Same principle for utensils: choose high-end stainless for longevity, or temp-resistant silicones to avoid scratches and preserve the quality and aesthetic of your cookware. The perfect knife is always an important tool. German-made and Swiss-forged steel like Victorinox Swiss Army can be seen everywhere from meatpacking plants to four-star restaurants to many home kitchens. High quality materials along with ergonomic designs will meet your many slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing needs. The investment in good cutlery should last 20 or more years.
Cookware and Utensils Maybe you’re equipping your first kitchen, or maybe you’re simply modernizing your existing kitchen. What area should you focus on first? Cookware. Cookware is one of the most important and useful tools you’ll hopefully have for the duration of your cooking life. Start with good quality, a good brand and a good warranty. You’ll have choices like heavy duty stainless, aluminum, copper, non-stick, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and a variety of anything in between. Making the wrong choice can end in discoloration, dents and even broken pots and pans.
Material Matters There are a variety of materials that you can choose from for your cookware. One fan favorite is copper. Many high-end professional cooks and even many home cooks enjoy copper. It’s not only beautiful but it is the best conductor of heat. When choosing cookware, the top choice tends to be the French-made products such as the Mauviel brand, handcrafted of the finest copper and stainless materials. When it comes to silicone, which is very popular now, choose utensils that are temp-resistant to 500 or 600 degrees. Handles are a personal preference and
KITCHEN he kitchen is where most of us spend the majority of our time. We prepare our food there, we eat our food there; we even socialize there. So this location is a big part of our lives. But our kitchen may only be as good as what we have in it. Make sure you equip your kitchen with the right appliances, utensils and accessories in order to keep it not only functional, but a unique part of your home.
come in a variety of options like wood, stainless and nylon. Silicone is a very versatile material and comes in many colors and patterns. Bake ware is now available in silicone too. Another favorite is sure-seal reusable silicone lids. Toss the cellophane and foils with these and make the environment happy too. Good Gadgets As mentioned earlier knives are essential to food prep, but consider hand-held juicers, hullers, slicers, corers, measurers and mixing bowls. Who doesn’t love a good mixing bowl? They can even double as food storage containers and serving bowls with all the colorful melamine and plastic ones available. Stainless is even an option. Gadgets can make food preparation not only simple but fun. Recap Remember, begin with good cookware and utensils that could quite possibly last a lifetime. Make sure you choose the right materials to suit your needs. Also remember to take into consideration where the best brands are made. Gadgets in your kitchen can help you prepare with ease and speed. When equipping your first kitchen or doing a total revamp… remember these easy tips.
bakery is not a necessity, but what keeps customers coming back is quality baked goods and genuine customer service. With a bakery in every grocery store and custom bakeries becoming a national trend thanks to shows like Cake Boss and websites like Pinterest, it’s hard to know which one to choose. Visiting a local bakery should be a personal experience from the people behind the counter to the goods in the refrigerator case. Bakeries that go the extra mile from making custom cakes for birthdays and weddings, all the way down to the everyday breakfast item are sure to resonate with customers. The first thing to consider when choosing a bakery
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is what calls to your sweet tooth? Do you prefer cookies and cupcakes, donuts and biscuits or are you looking for a custom cake for a special occasion? Your best option may be a bakery that offers a little bit of everything. Another important thing to consider is your budget. If stopping by for an afternoon snack, price may not be too much of a factor, but when placing a custom order, consider a bakery with moderate prices and quality ingredients. Feel free to ask the bakery about its ingredients. A good baker should be proud of the ingredients they bake into their desserts. If they won’t disclose the information, there’s probably a reason you don’t want to buy or eat their food. Sacrificing quality ingredients for a lower price point isn’t the way to go. For major orders like custom made birthday or wedding cakes, bakeries often
let you sit down for a tasting and talk with you about ingredients, price and ideas for the overall look of your cake. When you first go to the bakery, make sure to notice the neatness and cleanliness of the shop and its employees. Before you walk through the door, the number of cars in the parking lot can speak for the popularity of the place especially if you go at peak business hours. For a special occasion custom cake, communication is key. You should feel like the bakery is listening to you and willing to go above and beyond to make a cake that will make your occasion truly special. Look at pictures of the bakery’s past work, and compare those cakes to competitors in the local area. For smaller orders, when tastings aren’t probable, go by word of mouth. A bakery that’s on the tip of each tongue is sure to have tasty treats.
Achieve your wellness
re your health and fitness resolutions slipping away with the work piling up on your desk and the kids back in school? Don’t give up; there is a solution. Whether looking to drop a few pounds, lower your blood pressure or cholesterol levels or just feel better about how you look in your clothes, a personal wellness plan is the answer. The best part is you don’t have to spend all day in the gym to be successful. Planning is essential to success. Every Personal wellness plan should take into account how much “free time” a person has in their day for nutrition and exercise. If your wellness plan calls for an hour of exercise and you only have 20 to 30 minutes, go to plan B and turn up the intensity. A good exercise plan balances cardiovascular and strength training. Cardio is essential for healthy heart and lung function and helps speed up your metabolism for weight loss. Cycling, walking, jogging, group exercise and swimming are all helpful. Various stair climbers, bicycles, treadmills and elliptical machines are useful. Everyone should strive for three to five days of aerobic activity per week. While 30 to 40 minutes of vigorous activity is ideal, 20 can be beneficial if you turn up the intensity. 6 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
In other words, you should not be able to read a book or talk and text on the phone. If using machines, it is a good idea to switch from one mode to another during your routine to keep your metabolism working at a high level. Don’t forget the strength training. Exercising with machines, free weights or your own body weight for two to three days of strength training is suggested per week. Strength training builds muscle and helps you avoid the bone loss that is common with age. It also speeds up your metabolism to burn more calories and helps your body resist injury. A major component of any health and fitness plan is nutrition. Regardless of the intensity of your exercise, you must step away from the table to achieve your wellness goals. Intense exercise requires fuel for the body. The better the fuel, the harder and faster you can exercise. It is a good idea to eat a snack or meal within 30 minutes to two hours of exercise. Fitness experts say a snack with carbs, proteins and veggies is best. In general, if you only have 20 minutes, do not work out on a completely empty stomach. There is no set time for eating prior to exercise. Everyone is different, so experiment. Do not overeat as it will result in sluggishness and a lack of energy for exercise. Planning ahead Whether it is exercise or eating, planning ahead is
essential for a successful wellness lifestyle. There is no time like the night before. Make a plan according to your work schedule and think about when you will have opportunities to eat snacks and meals. Poor planning makes you a victim of vending machines and fast food. A few tips: • Bring a small cooler if your workplace does not have a refrigerator. • Don’t forget the healthy snacks because they will keep you from raiding the vending machines. • Snacks shouldn’t contain any more than 10 percent of your ideal calorie range. • A lot of people are tracking their foods on various apps and websites, but remember there is no substitute for advice from a trained professional dietitian. • Don’t forget to make and keep an exercise plan. Still have questions? It is best to begin your personal wellness plan at a health and fitness center. You can select a certified personal trainer for at least a few visits. A trainer can create an exercise plan to meet your individual needs, abilities and time constraints. You can select a group exercise class to provide you with motivation, additional teaching and fellowship. The center should also have a certified dietitian on staff to help with your nutrition plans, maybe even a weight loss support group. It’s not too late; start today.
Seeking out a
hether you are finding a new favorite piece of clothing, freshening up your wardrobe or even just looking for a fun gift, local boutiques can help bring customer service and a sense of style to your shopping experience. But what should you keep in mind before hitting the shops? Several things come into play when heading to a boutique: What is age appropriate, what is your personal style, what is your body type and — most importantly — what do you feel comfortable in? Many boutiques cater to a specific age group, so knowing what a store carries before heading out can be helpful. Even though some stores carry a certain
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style, the sales associates are always available to help find what you are looking for. Customer service is of utmost importance to boutiques and they want to help shoppers with style advice. If you want a few new pieces for a new job or maybe you just want something for a fun night out, sales associates can help you find a new color that compliments your complexion or a pair of jeans that flatter your body type. The key is to speak your mind — if you love it go for it, but if you do not like it in the store you’re not going to like it at home. Don’t be afraid to give feedback to help the sales associate help you. Personal style is not just what color goes well with your eyes or what cut looks best — it’s about your personality! Boutiques give you the opportunity to chat with a sales associate who might be able to pinpoint something you would like based on how you interact with them. Are you more of a pastel kind
of person or is leopard print more your style? If you rely on the big box stores, you may not realize how to make your clothes compliment your own disposition. Many boutiques also have accessories to bring new flavor to old outfits. The little black dress can be completely transformed with just a pop of colorful jewelry. A fun scarf can bring a pair of jeans and white blouse to life. A little advice can lead you to a new accessory you might not have picked up on your own. Beyond accessories, some boutiques also have fun candles, body lotions and bath products. Any men out there not know what to do for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or a special birthday coming up? Visit a local boutique and chat with one of the sales associates. Bath salts, a candle and a piece of jewelry might be just what you’re looking for. No matter if you’re looking for yourself or looking for a gift, boutiques offer you customer service and a fresh look for your shopping needs.
perfect salon experience should be pampering and hassle free, and it should come with a manageable bill. When selecting a salon, take note of the first contact with the employee in charge of scheduling appointments. Were they courteous? Were they accommodating and helpful? Were you offered a reminder about upcoming appointments? A good salon will have an online scheduling system that notifies clients of appointments and reminds them of the salon’s cancellation policy. When appointment time comes, take not of the condition of the salon.
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Is it clean? Is there just one instead of several people performing all the services? How many services are offered? A salon should be clean and sanitary. There should be stylists and staff present to perform services like facials, manicures and pedicures. The salon’s owner should be available during business hours or present at the salon. The more services offered at a salon, the better. Full-service salons are one stop shops for beauty. A full salon will offer haircuts, colors, waxing, manicures, pedicures, massage, facials, and even Botox. When choosing a salon, word-of-mouth references are more trusted than online reviews. Ask the salon’s clients for their opinion of the salon, its pricing and range of services. Take note of employees’ and stylists’ years of experience.
They should be professional and knowledgeable in their individual fields. The perfect salon would be inviting and welcoming from the first contact. The salon should offer services that meet the client’s expectations, and the client should leave feeling satisfied. Follow-up calls to schedule new appointments should be offered by salon staff as a courtesy. Choose a salon that is centrally located for your lifestyle. A salon that is located in close proximity to other places of business you frequent is ideal. Going too far out of your way to go to your salon can be inconvenient and time consuming. Salon personnel should not frequently reschedule or cancel appointments with clients. The price of services should be at a level to where they may be enjoyed on a monthly basis.
