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Tips for Winter Driving

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Tips for Winter Driving | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Winter is here – think ahead and stay safe on the road with these tips. For safe winter driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges drivers to:


  • Check your battery
  • Check your cooling system
  • Fill your windshield washer reservoir
  • Check windshield wipers and defrosters
  • Check floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference
  • Inspect your tires
  • Check the age of your tires
  • Stay vigilant while driving

Read the full article with more safety tips in the Risk Management Monitor.

Holiday Depression and Stress

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Holiday Depression and Stress | Posted in Misc
Your mood may take a turn for the worst near the holidays, but it may not have to do with the season itself. When there is less sunlight, some suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you feel down and stressed, consider talking to your doctor.

shutterstock_158957363While many anticipate happy holidays, others dread the season. If you feel stressed, the obligations at holiday time can take their toll on even the most cheerful of people. Here are some tips to help you minimize holiday stress.

Causes of Stress

Ask yourself what exactly about the season makes you feel stressed. Your feelings may be triggered by the following:

  • Unhappy childhood memories
  • Relatives that are particularly difficult
  • Reflecting on how life has negatively changed over the course of the year
  • The monotony of the season – seeing the same faces, eating the same food, going through the same motions
  • Lowered immune defenses because of cooler temperatures, high incidence of the flu, eating more and sleeping less
  • Financial stress

Minimize Holiday Stress

  • Do not feel you must meet all family obligations. Make a list of the reasons why you engage in various holiday traditions to help you decide what events you should avoid and what to join in on. The bottom line: do not simply do something or go somewhere because of tradition, especially if it makes you unhappy.
  • Ask others for assistance. For example, ask a relative to host the family get-together, or make it a potluck and have everyone contribute to the meal.
  • Make a to-do list in chronological order to minimize stress.
  • Enjoy the present and try not to worry about what may be lacking.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Stay active and continue to eat a balanced diet.
  • Create a new tradition, such as volunteering, especially if you feel lonely.
  • Make time for yourself and your needs, even when hosting guests in your house.
  • Keep tabs on your holiday spending. Make a budget and stick to it, no exceptions.
  • Learn to say no. It’s OK not to do everything.

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Holiday Work Parties

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Holiday Work Parties | Posted in Misc
Be sure to thank the host of your holiday party, as well as any of the people who worked to plan the event. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

shutterstock_21349774For many employees, the annual holiday work party is one more special event to work into a hectic holiday calendar. However, these gatherings should be festive events, not a dreaded obligation.

Points to Consider
When preparing for your holiday work party, remember the following:

  • The party is part of your job; its purpose is to bring together co-workers and colleagues for camaraderie and well-deserved recognition. Consider it work, put on your best attitude, and go.
  • The event requires advance preparation. Knowing who will be there and having an idea what to talk about is critical to a successful experience.
  • Stay at the party long enough to speak to everyone there. With a large crowd, interact with as many people as possible, especially key people such as your boss. Remain at the event for at least an hour, but leave before the party time has elapsed.
  • Keep your guard up when deciding how to dress. If the party is being held immediately after work, business attire is appropriate. If later in the evening or during the weekend, your choices will vary depending on the event. What you wear should reflect well on you professionally.
  • Check your invitation to see if your partner or children are invited. Only take children if the invitation reads “and family”, and your partner/spouse if the invitation reads “and guest”. Otherwise plan on attending alone.
  • Take cues from others when choosing topics of conversation.
  • Always drink in moderation. This is an opportunity to build business relationships and to network within your company.
  • Unless asked to bring something to exchange with co-workers, only bring a gift for your host. Gift baskets with jams, jellies or gourmet food items that can be stored and served later are some good choices.
  • Enjoy yourself, but keep in mind it is still a business function. Do not behave carelessly, or do or say things you may regret later.

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Holiday Stress: Traveling

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Holiday Stress: Traveling | Posted in Misc

shutterstock_97767131To keep travel worries from ruining your holiday plans, learn to reduce your stress by planning ahead.

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for long-distance travel. Planes are overbooked and highways are overcrowded, which can add stress to the season.

