VOLUME 9 • EDITION 4
THE LATEST IN HOME TECH: Transforming How We Live
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Professionally, we can help you enhance your practice by providing your clients with dialogue, advice, and education surrounding best practices in settlement planning and management. We have vast experience guiding families through litigation and into the challenging space of managing the assets they have been entrusted with as a result. We offer solutions tailored to each individual, including creating Special Needs Trusts, Medicare Set Asides, Domestic Asset Protection Trusts, and multiple other financially secure options. At Milestone, we care about your client’s well-being before, during, and after litigation. That’s why we started the not-for-profit plaintiff-funding organization, the Bairs Foundation. We offer pre-settlement advances to plaintiffs in need at the compassionate rate of 7% simple interest. We want to help them go the distance in their pursuit for justice. As a fellow advocate of civil justice, please keep our portfolio of companies in mind, and feel free to reach out all year long. Here’s to a prosperous 2018. Happy reading! Sincerely,
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i n l i f e , t h e r e c om e s a t i m e t o mov e forwa r d t o t h e n e x t m i l e s t on e
Inside This Issue ON THE COVER
THE MAJORITY OF STROKES ARE PREVENTABLE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WORKPLACE ETIQUETTE FAQS
DIET CHANGES TO MAKE AFTER 40
BEING A “SUPER PARENT”
HOME LOANS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE
36 The Latest in Home Tech: Transforming How We Live At a certain basic level, our homes are simple affairs—four walls and a roof over our heads have provided us both shelter and a place to raise our families for generations. Not much has really changed in regards to where we live for hundreds of years… except for a few welcomed innovations such as indoor plumbing, electricity and the HVAC system.
EVERYTHING ELSE BIRTH CONTROL TREATS BESIDES, WELL, BIRTH CONTROL
GENERIC VS. BRAND NAME DRUGS: DOES IT MATTER?
SON OF A BREACH: IS YOUR PERSONAL DATA PROTECTED?
CHILDHOOD ANXIETY IS REAL: HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS
GADGETS & TECHNOLOGY
DOS & DON’TS
How a Dumb Mistake with Smart Technology Could Compromise Your Home by Bryan Silver
I recently purchased a Wi-Fi security cam for my home. Was it to keep a vigilant eye out for “porch pirates” during the holiday gift delivery season? Maybe I’m contemplating adding a smart lock to the front door so Amazon Key can let strangers into my home. Nope, none of the above. I set up a remotely viewable camera that toggles between a food bowl and pet bed so that my wife can watch our furry family member when we’re not at home. It’s pretty amazing really, from your smartphone you can move it, zoom in, activate a microphone…even see in the dark. We might also be affording the same control to a hacker who might access the device through our Wi-Fi network. Well, maybe that’s not a concern for you; you’re not pet-obsessed or you see no need for cameras in the house. And you’re certainly not about to install a web-accessible deadbolt for the front door. Well, do you have a fitbit or some other brand of fitness band? How about a smart TV with web-accessible apps for Netflix or Hulu? Such “connected” devices seem innocuous, but hackers can access their data from outside your home that lets them know when you’re not at home… even how long you’re usually gone during your exercise routine or what time you usually cut the TV off and go to bed. Before you swear never to purchase such items, realize that you soon won’t be able to avoid them—everything from your thermostat to your refrigerator will likely all be sharing data via the Internet, a phenomenon referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). But there is a caveat to all this connectivity; the one thing all IoT
devices have in common is the same access point—usually your home network. Thus, the best way to keep your home safe is to keep your home network secure. First, check your encryption protocol. At-one-time standard Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is far too weak for today’s hackers; make sure you use Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) along with a strong (i.e. complex) password. Also, you’ll want to rename your network and any connected devices to something vague and obscure. Often the default will somehow shout “router!” or “security camera!” and give hackers an easy target—depending on your level of cheekiness, try something like “device #2” or “FBI Surveillance Van.” Some experts even recommend maintaining two networks (many routers are capable of multiple SSIDs) with unique passwords, one for surfing devices like laptops and tablets and one for smart devices and appliances. And lastly, one can’t stress enough the practice of good password management. You should always change factory-set administrator passwords (the most common is “1234”…yikes!) and replace with something strong and complex. You should also change them all every 30 to 90 days according to most experts. Now before you freak out and worry over what your Internet-connected toaster might be telling your neighbors, know that many IoT devices are still in their infancy/early adopter phase—meaning that not enough people have them yet that hackers and thieves are large scale targeting them. But, know that it will happen…and it will probably happen sooner than you think. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 5
Gadgets for a High-Tech Home — Inside and Out by Brittany Monbarren From smart controllers and security systems to gadgets and tech for outside of the home, here’s a peek at some of the top gadgets for a high-tech home. For the full list, be sure to turn to page 36. There, you’ll find this issues cover story—The Latest in Home Tech: Transforming How We Live—which is packed with information on the latest and greatest in home tech, and what we should expect in the future for home tech.
Tend Secure Lynx Indoor The Tend Secure Lynx Indoor is an affordable home surveillance camera that is small in stature but big in terms of features, performance, and value. This pintsized device not only delivers colorful 1080p video and sharp night vision, it's also chock-full of features including motion triggered-notifications and recordings, two-way audio, free cloud storage, and facial recognition technology.
Arlo Pro 2 Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2 is the world’s first and only 100% wire-free, weatherproof, rechargeable HD smart security camera with audio and 130° viewing angle. Whether you're using a smartphone, tablet, or computer, the free Arlo app lets you stay in control all the time.
Wally Home Wally is a wireless sensor networking supporting the health of your connected home through water, humidity, temperature and window/door monitoring. Wally products can detect water leaks, changes in temperature, humidity, and will send alerts to your photo to help save you from pricy water damage or mold remediation costs.
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pHin Smart Pool Water Quality Monitor pHin is the first sensor, mobile app and chemical home delivery system with on-demand pool service. The pHin sensor constantly monitors your pool’s water temperature and chemistry, and notifies you when it’s time to add more chemicals.
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Generation 2 Whether you're motivated by water conservation, saving money, a drive to render every aspect of your home smart, or all the above, the Rachio Smart Sprinkler is for you. The second-gen Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller and app gives you control over eight to 16 zones depending on the unit you get, it won’t water the lawn if it’s raining, and you can turn it on and off from your phone.
WiFi Pause Button Wouldn’t it be nice to “pause” the Internet for a few hours? Thankfully, you can! There are several different devices and programs available that will now allow you to pause Internet access, including ryfi, Google WiFi, and your cable provider may offer the “pause” feature. Whether you need your kids to get their homework done or it’s just dinner time, all you’ll need to do is hit “pause.”
Smart Hubs If you're looking to outfit your house with smart lights, digital locks, security cameras, thermostats, and more, then you're going to need a smart home hub to connect them all together. Some of the top smart hubs on the market today, include Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, Wink Hub 2, Samsung SmartThings hub and Google Home.
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C O M M E N TA R Y
Why It Is Smart to Have a Good Credit Score by Michael J. Swanson Who knew that one number could have such a significant
impact on your life? Essentially, your credit score is a num-
In many U.S. states, your credit score can potentially affect your home and auto insurance rates. Your rates can sometimes be twice as high if you have a poor credit score.
ber that other people use to judge how responsible and trustworthy you are with money. People with higher credit scores are more likely to get better rates on insurance premiums, auto loans, mortgage loans, and more. It is important to monitor your credit score and take actions to ensure that it stays high. Here are some of the reasons it will benefit you to have a good credit score:
Home Ownership When you are approaching lenders to take out a mortgage on a home, they will look at your credit score to determine your interest rate. The higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rates will be. A score below 620 will make it more difficult to acquire a mortgage and a credit score above 740 will get you the best rates. The lower the interest rate, the lower the monthly payments and the more house you can afford for the same payment.
Renting Planning to rent instead of buying a home? According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you have a low credit score, utility companies may charge you a deposit or require a letter of guaranty to grant you service. A guaranty is a letter from someone agreeing to pay your utility bills if you do not.
Buying a Car Having a good credit score may even help you afford a nicer car for the same monthly payment as a less expensive car. When you have a high credit score, you can receive lower interest rates on an auto loan and therefore lower payments.
Career Development Many employers perform background checks that include a credit inquiry before hiring new employees. A poor credit score could prevent you from getting a job and later a promotion, especially if the job is in the field of finance or if you need security clearance.
Saving As all the above come together, your overall quality of life, in financial terms, will improve. As a result of the various benefits you receive for having an excellent credit score, you will have the opportunity to save more money for emergencies and retirement as opposed to having a larger percentage of your income going towards high monthly rates. It is well worth your time and energy to maintain a good credit score because of all the money it can save you in the long run. You should monitor your credit score frequently to make sure you are staying on track. Every 12 months, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Google each of the bureaus to find their websites. Watching and eliminating credit card balances and paying bills on time are a few ways that you can improve your credit score. Your credit score is an essential part of your financial life so maintaining a healthy one can benefit you greatly in a variety of ways. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 9
The Majority of
Are Preventable: What You Need to Know by Jeff Gutkowski
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 11
ccording to the CDC and the American Heart Association, nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke every year—resulting in over 140,000 deaths and making stroke the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Yet, surveys routinely show that suffering stroke related death is not the stroke outcome that is feared the most. Instead, many persons fear permanent disability and permanent debility. Such fear is well founded, as strokes are the leading cause of lifechanging physical and cognitive impairments that require institutional care—affecting 20 percent of stroke survivors Additionally, almost a third of stroke survivors become permanently disabled. Such severe outcomes are due to the damaging nature of strokes—specifically, a part of the brain is deprived of oxygen by a disruption in blood flow due to either a clot or a hemorrhage. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel leading to the brain, much like when plumbing in a house or apartment clogs. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when the blood vessel ruptures and bleeds, similar to a pipe bursting. Despite significant advances in clot-busting drugs and other therapies, prevention continues to be the most important means of avoiding a stroke—particularly since nearly 4 out of 5 strokes are first events. Yet, adopting a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of a first stroke by 80 percent. As diet and exercise remain the foundation of any lifestyle change, even small increases in activity levels and weight loss can significantly benefit stroke prevention. Yet, the biggest benefits can be gained by controlling blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol; stopping smoking; and treating atrial fibrillation.
Lowering High Blood Pressure Treatment for high blood pressure, whether by exercise or medication, is the single most important means of preventing stroke. Unfortunately, high blood pressure remains an undertreated societal problem in the United States—a situation that's easily rectified with a doctor visit and a prescription, thanks to the prevalence of and continued emphasis on improved drug therapies.
future stroke. In fact, the 2.3 million Americans who have either sustained or paroxysmal (sometimes) atrial fibrillation are 4 to 5 times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke. Beneficially though, the anticoagulants used to treat “a-fib” are also highly effective at preventing stroke—this is not the case for other a-fib treatments like cardioversion or rhythm control.
Unmodifiable Risk Factors Despite all the ways to help your body prevent a first stroke, there are some risk factors that we just can’t do anything about; including age, sex, race, and family history. As we age, the wear and tear on our cardiovascular system along with an increase in other factors doubles the risk of stroke for each successive decade after age 55. Though stroke is more generally prevalent in men, women suffer a higher rate between 35 and 44 years of age (thought to be the result of the use of oral contraceptives and pregnancy) and over 85 years. Additionally, being of African descent increases the risk of stroke over that of Caucasian descent by 38 percent. Finally, a family history that may predispose you to risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, as well as some genetic disorders, can increase your risk of stroke by 30 percent.
FAST Unfortunately, there is no guarantee against stroke—thus, an appropriate and timely response could make a crucial difference. When a stroke hits, getting to the nearest Comprehensive Stroke Center, as soon as possible, is a matter of life, death and a fate worse than death. Be aware of the last time the patient was seen to be acting normal, because that’s when the all-important window for the administration of clot-busting drugs begins to close. Most importantly, remember the acronym FAST to help identify a potential stroke victim:
Lowering High Cholesterol Similarly, a stroke can be prevented by lowering high cholesterol levels through exercise and diet or medication therapy. Like blood pressure therapies, medications that lower cholesterol levels continue to be a major emphasis for the pharmaceutical industry. Better and safer statin drugs continue to be developed, helping patients to reduce cholesterol levels as well as reduce the chance of suffering a stroke by nearly 25 percent!
Stop Smoking Another important form of stroke prevention, though often a more difficult lifestyle change, is to stop smoking. Even a slight decrease in the habit improves the chances of avoiding a stroke, though merely decreasing your smoking is not as beneficial as stopping. Studies consistently show an overwhelming relationship between stroke and cigarette smoking, which accounts for up to 15 percent of all stroke deaths. Even better news is that, because the health benefits of not smoking are so plentiful, many health insurers pay for cessation programs overseen by a physician.
