Category: Custom Content

  • Preventive Care is as Easy as 1-2-3

    October 7, 2020

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    In a world where viruses run rampant across the globe and healthcare costs are skyrocketing, there is an easy way for you and your family to stay healthy—preventive care services.

    Preventive is defined as “used to stop something bad from happening.” Preventive care is care that thwarts off illness or disease thanks to regular check-ups, counseling, and screenings. When you subscribe to a health plan—regardless of whether it’s one offered by your work or one you purchase in the marketplace—most plans will include an array of preventive care services free of charge.  So, where do you start with accessing these services? It’s easy!

    Easy as 1-2-3

    As long as you have subscribed to a health plan after 2010, those plan providers are required by law to offer basic preventive care services to you and those covered by your plan with no additional copay, coinsurance, or requirement to meet a deductible. By utilizing this free resource, you are setting yourself up for greater health success—and it’s as easy as 1-2-3!

         1. Visit your doctor for annual checkups.

    Annual exams allow doctors to identify disease earlier and manage chronic conditions closer. They also help your doctor to track any changes in your body over the years so that, should a disease or illness befall you, there is background data from your preventive care to refer to as they prescribe treatment. An easy way to remember to schedule these annual doctor appointments for both you and your family is to plan them around your birthday each year. This is also helpful for the doctor because as you age, you need additional health screenings so they can have those recommendations ready for you at your annual appointment.

         2. Stay up-to-date on immunizations and boosters.

    Just as an infant has an immunization schedule that the pediatrician follows to bolster the child’s immune system, so do older children and even adults. For instance, before children enter a certain grade in school, they may be required to have a meningitis booster. Tetanus shots are only good for 10 years so once a decade, you’ll need to get a booster for this disease which also may include the diphtheria vaccine and sometimes one for pertussis. As you age, you may need the shingles vaccine and other shots for prevention of pneumonia or the flu.

         3. Follow a care schedule for additional age-related screenings.

    Because you are visiting your doctor annually for regular checkups, they will likely alert you to any additional screenings they recommend.  For instance, women ages 40-44 can begin getting mammograms to help detect breast cancer. After age 44, it is recommended they get this screening annually.  If you want to be pro-active and keep track of these additional screenings yourself, there are tools online to do so.

    MyHealthfinder is a site coordinated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Simply enter your age and answer a few easy questions, and the site will cull a list of suggested screenings for you.

    PublicHealth is another site with suggested preventive care services. They have created a lifetime care schedule, broken into age brackets, with lists of screenings recommended for each age by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

    Keeping you and your family on the right track for health and wellness is not hard! By follow these three simple steps for your health care, you can significantly affect your health in the future. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

  • Telemedicine

    September 28, 2020

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    In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in the US has changed. More and more, people are seeking out telemedicine services versus the traditional brick and mortar physician’s office. This trend also includes telemental health services as well. So what are the advantages of these services and how are they growing to meet the need?

    Pandemic Launch

    The COVID-19 pandemic definitely thrust the use of telemedicine forward but many health care providers have been using this type of service for years. What the pandemic did do is encourage patients’ use of the telehealth services already in place. Telehealth is defined as “the practice of communicating electronically with a physician, typically via telephone or video chat.” While our hospitals and doctors’ offices have been overcrowded with very sick COVID-19 patients, use of telemedicine has allowed the burden felt in these locations to be lessened.  Patients call in for routine exams and are many times seen and treated faster than if they came in to the physical office location.

    Advantages to Telehealth Services

    According to a survey by FAIR Health, there has been a 8,336% increase nationally in the use of telehealth from April 2019 to April 2020. Advantages of this increase and use include:

      • Enabling patients to follow shelter-in-place restrictions by staying home and away from hospitals, except for emergencies
      • Minimizing risk to health care workers and patients by limiting exposure to the coronavirus and other diseases
      • Facilitating services for chronic patient monitoring, follow-up visits, therapy appointments and post-operative care
      • Employees see the offering of telemedicine benefits as a huge priority in examining employment options

    Advantages to Telemental Health Services

    Like Telehealth services, use of Telemental Health services have also increased this year. A recent mental health survey says that 7 in 10 employees cite the COVID-19 pandemic as being the most stressful time in their careers. Caring for children who are out of school, caring for loved ones, financial issues, and stress from job changes are some of the issues that employees are facing. Business owners see the benefit of telemental health as their employees’ access these services in higher numbers. High levels of stress have been known to result in lower productivity, lower morale, and higher absenteeism. Advantages for telemental health include:

    • The provision of telemental health services to patients living in rural and under-served areas has significantly reduced psychiatric hospitalization rates.
    • Low-income, homebound seniors experienced longer lasting effects of telemental health than those who received in-person mental health services.
    • Mental health providers rarely have to perform any physical services on their patients, so telemental health is more plausible than other types of telehealth services.
    • There is little or no difference in patient satisfaction with telemental health when compared with face-to-face mental health consultations.
    • Although mental health professionals are in short supply, mobile devices are not.

    There are some significant advantages to the use of telemedicine services. Zywave explains, “Virtual healthcare is emerging as a viable solution to help lessen the burden on healthcare facilities and staff while still providing individuals with the care they need.” Tele-services also reach more of the under-served population both for health care and mental health care. As consumers gain confidence in virtual living, the call for telemedicine will also grow.

  • Gamification and Open Enrollment

    August 24, 2020

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    Open enrollment season is upon us and many companies are choosing to host “virtual benefits fairs” instead of the traditional “walk and talk” fairs. Open enrollment meetings have turned into live streaming events or recorded webinars. Incentivizing employee participation in these areas can come in a variety of ways but the newest trend is gamification.

    Gamification has been defined as “behavior modification using technology.” It involves rewarding employee behaviors that help accomplish a company’s goals and objectives through playing some sort of competitive game. For example, company ABC is having their open enrollment meetings online. They want all employees to watch the overview presentation by the HR department as well as view the enrollment resources. Through gamification, the company creates a series of milestones on a virtual gameboard. Different departments are challenged to work their way through the milestones and the first team successfully completing the game wins. The winning team receives bragging rights and a cash reward. Another option for this same contest is that the individual earns a reward for progressing through the gameboard. This example isn’t tied to a team-driven competition, but instead an incentive for the individual to complete the open enrollment process.

    WHY GAMIFICATION WORKS

    It’s been reported that 75% of the total global workforce in 2025 will be made up of millennials.  That’s three out of every 4 workers who are very engaged online. Gaming in general has a large appeal to this age group so tying it to workplace objectives results in higher participation on the whole. Additionally, the act of accomplishing a task releases dopamine in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that causes you to feel excited and your brain likes that! In fact, your brain will begin associating euphoria with completing, what one previously thought was “boring”, work. This is called the “reward cycle” and can be achieved through gamification in the workplace.

