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HEALTHY LIVING

3 tips for seeking health care

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(Family Features) As intently as ever, Americans may choose to weigh their options, read online reviews and shop around to ensure they are choosing the best product or service at the best price. Health care should not be any different. People want options for their health care, receiving personalized care at a reasonable price and at a location that is convenient and comfortable.

1. Shop around for health care

When people are not in an emergency situation, it is beneficial to shop around for the best price for health care services. Americans have a right to price transparency in health care, meaning they know the cost of services before receiving them. Hospitals operating in the United States are required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about the items and services they provide, so do not be afraid to ask for pricing information upfront.

According to a survey from LUGPA, the largest urology trade association in the United States, nearly one-third of older Americans worry they won’t get the care they need at a location they choose for a price they can afford. Their concern comes as no surprise since hospitals are usually more expensive than independent practices. Hospitals are increasingly combining into large hospital systems, which creates fewer choices where patients in a community can seek health care. This decrease in competition can often drive up the cost of care.

2. Consider independent practices

An independent medical practice is owned by health care providers who enjoy a greater level of control than physicians working for large health care systems. Physician-owned practices allow patients more choices for where they seek care, including specialty care. Independent practices are worth considering when shopping for care because these practices typically have a lower average cost per patient.

“Independent physicians work for patients,” said Jonathan Henderson, MD, president of LUGPA. “We often have patients we’ve known for decades, which establishes a relationship of trust. We discuss health decisions with patients based on what is in their best interests. We have no obligations to a hospital system. When needed, we can freely refer patients to other physicians who we expect to take the best care of our patients based on their individual needs.”

According to the survey, 65% of Americans trust independent physicians and associate them with more individualized and patient-focused care compared to physicians employed by hospitals. Physician-owned practices also provide a greater level of personalization and responsiveness, have fewer preventable hospital admissions and have lower readmission rates than larger, hospital-owned practices.

3. Ask if telehealth options are available

Patients should ensure they receive the highest quality care possible and at the location of their choice. Telehealth or telemedicine is typically done online through a computer or cell phone, allowing patients to receive care from a health care provider without an in-person office visit. Telehealth options can help increase access to care by enabling patients to choose where they receive it.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many physicians began to expand access to care using telehealth. Congress made this increased use of telehealth possible and now has the opportunity to make permanent telehealth reforms, so every health care provider in America is permitted to deliver safe, high-quality care using telehealth technology.

Americans can let their elected representatives know they back policies that give them the tools they need to choose the best health care for them. To learn more about policies that increase options and price transparency for health care, visit lugpa.org/BetterCareNow.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


SOURCE:
LUGPA

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HEALTHY LIVING

Tips to maintain your skin’s health

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(Family Features) Your skin is your first line of defense against the outer world. As the body’s largest organ, it protects you from bacteria, viruses and other environmental hazards, including pollution, ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and more. It also helps regulate body temperature, recognizes pain sensations and alerts you to potential health problems, making it one of the body’s ultimate multitaskers.

While some factors that impact your skin – like genetics, aging, hormones and certain health conditions – are out of your control, there are steps you can take to support and maintain your skin’s health.

Protect Yourself from the Sun
No matter the season, exposure to UV rays from the sun can cause wrinkles, age spots and other types of damage, which could lead to skin cancer. To protect your skin from these harmful rays, use topical sunscreen daily with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 – even when it’s overcast – and reapply regularly.

Boost Your Diet with Antioxidants
A well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is an important part of maintaining healthy skin. However, diet alone isn’t always enough.

Many dermatologists recommend Heliocare Daily Use Antioxidant Formula as an oral dietary supplement. It contains Fernblock PLE technology, an exclusive plant extract rich in antioxidant properties that works to counteract the negative effects of free radicals, which are unstable atoms generated through everyday life that can damage skin cells. Free radical damage can cause wrinkles, discoloration and other signs of environmental aging. Taking a supplement daily, like Heliocare, can enhance antioxidant intake to help maintain skin health. Plus, it serves as a companion to topical SPF.

Keep Skin Moisturized
Daily use of a face and body moisturizer can help maintain a healthier skin barrier. This helps draw moisture to your skin from the air and lock it in. For best results and optimal hydration, moisturize within minutes of drying off after bathing to trap in moisture. Also remember to drink plenty of water, which can help keep skin hydrated, too.

Reduce Stress
Uncontrolled stress can trigger the release of hormones that dull skin and cause it to produce more oil, which can result in breakouts and other skin problems. To encourage clearer, healthier skin, take steps to reduce stress such as scaling back your to-do list, setting reasonable limits, making time for things you enjoy or trying a stress-reduction technique like yoga, meditation or tai chi.

Wear Protective Clothing
In addition to topical SPF, covering skin as opposed to leaving it exposed to the elements can protect from sun damage. When UV rays are at their peak, typically in the middle of the day, consider wearing long sleeves, pants and a large-brimmed hat.

Get a Good Night’s Rest
During sleep, your body repairs itself and regenerates skin cells. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, during which time the body produces higher levels of collagen, a protein that supports healthier looking (and functioning) skin. Lack of sleep and collagen loss go hand in hand.

Learn more about skin, antioxidants and free radical damage at heliocare.com.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
Heliocare

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HEALTHY LIVING

Spilling the secrets to early literacy

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(Family Features) For young children, learning to read is a critical step in their educational journeys, as literacy helps build cognitive abilities and language proficiency and has a direct impact on later academic achievement.

