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Back to School Basics

August 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Back to School Basics | Posted in Family Health & Safety

First Day Mania

schoolThe first day of school tends to be hectic for kids of all ages, adjusting to a new classroom or schedule and trying to remember all the books and supplies they need. Or perhaps your child is transitioning to middle or high school, which is even more stressful for some children. Plus, just the transition from summertime freedom to structured schooldays can be a difficult one. Here are several tips for parents to ease first-day stress for their kids:

  • Walk younger students to their classroom and stay with them until they are settled and feel comfortable. Introduce them to their teacher, show them their desk, locker, etc. Leave once they feel at ease.
  • Arrange a visit beforehand if your child will be going to a new school. Explore all the areas of the school and get a map to help direct him or her on the first day.
  • Pack backpacks the night before so no one is scrambling at the last minute looking for books and supplies. Also, have lunch packed or lunch money ready in advance.
  • Make sure you complete any school forms that were mailed to your child over the summer, such as immunization records, permission slips and class schedules—and put in a safe folder for your child to turn in.
  • As your child gets older, appearance and what he or she wears on the first day of school becomes very important. To make the morning smoother, pick out clothes the night before. This will help keep everyone on time while getting ready and prevent last-minute rushing in the morning.

Backpack Safety

Backpacks are a popular and practical way for students to carry their books and supplies. When used correctly, the backpack’s weight is distributed to some of the body’s strongest muscles, and it can be an efficient way to carry the necessities of the school day. However, if backpacks are too heavy or worn incorrectly, they can cause back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.

To choose the right backpack, look for the following:

  • Wide, padded shoulder straps. Narrow straps can dig into shoulders, causing pain and restricting circulation.
  • Two shoulder straps. Backpacks with only one cannot distribute weight evenly.
  • Padded back. This protects against sharp edges from objects inside the pack and increases comfort.
  • Waist strap. It can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.
  • Lightweight. The backpack itself should not add much weight to the load.
  • Rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be good for students who must carry heavy loads. Just remember, rolling backpacks must be carried up or down stairs.

To prevent injuries when using a backpack, remind your children of the following guidelines:

  • Always use both shoulder straps.
  • Tighten the straps so that the pack is close to the body.
  • Pack as lightly as possible.
  • Organize the backpack so all of its compartments are being used.
  • Stop often at your locker and remove any unnecessary books or items.
  • Bend down using both knees while the pack is on.

Parents can also help in the following ways:

  • Encourage your child or teenager to tell you if he or she is in pain or discomfort because of a heavy load in the backpack.
  • Talk to the school about lightening the load and/or be sure the school allows for enough time for your child to stop at his or her locker throughout the day.

Researchers found that the average weight of a child’s school backpack was 18 pounds, or 14 percent of his or her body weight. Studies have found that children carrying backpacks exceeding 10 percent of their body weight are more likely to lean forward while walking—potentially increasing their risk of back pain. Talk with your children and make sure they are using their backpacks correctly!

Playground Safety

Each year, over 200,000 preschool and elementary children are injured on the playground, according to the National Program for Playground Safety. Following is a checklist you or your child’s school can use for quick reference, so before your child heads out the door for the playground, you can be sure that:

  • Supervision is present. Many playground injuries are related to inadequate supervision. Adult presence is needed to watch for potential hazards and help keep all the children safe.
  • All children play on age-appropriate equipment. Preschoolers ages 2 to 5 and children ages 5 to 12 are developmentally different. These two groups should play on separate, age-appropriate equipment.
  • Surfaces are cushioned. The National Program for Playground Safety found that nearly 70 percent of all playground injuries are related to falls to the group. Acceptable surfaces include hardwood fiber/mulch, pea gravel, sand and synthetic materials such as rubber mats or tiles. Concrete, asphalt, grass, blacktop and packed dirt or rocks are not recommended.
  • Equipment is safe. Check to make sure the equipment is anchored safely in the ground, not damaged or broken, S-hooks are entirely closed, bolts are not protruding, there are no exposed footings, etc.