Keep Your Sanity
To keep travel worries from ruining your holiday plans, learn to reduce your stress by planning ahead. To start, try using some of the following tips—they can help you stay in control during your trip.

If you are flying:

  • Do not delay. Make your reservations well in advance to make sure you have many flight times, prices and seats to choose from.
  • Choose your ticket wisely. Travel on off-peak days and during early morning hours whenever possible. Airports tend to be less crowded during these times, which will make it easier to get another reservation if your flight is cancelled.
  • Call or check online to confirm that your flight is still on time before leaving for the airport.
  • Check in for your flight online, if possible, to avoid an extra line at the airport.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least eight ounces of water every hour to avoid jet lag.
  • Pack wisely. Avoid checking luggage, but if you have to, keep prescriptions, glasses and other overnight basics in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost. Keep in mind that most airlines charge fees for checking luggage.
  • Fight boredom. Pack quiet activities to help pass the time, especially if traveling with children.

If you are driving:

  • Be prepared. Have a mechanic examine your vehicle before your trip. Also, be sure to pack emergency and first aid supplies in case you break down.
  • Know your route. Plot out your route before leaving, and bring a map. Try using an Internet route-planning site, or bring along a global positioning system (GPS).
  • Save time. Try to do most of your driving during non-rush hour times to avoid the bad traffic.
  • Take a break. Rest every two hours and limit yourself to eight hours of driving each day. Stop at rest areas to walk around and stretch. Make more frequent stops if traveling with small children or pets.
  • Lay off the caffeine. Drink plenty of water and eat balanced meals. Drinking caffeine may make you crash a few hours later.
  • Wear safety belts at all times. When used correctly, they significantly reduce the number of serious traffic injuries and fatalities.

Health and wellness tips for your work, home and life—brought to you by the insurance specialists at Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

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Sticking to Your Budget

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Sticking to Your Budget | Posted in Misc
It’s never too early to get ready for next year. Plan to buy gifts throughout the year rather than waiting for the holiday rush.

shutterstock_42458647The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and money is one of the leading causes of holiday anxiety for Americans.

The best time for holiday budgeting begins early in the year, when smart shoppers account for expenses associated with the holiday gift season in their monthly budgets and buy presents here and there throughout the year.

Additionally, resourceful budgeters flock to stores AFTER Christmas to scoop up decorations at bargain bin prices with an eye toward future holidays.

However, if you’re like most people, you likely have not planned very far ahead and could find yourself feeling the pinch in January. But don’t despair—with proper accounting and a handful of smart shopping ideas, it is possible to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and stay within your budget.

Here are a few pointers to help you stick to your holiday budget and manage your seasonal financial stress:

  • Make a list and check it twice. Review your shopping list carefully. Does everyone listed on it truly need to be there?
  • Set limits. Write down a maximum dollar limit for each person, vow to stay within that limit and then track how much you actually spend.
  • Shop early. The best window for holiday shopping is between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1. Give yourself time to compare prices and find the best deals. You aren’t likely to save money if you wait until the last minute.
  • Buy in bulk. Have something on hand for those unexpected presents. A case of wine, elegant candles or a tin of homemade cookies are great ideas.
  • Be realistic. Ask yourself if you can really afford to buy gifts—don’t feel obligated to buy them if you can’t afford them. A good rule of thumb is to leave the credit cards at home, and if you don’t have the cash for it, don’t buy it. Also be sure to avoid store-specific credit cards, which can charge exorbitantly high interest rates.
  • Talk to your friends and family about scaling back. Ask about doing a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone. If you find these things too embarrassing or unworkable consider going the homemade gift route.
  • Shop online. Some of the best bargains won’t be found in stores. Many retailers will waive shipping costs during the holidays. Plus, why spend the days before your holiday celebrations wasting gas and battling crowds for items that may not be in stock?
  • Get a holiday job. Even with a good budget, the extra holiday shopping can pinch the pocketbook. Consider working a seasonal job.

Health and wellness tips for your work, home and life—brought to you by the insurance specialists at Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

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Children’s Toy Safety

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Children’s Toy Safety | Posted in Misc

shutterstock_64000117When purchasing toys for children, it is important to consider several safety factors. Toys should be appealing and interesting to a child, age-appropriate, well-constructed, durable and suited for that particular child’s physical, mental and social capabilities.