    HOW TO IMPLEMENT GAMIFICATION

    Don’t go into this season with the expectation that gamification will solve all your past issues. It won’t. But what it will do is, perhaps, achieve some pretty big behavior changes like increasing the education level of your employees about what benefits they receive with their plan. What it won’t do is make enrollment delays disappear!  So, how do you get started? There are great online sources that offer packages to fit your objectives and goals for your company. FinancesOnline has compiled a list of the top five most popular gamification software companies. Beyond that, you can simply make a “wish list” of open enrollment tasks you want your employees to complete and set an award for achieving those milestones—it doesn’t have to be big—make it a tshirt or a department happy hour with a shaved ice truck! Don’t forget to  create a simple gameboard either online or in person for everyone to see the challenges and the rewards.

    Most Popular Gamification Software

    1. Tango Card. An all-in-one gamification platform that helps organizations deliver incentives to customers, employees, suppliers, and partners. Our Tango Card review offers a detailed walkthrough of the product’s capability.
    2. Influitive. A customer-centric gamification solution designed to help businesses reward their loyal customers. This Influitive review offers a comprehensive tour of the product features.
    3. Badgeville. A reliable gamification software that bundles a customer loyalty program and employee incentive system into a single platform. Our Badgeville review will help you learn all about this powerful solution.
    4. Hoopla. A powerful incentive platform that leverages live game mechanics to invigorate burnt-out employees working in fast-paced environments like telemarketing and call centers. This Hoopla review details its full capability.
    5. GetBadges. A reliable gamification software designed to help software development teams incentivize teams during product development stages. This GetBadges review will walk you through the product’s features.

    This is the perfect time to start something new for your open enrollment period because the landscape of the traditional office is all something new. People are learning to expect the unexpected so jump on board and offer them a new way of being rewarded for completing enrollment tasks. But, remember, if an employee isn’t already motivated to work towards a goal, gamification isn’t going to make them start.  Gamification only amplifies existing motivation.

  • Family Caregivers: 5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    August 10, 2020

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    According to the National Center on Caregiving, a family caregiver (or informal caregiver) is “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.”  In the US, 85% of caregivers care for a relative or loved one with 42% of those caregivers supporting an aging parent. Since early 2020, we have seen this vulnerable aging population fall prey to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, those providing care for this group have also begun to fall prey to this virus’s demise in the form of care-fatigue. We’ve compiled a toolkit of some simple resources to help the caregivers that are on the frontline of care for their loved ones avoid burnout.

    5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    1. Plan Your Communication

    When taking your loved one to any sort of appointment, plan out what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Make a checklist of what items you want to discuss with the provider. Ask your loved one what they would like to talk about as well.  In addition, keep your other family members informed about the care you are providing by establishing a weekly check-in whether through email or Facetime or phone call.

    1. Don’t Go It Alone

    Providing daily care can be immensely rewarding but can also be a physically and emotionally exhausting job. When the job seems bigger than you can handle alone, do some research into community resources for assistance. There are networks of caregiving agencies that can help with everything from personal care to behavioral issues. Determine what you can afford to pay for services and prioritize those that are most needed for you to maintain your own health.

    1. Self-Care is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

    Have you heard the saying “you cannot fill someone else’s cup if your own cup is empty”? In order for you to continue providing care for your loved ones, you must tend to your own care. This involves taking regular breaks throughout the day—maybe for a quick walk or some exercise—to clear your head and refocus your energy. This can also include seeking out respite care so that your immediate family can go out for dinner or even away for a few days. Self-care is a chance to recharge your batteries so you are fully able to care for others.

    1. Teach Them Tech

    This may seem like a daunting task, but teaching your aging loved one some easy technology tips can free up some time in your daily schedule for other pressing tasks. Help them use Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to check the weather or call a friend or even to set alarms and reminders. Another handy tech tool is introducing them to the convenience and safety of telemedicine. Many elderly folks are unsure of transitioning to this kind of care, but with your support, this can be a great resource for their physical health appointments.

    1. Practice Positivity

    Frustration and fatigue are easy traps to find yourself in when providing care for others. The way to best combat this is through finding ways to reframe your thoughts. The author of the Blue Zone series, Dan Buettner, traveled the world to study the happiness of people in different parts of the world and found that if you find a balance of pleasure, purpose, and pride in life, you can achieve happiness even in tough, challenging times. You can change the way you approach the caregiving tasks in your day by seeking this balance of the 3 P’s.

    As the “new normal” begins in our world, you can also begin a new approach to your role as a family caregiver. Commit to using these trusty tools for avoiding burnout. They are time-tested and will help you achieve the correct, and happiness-inspiring balance that best serves both you and your loved ones.

    Resources:

    American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) “Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping with Stress”

    U.S. Administration on Aging—Eldercare Locator

    Family Caregiver Alliance

    Caring.com—Family Caregiver Basics

    Caregiver Action Network—10 Tips for Family Caregivers

  • How We Learn

    July 20, 2020

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    “Everyone learns differently” is a phrase we have all heard at some time in our educational endeavors. It may have been overheard from your parents as they explained to your teacher why you have to get up and move all the time during class. You may have heard it said in high school as a communications teacher gave you examples of learning styles. This phrase may have even been said recently as you sat through a leadership seminar at work as the presenter encouraged you to speak to the different learners you will encounter at the office. Whatever the case, it’s true! Now, let’s learn!

    Three Types of Learners

    1. Visual—This is the biggest population of learners out there. A whopping 65% of people say they best learn with visual aids. These learners will be the ones doodling during your meeting or taking copious notes. They are the group that says, “Don’t read it to me. I need to see it.” Your creative types in the office will most likely fall into this category.
    2. Auditory—Our next learning group (30%) is made up of those learners that need to hear it out loud to retain information. As you interact with and lead your auditory learners, remember that your voice is important to their understanding of the subject matter. Fluctuate your tone and pitch. Ask open-ended questions so that they can verbalize delivered information. And, most importantly, this group learns best in discussions and oral presentation.
    3. Kinesthetic—Move it or lose it (their attention). Kinesthetic learners make up only 5% of the population but they are probably the group you notice the most. Why? Because they will be the ones that cannot sit still during a meeting or training. They thrive on movement so give them a team challenge to reinforce your training subject matter. Make sure you are also giving this group lots of breaks in your training time.

    How to Make This Work Remotely

    The workforce has displayed a great ability to work remotely with a reported 17% of companies moving to work-from-home organizations. This work-from-home model does have a drawback, though, in that it is more difficult to train employees with different learning styles. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

    Helpful Tips to Training Three Types of Learners

    1. When you are creating materials for trainings, make sure you create things that appeal to all three learners but don’t lean too hard on one style.
    2. Your resources should be easily accessible from a home office (email) and content easily digestible. Remember, though, that not all learners can retain information in written form so make sure there’s an option for visual and kinesthetic styles.
    3. Recreate the sociability of the in-person office for the remote office. Encourage online meeting websites for teams such as Zoom and Skype. This allows your employees the chance to see their coworkers face to face and retains camaraderie.
    4. Offer continuing education through online training sites such as lessonly.com. This site appeals to the three learning styles by training through video (visual learner), spoken word (auditory learner), and movement (kinesthetic learner: typing, moving mouse, etc.).

