Did You Know…

…about these refrigerator facts? Following a few of these tips can help you save some money in utility bills and be more energy efficient.

These are a few solutions and remedies for the pests that visit your home, published in the book Who knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems.

  1. Make sure you don’t have any open containers with liquid inside your fridge. This is because to help cool your foods, energy is used to reduce the humidity inside the fridge. So if you have pitchers, bowls, or any other containers with liquid inside, make sure they are sealed tightly. In addition, wait until your foods and liquids are cooled to room temperature before putting them inside. You will force your refrigerator to use extra energy if you put hot or even warm foods inside.
  2. If your refrigerator is over several years old, it’s possible that the rubber lining around the door (also called the gasket) is coming loose. If it is loose, there could be some cold air leaking from your fridge, which can cause it to work harder. You can perform a few tests to see if your fridge door has a leak. One method is to put a battery-operated lamp or flashlight inside the fridge. Turn off the lights in your kitchen, and if you see any light coming from the door, that’s where the cold air might be leaking. If you find a leak, you can try to re-glue your gasket or buy a new one to replace it.
  3. The more items you have inside your freezer, the more energy efficient it becomes. If you don’t store much in your freezer or if you are running low on items, you can simply fill empty cartons or bottles with water and put them in as space holders.
  4. No one likes to clean the drawers, especially if there’s old vegetables and fruits in it. One easy solution is to always have them lined with either newspaper, magazine pages, or even bubble wrap. Newspaper will keep your vegetables from getting too moist and bubble wrap will prevent your food from getting bruised. So even if you end up with old foods in the drawers, you can just throw everything out along with the lining for easy cleaning!

Source: Who knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems by Bruce Lubin & Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin

Educate Yourself and Protect Your Identity

We’ve all heard of the news about Equifax and the astonishing number of 143 million individuals whose personal information may have been stolen by hackers. With so many media outlets providing coverage on this issue, it’s hard not to panic and worry about whether you are one of the victims. Since we have been let down Equifax and its security systems, we are now the ones to bear the burden of protecting ourselves from identity theft. Even if you feel that your information has not been compromised, you need to proceed as if you are one of the victims.

The most important thing you need to do is to educate yourself on what is happening, what are the implications, what to look out for, and what actions you need to take. You need to be aware of the gravity of this situation and know how this can potentially affect your life. There are dozens of articles being published by the hour on this issue. Reading even one article will give you a better knowledge on what you need to do to protect yourself.

As terrible as this is already, there are scammers out there who would use this opportunity to try to deceive people into give out their personal information. For example, if you receive any calls or emails from someone claiming to be from Equifax, do not release any of your personal information. Check the scam or fraud alerts online and educate yourself on the existing and new scams.

There are many different things you can do to protect your identity, but it’s ultimately up to you to take action. The following are links to some articles and resources you can use to protect yourself now and in the future.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-equifax-credit-freeze-20170913-story.html

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/09/heres_what_not_to_do_after_the.html

http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/13/after-the-equifax-hack-should-you-freeze-your-credit/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Are You Prepared to Evacuate?

Millions of people have been affected by the natural disasters that occurred recently. The hurricanes and earthquake have destroyed countless homes, buildings, and even took the lives of innocent people. As residents of California, we do not have to worry about hurricanes, but we do have other natural disasters to fear, such as earthquakes and wildfires.

Ask yourself: if a mandatory evacuation was ordered in your area, are you ready to leave? Do you know who to call? Do you know what to take? Do you know where to go? Depending on the situation or the type of natural disaster, you may only get a moment’s notice before you need to evacuate your home.

As the news broadcasts and headlines have portrayed, millions of people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, which has caused panic, stress, traffic, and a shortage of many necessities such as food, water, and gas. As a Californian, even if you cannot fathom the idea of being in a similar situation, you need to be prepared so that you are not completely helpless if a disaster strikes.

Articles published by AARP and the Los Angeles Times will give you some ideas on how to prepare for an emergency. It is an extremely good investment to buy a fire-proof lock box to keep important documents, such as copies of driver’s license, passport/green card/visa, Social Security card, any insurance papers, credit cards, medical prescriptions, birth/marriage certificates, and some cash. You should keep this box somewhere hidden, but also in a convenient place to grab and go when needed. Along with this box, you should have a bag or a backpack with a few necessities, such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, non-perishable food, bottles of water, change of clothes, and any medication you take should also be organized and within reach.

Being prepared to evacuate can be more complex and difficult if you have kids or pets, have a disability, or have no means of transportation. Make sure you take a few minutes to think about how you will save your kids and pets. What will you pack for them? Do they have any special needs that require your attention? If you have a disability or have no means of transportation and you are living alone, you should take this opportunity to speak to your family, friends, or neighbors about an evacuation plan.

Make sure to read the full articles published by AARP and the Los Angeles Times to get more ideas on being prepared for an emergency.