Safety Regulations

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets mandatory toy safety regulations, as follows:

All Ages

  • Electrical toys should have no shock or thermal hazards.
  • Toys should not contain toxic materials in or on them.
  • Toy paint should not contain traces of lead.
  • Art materials used by children under 12 should be non-hazardous.
  • Latex toys, games and balloons must contain warning labels regarding the choking and suffocation hazards.

Ages 3 to 6

  • All toys and games with small parts must be labeled to warn of the choking hazards.
  • All toys and games with balls less than 1.75 inches diameter must be labeled to warn of choking hazards.
  • All toys and games with marbles must be labeled for choking hazards.

Under Age 8

  • Electrically operated toys should not have heating elements.
  • No toys should have sharp points or edges.

Tips for Parents

Parents can take a number of steps to help reduce their child’s risk for toy-related injuries:

  • Make sure to refer to age and safety labels.
  • Keep deflated balloons and broken balloon pieces away from children.
  • Keep objects that can easily fit into a child’s mouth out of reach.
  • Read all toy warnings and instructions.
  • Keep a child’s ability in mind, rather than age, when purchasing toys.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods and dangerous edges.
  • Repair or replace any damaged or defective toys.
  • Supervise children’s craft projects, as scissors and glue are among the most dangerous products.

You can report a dangerous toy. If you think a toy or product is hazardous, contact the CPSC at 800-638-2772
or www.cpsc.gov.

Health and wellness tips for your work, home and life—brought to you by the insurance specialists at Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

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Bullying: What Parents Can Do

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Bullying: What Parents Can Do | Posted in Family Health & Safety
Bullying is more commonplace than you may imagine and can have devastating effects on children and teenagers. Although you are not with your children at school, you can teach them about bullying, learn to recognize the signs of bullying and help your child cope with a bully (or stop being a bully).

What is Bullying?

Bullying-What_Parents_Can_DoBullying is a serious problem that can happen in any school or other environment. Some adults think it is just a phase or just “messing around,” but bullying can cause serious harm. Bullying can take many forms:

  • Verbal (name-calling, teasing)
  • Social (rumor spreading, breaking up friendships, leaving people out on purpose)
  • Physical
  • Cyberbullying (using the Internet, cell phones or other technological devices to harm others)
    You may have never talked to your children about bullying, but it is important that you do. Even if you think there is no bullying going on in your child’s life, you can never be sure what happens when you’re not around. Open your mind to the fact that your child may be getting bullied – or may even be a bully – so that you can do your best to help.

Risk Factors

Children and teens who are bullied often share one or more of these characteristics:

  • Do not get along well with others
  • Are less popular
  • Have few or no friends
  • May not conform to gender or other norms
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Are depressed or anxious

Children who are bullies themselves often share certain characteristics too, though they typically fall into one of two different “types.” The first type of bully tends to have social influence, be overly concerned about his or her popularity and enjoy being in charge of others.

The other type of bully tends to be isolated from peers, depressed or anxious, easily pressured by peers, less involved with school and have low self-esteem. Both types of bullies may also display these risk factors:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Thinks badly of others
  • Impulsiveness
  • Quick temper
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Views violence positively

Is Your Child Being Bullied?

    There are signs that can indicate your child is being bullied, but be aware that these signs are not definite – they could point to other issues or problems as well.

  • Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
  • Loses books, electronics, clothing or jewelry
  • Has unexplained injuries
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or feeling sick
  • Has trouble sleeping or frequent bad dreams
  • Has changed eating habits
  • Hurts himself or herself
  • Is very hungry after school from not eating lunch
  • Runs away from home
  • Loses interest in friends or suddenly has fewer friends
  • Is afraid of going to school
  • Loses interest in school or begins to perform poorly
  • Is sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed after school
  • Talks about suicide
  • Feels helpless
  • Feels not good enough
  • Avoids certain places

If you suspect your child is being bullied, you need to talk with your child. Express your concern and explain that you want to help. Let your child know that bullying is wrong and is not his or her fault. With your child’s help, keep a record of all bullying incidents. Suggest ways for your child to respond to the bully and practice various responses. Stay attentive, even if your child claims it has gotten better. Do not tell your child to ignore the bullying or blame your child. Also never encourage your child to harm the bully. Be patient and understanding of the situation.