    With three types of learners, it is often overwhelming for trainers as they prepare for and deliver their educational sessions. However, it is not impossible! By identifying the type of learner you’ll interact with, you can prepare supportive materials that best speak to each group. Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic learners have one thing in common—they are eager to work and contribute to their company.

  • Tools for the Remote Workplace

    May 19, 2020

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    The traditional workplace of physical offices and desks has changed. The new normal we are all experiencing is the remote workplace. While some are adjusting to this change without any growing pains, some may find it difficult to transition. Follow these tips to help manage your time in this new space.

    SET UP A PHYSICAL WORKSPACE

    You don’t need to have a home office with a door and desk to have a workspace in your home. Grab a space at your kitchen table or a card table in a corner or even a lap desk on your couch. Make this dedicated workspace the place you do all your work. Doing so creates a familiar location where your brain knows you do your work.

    SET A ROUTINE

    Just as you had a routine for the normal work week, you need to set up a routine for your home-based work week. This can get tricky because the things that you would normally do to get ready for work like take a shower, get dressed in work attire, eat breakfast, and drive to work may not happen anymore. The folks at Entrepreneur said it best when they said, “Now when you wake up, you’re already at work.”  You have to work at setting up a routine so you can accomplish your work goals from home. Set an alarm and wake up at a scheduled time. Set a time that you begin and end work. Take a lunch break. Make sure you schedule in some breaks throughout the day as well.

    SET GOALS

    Look at your work and set goals to have it finished. This may look like a list of prioritized tasks so you stay on schedule. Goals can be daily or weekly or task oriented. By setting these goals you set a schedule for yourself and you can follow this outline towards their completion.  Goals also help you eliminate distractions like the TV being on, looking at your phone, or surfing social media by requiring you stay focused on work to achieve them.

    SET UP CONNECTION TIME

    A remote workplace does not mean an isolated life. Work to stay connected with your co-workers in creative ways. Have a parking lot happy hour in your cars or in camp chairs to reconnect with your office mates at socially distant lengths. Office Zoom calls allow you to see familiar faces all at once. When you stay emotionally connected with your co-workers, you create a culture of support in your office and that’s something we all need!

    During this uncertain time in all of our lives, there are tools to help us. Keeping up with work tasks and staying connected to others helps provide the stability that we all crave in this moment. Make sure you keep these tools handy!

  • CBD: Fact or Fiction?

    April 27, 2020

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    The cannabidiol (CBD) market in the United States has taken off like a rocket. Some projections have this market reaching $16 billion by 2025. After years of singing its praises for treating, albeit illegally, a myriad of health issues, supporters of cannabis have seen an uptick of mainstream support in the last 2 years with the legalization of this herb in many states. The exact truth about its benefits is still under review. Let’s dive a little deeper into this trending topic.

    HISTORY & STATISTICS

    The first use of cannabis can be traced back as far as 500 BC as a Chinese pharmacopeia. Made from the hemp plant, CBD does not produce the hallucinogenic aftereffects of its popular cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) derived from the same plant. In fact, CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC. In 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill which allowed farmers to legally grow hemp. Since this victory, the CBD market has definitely been amped up and its use has become so commonplace in our society that you can find a CBD store (or two or ten) in every city.

    • More than 60% of users claim CBD is being used to treat their anxiety.
    • Other widespread uses for CBD are for depression, sleep disorders, and PTSD.
    • In 2018, the FDA approved the first CBD product, called Epidiolex, to treat those with rare seizure disorders Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

    FACTS

    Users of CBD speak to its benefits in treating anxiety issues. With its widespread availability, consumers can find it in lotions, baked goods, and even makeup.  Because of this prevalence in the marketplace, the FDA and FTC are quick to squash claims that are unfounded in trials. Here are the facts:

    • CBD can come in varying methods of delivery.
      • Tinctures: concentrated herbal extracts suspended in alcohol or vinegar
      • Ointments
      • Vaping oils
      • Oil: extracts from seeds or flowers or stems of hemp put in a base oil to aid absorption
    • The exact amount that can safely be used in a day is unknown.
    • Side-effects include: drowsiness, digestive issues such as diarrhea, and irritability

    FICTION

    There is only one FDA approved use of CBD and that is for rare cases of epilepsy. So, when you see health claims for other than that use, they can be false.

    • NOT proven to be a treatment for cancer
    • NOT without consequences. Serious side-effects can cause serious damage to your health.
    • NOT proven to battle COVID-19.

    The use of CBD definitely has its supporters and detractors. When making a decision about its use, it is helpful to weigh the pros and cons and seek the truth. One thing is for sure—CBD is a swiftly growing market with high demand.

  • Stop – Stay Home – Start Something

    April 7, 2020

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    We are seeing so many changes to our work, personal, and social life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While these changes can seem daunting and the obstacles they create insurmountable, this can be a time of healthy change. There is always the chance for good to happen when you stop, stay home, and start something.

     

    STOP

    Are you someone that people would describe as constantly “on the go”? Do you always have a list of to-dos in your head and not enough time to do them? If so, stop. Take the gift of this crisis to stop running around and working to check off the box of every task on your list. Slow down. Stop. Rest is important to your overall health in that it allows your body to restore depleted energy. It also boosts your creativity and productiveness because it decreases fatigue and brain fog.  Not being pulled in a million directions will actually boost the quality and quantity of work you can accomplish. Turn this negative situation into a positive by slowing down and re-centering.

     

    STAY HOME

    One big takeaway from this quarantine is that we have all become quite aware of the massive amounts of time we have spent away from our home and family. Whether it be long hours at work, kids’ sports practice, kids’ music lessons and concerts, socializing with friends, or a mixture of all of the above, we may be realizing now just how little time we’ve spent inside our four walls. Now, our government is asking us to stay home for the sake of flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases. Many cities have taken this a step further and have “shelter in place” orders restricting the amount of time citizens are outside of their home to only essential tasks. These restrictions help lessen the chance of the virus spreading and assist our healthcare system by not overwhelming our hospitals and healthcare workers as they care for the sick. Help your family, your neighbors, and your workplace and stay home during this season.

     

    START SOMETHING

    It is so easy to look at our current situation in the world with COVID-19 and to only feel fear and see restrictions. But, now you have the opportunity to flip the switch on those feelings and choose to find the good during this quarantine. Remember when we were all going to start knitting, or scrapbooking, or photography? Go find those things and start them again! How about that idea you’ve had for years about starting a family game night? Tonight’s the night to start! Ever caught yourself saying “well, back in my day we knew how to <insert long lost basic skill here>” to your kids? Start teaching them about that skill whether it’s sewing or typing or laundry!

     

    NOW

    Now is the time to begin seeing the good in this situation. You can do it. Don’t let this time slip away and feel like it’s been wasted. Stop rushing. Stay home and keep everyone healthy. Start something good and memorable in your house. Don’t waste this global crisis—use it for a positive outcome in your life. – use it as a great opportunity to slow down, stay home, and start something new!