While there are no shortcuts to early literacy, there are steps parents can take to promote the development of children’s reading abilities. Dr. Lauren Loquasto, senior vice president and chief academic officer at The Goddard School, and Steve Metzger, award-winning author of more than 70 children’s books, share this guidance for parents.

Get Started Early
It’s never too early to start reading with children. In fact, they respond to being read to prenatally. One of the best ways to encourage early literacy is modeling the act of reading. Young children love to imitate, and if they see their parents reading, they are more likely to want to read themselves. Instead of scrolling on your phone or watching television while your children play, pick up a book or magazine.

Use Conversation to Build Literacy
To help build their vocabularies, consistently engage children in conversation. Literacy is more than reading and writing; it’s also listening and speaking. Children understand words before they can articulate them, so don’t be discouraged if it feels like a one-way conversation.

Expose Children to More Than Books
Make your home environment print-rich, as the more exposure children have to letters and words, the better. For example, keep magnetic letters and words on the fridge, put labels on your toy containers and position books and magazines in different rooms. Also remember reading isn’t limited to books. Words are everywhere, from street signs to restaurant menus. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with your children through words throughout your day.

Let Them Take the Lead
Children engage with books in different, developmentally appropriate ways. Some children quickly flip through pages or only look at pictures while others might make up stories or their own words or songs. Some only want to read the same book over and over and some want to read a new book every time. Embrace and encourage their interest in books, no matter how they choose to use them.

Establish a Routine
Parents of young children often have busy and hectic lives, so it isn’t always easy to find time to read. Consistency is key, so be intentional about setting aside time for reading every day – perhaps it’s after dinner or before bedtime – and stick to it.

Select the Right Books
Helping young children choose books is an important part of their learning-to-read process. Developmental appropriateness is critical. For infants and toddlers, start with nursery rhymes, which are mini-stories that grasp children’s attention through repetition, rhythm and rhyming. Visuals are also important because they aren’t yet pulling words off the page. For emerging readers, choose books that align with their interests. Focus on books that are printed with text that goes from left to right and top to bottom.

Expose children to both fiction and non-fiction books. Non-fiction provides real-world knowledge children crave and helps them make sense of what they read in fictional stories. For example, the learnings about the life cycle of a bat they read in “Bat Loves the Night,” a non-fiction book, can help them better understand what’s happening in “Stellaluna,” a fiction book about a young bat.

If you’re in doubt about book choices, consult with a teacher or librarian, who can make recommendations based on your children’s interests and reading levels.

Foster a Love of Reading
Children’s early exposure to books can set the stage for a lifetime of reading. Make reading a time for discovery. Take children to a library or bookstore and encourage them to explore and find books on their own. Display genuine interest in their selections and use books as a tool for engaging and connecting with them. Don’t pressure children to learn how to read. Accept, validate and encourage them as they progress on their unique literacy journeys.

To watch a webinar recording featuring Loquasto and Metzger providing additional literacy guidance and recommendations, and access a wealth of actionable parenting insights and resources, visit the Parent Resource Center at GoddardSchool.com.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
The Goddard School

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HEALTHY LIVING

Breathe better with asthma, wherever you are

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(Family Features) If you have asthma, you know that symptoms can come on quickly, then worsen.

The things that make them do that are called triggers. An important part of managing asthma is knowing your triggers at home, work, school or while you’re outdoors.

A health care provider can help you figure that out, then you can take steps to avoid those triggers and breathe easier.

At Home
Because asthma is usually due to allergies, triggers are often allergens, or things that cause allergic reactions. Allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, pests and smoke can make asthma symptoms worse in some people, and for others, even trigger an asthma attack.  

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggests that it may be helpful to combine a few different strategies to help reduce exposure to triggers.

People sensitive to dust can clean with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration vacuum and use mattress and pillow covers that prevent exposure to dust mites. If you’re sensitive to pests like cockroaches and rodents, consider integrated pest management, which involves removing and controlling pests through methods such as traps or poison. Avoiding tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, can be especially helpful for some people with asthma.

At School
Asthma is one of the leading reasons children miss school. At school, kids may be exposed to dust mites, pests and mold, which may be asthma triggers for some children.

Because children spend lots of time at school, it can be helpful for teachers, school nurses or coaches to know what to do if your child’s symptoms flare up. Team up with a health care provider to develop an asthma action plan and share it with trusted adults at your child’s school.

At Work
The workplace can have hundreds of potential triggers, like chlorine-based cleaning products, bleaches, hair dyes and metal dust. Repeated exposures in the workplace can also lead to new triggers. Report new or worsening symptoms that occur at work to your health care provider and your workplace supervisor.

Outdoors
Everyday weather like cold, dry air can set off breathing problems. Air pollution can affect asthma, too.

It may be helpful to avoid some of the worst pollution by adjusting when and where you exercise. Try to avoid exercising near busy roads or industrial areas. Visit airnow.gov to check your local air quality so you can plan to avoid outdoor activities when pollution is highest.

Managing your triggers is just one part of keeping your asthma under control. Work with a health care provider to develop an asthma treatment plan that includes taking medicines as prescribed and keeping track of your symptoms and where you are when they occur. That way, you can know what’s making your asthma worse or better.

To learn more about asthma, visit NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better® program at nhlbi.nih.gov/BreatheBetter.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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