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CDC Issues Measles Outbreak Alert
January 28th, 2015

The U.S. is currently experiencing a measles outbreak, which started in California and has spread to six additional states and Mexico. This is a great public health concern because of all infectious diseases, measles is one of the most contagious. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people who do not have immunity against the disease and come into contact with an infected patient will develop measles. Therefore, the CDC is disseminating information to empower communities to raise awareness in their homes, workplaces, and places of faith.

While measles is considered a child’s disease, adults who are not immune to measles can catch and spread it. 

Therefore, everyone should take precaution, especially if you are planning on traveling abroad or have small children at home.

Vaccine Immunity

There are some ways to know if you have immunity against measles, such as having written documentation that states you have received one or two doses of the vaccine or laboratory evidence of immunity. If you do not have documentation or are unsure, always consult with your trusted healthcare provider or doctor as each person’s health situation is unique.

Vaccine Recommendations

The measles can be prevented with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The CDC recommends that if you were born during or after 1957 and do not have evidence of measles immunity, you should get at least one dose of the vaccine. Recommendations vary for children, students at higher education institutions, and international travelers.

Getting Vaccinated

If you aren’t sure where to get vaccinated, check out vaccine.gov’s Adult Vaccine Finder and interactive map that lists immunization requirements and information by state.

Spreading the Word

Here are some bilingual resources you can use to help spread the word about the measles:

Measles: Questions and Answers (IAC, reviewed by CDC)

Hoja Informativa para los Padres (CDC)

Sarampión: asegúrese de que su hijo haya recibido todas las vacunas (CDC)

El Sarampión Puede Viajar (CDC Podcast)


Salud y Bienestar: How to Stick to Your Health Resolutions and Keep Them
January 27th, 2015

HCOA-081106-0145-2

“No more junk food!”

“Cakes, sweets, and chocolates are so 2014.”

“This year will be different.”

You might identify with one or all of these statements. The start of a new year is almost synonymous with resolutions of all kinds, especially those related to exercise, fitness and nutrition. Usually one of the main goals is to shed the extra pounds gained during the holiday season. This is why January is the peak month for gym memberships subscriptions and renewals, but attendance usually tapers off several weeks later along with the willpower to eat “healthier” foods. There are a couple of things to consider if you want to not only keep your resolution, but create a lifestyle change:

Change your mindset

Think about the why instead of the what. Why do you want to lose weight or eat healthier or do more exercise? Motivation is an important part of achieving a goal. If that motivation is finite— that is, tied to an event or situation— you may reach that goal, but afterward there is no reason to keep at it. But what if your motivation focused on a broader and more fulfilling end goal, such as good health in your golden years? If we start to see health, fitness, and exercise as important factors that support the aging process, we are able to pursue a lifestyle that ensures we are in the best health possible at every stage of life— not just for a party or a trip. Your heart will thank you!

Cultivate healthy habits

Lifestyle changes are challenging, but not impossible. And, if your mindset is focused on long-term, life-long health, half the battle is won. The other equally important half is creating— and more importantly, sticking to— habits that will support the lifestyle change. So why can’t many who embark on ambitious resolutions at the beginning of the year make the transition from resolution to habit? The answer is in our brain. While each person is different, science points to a magic number of days needed for our brains to process and adopt a new habit: 21. Curiously, this is usually about the time it takes many people to give up on their resolution. While the reasons may vary, what we can gather from this is that even though we are jogging at a marathoner’s pace, we still need to mark short-term goals to ensure we experience progress.

Keep realistic short-term and long-term goals

Any lifestyle change requires developing and keeping new habits. Goals help us keep up and strengthen these habits. For example, you may want to include weekly exercise as a habit that supports the lifestyle change you are seeking. You can reinforce that habit by setting up short-term goals (I want to walk in the park three times a week) and long-term goals (I want to train for a 5k race). In creating goals we not only appreciate our own progress, but can track it as well.

Keep good company

Lifestyle changes aren’t easy, as we mentioned before. But, if you find family members or friends who share your desire to lead healthier, more active lives, you can keep each other motivated and accountable. Whether it’s your spouse, children, friends, or even grandchildren, having someone to do exercise or cook with helps keep you on course with your goals.

Keep it real

Lastly, we suggest to “keep it real.” Don’t deprive yourself or push yourself too hard. Burn out is one of the reasons many people fail to keep their resolutions. The key here is moderation and the understanding that just because we didn’t walk one day or ate too much cake, we haven’t failed. Each day is a new beginning!