Do not contact the parents of the bully. Instead, report the bullying to the school and stay in regular communication to ensure the problem is being addressed. Have your child speak with the guidance counselor as well, who may be able to help your child cope and avoid bullying situations in the future.

If you think the bullying is continuing or getting worse after taking these steps, you may need to take additional action. Contact the police if your child is getting harassed or you feel he or she is in physical danger. If you worry that your child is feeling suicidal or having other health issues due to bullying, contact a health professional immediately. And if you feel the school is not doing enough, contact the district superintendent or the State School Department. Though it is the school’s responsibility to protect children while at school, you as the parent may need to take further action to ensure that bullying is addressed properly.

Is Your Child a Bully?

The following characteristics may indicate that your child is a bully or has the potential to become a bully:

  • Becomes violent with others
  • Gets into physical or verbal fights at school
  • Is sent to the principal’s office or detention frequently
  • Has extra money or new belongings that are unexplained
  • Is quick to blame others
  • Does not accept responsibility for own actions
  • Has friends who bully others
  • Needs to win or be the best at everything

If you think your child may be a bully, you need to get involved. Though it can be difficult to learn or even suspect that your child bullies others, it is vital that you take action. Not only will your action help protect the children being bullied, it can also help your own child address problems causing the bullying and reverse negative tendencies. Children who bully are at high risk for escalating their behavior to criminal or other risky activities.

Talk to your child about the accusation and ask for his or her side of the story. Make clear that bullying is serious and will not be tolerated, and explain how bullying is hurtful. You can also help – and more closely watch the situation – by spending more time with your child, knowing who his or her friends are and monitoring free time. Encourage your child to get involved in activities that highlight his or her interests.

Work with the school to ensure the bullying stops and ask the school to keep you informed. Develop a plan with school officials to address the bullying so you can provide a united disciplinary front. Also consider having your child speak with a school counselor or health professional – your child may have underlying health, emotional or other issues that need to be addressed.

How to Prevent Bullying

Many people think bullying is a normal part of childhood, but it is not. Children need to understand that bullying is serious and parents can teach their children important lessons to help them prevent bullying (or avoid becoming a bully themselves). Consider these suggestions:

  • Explain what bullying is and that it can take many forms – physical, verbal, over the phone, via the Internet, etc.
  • Emphasize that bullying is not normal, funny or acceptable. Help your child understand how hurtful and painful bullying can be for a victim, and encourage your child to speak up if someone else is being bullied.
  • Teach your child how to take a stand against bullying, whether the victim is your child or someone else. Encourage your child to talk to you and school officials if bullying occurs. Emphasize that your child should not be afraid to confide in an adult to report bullying.
  • Talk to your child regularly about school, friends and other activities. Listen to any concerns he or she has and never be dismissive about a potential bullying situation.
  • Encourage your child to pursue interests and talents in after-school activities, clubs or teams.
  • Get involved in your child’s school. Stay current on events through the school website or newsletter. Get to know other parents, teachers and staff by attending school activities or volunteering your time at events.

Bullying is not a rite of passage and should not be taken lightly. Educating your child about bullying and staying active in his or her life can help prevent bullying, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Pay attention to bullying risk factors and warning signs in your child, and take action if you suspect your child is a bully or is being bullied. If you need additional guidance, speak with a school official or guidance counselor, or visit www.stopbullying.gov/parents/index.html.

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Everyday Health & Wellness

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Everyday Health & Wellness | Posted in Family Health & Safety
These days, you may feel overwhelmed with all the health information available to you. However, there are really only a few basic tips to keep in mind for your optimal health.

Follow these simple suggestions and you should be well on your way to living a happy and healthy life!

Eat Healthy

Everyday_Health_and_Wellness-2Your body needs the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to stay in good shape. A healthy diet means you are eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans and nuts. Stay away from cholesterol-laden items, excessive sodium and added sugars. It is also important to avoid trans and saturated fats.