Treating Atrial Fibrillation A diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is a significant warning sign for
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While knowing the signs can help in quickly and effectively treating a stroke, it's the knowledge about your particular stroke risk and how to control it that's the best prevention.
Everything Else Birth Control Treats Besides... Well, Birth Control by Jessica Zorn irth control is generally expected to do exactly that; control when and how a woman chooses to give birth. The topic of birth control, however, has been highly politicized by lawyers, lobbyists and the media, among others. For instance, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in 2014, argued in front of the Supreme Court of the United States that they should not be required to cover certain contraceptives for its employees under the Affordable Care Act due to religious beliefs. More recently, in April 2017, a federal law was passed which would allow states to defund a major provider of birth control, Planned Parenthood. One thing is for sure: despite the highly politicized rhetoric about birth control, young women utilize many diverse methods of preventing pregnancy—medications, abstinence or even (as the joke goes) their own personalities. However, only a woman and her doctor can be sure of exactly why a patient might take birth control medication because there are so many uses for “the pill.” In fact, in 2011, a researcher with the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute found that more than half of birth control pill users in this country (58 percent) rely on the medication for more than just pregnancy prevention. Among teens, that percentage skyrockets to 82 percent. The United States government’s National Survey of Family Growth revealed that about 762,000 woman who have never even had intercourse take birth control. Why? Each type of birth control pill contains a combination of hormones which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle in positive ways. For example, the medication can help with debilitating menstrual cramps, alleviate heavy periods, and even lower a woman’s risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (when a fetus develops outside the uterus). It can also help a user manipulate the timing of her cycle so she can avoid all the complications of “that time of the month” if her
situation calls for it. Importantly, the hormones in birth control can help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms like fatigue, pain or agitation. But the pill’s benefits extend even further than a woman’s reproductive cycle. Birth control pills can be used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes painful cysts, excess hair growth, and irregular bleeding. They’re also prescribed to women with endometriosis to help thin the uterine lining or prevent periods altogether. If women are plagued by an extraordinarily low body weight, suffer from high stress, or excessively exercise, they could be at risk for having low iron and weaker bones. The estrogen in birth control can help regulate their iron levels to help with bone health. The pill can also supplement hormone deficiencies which occur with conditions like primary ovarian insufficiency, which causes ovaries to produce less estrogen after a woman goes through radiation or chemotherapy, for example. A medicinal birth control may help prevent painful migraines or even clear up embarrassing acne. Woman and men may be prescribed birth control medication if their bodies are growing too much body hair. Doctors largely agree that the pill can help protect women from both ovarian cancer and uterine cancer, such that the protective qualities increase the longer a woman takes the pill and last for years after a woman stops taking it. Whatever the political discussion of the moment says about birth control pills, doctors have a host of reasons for prescribing it, even when pregnancy is not a factor. With dozens of pill choices on the market, women and their doctors can hopefully find an effective cocktail of hormones that can meet the individual patient’s needs— whether those needs include cancer prevention, treatment of an ovarian condition, or (of course) pregnancy prevention.
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Generic or Brand Name Drugsâ€” Does It Matter? by Shelly White It is an oft asked question with todayâ€™s patient/consumer: are generic drugs as good as, as safe as, or as trustworthy as the brand name? Before that question is answered, it is important to know why brand name drugs burden consumers with such high prices in the first place. The answer is fairly simpleâ€”it costs a lot of money to develop a drug, get it approved, produce it,
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and patent it. Drug manufacturers that are research-based must first pay researchers to invent the drugs for certain conditions to which they will eventually market. This can require years of arduous research and testing, which translates to a lot of cost for something that is not even guaranteed to be approved. Once companies are ready to market a new drug, they must of course
get approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To do that, the manufacturer must have exhaustive data from many repeat clinical trials that prove to the FDA that the potential drug will do what it is said to do for the patient and that it will do so in a safe manner. The clinical studies a drug company must conduct include animal and human studies that must be repeated again and again. The studies and trials must net pages and pages of research data that eventually convince authorities that the process has been thorough and the drug works safely. A drug company that is coming up with an original drug must also go through the expense of patenting that drug to protect its interests and ensure they are the only ones to profit from all the research and development—again, it’s just part of the process when it comes to brand name drugs. One might ask whether generic drug companies also need to go through some sort of expensive clinical studies and trials to release their generic version of the original brand name drug. It turns out that a generic drug manufacturer must submit an "abbreviated new drug application" in which it must prove that its product is the same as the original version in terms of all important physical, chemical, and biological characteristic— including identity, purity, quality, dosage, and absorption into the bloodstream. This does not require the extensive research, studies, and trials the original drug manufacturer must perform. The generic drug company also gets to forgo the expensive patent process that the brand name manufacturer must go through. In fact, the generic drug company can save even more money in costs by changing up some of the inactive ingredients, as these do not have to be identical to that of the brand name drug. This includes things that make the generic drug look different from the original brand name drug, but do not impact the effectiveness of the drug. The FDA also allows generic drug companies to make their packaging look different, their color of the drug different, the shape of the drug different, the fillers, chemical binders, dyes, and coatings different. The consumer who prefers buying the brand name version of what is generically termed Ibuprofen, for instance, might prefer the look of the brand name because it’s shape is bigger and rounder with a shinier, darker coating and a bolder trademark printed on each pill. The packaging may also be more impressive and lead the consumer to believing the brand name is more effective in a placebo effect. These are some of the aspects that go into creating a “brand.” Yet, more than one generic drug company can manufacturer a drug that does the same thing— offering a benefit to the consumers who buy generic as the competition drives down prices. The skeptical consumer might still wonder whether generic drugs are as safe, since they do not have to go through all the rigorous research and trials put upon the brand name manufacturer. Meanwhile, the brand name drug manufacturers have been trying their best to get medical providers and their patients to believe the generic version of their particular drug is not as good. They have a lot invested in these drugs, and once the patent expires they are forced to compete with the generic companies in regard to sales.
The FDA assures doctors and consumers that every generic drug marketed as an equivalent to a brand name drug has been shown to do what the original does. It is not only the same as the brand name in regard to the active ingredients, but also in terms of dosage, safety, effectiveness, strength, stability, quality, the way it is taken, and the way it works within the body. The FDA Generics Program does a very thorough assessment to assure that the generic drug is equal in these active ingredients and standards. The FDA also performs regular inspections of drug manufacturing plants to assure what has been approved continues to be the product manufactured. It’s important to note that the FDA does allow for a slight natural variability to occur between brand name and generic drugs, but this is no different than the variance that is accepted from batch to batch of the brand name drug itself. The general moral to the story is that generic drugs are equal to the brand name drugs they are modeled after and have met FDA standards to be marketed to the public. The large, powerful pharmaceutical companies that develop and manufacture the brand name drugs are not going down quietly without a fight for profit, however. Recently, brand name pharmaceutical companies have been making deals—behind closed doors—with insurance companies and benefits managers, requiring that their insured and employees get the brand name version of drugs. In these cases, the patient who is prescribed or requests a generic version of a drug is told their insurance or benefits program will not pay for the generic version, but instead requires the brand name version— resulting in the consumer paying more. This practice is becoming more and more common, and, in an age in which consumers are voicing their opposition to outlandish drug prices louder and louder, lawmakers are starting to pay attention. Time will tell whether the consumer or the powerful pharmaceutical company and its beneficiaries come out the winner. There are often exceptions to the rules, and this article cannot conclude without giving a couple of caveats to think about when considering generic versus brand name drugs. When studies are done on drugs, they are done with what are considered to be average people. With the difference in individuals, however, there can be the possibility that any small changes in concentrations of a drug can be harmful to some patients. This can be a concern for a specific type of drug referred to as narrow therapeutic index (NTI) drugs. These can include medications for blood thinning (Warfarin), thyroid hormones, seizures, and heart arrhythmias, as well as those medications containing lithium. It is vital that the consumer patients consult with their own individual medical provider regarding whether the risks versus rewards of generic versus brand name drugs holds true for their own condition when prescribed NTI drugs. In most cases though, it’s simply a matter of choice. For those considering the generic form of a prescribed drug, there are a number of ways to research all options, including the following FDA resources: the Drugs@FDA database, the publication Approved Drug Products With Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (commonly known as the Orange Book), and the First Generic Drug Approvals list on FDA.gov. Of course, the consumer patient can also consult with their own trusted pharmacist on such matters.
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Dispelling Myths about Miscarriage to Help Those Who Are Suffering by Joel Feldman If asked, most people would say that the worst possible loss is the death of a child. Our children are not supposed to die before us. The death of a child is a traumatic event and parents grieve that
of themselves or leading a stressful lifestyle. When we suffer traumatic events, we ask ourselves over and over “how could this have happened?” If society believes mothers are responsible, in
loss for the rest of their lives. But what about the termination of a pregnancy because of a miscarriage? Miscarriage refers to the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20 th week of pregnancy. Is there any less reason to grieve, or for society to expect parents to grieve less, because the pregnancy was terminated before medical viability? Experts are unanimous in saying that a miscarriage can result in a lifetime of grieving. Most experts also agree that the societal myths surrounding miscarriage often cause mothers to feel shame, isolation and suffer from what has been called “disenfranchised grief.” Disenfranchised grief occurs when a loss is not openly acknowledged or socially supported. Myths about miscarriage result in grieving parents often hearing the following statements:
whole or in part, for miscarriages, it is a given that mothers will also feel that way adding to their shame and reluctance to speak about what happened.
“Everything happens for a reason.” “You can have other children.” “It’s for the best.” “Thankfully, it’s only a miscarriage.” While statements like these may be intended to be comforting they minimize and devalue a very real, painful and overwhelming loss. These statements are reflective of the following common societal myths concerning miscarriage:
Myth #1 – Miscarriages Are Rare Miscarriages are anything but rare as they occur in about 1 in 5 to 6 known pregnancies. But if mothers believe that miscarriages are rare they will be less likely to speak about them, less likely to seek support and less likely to have others offer support.
Myth #2 – Miscarriages Are the Result of Something the Mother Did or Did Not Do Most miscarriages are caused by a developmental problem in the embryo. Contrary to popular belief miscarriages are not caused by lifting heavy objects, expectant mothers not taking care
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Myth #3 – Grief Following Miscarriage Is Short-Lived According to the American Psychological Association, mothers who suffer miscarriages may continue to grieve for years—even after the birth of a healthy child. And research also suggests that men grieve following a miscarriage more than had traditionally been thought.
How we can help those suffering following a miscarriage Once we understand the misperceptions about miscarriage and grief following miscarriage, we can offer support to those who are suffering. Lora Shahine, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist, provides the following suggestions for supporting a friend after miscarriage: J ust be present and listen. Knowing that you are there for them and will listen without being judgmental is sometimes the best that you can do. And although you may not feel you are helping, doing so will likely be immensely helpful to a friend who is suffering. Say something, but avoid uttering clichés or advice. Don’t avoid a friend because it may be uncomfortable. “How are you doing TODAY?” or “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I am here for you.” are supportive and nonjudgmental statements. Invite them out and don’t take it personally if they say “no”— just keep inviting them out. ffer to do something for them but don’t just ask generally O what you can do, as people tend to decline help. Instead suggest different things that you can do, like shopping, running errands or helping with housework. Lastly, men also suffer and need support. Minimization of the loss following miscarriage is even greater for men than mothers. Helping those who are suffering following miscarriage may at first seem a challenge but doing so can help those who are grieving while being immensely rewarding to those who do offer comfort and support.