Good Homework and Study Habits

After a long summer, your child may have trouble getting back into the swing of homework. Parents should help children establish healthy study habits as soon as school starts, rather than waiting until they notice problems or until their child’s work load becomes overwhelming. The following tips can help you promote good study habits in your children:

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework, such as a permanent work space in the child’s room or in another part of the home that offers privacy.
  • Set a schedule for when homework will be done. Ideally, your child should have a chance to unwind after school or participate in after-school activities, so he or she feels rested before started homework.
  • However, make sure after-school activities don’t consume the whole evening or get in the way of homework time.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV stays off during homework time.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for him or her.
  • Find out what works best for your child. Some work better in several short sessions, while some are more productive completing work in one chunk.
  • Have your child take a 10-minute break every hour and do something else to alleviate eye, neck and brain fatigue.
  • Set up a tutor for your child if he or she is struggling in a particular subject and you aren’t able to help enough yourself. Be sure to discuss this option with your child’s teacher first.

Other Helpful Suggestions

The following suggestions include important information—such as health conditions and emergency contacts—that need to be shared with your child’s school but can sometimes slip through the cracks.

  • Give the school an up-to-date list of emergency contacts for before, during and after school hours.
  • Give the school nurse and/or principal a list of medications your child is currently taking. If it’s a medication the child needs to take during school, be sure it is in the original container and clearly marked (not in an envelope, for instance).
  • Report any health problems your child has to the school nurse and/or principal. Allergies are a good example of a health problem the school needs to know about in advance, since there are so many allergies now to food, plants, trees, bee stings or latex.
  • Inform the school nurse and/or principal of any physical restrictions your child may possess, such as asthma, and how this may affect his or her physical activity.

Resources Available

The following websites are helpful resources parents can use to make the transition of going back to school easy for everyone.

For many children and teens the beginning of every school year can be a little bumpy. Change is exciting, but it can be scary, too. However, with your guidance, understanding and patience, your child or teen should have an exciting, successful and rewarding school experience.

Hedda’s Policy Review Tips

August 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Hedda’s Policy Review Tips | Posted in Hedda's Hints

Hedda Silverman: Ask me about these and any other questions you may have.

Homewner Insurance:

  1. shutterstock_72668686Do we have replacement cost coverage on the dwelling?
  2. When should I or should I not put in a claim?
  3. If we are not going to put in small claims, should we have a high deductible to keep the premium cost down?
  4. Is my liability limit sufficient for our lifestyle? – You may want to consider an Umbrella with a limit of $1 million or more.
  5. Should our valuables (jewelry, furs, silverware) be scheduled to provide adequate coverage?
  6. Is our personal property written on replacement cost (no depreciation) basis?
  7. Personal Home Computers – are they covered?
  8. Trees and scrubs – what kind of coverage?
  9. Sewer back up / sump pump – is there coverage?
  10. Identity Fraud Expense Coverage – can it be included?
  11. Am I getting all the available discounts?

Automobile Insurance:

  1. Are my liability limits high enough?
  2. How much can I save if I increase my deductible?
  3. Do I need to keep collision on older cars?
  4. Does my policy cover renting a car on vacation?
  5. How about windshield repair – is there a deductible?
  6. Rental reimbursement if my car is involved in a collision?
  7. Am I getting all the available discounts?

Exercising the Body and Brain

August 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Exercising the Body and Brain | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_323924747Studies have shown a strong relationship between the health of the body and the health of the brain. Exercise revs up complex processes inside the brain that can deter depression, help you stay calm and keep your mind sharp.

Exercise Boosts Mental Fitness

The brain has approximately 86 billion neurons designed to give orders to the rest of the body through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Studies show that deficiencies of two of these neurotransmitters (glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA), can lead to mood disorders such as depression. However, moderate exercise can increase the amounts of the two neurotransmitters, contributing to increased mental fitness.

