do a few, simple things to help make certain they don’t become part of the falling-injury statistics.

A balance and exercise program is key. A licensed physical therapist can be especially effective at decreasing a senior’s risk of falling by recommending a program to help maintain balance, strength and flexibility. Licensed occupational therapists approach the problem of falling with a deep understanding of how seniors interact with their environments, suggesting strategies to make those day-to-day interactions safer.  A doctor of osteopathic medicine, naturopathic doctor, medical doctor or adult-gerontology nurse practitioner is also a great resource for assessing the risk that a senior might fall. Evidence suggests a multi-pronged approach to the problem of falling accidents is most effective.

Make certain medications are managed. A senior’s primary care provider can help with this too. Along with a pharmacist, make certain these licensed professionals are reviewing the medications a senior takes and looking for any medication, or combination of medications, that can increase the risk of a fall.

Insist on annual vision and hearing tests. Our eyes and ears are crucial to our balance. So making certain both are in good shape, and corrected when they aren’t, is a good way to reduce the risk of falling. Speak to a licensed eye-care professional or audiologist about your concerns.

Safety starts at home. A senior’s living space should be designed with fall prevention in mind. Identify and remove all tripping hazards. Look for places where grab-bars and additional lighting might be useful, like on stairs and in the bathroom. If those things are missing, a licensed contractor can get them installed, and make certain they’ll work if they’re ever needed.

By taking these few preventative measures,  you can help move this trend in the right direction.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Deaths from Falls Among Persons Aged ≥65 – United Sates, 2007-2016” May 11, 2018. Elizabeth Burns and Ramakrishna Kakara.  https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6718a1.htm

[2] National Council on Aging “6 Steps to Prevent a Fall” accessed December 9, 2019. https://bit.ly/358Gzvb

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The Internet of things. Maybe that’s not a phrase you’re familiar with, but you’re likely very familiar with what it describes. Your phone, your television, any smart device at all- all these things are networked together to empower and convenience you in the Internet of things.

And coming soon: your car.

Most drivers already know that if their car is on, its collecting data. Maintenance issues, mileage, even panic braking or exceeding the speed limit, may be noted and remembered by your vehicle’s “brain.” In its most basic application, this data collection is how your car lets you know with a light on the dashboard that the air pressure in your tires is low or how many miles you have left until you’re out of gas.

But before long, that data collection won’t be staying local. In fact, it’s already happening. And by the year 2022, you’ll be hard pressed to find a new car that isn’t transmitting your data, wirelessly, to the people who built your car. By 2030, according to a recent article in Consumer Reports, the automotive data industry will be a $450 billion to $750 billion industry.

Why does it matter? Let’s look at all the good that data can do. From up-to-the-second, hyper accurate maps of roads and highways across the country and expedited emergency services on those roads, to onboard entertainment and the ability to pay for gas without having to swipe your card at the pump, car connectivity has the potential to make the motorist experience more comfortable, convenient and safe. What’s more, the road to a driverless car revolution will necessarily be paved with automotive data.

Meanwhile, privacy advocates warn of the potential downside. Could insurance companies use this data to justify raising premiums or denying claims? Could law enforcement use it as an end-around to the requirement for a warrant for certain types of surveillance? Could an ex-spouse use it to track the movements of their former wife or husband in a car they purchased together before they split?

In 2014, 20 major automakers signed-on to a pledge to uphold privacy principles regarding driver data. They agreed to tell customers voluntarily how their information is collected and used, and to forego using that data as a marketing tool.

None-the-less, independent repair shops are raising red flags. Today in California, you have a lot of flexibility in choosing a Bureau of Automotive Repair licensed mechanic to get your car fixed. Maybe you prefer to take your car back to the dealer for service. Maybe you prefer an independent mechanic. Either one will plug into the car’s data collection system and gather information they need to diagnose and repair a problem. But once instantaneous, wireless communications become the standard, it could lead to a manufacturer monopoly on driver data, and some independents fear they may be squeezed-out, without direct access to all the useful information.

The backdrop to this evolving technological landscape is an evolving legal one. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), set to go into effect on January 1, is designed to expand the control consumers have over their data. The specifics are still being hammered-out, with stakeholders from insurance companies to auto manufacturers to privacy advocates all lobbying over the specific language in the CCPA regarding automotive data.