What’s your Number? by Jon Lewis
lood Pressure is one of the significant vital signs used to monitor health, but what does it really mean? Blood pressure readings signify the pressure the blood exerts on your arteries as it travels through your body. When the reading is taken, you are often given two numbers: the systolic and the diastolic. The systolic number is the top number and gives you the highest level the pressure reaches when your heart beats. The diastolic number is the second reading and provides the lowest level of pressure when your heart is at rest. So, what is a good blood pressure? The American Heart Association considers blood pressure to be in a normal range when both the systolic AND the diastolic are in the normal range. The normal range for systolic is between 90 and 120. The normal range for diastolic is between 60 and 80. Typically, the systolic number receives more attention. It can rise as you age due to stiffness in your arteries, buildup of plaque and increase in cardiac and vascular disease. The only way to really know your blood pressure is to have it measured because you typically don’t feel symptoms of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is usually termed “hypertension,” but there is also such a thing as “prehypertension.” Prehypertension is defined when either your systolic or diastolic numbers are in a certain range. For example, if your systolic number is between 120 and 139, you are considered to have prehypertension. If your diastolic number is between 80-89, you are also considered to have prehypertension. If your readings are in these ranges, it’s a notice to consider your lifestyle and make healthier choices. If not, your blood pressure is certain to reach the hypertension stage.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently released new guidelines for what is considered hypertension. There are stages of hypertension. Stage 1 used to be defined by your systolic number being in the range of 140 to 159 or when your diastolic ranges fell between 90 and 99. However, as of November 13, 2017, stage 1 is considered 130/80 to 139/89. Stage 2 was defined when the systolic exceeds 160 or when the diastolic reaches 100. Now, stage 2 is defined as anything 140/90 and above. If your blood pressure reaches 180/120, you are in crisis, have a serious health problem, and need urgent treatment. If your level reaches this high, you need emergent treatment—especially if it is accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath or paralysis. Blood pressure can rise for various reasons, and there is no true answer or single cause. Factors that increase the risk of hypertension are: age, family history, obesity, alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor diet. Needless to say, all of these factors should be considered when trying to keep your blood pressure in the normal range. If your blood pressure gets too low, it’s considered hypotension. The range for hypotension is 90/60 or lower. The danger with hypotension is that your body is not getting enough oxygen. Hypotension can be caused by malnutrition, dehydration, pregnancy, heart problems, and medications, among other causes. In order to keep your blood pressure in the normal range, you need to have it checked regularly. Additionally, living a healthy lifestyle will significantly help maintain the proper level. So, get out. Exercise. Eat right. And keep those numbers in line. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 17
‘I’m a Con Artist’
A Personal Essay About the PTSD Parents Experience by Stephanie Andre
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I wanted to write. I thought I could really do it. But, I’m still at a loss. I haven’t written in months. Lots and lots of months. Maybe it’s because I’ve been all cried out. Wrung out. Tired out. Burnt out. In the past, I’ve written. I’ve written a lot. It was my salvation. It was cathartic. I’ve voiced my concerns, thoughts and fears. But this time, I just don’t have it. I still don’t know what to say. It’s taken me months—close to 11—since my son’s surgery to find the words. And even now, it’s hard. I don’t know where to start. There’s so much I want to say, but I can’t get there. I’m still wrestling with my feelings. I still don’t have clarity. And that’s hard. People think because his surgery is over that we’re all just “fine” now. Almost like it never happened. And that’s OK. I don’t want my son to be considered fragile or broken; he’s not. Far from it. But, just for the record, I’m not always fine. I have triggers. And they are everywhere. The immediate anger is gone, but it’s always there just below the surface. It sits dormant with the mental and emotional scars that I will have for all of my days. People have told me I’m strong. I’m not. I’m a con artist. I’m good at faking the strength. I’m just a regular mom who happens to be in complete awe of her son. How could I not be? If there is any strength, it’s a byproduct of watching him. I get in my own head quite a bit. Sometimes I think people don’t realize how serious and severe my son’s surgery was. They see the young man in front of them now. The one whose restrictions are
gone. The kid who’s back to being with his teammates and cracking dirty jokes with his friends. It’s easy for others to forget what happened last year: “We are now on bypass.” Translation: my child was living on a machine. I mean, what?!—a machine was literally the only thing keeping him alive. They don’t remember the setbacks. The internal bleeding. His physical pain. His depression. They don’t know how scared we were that his body was giving out. And then one day, things changed. These are some of the things that crawl into my head. It’s no wonder I’m still struggling. Maybe that’s the point of this essay. That I’m not fine. I’m never fine. This started out as a piece on congenital heart defects (CHD), and it is. This is just another aspect of it that most people don’t know about or talk about: the PTSD parents experience. For us, this is life. This path winds and weaves with plenty of ups and downs. The road never ends. In time, I will get my writing mojo back. And I will advocate. I will push. I will strive to be the strong mom I’ve convinced everyone I am. I will be unrelenting. And I know this because my motivation is the amazing young man I see every day. Time will never heal his heart, but it will—at least temporarily—repair my wounds. Just wait. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 19
by Jerry Trachtman affeine is primarily found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. The most well-known side effect of caffeine is stimulation of the central nervous system. After all, who among us hasn’t relied on coffee to stay awake? But is your morning coffee fix—or maybe the bottomless office coffee pot—or those high-caffeine soft drinks harming your health? Or is it possible that caffeine may provide some health benefits? Recent research has shown no relationship between coffee and tea, and heart disease. In fact, some studies have even shown that coffee and tea have a protective effect against heart disease in the elderly. However, the same cannot be said for soft drinks. Studies show that such drinks contribute to increased blood pressure and/or heart arrhythmias. So what’s the difference? Well, for one thing, coffee and tea contain antioxidants and other nutrients; soft drinks offer no nutritional value whatsoever. In fact, the excessive amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners in soft drinks—in addition to caffeine—make them quite unhealthy.
Hope for Alzheimer’s and Dementia? And the research proves it. According to one study at the University of Illinois, mice were briefly deprived of oxygen, causing them to lose the ability to form memories. Half of the mice received a dose of caffeine equivalent to several cups of coffee. After they were reoxygenated, the caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33% faster than the other mice. Examination of the brain tissue later showed that the caffeine interfered with the harmful action of a substance in the brain that is associated with dementia. In a study of humans, researchers at the University of South Florida and the University of Miami tested the blood levels of caffeine in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and then re-evaluated them two to four years later. Participants with little or 20 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 4
no caffeine circulating in their bloodstream were far more likely to have progressed to Alzheimer’s disease than those whose blood indicated a quantity of caffeine equal to about three cups of coffee. However, it is unclear whether caffeine alone provides the benefits associated with coffee drinking or if coffee contains other beneficial substances. In another USF study, mice genetically bred to develop Alzheimer’s were given caffeine alone and did not do as well on memory tests as other mice provided with actual coffee.
Caffeine + Coffee = Health Benefits? For most types of cancer, coffee appears to either decrease the risk of cancer or have no effect on cancer risk at all. Even in those countries with a high intake of caffeine from coffee, research does not support a link between coffee or caffeine and cancer risk. Other studies have linked moderate coffee drinking—three or four 5 oz. cups of coffee a day—with more specific advantages, such as a reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence. However, research also appears to confirm some caffeine risks. For example, high consumption of unfiltered coffee is associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. And one study found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific—and fairly common—genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly coffee is metabolized in the body may affect the health risk. The bottom line appears to be that coffee and tea—in moderation—may actually provide some health benefits. But if you have high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate or other health issues, you should talk to your doctor about how much caffeine is safe for you.
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The World Seen Through the Eyes of Someone with
SPECTRUM DISORDER by Meghan Murray
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utism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological disorder that affects children from all walks of life with being born male an increased risk for ASD development, as ASD is much more likely to develop within boys versus girls. According to estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, about 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with ASD. The etiology of ASD is unknown at this time. Symptoms of variable severity may affect multiple developmental domains such as social and communication skills, repetitive interests and behaviors, motor delays, and atypical regulation of attention and emotion, and they typically appear before two years of age. For this interview—Charles, an adult male age 23—volunteered to speak on his experience of growing up with the diagnosis of “high functioning” ASD. What is meant by the term “high functioning” is that, located on the spectrum of individuals with autism, Charles is on the end of the spectrum where individuals are seen to have less significant cognitive, social, and behavioral impairments. To give some background on Charles, he did not speak his first words until the age of 3 and was diagnosed with ASD at the age of 5. His parents reported Charles seeming to develop at a normal rate when all of sudden they noticed a “regression” in his development that was very concerning for them. They immediately brought Charles to see several doctors and specialists, where he finally received the diagnosis of ASD, which was a very new diagnosis at the time. Owing to several years of being on an Individual Education Plan (IEP), seeing speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and neurologists, Charles’s parents feel he would not be as “high functioning” as he is today without all this additional help. Charles is now a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. While in college he joined a fraternity in order to help himself form new friendships and attend social events. Since graduation he has found a job and is looking forward to making an upward transition in the future, but for now he is content with the work he is doing and the experience he is gaining. At the start of the interview, Charles was asked at what age he found out about his diagnosis. He reported that he learned of his diagnosis around 10 or 11 years old and remembers being angered when learning this because he thought it sounded like a disease. He also said that having ASD felt and still feels inconvenient at times when he says something and sees other people have a strange reaction to whatever it is he has said—something he equates to things being lost in translation. Prior to being told of his diagnosis, he said he didn’t notice that anything was different about himself compared to other people. He knew he had attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was aware he had trouble concentrating and needed to take medication for this, but otherwise was completely in the dark about having ASD. He then said that once being told about his diagnosis, it became obvious to him that there was a difference between himself and other people. He didn’t remember a specific age where he did begin to fine tune his ability to notice what these differences were, but said the ability to see these differences has crept up on him over the years. Charles also remembers having conversations with his parents and
doctors about his diagnosis and even remembers asking his parent’s questions about what autism was and why he was different. Charles then stated that he can now tell when he’s being “autistic” and works to try to correct or change his behavior to something more “socially acceptable.” He also said that sometimes he has a hard time stopping these “autistic” behaviors (i.e. pacing around the room and echolalia), so he now tries to keep them confined to his bedroom or in private. When he is in his bedroom and is pacing around while talking to himself, he sometimes has conversations with himself, an imaginary other person, or re-enacts scenarios. When asked about these scenarios, he said that he will review a time where he felt like he did something that was socially “wrong,” catalogs what went wrong and what could have been, and then remembers this scenario for next time. Charles also talked about his need to be on time, how he constantly thinks about time, and the need to be near it. He said he likes time so much because he likes having a routine and a schedule to follow. When asked how he felt during large social events like parties or concerts, Charles said that he feels overwhelmed and will withdraw into himself because it makes him anxious and he feels like he has nothing to say. He prefers one on one or one to two group social situations, where he said he his “at his best.” In response to being asked if it was hard for him to have relationships with others, Charles said that it was because it was difficult for him to understand others and for them to understand him. He said that he might “have an inkling” of what other people are feeling, but sometimes it might be “completely wrong.” Charles also said that it was easier for him to have a relationship with his family members because they “are around” and better understand him. However, Charles did say that he did not struggle to make friends and has many friends from high school that he is close with. He also feels that his friends don’t notice that he has autism anymore. While he felt they noticed growing up, Charles thought they do not now because he is better at “masking it” and “playing the part” when he is out in public. When asked about his worldview or how he views other people, Charles said that he liked to keep it simple; adding “if you’re nice to me then I’m nice to you and if you’re mean to me then I’m mean to you.” He also commented that “maybe” his worldview is different or unique because he has ASD, but he’s not sure. He feels that maybe he even has yet to discover what his worldview truly is; that maybe he is still learning. Charles also felt that, upon hearing of his diagnosis, he was “destined for greatness” because he had also heard about autistic savants who solve math theories or are musical geniuses and hoped that he would one day be considered among these persons. He also likened his diagnosis to having a “mutant superpower” where he can see the world through a unique lens. When asked about the inner workings of his own mind, Charles said that he will have racing thoughts once or twice a week as well as days where “everything makes sense and nothing makes sense.” When asked if there was anything else he wanted to let people know about what it’s like to have ASD, Charles responded that it has it’s “ups and downs,” but it’s not a “burden”—it can be hard, but “that’s life” and “there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it gets better day by day.”
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 23
Why Friendships Are So Important as We Get Older by Katherine Allen The English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton, once said:
Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen. Like friends, too, we should return to them again and again for, like true friends, they will never fail us… never cease to instruct…never cloy. In youth, friendship is often confused with popularity—many people think that the more friends they have, the less lonely they will be. We go through life collecting friends from every stage of our lives—school chums, college pals and work colleagues all get put in the “friends” category. Suddenly you have a hundred friends or more and you find it exhausting to keep in contact with all of them. But in the early stages of your adult life, you do try your best to see them all regularly until the realization dawns that not all of these people are true friends. They are quite good fun to hang out with or have a beer, but how many of them would actually be there to support you in a time of crisis, and how many of them would turn to you when they needed someone to share important moments in their lives? As we get older, we become more confident that we do not need to continue to cultivate relationships that, in fact, are not genuine friendships. Life gets very busy in our 30s and 40s— people are often juggling working full time with looking after young families and perhaps aging relatives, therefore we have less time to spend with friends. We feel the need to become more selective about whom we spend time with outside of the
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family unit. Those friends that we made because they were convenient, i.e. because we saw them every day at work or at school and therefore did not have to put much effort into the relationship, disappear when that bond of convenience is broken. People that befriended us because they thought we might be of use to them will find other people that are more useful. We begin to realize that, of the friends we have amassed along the way, there may only be a handful that have actually listened when we needed to air a real fear or who had trusted us enough to seek support when they needed someone to rely on. There are only a few people with which we have a real relationship of mutual affection. As we age, therefore, our friendships often become more meaningful. In addition, the changes we face in our lives as we age may become more challenging, often leading to feelings of isolation and helplessness. Children leaving the nest, divorce, retirement, illness—these are all big life events that can challenge the balance of a person’s very existence and, without the love and support of friends, can be extremely depressing. Genuine friends will offer support in a number of different ways—they will listen, encourage, advise or simply take you out for an evening of fun so that you put your problems aside for a short while. They will also rely on you when they need some assistance, helping you to realize that you’re still needed. With age comes adversity, and Charles Caleb Colton yet again demonstrated his wisdom when he said:
Friendship, of itself a holy tie, is made more sacred by adversity.