RECYCLING Money, Money Everywhere! Faulkner County is lucky to have such a robust recycling program for plastics, paper and even some metals. Did you know you might be throwing money away every week though? In tough economic times like these, we all have to maximize our budgets; both at home and in business. That’s where local scrap metal recycling can add dollars to your bottom line. Here are a few scenarios that you might not have considered: Are you remodeling your home or office? That produces scrap metal! Anything that is mostly metal is something that scrap metal recyclers will pay for. Cars, trucks, SUVs, gutters, pipes, lawn furniture, and old satellite dishes all are worth something to scrap 12 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
metal recyclers. Most businesses pay for garbage removal based on how much refuse they produce. If you just set aside any scrap metal your business produces and sell it to a local scrap metal recycler once a month, not only will you lower your garbage bill, but you’ll walk away with cash in hand! A good local metal recycler will even provide roll-off service or collection bins if you regularly produce scrap metal. Think about how your business operates every day. Where do you produce scrap metal? When choosing a local scrap metal recycler, there are several things to keep in mind. 1. The law. There are many laws governing scrap metal recycling in the state of Arkansas. For your safety, choose a scrap metal recycler that follows all applicable laws including those that require photographs of the scrap, documentation where the scrap came from, fingerprints and signatures. That may sound like a lot
for a few pounds of copper, but it is for the protection of the seller as much as anything else. Unfortunately, metal theft is a serious problem and a quality local scrap metal recycler will do everything possible to deter theft of your property and your neighbors. 2. Transparency. Any business transaction should be transparent. Be sure your scrap metal recycler provides you a record of how much each of your metals weighed and how much they paid you per pound. 3. The Scales. Since scrap metal recycling is all about weight, the scales a recycler uses are of important. Ask your metal recycler if their scales are certified and recently calibrated. This guarantees an accurate measurement of the weight of your metals and ensures you get the most for your scrap metal. That’s just a few of the things to consider. Of course you deserve good, friendly service and a neat clean environment. There are great scrap metal recyclers out there that can make the business of getting cash for your scrap a great experience. Go find one!
Prevent an outbreak of
t’s morning, and you wake up with a stomach pain, a sniffle or a sore throat. The symptoms expand and worsen as the day goes by. A visit to the doctor confirms your suspicions: you have the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests three steps you can take to prevent an outbreak of the flu in your family. • First, take time to get a flu vaccine. This is a simple step to take to give yourself one huge weapon against this illness, especially if you live in Faulkner County. Each fall, the Faulkner County Health Department holds an all-day flu shot clinic, where people of all ages are able to receive the vaccine free of charge. The Health Department employees and volunteers have this clinic organized down to a fine science, and you should be able to get in and out of the clinic in 14 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
less than an hour, even at the most crowded times. The clinic is normally held at the McGee Center in west Conway. Keep your eye on the Log Cabin Democrat newspaper or call the Health Department for the dates in 2014. It is recommended that people of all ages who have chronic illnesses (asthma, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease) take a flu vaccine each year. Please check with your primary physician for more information and to set up a time to have the shot. Many health insurance policies will pay for some or all of the cost of a flu shot. Caregivers and those who work in the healthcare industry or child-care industry are particularly encouraged to receive a flu shot. • Take every day preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. As a little child, how many times did your parents tell you to wash your hands? It’s a good practice to be in if you want to stay free of the flu. If you come in contact with someone who may have the flu, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water.
When you sneeze, cover your nose with a tissue or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Promptly dispose of any soiled tissue so others don’t accidentally touch it or use it. Limit your contact with anyone who has flu, and if you are the one who is sick, limit your contact with others who are uninfected. If you’re sick, stay home from work or school. • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. According to the CDC, if you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness. These are different from antibiotics — they are prescription medicines that are not available over the counter. The drugs can give you a milder form of the illness or shorten your sick time. The CDC says it is very important that antiviral drugs be used early (within the first two days of symptoms) to treat people who are very sick/hospitalized, or are at an increased risk due to pregnancy or age. Visit the CDC web site at www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/ preventing.htm for more information about preventing and treating the flu.
uying furniture may seem straightforward enough on first blush, but there are a number of factors to consider to wind up with furnishings that will compliment your home for many years and provide safety and comfort for your family and guests. Unlike a bad haircut that grows out in a couple of weeks, a bad choice of an end table, lamp or diningroom suite can clash with your home decor and may even fail to stand up to your family’s daily use. So, you see, there are many reasons to shop wisely for furnishings. The rule of thumb is to always purchase the best quality you can. After all, quality furniture can last a lifetime and become a cherished heirloom. Reupholstery and refinishing can update its look so that it remains stylish if it’s made well. That doesn’t always mean the highest price, but how else to you distinguish between good quality and those with hidden flaws? One simple trick is to pick up the piece. Solid, hardwood frames and steel springs simply weigh more than cheaper substitutes, and they last longer, too. Look carefully at the upholstery for seams that are straight, with the pattern straight. Attention to seams and pattern matching can be a clue that the unseen workmanship has the same care. Remove the cushions and look underneath the skirt to make sure no corners were cut there. Zippers sewn into the cushion upholstery is a thoughtful touch because it allows you to wash after spills. Take a careful look at tables and chairs, top to bottom. Does the finish have tiny bubbles or is it clear and 16 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
blemish-free? A good finish is almost like looking into the inside of the wood rather than merely at the surface. Are the joints seamless? Does the pattern in the grain appear regular and machine-made indicating an inferior wood had been stained to look like something else? Of course, many valuable antiques exhibit this technique, but just make sure you know what you’re buying. Look underneath and inside cabinets to see if the quality and finish is applied on the inside. Are the drawer pulls tight or do they turn? Are the sides of the drawers fitted together with dovetails for greater strength or merely butted against one another at 90 degrees? By now it should be obvious that judging furniture quality online or through catalogs is impossible. It has to be done by touch and inspection. Even so, there are countless tricks used to give furniture an appearance of quality that are harder to spot. That’s why your best asset is a reputable furniture store and a trained, professional sales representative who honestly guides you. So how do you find such a store? Here are a few tips on how to find a store with representatives concerned about you. Start by only considering merchants who have a long-term commitment to your community. If you’re investing in a lifelong addition to your home, you want to know your dealer will be around the whole time in case you have questions or want to add to your collection with items of the same style. Another clue is the manufacturers they represent. Recognizable brands generally don’t award dealerships to retailers who aren’t reputable. Of course, many small, independent manufacturers also produce topquality pieces but in limited numbers. Stroll through the showroom. Make sure you would feel comfortable living in the model rooms. See if the
demonstrator pieces show wear since a few months of customer tryouts could equal several years’ usage in your home. If the furniture doesn’t stand up to the customers, it won’t keep looking good in your home. Then talk with the representatives. See how knowledgeable they are about the workmanship of the brands they sell. They should be able and willing to show you the difference in workmanship and materials of the various brands and not merely try to steer you to sale items. A good furniture store should do more than just sell furniture. It should deliver and be willing to make arrangements to remove your old pieces. And it should provide design ideas. Ask if anyone would help coordinate your purchases with your existing furniture, and be sure to get full disclosure on fees for delivery and design advice. Talk about financing, too. Be aware that many stores are more like banks than furniture retailers in that they make more money from the financing they offer than from the sale of the furniture itself. Their financing is designed to appeal to consumers whose main concern is small monthly payments without regard to the total price after financing is included. Store financing can be handy, and the terms may be attractive, but investigate other options as well, such as a home-equity loan, consumer loan, layaway or even cash. Consider the other services the store may also offer. For example, you may find it convenient to shop with a store that also offers appliances, mattresses and accessories. Developing a long-term relationship with a store that knows you can make future purchases simple and quick. As you can see, there’s a lot to buying furniture — more than meets the eye. Finding the right furniture store with professional sales representatives takes the guesswork out of it, though.
Custom build or
our home is your castle, as the old saying goes, so building the right “castle” or making your current one better should always be a high priority. There is nothing quite as satisfying as having the perfect-looking kitchen, renovating a back deck or creating a new “man-cave.” A custom-built home or your new addition provides comfort, style, a solid investment and a personal statement. You know all the reasons for building your own home, but you probably have heard a few reasons not to. Granted, there are a few builders whose work has sullied the reputations of others in the industry. You can avoid those simply by following a few commonsense steps. First, check out the reputations of prospective builders. Good ones should be willing to provide you a list of recent customers for you to call. Then actually call them. Ask about cost overruns, workmanship and customer service. Even your banker may have some observations since funds are usually doled out after a bank representative makes periodic progress inspections. A top-quality builder can work within your budget, offering choices on where best to economize and where quality is most important. Remember, you’re constructing a home that will shelter your family for years and cutting the wrong corners can be dangerous
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to both you and your investment. Look for a builder with a track record constructing homes similar to what you want. For example, a multi-story house requires more skill than a single-story structure. Basements and retaining walls demand special care to guard against unsafe cracking and water seepage. Remote locations, extreme slopes and working around trees you want to save add complications that builders of tract homes don’t routinely face. You want a builder who won’t be learning on the job with your money. Experience not only brings the skills to provide quality but also the know-how that streamlines the construction process -- an important consideration when you’re paying interest on a construction loan these days. As you are getting close to selecting a builder, conduct your own personal interviews to make sure you’re compatible. You’ll be working together very closely for months about countless decisions, and you have to have a frank and open relationship with one another. The builder will often be asking you to make decisions, you need his experience to guide you about where top quality will matter and where you can safely economize. Being able to speak candidly will reduce miscommunication and costly errors. Plus, you and the builder should have a rapport that allows him to make suggestions that can improve on the ideas you have in mind for your house design. And the builder should be able to present honest choices to you with the information about how it will affect looks and your budget. Other considerations in selecting a custom builder
are financial strength and the availability of a warranty. All of the construction should be warranted for a minimum of a year, but you may want to consider buying a longer warranty. The builder’s financial stability is an obvious requirement. Who wants to be in the middle of construction and have something go wrong or a funding problem on another of the builder’s projects impact his ability to buy materials or hire subcontractors on your house? When seeking the renovation of your entire house or a single room such as the kitchen, the master bathroom or outdoor additions, bring all of your ideas to the builder. Even a rough sketch of what you are looking for can open up a wide range of possibilities between you and your builder. Don’t hesitate to ask for financial references when you’re requesting professional references. A builder who can’t run his business is likely to make a mess out of your project. Education, professional credentials and affiliation with trade associations that enforce a code of ethics are other pieces of information you should seek before picking a builder. All of those referrals are important, but personal referrals can be just as important. Those who build and renovate houses are part of the community as well, and the best builders will have local people who recommend them for their work ethic and quality. By following these few steps, your dream home can become a reality and even a “homestead” that your family could treasure for generations. And the construction will be as pleasant as the memories you make living it in.