Resources: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2016/hurricane-survival-preparedness-tips.html?intcmp=AE-HP-FLXSLDR-SLIDE1-RL2

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-emergency-supplies-20170908-story.html

Mosquitoes & West Nile Virus

Earlier in August, there were a few articles published by the Orange County Register stating that a few cities had mosquitoes that were infected with the West Nile Virus – these cities included Costa mesa and La Habra. There was one woman in Laguna Beach who tested positive for this virus, which was the first case to be reported in 2017.

According to the Los Angeles Times, as of September 1st, there have been three people who passed away from the West Nile virus. According to the California health officials, these three individuals lived in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties. There were 19 people in California who died from the virus in 2016.

The West Nile virus exists mostly in birds, but mosquitoes can be infected when biting them. Thus, people who get bitten by the infected mosquitoes will carry the disease. Everyone should be wary of the West Nile season, which usually starts during the summer and ends during fall season. The Department of Public Health has stated that it is a deadly disease and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

Most people don’t realize that they are being bitten by a mosquito until after it happens. If you are out camping or have a mosquito in your home, it can even bite you in your sleep without you knowing. The article states that most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito won’t notice any symptoms, but a small number of them can develop encephalitis or meningitis that can be fatal.

The health officials are recommending that people wear insect repellent and try to cover as much skin as possible when going outside, especially during dawn and dusk. It is also recommended that people drain any water from flower pots or buckets so that mosquitoes won’t be able to lay eggs.

Visit the following links to read more about the West Nile virus, and remember to alert your neighbors and friends to spread awareness.

Resources: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-west-nile-20170901-story.html

https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

Loneliness: A Big Issue for Seniors

Many seniors and older adults feel disconnected from society and lose relationships as they get older. There are several of reasons for isolation in the lives of seniors. For example, retired individuals and couples can choose to move into a senior-only community, but their new home is little ways from their children and friends, thus getting less visitors throughout the years.

According to an article by AARP, a study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that about 43% of adults older than 65 felt lonely. The article quotes other studies that prove that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious health issues, and even increase the risk of mortality. For example, there are instances where after one of the elderly couple passes away, the other one “follows” and passes too.

The article also quotes the director of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive & Social Neurosciences, who stated that loneliness is not a permanent feeling, and should be treated like physical pain or hunger. By viewing loneliness as a temporary state of mind, seniors can “treat themselves” by being proactive in their daily lives to maintain old relationships and establish new ones.

If you are a senior and are looking for ways to reconnect with society, consider the following ideas: visit or volunteer at your local community centers (senior center, animal shelter, youth center, public library, etc.), reconnect with your old friends or coworkers, or reach out to your neighbors and (extended) family. Interacting with others will give you a sense of presence in your community, and can lead to the establishment of meaningful relationships. Don’t hesitate to call your local office on aging to get more ideas on community activities and events.

If you know any seniors, whether they are your family, friends or neighbors, it helps to pay them a visit every now and then. Invite them over for tea or dinner, ask them to tell you their life stories, go on light walks, or even run errands together. Chances are, you will gain new knowledge and perspectives by spending time with seniors. Keep in mind that even small interactions or gestures can go a long way.

Reference: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/isolation-loneliness-impacts-seniors-fd.html

Phone Calls: Do you know who’s really calling?

If you pick up your phone from an unknown number often, chances are, you have been contacted by some type of scam or sales call. It’s easy to hang up when it’s a pre-recorded message, but what do you do when the person on the other line is claiming to be calling from the IRS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or Medicare? What if they are calling from a well-known charity, such as Make-a-Wish? Your first instinct won’t be to hang up right away, so you might stay on the line to hear what they have to say. It may be harmless to do so, but what do you do when they say that you have a payment due, or asks for your Social Security number? You might feel pressured to give out your information, but always remember that scammers try to get your money in the quickest way possible. No one from the government, a charity organization, or even a tech support company should be calling you first and asking for your payment or any other personal information. In addition, if a caller says that he or she is simply calling to confirm your name and address – hang up immediately. These types of calls can come from a live phone operator or a recorded message to confirm your personal information.

Make sure to visit The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog page to read about the recent scam alerts. The following are a few tips from the FTC blog to keep in mind when you receive unknown phone calls.

  • The federal government would contact you by US Mail, not by phone or email first.
  • Federal agencies would not ask or demand your personal information over the phone.
  • Scammers may threaten you to give up a payment information to pressure you.
  • Do not trust a caller who asks for your bank account information or asks to wire money over the phone.
  • Free prize or winner? It’s a scam.
  • Hang up immediately if someone is calling to “just to confirm” personal information. Just because they recite your name and address, doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.

Reference: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

What’s in Your Wallet?

If you have a Medicare card in your wallet, you should think about making a copy of it and carrying that instead. Your Medicare account number is your Social Security number, so you are at risk of identity theft if it is found or taken by someone malicious. But of course, you need to carry your Medicare card because the ID serves as the proof of insurance. In order to protect your identity, you must make a photocopy of your Medicare card and black out or cut out the last four digits of the ID numbers. This way, if you need to use your Medicare card, you can give them the photo copy and provide them with the last four digits verbally (if able). According to AARP, the one or two additional letters or numbers after your SSN/ID is used to identify the type of beneficiary you are. But they have stated that it does not matter if you leave in or decide to remove those ending letters and numbers on your photocopy of the card.