Son of a Breach: Is Your Personal Data Protected? by Tyler Schneider echnology has changed the world in both a positive and negative manner. It impacts our lives on a massive scale as many of us would not be able to go about our day to day activities without the use of cellphones, Internet or email. But, technology can also be utilized for more malicious purposes; what if someone could steal your Social Security number, your credit card number, or other personal information, all through the Internet? Many once feared having their savings stolen from a bank, but that fear has quickly diverted down a darker alley as it is much easier to obtain sensitive information now than ever before. Most frightening is how easily and foolishly a company could allow this to happen—as demonstrated by the recent security breach at Equifax. At the height of summer 2017, Equifax discovered a massive data breach that compromised the sensitive personal information of more than 143 million Americans—a number that continues to climb as more facts come to light. The most troubling matter is that many of those victims were not even clients of Equifax, a top-three credit reporting company, but indirect consumers. Essentially, anytime a credit score is requested or signed off on—whether it’s for services, purchases, loans, or even a job application—a report is generated from one of the three credit reporting companies. In the case of Equifax, any information collected was then permanently stored in their databases. Whether large or small, you should always protect yourself in the event of any known security breach. There are steps that can be taken to protect yourself from having personal information stolen or from having your stolen information utilized.
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»» Avoid debit cards. Use credit cards when possible. If a hacker obtains your debit card account information, an entire bank account can be wiped out. It is much easier to dispute credit card charges and often times, credit card companies have protections put in place to prevent it from happening. »» Use caution when shopping online. Only buy from reputable websites. It may not be a bad idea to use different credit cards when shopping online versus in-person purchases. If suspicious purchases do appear, it will be easy to track which of your cards was hacked. »» Consider a credit freeze if you believe your information could be at risk. Different from a credit lock, a credit freeze allows you to continue to use credit cards already in use, but will prevent a hacker from taking out any additional lines of credit such as a credit card or car loan. This has to be done separately and with each of the big three companies (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian). »» Set up fraud alerts. It’s a simple process that can be done by calling the three major credit bureaus. Unfortunately, the alert will only last 90 days before it has to be renewed, but the alert could save you from a credit hacker. Although these tips can help, it is important to remain vigilant. Check your bank account and credit card statements frequently. Monitor your credit score. By actively monitoring your information, you will notice if anything suspicious is occurring. We are only beginning to understand the repercussions of such a large security breach, but one thing is for certain—compromised credit information can do great harm.
Workplace Etiquette by Cheryl Pope To paraphrase Jem Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our “work family”
»» Time – Be respectful of others time. Don’t just barge into someone else’s office and plop down. Pay attention to their cues. If they keep looking at the monitor or keep reading the
either, which results in countless ways that we annoy each
paper, it’s probably not a good time for your visit. Grabbing
other…without even trying! While most organizations have
them in the hallway “for just a minute” is not going to win
mission and value statements or policies and procedures that
friends either. And if someone is on vacation let them be
outline desired behaviors, there is no universal “code” about
on vacation instead of sending them a million emails. Even
how to behave at work.
better…ask them before they leave how they would like for
However, there are some things you can do to make sure you aren’t that annoying person that everyone else is talking about at the water cooler! »» Technology – If you are going to use your speakerphone, close your door or use a breakout room if you are in a cubicle. Few people want to hear your entire conversation. Also, put your cellphone ringers and text notifications on
you to handle communication during their absence. »» $@#&!! – Cursing at work just isn’t cool. Everyone has a different threshold for what is offensive so use the most common denominator test. If you wouldn’t say something in front of your grandmother or another person who might get offended, then don’t say it at work. »» Own it – We all screw up. When that happens to you,
silent. The Family Guy’s Stewie yelling “Mom, mom, mom”
admit it (even when you “accidentally” ate the pizza). As
or the chicken clucking ring tones may be funny at first,
uncomfortable as it might be, confessing can keep small
but chances are your teammates are one step away from
problems from becoming bigger ones; you’ll be able to
throwing your phone out the window. Finally, don’t talk on
learn from your mistakes; people will respect you more; and
your cellphone while in the bathroom. It’s just weird.
relationships will be strengthened.
»» Food – If you didn’t bring it then don’t eat it. It’s a
»» Manners – The simple act of saying “please” or “thank you”
complete bummer when you spend the morning thinking
is the easiest way to make a deposit in someone’s emotional
about last night’s pizza you brought for lunch only to
bank account and doesn’t cost a dime. Use these words
discover that someone else ate it. Also, if you don’t eat
often and with sincerity.
what you brought for lunch then throw it out instead of
Most of us have heard of the “Golden Rule,” which is treating
leaving it in the refrigerator for weeks. Most of us hated
others the way you want to be treated. However we are all
seventh grade science and don’t care to relive the “how
different, so the best advice—for the best results—is to upgrade to
mold grows” project.
the “Platinum Rule”: treat people how THEY want to be treated! @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 27
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Training for an IRONMAN: Well Worth the Effort by Sheila P. Hiestand raining for an Ironman is like nothing else you will do in your lifetime. It take patience, persistence, pain, and TIME. Did I mention TIME? While you can have patience and persistence in spades, and have an amazing pain threshold, most do not have extra time. But oddly, training for an Ironman teaches you valuable lessons in time management, clears your brain, and often gets you in the best shape of your life. For those of you not familiar with the sport, it was created by a handful of great surfers and athletes in Hawaii that did it on a dare. It has evolved into an international passion for thousands, and is probably one of the most rewarding things I personally have ever done. You have 17 hours to swim 2.4 miles in open water (river, lake, ocean), ride your bicycle 112 miles, and top it off with a marathon run of 26.2 miles, for a total of 140.6 miles. Most start at 7 a.m. and must be completed by midnight or you are considered a DNF (did not finish)—three letters that I despise. The race is the great equalizer where an unusually hot day can leave the pros dehydrated on the side of the road and those of us turtles with a little extra belly fat walking/jogging to the finish line. The very best part is that most of us are competing against only one athlete—ourselves. There are dozens of apps and training regimens, as well as hundreds of certified coaches in the sport. While the apps and pre-packaged plans are great, they don’t help you tweak your run in order to stop getting shin splints or so you can cut 10 seconds off each mile. It is my belief that coaches ultimately offer the best path to be success. My coach, Fred Scott in Tucson, is like family to me and has helped me overcome hurdles I once thought impossible. Training for one of these races is not a short term event. There is an off-season (December through March) but you would do well to stay in top physical shape during the off season by doing something like Cross-Fit or Orange Theory along with running, riding and swimming as often as possible. This is not an inexpensive sport, as you will need gym memberships, a pool where you can swim year-round, a great watch that keeps your splits (I love my Garmin), a lightweight, well-constructed bike that can range from $4,000$25,000, and running shoes every 300-500 miles—just to name a
few items. You’ll also need a trainer to place your bike on for those dreary days when you cannot ride outside. Now that you have all your gear and are in good shape from staying fit during the “off-season,” it’s time to train, and train hard. You will train six days a week, and absolutely must have a rest day to allow your muscles to recover. Most folks begin with 12-15 hours a week of training, and work toward well over 20 hours a week of training as race day approaches. There will be days where all you do is a long ride (60-90 miles) or a long run (8-18 miles) and a lot of days where you will do a “brick,” which is a combination of two of the three disciplines. For instance, you might ride for an hour and run for an hour and a half. Then, the next day swim two miles and run six miles. The best way to keep track of all this is to use a program called “Training Peaks” that downloads the data from your watch or bike computer and allows your coach to tweak your daily and weekly goals. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you accomplish 85 percent of the workouts your coach has selected for you. That way, when life throws you a curveball, you don’t have a breakdown because you missed a workout. Always, always, always hydrate; and I have found drinking chocolate milk after a workout helps with muscle fatigue and micro-injury. Finally, if you are injured, seek treatment and discuss with your coach. This kind of extreme exercise can be hard on a body, and ignoring your body will only lead to worse injury, frustration, and worst of all, inability to compete. In summary, while competing in an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 (a half Ironman) is not for the weak of heart, it can be a great sport for people of all ages and activity levels. Once you get your base activity to a good level, find a coach, and swim, bike, run into the best times of your life.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 29
Protecting Yourself Against U ninsured and Underinsured Motorists by Matt Devoti he circumstances are uncanny. Two men horribly injured in t wo separate collisions. Each suffered injuries that required extended hospitalization and multiple surgeries. Neither man was at fault for the crashes that put him in the hospital. Information collected during the investigation of these t wo collisions suggest that cellphone use contributed to the cause of one impact, while alcohol use contributed to the other. Whether a crash involves a driver who is drunk or one who is distracted, often the result is the same. The impact of a severe collision can cause traumatic and permanent harm that can lead to expensive and ongoing treatment. In both these cases, little doubt existed that the motorist who caused either collision had enough insurance coverage to fairly compensate those who were harmed. Yes, both at-fault drivers had liability insurance, but not enough to care for the victims—in other words, the drivers are both “underinsured.” Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often. Multiple conditions contribute to the underinsured problem, including:
»» The rising cost of medical c are. »» Health insurance plans becoming more aggressive in attempting to recover benefits paid on behalf of the injured person. »» Motorists simply trying to save a few dollars off their monthly insurance premium by reducing their liability coverage. Whatever the cause, the lack of adequate coverage adds to the harm experienced by the victims, as bills accumulate while they labor to recover from injuries and get back to work. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from the underinsured motorist. Many automobile insurers offer a type of protection called “underinsured motorist coverage.” This type of coverage is intended to provide a recovery source for someone who has been 30 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 4
injured by a negligent motorist whose own liability coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the injured person—the negligent driver is “underinsured.” Underinsured motorist coverage exists to supplement the liability coverage purchased by the drunk, distracted or otherwise negligent driver. In this circumstance, the injured person makes a claim against their own insurance policy after he has exhausted the limit of the liability coverage available to the negligent driver. However, to make an underinsured motorist claim, the injured person must have purchased underinsured motorist coverage before the date of their injury. The coverage cannot be retroactively applied. This coverage is typically purchased from the insurance carrier that provides your motor vehicle liability coverage. In many cases, underinsured motorist coverage is purchased along with “uninsured motorist coverage” or coverage that protects you in the event you’re involved in a collision with a driver who doesn’t have any liability coverage of any kind. To purchase the coverage, you may have to ask for it—only 22 states and the District of Columbia have underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage requirements. It’s also important to note that all states, except New Hampshire, require drivers to carry some type of auto insurance coverage, but not everyone follows the law. It’s estimated that nationwide about one in eight drivers (approximately 30 million) is uninsured, while countless more are underinsured. So, what’s the best way to ensure you’ll be taken care of in the event of a run in with either of these driver types? Talk with your insurance broker or agent and ask them to price coverage for you. Underinsured motorist coverage is extremely reasonable in many cases. And, purchase as much coverage as possible—since the coverage is often reduced under most policies by money received from the driver that caused you harm.
Developing Your Situational Awareness and Basic Survival Actions by Mark Kitrick @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 31
he recent shooting in Las Vegas and other terrorist/ ISIS attacks—such as the one in Barcelona—are making more people wonder, “How can I protect my loved ones, myself and others?” Fortunately, there are easily applied military special force tactics that will help you and loved ones survive. It starts with “situational awareness (SA).” SA means paying attention to your surroundings. It is mindfulness. Because life is filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, SA allows you to quickly shift your perspective in a rapidly-changing environment. There is a brilliant methodology you can employ to realize SA’s profound benefits. You can be situationally aware by using the principles of OODA, an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The famous military pilot and military strategist John Boyd created this system in the early 1930s, and it is currently taught in both the military and business worlds. The goal is to continuously implement the following in a repeating loop, and to do it better and faster than the bad guys.