earing loss is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States. It affects more than nine million Americans over the age of 65. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, it is more common in this population than cataracts, diabetes and orthopedic problems. Hearing loss affects another 10 million people aged 45 to 65. The National Council on Aging reports that a majority of those people do not use hearing aids. About 90 percent of all adult hearing problems are caused by problems in the cochlea of the inner ear and the auditory nerve. This can be caused by heredity, the aging process, some medications and exposure to loud noise. Symptoms of this type of hearing loss include not understanding what is said, accusing others of mumbling or speaking too softly and the inability to hear in the presence of background noise. This type of hearing loss, sometimes called nerve deafness, is treated by the use of hearing instruments. Many people have the mistaken impression that nerve hearing loss cannot be helped â€” this is not true. The majority of individuals who wear hearing instruments have this type of hearing loss. Other Problems In addition to the obvious problems associated with hearing loss, a 1999 study by the National Council on Aging states that there are other serious problems that
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are caused by a hearing impairment. The study found that untreated hearing loss can lead to problems such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, anger and insecurity. Those individuals in the study who wore hearing instruments reported improvements in many aspects of their lives, including family relationships, sense of independence and sex life. Additionally, close friends and family members of the hearing-impaired respondents have this type of hearing loss. Strained family relationships are another problem seen by hearing professionals. Communication with a hearing-impaired person can be very frustrating for friends and family members. A hearing-impaired individual has to work much harder to hear than people with normal hearing. To compensate for their deficit in hearing, they use facial cues, lip-reading and guesswork to fill in the gaps in conversation. The Earlier the Better Early intervention is very important when hearing loss is suspected. A simple hearing test can help identify a hearing loss. That test should include a case history, ear inspection to check for wax buildup, tympanometry to check for fluid or infection in the middle ear, pure tone air and bond testing and a speech understanding test. The word-understanding ability of an individual is a good predictor of hearing aid success. While a hearing aid can deliver sound back to the ear, the brain interprets the sound. When a hearing-impaired person needs to wear hearing aids and does not, over time their ability to understand words diminishes. If true word understanding is lost, it cannot be regained even with a
hearing instrument. Instruments Improve Hearing Hearing instruments do not give back the hearing that an individual had at 18, but they can dramatically improve the quality of life if an individual does not wait too long to get help. Many times a hearingimpaired individual does not really know how much they are missing because much of the time hearing loss is gradual. Most experts agree that since gradual hearing loss typically occurs in both ears, it makes sense to fit both ears with hearing instruments. Amplifying both ears allows an individual to better localize sound. Additionally balanced hearing with both ears gives a hearing-impaired individual the best ability to disregard background sounds and achieve better hearing in noise. Family and friends play a very important role in the remediation process. They should accompany the hearing-impaired family member to the test if at all possible. Where to Seek Help Doctors of Audiology (Au.D.) or Audiologists are the health care experts to seek out with any hearing problems. Audiologists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat hearing loss. When beginning a hearing aid trial with your audiologist you should always seek a trial period to insure the hearing aid will improve your hearing. A competent Audiologist should be able to answer all your questions and put you in a position to improve your hearing.
An energy efficient
s the cost of living increases, consumers must consider every possible option to save money, and one of the best ways to do that is to look into energy-saving options at home. Several changes and new ideas will assist you in making your new or current home more energy efficient as well as allow you to keep more money in your pocket. Air leaking energy out of your home? Unbeknownst to many homeowners, air leaks can be in multiple places in a residence. These places include electrical outlets, window frames and around plumbing and wire penetrations. According to energy experts, finding these leaks and sealing them with caulk, foam or aluminum tape could reduce drafts in a home from five to 30 percent per year making your home more comfortable while helping you save money at the same time. A certified energy professional can be hired to perform a whole-house air leakage test to determine air leakage and provide suggestions to determine the best fix for your home. Consider contacting your local util-
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ity company to inquire about free home energy audits.
to 20 years.
Insulation is more than just itchy Heat can be lost through the ceiling and walls in a home if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics and basements depending on your area of the country, but Conway Corporation recommends an insulation level of R-38 for attics – about 12 to 15 inches depending on the insulation type.
Heating and Air importance As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. An annual tune-up of your equipment can prolong the life of your HVAC equipment and help keep its efficiency at its peak. Also, be sure to change filters regularly. If your HVAC equipment is more than 15 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, you should have it looked at by a professional HVAC contractor. When replacing your HVAC equipment, consider installing a high-efficiency unit with a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) of 15 or higher.
Let there be light…and appliances Energy used for lighting and appliances can account for half of your home’s total utility bill. ENERGY STAR products can help reduce energy costs. A “Smart Strip” surge protector can help by turning off electronic accessories when not in use. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models. Compact fluorescent lighting uses about 75 percent less energy than standard lighting while still producing the same amount of light. LED lighting, although still a bit pricey, can reduce lighting costs even more and last up
Let’s review Making your home more energy efficient is an easy way to save money and live comfortably at the same time – and all it takes is a few simple steps to get started. Check for air leaks around your home and make sure your house is properly insulated. Ask your local utility company if they provide free energy audits to help with this service. Consider upgrading appliances to ENERGY STAR products and lighting to more energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Some utility companies even provide zero percent interest loans to help their customers upgrade to these energy-efficient appliances.
ating out can be an adventure, but finding a restaurant shouldn’t be a chore. To find a restaurant in a new town, people used to suggest that you “eat where the truckers eat” because these professional travelers supposedly shared tips with their colleagues. But unless you crave truck stops, that advice isn’t very useful any more. Besides, truckers primarily eat where they have room to park. Still, it pays to consider the type of audience a restaurant caters to. Years ago, a Jacksonville, Fla., establishment advertised “the best burgers in town,” which might be tempting to a hamburger lover until you consider the place was a topless bar. How good does the food really have to be to keep their customers happy? One wag claims restaurants are best sized up in the parking lot — not by counting the cars but by sidling over to the kitchen door. Get a whiff of what’s being cooked for an advance taste. Listen to see if the waiters in the Chinese restaurant really speak Mandarin to the chef. And even open the back door — by “mistake” — to peek in to see how clean and orderly it is. Of course, this joker argues that the kitchen should be a little messy, the exhaust fan puffing out greasy aroma, and the kitchen staff arguing loudly to draw his interest. A little fat on the cooks makes him feel better, too, because he claims to never trust a skinny cook who obviously can’t even tempt himself. A news item once reported the arrest of a pizza chef for stabbing another cook in the same shop during an argument over the proper way to cook a pizza pie. Now that’s the kind of passion you hope to find in a kitchen, but maybe with less bloodshed. Short of combing the arrest reports or poking around parking lots, how do you find a place to eat among the 878,000 restaurants in America? First, be open to something new. Even picky eaters should experience varied atmospheres and scenery. A well-run restaurant will have some selections for 24 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
any pallet or age, regardless of its main theme. Old reliables, like a juicy steak or chicken breast, can be found in just about any restaurant. And often, they are prepared with considerable care since they’re not the routine order. One college student backpacking through Europe ordered spaghetti and meatballs at every stop, from London to Paris to Rome. He never got bored because they were always just different enough, yet familiar enough at the same time. For folks with a broader range of tastes, nothing is more fun than exploring a new menu. One approach is to have each guest in your party pick a different one of the nightly specialties and then ask for extra salad plates so everybody can share. Another plan is to ask the maitre d’ about the chef’s signature entree so you can find out for yourself how the reputation was built. A third technique is to order a personal favorite to compare the preparation to your family recipe or with another restaurant. Just as there must be hundreds of versions of stew, there are an infinite number of ways to season, sauté and cook most dishes. After all, there are several cable channels dedicated to the topic. And don’t be shy about asking your waiter or waitress to fix your order your way. Hamburger chains didn’t invent special orders, they borrowed the idea from traditional made-to-order establishments. Hold the salt or monosodium glutamate. Add extra croutons. Slice the roast beef from the outside where the spices are or from the inside where it’s the most rare. Your dining experience is more enjoyable when you participate. No one would plop down in a barber’s chair and ask for a haircut without explanation. So be just as specific in your restaurant. If you’re on a diet, you no longer have to eat every meal at home. Restaurateurs today typically highlight on their menus dishes that are low in carbs for Atkins Diet followers, dishes that have reduced calories or those that fit diabetic needs. Plus, most are happy to prepare a special order without dairy products, or nuts or salt or whatever you may be allergic to. According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, seven out of 10 adults agree that there are more nutritious foods available to them in restaurants
now than there were five years ago. That means you don’t have to get a “salesman’s paunch” any more just because you eat out a lot. Your social conscience can also feel good since you’ll be patronizing the industry that employs the highest percentage of women and minorities in management positions, according to the association. The number of African-American-owned and womenowned eating-and-drinking-place firms increased at double-digit rates during the past decade. When picking a restaurant, think about what sort of experience you envision. A romantic dinner calls for someplace on the quiet side where children aren’t going to remind you of the consequences of, well, romance. If you’re dining with kids, you want someplace where they’ll be welcome and won’t be bored. Ads and restaurant listings give you hints about atmosphere, but a call or visit is best. That’s because many restaurants have different environments — candle-lit tables inside for couples, grill rooms for relaxed parties, and scenic gardens perfect for families. It also helps to have a budget in mind. Most guides list average entrée prices. But an average that seems higher than your budget shouldn’t always discourage you. Perhaps you could be happy skipping the appetizers and dessert. Have a cocktail before leaving home or your hotel room to save money. Also keep in mind that nowadays restaurant portions are usually large enough for a doggie bag that makes terrific leftovers for lunch the next day — effectively halving the entrée price since you get two meals. Here’s a tip if you have young children. Stop at a fast-food place first to get them fed cheaply and quickly. They’ll be more settled and patient when you eat in a “grown up” restaurant, and you won’t be paying for a fancy meal they likely won’t eat anyway. If nothing else, it’s sometimes fun to go to a pricier restaurant just for coffee and dessert. You can soak up some atmosphere and enjoy the pampered service without feeling guilty about breaking the bank. The bottom line is, to find your next favorite restaurant, go out and try some. You could wind up with several favorites.