National Wear Red Day Flyer ENG

This Friday, February 6, NHCOA will “go red” for National Wear Red Day, created by the American Heart Association (AHA). Wear something red, snap a selfie and share it through your social media channels with the hashtag #GoRedCorazon. To learn more about the National Wear Red Day and AHA’s Go Red for Women Campaign, visit www.goredforwomen.org.


Looking Toward the “Fourth Quarter”
January 20th, 2015

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Tonight President Obama will lay out his fourth quarter plan for his last two years in the White House. Over the last few weeks, he has shared a couple of “SOTU spoilers,” traveling the country to discuss different aspects of what he will present in tonight’s speech.

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers we represent, here are a couple of areas we would like to see the President prioritize over the next two years.

1. Work with Congress to protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare Qualified Individual program, which pays for low-income seniors’ Medicare Part B premiums, has been temporarily extended until March 31, 2015. Congress should make this program permanent and provide funding to help low-income seniors, particularly Hispanic older adults, gain access to the Qualified Individual program and other Medicare benefits as those who are elegible are most likely not to receive it.

Medicare fraud is also a pervasive issue among Latino seniors. They are systematically targeted due to the multiple barriers that keep them from accessing and understanding their benefits and rights as Medicare beneficiares. Congress should ensure that proper funding be secured to conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to this vulnerable, hard-to-reach population.

2. Urge Congress to strengthen and reauthorize the Older Americans Act.

The Older Americans Act is long overdue for reauthorization, and needs to be modernized to better serve the needs of the growing and diverse older adult population it serves, particularly low-income seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. The programs of the OAA are also extremely important in allowing older adults to age in dignity and the best possible health as it authorizes a wide variety of programs focused on health, nutrition, caregiver support, job training, and more.

3. Urge Congress to pass the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2014.

The bill would provide some sorely needed updates to this long-neglected program which provides subsistence level income for over 8 million older Americans and people with disabilities. A majority of those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are women, including two-thirds of those who receive SSI on the basis of age. Revising the current SSI program to match 2014 cost of living standards and expenses is not only common-sense, but critical to the success, health, and well-being of all seniors, and especially those in the Hispanic community.

4. Provide increased subsidized housing opportunities for Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors.

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 202 Program helps to expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for older adults.  It provides very low-income older adults with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that provides support activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation. Additionally, the building and housing units have railings and other features which make them easily accessible for older adults. Many Hispanic older adults live in subsidized housing, but the wait lists are long, and many wait years before qualifying. Increased funding for these housing programs is needed to reduce the wait periods and allow more Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors to have a safe and affordable place to live.

5. Take action so more working families have access to family and medical paid leave.

Currently, the United States is lagging behind other developed countries on paid family and medical leave policies: it is the only developed nation that doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave. According to the White House, it is estimated that 43 million private-sector workers in the United States do not have access to any form of paid sick leave. We applaud President Obama’s announcement last week, which included a call to Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, but there is more to be done to ensure that all working American families have access to the time off they need to take care of themselves or a family member.

NHCOA will be live tweeting tonight during the State of the Union, which starts at 9 pm ET. For live streaming and more information about tonight’s speech, visit wh.gov/SOTU.


What I am thankful for on MLK Day
January 19th, 2015

Washington, DC NHCOA Leaders class of 2012

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to remember Dr. King’s legacy through acts of service. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are participating in a wide range of projects that strengthen communities, promote leadership, and provide solutions to social issues. As we strive to achieve the democracy and social justice Dr. King envisioned for our country, MLK Day serves a reminder that servant leadership and volunteerism lie at the heart of who we are: a society that believes in giving back, sharing the best of our talents, and empowering others to be the best they can be.

Service and volunteerism at the core of our Hispanic Aging Network, a growing group of individuals, groups, and organizations that carry out our mission of improving the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, in different areas of the county. The commitment and dedication of this intergenerational, multicultural, and bilingual network is the lifeblood that enhances and inspires our work in Washington and in the field. Their volunteerism helps to:

Today I would like to offer my gratitude to those who share the best of themselves—not only on MLK Day, but every day of the year— to improve the lives of others who need encouragement, support, and aide.

¡Muchas gracias!


It’s Time to Lead on Leave
January 16th, 2015

hispanic_family4President Obama has made a significant announcement in favor of millions of U.S. workers and families when he urged Congress to take up and pass the Healthy Families Act championed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), which would provide working Americans with up to a week of paid leave per year. He also presented a series of proposals to increase access to paid family and medical leave for working families across the country.

According to White House estimates, 43 million Americans in the private sector do not have any form of paid leave.