Observe – This means to look around wherever you go and determine what is “normal” for the environment. A quick, effective way to begin this assessment is to ask yourself a few questions, such as: What person or object does not fit in the scenario? Where is the nearest EXIT sign/door? Can I sit or stand with my back to the wall (positional, optimal observation) or somewhere where I can get out easily? Calmly scan your surroundings—this is called “checking your six.” In essence, you should always be in “condition yellow.” This is a relaxed alert state where you’ve ascertained what is normal, including studying all sights, sounds and smells, allowing you to quickly determine any anomalies, such as rapid fire from a gun. Orient – This is figuring out the context of what is happening, as well as determining what to do next. It should be a brief pregnant pause. When something happens, this is when you figure out your options based on what you’ve observed. By now, you’ve gained enough insight and ascertained patterns so that you can eventually make the best judgment possible. Decide – This is selecting internally your best guess and making your mental plan. If you’re dealing with an active shooter, the basic rules in order are to run, hide and fight. Don’t just follow the crowd (herd instinct). Your decision has already encompassed solid observation and orientation. Your body cannot go where the brain hasn’t been. Act – Under stress, acting appropriately is not easy, especially if OODA has not been followed. People freeze and often die because they are not prepared, have no plan, or give up. This is the completion of your mission with the goal of looping your OODA faster than the bad guy. Let’s assume you must run and take cover (hide). By now, you’ve decided what to do. That decision means that you already knew the difference between cover and concealment, for instance. In any event, taking cover should generally be your priority— this means finding a place where not only will you not be seen, but if the terrorist shoots in that direction, you’re not likely to get shot or hurt. That means going behind steel beams, cement 32 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 4
walls, or other impenetrable objects. Concealment only means you can’t be seen, but you can still be shot or blown up—so taking cover behind thick bushes is not ideal. If the attacker is very close to you, then take any nearby object that can be used as a weapon, close the gap and attack as hard and fast as you can. Show no mercy. For veterans of special forces and close quarter urban combat, the mantra is to attack with “surprise, speed and force.” Try to attack with the aid of others. Don’t wait for someone else to move first, otherwise you will fall victim to the “bystander effect”—no one does anything because everyone thinks someone else is going to act first. Be smart and aggressive. This is no time for political correctness or general, civil politeness. Here are some additional important actions: »» Don’t be an easy target; walk upright, keep your head on a swivel and be alert; don’t look down at your phone, oblivious to your surroundings. »» When walking at night, turn on your tactical light or phone light so you are easily seen. »» Look under your car before entering it in case there are attackers underneath. »» Study people’s body movements. Are they shifting or hiding their hands, or trying to act too natural for the circumstances? Analyze whether the three main clusters of body language behaviors are inappropriate: (1) dominant vs. submission, (2) uncomfortable vs. comfortable, and (3) interested vs. uninterested. »» For over 20 years, ISIS has taught its followers to attack with knives or cars; and this continues to happen everywhere, including Any Town, USA. When walking down any Main Street, you should always be aware of areas where you can quickly take cover if necessary. In conclusion, please know that there is no formal profile for active shooters or terrorists. They can be any color, any religion, any sex, any age. Thus, if you regularly employ OODA and follow these fundamental rules and techniques, you will save lives.
8 Tips for Unplugging by Lily Grace In our nonstop, always accessible lives, it’s difficult to imagine just turning it all off. Surely, you have to have your phone, right? Tablet? I mean, what—no Facebook? It’s unrealistic to think that you could just find your own version of a deserted island and escape each and every day. However, there are little things you can do to take a break— even for a few minutes—from the constant running that our lives have become. Below are some suggestions. Set your email to vacation mode, even if you aren’t going on vacation. No one will know. Go out on an errand and leave your phone at home. Do not look at Facebook today. Resist the urge to post a photo of that man walking down the street in the superhero costume. Just take a mental snapshot and tell a real-life friend about it in person. Perhaps in a coffee shop. You’ll be better off for it and you might actually have others genuinely interested in your story. Take your old-school camera for a walk in nature. Notice the dew on flower petals; pay attention to the quality of the light; listen to the birds or other creatures. Take at least twenty pictures, ones that require you to
focus and pay attention. Do NOT hold the camera away from your face and take a picture of yourself for your Facebook profile. Pet your cat without your video camera at the ready. Yes, your pet might do something incredibly strange and worthy of the world’s best cat video. But chances are you won’t get 3 million views on your YouTube account anyway. And really, who cares? The point of having a pet is that they need/love you even when you’re being weird. Go outside. Go to the mountains, the rivers, the beach. Find your happy place and resist the urge to share it on social media. Just be there. Absorb it rather than being a conduit for the virtual world. Better yet, bring along a friend/loved one/total stranger to share the experience. Try a new sport. Who cares if you’re no good at it. Practice, practice, practice! Take up a new hobby that requires all your attention. Think birdwatching or knitting or roller derby, anything that occupies your entire mind. The trick is to come up with new hobbies every once in awhile. Or take your old hobby and push yourself a little.
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Out of the Mouths of Babes
Why Elementary School Students Have it Right by Stephanie Andre With the chaos of the world never ending, it’s easy to become jaded and cross. Enter the elementary school students. Never ones to mince words, these children are wise beyond their years. Following are some thoughts that give us hope for future generations.
We have a lot of stuff. We should go drive downtown and give the families and the children some food. I think that would be really nice and would help people a lot. — Emma, 8
I like our planet. We shouldn’t hurt people or animals. — Aliza, 5
I think it’s bad that people get bullied. I don’t understand why anyone cares what you look like.
We are doing a canned food drive at school. Can we donate a bunch so we beat our total from last year? It’s going to help a lot of people, I think.
A boy in my class doesn’t talk a lot and none of the boys picked him as their project partner, so I went over and told him I would work with him. That’s just so mean. He’s just quiet. I hope I made him happy.
— Tucker, 9
— Chase, 10
— Grace, 8
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9 ways to teach your kids about kindness: Be an example.
Read them books about being kind.
Talk to random people.
Give them opportunities to grow.
Love your family.
Notice when they do nice things.
Be kind to your kids.
I have a friend whose favorite color is pink. Some of the other boys made fun of him about it. I didn’t like that. Who cares what colors he likes? — Owen, 9
Someday when I’m a grown up, I’m going to have a big house and let anyone who needs a home live there. — Jasmine, 7
I hope a lady is president someday. That would be really cool. — Katie, 8
My grandma wasn’t feeling well so I asked my mom if we could make her some soup. I watched “Survivor” with her while she ate it. I don’t really like that show, but it’s her favorite so I sat with her. I think it made her happy.
I want to pack up all of my toys and give them to other kids who need them more. And books too so they can read them. — Owen, 6
— Aubrey, 9 @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 35
THE LATEST IN HOME TECH: Transforming How We Live by Bryan Silver
At a certain basic level, our homes are simple affairs—four walls and a roof over our heads have provided us both shelter and a place to raise our families for generations. Not much has really changed in regards to where we live for hundreds of years… except for a few welcomed innovations such as indoor plumbing, electricity and the HVAC system. But the new millennium has brought with it a technological tidal wave that has revolutionized the concept of what we call home and the level of connectivity that comes with it— delivering a bigger experience, although not always better. 36 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 4
So what technologies are worth investing in or which might only be a flash in the pan? Most of us don’t need the similar specter of a Betamax in the back of our closest to remind us that not all home technology is a homerun—some products aren’t worth the hassle or the pricetag if they don’t deliver a useful benefit that boosts either end of our worklife balance. So, before you attempt to integrate a new item into your already tech-laden life, read on to discover what should be hot this year and what should not in regards to home tech.
SMART IDEAS FOR SUPERIOR HOME SECURITY Paramount to many other needs in this new era of house-focused smart tech, we want to feel that our homes and the people within them are protected. Luckily, today’s technology offers a wide array of systems and components that can transform your residence into a veritable cyber-castle for relatively little cash. Say you’re sold on the idea of turning your digs into a digital fortress, where do you start? Well, the best place to begin is right at the front door with one of the latest “smart” and safe doorbells. While there are a number of manufacturers in the space, it doesn’t hurt to first look at the innovator and current leader, Ring, Inc. Once rejected by the investors of Shark Tank in 2013—known at the time as Doorbot—the company helmed by inventor Jamie Siminoff has now grown from several people helping him build a product in his garage to a $1 billion dollar leader in the industry with an entire suite of security items being sold online and in over 16,000 stores—Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson even invested in the company after seeing Siminoff on Shark Tank. With any one of Ring’s four video doorbell models, you can see who’s at your front door via your smartphone, tablet or laptop while also recording video for future review. Most come in several different finishes to match your entryway’s decor, including a $100,000 limited version that’s encrusted with sapphires. Known originally for its smart home thermostat, Nest is a tech company founded by ex-Apple employees in 2010. After expanding their product line to other “connected” home products such as cameras and smoke detectors, Nest was purchased by Google in 2014. Now they are announcing Nest Secure for 2018, the company’s long-promised foray into DIY home security. For around $500, the system comes complete with a light sensor, motion sensor, door-open detection and the ability to sync with other Nest products. Additionally, the system offers keychainbased NFC chips (a successor to RFID that utilizes near field communication) known as “Nest Tags” that allows users to turn the alarm system on and off as needed. A great feature for occasional guests or workers who might need access to your house on a limited basis, as you can program the Tags to only work during specific times of the day or week, or even set a certain time period for which they will function.
What You Need to Kno w Abo ut NFC Building on radio frequency identification (RFID) tech, NFC chips involve a form of wireless data transfer where the chip is only one part of a wireless link. When brought into proximity of another NFC device— usually a range of several centimeters or less is required—the chip is then activated and data can be transferred between the two devices. Usually the amount of data is small and it’s conducted in bursts, making it ideal not only for home security systems such as Nest Secure, but also for point-ofpurchase transactions such as Apple Pay and Microsoft Wallet.
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TAKING TELEVISION TO THE NEXT LEVEL Few will deny that inviting television into our homes literally transformed how we live our lives. Once it was the entire family gathering around a small black and white set in the living room, now it’s streaming an entire season of shows onto a device that fits into your pocket—either way, our connection with entertainment has remained strong as the shows and the technology have continued to evolve. Here are some of the newer television technologies that are worth watching for: SUPER THIN — With the advent of the flat screen, televisions have continued to get thinner and lighter during the last decade. Surely there’s a limit to how thin the devices can get, right? Well manufacturers are now pushing the physical boundaries—including the new “Wallpaper” TV from LG. It has Ultra HD resolution and a 65-inch TV screen. But the main attraction is the fact that it’s only 2.6 millimeter thick… roughly the same as three stacked quarters. The TV will cost you a bit more than that, though as it’s retailing north of $7,000.
HIGHER RESOLUTION — It might not be a bad idea to build a technology spreadsheet before heading out to shop for a new TV, as the options are beginning to get overwhelming. In previous years, consumers concerned themselves with terms like plasma, LED (light-emitting diode) and LCD (liquid crystal display). Recently, top-of-the-line TVs touted ultra HD capabilities in 4k (a new technology that produced about four times the pixels of standard 1080p HDTV). Now, you’ll want to be on the lookout for OLED, or “organic” LED, that allows
The magic of the cinema straight to yo ur living roo m.
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—Tim Cook, Apple CEO
for thin and curved screens; “high dynamic range” TVs, or HDR, that don’t just have more, but better, more dynamic pixels (similar to blu-ray, a viewed dvd needs to be produced in HDR to get the full effect); and HLG, or hybrid log gamma technology, that promises a more “broadcast-friendly” technology, as HDR currently has issues with transmission. Current problems aside, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has made positive comments that confirm Apple TV’s commitment to HDR technology. INTERNET BASED — Sure, you’ve been streaming both movies and TV shows via your broadband connection for a few years now, but many see the future of television taking a fulldeparture from set top box-based programming and offering live broadcasts and other functionality via the Web. Longtime player, Hulu, made a significant move toward this business model in 2017 with live streaming content and a built-in cloud DVR. Unveiled at this year’s CES show, the new service is barely ahead of offerings from competitors: including AT&T’s DirectTV Now, Sling TV and Playstation Vue. All options feature online accessible DVRs and the ability to view live programming (including sports and news) via only an Internet connection.