Select an orthopaedic
honor the patients’ wants, needs, preferences and values. Orthopaedic surgeons respect the value of diversity and are committed to serving communities and individuals with unique needs.” (aaos.org)
s it sometimes happens, your first encounter with an orthopaedic surgeon may be in the hospital emergency room after you have sustained an injury — a fractured ankle, for example, or a sprain. But how do you find an orthopaedic surgeon when there isn’t an emergency and you need a specialist to check out that sore knee or chronic shoulder pain? Here’s a look at what orthopaedists do and how to choose the one that’s right for you. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “an orthopaedic surgeon is a physician devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. While orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as the foot and ankle, hand, shoulder and elbow, spine, hip or knee. Orthopaedic surgeons may also choose to focus on specific fields like pediatrics, trauma, reconstructive surgery, oncology (bone tumors) or sports medicine.” Some orthopaedists may specialize in several areas and may collaborate with other specialists, such as neurosurgeons or rheumatologists, in caring for patients. There are many musculoskeletal conditions that can be treated without surgery through the use of medication, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies.
Things to Consider when Choosing an Orthopaedic Surgeon One of the first things to consider is the doctor’s level of education. An orthopedist may have completed up to 14 years of formal education, including four years of undergraduate education, four years in medical school, five years of concentrated study in an orthopaedic residency at a major medical center, and an additional year of specialty training. After becoming licensed to practice medicine, an orthopaedic surgeon completes board certification. To become board certified, an orthopaedic surgeon must undergo a peer-review process, and then demonstrate his/her expertise in orthopaedics by passing both oral and written examinations given by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. It is important to visit orthopaedic surgeons who are either board certified or in the process of becoming certified. Because orthopaedic surgeons complete a rigorous recertification process every 10 years, they spend many hours studying and attending continuing medical education courses to maintain current orthopaedic knowledge and skills. Next, make sure the orthopaedist you choose has experience in your injury or condition. Chances are your primary care physician has already diagnosed your problem and has made the referral, but when you contact the orthopaedic clinic make sure to ask for the orthopaedist with experience for your problem. If your primary care physician hasn’t made a referral for you, ask for a recommendation of the best local orthopaedists. Talk to your friends. For common conditions, such as arthritis, ACL surgery, carpal tunnel, etc., you are likely to have co-workers, friends or family who know a good orthopaedist and will have firsthand experience. In addition, an excellent source of information is the AAOS website: www.aaos.org. Once you have made a selection, think about what you want to ask the doctor. During the course of an appointment, an orthopaedist will obtain a complete
Who does an Orthopaedic Surgeon Treat? “Orthopaedic surgeons treat patients of all ages — newborns, children, athletes, baby boomers and the elderly — with conditions that range from bone and joint disorders and fractures to diseases or tears of the muscles, ligaments and tendons in all regions of the body. It is essential that patients and their families develop partnerships with their physicians. This will help ensure that decisions about medical treatments 26 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
medical history, prescription drug/medication inventory, and description of the problem. Orthopaedists are skilled in the diagnosis of an injury or disorder, prescribing treatment, recommending rehabilitation, and offering information on prevention. But, it’s still important to ask questions. Consider bringing a friend or family member with you to help you remember questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about your doctor’s credentials and experience. Here are some questions recommended by the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons: • Do you have written materials or videotapes about this surgery that I can review? • How much improvement can I expect from this surgery? • What is your experience doing this type of surgery, and how many have you done? • Are you board certified? • What are the risks involved? How likely are they? • What type of anesthesia will be used? What are the risks? • What type of implant will be used? What is the track record for this type of prosthesis? • Will I have to stop taking any of my medications before surgery? • What options are available to avoid a blood transfusion? • How long will I have to stay in the hospital? • How much pain is normal to expect and how long will it last? Will I receive medication for the pain? • When will I start physical therapy? Will I need home or outpatient therapy? • Will I need to arrange for some assistance at home? If so, for how long? • What limits will there be on activities, such as driving, bathing, climbing stairs, eating, etc.? • How long will I need to be off work? • How often will I need to return for follow-up visits? • What complications, if any, can arise after surgery? What are the signs to look for? Look for an experienced, well-regarded surgeon. Meet your orthopaedist to make sure you can work well with him/her. Trust your instincts. If a meeting with a doctor does not go well, it doesn’t mean he/she is a bad doctor or you are a bad patient. It simply may mean the two of you are not a good fit.
ne dental question that many people have is “What can I do to make my smile look better?” The reality is that dentists are now capable of helping you create the appearance you’ve always dreamed of having. This can be accomplished in several ways, including teeth whitening, shape changing, closer spacing and stain removal. Using these techniques, a professional can virtually rebuild your smile to “magazine advertisement quality.” When contemplating these procedures, it is important to gain a basic knowledge of the types of procedures you may be undergoing. This information is easily found on the Internet and can also be provided to you by your dentist. The two most important qualities that a dentist must possess when dealing with cosmetic cases are time and attention. He or she must spend the time educating the patient on all of the treatment options and their possible risks, as well as the time it takes to plan and carry out an outstanding aesthetic-based treatment plan. The attention provided is also important. This is in the form of personal attention and attention to detail. A great dentist who performs aesthetic procedures must give you the personal attention you need in order to walk you through the complicated process. Many dentists are capable of quality aesthetic work; however, you should search for those individuals who seem truly excited by the prospect of helping someone 28 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
improve his or her self-image and confidence. Look for one who strives each day to live up to the highest standards and who treats patients like family. This is the cornerstone to providing outstanding dental care. Striving to make patients feel comfortable and listening to them are qualities too often overlooked. For most people, a trip to the dental office is not on their top-five-things-to-do-today list, but there is good news for everyone: it does not have to be a bad experience. People should be aware there are many great dentists practicing today. If you’re able to find a dentist’s office that treats everyone like family, along with providing first-class dental care for you and your family, going to the dentist does not have to be a terrible experience. The materials and techniques which dentists have at their disposal make providing and receiving dental care more pleasurable today than it ever has been. To that end, there are three factors which will help you to select a truly great dentist. The first factor deals with professionalism. The best dentists are always striving to remain at the forefront of their profession. This ensures that the care you receive is of the highest quality possible. Seek out a dentist who understands that learning is the essence of life. Do not be afraid to ask your prospective dentists about their continuing education. The second factor that you should consider is the services offered by your prospective dentist. It is important to decide on the type of care you desire and then seek out a provider who best fits your needs. For instance, if you require a removable denture, it would
not be a good idea to go to someone who does not offer dentures as part of his or her services. Inquire with the dentist on what his or her philosophy of dental treatment is and what areas they focus on. The final factor in looking for the best dentist is personality. Seek out an individual with whom you get along and who can effectively communicate with you in an easily understandable manner. In short, look for a dentist with exceptional “bedside manner.” Evaluate the friendliness of the staff. These are the people with whom you will spend much of your dental-care time; therefore, it is essential that they be warm, friendly and, most important, willing to help you and listen to your concerns. In the end, finding the dentist, and staff, you feel most comfortable with will assure a pleasant dentalcare experience. Picking a dentist for you, and your family, is not decision to be rushed. Time to explore all options, and find the absolute-best dentist should be of first concern. The top five things you should know: 1. A great dentist is generous with his or her time and attention. 2. Gather all the information you can about credentials and procedures. 3. Seek a dentist who regularly participates in continuing education. 4. Make sure that your dentist communicates freely and is one with whom you feel comfortable. 5. Determine which dentists are the best in the services you require.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and sometimes they involve motor vehicles. When choosing the professional you would like to use, there are many things to consider. You have invested a lot of money and time into your vehicle, so it is imperative to do your homework and find the shop that will best fit your needs. Also remember that your vehicle carries the most important people in your life — your family — throughout the world each day. A decision on who will fix your vehicle is not to be taken lightly. First, get a police report, this is the only way to “prove” damage has occurred. Then you can decide if you need to involve the insurance company. Second, once the initial police reports and insurance claims are filed, it’s time to choose a collision repair shop. We suggest stopping by and meeting the staff- see who you will be dealing with. It is always 30 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
easier if the repair shop and the customer have the same mind. Some insurance companies have lists of shops they recommend to do collision repair on their insured vehicles. This is fine, but don’t let the insurance agency insist on the use of any particular repair shop. Ask your agent how they determined which shops to approve and if they guarantee their work. Also ask if the guarantees will not exist if you use a shop that is NOT one they recommend. By obtaining a list, you may have fewer shops to investigate, hopefully meaning you’ll be on the road more quickly. Third, be sure to ask any questions that you may have: • Do you offer a warranty? • I will need a rental vehicle to drive, what do you suggest? • How Long will repairs take? • I am uncomfortable driving, or my car is not drivable, can you pick it up or have it towed? • I have an estimate from my insurance company, why is it different from yours? Don’t hesitate to ask for a tour of the facility! Get estimates from each shop, and get the estimate
in writing to avoid misunderstandings later. This is important for you, the customer, so you aren’t charged for unexpected work, and also for the auto shop, so they aren’t bombarded with unexpected complaints about the outcome of the repairs. Three or four estimates should be sufficient to find a reputable repair shop. Always ask if there are repairs that need to be done to the car that will not be covered by your insurance agency. If so, get a separate estimate for those so you know what you may need to spend out of pocket. Never make your decision based on price — just because a shop gives you the lowest estimate doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best choice for you. Make your choice based on your visit to the shop, recommendations from friends and even the advice of your insurance agent. Ask co-workers and friends what shop they use; why they use that particular shop; and will they use it again if needed. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau to find out more about the repair shops vying for your business. Check out the National Auto Body Council web site at www.autobodycouncil.org/ for more help on how to choose a reputable auto collision repair shop.
