The Disconnection Effect: Social Media and Young People

By design, social media connects young people to one another on a regular, even minute-by-minute basis. They see pictures and videos of others vacationing, having fancy meals, getting together for parties. What do these social media-driven images leave them feeling like? Oftentimes, disconnected and lonely.

A recent study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine focused on how U.S. young adults’ extensive social media use (more than two hours a day) can lead to feelings of isolation. The study assessed time and frequency of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. What they found was that the more young people were checking out others’ posts, the higher was their perception of social isolation.

Replacing face-to-face relationships with social media can also affect overall well-being. Research published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked into Facebook activity and its effects on physical and mental health, life satisfaction, and body mass index. The study reported that “the negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible trade-off between offline and online relationships.”

If you’re finding yourself increasingly lonely and even depressed, take important steps to improve your mental health. Cut down on social media use and consider seeking the advice of a professional. To check the license of a professional psychologist, visit the Board of Psychology website at www.psychology.ca.gov.

 

Taking Control of Pests This Month

Paying tribute to the pest control industry, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) founded National Pest Management Month. The April event seeks to raise public awareness about pest control and the risks associated with household pests, and provide information to homeowners on avoiding infestations.

This month-long event comes on the heels of massive rainstorms—which translate into a heavy pest season. With all the rain we’ve had this year, pests such as fleas, termites, carpenter ants, and cockroaches will be out in full force. Assistance from a pest control professional will be key in helping protect yourself and your family against possible health and structural threats.

To find out more about National Pest Management Month and to get tips on protecting your home, visit the NPMA’s website at www.pestworld.org. To check the license of a pest control professional, visit the Structural Pest Control Board’s website at www.pestboard.ca.gov.

April is an Ideal Time to Focus on Health

The weather is warming up, making it an ideal time to get healthy by getting active outdoors and taking advantage of the in-season fruits and vegetables. As further inspiration, a slew of campaigns focusing on health management through exercise, diet, and regular health care are happening this month. Here are a few to get you started:

  • April is Defeat Diabetes Month, sponsored by the Defeat Diabetes Foundation. As part of the campaign, the Foundation is challenging participants to track how many activities and good habits they candevelop this month. The website www.defeatdiabetes.org has an activity calendar of daily suggestions to stay active and eat well; for example, plant your own garden, try papaya and asparagus, go hiking, visit your doctor for a check-up, and explore a wildlife refuge.
  • According to volunteer eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness, more women than men have eye disease. In an effort to educate women about preserving their vision, Prevent Blindness has designated this month as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. From using cosmetics safely and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses to making regular optometry visits and learning about your family history of possible eye disease, there are many ways to take care of your vision. Find out more about the event and women’s eye care by visiting the Prevent Blindness website at www.preventblindness.org.
  • What is occupational therapy? Find out during National Occupational Therapy Month, founded by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The event recognizes the important role occupational therapists play in helping people return to everyday activities after injuries, assisting children with disabilities participate in school and social situations, and enabling the elderly to stay as independent as possible. Learn more about occupational therapy and the month long celebration at the AOTA website, www.aota.org.

To verify the license of your healthcare providers, visit the appropriate board’s website: Medical Board of California at www.mbc.ca.gov, Board of Optometry at www.optometry.ca.gov, and the Board of Occupational Therapy at www.bot.ca.gov.

Animals in April: Monthlong Events Highlight Animal Health and Well-Being

Spring is here, meaning a bumper crop of young animals. This influx of animals makes it the ideal time to help raise awareness about how to prevent animal cruelty, as well as how to use first aid to increase the odds of your pet’s survival after an injury.

Sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the campaign “Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month” seeks to inform Americans about the prevalence of animal cruelty and to urge reporting instances of animal neglect and abuse. Cruelty issues include dog fighting, puppy mills, animal hoarding, and horse slaughtering. As part of the campaign, on April 26, ASPCA will join California lawmakers and animal advocates at California Voices for Animals Day, an annual advocacy and adoption event at the state capitol. Stop by and show your support. For more information about Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month and California Voices for Animals Day, go to the ASPCA’s website at www.aspca.org.

April is also Pet First Aid Awareness Month, started by Pet Tech Productions. The event highlights the importance of knowing first aid for your pet. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 25 percent of pets would survive if a first aid technique was used prior to emergency veterinary care. For more information, visit Pet Tech’s website at www.pettech.net. Contact your pet’s veterinarian to learn more about animal first aid. To check the license of a veterinarian, visit the California Veterinary Medical Board at www.vmb.ca.gov.

 

April: Paying Tribute to Lawns and Landscapes

Green is in again. This year’s tremendous rainstorms have brought back to life lawns, trees, flowers, and the like. With yards thriving again, what better time to celebrate lawn care and landscape architecture?