Exercise Decreases Stress

When you’re stressed, your brain secretes the “fight or flight” hormone, cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can create a constant and unnecessary feeling of stress. But, if you exercise, you expose your body to “controlled stress,” which helps regulate your brain’s stress response, keeping you more calm.

Exercise Slows the Brain’s Aging Process

Your brain ages just like the rest of your body, but exercise can help the brain handle natural, age-related deterioration without taking a toll on your memory. Older adults who exercise have larger brain volumes than those who don’t. Plus, the brain’s hippocampus (which is responsible for memory and learning) is larger in people who are active. Exercising won’t make you smarter, per se, but it will help you remember things better as you age.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Locating Lost Life Insurance Policies

August 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Locating Lost Life Insurance Policies | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Tactics for Tackling a Difficult Task amid Difficult Times

Locating life insurance documents for a deceased relative can be a daunting task—for one thing, as of this moment there are no national databases of all life insurance policies. However, with a little sleuthing, you can successfully navigate the paper trail.

Here are some strategies to help simplify your search:

1. Look for Insurance Related Documents

Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes and other storage places to see if there are any insurance related documents. Also, check address books for the names of any insurance professionals or companies—an agent or company who sold the deceased their auto or home insurance may know about the existence of a life insurance policy.

2. Contact Financial Advisors

Present or prior attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, bankers, business insurance agents/brokers and other financial professionals might have information about the deceased’s life insurance policies.

3. Review Life Insurance Applications

The application for each policy is attached to that policy. So if you can find any of the deceased’s life insurance policies, look at the application—will have a list of any other life insurance policies owned at the time of the application.

4. Contact Previous Employers

Former employers maintain records of past group policies.

5. Check Bank Books, Statements and Canceled Checks

See if any checks have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.

6. Check the Mail for a Year Following the Death of the Policyholder

Look for premium notices or dividend notices. If a policy has been paid up, there will no notice of premium payments due; however, the company may still send an annual notice regarding the status of the policy or notice of a dividend.

7. Review the Deceased’s Income Tax Returns for the Past Two Years

Look for interest income from and interest expenses paid to life insurance companies. Life insurance companies pay interest on accumulations on permanent policies and charge interest on policy loans.

8. Contact State Insurance Departments

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a “Life Insurance Company Location System” to help you find state insurance department officials who can help to identify companies that might have written life insurance on the deceased. To access that service, go to the NAIC’s Life Insurance Company Location System.

9. Check with the State’s Unclaimed Property Office

If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but can’t find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over to the state in which the policy was purchased as “unclaimed property.” If you know (or can guess) where the policy was bought, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased. A good place to start is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration.

10. Contact a Private Service That Will Search for “Lost Life Insurance”

Several private companies will, for a fee, contact insurance companies on your behalf to find out if the deceased was insured. This service is often provided through their websites.

11. Do You Think the Policy Might Have Been Bought in Canada?

If so, you try contacting the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association for information.

12. Search the MIB database

As we had said, there’s no database of policy documents, but there isa database of all applications for individual life insurance processed since January 1, 1996. (nb: There is a fee for each search and many searches are not successful; a random sample of searches found only one match in every four attempts.) For more information, go to MIB’s Consumer Protection page.

Source: iii.org

August 2016 Festivals and Events

August 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on August 2016 Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

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. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

Redskins Training Camp
Through August 14, 2016. Redskins Park, Richmond, Virginia. Fans are invited to watch the Washington Redskins gear up for the season.

Howard County Restaurant Weeks
Through August 1, 2016. Howard County, Maryland. The Farm-2-Table summer dining specials offer a great opportunity to enjoy locally grown products while trying new restaurants and supporting local farmers and food and beverage purveyors.

shutterstock_409104142Free Summer Concerts
Find concert schedules for free family entertainment throughout the month in various destinations around Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Washington Nationals Baseball
The Major League Baseball’s National League East plays 81 home games each season at Nationals Park. Enjoy a fun-filled day cheering on DC’s baseball team.