Choose a financial
inancial decisions have become more complex for most individuals. Two-income households, increasingly complex tax laws, financial deregulation and a greater variety of saving and investment options have increased the number of decisions an individual or family must make and the difficulty of those decisions. Today both middle- and upper-income families may have a need for a financial planner either at specific times or throughout the life span of the family. Personal financial advisers — also called financial planners or financial consultants — generally assess the financial needs of individuals and provide them with a wide range of options, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Handbook, 2002-03 Edition. Personal financial planners are professionals who design an overall strategy to meet specific financial objectives. Some of the issues they address are retirement planning, estate planning, tax law changes, funding for college and general investment options. Most planners are generalists and offer advice on a wide range of topics. Some specialize in areas such as estate planning or risk management. When to consult a planner Major life changes, such as a new job, a raise, marriage, parenthood, divorce, widowhood, or substantial inheritance or other windfall, are events that may prompt consultation with a financial planner. If you are within 30 years of retiring, a financial planner can help you plan for adequate retirement income. Or, if your financial affairs seem generally disorganized and without direction, a financial planner can help you measure where you are now, help you decide where you want to be and design a plan with options to meet your goals. Generally, single persons with an annual gross income more than $30,000 and married couples with a combined income of $40,000 or more may find a financial planner useful. If you earn substantially more, it is likely a financial planner could help you coordinate the advice you receive from other professionals
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and consultants such as your stockbroker, accountant and/or attorney. The planner’s job An adviser’s work begins with a consultation with the client, where the adviser obtains information about the client’s finances and financial goals. Based on the information provided by the client, the adviser draws up a comprehensive financial plan that includes an identification of problem areas and recommends steps to improve the financial status of the client. The plan will contain the adviser’s description of investments that would help the client meet goals, taking into consideration the client’s tolerance for risk, long- and short-term goals and current financial status. The plan may be discussed verbally, but most often it is presented to the client in writing. Financial advisers recommend an update at least once a year to evaluate the success or shortcomings of the plan and to review any changes that may be indicated. Normal and unexpected events in the client’s life can affect the overall plan, as can changes in the viability of the investments. According to the Department of Labor’s job description, personal financial planners may be involved in buying and selling financial products, such as mutual funds or insurance. Some also assume the management of their clients’ investments. Education and certification A college degree is not a prerequisite for becoming a personal financial adviser, although many in the profession hold bachelor’s degrees or post-graduate degrees. Certification is not required, but obtaining certifications, such as certified financial planner (CFP) or chartered financial consultant (ChFC) designations, can enhance professional standing. Certifications also assure prospective clients that the planner has extensive training and has demonstrated competency in the area of financial planning. The certified financial planner designation is issued by the CFP Board of Standards, which reviews relevant experience, education requirements and performance on a comprehensive examination. The certifying board also requires adherence to an enforceable code of ethics. The chartered financial consultant designation is issued by the American College in Bryn Mawr, Penn.
This designation indicates that the planner’s experience and completion of an eight-course study program have met the board’s requirements. Both designations carry a requirement for continuing education for maintaining standing with the certifying boards. There are no requirements for licensure for personal financial planners who limit their professional activities to evaluating their clients’ finances and making recommendations to reach financial goals. Financial planners who sell stocks, bonds, insurance or real estate as part of their professional activities often are required to obtain professional licenses from the state in which they practice. Fees Generally, financial planners charge the client an hourly fee for services, or they may charge a specified fee for the specific service performed. A fee for a comprehensive plan may vary depending on the complexity of the plan. When a planner manages a client’s assets, the fee for services may be a percentage of the assets under management. The purchase of any stocks, bonds, insurance, real estate or other investment instruments is a charge incurred by the client in addition to service fees. Selection process Selection of a personal financial planner requires the same careful process as choosing any professional service provider. Solicit recommendations from your friends and colleagues. Schedule an introductory appointment with at least two professionals so you will have a basis for comparison. Ask about education, experience, specialties, fees and scope of services provided. Assure yourself that the person you select is someone you trust and with whom you feel comfortable discussing personal financial matters. Conduct an interview in much the same way you would conduct an interview with a prospective employee. In effect, this individual, although an independent contractor, will be working for you. After you have selected your personal financial planner, continue to monitor your investments and financial status, working with your planner to evaluate your progress toward your goals and to make adjustments if necessary. In the final analysis, it is your money, your decision and your future.
Who Is A Realtor®? The terms agent, broker and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably, but have very different meanings. For example, not all agents (also called salespersons) or brokers are REALTOR®s. As a prerequisite to selling real estate, a person must be licensed by the state of Arkansas either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience must be met. After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local board or association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®, the world’s largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTOR®s and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond state law). In most areas, it is the REALTOR® who shares information on the homes they are marketing, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to an MLS will give you access to the greatest number of homes. How To Evaluate An Agent Without any obligation, you can invite local REALTORS® to visit your home and give you a “marketing presentation” describing why they’re the best ones to market it for you. Two to three presentations will probably give you a good opportunity for choice. A marketing presentation includes having the REALTOR® review with you the reasons why you should list with that particular individual, and 34 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
providing you with information that will assist you in making initial decisions about selling your home. Recent laws in every state have defined the duties of someone specifically retained as a real estate agent including the disclosure of whether they represent a buyer and/or seller. Look For An Agent Who • Is a member of the local board of association of REALTORS®. • Explains and discloses agency relationships (the role of the agent, i.e., who they are representing (the buyer or the seller) early on in the process, • Advises you on how to prepare your home for the market. • Shows some enthusiasm for your property, listens attentively, instills confidence, operates in a professional manner, and has a complementary personality style to yours. • Has already researched your property in the public records and the MLS. • Brings data on nearby homes that have sold (or failed to sell) recently. What a Realtor® will do for you Some of the duties your REALTOR® will perform for you include: • Walk through the process of selling your home from beginning to end. • Providing the prices of other properties that have sold, and analyzing data to gain a true comparison. • Share information about your home through the Multiple Listing service and on the Internet. • Place advertisements for your home. • Field phone calls. • “Qualify” potential buyers to make sure they would be financially able to buy your property. • Negotiate the sales contract. • Alert you to potential risks. • Comply with the disclosures required by law
including lead paint, mold, and property condition disclosures. • Help you prepare for a smooth closing of the transaction. Selling On Your Own “You can get rid of the broker, but you cannot get rid of the broker’s work” is an old caution for those who intend to offer their homes “For Sale By Owner.” Selling on your own is not an easy undertaking. Often the primary reason (saving the commission) is “hijacked” by the buyer who expects the same savings. It requires a significant amount of time to study the process, understand your obligations, and do some of the complicated work that a real estate agent does. In addition, selling on your own requires extra help from outside professionals, such as REALTORS®, accountants or attorneys, for some of the jobs that require specific expertise. Questions To Ask An Agent • Are you a REALTOR®? • Do you have an active real estate license in good standing? • Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) • What have you listed or sold in the area lately? • Do you cooperate with buyers’ broker? • What share of the commission will you offer a cooperating broker who finds the buyer? • What is your marketing plan (i.e. advertising, internet, virtual tours, open houses, etc.)? • Do you prequalify potential buyers before showing the property? • What separates you and your company from your competition? • What is your success rate (also called sales rate)? • Where do you get your buyers? • What is your list/sale price ratio • What is your median days on market?
Choose the right
ospice care has become one of the fastest growing services in the country. Thousands of hospice programs are available nationwide, and as the population ages, these programs will be used by an ever-increasing number of Americans. But what exactly is hospice, and how do you choose the right local hospice for you? Hospice provides comprehensive healthcare to patients and families who are facing a life-limiting illness and assures patient and family comfort when a medical cure is no longer possible. Hospice is not a place — it is a special way of caring for patients with advanced illness. This unique type of care is provided in patient’s homes, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and inpatient hospice centers. Family members are supported by a team of hospice professionals (including doctors, nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, social workers, volunteers and bereavement counselors) to care for their loved ones, with help available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A major benefit of hospice care is the bereavement service offered to the patients prior to death, and to their families for at least one year after death. Each hospice is different, but services are often covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Patients with private insurance may need to meet deductibles and co-payment requirements. The following information will help you decide when to start hospice care and how to make one of the most important decisions — how to choose a hospice that’s a perfect fit for you and your family: How do I begin hospice care?
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Anyone can inquire about hospice services. You or your loved one may call a local hospice and request services. The hospice staff will then contact your physician to determine if a referral to hospice is appropriate. Another way to inquire about hospice is to talk with your physician, and he or she can make a referral to a hospice. Hospice care can begin as soon as a referral is made by the person’s doctor. The hospice staff will then contact the person referred to set up an initial meeting to review the services the hospice will offer and sign the necessary consent forms for care to begin. Usually, care will begin within a day or two of a referral. However, in urgent situations, service may begin sooner. How do I choose a hospice? There may be one hospice organization, or several that serve your community. It is important to find out about the services that each hospice offers. If there are several hospices that serve your area, you may want to request services from a particular hospice and can communicate that wish to your physician. Determining if a hospice is right for you may best be learned from calling different hospices and asking them about their services. You can also talk to people you trust who work in healthcare or aging services or who have received support from a hospice: • Physicians, nurse and other healthcare professionals • Social workers, clergy and other counselors • Friends or neighbors who have had direct experience with hospice care • Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Arkansas, www.hpcaa.org What is the difference between a non-profit and for-profit hospice? Some hospices are non-profit organizations while
others are for-profit agencies. A voluntary board of directors governs non-profit hospices, and all money earned is returned to the hospice for continued patient care. For-profit hospices are businesses with individual owners who profit from the earnings. What questions should I ask when choosing a hospice? Below is a list of questions to consider when looking for a hospice program: • What services are provided? • What kind of support is available to the family/ caregiver? • What roles do the attending physician and hospice play? • What does the hospice volunteer do? • How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable? • How are services provided after hours? • How and where does hospice provide short-term inpatient care? • With which nursing homes or long-term care facilities does the hospice work? • How long does it typically take the hospice to enroll someone once the request for services is made? When is the right time to ask about hospice? Now is the best time to learn more about hospice care and ask questions about what to expect. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for loved ones and family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice becomes apparent. By having these discussions in advance, uncomfortable situations can be avoided. Instead, educated decisions can be made that include the advice and input of loved ones.
