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by Joyia Emard


Aside from the cost, one of the biggest concerns many consumers have regarding their prescription medications is whether they are safe to take beyond the stamped expiration date.

According to a recent article in Harvard Medical School’s Health Publishing (December 13, 2019), in 1979, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) required expiration dates be issued on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. Yet, the expiration date doesn’t necessarily indicate a specific point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. However, there are some medicines you absolutely shouldn’t take beyond the manufacturer’s expiration dates. They include:

  • Tetracycline (an antibiotic that some researchers/scientists believe does lose its effectiveness after expiration)
  • Nitroglycerin (taken as heart medication)
  • Insulin
  • Liquid antibiotics

Storing your pills properly is one way to ensure that your prescriptions will remain safe and effective up to their expiration date. Some medicine must be stored away from light and in a cool setting. It’s a good idea to always read the label to see if there are specific storage instructions for your prescriptions.

Expired prescription drugs may show physical signs of discoloration and changes thus making the decision not to take them much easier.

When in doubt about any medications, it’s always best to talk with a licensed pharmacist and or doctor.  Verify that their state license is active and in good standing through the Department of Consumer Affairs website at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Also, if you’re looking to clean out your medicine cabinets and get rid of expired prescription medications, don’t just flush them down the drain. Log on to the California State Board of Pharmacy’s website here to find pharmacies that offer on-site collection bins and mail-back services as well as other information on how to safely dispose of all your unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

For more valuable information from the Board of Pharmacy, visit their website at  https://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/consumers/information.shtml   

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If you recently purchased a new or used vehicle that requires constant visits to the repair shop, and it’s still under the original manufacturer warranty, you may have a lemon. There are several steps you must follow to know for sure. Read the new updated guide to California’s Lemon Law by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program.



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To maintain a healthy body, medical professionals recommend a proper diet and exercise. But what about sleep? We spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping. Sleep is vital because it promotes healthy brain function and physical health while enhancing our quality of life and safety.

If you’ve ever awakened from a night of sleep and did not feel refreshed and alert, your body may not have received its required amount of sufficient sleep.

Sure, caffeinated beverages, energy drinks–and other legal stimulants–will take care of the sluggish feeling in the short-term, but sleep deprivation does not do a body good. Too many nights of inefficient sleep–not enough time spent sleeping, waking up often, or missing sleep altogether–can lead to sleep debt.

So, what is sleep debt? It is the negative cumulative effects that occur with chronic lack of sleep. Sleep debt limits a person’s ability to focus, adversely affects the immune system, causes moodiness, chronic fatigue, temporarily lowers testosterone levels in men, and can have an adverse effect on the waistline.

As little as five nights of poor sleep can wreak havoc on our hunger cues and metabolism. New research published in the Journal of Lipid Research suggests that the tendency to overeat increases when you are sleep deprived because you feel less satiated after consuming a meal and metabolism is adversely affected because your body’s ability to process fat is slowed, causing fat to be stored more easily.

Deficient sleep is also a major cause of automobile accidents. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation can impair the ability to drive a motor vehicle as much as, or more than, alcohol.

No amount of fame or money can shield one from the adverse effects of insufficient sleep. Even high caliber athletes of the National Basketball Association (NBA) are not immune. In October 2019, an NBA executive told ESPN that sleep deprivation is the league’s biggest issue without a solution.

What is the proper amount of sleep one should strive for?

The answer will vary because everyone’s body is unique and will respond to different amounts of sleep. Optimal sleep for an adult is between seven and nine consecutive hours per day. In a 2015 report, the National Sleep Foundation  identified the recommended number of sleep hours for individuals in every stage of life:

  • Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
  • Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
  • Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
  • Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
  • School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
  • Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours

Now that you know how long you should be sleeping, the next hurdle is how to get there.

To help you meet the recommended hours of sleep listed above, here are some healthy sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
  • Exercise daily
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound, and light
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine
  • Turn off electronics before bed

If good sleep eludes you, you might consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider who specializes in sleep medicine. Checking the license of a provider is easy when you use the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ license search tool. Visit search.dca.ca.gov.

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California’s Smog Check Program is an important part of the state’s efforts to improve the air we breathe. Smog Checks are designed to identify vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired or retired. For eligible consumers whose vehicles fail Smog Check, there’s help.

The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP), administered by DCA’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), is designed to help improve California’s air quality by offering eligible consumers two options—repair assistance and vehicle retirement. Participation in this first-come, first-served program is based on meeting eligibility requirements and the availability of funds each fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.

Repair assistance

Eligible consumers may receive up to $500 in emission-related repairs. To participate, consumers must meet specific income requirements (proof of household income may be required). The repairs must be performed at one of over 2,000 participating STAR test-and-repair stations statewide.

Vehicle retirement

Eligible consumers can receive a financial incentive to retire a vehicle from operation rather than repair it. Income-eligible consumers who meet program requirements may receive $1,500 (proof of household income must be provided). All other eligible consumers may receive $1,000. The vehicle must be retired at a BAR-contracted auto dismantler.

To review eligibility requirements for both CAP options and to apply online, visit  BAR’s website here or call (800) 952-5210 to request an application.

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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.


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.


  • 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:


4450 Roseville Road
North Highlands, CA 95660


4160 14th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95820


3440 La Grande Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95823


(county residents only)

44090 County Road 28H
Woodland, CA 95776


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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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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