Stay tuned…

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mattress onlyLooking to get rid of an old mattress but not sure how? Whatever you do, don’t just dump it.

Dumping a mattress on the street, in an alley or even a dumpster isn’t just an eyesore, it’s illegal, too, and can result in hefty fines—as much as $10,000—and/or jail time.

There are alternatives.

Bye Bye Mattress offers consumers several options to discard their unwanted mattresses. Bye Bye Mattress is a program of the Mattress Recycling Council. It was created by the International Sleep Products Association to develop and implement mattress recycling programs for states such as California, Connecticut and Rhode Island which have all enacted mattress recycling laws. You can log on to https://byebyemattress.com/ to find a mattress collection site, recycling facility, or collection event near you.

WHY RECYCLE?

When you consider nearly 50,000 mattresses are tossed into landfills every day in America, that adds up to a lot of garbage. Plus, most of the materials that mattresses are made of, such as synthetic fabrics, foams, and metals, can take forever to break down, which ultimately can harm the environment. Almost 80 to 90%  of these materials can be recycled.

USES FOR RECYCLED MATTRESSES:

  • Foams And Plastics: They can be washed, shredded, processed, and recycled for applications like carpet padding.
  • Cotton Flock And Wool: These materials can be cleaned, processed, and used as yarn or recycled textiles.
  •  Lower Grade Fabrics: These are often processed and sold for use in vehicle matting and interiors.
  •  Metals: They are taken from the frames and springs and are melted and used in several alternative    products.
  •  Wood: It can be chipped and used as mulch or burned as fuel.

There are other eco-friendly ways to dispose of a mattress. If you’re buying a new one, most retailers are required to offer the option to pick up your old mattress when delivering it to you at no additional cost. In addition, some thrift stores accept gently used mattresses and may offer free pick-up.

If you live throughout Sacramento, California, there are several locations that will accept your mattresses at no charge for recycling.

Here are some additional Sacramento area mattress recycling centers:

NORTH AREA RECOVERY STATION (NARS)

4450 Roseville Road
North Highlands, CA 95660

VALLEY MATTRESS OUTLET:

4160 14th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95820

IMPERIAL MATTRESS S.P.M. INC:

3440 La Grande Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95823

YOLO COUNTY CENTRAL LANDFILL

(county residents only)

44090 County Road 28H
Woodland, CA 95776

FLORIN PERKINS PUBLIC DISPOSAL SITE

4201 Florin Perkins Road
Sacramento, CA 95826

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this article is reprinted, with permission, from the City of Elk Grove Newsletter.

 

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Getting your hair styled for the holidays? How about getting a perm? That’s right, the perm is back! Before you squirm thinking about the smell of rotten eggs and frizzy hair from the 80’s and 90’s, consider these upgrades. This old trend took a ride on a big wave for a hair-raising comeback.

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carforblogfinal

Winter is here.  Is your car ready for the hazardous driving conditions that it brings?  Now’s the time to get your vehicle in tip-top shape and make sure it can brave the harsh wintry elements.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, bad weather—excessive fog, rain, ice and snow, contributes to nearly half a million crashes and more than two thousand road deaths every winter.

Here are some tips to help prepare your car for winter and make driving much easier and safer.

  • READ YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL— Ensure your vehicle is up-to-date on the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance and service schedule.
  • CHECK YOUR FLUIDS—Although this should be part of your regular vehicle maintenance, it’s also a good idea to check/top off or change the oil, brake, antifreeze, power steering, and transmission fluids.
  • BRAKE IT DOWN—Are your brake pads worn? If so, don’t wait to get them checked. Have your brakes inspected for wear according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications by a licensed automotive repair dealer.
  • SLOW YOUR ROLL—Nothing will give you more peace of mind while driving on slick winter roads than having good quality tires on your vehicle. Ensure they are properly inflated, rotated, and check for excessive tread wear. Consider winter/all-season tires for extra traction or bring snow chains with you if there is a chance of encountering snowy or icy road conditions.
  • CHECK YOUR HEATER AND DEFROSTER—With the weather so frightful, keeping warm will feel delightful providing your heater is working properly. Plus, if your defroster is operable it will keep your windshield clear and enhance your visibility.
  • LIGHTS—Test your car’s interior and exterior lights, including your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, to make sure they work.
  • CLEAN AND TREAT YOUR DOORS—Cold weather can sometimes make car doors stick. As a preventative measure, you can purchase an oil lubricant and rub around the door edges as well as the hood and trunk too.
  • CHANGE YOUR WIPER BLADES– The sizzling summer sun can wreak havoc on wiper blades and cause them to split and crack.  It’s a good idea to replace your wiper blades regularly for optimal performance.
  • GET A VEHICLE SAFETY KIT–Most auto parts and hardware stores have winter emergency safety kits. They usually contain jumper cables, orange cones, emergency blankets, bungee cord/zip ties, gloves, a small scraper, a multi-tool, cloths, flares and more.