Find an insurance
ou probably think you only use insurance when you file a claim, but you’re wrong. We’ll go into why you’re wrong in a moment and show you why that misconception has made shopping for insurance needlessly unpleasant all these years. But first, let’s take three common situations: Lee was proud of his home, though it might have seemed simple to many folks. It gave him a good feeling to sit before the fire in the living room some times after his son and wife went to bed, just reflecting on how lucky he was. He’d had some tough times in his career and seemed to be finally getting ahead when his employer closed its doors. The time it took to get a new job had drained his savings and forced him to sell his truck for something more affordable, but he had kept his head above water somehow. One night, he pulled the screen across the fireplace as he always did — a habit formed when he was a volunteer firefighter before he married. He climbed the stairs and slid into bed next to Linda. By the time the smoke alarm woke him, Lee only had time to get everyone out of the house and see the log that had rolled out of the fireplace before the smoke grew too thick. Of all the fires he had helped extinguish, how sad that he couldn’t save his own home. If not for the insurance check, he would have never been able to rebuild. Richard wasn’t a health nut, only a rabid tennis player who liked to hike with his sons’ scout troop. He stayed in good shape, though, and made a good pair with his wife, the prettiest woman among any of their friends and a popular teacher at her elementary school. Like most families, there was a mortgage, car payments and balances on several credit cards that Richard repeatedly vowed to pay down. Though he had a growing law practice, Richard could see how rewarding it could become with just a few more years
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of hard work. When he told his tennis partner his head hurt and he needed to sit for a moment, no one could have guessed Richard would die on the bench of a heart attack at age 41. Without his life insurance, neither boy would have ever made it through law school to follow in Richard’s footsteps. Marty was divorced with a teen-aged daughter and a 10-year-old son with a learning disability. Money had been tight with only one breadwinner, and savings for college just hadn’t grown as fast as the kids did. A technical job in a medical lab produced a comfortable living, if not lavish. That is, it did until a tingling in Marty’s legs over a few weeks led to a doctor’s diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease at age 38. Within six months, Marty was in a wheelchair. In another four months, the disability prevented any meaningful work, and suddenly the family had no paycheck. If not for disability insurance, Marty and the kids could not have survived. These true stories aren’t meant to sermonize, though they do illustrate three of the most critical needs for protection. Instead, they’re intended to demonstrate the role of insurance. Marty, Richard and Lee’s families didn’t just benefit from their insurance when they got a payoff check. They benefited everyday they were protected. If Marty, Richard and Lee had had to save enough money to replace their incomes or homes on their own, they would have never had any money left over for anything else, let alone trips with the kids, a nice car or even an occasional meal out. A manageable premium paid to their insurance companies allowed them to devote the rest of their money to other uses. Obviously, our first responsibilities are providing food, clothing and shelter for ourselves and loved ones who depend on us. Every moment you purchase that protection from an insurance company frees you to thrust your energy into other pursuits. Finding an agency that looks at insurance the way you do As long as insurance companies have paid commissions to agents, there have been a few bad apples
motivated to sell what has the biggest commission rather than what makes sense for the customer. You’re right to instinctively want to avoid these guys who don’t have your best interests at heart. You can avoid them by finding agencies focused on more than the next commission check. Smart agents recognize that they’ll be more prosperous in the long run by giving good enough service today to keep their clients coming back and referring their friends. Look for an agency that asks about your needs and goals rather than talking immediately about insurance products. An agency should share its know-how as a consultant of sorts to analyze your risks and design a program to manage them. You should ask what experience and professional training the agency’s staff has beyond the legally required continuing education. Professional designations such as chartered-life underwriter, certified financial planner demonstrate a commitment to comprehensive risk management beyond merely pushing the same products at every potential customer. That means that the agency should have a range of products so that the right option is available for your individual circumstances instead of having to convince everyone into buying the same solution. Professional agents tend to have professional outside associates, lawyers, accountants and appraisers, who round out their team. They are comfortable working with other professionals and aren’t afraid to refer clients to them. So shy away from an agent who can’t give you the names of professionals he or she has worked with. Finally, you want an agency that will be there in case you do have to file a claim. Purchasing coverage online or over the phone isn’t much of a bargain if no one is there to go to bat for you or to help you manage the proceeds during the recovery period. Stability and longevity are vital when it comes to long-term services like insurance protection. As you change your understanding of protection to something you benefit from daily, you can see how important it is to work with a professional agency. You wouldn’t pick your physician because of a flyer stuck under your windshield or an online ad. So, use the same care in selecting your insurance professional.
Ear, nose and throat
SPECIALIST Sinus problems Sinuses are air spaces in the bones around your nose and eyes. The sinuses make your skull weigh less and improve the sound of your voice. They also make mucus, a fluid that helps warm and moisturize the air that you breathe. Hair cells called cilia, in the sinuses continually sweep the mucus from the sinuses into the nose. Anything that block the sinus openings or keeps the cilia from moving can cause a sinus infection or acute sinusitis. Allergies, colds, pollution, cigarette smoke, and even hormone changes with pregnancy are among some things that can contribute to these problems. A professional ear, nose, and throat physician can provide outpatient solutions to sinus problems. Antibiotics, antihistamines, and decongestants are often used to help alleviate sinus problems. Irrigation of the nasal cavity with a saline solution has also been shown to be quite helpful. However, there are sinus infections that are resistant to medical management. In these cases, endoscopic sinus surgery can be used to reestablish the normal drainage pattern of the sinuses and relieve the infections. There is now even a method of dilating the sinus opening with a balloon much like the technique used to open clogged arteries in the 40 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
heart. These offer much less discomfort and recovery time than methods used in the past. Allergy care If you spend a lot of your time sneezing, draining, and congested, or your child has chronic cold, allergies could be the culprit. An ear, nose, and throat physician trained in allergy management is able to diagnose and treat upper respiratory tract problems caused by allergies. Because this physician is also an ENT surgeon and specialist, other non-allergic causes of upper respiratory tract problems can be diagnosed and treated. Medications and even allergy proofing oneâ€™s home may be helpful in treating allergies. When needed, testing using the Immunocap blood test can be used to determine the specific offending allergen and tailor immunotherapy either as allergy shots or sublingual drops for treatment. Comprehensive allergy management can often provide lasting relief for allergy problems. Snoring problems Snoring starts when your breathing causes the soft palate to vibrate excessively. Snoring is sometimes a symptom of a more severe problem known as sleep apnea. An ENT physician can treat the soft palate with an outpatient and even in office procedure that can often resolve the problem of snoring. With sleep apnea, the airway becomes obstructed repeatedly during the night. These obstructions may range in duration of a
few seconds up to a minute or longer. During these episodes the blood oxygen level can fall to dangerously low levels. This condition markedly increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and even car accidents. Diagnosing sleep apnea requires an overnight sleep study. Relief can be achieved using a small mask and machine to help one breathe at night or even surgery to remove obstructing tissue from the airway. Hearing health Because the health of your ears plays a vital role in how you experience the world, you need someone who can properly identify your hearing problems and provide sound solutions. Your medical professional can treat ear infections, perforated ear drums, and hearing loss. A trained audiologist is also available to treat problems with sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus. Hearing loss associated with aging and noise exposure is a treatable condition using state of the art, digital, programmable hearing aids. The newest generation of hearing aids provides exceptional sound quality and comfort unlike older technology. Head and Neck Surgery Other doctors often refer patients to an ENT professional. ENT physicians are trained to treat problems with tumors or masses in the head and neck, thyroid disease and tumors, hoarseness, swallowing issues, and salivary gland problems.
Trusting a repair
or some people, their car is the second largest investment they have, so proper repairs and maintenance should be important to you and beneficial for the safety and convenience of operating your vehicle. How does one find a good auto repair shop you may ask? Here are a few guidelines to consider: Referrals. Ask your friends and co-workers who they trust for their tire shop. Word of mouth is how we find good restaurants, nail salons and just about anything else we need. This is true for repair centers too. If they are happy with their shop, chances are you will be too! Find your shop before you need one. Don’t
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let an emergency auto repair turn into a nightmare. You never want to be forced to use a shop because no alternative was available. Visit the shop. Let them do a minor repair, perhaps a routine oil change. Was the staff friendly and knowledgeable? Was the shop reasonably clean and orderly? Did they offer you name brand products as well as a less expensive alternative? Trust your instincts. If you don’t “feel good” there is a reason. Is the shop convenient to you? Do they offer shuttle service to and from work or home? How long has the shop been in operation? Are their mechanics trained, and do they have any certifications? Are their prices competitive? Are their hours of operation reasonable? These questions may not be deal breakers, but it is important for your consideration. Establish a relationship with one shop. When you use multiple shops it can make your head spin trying to remember what has been done to your car and by whom. Plus as a loyal customer, you will find
that in some instances, your shop will actually do a free service on occasion as a way of thanking you for your loyalty. Word of caution: Beware of shops using costly advertising to promote free services. Advertising is not cheap, and when a shop uses that word as a means of getting you into their shop, then hold on to your wallet. Finally, is the repair shop locally owned and operated? Do they support local events? How community minded is the owner and employees? Do they belong to the local chamber of commerce and the Better Business Bureau? A shop that invests its time and resources back into the local economy is a good indicator of a reputable operation. While this is definitely not an all-inclusive list of what to look for in a repair shop, hopefully this will help you avoid the pitfalls that many women have experienced. Having your car repaired is not near as much fun as buying a new pair of shoes, but it does not have to be dreadful either.
Choose a PEDIATRICIAN
earching for a pediatrician for your beloved children is one of the most important searches you will make in your lifetime. You may need a pediatrician to care for your newborn, or you may need to find a doctor after moving to a new town. Whatever the reason, the best thing to do is ask others for recommendations. Ask your friends, your family, your co-workers – anyone who has small children will have an opinion on who is the most congenial, the most caring, the most compassionate pediatrician in town. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians are trained to: * Help you determine healthy lifestyles for your child and useful ways to role model your choices. * Offer advice to prevent illness and injuries. * Provide early and appropriate care of acute illness to prevent its progression. * Treat life-threatening childhood conditions requiring intensive care. * Guide you in anticipating your child’s needs from newborn to 21. If you are looking for someone to care for your 44 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
newborn, start your search while you are pregnant. Give yourself time to research the options in your area before the baby arrives. You can even ask your obstetrician to suggest names of good pediatricians. Other good sources for recommendations might be your childcare provider, if your child will be attending a day care or nursery, or the children’s minister at your local church. These folks come into contact with parents and children on a daily basis and normally have their ears and eyes open for information. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests visiting with the pediatricians you are considering. Both parents should attend the interviews and take notes, if necessary. Question topics can range from billing matters to how the doctor handles emergency calls. Other recommended questions from the American Academy of Pediatrics include “how soon after birth will my baby need to visit,” “are you available by phone and email,” and “who is your backup pediatrician when you are on vacation.” If you choose a clinic with multiple doctors, ask if your child will see the same doctor each time or will it vary upon the doctor’s availability. Also check to see if the pediatrician is certified at the nearest local hospital, and ask where you child would be hospitalized in case of serious illness. Some insurance companies have an approved network of physicians, so you might be required to
choose from this list – check early on with your insurance agent. If you have moved to a new town and don’t know many people, you can still ask questions in order to choose the best pediatrician. Hospitals and medical societies will have lists of pediatricians. And don’t feel ashamed to ask your new neighbors who have children – most parents are glad to share their knowledge in order to keep children happy and healthy. You can also ask your child’s former pediatrician for recommendations. Be diligent in your search for a pediatrician by looking at the credentials of those contending for the job. Pediatricians can be certified with the American Academy of Pediatrics after extensive training, in addition to earning their medical degree at a reputable university. Most importantly, make sure that you feel comfortable with the pediatrician. Does he or she talk to you with words you can understand rather than medical “initials”? Does the doctor seem to be compassionate about caring for those who are ill, no matter the age? If you choose the best pediatrician for your child, he or she will have a friend and advocate for many years to come. By taking your initial search seriously, you can help shape your child’s life in a positive fashion from his or her first days.