  • Dental Health Benefits You Can’t Afford to Lose

    March 16, 2020

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    Did you know that a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene can actually reduce your likelihood of other serious diseases? Your mouth is more than just a gateway to enjoying delicious food. Your mouth is an indicator of your overall health. Let’s chew on the facts about dental health and what it can mean for the rest of your body.

    Gum Disease = Warning Sign

    Decayed teeth and gum disease are more than just unattractive–they are a report card on how the rest of your body is doing. Inflammation of your gums can first show up as bad breath. From there, this warning sign can point to more serious cardiovascular problems like blocked blood vessels and even elevated stroke risk. Think your diabetes is under control? Think again if you have the warning sign of gum disease. Check with your doctor if you feel like you just can’t get your swollen and bleeding gums to heal. Uncontrolled diabetes is linked directly to the inability to fight infections like those gum issues. Finally, the warning sign of gum disease has also been tied to higher risk for arthritis and even cognitive issues like slower verbal recall and slower ability to perform subtraction problems.

    Oral Bacteria = Major Health Risk

    Bacteria buildup in your mouth leads your body towards major health issues. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and can be traced back to oral bacteria that is left unchecked and enters the bloodstream. These same bacteria, left unchecked, can start major heart issues as coronary disease, clogged arteries, and stroke. Pneumonia has been caused by bacteria from your mouth being pulled into your lungs. And premature birth and low birth weight can be the result of periodontitis in the birth mother.

    Tips to a Healthy Mouth

    While the end result of poor oral health can lead to disease, the way to avoid this scary pathway is by practicing these good dental habits.
    • Brush your teeth twice a day. If you are unable to brush, chew sugar-free gum or use on-the-go toothbrushes like the Colgate Wisp.
    • Make sure you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen weak spots and exposed roots.
    • After brushing, use mouthwash to rinse away any leftover food particles.
    • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Frayed bristles are not strong enough to remove food from between teeth.
    • Schedule regular dental visits for both cleanings and exams.
    • Adhere to a healthy diet that is low in sugar.
    • Avoid tobacco.

    Understanding that good dental health leads to good overall health is key. Conversely, poor dental habits have been shown to lead to everything from minor infections to major diseases. When you take care of your teeth and gums the benefits to your overall health are innumerable. Follow the tips outlined here for good dental health and your body will reap the benefits for years to come.

    Want to educate others on the benefits to good dental health? Check out these resources:
    World Oral Health Day—March 20
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    American Dental Association—Printables and Activities for Children

  • Service Animals in the Workplace | California Benefits Advisors

    February 24, 2020

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    In 2020, many people with disabilities use the emotional and physical support provided by a service animal. This means that the workplace has seen an increase of these service animals over the last decade and therefore the workforce needs to be educated on this changing environment. Let’s take a look at what constitutes a service animal and the accommodation of such in the workplace.


    Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a framework of protections for people with disabilities in the workplace. Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against potential candidates and employees with disabilities. In fact, Title I outlines that the workplace must make “reasonable accommodations” for this specific group of people. “Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; and providing qualified readers or interpreters.”


    “Service Animals” Definition

    According to the Department of Justice’s revised Title III of the ADA, a service animal is now defined under Title III as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.” Currently, a “service animal” can also include another species of helper: a trained miniature horse. Of course, there are limitations to what a workplace can accommodate in terms of miniature horses and the employer would make those limitations known if approached with the need of a person with a horse as their assistant.


    Accommodation Requests & Documentation

    When an accommodation is requested on behalf of a disabled candidate or employee, the employer must consider the request. However, the employer is simply required to assess and suggest options for the reasonable accommodation for the employee. Some examples of job accommodations may include installing a ramp or modifying the layout of a workstation. Technology accommodations may be providing sign language interpreters at events or providing screen reader software. The ADA does not specifically address or require the inclusion of service animals in the workplace. So, if the employer has a no-animals-in-the-workplace policy and is asked to allow a service animal for an employee, the employer must consider modifying this policy but is not required to modify it. A “reasonable accommodation” for an employee does not always equal their “preferred accommodation.”

    As for documentation for service animals in the workplace, the ADA does allow for an employer to request medical documentation for the need for the disabled person to need this accommodation. It also allows for the employer to request proof from the employee that the service animal is appropriately trained to assist them and that it is trained to not disrupt the workplace under normal conditions. It is worth noting that an “emotional support animal” is NOT classified as a “service animal” by the ADA unless it can perform a specific task, such as sense when an anxiety attack is about to happen in the case of someone with PTSD and the animal helps avoid or lesson that attack.


    Conclusion

    Every workplace should have written policies on reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Of course, there is no way to include all possibilities and so the policies can include the language of consideration of requests on a case-by-case basis. The key to this policy is that those who are in charge of assessing accommodation requests must be willing to truly consider the accommodation of service animals.


    Resources

    Need help? Check out these resources on workplace accommodations for those with disabilities:

    Office of Disability Employment Policy

    FAQ about Service Animals and the ADA

    Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion

    Job Accommodation Network

  • Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart

    February 10, 2020

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    Each February we focus on ways to improve our heart health in honor of American Heart Month. This year we want to help you by turning your attention to the foods you eat and how to make smart choices with our “This or That” challenge!

    Below you will see two foods to choose between. Your goal is to choose the food that is the healthier option. Answers can be found at the end of the challenge.

     

     

    Diet Soda vs Carbonated Water

    Skip the drink with the high levels of artificial sweeteners and choose carbonated water! Diet drinks have been linked to symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Some symptoms of this include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and lower than normal HDL cholesterol levels. Pour yourself a glass of carbonated water and put a slice of fruit in your glass instead!

     

    Butter vs Olive Oil

    Pour on the olive oil to maintain good heart health. Butter is full of high amounts of saturated fat. Butter is also known to raise the bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Olive oil and even canola and sunflower oils contain heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

     

    Sweet Potato Fries vs French Fries

    Warm up your new Air Fryer and start cooking sweet potato fries with a little olive oil. French fries are full of fat and salt and a study linked eating 2-3 servings of fries a week to a higher chance of an early death.

     

    1 oz Salted Nuts vs 1 oz Potato Chips

    Pass the pecans, please! When you choose nuts over chips, you are also choosing your health. Regular nut snackers are 14% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 20% less likely to develop coronary heart disease.

     

    1.5 oz Dark Chocolate vs 2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

    No matter how much you love Grandma’s cookie recipe, your heart needs you to choose the dark chocolate. A study has found that those people who eat dark chocolate 3 times a week reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 11%.

     

    T-bone Steak vs Grilled Salmon Fillet

    Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Salmon is chock full of omega 3 fatty acids which reduce fat in your blood and reduces clogged arteries. Steak is famous for high levels of saturated fat and LDL cholesterol.

     

    Coca-Cola vs Red Wine

    Pop the cork, not the soda tab. Carbonated sodas are full of artificial ingredients and sugar. Red wine has been shown to increase your good cholesterol levels and has many antioxidants that can help protect the lining of the blood vessels in your heart.