Remember, it’s important to keep your car in excellent condition year-round.  But, if you aren’t a do-it-yourself-type of person, take your vehicle to a trusted and licensed automotive repair dealer to have it fully inspected.  To check the license of an automotive repair dealer, visit the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s website at www.bar.ca.gov.

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When you need help with a medical problem, it’s important that you find the right doctor. When you need help with a doctor, it’s important you find the right board at the Department of Consumer Affairs.

In the State of California, if you have a complaint involving a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, a D.O., you should file that complaint with Osteopathic Medical Board of California. That’s a different board than the one that investigates complaints against Medical Doctors, or M.D.s. A complaint against a medical doctor should be made to the Medical Board of California.

Confusing the two different boards is a mistake scores of consumers are making. If you file a complaint with the wrong board at the Department of Consumer Affairs, we’ll do our best to make certain it gets in front of the right people. But that may mean your issue won’t be addressed as quickly as possible.

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The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, throws some attitude at you in the store, or berates you for your political views, your gut reaction may be to throw the anger right back in their face. It doesn’t take much thought, and some say it’s an easy way out. However, the feelings inside your body are much more complicated and could have lifelong effects. Just as with anger, kindness can be contagious. Physical reactions stemming from kindness are easier on your blood pressure.

Fortunately, there’s a new program at UCLA that can help communities focus on mindfulness to bring more peace. Professors in the field of social sciences at UCLA’s Bedari Kindness Institute will research kind gestures and create real-world opportunities that can empower citizens to build more humane societies.

“Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us,” said Matthew Harris, co-founder of the Bedari Kindness Institute and UCLA alumni.

As politics and violence deepen the divide among people, the university’s new program will take a collaborative approach to understanding kindness. Professors will research actions, thoughts, feelings, and social interactions to educate communities about kindness.

“The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will bring the best thinking to this vital issue and, I think, will allow us to have a real social impact on future generations,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

Mastering the art of kindness requires a hard work ethic and can improve your physical and mental health. Strong feelings of negativity can do a number on your body. They can wear on internal organs and cause depression and anxiety. Learning the practice of mindfulness is a good start to a healthier you and a healthier community. Making a conscious effort to think maybe that person who cut you off is rushing to a sick child, or the grocery store employee is having a bad day. If you’re a few clicks to the left, a few clicks to the right or somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum, take your opponent with the beef out to lunch (that’s the better kind of beef anyway). Flash that person who’s not happy with you a genuine smile. Doing so will not only help your mental health, your kindness will spread from person to person, according to scientists.

“Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world,” said Harris who, along with his wife Jennifer, donated $20 million to launch the institute.

As the old adage goes, you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

If you are interested in seeing a mental health professional, you can check their license to make sure it is valid by visiting the California Board of Psychology or the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

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The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) recently hosted visitors from the Korean Transportation Safety Authority for a frank conversation about smog.

For Peel by DCA coverage of the visit, check out the video below.

South Korea’s emissions program for light-duty vehicles is based on California’s Smog Check system, and as their programs expand they continue looking to California as a model. Bureau of Automotive Repair Chief Patrick Dorais says the Bureau gets lots of interest, both nationally and internationally, from governments wanting to model their emissions programs on what’s happening here.

“It’s really amazing to me that a program that affects so many people in California can actually make a difference in our global air quality problem,” Dorais said.

In the video above, you’ll see experts demonstrating Smog Check technology, how bad actors might try to cheat that technology, and how BAR catches them.

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Turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, pie and other side dishes

Hungry yet?

Turkey TV aficionados may recall a scene from a 2001 episode of The West Wing where fictional US President Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, calls the Butterball Hotline in an attempt to settle a disagreement with a member of his staff over whether stuffing can be safely cooked inside a turkey or if it’s a recipe for a food-borne illness disaster: “If I cook it inside the turkey,” an exasperated Bartlet asks the hotline operator, “is there a chance I could kill my guests? I’m not saying that’s necessarily a deal breaker.”