CES: 50 Years of Inno vatio n Each January, the Las Vegas Convention Center is taken over for four days by the Consumer Technology Association. It's their yearly trade show where everyone from big-names like Sony to small start-ups get the opportunity to display what they believe will be the next big thing in individual tech. You might know it better as the Consumer Electronics show—or CES— and it's reputed as THE place to promote innovation in the industry. One of the most recent shows featured 2.5 million square feet of floor space occupied by almost 4,000 individual exhibits—making it one of the largest trade shows in the United States and the largest display of consumer tech in the world.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT COULD REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION Many futurists are predicting some major changes in home tech in coming months, including some new appliance technologies that should displace inefficient technologies that have been around for the better part of a century. Read on to discover what you can expect to find in your home as we progress further into the new millenium. ULTRA-EFFICIENT HEAT PUMPS — Several companies are now producing high-tech heat pumps based on ultra-low-emission burners that offer as much as a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption. When combined with a smart thermostat, these units can heat a home for 30 to 45 percent less than a standard furnace. CARBON-FIGHTING CLOTHES DRYERS — Rather than relying on a heating element that’s been the standard electric-dryer design for almost 80 years, tomorrow’s clothes-drying technology employs a concept similar to heat pumps. By cycling on and off as it generates hot air, current prototypes could lower energy consumption by 60 percent. MAGNETIC REFRIGERATORS — Not the magnets you use to hold photos and shopping lists to the front of your fridge, this new technology works off the magnetocaloric effect to keep food cold—basically it’s the ability to lower temperature by changing the magnetic field. This would be a vast improvement upon the current vapor compression process that requires environmentally harmful gas/liquid refrigerants such as freon (r22) and Puron (r410a). SMART WINDOWS — Unless you’re running around your house adjust blinds several times a day, you’re probably allowing the sun’s rays to negatively affect the temperature inside your home. Some window manufacturers are currently working on highly insulated windows that use sensors and microprocessors to automatically adjust shading throughout the day to ensure optimal lighting, comfort and energy bill savings. BRIGHTER, BETTER LIGHTING — Many people are already making the switch to LED lights, the technology that can have your lamps and fixtures consuming as much as 85 percent less energy when compared to incandescent bulbs. Even better, the efficiency of LED bulbs is expected to double from the current 125-135 lumens per watt to 230 lumens per watt in the next few years.
HOME APPLIANCES AND HOW THEY’RE GETTING SMARTER Zoe Leavitt, senior retail and consumer packaged goods analyst at research firm CB Insights, told CNN Tech the future of the kitchen comes down to one ingredient: data. "The next generation of connected appliances will be able to make data actionable," she said. What exactly does that entail? Imagine that after your trusty fitbit tracks your every step throughout the day, it’s able to upload that data to your smart appliances, which can then make meal suggestions based on your level of physical activity and what you currently have in the refrigerator—even preheat your oven in preparation for cooking. “This data could also be shared with grocery stores to support automatic delivery,” Leavitt added. The biggest challenge will be in getting all these devices made by different manufacturers to communicate with each other.
Bringing Food to Life with a 3D Printer Surely you’re familiar with the concept of a 3D printer, usually a thermoplastic-fueled device that can translate a three dimensional computer rendering into reality at the push of a button. Well, what if the printer’s output was edible? Then you’d be talking about the world’s only 3D food printer— the Foodini. If your next question is “why a 3D food printer?” then the product’s manufacturer, Natural Machines of Barcelona, Spain, has an answer for that. They argue that the Foodini offers chefs a shortcut for the often difficult and time-consuming part of cooking that is preparation—plus, Foodini promotes healthier eating in way, because it “creates” food items from fresh ingredients without preservatives or other unnecessary additives. Currently, the world’s only 3D food printer, the Foodini is most used by professional chefs when precision work usually takes far too much time—but Natural Machines believes that their product will quickly find its way into the average home cook’s kitchen. “In essence, this is a mini food manufacturing plant shrunk down to the size of an oven,” says company co-founder Lynette Kucsma.
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CONTROL YOUR LIFE WITH THE INTERNET OF THINGS While it’s hard to imagine anyone in our modern society not being familiar with the Internet and all that it has to offer, the Internet of Things, or IoT as it’s often referred to, is bit more of an esoteric concept—one that is quickly transitioning from a “what if?” to a “what next?” state of existence. Much like the digital space we all know as the Internet, the Internet of Things is a network—only it’s one made up of physical elements: including devices, gadgets, appliances, and vehicles that are equipped with network connectivity or embedded with sensors, actuators or software that supplement other connected devices. In this way, the objects are able to
“identify” themselves to other devices and to the network itself— allowing for an awareness at all times of certain set parameters that could include the object’s location, temperature, speed if moving, etc. While most people’s current understanding of interconnectivity involves computers, tablets and smartphones, IoT speaks to a world where anything and everything could be connected. Similar to the adage “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” the Internet of Things is an environment where the connected parts are able to attain even greater capabilities because of the extensive data that— via these connections—is collected, distributed and acted upon.
IoT is transfo rming the everyday physical objects that surro und us into an eco system of info rmatio n that will enrich o ur lives. Fro m refrigerato rs to parking spaces to ho uses, the IoT is b ringing mo re and mo re things into the digital fold every day.
ACCOMPLISH MORE VIA A VOICE-ACTIVATED ASSISTANT Surely you’ve seen the commercials. “Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?” Similar to Siri for your home,
Has Amazo n Beco me a Bit Too Friendly? For many who employ smart home tech, there’s still a barrier between their personal space and the outside world, but that might be changing with a new service from Amazon—mainly the Seattle company’s new Key Service. Haven’t heard of it yet? You should have if you’re a member of Prime—Amazon’s subscription service that, among other things, offers free 2-day shipping option on many items that are directly fulfilled by Amazon.com. Announced to Prime members by email in the fall of 2017, Amazon Key Service is a new way to ensure all of one’s orders through Amazon are delivered safely—namely by giving delivery people direct access into your living room through a system of Internet-connected smart locks and webcams. Only Amazon has the ability to unlock your door by sending a cloud-based code to the door’s lock, also allowing you to schedule other visits for things like cleaning, maintenance and food delivery through Amazon (the new owners of Whole Foods). To ensure that everything is on the up-andup, the system allows you to monitor all entries and actions through cloud-based recording cameras.
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voice-activated personal assistants—sometimes called smart speakers—such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s HomePod all stand at the ready, prepared to assist in whatever way possible as soon as you utter their name. Of course, how is it exactly that they can help with your daily life? While each one differs slightly, you can expect to be able to turn music on and off, control certain smart-home devices (i.e. turn on lights, turn down thermostat) and conduct an Internet search for the answer of whatever question you care to speak aloud—including updates on traffic, stock performance and weather.
Alexa, buy me a Sparkle Mansion dollhouse and some sugar cookies.
Of course, the most important question many want to ask is one that focuses on security rather than capabilities—is an Internetconnected device that’s “always” listening a good idea? Currently, it’s estimated that about 20 million homes have a voice-activated assistant plugged in. While no stories of abuse have materialized yet, digital security experts Symantec warn that, “a hacker, or even just a mischief-minded friend or neighbor, could cause havoc if they gained access.” This potential rises to even a greater threat when you consider that Amazon’s Alexa is connected to their oneclick shopping technology (you can deactivate it). One recent story involved a young Dallas girl asking Alexa for a dollhouse and sugar cookies, both of which arrived on the family’s doorstep that very evening. Soon after that, San Diego TV news anchor, Jim Patton, was reporting on the story and repeated the exact child’s request on camera—the broadcast’s audio then triggering the same purchase in other people’s homes. Certainly not the norm, but it is something to consider before buying such a device for your home.
COULD NEW TECH DELIVER MORE THAN CONVENIENCE? All in all, there are a lot of interesting technologies for 2018 that promise a simpler, better life through technology. But could the accumulation of all these advance appliances and gadgets be, in more ways than one, opening the proverbial Pandora’s box? As we move more toward a world that is populated and powered by “smart” things, we exponentially open vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Recent headlines have drawn an all-too-clear picture of what’s at stake once an entity’s security is breached—while public attention has focused on the database derailments of large corporations, one must wonder what could be compromised in the near future once the majority of our homes have gone smart. The good news is that we can avoid problems in the future with a certain amount of caution in the present. Experts warn that every connected product you bring into your home could potentially open a backdoor to some unsavory individuals—those who are looking to gain access to your personal information and possibly distribute it on
the dark Web. Again, is there a real threat with that new WIFI enabled toaster? Probably not. Your best bet is to make a habit of conducting research—not just where to buy and what to pay, but also what peers think of the product and whether or not there have been any red flags from industry experts. Ultimately, you should always make intelligent purchase decisions by analyzing each and every “smart” device before connecting it to your home system and/or the Internet—remember that it just takes a little effort upfront to ensure you get the most out of your new technology! @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 41
Diet Changes You Should Make For Better Health by Bret Hanna uman bodies change as we age. Metabolism slows, so it becomes easier to put weight on and harder to take it off. Hormones also start shifting in your 40s, so once you pass that benchmark it is important to consider some changes to your diet. What helped you maintain a healthy lifestyle when you were younger quite likely will no longer work after you turn 40. Also, as you move into, through and beyond your 40s, the risk of heart disease and cancer increases—so maintaining a healthy diet becomes very important to help fend off both. Some suggestions may appear to be counter-intuitive. Most people have heard that “bread is bad for you,” especially in large quantities. But whole grain breads, in moderation, contain a type of Vitamin E that can help lower the risk for degenerative brain conditions that are correlated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s. By now, most people have also heard of so-called “super foods.” One of the most talked about is kale. It is loaded with an antioxidant that helps the body turn glucose into energy. That helps with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. The same antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid, has been shown to help lower rates of stroke, glaucoma and diabetes. Also, red or “reddish” fruits and vegetables should be put on your must eat list. Red bell peppers, papaya, pink guava, watermelon and, of course, tomatoes are good sources of lycopene. Lycopene and beta carotene, another antioxidant found in these fruits and vegetables, have been shown to have potent anti-cancer properties. Pro tip: cooking certain fruits like tomatoes (yes, it is a fruit, not a vegetable) can help the body more readily absorb the antioxidants. Orange fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin (fruit) and carrot
(vegetable) are also rich in carotenoids like beta carotene. Again, carotenoids are good cancer fighters, particularly breast cancer. Dark leafy greens and yellow or purple vegetables are also sources carotenoids, but the best sources are carrots and canned pumpkin. When it comes to cooking and preparing food, use plantbased oils. Sunflower and soybean oil contain decent amounts of polyunsaturated fats—good fats that help fend off diabetes—but the best source is olive oil. Another good source of polyunsaturated fats is nuts. Walnuts and sunflower seeds are the best sources of the good fats, but flaxseed, pine nuts, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are also good sources. For the over 40 crowd, fish is an excellent dietary choice. Lake trout, sardines, herring and mackerel offer great heart protective benefits, but fatty fish like salmon are the best at protecting the ticker. The primary benefit of berries is contributing fiber to the diet. Most people ingest less than one third of the recommended daily fiber consumption, which is to 20 to 30 grams per day. Underconsumption of fiber can lead to digestive and gut health issues. While most berries are good sources of fiber, raspberries carry the day with about 8 grams of fiber per cup. And when it comes to fiber, also think legumes. Split peas and lentils are the best sources in the legume family. Finally, don’t overlook the dietary magic of avocados. Avocados are chock-full of healthy fats that offer the nifty benefit of hunger suppression. They are also ridiculously versatile as a food stuff. They can be used as spread on things like toast, in salads, on sandwiches and burgers, in guacamole or other dips, and of course, on their own with a little seasoning or lemon juice. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 43
Apple Cider Vinegar: A Glass a Day Can Do Quite a Lot by Caroleen Brej
etoxing. Healing. Revitalizing. The holy grail of the
however, the research is not so definitive. Published by the
fountain of youth. Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is regarded as a simple and ancient miracle elixir. For centuries, civilizations in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and the Roman Empire used it for its medicinal and healing benefits. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, even prescribed this nutrient-dense powerhouse mixed with honey to cure all sorts of ailments. Surely, he was on to something. Today, apple cider vinegar is linked to curing everything from the common cold to the hiccups, as well as promoting youthful skin, removing toxins, assisting digestion, and aiding in weight loss. What is this miracle drink, exactly? ACV is a vinegar made from fermented apples. The fermentation process converts the apple’s natural sugars into alcohol, and is also responsible for creating its infamous pungent smell and sour taste. It has a slightly higher mineral and vitamin content compared to other vinegars, and contains pectin which naturally occurs in apples. How can you incorporate ACV into your diet? ACV is pungent and sour. To make it more palatable, it can be added to marinades, brines, sauces, soups, salad dressings, and smoothies, or consumed as a tonic by diluting one teaspoon (gradually working up to 1-2 tablespoons) in a glass full of water and even some honey as Hippocrates directed. Beware, however, to not drink it straight as it can damage your tooth enamel and throat. There is both filtered or unfiltered ACV; unfiltered is often unpasteurized and contains leftover bacteria—“the mother”— which some claim has potent medicinal properties. Does ACV lead to weight loss? One manufacturer of ACV touts its weight loss benefits and plenty of hype surrounds its weight loss properties. Studies have shown that acid buildup in the body may result in weight gain, and ACV helps to alkalize the body thereby aiding in weight loss. Some ACV consumers also feel that their appetite is suppressed after ingestion before meals
medical journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry in 2009, one notable study of 175 obese Japanese subjects found that, at the end of a 12-week period, participants who consumed vinegar had a lower body weight, BMI, and body fat mass compared to the participants who consumed no vinegar. The study investigators concluded that “daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.” The results of the study have been met with skepticism, however, as the actual amount of weight lost was minimal—only 2 to 4 pounds in over three months. Researchers believe that much larger, randomized scientific trials are necessary to prove a link between vinegar and weight loss. While ACV may not directly be proven as the cause for weight loss, it has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels in humans, reducing and even preventing cravings for sugar or unhealthy foods. A study that examined the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults [Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2010] found that drinking vinegar before eating meals composed of complex carbohydrates decreased the change in glucose that would otherwise occur after the meal. It is believed that the acetic acid in the vinegar blocks the absorption of starch, which may help control blood sugar spike, thereby assisting in appetite control, and in turn, weight loss by reducing caloric intake. A 2005 Swedish study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition also demonstrated that taking ACV before a meal reduced cravings to snack hours afterwards. What is the verdict on ACV and weight loss? Although ACV does not cause weight loss, it does aid in weight loss. Of course, simply incorporating ACV into your diet will not outweigh adverse health effects of a poor diet or will it simply negate caloric intake. To truly reap the weight loss benefits of this miracle elixir, one should also maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
and that it reduces water retention. Together with the natural energy boost from the vinegar, some truly believe in and can attest to weight loss benefits. While ACV has been shown to assist in weight loss, researchers say it does not actually burn fat on its own. Studies of obese rats show that acetic acid, the main component of ACV, can suppress body fat accumulation and metabolic disorders. For humans,
The information provided within this article is provided for information only, and not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or a specific medical condition before trying this or any new regimen.