A healthy diet can protect you from heart disease, bone loss, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Making small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference in your life. Here are some tips and tools to get you started:

  • Keep a food diary. Knowing what you eat will help you to make changes. Starting today, write down when you eat, as well as what, how much, where and how you feel when you eat (for instance: 3:30 p.m., two cookies, at work, feeling stressed). Identifying your eating habits can help you make changes.
  • Plan ahead. If you plan your meals for the week, you can save time and money.
  • Shop smart at the grocery store. The next time you need to go shopping, eat a snack beforehand. Always use a shopping list and choose 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain bread and crackers. Buy a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Read the nutrition facts label. Look at the serving size, and try to keep saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium at 5 percent of your recommended daily value (DV) or less. Select foods that have 20 percent or more DV of fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
  • Eat healthy away from home. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, water or diet drinks. Opt for steamed, broiled or grilled dishes, and ask for your dressing or sauce to be “on the side.”
  • Cook at home. This will save you a lot of money – and calories!

Get Moving

Build physical activity into your life. Start at a comfortable level, and once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time you exercise. You should include aerobic activity as well as strengthening exercises (sit-ups, push-ups and weightlifting). Physical activity increases your chances of living longer; helps control your blood pressure, blood sugar and weight; raises your “good” cholesterol; and can prevent heart disease, colorectal cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of activity each week. If you don’t have time for 30 minutes of exercise at one time, get moving for shorter 10-minute periods throughout the day.

Watch Your Weight

To stay at a healthy weight, you need to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. A healthy diet and physical activity can help you reach your goal. It is also important to eat smaller portions, which can be accomplished with the following:

  • Eat small, healthy snacks throughout the day, such as baby carrots or a handful of unsalted almonds. This will keep you from overeating at mealtimes.
  • Serve food on smaller plates.
  • If you are at a restaurant, consume only half your meal and take the rest home.
  • Eat slowly – this will give you more time to feel full.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV. It’s harder to keep track of how much you are eating.

If you’re overweight, the first step in getting healthy is to make a promise to yourself to eat better, move more, and get support from family and friends. Try losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Don’t know if you’re overweight? Calculate your body mass index, or BMI, at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm.

Get Enough Calcium

One out of every two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone in their lifetime because of osteoporosis. Calcium helps to keep your bones strong and less likely to break. Adults ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily. To get more calcium into your diet, try the following:

  • Eat foods with calcium, such as fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, spinach and greens, tofu made with calcium, and orange juice with added calcium.
  • Take a calcium pill daily (talk to your doctor before choosing this option).
  • Check the label on the foods you buy: the best choices are items that have at least 20 percent DV of calcium.
  • Make sure you’re getting vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. You can get vitamin D in salmon, milk, some yogurts, and vitamin D pills.

There are no signs or symptoms of osteoporosis; in fact, you may not know you have it until you break a bone. This is why getting enough calcium is so important. If you are 65 or older, you should get a test to find out your bone strength (called a bone density test).
You may be at a higher risk for osteoporosis if you:

  • Have a small, thin body size
  • Have an eating disorder (or are recovering from one)
  • Have a family history of the disease
  • Do not exercise regularly
  • Have low estrogen levels (women) or low testosterone levels (men)

Manage Stress

Many things can cause stress, but the most common include unexpected changes such as having an argument or getting lost; issues such as divorce, discrimination, illness or money problems; or even good changes such as a promotion at work. When people are under stress, they may feel worried, irritable, depressed and unable to focus. Other signs of stress include headaches, trouble sleeping, weight gain or loss and back pain. It is important to manage stress in order to sleep better, improve concentration, get along better with family and friends, lessen neck and back pain, and have an overall feeling of calmness. Follow these tips in order to better prevent and manage stress:

  • Plan your time. Think ahead about your day and write a to-do list. Decide which tasks are most important and complete them in that order.
  • Prepare yourself. Be ready ahead of time for stressful events like a job interview or presentation.
  • Try deep breathing or meditation. Yoga can also help relax tense muscles.
  • Get active. Exercise has been proven to lift depression and stress.
  • Eat healthy. Give your body plenty of energy by eating fruits, vegetables and protein.
  • Talk to friends and family. Many times having a discussion about what is troubling you can help you feel better.
  • Get help if you need it. A therapist or mental health professional is trained to help you deal with stress. You can also take advantage of your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if it is offered at work.