It’s not just funny scripted television. Cooking stuffing inside your turkey can be dangerous if you don’t do it the right way. If you cook stuffing inside the turkey, use a food thermometer to ensure the center of the stuffing reaches a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if the turkey itself has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured in the innermost part of the thigh, the wing and the thickest part of the breast, the stuffing may not have reached a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that may be present. If your stuffing contains ingredients that require a higher safe temperature, such as sausage or oysters, cook those ingredients separately ahead of time.

To keep your Thanksgiving guests happy and healthy, check out these five tips for a food safe Thanksgiving, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Tip 1: Don’t wash your turkey. Washing raw meat and poultry can spread bacteria around to other food preparation surfaces up to three feet away. Cooking the turkey to the right temperature will kill any bacteria, meaning washing the turkey is unnecessary.

Tip 2: Use the refrigerator, the cold-water method or the microwave to defrost a frozen turkey. Thawing the turkey in the refrigerator is the safest method because it will defrost at a consistent, safe temperature. It will take approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight for a turkey to thaw in the refrigerator – so if you’re working with a 20-pound bird, you’ll want to move it from the freezer to the fridge four of five days prior to cooking.

To thaw in cold water, submerge the turkey in its original wrapper in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and never use hot or warm water as it will promote bacteria growth.

Refer to your microwave’s owner’s manual for instructions on microwave defrosting.

Tip 3: A food thermometer is your friend. The best way to determine if your turkey is fully cooked but not overdone is to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer. Your thermometer should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast, innermost part of the wing, and innermost part of the thigh.

Tip 4: Don’t store food outside, even if it’s cold. It’s unlikely this will be a White Thanksgiving for many places in California, but, even with snow on the ground, it’s not a good idea to store food outside. A plastic food storage container in the sun can heat up to temperatures that promote bacterial growth, and animals can get into food stored outside, consuming or contaminating it. If refrigerator space is at a premium, use a cooler with ice to keep extra food at a safe temperature, under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tip 5: Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for up to four days. Leftovers should be refrigerated within 2 hours of coming out of the oven and will last for four days in the refrigerator. If you know you won’t use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within four months. Beyond that, the leftovers will still be safe, but can dry out or lose flavor.

There are no statistics on food-related illnesses stemming from Thanksgiving dinner, but the USDA estimates that 1 in 6 Americans – nearly 55 million people! – suffer from a food-borne illness each year. If the worst happens to you, contact your doctor if you show signs of dehydration or if symptoms persist for more than a few days. You can check to make sure your doctor is licensed at the websites for the Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.

For more information, visit the USDA’s Thanksgiving food safety page.

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Reprinted with permission from CoveredCA

Open enrollment for 2020 is underway, and more Californians than ever before are eligible for financial help for their health insurance.

The reason is a new state subsidy program. It will help lower the cost of coverage for almost 1 million people, including for some middle-income Californians for the first time since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law in 2014.

“California is making coverage more affordable for low-income families, and we are making history by becoming the first state in the nation to provide financial help to middle-income people like small-businesses owners, early retirees and the self-employed,” Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “Whether you never thought you could get financial help, or you have checked before, you need to check again because there is new money available that may dramatically reduce the cost of your coverage.”

So far during open enrollment, eligible low-income consumers who qualified for a subsidy are receiving an average of $19 per month per household on top of any federal assistance they receive, while eligible middle-income Californians who have received a state subsidy are getting an average of $526 per month, per household.

Another big change for 2020 is the restoration of the individual mandate here in California. People who do not get covered could face a penalty administered by the Franchise Tax Board when they file their 2020 taxes in the spring of 2021. A family of four would pay at least a $2,000 penalty, and potentially more, for not having health insurance throughout 2020.

These two new state initiatives, the state subsidy program and the restoration of the individual mandate, are key elements in Covered California’s record-low 0.8 percent rate increase for the upcoming year.

Consumers will need to sign up by Dec. 15 [editor’s note: the deadline was extended to Dec. 20 following the publication of this post] in order to have their coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2020. Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can visit www.CoveredCA.com or get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller. They can also have a certified enroller call them and help them for free, or they can call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2020.

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