     

    You are now a “This or That” Food Challenge winner! Go celebrate with a grilled salmon dinner, a glass of red wine, and a handful of dark chocolate!

     

    Sources:

    https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-bad-heart

    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-hearthealthy-food-swaps

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

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    Everyone knows that eating healthy, getting exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our lifetime being spent sleeping, this part of our life must take importance. Let’s delve into why sleep is important and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At different stages in our life, we require different amounts of sleep. From birth to 4-years old, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep. They are growing and learning both cognitively and emotionally and this takes lots of energy. To restore that energy that is expended during these active toddler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age children are some of the most active humans on the planet. Being at school from 8-3 everyday really wears their little bodies out. Because of their activity, these children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8-10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7-9 solid hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    During our restful time of sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring, rejuvenating, growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones. To say the least, our bodies are never at rest. When we are awake and moving, we are busy processing stimuli, converting calories to energy, and growing, to name a few basic functions.  When we sleep, these processes continue but our body also does the intricate work of strengthening our immune system, fighting disease and infection, and processing the day’s emotions through dreams. Scientists say the benefits of good sleep include:

    • Sharper brain
    • Healthier heart
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Weight control
    • Mood boosters
    • Steadier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Section

    To get the optimized benefits of sleep you have to get your body in the correct circadian rhythm.  According to the National Institutes of Health, “Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.  They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm.  Your body’s biological clock, which is based on a roughly 24-hour day, controls most circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues (light, temperature) about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.” Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and even external lights can interfere with this rhythm and therefore have a negative impact on your overall health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to optimize that circadian rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a consistent schedule of both bedtime AND waketime
    2. Go for a morning walk—getting your body up and moving when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Limit evening technology
      1. bright lights confuse the brain into believing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in laptops and cellphones—should be turned off within 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Understanding the importance of and the benefits from a good night’s sleep will help you prioritize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of setting a consistent bedtime and build up to turning off that cellphone game early.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

  • Preventive Care is as Easy as 1-2-3

    October 7, 2020

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    In a world where viruses run rampant across the globe and healthcare costs are skyrocketing, there is an easy way for you and your family to stay healthy—preventive care services.

    Preventive is defined as “used to stop something bad from happening.” Preventive care is care that thwarts off illness or disease thanks to regular check-ups, counseling, and screenings. When you subscribe to a health plan—regardless of whether it’s one offered by your work or one you purchase in the marketplace—most plans will include an array of preventive care services free of charge.  So, where do you start with accessing these services? It’s easy!

    Easy as 1-2-3

    As long as you have subscribed to a health plan after 2010, those plan providers are required by law to offer basic preventive care services to you and those covered by your plan with no additional copay, coinsurance, or requirement to meet a deductible. By utilizing this free resource, you are setting yourself up for greater health success—and it’s as easy as 1-2-3!

         1. Visit your doctor for annual checkups.

    Annual exams allow doctors to identify disease earlier and manage chronic conditions closer. They also help your doctor to track any changes in your body over the years so that, should a disease or illness befall you, there is background data from your preventive care to refer to as they prescribe treatment. An easy way to remember to schedule these annual doctor appointments for both you and your family is to plan them around your birthday each year. This is also helpful for the doctor because as you age, you need additional health screenings so they can have those recommendations ready for you at your annual appointment.

         2. Stay up-to-date on immunizations and boosters.

    Just as an infant has an immunization schedule that the pediatrician follows to bolster the child’s immune system, so do older children and even adults. For instance, before children enter a certain grade in school, they may be required to have a meningitis booster. Tetanus shots are only good for 10 years so once a decade, you’ll need to get a booster for this disease which also may include the diphtheria vaccine and sometimes one for pertussis. As you age, you may need the shingles vaccine and other shots for prevention of pneumonia or the flu.

         3. Follow a care schedule for additional age-related screenings.

    Because you are visiting your doctor annually for regular checkups, they will likely alert you to any additional screenings they recommend.  For instance, women ages 40-44 can begin getting mammograms to help detect breast cancer. After age 44, it is recommended they get this screening annually.  If you want to be pro-active and keep track of these additional screenings yourself, there are tools online to do so.

    MyHealthfinder is a site coordinated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Simply enter your age and answer a few easy questions, and the site will cull a list of suggested screenings for you.

    PublicHealth is another site with suggested preventive care services. They have created a lifetime care schedule, broken into age brackets, with lists of screenings recommended for each age by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

    Keeping you and your family on the right track for health and wellness is not hard! By follow these three simple steps for your health care, you can significantly affect your health in the future. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

  • Telemedicine

    September 28, 2020

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    In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in the US has changed. More and more, people are seeking out telemedicine services versus the traditional brick and mortar physician’s office. This trend also includes telemental health services as well. So what are the advantages of these services and how are they growing to meet the need?

    Pandemic Launch

    The COVID-19 pandemic definitely thrust the use of telemedicine forward but many health care providers have been using this type of service for years. What the pandemic did do is encourage patients’ use of the telehealth services already in place. Telehealth is defined as “the practice of communicating electronically with a physician, typically via telephone or video chat.” While our hospitals and doctors’ offices have been overcrowded with very sick COVID-19 patients, use of telemedicine has allowed the burden felt in these locations to be lessened.  Patients call in for routine exams and are many times seen and treated faster than if they came in to the physical office location.

    Advantages to Telehealth Services

    According to a survey by FAIR Health, there has been a 8,336% increase nationally in the use of telehealth from April 2019 to April 2020. Advantages of this increase and use include:

      • Enabling patients to follow shelter-in-place restrictions by staying home and away from hospitals, except for emergencies
      • Minimizing risk to health care workers and patients by limiting exposure to the coronavirus and other diseases
      • Facilitating services for chronic patient monitoring, follow-up visits, therapy appointments and post-operative care
      • Employees see the offering of telemedicine benefits as a huge priority in examining employment options

    Advantages to Telemental Health Services

    Like Telehealth services, use of Telemental Health services have also increased this year. A recent mental health survey says that 7 in 10 employees cite the COVID-19 pandemic as being the most stressful time in their careers. Caring for children who are out of school, caring for loved ones, financial issues, and stress from job changes are some of the issues that employees are facing. Business owners see the benefit of telemental health as their employees’ access these services in higher numbers. High levels of stress have been known to result in lower productivity, lower morale, and higher absenteeism. Advantages for telemental health include:

    • The provision of telemental health services to patients living in rural and under-served areas has significantly reduced psychiatric hospitalization rates.
    • Low-income, homebound seniors experienced longer lasting effects of telemental health than those who received in-person mental health services.
    • Mental health providers rarely have to perform any physical services on their patients, so telemental health is more plausible than other types of telehealth services.
    • There is little or no difference in patient satisfaction with telemental health when compared with face-to-face mental health consultations.
    • Although mental health professionals are in short supply, mobile devices are not.