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THE CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO ALL THINGS SAFETY
We’re on the Web and in Your Hands. Welcome to the all-new Living Safer, the same magazine you’ve come to know and love...just with a more inviting look and feel. And while the face may have changed, our pledge ; the best in safety information— from new trends and wellness to lifestyle, home and more.
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Family Dynamics: Promoting Empathetic Siblings When a Child Has a Developmental Disability by Meghan Murray 46 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 4
F A M I LY
several internalizing (i.e. depression and anxiety) and externalizing
Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago—the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider.... It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.
– Jane Mersky Leder
(i.e. behavioral outbursts, aggression) problems that can develop during childhood and continue into adulthood. Factors such as increased family stress, lack of family communication, and negative sibling perception can play a role in leading to internalizing and externalizing problems from the TD child. Parents who are overwhelmed can create a more stressful family environment, which reduces positive sibling interactions and leads to decreased perceived social support of the parents from the view of the TD child. With that being said, TD children/ adults also report positive outcomes from having a sibling with DD, such as feeling more mature than their peers, feeling more empathetic, kind, altruistic, and tolerant of others, and have a drive to enter into a caring profession. Less stressful
Siblings contribute to our lives in so many ways: they are caring,
family environments have been linked to better psychological
love without judgment, sometimes even love with judgment, they
adjustment of all the family members involved.
stick up for you, they are understanding, get on your last nerve, know all your good and bad traits, remember family inside jokes, and know the rollercoaster ride that your family has been on. Brothers and sisters are influential people in our lives and help form and shape us into the person we each become. With that being said, not all sibling relationships are the same—and how could they be when everyone is different, just like our fingerprints. However, some sibling relationships fall into what clinicians and researchers would call a “typical” sibling relationship pattern while other sibling relationships are “atypical.” One type of atypical sibling relationship is a relationship between a neurotypically developing child/adult, or what is commonly referred to as typically developing (TD), and their sibling with a developmental disability (DD). Growing up with a sibling who has been diagnosed
So how do parents with a child with a DD create this environment within the home to allow for these positive outcomes to develop within their TD child/children? In a 2002 study conducted by Dr. Julia of Yale University’s Child Study Center, results suggested that by having open communication, parents were better able to predict their TD child’s worries about their sibling with a DD. In a similar vein, parents who typically made an effort to teach their TD child/children about their sibling’s diagnosis so the TD child/children could better understand why they need to help their sibling, were found to be in agreement with their parents about how strong of a relationship they had with their sibling. These findings suggest that open communication about the DD sibling’s disability can lead to better family adaption to the disability. In summation, TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN! Talking about
with a DD can present different benefits and challenges than those
or talking through stressors in your life is never a bad thing
for children/adults with typical sibling relationships. Neurotypically
(hence why we have psychologists), especially when it involves
developing siblings of children with a DD are among those most
those close to you. Creating an open and honest environment
influenced by the diagnosis, as they are the family members that
where dialogue can ensue between parents and their children
have the longest relationship with their sibling and can even
about their DD sibling’s diagnosis can lead to their TD child/
assume care for the individual later in life.
children positively adjusting to the disability and to the ultimate
Having a sibling with DD can affect the TD child by causing
development of an empathic child/children.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 47
How to Bring about Healthy Change by Chad McCoy early 1 in 3 children (ages 2-19) in the United States are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for serious future health problems. Additionally, the problem is growing, as childhood obesity is now 10 time higher than 40 years ago. There are many factors that contribute to these unsettling numbers, but most have simple solutions. The root of a person’s health comes from what they consume as fuel for their bodies. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), only 27 percent of Americans eat the recommended three servings of vegetables per day. When your children aren’t filling their bodies with nutritional fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to snack on junk food and sugary snacks. Convenience often determines what we eat, so be sure to keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand for healthy snack choices. As another option for ensuring that your children are giving their bodies the fuel they need during mealtimes, serve the meats and starches at the stove, but bring fruits and vegetables to the table. Making healthy choices the only options available for seconds will cut down on portion sizes and increase consumption of vital nutrient-rich foods. Even when your family is craving one of their go-to junk meals, try to think of ways to make it a little healthier: such as using less cheese, salt, or butter. Help your children to understand what
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foods are good for their health and what should be reserved for a special treat. Establishing healthy eating habits is a very important step towards a healthier family. Another critical point is physical activity. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and adults need at least 30 minutes daily. Reaching your physical activity goals shouldn’t always feel like work. Getting an hour of activity can be as simple as going for a walk or playing a game of soccer in your backyard. Setting aside time for your family to be physically active together is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Many people excuse their lack of activity by saying there simply aren’t enough hours in a day—but these same individuals can often be found talking about their favorite show or what they recently read on social media. Studies show that school-age children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day watching TV and using electronics, making the move to cut back on screen time obvious— this will not only help your family to feel like there is more time for necessary activities, but it can also help in cutting back on unnecessary snacking. Regardless of your child’s weight, do not put your child on a weight-reduction diet without talking to your healthcare provider. A good first step would be to encourage your child to make healthier choices in order to take care of their bodies for life!
We Are Not Enemies Why SAHMs and Working Moms Aren’t as Different as You Might Think by Stephanie Andre I have always been a “working mom.” Never in my 13-plus years
We have more in common than you think.
of being a parent was that ever negotiable. It’s just something I
Some of my closest friends are SAHMs. I work. Yes, these are
had to do. But what if things were different. What if I’d had the
differences—but what about the similarities? We have the same
opportunity to stay home and had done so? Would I be the same
values. Our children are still friends. We have many of the same
person I am today? Would I yearn for equal portions adult vs.
interests. Why would I limit myself and my friendships to only
child conversations? Would I be happy? And, honestly, would I be
other working moms? Why would I assume that SAHMs had no
a good mom?
interest in being friends with me?
While the great debate continues to rage on in the ridiculous
All moms should keep an open mind and find people they
“war” on the merits of the stay-at-home mom vs. the working
can relate to—that doesn’t start and end with where you spend
mom, there are certain things that are simple truths, regardless of
the side to which you lean.
“As a stay-at-home mom, I sacrifice every day.”
Ugh, bedtime. Regardless of what you’ve done since this morning, bedtime is—
Regardless of whether you stay home with the kids or go to work
unequivocally—the roughest part of the day for any parent. If you
each day, you make a sacrifice. Then again, isn’t that (even a little
work, you are squeezing in afternoon pickups with dinner (did I re-
bit) what happens when you become a parent? Yes, there are
member to defrost something?!), homework, baths, teeth brushing
some SAHMs who have great privilege and, even on one income,
and storytime … and then even negotiating the turning off of the
experience the finer things in life.
light. If you’re a SAHM, most of the same rules apply.
However, a more realistic view is the mom who chooses to stay
Either way, you are exhausted and spent from the entire day and
home and then forgoes that additional salary and—with it—some
are looking for any burst of energy you can find to get to the eu-
of the luxuries in life. And I don’t mean real luxuries. I mean
phoria that comes with closing your child’s bedroom door at night.
things such as owning a home, hobbies, a gym membership or even certain foods from the grocery store (hello, budget!). For
You’re a parent. What’s a break?
these moms, however, these “sacrifices”—as some call them—
You’re in it. That’s it. You’ve made this choice to have children and
are worth it.
this is what comes with it. Yes, you are tired. Yes, you have fears.
“I have to work.”
You still want them to try new things and stand on their own two feet as they grow and develop. You still worry about them when
Give these moms the benefit of the doubt. If they say they “have”
they’re not with you … and even when they are. This doesn’t
to work, they probably do. Whether it’s working to pay the
change because you wore yoga pants on a Wednesday or you just
regular bills, working to pay a child’s tuition or working because
jumped off a flight from who knows where.
they need the adult interaction/child balance, give them a break. Chances are, these moms are better parents for it. The worst thing you can say to a woman who works is that she
What matters are the hugs, kisses, shared laughs and once-ina-lifetime moments with your kids. Sometimes it’s knowing that the choices you’ve made are helping you give your children a
doesn’t have to have a job. No one willingly chooses day after
better life—and that comes in many different ways. Again, same
day to go to work in lieu of spending time with their kids. If they
rules apply to SAHMs and working moms. Just one more similarity
have to go, they do. Don’t judge.
between the two. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 49
New Research: Children’s Screen Time Guidelines Too Restrictive by Jim Edward
et’s face it: a staple of life these days is screen time—for adults and children, whether they
are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Pediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact of overusing technology on people’s wellbeing. However, new Oxford University research suggests that existing guidance managing children’s digital media time may not be as beneficial as first thought. Earlier this year, doctors published a paper discussing digital device guidelines for teenagers and proposing that a moderate amount of screen time, known as the ‘Goldilocks’ period, might actually boosts teenage wellbeing. In a new study, published in the journal Child Development, researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University conducted a similar study, assessing the impact of screen-time on children ages 2-5. The team tested screen use guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which proposes a limit of one to two hours per day, as good for the psychological-wellbeing of young children. Using data from approximately 20,000 telephone interviews with parents, the authors assessed the relationship between their children’s technology use and wellbeing. Over the course of a month, this relationship was measured in terms of caregiver attachment, impact on emotional resilience, curiosity and positive effect. The results revealed a number of interesting findings that suggest that limiting children’s digital device use is not necessarily beneficial for wellbeing. The team found no consistent correlations between either the 2010 or revised 2016 advised digital usage limits and young children’s wellbeing. While children aged two to five whose technology usage was limited in-line with AAP guidance showed slightly higher levels of resilience, this was balanced by lower levels of positive affect.
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Further research indicates similar results to those reported in the recent study of adolescents; that moderate screen-use above the recommended limits might actually be linked to slightly higher levels of children’s wellbeing. Lead author Andrew Pryzbylski, M.D., of the Oxford Internet Institute, said: “Taken together, our findings suggest that there is little or no support for the theory that digital screen use, on its own, is bad for young children’s psychological wellbeing. “If anything, our findings suggest the broader family context, how parents set rules about digital screen time, and if they’re actively engaged in exploring the digital world together, are more important than the raw screen time. Future research should focus on how using digital devices with parents or caregivers and turning it into a social time can affect children’s psychological wellbeing, curiosity, and the bonds with the caregiver involved.” The paper’s other findings of note include observations that our digital screen use increases with age, is higher in boys, non-whites, children with less educated caregivers and children from less affluent households. The authors found the AAP guidelines themselves to be based on out-of-date research, conducted before digital devices had become so ingrained into everyday life. As a result of this time lapse, they are becoming increasingly difficult to justify and implement. Co-author Dr. Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University, said: ‘Given that we cannot put the digital genie back in the bottle, it is incumbent on researchers to conduct rigorous, up-to-date research that identifies mechanisms by and the extent to which screen-time exposure might affect children. Pryzbylski adds in conclusion: “To be robust, current recommendations may need to be re-evaluated and given additional consideration before we can confidently recommend that these digital screen-time limits are good for young children’s mental health and wellbeing.“
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 51
Childhood Anxiety is a Real Thing How to Help Kids Cope by Lily Grace
hen a child has anxious tendencies, it’s frustrating for
Don’t reinforce the child’s fears.
parents who, at times, can feel helpless and alone.