Women’s Health

All women should be especially conscious of the following:

Get Enough Folic Acid
Folic acid is especially crucial for pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant. This vitamin can prevent birth defects and is needed within the first few weeks of pregnancy. That is why it is important to incorporate folic acid in your daily regimen, as most women do not even know they are pregnant until after several weeks have passed. The two best ways to get folic acid are to eat fortified breakfast cereals or to take a daily vitamin. You can also eat foods with folate (a type of folic acid), such as asparagus, spinach, orange juice and beans.

Women of childbearing age (typically ages 11 to 49) need 400 mcg of folic acid every day.

Get Tested for Breast Cancer
Get a mammogram every 1 to 2 years, starting at age 40. Mammograms can help detect breast cancer early; you have a better chance of surviving breast cancer if it is found in its early stages. If breast or ovarian cancer runs in your family, you should start getting mammograms before age 40.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It uses a very low level of radiation and is safe. When you get a mammogram, the nurse will place your breasts, one at a time, between two plastic plates and take pictures of each one. Mammograms do not hurt and take less than 15 minutes.

You should also be performing monthly breast self-exams (BSEs). The best time to do so is a few days after your period ends. To learn how to perform a BSE and find out what to look for, visit http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BreastSelfExam.html. If you find a change, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Get Tested for Cervical Cancer
The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get regular Pap tests, which is a screening test for this kind of cancer. You need a Pap test if you are 21 or older, or under 21 and have been sexually active for 3 years or more. Most deaths from cervical cancer could have been avoided by having regular Pap tests. This test can find unusual cells before they turn into cancer. It is recommended you have a Pap test every 1 to 3 years from ages 21 to 64.

A Pap test lasts only 3 to 5 minutes. It may be uncomfortable, but does not hurt. You will lie on an exam table and a doctor or nurse will insert a tool called a speculum into your vagina, opening it to see the cervix. A special brush collects cells from the cervix, which are sent to a lab for testing.

Doctors also recommend that women age 26 and younger get the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine. It protects against the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer and some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Men’s Health

Unfortunately, many men are neglectful of their health. Are you one of them? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men are more likely than women to smoke, drink, make unhealthy or risky decisions, and put off regular checkups and medical care.

Pay Attention to Your Prostate
Men age 50 and older are most at risk for prostate cancer. It is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men. The American Cancer Society recommends that you receive either a digital rectal exam (DRE) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test every year starting at age 50. However, you should begin discussing prostate screening with your doctor as early as age 40, especially if there is a family history of prostate cancer.

During a DRE, the doctor inserts a finger into your rectum and examines the prostate for any irregularities. A PSA blood test involves an amount of blood drawn from the arm, and the level of PSA is tested. Both tests can easily be performed within the doctor’s office and only take a few minutes.

Get Tested for Colorectal Cancer
All men over 50 should be tested for colorectal cancer – or earlier if you have a family history of it. There are many ways to get your colon checked. Some tests are done every 1 to 2 years; others are done every 5 to 10 years. How often you get checked will depend on your risk. There are some tests you can do at home, such as a fecal occult blood test. Others, like a colonoscopy, must be done in a clinic or hospital. For these tests, you may need to drink only liquids the day before your test and use laxatives to clean out your colon.

A colonoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the colon and rectum. It can detect inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. Before the process, you will be lightly sedated. Then, the doctor will insert a long, flexible tube into your anus and guide it through the rectum and colon. This usually takes 30 to 60 minutes and full recovery is expected by the next day.
If you act early, you have a good chance of preventing colorectal cancer, or finding it in its early stages.

Perform Regular Testicular Self-Exams
Although the incidence of testicular cancer has risen in recent years, more than 95 percent of cases can be cured. Most times, the cancer is detected unintentionally or by self-examination. Routine testicular self-examination increases your chances of finding a tumor, which often feels like a pea-sized, painless lump.