    There are some significant advantages to the use of telemedicine services. Zywave explains, “Virtual healthcare is emerging as a viable solution to help lessen the burden on healthcare facilities and staff while still providing individuals with the care they need.” Tele-services also reach more of the under-served population both for health care and mental health care. As consumers gain confidence in virtual living, the call for telemedicine will also grow.

  • Gamification and Open Enrollment

    August 24, 2020

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    Open enrollment season is upon us and many companies are choosing to host “virtual benefits fairs” instead of the traditional “walk and talk” fairs. Open enrollment meetings have turned into live streaming events or recorded webinars. Incentivizing employee participation in these areas can come in a variety of ways but the newest trend is gamification.

    Gamification has been defined as “behavior modification using technology.” It involves rewarding employee behaviors that help accomplish a company’s goals and objectives through playing some sort of competitive game. For example, company ABC is having their open enrollment meetings online. They want all employees to watch the overview presentation by the HR department as well as view the enrollment resources. Through gamification, the company creates a series of milestones on a virtual gameboard. Different departments are challenged to work their way through the milestones and the first team successfully completing the game wins. The winning team receives bragging rights and a cash reward. Another option for this same contest is that the individual earns a reward for progressing through the gameboard. This example isn’t tied to a team-driven competition, but instead an incentive for the individual to complete the open enrollment process.

    WHY GAMIFICATION WORKS

    It’s been reported that 75% of the total global workforce in 2025 will be made up of millennials.  That’s three out of every 4 workers who are very engaged online. Gaming in general has a large appeal to this age group so tying it to workplace objectives results in higher participation on the whole. Additionally, the act of accomplishing a task releases dopamine in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that causes you to feel excited and your brain likes that! In fact, your brain will begin associating euphoria with completing, what one previously thought was “boring”, work. This is called the “reward cycle” and can be achieved through gamification in the workplace.

    HOW TO IMPLEMENT GAMIFICATION

    Don’t go into this season with the expectation that gamification will solve all your past issues. It won’t. But what it will do is, perhaps, achieve some pretty big behavior changes like increasing the education level of your employees about what benefits they receive with their plan. What it won’t do is make enrollment delays disappear!  So, how do you get started? There are great online sources that offer packages to fit your objectives and goals for your company. FinancesOnline has compiled a list of the top five most popular gamification software companies. Beyond that, you can simply make a “wish list” of open enrollment tasks you want your employees to complete and set an award for achieving those milestones—it doesn’t have to be big—make it a tshirt or a department happy hour with a shaved ice truck! Don’t forget to  create a simple gameboard either online or in person for everyone to see the challenges and the rewards.

    Most Popular Gamification Software

    1. Tango Card. An all-in-one gamification platform that helps organizations deliver incentives to customers, employees, suppliers, and partners. Our Tango Card review offers a detailed walkthrough of the product’s capability.
    2. Influitive. A customer-centric gamification solution designed to help businesses reward their loyal customers. This Influitive review offers a comprehensive tour of the product features.
    3. Badgeville. A reliable gamification software that bundles a customer loyalty program and employee incentive system into a single platform. Our Badgeville review will help you learn all about this powerful solution.
    4. Hoopla. A powerful incentive platform that leverages live game mechanics to invigorate burnt-out employees working in fast-paced environments like telemarketing and call centers. This Hoopla review details its full capability.
    5. GetBadges. A reliable gamification software designed to help software development teams incentivize teams during product development stages. This GetBadges review will walk you through the product’s features.

    This is the perfect time to start something new for your open enrollment period because the landscape of the traditional office is all something new. People are learning to expect the unexpected so jump on board and offer them a new way of being rewarded for completing enrollment tasks. But, remember, if an employee isn’t already motivated to work towards a goal, gamification isn’t going to make them start.  Gamification only amplifies existing motivation.

  • Family Caregivers: 5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    August 10, 2020

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    According to the National Center on Caregiving, a family caregiver (or informal caregiver) is “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.”  In the US, 85% of caregivers care for a relative or loved one with 42% of those caregivers supporting an aging parent. Since early 2020, we have seen this vulnerable aging population fall prey to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, those providing care for this group have also begun to fall prey to this virus’s demise in the form of care-fatigue. We’ve compiled a toolkit of some simple resources to help the caregivers that are on the frontline of care for their loved ones avoid burnout.

    5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    1. Plan Your Communication

    When taking your loved one to any sort of appointment, plan out what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Make a checklist of what items you want to discuss with the provider. Ask your loved one what they would like to talk about as well.  In addition, keep your other family members informed about the care you are providing by establishing a weekly check-in whether through email or Facetime or phone call.

    1. Don’t Go It Alone

    Providing daily care can be immensely rewarding but can also be a physically and emotionally exhausting job. When the job seems bigger than you can handle alone, do some research into community resources for assistance. There are networks of caregiving agencies that can help with everything from personal care to behavioral issues. Determine what you can afford to pay for services and prioritize those that are most needed for you to maintain your own health.

    1. Self-Care is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

    Have you heard the saying “you cannot fill someone else’s cup if your own cup is empty”? In order for you to continue providing care for your loved ones, you must tend to your own care. This involves taking regular breaks throughout the day—maybe for a quick walk or some exercise—to clear your head and refocus your energy. This can also include seeking out respite care so that your immediate family can go out for dinner or even away for a few days. Self-care is a chance to recharge your batteries so you are fully able to care for others.

    1. Teach Them Tech

    This may seem like a daunting task, but teaching your aging loved one some easy technology tips can free up some time in your daily schedule for other pressing tasks. Help them use Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to check the weather or call a friend or even to set alarms and reminders. Another handy tech tool is introducing them to the convenience and safety of telemedicine. Many elderly folks are unsure of transitioning to this kind of care, but with your support, this can be a great resource for their physical health appointments.

    1. Practice Positivity

    Frustration and fatigue are easy traps to find yourself in when providing care for others. The way to best combat this is through finding ways to reframe your thoughts. The author of the Blue Zone series, Dan Buettner, traveled the world to study the happiness of people in different parts of the world and found that if you find a balance of pleasure, purpose, and pride in life, you can achieve happiness even in tough, challenging times. You can change the way you approach the caregiving tasks in your day by seeking this balance of the 3 P’s.

    As the “new normal” begins in our world, you can also begin a new approach to your role as a family caregiver. Commit to using these trusty tools for avoiding burnout. They are time-tested and will help you achieve the correct, and happiness-inspiring balance that best serves both you and your loved ones.

    Resources:

    American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) “Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping with Stress”

    U.S. Administration on Aging—Eldercare Locator

    Family Caregiver Alliance

    Caring.com—Family Caregiver Basics

    Caregiver Action Network—10 Tips for Family Caregivers

  • How We Learn

    July 20, 2020

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    “Everyone learns differently” is a phrase we have all heard at some time in our educational endeavors. It may have been overheard from your parents as they explained to your teacher why you have to get up and move all the time during class. You may have heard it said in high school as a communications teacher gave you examples of learning styles. This phrase may have even been said recently as you sat through a leadership seminar at work as the presenter encouraged you to speak to the different learners you will encounter at the office. Whatever the case, it’s true! Now, let’s learn!