What you don’t want to do is be saying, with your tone of voice or
Following are some tips and advice for helping your child
body language: “Maybe this is something that you should be afraid
navigate through his/her most anxious moments, according to the
of.” Let’s say a child has had a negative experience with a dog.
Child Mind Institute.
Next time she’s around a dog, you might be anxious about how she
You can’t eliminate anxiety, but help a child manage it.
will respond, and you might unintentionally send a message that she should, indeed, be worried.
None of us wants to see a child unhappy, but the best way to help kids overcome anxiety isn’t to try to remove stressors that trigger it.
Encourage the child to tolerate her anxiety.
It’s to help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function as well as
Let your child know that you appreciate the work it takes to tolerate
they can, even when they’re anxious. And as a byproduct of that, the
anxiety in order to do what she wants or needs to do. It’s really
anxiety will decrease or fall away over time.
encouraging her to engage in life and to let the anxiety take its
Don’t avoid things just because they make a child anxious.
natural curve. We call it the “habituation curve”—it will drop over time as she continues to have contact with the stressor. It might not
Helping children avoid the things they are afraid of will make them
drop to zero, it might not drop as quickly as you would like, but
feel better in the short term, but it reinforces the anxiety over the
that’s how we get over our fears.
long run. If a child in an uncomfortable situation gets upset, starts to cry—not to be manipulative, but just because that’s how she feels—
Try to keep the anticipatory period short.
and her parents whisk her out of there, or remove the thing she’s
When we’re afraid of something, the hardest time is really before
afraid of, she’s learned that coping mechanism, and that cycle has
we do it. So another rule of thumb for parents is to really try to
the potential to repeat itself.
eliminate or reduce the anticipatory period. If a child is nervous
Express positive—but realistic—expectations.
about going to a doctor’s appointment, you don’t want to launch into a discussion about it two hours before you go; that’s likely to
You can’t promise a child that her fears are unrealistic—that she
get your child more keyed up. So just try to shorten that period to
won’t fail a test, that she’ll have fun ice skating, or that another
child won’t laugh at her during show and tell. But you can express confidence that she’s going to be okay, she will be able to manage it,
Think things through with the child.
and that, as she faces her fears, the anxiety level will drop over time.
Sometimes it helps to talk through what would happen if a child’s
This gives her confidence that your expectations are realistic, and
fear came true—how would she handle it? A child who’s anxious
that you’re not going to ask her to do something she can’t handle.
about separating from her parents might worry about what would
Respect her feelings, but don’t empower them.
happen if they didn’t come to pick her up. So we talk about that. If your mom doesn’t come at the end of soccer practice, what
It’s important to understand that validation doesn’t always mean
would you do? “Well I would tell the coach my mom’s not here.”
agreement. So if a child is terrified about going to the doctor
And what do you think the coach would do? “Well he would call
because she’s due for a shot, you don’t want to belittle her fears,
my mom. Or he would wait with me.” A child who’s afraid that a
but you also don’t want to amplify them.You want to listen and be
stranger might be sent to pick her up can have a code word from
empathetic, help her understand what she’s anxious about, and
her parents that anyone they sent would know. For some kids,
encourage her to feel that she can face her fears. The message you
having a plan can reduce the uncertainty in a healthy, effective way.
want to send is, “I know you’re scared, and that’s OK, and I’m here, and I’m going to help you get through this.”
Don’t ask leading questions.
Try to model healthy ways of handling anxiety. There are multiple ways you can help kids handle anxiety by letting them see how you cope with anxiety yourself. Kids are perceptive,
Encourage your child to talk about her feelings, but try not to ask
and they’re going to take it in if you keep complaining on the
leading questions— “Are you anxious about the big test? Are
phone to a friend that you can’t handle the stress or the anxiety. I’m
you worried about the science fair?” To avoid feeding the cycle of
not saying to pretend that you don’t have stress and anxiety, but let
anxiety, just ask open-ended questions: “How are you feeling about
kids hear or see you managing it calmly, tolerating it, feeling good
the science fair?”
about getting through it.
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Things to Consider Before You Close or Refinance by John Bair
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he world of mortgages has changed significantly since 2008, as the days of getting 125 percent loan to value (LTV) are long gone. If you are buying for the first time or are considering a refinance or a second mortgage, there are a few key components to keep in mind when it comes to financing your home.
Your credit score matters Managing your score monthly should be part of your financial workout. The free services and paid-for monitoring by each of the big three—Equifax, Experian and Transunion— provide you with what’s on your report and how to improve your score. It may be worth a score consult from a reputable company like MyFico or Credit Karma. Cleaning up the errors and any erroneous information can bump your score up 50 to 100 points in 60 days, a change that can result in a lower interest rate. To give you some context on what that could actually look like for a 30-year investment, a $250,000 mortgage will cost you only $442,000 at 4.25% vs. $470,000 at 5.00%. That’s a difference of $28,000 in additional interest over the life of the loan. Thus, a lower interest rate due to a higher credit score makes it worth some elbow grease on your part on the front end.
Getting the best RATE For first time homebuyers, there is no better program than the FHA (Federal Housing Administration). Current FHA rates are around 3.5% APR. Or, if you are a service member, the VA loan can be very attractive. For those who pursue a standard mortgage, working with a reputable mortgage broker is a good idea. It may seem like an additional cost, but in my experience their knowledge is worth it. Little-known industry practices like lenders paying points based on the rate you are approved at as additional compensation, seldom with disclosures, is the primary reason mortgage brokers are so valuable. They are the only expert in the process who not only discloses their compensation, but is working solely for you. For instance, working with the mortgage person affiliated with your real estate broker or with your local bank can lead to back-end compensation arrangements that prevent you from getting the best rate. The independent mortgage broker brings competition, disclosure and professionalism to a relatively misunderstood industry. The 15- and 30-year fixed are the products you should focus on for your primary mortgage. As of press time, the interest rates for such loans are at about 3.5% and 4.5% respectively, according to bankrate.com. Although initially attractive, a 5/1 ARM (which is an adjustable rate mortgage) costs less interest at the start. In our nation’s current interest rate environment, those rates will go up, and refinancing into a fixed 30-year in a few years from now will be costly over the long haul. Locking in at the lowest interests in our nation’s history now should be a goal.
If you can afford the payments associated with the 15year fixed mortgage, we strongly recommend considering it for the lower interest cost and duration. A $250,000 mortgage over 15 years costs $321,000, but your monthly payment will be $1,700. The same mortgage over 30 years costs $456,000, at the rate of $1,257 a month. That’s a whopping $145,000 in additional interest, and greater than 50 percent of the value of your home. If you are on the fence, or your income may fluctuate over the years, then the 30-year is safer, as long as there are no prepayment penalties or clauses. Just paying an additional $450 on the 30-year mortgage turns it into a 15. So you have the flexibility with no cost, but your rate will be higher.
The costs at closing can add up! Private mortgage insurance, also called PMI, is a type of cost you might be required to pay for if you have a conventional loan. Like other kinds of mortgage insurance, PMI protects the lender—not you—if you stop making payments on your loan. PMI is arranged by the lender and provided by private insurance companies. PMI is usually required when you have a conventional loan and make a down payment of less than 20 percent. Even if you’re refinancing with a conventional loan and your equity is less than 20 percent of the value of your home, PMI will most likely be required. What many homebuyers forget is that, in just 3 to 4 years, their home could appraise for significantly more, and a refinance—even though you may not achieve a better rate—could eliminate this dead cost. Taking out a small home equity loan, and paying down your primary below the 80 percent is also an option.
College you say? Financing your kids’ education using a home equity loan can be a relief to many parents who may be falling short on their kids’ college savings. The interest on these loans hovers at 3.75%, typically doesn’t carry a monthly minimum principal payment, and, at least under current law, the interest is tax deductible against your gross taxable income if you itemize. Making the real costs of the borrowing (assuming you work or are self-employed and have taxable income) realistically in the low-to-high 2%. Compare that to Sallie Mae at 6%, and you have yourself a bargain.
The details Costs and more costs. Mortgage stamp tax can be a significant closing cost item, so if you are considering a refinance, talk to your mortgage specialist about all of the costs necessary to close. Most lenders are willing to roll these costs in, but an additional $10,000 in closing costs upfront could wipe out any benefit to doing the refinance in the first place. Take that $10,000 and just prepay your existing mortgage and you’ll be ahead!
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 55
Dos and Don’ts
Electrical Safety Inside Your Home by Brittany Monbarren
Install cords under rugs where they will become worn by foot traffic. It can also become a fire hazard should something go wrong with it.
Yank electrical cords from the wall— this can damage both the plug and the outlet.
Attempt to fix an electrical appliance or tool while the unit is plugged in.
Check every electrical cord in a room for any damage and looseness. If it's damaged, replace or repair the cord.
Keep resetting a breaker that trips. If it trips immediately after you reset it, there's a potential electrical problem that needs to be further investigated before you use it again.
Keep all electrical devices away from water sources.
Overload a circuit by plugging in too many appliances.
Use a quality surge suppressor with enough sockets for every component.
Use extension cords for large appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, or anything else that pulls a lot of power.
Cover all electrical outlets and wall switches with cover plates, and replace any that are damaged.
Use extension cords only on a temporary basis.
Keep appliances clean and free of dust, lint and grease.
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The Ins and Outs of Deferred Attorney Fees by John T. Bair
or attorneys who want to create a supplemental retirement fund, manage the cash flow of their law firm, or protect themselves from being bumped into a higher tax bracket, attorney fees should be considered as a viable investment option. In Richard A. Childs, Et al. v Commissioner of Internal Revenue, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that attorneys who elect to structure their fees will not have to pay taxes on those payments until the year the income is received. This allows attorneys to spread out their income, rather than getting hit with a large tax bill in one year.
At what point do I need to decide to defer my fees? You must elect to structure your fees prior to settlement; it must be included in the settlement agreement. You can’t have constructive receipt of the money to be structured. It should be paid to the life insurance company via an assignment company.
What if I worked on the case with another attorney? Am I still eligible? Yes, you can still structure your fees. The stream of payments can be split among more than one attorney. Should more than one decide to structure, each gets their own unique payment schedule.
Is an attorney fee flexible? Yes. You should choose a plan that best fits your individual needs.
How is my “attorney fee deferral” accomplished? The attorneys deferred assets are custodied at TD Ameritrade Institutional, and our team develops an investment strategy that is customized specifically do you and your family. The best wealth management approach for most of our attorney clients is a well diversified individual stock portfolio that is mid and large cap dividend growth heavy.
What factors should I consider?
How are payments made?
There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding whether or not to do an attorney fee structure:
Payments can be made either to you or to your firm. Fee payments can be affected by a number of factors, including the type of incorporation the firm has (e.g. LLC, PC, etc.), dissolution plans of the firm, tax advantage, etc.
»» Age »» Health »» Present financial needs and goals »» Future needs and goals (college, retirement, etc.) »» Tax bracket »» Risk tolerance
Can I elect to defer a fee if my client elects to receive their settlement proceeds in a lump sum? In most cases, you may create your fees regardless of what your client decides to do.
About the Firm
What does it cost to do a deferral? As administrator, our firm charges 1% annually on the assets in the program. Monolith Advisers is our Registered Investment Adviser that provides the investment advice. Disclaimer: Milestone Consulting, LLC does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult an attorney and/or estate planning expert if you have questions regarding the legal or tax implications of your structured attorney fees.
Milestone Consulting, LLC is a comprehensive settlement planning and management firm. We believe that injured plaintiffs and their families deserve strategies designed to ensure a lifetime of financial security. Our consultants are licensed in all fifty states to provide guidance on settlementrelated issues including government benefits preservation, trust planning, Medicare Set-Asides, wealth preservation and annuities. We also provide mediation support to assist the plaintiff in reaching a settlement that will meet their present and future medical and financial needs.
737 Main Street, Suite 100 Buffalo, NY 14203 (716) 883-1833 (855) 836-2676 www.milestoneseventh.com
In addition to our work with plaintiffs and trial attorneys, we actively support a number of civil justice organizations, including The Injury Board, the American Association for Justice, EndDD and statewide associations in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit our website at www.milestoneseventh.com.
Your partner. Your advocate. Your Milestone. At Milestone Consulting, we are focused on providing a seamless transition for your clients as they enter the settlement portion of their litigation. We understand that the most important thing is to look after the client’s best interest and serve as an invested fiduciary as we guide them through the often overwhelming settlement process. Our belief is that the only successful outcome is one that properly addresses and safeguards the legal, financial, and emotional well-being of your client. By leveraging our expertise and years of experience navigating the ins and outs of all manner of settlements, we are able to help your client develop the right plan for a bright future. Our Services: · · · · · · · · · ·
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