Testicular cancer most often affects men between the ages of 20 and 39. For more information on how to do a proper self-exam, visit the Testicular Cancer Resource Center at http://tcrc.acor.org/tcexam.html.

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Festivals and Events

December 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

President Obama, First Family, Attend National Christmas Tree Lighting
The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Note that many events in December are ongoing throughout the holiday season.

Holiday Craft Shows in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Find unique gifts for the holidays at a variety of craft shows held in the Washington, DC area.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree at a Maryland or Virginia Farm
Find Christmas tree farms in the Washington, DC suburbs.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 2, 2014, 5:00 p.m. West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Listen to holiday music by a section of The United States Marine Band (The President’s Own), and carols sung by the Congressional Chorus.

The National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace
Lighting ceremony – December 4, 2014, 5 p.m. Ellipse near the White House. Visit the National Christmas Tree through Jan. 1.

DAR Open House
2014 Date to Be Announced, 5:30-8 p.m. Visit with Santa, caroling and evening tours of historic period rooms decorated for the holidays.

Charles County Christmas Tour
December 5-7, 2014. Kick off the Christmas season and explore ten historic sites in Charles County, MD. Get in the spirit of the season as you enjoy festive decorations and learn about the history of Southern Maryland.

Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend
December 6-7, 2014. The holiday parade and family-friendly activities are a traditional favorite of the Alexandria community.

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
December 6-7, 2014.  The holiday event features family-friendly entertainment at several museums including concerts by the U.S. Air Force’s Max Impact, Silver Wings, and Celtic Aire, seasonal films such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, Mars Chocolate demonstrations, trunk shows, and more.

Candlelight Tours in the Washington, DC Area
Enjoy the festive holiday decor of historic homes by candlelight tour, complete with seasonal music, storytelling and holiday treats.

Holiday Shows in Washington DC
See the schedule of live theatrical holiday performances in the DC area.

ICE! – Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort
Through January 4, 2015. The award-winning holiday attraction is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans.

Washington Redskins
Enjoy the football season and cheer for DC’s team.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies
Find dates and times for Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies in the Washington, DC area.

Nutcracker Performances in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Enjoy the Christmas holiday classic ballet. The Nutcracker is performed at a variety of theaters, from community theaters in the suburbs to Washington, DC’s most formal performing arts centers.

Holiday Concerts in Washington, DC
Find a schedule of holiday concerts of Christmas classics, Hanukkah songs and much more.

Holiday Model Train Exhibits
Toy train displays are a family favorite for the holiday season. Visit these holiday model train exhibits in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Washington DC Area Christmas Light Displays
Celebrate the holiday season with a drive or a stroll through one of the Washington, DC area’s spectacle of lights at a local park or along the water in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.

Best Christmas Events for Kids in the Washington, DC Area
While you are busy preparing for the holiday, be sure to take some time out to make some special Christmas memories with your kids.

National Cathedral Christmas Events
Take a guided tour, hear festive music, make Christmas decorations, or attend a religious service.

Holidays at National Harbor
Enjoy the Christmas tree lighting, nightly light show and weekend holiday market.

Downtown DC Holiday Market
Through December 23, 2014. Sidewalk on F Street between 7th and 9th in front of the National Portrait Gallery. Enjoy a unique seasonal shopping marketplace of downtown Washington DC including gift items by more than 180 exhibitors.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
December 6, 2014. See a variety of entertainment and performances, a live ice sculpting presentation and a visit from Santa Claus.

Antietam Illumination
December 6, 2014. Sharpsburg, MD. Take a free driving tour along the national battlefield and see 23,110 luminaries lit in honor of those killed, wounded or missing during the Battle of Antietam.

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
December 6, 2014. See dozens of festively decorated boats light up the sky along the Potomac River.

Manassas Christmas Parade
December 6, 2014. Old Town Manassas, VA celebrates the holiday season with a parade including floats, local celebrities, live performances, marching bands, animated characters, giant balloons and more.