    Three Types of Learners

    1. Visual—This is the biggest population of learners out there. A whopping 65% of people say they best learn with visual aids. These learners will be the ones doodling during your meeting or taking copious notes. They are the group that says, “Don’t read it to me. I need to see it.” Your creative types in the office will most likely fall into this category.
    2. Auditory—Our next learning group (30%) is made up of those learners that need to hear it out loud to retain information. As you interact with and lead your auditory learners, remember that your voice is important to their understanding of the subject matter. Fluctuate your tone and pitch. Ask open-ended questions so that they can verbalize delivered information. And, most importantly, this group learns best in discussions and oral presentation.
    3. Kinesthetic—Move it or lose it (their attention). Kinesthetic learners make up only 5% of the population but they are probably the group you notice the most. Why? Because they will be the ones that cannot sit still during a meeting or training. They thrive on movement so give them a team challenge to reinforce your training subject matter. Make sure you are also giving this group lots of breaks in your training time.

    How to Make This Work Remotely

    The workforce has displayed a great ability to work remotely with a reported 17% of companies moving to work-from-home organizations. This work-from-home model does have a drawback, though, in that it is more difficult to train employees with different learning styles. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

    Helpful Tips to Training Three Types of Learners

    1. When you are creating materials for trainings, make sure you create things that appeal to all three learners but don’t lean too hard on one style.
    2. Your resources should be easily accessible from a home office (email) and content easily digestible. Remember, though, that not all learners can retain information in written form so make sure there’s an option for visual and kinesthetic styles.
    3. Recreate the sociability of the in-person office for the remote office. Encourage online meeting websites for teams such as Zoom and Skype. This allows your employees the chance to see their coworkers face to face and retains camaraderie.
    4. Offer continuing education through online training sites such as lessonly.com. This site appeals to the three learning styles by training through video (visual learner), spoken word (auditory learner), and movement (kinesthetic learner: typing, moving mouse, etc.).

    With three types of learners, it is often overwhelming for trainers as they prepare for and deliver their educational sessions. However, it is not impossible! By identifying the type of learner you’ll interact with, you can prepare supportive materials that best speak to each group. Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic learners have one thing in common—they are eager to work and contribute to their company.

  • Tools for the Remote Workplace

    May 19, 2020

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    The traditional workplace of physical offices and desks has changed. The new normal we are all experiencing is the remote workplace. While some are adjusting to this change without any growing pains, some may find it difficult to transition. Follow these tips to help manage your time in this new space.

    SET UP A PHYSICAL WORKSPACE

    You don’t need to have a home office with a door and desk to have a workspace in your home. Grab a space at your kitchen table or a card table in a corner or even a lap desk on your couch. Make this dedicated workspace the place you do all your work. Doing so creates a familiar location where your brain knows you do your work.

    SET A ROUTINE

    Just as you had a routine for the normal work week, you need to set up a routine for your home-based work week. This can get tricky because the things that you would normally do to get ready for work like take a shower, get dressed in work attire, eat breakfast, and drive to work may not happen anymore. The folks at Entrepreneur said it best when they said, “Now when you wake up, you’re already at work.”  You have to work at setting up a routine so you can accomplish your work goals from home. Set an alarm and wake up at a scheduled time. Set a time that you begin and end work. Take a lunch break. Make sure you schedule in some breaks throughout the day as well.

    SET GOALS

    Look at your work and set goals to have it finished. This may look like a list of prioritized tasks so you stay on schedule. Goals can be daily or weekly or task oriented. By setting these goals you set a schedule for yourself and you can follow this outline towards their completion.  Goals also help you eliminate distractions like the TV being on, looking at your phone, or surfing social media by requiring you stay focused on work to achieve them.

    SET UP CONNECTION TIME

    A remote workplace does not mean an isolated life. Work to stay connected with your co-workers in creative ways. Have a parking lot happy hour in your cars or in camp chairs to reconnect with your office mates at socially distant lengths. Office Zoom calls allow you to see familiar faces all at once. When you stay emotionally connected with your co-workers, you create a culture of support in your office and that’s something we all need!

    During this uncertain time in all of our lives, there are tools to help us. Keeping up with work tasks and staying connected to others helps provide the stability that we all crave in this moment. Make sure you keep these tools handy!

  • CBD: Fact or Fiction?

    April 27, 2020

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    The cannabidiol (CBD) market in the United States has taken off like a rocket. Some projections have this market reaching $16 billion by 2025. After years of singing its praises for treating, albeit illegally, a myriad of health issues, supporters of cannabis have seen an uptick of mainstream support in the last 2 years with the legalization of this herb in many states. The exact truth about its benefits is still under review. Let’s dive a little deeper into this trending topic.

    HISTORY & STATISTICS

    The first use of cannabis can be traced back as far as 500 BC as a Chinese pharmacopeia. Made from the hemp plant, CBD does not produce the hallucinogenic aftereffects of its popular cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) derived from the same plant. In fact, CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC. In 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill which allowed farmers to legally grow hemp. Since this victory, the CBD market has definitely been amped up and its use has become so commonplace in our society that you can find a CBD store (or two or ten) in every city.

    • More than 60% of users claim CBD is being used to treat their anxiety.
    • Other widespread uses for CBD are for depression, sleep disorders, and PTSD.
    • In 2018, the FDA approved the first CBD product, called Epidiolex, to treat those with rare seizure disorders Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

    FACTS

    Users of CBD speak to its benefits in treating anxiety issues. With its widespread availability, consumers can find it in lotions, baked goods, and even makeup.  Because of this prevalence in the marketplace, the FDA and FTC are quick to squash claims that are unfounded in trials. Here are the facts:

    • CBD can come in varying methods of delivery.
      • Tinctures: concentrated herbal extracts suspended in alcohol or vinegar
      • Ointments
      • Vaping oils
      • Oil: extracts from seeds or flowers or stems of hemp put in a base oil to aid absorption
    • The exact amount that can safely be used in a day is unknown.
    • Side-effects include: drowsiness, digestive issues such as diarrhea, and irritability

    FICTION

    There is only one FDA approved use of CBD and that is for rare cases of epilepsy. So, when you see health claims for other than that use, they can be false.

    • NOT proven to be a treatment for cancer
    • NOT without consequences. Serious side-effects can cause serious damage to your health.
    • NOT proven to battle COVID-19.

    The use of CBD definitely has its supporters and detractors. When making a decision about its use, it is helpful to weigh the pros and cons and seek the truth. One thing is for sure—CBD is a swiftly growing market with high demand.

  • Stop – Stay Home – Start Something

    April 7, 2020

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    We are seeing so many changes to our work, personal, and social life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While these changes can seem daunting and the obstacles they create insurmountable, this can be a time of healthy change. There is always the chance for good to happen when you stop, stay home, and start something.