“That means that no matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent, or look after themselves or their children,” President Obama explained on the White House website. Yesterday’s announcements, which includes the call to Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, build on the steps resulting from the White House Families Summit in June 2014:

  • President Obama called on cities and states to pass legislation while Congress considers the Healthy Families Act to ensure workers have access to paid sick leave.
  • He also proposed $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs.
  • President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child.

In a statement, NHCOA President and CEO Dr. Yanira Cruz said: “NHCOA has supported, and will continue to support the Healthy Families Act, as well as other legislation that helps working families and our economy, such as the Family Act. Therefore, we applaud President Obama’s announcement and join him in urging Congress to ‘lead on leave’ by making paid family and medical leave a reality for all working Americans.”

NHCOA is a staunch advocate for paid sick days and will continue to work alongside groups National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) as well as Family Values @ Work (FV@W) to ensure that the voices of American workers who would benefit greatly from similar legislation, are heard.

Read a detailed fact sheets of President Obamas proposals to strengthen working families and watch his remarks.

 

 

 

 


New Year, New Goal: Donate Blood!
January 12th, 2015

Getting-Vacinated-1-300x170[1]The month of January is known as National Blood Donor Month to both raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and honor those who take the time to do so.

 

This awareness event, which has existed since 1970, aptly chose the month of January because it is one of the slowest times of the year for donations. In fact, most blood centers in the United States have a hard time keeping more than a three-day supply of blood for transfusions due to the constant demand.

In commemoration of National Blood Donor Month, we will debunk some common myths related to blood donations and some tips on how to get involved.

 Myth 1: Donors can get infected with HIV from giving blood.

It is not possible to get HIV from donating blood as blood collection is highly regulated and safe. Further, while it is possible to become infected with HIV in health care settings, it is extremely rare. According to the aids.gov website, “the risk of getting HIV from receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV is extremely small because of rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs and tissues.”

 

Myth 2: Your health is affected by giving blood.

If you are in good health prior to donating blood, you should recover completely in just a day or two. In the hours after donating blood, it is advisable to rest a while and drinking enough liquids to replaces the lost fluid. Your body should replace all the red blood cells within 3 to 4 days, and the white blood cells within three weeks.

 

Myth 3: There aren’t any age limits on blood donations.

It is recommended that anyone up to 60 years old who is in good health can donate blood.

 

Myth 4: A donor can know if s/he is HIV positive through a blood donation.

After infection, it can take months for the HIV antibodies to develop. Those who are recently infected may have a negative test result, but yet be able to infect others. It is recommendable for people who are at high risk of HIV infection to not to donate blood.

Now that we have debunked some of the most common myths, here are some quick tips on getting involved in blood donations:

 

  •  Know your blood type.

There are several types of blood, and if you are going to donate blood—and in the event of an emergency—it is important to know which type you have. If you are unaware of your blood type, you can ask your parents or get tested at a local laboratory or with your primary health care provider. You can also find out your blood type after donating blood. It might take a while, but the blood bank will be able to tell you your blood type.

 

  • Find your local blood bank.

You can find your nearest blood bank on the Red Cross Blood website.

 

  • Schedule blood donations throughout the year.

According to the Red Cross, you must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year.

 

  • Encourage friends and family to donate blood.

Review blood donations information from reliable sources, such as the Red Cross, with friends and families to raise awareness about the importance of blood donation and encourage them to donate.

 

  • Talk about the importance of blood donation through your social media networks.

Share infographics, status updates, and data to spread awareness through your social media contacts.


New Year, New Goals: Be an InFLUence in your Family and Community
January 7th, 2015

On January 5, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that last week influenza cases surpassed the “epidemic threshold”, a clear reminder that it is still not late to get vaccinated and protect yourself from the flu. The report indicated that nearly all states experienced high or widespread flu activity, which means that everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable to flu complications— older adults, children under 5 years, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions—should take proper precautions during this flu season.

[Not sure if you are at high risk for serious illness from the flu? Click here.]

Here are the top 3 things everyone should keep in mind during the 2014-15 flu season:

Get vaccinated

The flu shot is always your first line of defense against influenza, and it is not too late to get vaccinated. There are several flu shot options available. If you are at risk for flu complications or think you may be, talk to your health care provider before getting vaccinated. It is important to remember that the flu shot should be administered once a year as its immunization only lasts one flu season. To find the nearest flu clinic, click here.