Middleburg Hunt and Christmas Parade
December 6, 2014. Middleburg, VA. Enjoy a unique holiday event in Virginia’s horse country.

Washington DC Historic Home Tours for the Holidays
December 6, 2014, 4-8 p.m. Washington DC. Four historic home museums will open their doors together to celebrate the season with a special “Holidays through History!” Tour. Enjoy festive decorations and music from the Federal period through the Roaring Twenties, and sample seasonal treats.

Logan Circle Holiday House Tour
December 7, 2014.  Logan Circle, Washington DC. Get an inside view of a variety of homes in the historic neighborhood.

Pearl Harbor Day
December 7, 2014. Wreath-laying ceremony at the Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC at 1 p.m.

Winternational Celebration
December 10, 2014, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Atrium, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington DC.  The free event celebrates the holiday traditions from a global perspective with an international bazaar featuring cultural performances, embassy exhibitors and artisans, gingerbread cookie decorating, and a sampling of global food.

The Living Christmas Tree
December 12-14, 2014. Riverdale Baptist Church, 1177 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD. This unique annual performance features a 30-foot-tall steel structure that holds an 80-person choir. The family-friendly show inspires the celebration of Christmas through musical performances and dramatic scenes.

Georgetown GLOW
December 12-14, 2014. Georgetown, Washington DC. One of the city’s most treasured communities will host a festive holiday light exhibit.

Washington Nationals Natfest
December 13, 2014. Washington Convention Center, Washington DC. Show your team spirit and get ready for the upcoming season at a fun-filled baseball festival with select Nationals players, coaches and team personnel.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Through January 6, 2015. Date to Be Announced. Learn about the Christmas traditions of George Washington and his family, meet historic characters and tour the Mount Vernon Estate by candlelight.

Christmas in Old Town Alexandria
The holiday season in Old Town Alexandria is magical with historic streets decorated brightly for the holidays, entertainers on street corners, colorful shop windows and lots of fun activities.

Frederick Museums by Candlelight
December 13, 2014. Throughout Frederick County, MD. The event features free holiday-themed programs at over 20 museums including living history demonstrations, hands-on crafts, refreshments, tours, music, holiday decorations and more.

Annapolis Christmas Lights Boat Parade
December 13, 2014. Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights. Annapolis City Harbor. Enjoy a parade of lights when more than 70 power and sailboats show off their holiday decorations. See more about Christmas Events in Annapolis

Leesburg Holiday Parade and Festival
December 13, 2014. 10 a.m. Catch your Christmas spirit and bring the whole family to see Santa and his friends parade down King Street, through the heart of historic Leesburg.

Arlington Wreath Laying Ceremony
December 13, 2014. Holiday wreaths adorn 5,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Wreaths Across America.

Santarchy DC
December 13, 2014. A fun, quirky holiday event that is held in major cities around the world! Hundreds of Santas visit major sites around Washington DC and spread their holiday cheer.

Hanukkah Events in the Washington, DC Area
December 16-24, 2014. Find special events celebrating the holiday in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia

Kwanzaa Events in the Washington, DC Area
Various Dates. Find special holiday events around the region.

The Water-skiing Santa
December 24, 2014, 1 p.m. Old Town Alexandria – new location this year! This unusual annual event features a water-skiing Santa, flying elves, the Jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman performing on the Potomac River.

Ten Things to Do on Christmas Day
Although not everyone celebrates the holiday, most businesses and attractions are closed on December 25th. Find out what’s open on this day.

Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship
December 26, 2014, 4-9 p.m. Frederick, Maryland. More than a dozen churches open their doors to the public for special programs, angelic choirs, and nativity scenes celebrating religious diversity and local history.

Military Bowl and Parade
December 27, 2014. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland. College football bowl game benefits the United Service Organizations.

Kennedy Center Honors
December 30, 2014. Don’t miss the annual television broadcast of the performing arts tribute at the Kennedy Center. Read all about this year’s honorees.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations in the Washington, DC Area
Check out these suggestions of ways to ring in the New Year in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.

First Nights and Family Friendly New Years Eve Events
Ring in the New Year at a family-oriented, non-alcohol event in Maryland or Virginia.

Source: about.com