If you have any credit cards, debit cards, licenses, etc., you should also think about making photocopies of them, and keeping those copies at home. It helps to write down the phone numbers you need to call in case you misplace the cards or if they are stolen. In addition, you should go through your wallet and see what you are carrying around every day. Chances are, you don’t need to be carrying all the cards in your wallet. It helps to have an organized wallet and an organized record of your photocopies, so that you know what to do if you misplace them or if they are stolen.

Resources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-leave-home-without-this-card/2016/01/14/cd01e808-b576-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html?utm_term=.b03f139c3e41

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-copy-this-to-cut-down-theft/2016/02/12/a659a534-cb7d-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html?utm_term=.5b61b937a7f0

http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-07-2012/medicare-card-identity-theft.html

Sleep – It’s a Valuable Skill!

Whether you are working or retired, everyone needs sleep. Your mind and body need to rest and recuperate from the day before so that you can function well the next day. But chances are, you have experienced sleepless nights in your life from many different reasons and factors. If you have trouble sleeping, you could be changing a few things in your daily habits so that you can get better sleep. According to W. Chris Winter, M.D., sleeping is a skill that can be improved if you are not satisfied with the quality of your sleep. Here are the most common aspects of your life that could be affecting your sleep every night, according to an article written by Paula Spencer Scott:

  1. Too Much Stress — You could be causing unnecessary stress and anxiety to yourself by thinking too much about things that happened that day or anticipating what will happen the next day. Try to accept the fact that instead of worrying, you can try to get a good night’s sleep and deal with your problems the next day.
  2. Being Random — Your body will have a hard time keeping up if you don’t have a normal sleeping schedule. Instead of sleeping and waking up at different times every day, try to stick with a sleeping schedule that you’re comfortable with. The article states that adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and you probably already know if your body prefers more or less hours in that range. The key is to be consistent.
  3. Not Comfortable Enough — How many years have you had your mattress or pillows? How about your sheets and blankets? What are you wearing to sleep? Maybe it’s time to explore how comfortable you are with your arrangements.
  4. Pet Disturbance — Sometimes our beloved animal companions can be a little too disturbing at night. The author of the article reminds us that dogs have different sleeping cycles than humans, so they are likely to move around while you’re sleeping.
  5. Too Much Light — You probably already turn off your lights when you go to sleep, but do you turn off all your technology? There could be light coming from the television, computer, phone, printer, etc., which can ultimately bother your sleep. In addition, close your blinds or curtains if you have strong moonlight coming through your window.
  6. Overthinking — I’m sure we have all done this: thinking about not getting enough sleep. The article states that this is a problem that builds upon itself. Thinking too much about whether you will fall asleep or get enough hours adds to your stress and anxiety. Do yourself a favor and think pleasant thoughts, and remind yourself that simply resting in bed is beneficial to your body.

There are more pointers and suggestions that Paula Spencer Scott notes on her article. Make sure to visit the link below to read her full article on sleeping.

Resources: https://parade.com/555676/paulaspencer/sleep-youre-doing-it-wrong/

Total Eclipse in 2017!

The first total solar eclipse in the 21st century to pass over the United States is going to occur this year! It isn’t too late to plan a getaway trip so you can experience this marvelous event. The total eclipse will happen on Monday, August 21, where several states will experience darkness for a few minutes. The path of totality will begin in Oregon and move its way down diagonally through the United States, through parts of South Carolina.

People on Earth have witnessed eclipses for centuries, but they were not always enjoyed and appreciated. Many ancient civilizations believed that a solar eclipse was a sign that something terrible might happen. There were civilizations that firmly believed that the sun was being attacked or threatened, so they performed special rituals until they saw the sun was “restored.”

It wasn’t until around 500 B.C. when scientists were able to predict the solar eclipses. And scientists today are able to predict not just which cities will see the total eclipse, but at what time and the exact duration of the total eclipse.

Make sure to visit the 2017 Eclipse website linked below to see which cities in the United States will be in the path of totality.

http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/path_through_the_US.htm

http://www.windows2universe.org/sun/atmosphere/eclipse_history.html

Did You Know…

…That local hospitals provide free educational programs? The topics covered in these programs include maternity, parenthood, cancer support, personal wellness and health, and many more. Most of these classes require registration beforehand by phone or via their website, and they also offer classes that are more than informational, thus require you to pay a fee upon registering. And depending on the hospital, there are even programs that are offered in Spanish.

If you are interested in attending a free program, make sure to call your local hospital or visit their website to see what type of classes are offered. Below are links to a few hospitals in the MHET area.

Orange County:

http://www.mission4health.com/Patients-Visitors/For-Patients/Classes-Events.aspx

Riverside County:

https://riversidecommunityhospital.secure.ehc.com/calendar/index.dot

San Bernardino County:

http://www.dignityhealth.org/san-bernardino/classes-and-events