 

Go to the doctor if you present flu-like symptoms

It is possible to get sick or present flu-like symptoms even if you are vaccinated. This is due to several reasons—being exposed to an influenza virus shortly before getting immunized, falling ill to non-flu viruses that cause similar symptoms, or being exposed to a flu virus that isn’t included in the vaccine. In some instances, people who are vaccinated catch the flu. While the flu vaccine generally works best among young adults and older children who are healthy, some older adults and people with chronic illnesses could develop less immunity after vaccination. Regardless, everyone who is able to get immunized, should get the flu shot every year.

 

Practice flu prevention

Check out these practical tips to help prevent the spread of the flu in your home and community.

Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated) is a culturally, linguistically, and age sensitive community intervention that aims at increasing adult vaccination rates among Hispanics.

 


New Year, New Goal: Don’t Lose Sight of Glaucoma and Eye Disease
January 6th, 2015

slider-program-saludAmong a diabetic’s main concerns are maintaining a healthy diet and blood sugar (glucose) levels. This is because high blood sugar can affect other body functions both permanently and irreversibly. Therefore, there are several preventive measures people with diabetes should take to ensure they are in the best health possible. One such measure is getting a yearly eye check ups to rule out eye diseases, including diabetic eye, cataracts, and glaucoma.

The month of January is dedicated to raising awareness about glaucoma, a disease that can potentially blind its victims and isn’t limited to people with diabetes. In fact, people over age 60 are at a higher risk of getting glaucoma. Quite frequently, by the time people are diagnosed, they’ve already noticed changes to their side, or peripheral, vision.

It’s important not to wait until you notice problems with your vision to see your eye care professional.

“Studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma don’t know they have this potentially blinding eye disease,” said National Eye Institute (NEI) director Dr. Paul Sieving. “The good news is that glaucoma can be detected in its early stages through a comprehensive dilated eye exam.”

A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a procedure in which an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate (or widen) the pupil to examine the back of your eyes and your optic nerve for signs of disease. This exam may help save your sight because when glaucoma is detected early, it can be controlled through medications or surgery.

It is very important that those at higher risk for glaucoma—which includes everyone over age 60, especially Latinos, and those with a family history of the disease—get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years.

A low-cost exam may be available to beneficiaries through Medicare. For more information, call 1–800–MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov. For additional information about glaucoma, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma or call the National Eye Institute at 301–496–5248.

 

Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being) is NHCOA’s national flagship program that educates and informs Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers on how to prevent and/or manage diabetes and its complications. Originally funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salud y Bienestar has helped thousands of Latino seniors and families over the last several years make healthier lifestyle changes.

New Year, New Goals: Let’s Talk HIV with our Friends and Families
January 5th, 2015

For many of us the New Year means a renewed focus on improving different aspects of our lives, including our health.

CDC One Conversation at a Time Campaign web banner. Image of two young Latinos, a boy and a girl, and two speech bubbles, each with a message about the importance of having HIV conversations.

While healthy eating and regular exercise are key factors in maintaining one’s health, being aware of, and understanding certain health risks are equally as important.

As you may know, Latinos face many disproportionate health inequities, which is why getting informed and spreading the word is even more vital to the health and well-being of the entire community.

For the past several years, NHCOA has been partnering with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bring HIV/AIDS information, education, and outreach to the most vulnerable and most affected populations, which includes the Hispanic community. As an Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative partner, NHCOA works with local community-based organizations, lay health educators, as well as other members of our Hispanic Aging Network to eliminate stigmas and encourage open, informed conversations about HIV/AIDS.

One of the tools the CDC has created to further this goal is the We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time bilingual campaign, which was specifically designed for the Latino community.

It may not be easy to talk about HIV/AIDS, but having conversations about it is one of the best ways we can protect our families and community. Currently, more than 20% of the new HIV infections in the United States each year are among Hispanics. Imagine how many of those new infections could be avoided if we made a point of speaking up in our homes, workplaces, and places of worship. Imagine how many more people would feel supported and empowered to seek medical attention because they HIV status isn’t a cause of fear, shame or embarrassment. Imagine how many more people would be empowered to make informed decisions regarding their health and their bodies.

To learn more about the CDC’s We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time campaign in English, click here. Campaign materials and information are also available in Spanish here


Setting Goals: NHCOA Leaders Share their 2015 Resolutions
December 30th, 2014

December is a month loaded with activities, thoughts, and aspirations. Tradition leads many folks tend to write yearly resolutions that reflect personal, professional, and even social goals for the coming year. In keeping with this tradition and empowering our network to set and achieve goals that advance the quality of life of the Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers we serve, we asked some members of the NHCOA familia to share their 2015 resolutions:

 

Quotables:

Most “impossible” goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine. Don Lancaster

It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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