     

    STOP

    Are you someone that people would describe as constantly “on the go”? Do you always have a list of to-dos in your head and not enough time to do them? If so, stop. Take the gift of this crisis to stop running around and working to check off the box of every task on your list. Slow down. Stop. Rest is important to your overall health in that it allows your body to restore depleted energy. It also boosts your creativity and productiveness because it decreases fatigue and brain fog.  Not being pulled in a million directions will actually boost the quality and quantity of work you can accomplish. Turn this negative situation into a positive by slowing down and re-centering.

     

    STAY HOME

    One big takeaway from this quarantine is that we have all become quite aware of the massive amounts of time we have spent away from our home and family. Whether it be long hours at work, kids’ sports practice, kids’ music lessons and concerts, socializing with friends, or a mixture of all of the above, we may be realizing now just how little time we’ve spent inside our four walls. Now, our government is asking us to stay home for the sake of flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases. Many cities have taken this a step further and have “shelter in place” orders restricting the amount of time citizens are outside of their home to only essential tasks. These restrictions help lessen the chance of the virus spreading and assist our healthcare system by not overwhelming our hospitals and healthcare workers as they care for the sick. Help your family, your neighbors, and your workplace and stay home during this season.

     

    START SOMETHING

    It is so easy to look at our current situation in the world with COVID-19 and to only feel fear and see restrictions. But, now you have the opportunity to flip the switch on those feelings and choose to find the good during this quarantine. Remember when we were all going to start knitting, or scrapbooking, or photography? Go find those things and start them again! How about that idea you’ve had for years about starting a family game night? Tonight’s the night to start! Ever caught yourself saying “well, back in my day we knew how to <insert long lost basic skill here>” to your kids? Start teaching them about that skill whether it’s sewing or typing or laundry!

     

    NOW

    Now is the time to begin seeing the good in this situation. You can do it. Don’t let this time slip away and feel like it’s been wasted. Stop rushing. Stay home and keep everyone healthy. Start something good and memorable in your house. Don’t waste this global crisis—use it for a positive outcome in your life. – use it as a great opportunity to slow down, stay home, and start something new!

  • Dental Health Benefits You Can’t Afford to Lose

    March 16, 2020

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    Did you know that a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene can actually reduce your likelihood of other serious diseases? Your mouth is more than just a gateway to enjoying delicious food. Your mouth is an indicator of your overall health. Let’s chew on the facts about dental health and what it can mean for the rest of your body.

    Gum Disease = Warning Sign

    Decayed teeth and gum disease are more than just unattractive–they are a report card on how the rest of your body is doing. Inflammation of your gums can first show up as bad breath. From there, this warning sign can point to more serious cardiovascular problems like blocked blood vessels and even elevated stroke risk. Think your diabetes is under control? Think again if you have the warning sign of gum disease. Check with your doctor if you feel like you just can’t get your swollen and bleeding gums to heal. Uncontrolled diabetes is linked directly to the inability to fight infections like those gum issues. Finally, the warning sign of gum disease has also been tied to higher risk for arthritis and even cognitive issues like slower verbal recall and slower ability to perform subtraction problems.

    Oral Bacteria = Major Health Risk

    Bacteria buildup in your mouth leads your body towards major health issues. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and can be traced back to oral bacteria that is left unchecked and enters the bloodstream. These same bacteria, left unchecked, can start major heart issues as coronary disease, clogged arteries, and stroke. Pneumonia has been caused by bacteria from your mouth being pulled into your lungs. And premature birth and low birth weight can be the result of periodontitis in the birth mother.

    Tips to a Healthy Mouth

    While the end result of poor oral health can lead to disease, the way to avoid this scary pathway is by practicing these good dental habits.
    • Brush your teeth twice a day. If you are unable to brush, chew sugar-free gum or use on-the-go toothbrushes like the Colgate Wisp.
    • Make sure you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen weak spots and exposed roots.
    • After brushing, use mouthwash to rinse away any leftover food particles.
    • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Frayed bristles are not strong enough to remove food from between teeth.
    • Schedule regular dental visits for both cleanings and exams.
    • Adhere to a healthy diet that is low in sugar.
    • Avoid tobacco.

    Understanding that good dental health leads to good overall health is key. Conversely, poor dental habits have been shown to lead to everything from minor infections to major diseases. When you take care of your teeth and gums the benefits to your overall health are innumerable. Follow the tips outlined here for good dental health and your body will reap the benefits for years to come.

    Want to educate others on the benefits to good dental health? Check out these resources:
    World Oral Health Day—March 20
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    American Dental Association—Printables and Activities for Children

  • Service Animals in the Workplace | California Benefits Advisors

    February 24, 2020

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    In 2020, many people with disabilities use the emotional and physical support provided by a service animal. This means that the workplace has seen an increase of these service animals over the last decade and therefore the workforce needs to be educated on this changing environment. Let’s take a look at what constitutes a service animal and the accommodation of such in the workplace.


    Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a framework of protections for people with disabilities in the workplace. Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against potential candidates and employees with disabilities. In fact, Title I outlines that the workplace must make “reasonable accommodations” for this specific group of people. “Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; and providing qualified readers or interpreters.”


    “Service Animals” Definition

    According to the Department of Justice’s revised Title III of the ADA, a service animal is now defined under Title III as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.” Currently, a “service animal” can also include another species of helper: a trained miniature horse. Of course, there are limitations to what a workplace can accommodate in terms of miniature horses and the employer would make those limitations known if approached with the need of a person with a horse as their assistant.


    Accommodation Requests & Documentation

    When an accommodation is requested on behalf of a disabled candidate or employee, the employer must consider the request. However, the employer is simply required to assess and suggest options for the reasonable accommodation for the employee. Some examples of job accommodations may include installing a ramp or modifying the layout of a workstation. Technology accommodations may be providing sign language interpreters at events or providing screen reader software. The ADA does not specifically address or require the inclusion of service animals in the workplace. So, if the employer has a no-animals-in-the-workplace policy and is asked to allow a service animal for an employee, the employer must consider modifying this policy but is not required to modify it. A “reasonable accommodation” for an employee does not always equal their “preferred accommodation.”

    As for documentation for service animals in the workplace, the ADA does allow for an employer to request medical documentation for the need for the disabled person to need this accommodation. It also allows for the employer to request proof from the employee that the service animal is appropriately trained to assist them and that it is trained to not disrupt the workplace under normal conditions. It is worth noting that an “emotional support animal” is NOT classified as a “service animal” by the ADA unless it can perform a specific task, such as sense when an anxiety attack is about to happen in the case of someone with PTSD and the animal helps avoid or lesson that attack.


    Conclusion

    Every workplace should have written policies on reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Of course, there is no way to include all possibilities and so the policies can include the language of consideration of requests on a case-by-case basis. The key to this policy is that those who are in charge of assessing accommodation requests must be willing to truly consider the accommodation of service animals.


    Resources

    Need help? Check out these resources on workplace accommodations for those with disabilities:

    Office of Disability Employment Policy

    FAQ about Service Animals and the ADA

    Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion

    Job Accommodation Network

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