t was Ben Franklin who said that nothing is certain but death and taxes. This article does not deal with taxes, but rather, the other certainty of life. It is a fact that the ratio of death to the population is 1:1. Everyone dies, so a discussion of funeral planning is never irrelevant. When someone we love dies, there are varying stages of anger, confusion and numbness. The funeral is one of the most significant means we have of dealing with grief. The funeral ritual helps us focus our emotions and brings a sense of meaning to death. It confirms the reality of death and provides a catalyst for mourners to begin talking about the deceased. Experts tell us that being able to talk about the life of the deceased loved one is one of the first steps toward accepting death. Prearranging Your Funeral Prearranging your funeral is not much different than any other planning you have carried out during your lifetime. You buy insurance in case of fire, flood, theft or death. These coverages are purchased as an act of love and responsibility for those you love in case an unfortunate incident occurs. A pre-planned funeral accomplishes the same goals. A pre-planned funeral can prevent your family members from having to make a number of significant decisions when they are confused and upset. They will have enough on their minds dealing with grief without having to make several important emotional and expensive decisions in a very short period of time. Experts tell us that there are an average of 50 decisions to be made when arranging a funeral. Adding to the need for pre-planning is the fact that our lifestyle is more complex in today’s world. Family members often live in different states, complicating rapid decision making. Further complications stem from frustrations that occur when dealing with government agencies in different states. A solid pre-planning session can prevent these complications which can loom very large during time of pain and sorrow. 46 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
Often, we have special wishes that others may not be known to even those closest to us. Discussing these wishes with your family permits you to form logical, well thought out plans. Grief counselors say families are comforted by knowing that their loved one’s funeral reflects his or her own wishes. The Funeral Director’s Role A call to a funeral director is a good beginning in making sure you have covered all your bases in your planning. He or she can lead you through a process to ensure that you don’t forget vital information in your plan. Some funeral directors offer free booklets that provide a “punch list” of topics to think through and record your wishes. How To Plan Topics in these guides include funeral details ranging from visitation, the memorial service, and alternatives from burial, cremation, or entombment. These are the obvious decisions, but other important topics include categories that will provide an excellent helping hand to your family. These additional topics include organizations to be notified with phone numbers, persons to be notified, medical history, estate information, banking information, real estate holdings, and insurance policies. Many also include obituary information outlines, personal property inventories, and special instruction and information pages. There may also be information regarding the importance of your will and how to go about ensuring it is accurate and updated. You also need help in prompting answers to several practical questions which will make things much easier on your family members. These questions include: Have you selected a cemetery or memorial location? Are certain religious customs to be followed? Are there any special readings, biblical passages or musical selections you prefer to use in the memorial service? Do you want to have a military service? Do you prefer a specific charity or organization as the recipient of memorial gifts? Do you want to name pallbearers? Do you wish to be buried in particular clothing or jewelry?
What type of casket do you prefer? What type of marker or monument do you prefer? Prefunding your funeral is also an important consideration. Your funeral director can show you the options which will save your family from any possible financial burden later. You may take out a life insurance policy which would cover funeral expenses, or invest in a funeral trust account or final expense insurance policy. In most situations, funds invested today will be sufficient to cover the total cost of the funeral at the time of need, since interest earned by the funds will offset the effects of inflation. Government regulations safeguard your investment so funds will always be available for the intended use. Another important component in your plan is to make sure your loved ones know where your recorded wishes can be found. Each year millions of dollars in government and insurance death benefits go unclaimed because family members do not know where to find the information they need at the time of death. Some considerations that also need to remain in the forefront of the pre-planning agenda: Social Security: Upon death, dependents and survivors may be eligible for certain benefits such as death Payments, Survivors, Benefits, and Medicare. Qualifications depend on several factors such as age, marital status, number of dependents and whether employment was under Social Security. Your Social Security account should be verified periodically to ensure contributions are properly posted. All benefits must be applied for since payment is not automatic. Veterans Benefits: Honorably-discharged veterans are entitled to benefits that may affect decisions about funeral arrangements. For example, veterans may qualify for cemetery plot and burial allowances, a headstone and burial flag, as well as pension for survivors. Medicaid: There are provisions under Federal Title 19 that allow an individual to shelter funds to serve the family later by providing for funeral arrangements. Since qualifications vary for each of these options, it is best to discuss your particular situation with your funeral director.
Choose a mortgage
efore you shop for a house, see your mortgage professional. Get pre-qualified to find out the amount of a mortgage your mortgage professional says you can afford. Pre-qualifying will determine what — if any down payment will be required. If the down payment is less than 20 percent your lender will require private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance is purchased in order to protect the lender in case of borrower default. Determine how much your homeowners insurance and property tax will be. Add 1/12 of the total cost of the homeowners insurance and property tax to the principal and interest portion of the payment to determine your overall house payment. Be sure to include this cost with any other costs before making comparisons. As you ask for a comparison, make sure you are speaking with a loan officer and not a receptionist or a clerical person. Interest rates change constantly. The rate may be fixed or adjustable. If the rate is adjustable, ask how your loan payment will vary as the interest goes up or down.
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Look At Your Options Take a look at the different mortgage options and find out if you qualify for one of them. Special loan packages exist for those who qualify under guidelines set by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veteran’s Affairs (VA), or USDA Rural Development (RD). These packages may offer a better mortgage rate, better terms of payment or even money toward the down payment. First-time homebuyers, for example, may be eligible for special incentives, including a lower interest rate, assistance for the down payment and sometimes even employer assistance. Generous income guidelines make this program available to a very large number of homebuyers. A good lender will be able to help you determine if you qualify for one of these mortgage options. Check Out All Costs There are a variety of other costs that may be associated with buying a home. Charges may include the cost of a credit report, an application fee or an appraisal of the property. Some of these fees must be paid in advance. Other expenses may include the cost of a title insurance policy from a title company, a professional survey by a licensed surveyor, home inspection fees and pre-paid taxes or property insurance on your new
home. Some of these fees will be due at the time that you close on your property. Determine what types of “lock-in” terms the lender offers. Locking your rate protects you from increases in rates as your application is processed but locks in the interest rate for a predetermined period of time. It protects you from increases in rates as your application is processed but also could leave you with a less-favorable rate should rates decline. Keep in mind that the companies you are comparing are required by law not to discriminate against applicants in any way because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, handicap or whether some of the applicant’s income comes from a public assistance program. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Housing Act, a company cannot refuse to lend based on these characteristics, charge more for a loan or give less-favorable terms based on such considerations. Review Your Credit Report A good mortgage lender can help you determine some of the things you can do to dress up your credit before applying for a home loan. For example, you might pay down existing debt, close inactive credit accounts, develop a stable employment history and avoid other large purchases such as a new car, according to Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
Choose a retirement
he first thing is to find out what retirement communities are located in the area where you or your relative(s) prefer to live. The weather is an important factor and the proximity to hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, retail malls/stores is important. It is a good idea to ride around to the various retirement communities to get your first impression of the appearance, architecture and location. Once you know which retirement communities are to be considered, check the telephone yellow pages and contact the local Chamber of Commerce to inquire about which retirement communities are members. The more established ones will be listed in the yellow pages and the Chamber of Commerce directory. It is also good to check the internet web site of each area retirement community. The web site will provide key information about the services that are offered and the accommodations. Other pertinent information may be obtained from the Department of Human Resources Licensing and Survey reports. This information may be obtained via the Internet, at the local Department of Human Resources or at any retirement community that has a licensed nursing wing or assisted living unit. The Dunn and Bradstreet Financial rating, the State Nursing Home Association, The Better Business Bureau and Long-term-Care Ombudsman are four additional agencies where retirement community stability and historical information may be obtained. Interview with Key Staff Call for an appointment and meet the staff; each retirement community is run by an executive director and managers of multiple departments. These include nursing, marketing, dietary, housekeeping, laundry, social services, recreational activities, maintenance of the physical plant and the grounds, security, business and transportation. Make an appointment with the director of marketing or the admissions coordinator. The marketing director/admissions coordinator will explain about the history and ownership of the property, the age, per-
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mits and licenses and will provide you with brochures and price lists. The marketing director will show you around the property and introduce you to the staff and management who will answer any questions you may have. It is important to assess the length of employment of the executive director and key managers, their educational credentials, experience and licenses. A strong retirement community staff is knowledgeable in the areas of geriatrics, the aging process, Medicare, rehabilitation, and all long term care issues. Tour Property and Accommodations A tour of the retirement community is imperative to assess the types and sizes of cottages, apartments and rooms associated with each level of care. Safety features, emergency response equipment and handicap access ability are important features of the tour. The tour allows a potential resident to evaluate the size or space needed for their furnishings, the closets and storage space. The cleanliness and maintenance or upkeep of the property may also be assessed on the tour. Staffresident interaction, social activities and residents’ appearances may also be observed. Become Informed About Services, Amenities and Continuum of Care During the initial and follow-up interviews and tour, it is vital to be informed about the amenities, services and levels of care that are provided and included in the admission contract. It is imperative that a potential resident be advised about whether the retirement community is a buy-in or lease arrangement, the price, refund policy, pet policy, etc. All amenities such as meals, housekeeping and laundry/ linen service, telephone, cable television, transportation and social activities should be explained. A full service, multi-level continuum of care retirement community offers levels of care that range from independent living in cottages and apartments, to assisted living or personal care to skilled nursing care. It is preferable to move into a retirement community where a resident may “age in place” and not have to relocate to another property or facility if they should have changes in their condition or require personal assistance or nursing care.