April is National Lawn Care Month, which emphasizes the importance of natural grass’ environmental and health benefits. According to the National Association of LandscapeProfessionals (NALP), healthy lawns and landscapes can help clean the air, minimize noise, protect water sources from unhealthy runoff, and act as natural coolants. However, despite America’s love of lawns—an NALP survey reported that 78 percent of U.S. adults maintain a lawn and/or landscaping—the majority of us don’t understand how to properly care for them. For example, one in three doesn’t understand how often a lawn should be watered and 64 percent mistakenly think that all grass needs to fertilized in the spring. To learn more about how to maintain a healthy lawn, visit NLAP’s website at www.landscapeprofessionals.org.

This month is also World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), which pays tribute to the profession of landscape architecture and designed public and private spaces. Sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the month-long celebration recognizes work from landscape architects all over the world—from the High Line in New York City and gardens in Estonia to your own yard or local park—and showcases how landscape architecture affects our daily lives. Follow ASLA’s Instagram, which shows a variety of perspectives on landscape architecture. Find out more about WLAM at .

If you’re looking to get some professional work done in your own yard, be sure to check the license of a landscape architect first by going to the Landscape Architects Technical Committee website at www.latc.ca.gov.

Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

Covered California Open Enrollment Ends January 31

covered-california-jpgOpen enrollment for Covered California, the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ends on Tuesday, January 31. For coverage to begin on March 1, 2017, you must enroll by this deadline.

Depending on different factors such as your family size and income, you can qualify for:

Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.

And remember, if you’ve experienced a life-changing event, you may be able to sign up for a health plan during Special Enrollment even after the open enrollment period ends. Visit http://bit.ly/1BMTca1 for more information.

Weighing Out Diet Scams

weight-lossThe first month of 2017 is almost history, but a few of the resolutions you may have put on the list for this year may still not be crossed off—or started, for that matter. Getting more organized and saving money are goals that are easy to plan, while losing weight—a resolution that is at the top of many people’s lists—is one of the hardest to start.

Losing weight is a healthy and rewarding goal, however, beware of quick-fix weight-loss products and plans. Like other scams, if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.

At best, “miracle” weight-loss products won’t help at all and will only cause you to lose money. At worst, they can cause health issues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that hundreds of dietary supplement products contain hidden active ingredients that may be advertised as “natural” and “safe.” As a result, the FDA has received numerous reports of increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, stroke, seizure, and even death as a result of taking these supplements.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), beware of weight-loss ads with tag lines like these:

  • Lose weight without diet or exercise!
  • Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!
  • Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!
  • Just take a pill!
  • Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
  • Everybody will lose weight!
  • Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!

The FTC says the best way to lose weight is to cut about 500 calories per day, eat a variety of healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Also, before beginning any weight-loss plan, consult your healthcare professional. To check the status of a doctor’s license, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.

Cervical Health Awareness Month: Get Checked and Vaccinated

Start the new year by taking care of your cervical health. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, which highlights the importance of proactive healthcare in the prevention of a possibly deadly cancer.

nccc-posterThanks to the Pap test, the human papillomavirus (HPV) screenings, and the HPV vaccination, cervical cancer has largely become a preventable and treatable disease. The HPV vaccine can protect against four types of HPV—the most common cause of cervical cancer—and should be administered before becoming sexually active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the shot for not only girls and women ages 11 to 26, but for boys and men as well.

Cervical cancer can be serious and even fatal—that’s why taking advantage of the early detection tools and the vaccine are so important. According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), nearly 13,000 U.S. women are diagnosed each year with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 die from the disease.

Talk to your healthcare provider about getting screened and about your or your child’s eligibility to receive the HPV vaccine. In California, licensed medical professionals and pharmacists can administer the vaccine. To verify the license status of a doctor, visit the Medical Board of California; to verify the license status of a pharmacist, visit the State Board of Pharmacy. More information on cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine is available on the NCCC website.

Glaucoma Awareness Month: Guard Your Vision

Glaucoma. It’s called the “sneak thief of sight” because it can strike without symptoms and lead to permanent blindness.

The good news is that blindness from the disease is preventable. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month—a time to understand the disease and take important steps glaucoma-awareness-monthto guard yourself from its serious effects. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, if detected early, it can be treated with medication or surgery to slow down or prevent further vision loss.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), as much as 40 percent of a person’s vision can be lost without noticing—that’s why regular eye exams from a licensed optometrist are key. The GRF says these five tests are part of a thorough comprehensive glaucoma exam:

The inner eye pressure Tonometry
The shape and color of the optic nerve Ophthalmoscopy (dilated eye exam)
The complete field of vision Perimetry (visual field test)
The angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea Gonioscopy
Thickness of the cornea Pachymetry

Anyone can get glaucoma, but there are those who are at higher risk:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

You can learn more about glaucoma by visiting the GRF’s website at www.glaucoma.org and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/features/glaucoma-awareness/index.html. To check the license and license status of an optometrist, visit the Board of Optometry’s website at www.optometry.ca.gov.