Outdoor Movies in the Washington, DC Area
Watching movies on a large screen outdoors has become a popular summer activity. Find the schedules of outdoor movie festivals in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Summer Theater in Washington DC
With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2016 season.

Sales Tax Holidays
Various dates. See information about sales tax holidays that are set to encourage families to save money for back-to-school shopping.

Friendship Firehouse Festival
August 6, 2016. Bring the kids to explore the firehouse museum in Old Town Alexandria and enjoy crafts, live musical entertainment, free giveaways and more.

County Fairs in Maryland and Virginia
Throughout the summer the counties that surround Washington, DC each host a fair, complete with carnival rides, live animal shows, musical entertainment, arts and craft exhibits, and lots of food.

Bethesda- Montgomery County Restaurant Week
August 12-21, 2016. Enjoy special discounts and prix-fixe menus at a variety of restaurants in Bethesda, MD.

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
August 12-20, 2016. Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg, Maryland. (301) 926-3100. Livestock competitions and displays, monster trucks, lots of entertainment and food.

Washington, DC Restaurant Week
August 15-21, 2016. More than 100 of Washington, DC’s finest restaurants will be offering 3-course lunches and dinners for reduced prices.

Alexandria Restaurant Week
August 19-28, 2016.  More than 60 restaurants will be offering special menus and pricing to entice visitors to dine in Alexandria, Virginia, just five miles south of Washington, DC. The restaurants are offering either a three-course pre-fixe dinner or dinner for two, both priced at $35.

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival in Rockville, MD
August 20-22, 2016. The Music Center at Strathmore,  5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda, Maryland. Proceeds benefit the NIH Children’s Charities – Children’s Inn, Camp Fantastic/Special Love, and Friends of the Clinical Center.

Capital Dragon Boat Races
August 27, 2016. Southwest Waterfront, Washington DC The event celebrates Asian culture and brings a family-fun event to the waterfront community near Washington DC.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
August 27 – October 23, 2016. A 16th century English village with crafts, food, live performances, games and lots more. Located in Crownsville, Maryland.

Source: dc.about.com

3 Simple Moves That Fight Pain

August 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on 3 Simple Moves That Fight Pain | Posted in Family Health & Safety

3 Simple Moves That Fight Knee And Hip Pain

If you’re like us, you’ve probably never paid your ankles much attention. But it turns out they can make a big difference in how you feel. “Over the years, thanks to inactivity, our ankles tend to lose flexibility and range of motion,” says Bruce Mack, cofounder of MBSC Thrive Functional Training.

When your ankles aren’t able to achieve the 360-degree range of motion they’re meant to, your knees (stabilizing joints that’s main job is moving back and forward) are forced to take on side-to-side motion. “Not only can this cause pain in the knee itself, but when your knee is out of whack it can also lead to hip pain,” says Mack. “Everything is connected. When a joint isn’t working as it should, the rest of the body suffers.”

Luckily, rehabbing those creaky ankles is incredibly simple. “Ankle mobility is something you can reprogram, kind of like software,” says Mack.

Doing these 3 simple corrective movements at least 3 times a week can build your range of motion and increase flexibility.

1. Rocking Squat

Get into the bottom of a squat position with your feet shoulder width apart, hands together in front of your chest and elbows pressing against your inner knees. Lean your weight to one side (A), then rock back to the other side (B). Continue rocking side-to-side for 30 seconds.

2. 3-Point Half Kneeling Mobility Work 

Start in a half-kneeling position in front of a wall (you can hold a foamroller for balance is needed), front knee bent at 90 degrees and over ankle(A). Keeping your front heel on the floor, lean your weight and hips forward until front knee touches the wall (B). Hold for 5 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat the move 2 more times, first angling the knee to the right and then to the left.

3. Soft Tissue Work for Bottom of Feet With Tennis Ball
Grab a tennis ball and place it under your foot while in a standing position. Roll thetennis ball up and down the foot. When you find a sensitive area, hold the ball there for a few seconds and add a little more pressure with your body weight.
Aim for 30-60 seconds on each foot.

Source: prevention.com