The social or recreational activity program should be assessed when making the decision about your future lifestyle. An activities or social calendar should be available for you to study. A varied program of activities offering mental or sensory stimulating activities, physical activities and cultural entertainment should be included so that a resident has multiple daily options and may be as active as they choose to be. Examples of popular activities include bridge and other card games, movies, bingo, aerobic exercise classes, exercise equipment for individual or group use, birthday parties, special theme parties and seasonal or holiday celebrations. Also, outings with provided transportation that include tours of the area, lunches at local restaurants and trips to cultural events should be included in the social calendar. Arts and crafts classes should be available for those who enjoy creative pursuits. A transportation program should be provided to assure transportation to doctor’s appointments and other essential pickups, deliveries or personal transportation to shop, obtain medications and other essentials since many senior citizens choose to stop driving. An established retirement community will have available vehicles that include cars, vans and/or a bus for individual and group transportation. The safety or security of a retirement community should also be assessed since this is a primary reason to leave one’s personal home. Twenty-four hour security is preferable and a gated community is a comforting asset. Communicate with Residents, Families and Physicians Another key way to assess that a retirement community is reputable and stable operationally is to communicate with the residents, their families and friends. Ask pertinent questions about the staff, services, amenities and day-to-day operations and activities. Also, ask your personal physician about local retirement communities, and which ones they recommend for their loved ones and their patients. Also, inquire about the possibility of an overnight visit that includes a few meals and social activities to see if a certain retirement community is a good fit for you. Inquire about the length of stay for most residents and this will give you a good idea about the care and morale of the resident population.
Pick a lawn care
well-maintained yard can improve your property values, provide wonderful curb appeal, give your family some extra usable living space and bring a relaxed feel to your lifestyle. Maintenance is crucial to keeping your lawn and garden healthy and beautiful. No matter the season, yard work is a part of life every week. Lawn care specialists can set you up on a lawn care program, which will consist of timely applications of fertilizer and herbicides to help control weeds in your lawn and keep it green and healthy. In the spring and summer you may be picking flowers or trimming shrubs. Local professionals can also help you learn which jobs need to be done at which times of the year — caring for flowering plants in the summer and spring and raking leaves and applying pre-emergents in the fall and winter, for instance. Lawn care services can be hired to do as much or as little maintenance as you would like. If you love gardening, have a green thumb and have some free
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time each week, you might decide you can do the majority of the maintenance yourself. If you have time constraints but still want to contribute some sweat equity, you may want to consider doing the lawn mowing and watering yourself, and hiring a lawn care service to do the mulching, leaf blowing and bagging and tree trimming. Some people may want to just play in their garden and leave all the maintenance to the professionals — and that’s great, too! Keep your family’s busy schedule — and your budget — in mind when determining what maintenance projects you can perform and which ones you need to leave to the professionals. In general, lawns should be mowed no less than weekly and should be cut no more than 1/3 of the blade at a time. That is, if it is 3 inches tall, only cut 1 inch off. By not mowing, weeds become immune to herbicides which can make them impossible to remove. Just like people, lawns need water to keep them hydrated and healthy. If possible, water one inch per week for best results. By raking leaves, you will keep your lawn beautiful. Leaves can form a barrier between your lawn and the fertilizers and herbicides meant to keep them plush and full.
Make sure you ask your lawn care specialist about any chemicals they might use on your lawn. Timely applications of fertilizer and herbicides are necessary to control weeds and keep your yard healthy. There may be regulations on types of chemicals that can be used in your city, or on the frequency of applications allowed. Make sure you check with your specialist on these issues, and definitely tell them if you have young children or pets. As with any chemical, it can be harmful to consume them. But, if you allow chemicals to dry before sending your children or pets outdoors, they’ll be safe and free to play. Ask your friends, co-workers and neighbors for recommendations of good lawn care service providers. If you see a yard with beautiful grass, see if they will give you the name of the company they use. Word of mouth is invaluable in finding good, reputable companies. Many times, several families in your neighborhood will use the same lawn care service because of positive recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask around, and make sure you find someone who makes you feel confident in their abilities.
traffic on our countryâ€™s highways. Towers play a key part in clearing up accidents to keep the traffic going. The equipment used by towers has changed drastically over the last 20 years. Drivers receive intensive training to use their equipment properly, including hydraulics, car carriers, air cushions, dollies, electric winches, rotators, wheel lifts and computerized equipment. The towing industry has become more technically driven. Towers have become skilled in using computer technology.
WHO IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Towing and recovery services must follow strict guidelines set by federal, state and local governments. Incident management is a major priority of the Department of Transportation to keep a steady flow of
CHECK FOR CERTIFICATION All drivers must be state certified each year and have their equipment pass a thorough inspection. Those driving big rigs must receive special training to secure trucks. The drug and alcohol testing used for drivers in the trucking industry also applies to tow truck drivers. When the truck arrives to tow your car, look for the state certification sticker on the left side of the front windshield. Companies with state certification will
TOWING owing is big business. The industry accounts for more than $7 billion in annual revenue. More than 85 percent of all tows involve passenger cars and small trucks. Approximately 60,000 towing companies exist across the United States, many of which are family-owned towing businesses. So when your car breaks down, deciding which towing service to call can be a major headache unless you know what to look for when choosing a wrecker service.
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have a good insurance policy. Choosing which tow service is for you comes down to one thing, reputation. If a company has been in business for many years, then they should be a very reputable organization. Ask around to friends for recommendations. Also, check and see if the company has done any work for the city. If your local government trusts them, they will probably do a good job. Before your vehicle is towed, check for any damage to the front and tell the towing service about this when you call. This way if damage occurs, the company canâ€™t deny it. Also, if you believe your vehicle has been damaged, take it to a different, reputable towing service and ask them to examine it. If your car was damaged during towing, they will be able to tell you about it. By selecting the proper service, your towing experience should be headache free. For more information about the rules and regulations for towing services in the state, visit www. artowing.org.
oving, life changes or even personal preferences can cause one to want or need to switch banks. While many think the process is lengthy and difficult, that is not actually the case. In fact, switching is easier than ever before. Have no fear, technology is here The number one fear customers have that keeps them from switching banks is the thought that the changing all of those electronic drafts will be difficult. This is a common fallacy that has been improved upon through the years with technology. Many consumers now do things online, including switching banks. Years ago consumers would have to mail forms into those executing drafts that could take three or more months. Customers can now switch most drafts online or over the phone. Most banks will even make the changes for you or at least walk you through the process. Some banks even work with a third party service that pairs with the customer to help them switch. There might be a fee for this so always ask if there is a cost. A good bank will have the forms for you, especially for more common drafts like utilities. This really 56 FAULKNER COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE
makes it simple to switch. Government entities have gotten much better than they have been in the past about making quick changes. One call to the social security administration and you can have your monthly SSN check moved to your new account. What to look for Typically, the more technology savvy a bank is, the easier it will be to switch. This does not necessarily mean a bigger bank is easier to switch to and from. Also, the level of customer service plays a huge role in how easy it is for a customer to change banks. The staff needs to help the customer change without any hassle. With these keys, a customer can easily find a bank to switch to and can determine how easy it will be without any problems. Tailor to your needs To select a new bank look for the ideal match for your situation. Common factors include locations, hours and technology. If you are a consumer that likes to go into a branch or drive thru, the location and branch network is important. Take your travel schedule into consideration. This could play a factor in whether they should look for a national, regional or local bank. The hours need to be able to fit a customer’s schedule. If a customer is always working during the bank’s hours, it is going to be difficult to talk to a consultant when he or she needs to. The average consumer does a mix of in-person
banking and online banking. If you like to bank online then be sure to check out these services. All banks have them, but some are better than others. With online banking, and even depositing checks, the worry for a close location and hours that meet your schedule has diminished somewhat. After all, there is an ATM on every corner. Buyer beware Customers need to be aware of the fee structure of the bank they are switching to. Fees can include a monthly account fee, an insufficient funds fee, transfer fees and notary fees. Some banks will waive some fees, but some won’t and fees vary from bank to bank. For example, to get free checking you may be required to get an e-statement. Some banks come in at the $35 range for customers writing a hot check while others can be as low as $17. Remember this Don’t be afraid to switch banks, because it is much easier than it has been in the past. Tech savvy banks are important and can be a key sign of a quick transition. Choose a bank that you need based on your location, hours and products and services that meet your needs. Don’t forget to review the fees banks may charge for different things. Remembering these tips can help a customer choose and switch banks easily.
here may be times in your life where you are involved in a serious injury, such as a heart attack or major head trauma. When these events occur, the best place to go is to an emergency room at your hospital. But when an emergency is important but may not be life-threatening, it is best to seek out an urgent care center. An urgent care center resides between the ER and a visit to the doctor. The need is immediate, but it may not equal what can be provided at a hospital. Urgent Care centers are set up to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life –threatening, but also cannot wait until the next day or for a primary care doctor to see them. Always remember, urgent care is not a substitute for emergency care. An urgent care facility is advantageous to a hospital in many cases in order to receive treatment in a much more timely fashion. Sometimes people seek non-emergency care in emergency departments. Due to the high volume, patients are often greeted with long wait times. Urgent care centers have emerged as
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a convenient and affordable alternative to treat those experiencing non-emergency issues. When finding the right urgent care center, make sure you check availability and proper services. Urgent care centers are available for the days and hours in which primary care physicians’ offices are closed. Their primary function is to provide easy access quality health care. The right urgent care facility will be able to provide lab and x-ray services. Some also offer CT and ultrasound. It is always best to remember that the best urgent care facility is not only a substitute for your primary care physician or a hospital, but it will work with those entities as well as medical specialists when needed. You will see a physician or a mid-level provider as well as nurses and x-ray techs at the proper urgent care center, but those individuals will be able to refer patients to medical specialists or to the ER if medically necessary. The right urgent care center will also be able to communicate with the primary care physician. In most cases, the urgent care center provides all patients with a discharge summary that they can take back to the primary care physician. If they have their doctor’s information at the time of their visit, a fax or email of the visit information is sent to their doctor.
If you are not sure when to use an urgent care center, keep these examples in mind: • Accidents and falls • Sprains and strains • Moderate back problems • Breathing difficulties (i.e. mild to moderate asthma) • Bleeding/cuts — not bleeding a lot but requiring stitches • Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests • Eye irritation and redness • Fever or flu • Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration • Severe sore throat or cough • Minor broken bones and fractures (i.e. fingers, toes) • Skin rashes and infections • Urinary tract infections Make sure to find centers that are conveniently located and provide the variety of services and treatments that are required on your trip. The best urgent care facility will always be the healthcare alternative for illness, injury and wellness care when a trip to a doctor’s office or the ER is unwarranted or inconvenient.