Bite by Bite: Quarantine Edition -Trying to stay healthy while sheltering in place

National Nutrition Month 2020 is March and this year’s theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite” with the overall message being that quality nutrition isn’t restrictive, but that small changes to diet can have a cumulative effect on health over time. Every healthy nutritional choice is a choice in the right direction. But eating healthily, as well as getting enough exercise, can be challenging in the best of times but even more so when most of the country is currently sheltering in place within their homes.

Preparing Healthy Meals with Limited Ingredients

With many grocery stores having bare shelves and/or limiting how much can be purchased at a time it may seem an impossible fete to prepare healthy and nutritious meals.  Do you ever look through your pantry and fridge wondering what you could possibly make with what seems to be an impossible mystery basket off of “Chopped”?  The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts provides an article outlining the top apps/websites for inputting what you already have on hand to find that perfect meal. The top three choices are:

SuperCook: This website is simple and effective, and there’s no need to download or install anything to your phone. Start by selecting ingredients you already have on hand from several categories (such as meat, seasoning, and dairy). As you add available ingredients, SuperCook suggests recipes, updating results for each new item you include. From there you can narrow down your results by selecting type of meal you want to make, type of cuisine, and/or the star ingredient. If you want to save your ingredients and favorite recipes, you can make a profile.

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner: Allrecipes is available on multiple devices, including tablet and smartphone. You can find recipes by browsing through categories such as dietary restrictions, ingredients, cuisine type, meal type, season and cooking technique. Searching by ingredient allows you to set your parameters based on what you have available. The easiest search is with the “dinner spinner,” a tool that lets you quickly spin through a combination of options by dish type, ingredients on-hand, and how long before the meal is ready. You can save your recipes and ingredients by creating an account.

BigOven: This app lets you navigate and brainstorm in a number of ways. For instance, check out the Ideas section to browse through meal inspiration. There you’ll find categories like “Use Up Leftovers,” which curates recipes based on reusing ingredients. The Collections area includes recipe ideas for healthy breakfasts, healthy snacks, meat-free, soups, low-carb, and more. Most recipes come with nutritional facts that include the number of calories per serving. The Grocery List section allows you to sort by ingredient and keep tabs on what you’ll need to make a certain meal.

Indoor Exercises Geared Towards Seniors

According to Medicare  staying active – even if you’re exercising for only 15 minutes – can significantly improve senior health. For example, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that elderly adults who exercised spent 25% less time disabled or injured than those who did not. Physical activity can boost mood, add extra years to your life, help you maintain or lose weight, reduce the impact of illness and disease like Alzheimer’s, and enhance mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Exercise Videos: The National Institute on Aging at NIH has a great collection of free “Go4Life” exercise videos on YouTube.  Try these Go4Life workout videos to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.

Balance exercises – Balance training exercises strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright to improve stability and help prevent falls. Older adults at risk of falls should do balance training three or more days a week and do standardized exercises from a program demonstrated to reduce falls. These chair exercises, for example,  effectively assist elderly individuals to exercise and move without putting undo pressure or strain on their bodies.

SilverSneakers: Many Medicare Advantage recipients are eligible for a free gym membership through SilverSneakers. You can check your eligibility here. They are also currently offering free exercise videos geared towards seniors that can be done safely from inside your house on their Facebook page.

Need Cooking Supplies or Healthcare Equipment?

ILA offers many products that can be delivered right to your home to help stay healthy while obeying Social Distancing.

Kitchen and Cooking Aids: From slicing and dicing, measuring, cooking, to eating there is something for everyone. Most of these products are geared towards persons with visual impairments and therefore are also great for anyone safety conscious in the kitchen.

Healthcare: ILA sells a wide variety of healthcare products and aids, including talking scales, bathing and bathroom aids, glucose meters and diabetic aids, pill and medicine organizers, and much more.

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Coronavirus or Covid-19: A brief overview including information for the visually and/or hearing impaired

By now, everyone has heard of the coronavirus, otherwise referred to as covid-19. Affecting nearly every country worldwide, covid-19 has now reached pandemic status. ILA cares about the health and wellbeing of everyone whether a customer or not. This blog will look at a brief overview of how covid-19 came to be, where persons with vision or hearing issues can stay on top of the latest news during this pandemic, and lastly tips, assistance, and ideas on how to keep the boredom and doldrums away. Information contained in this blog is current as of March 21, 2020.

What is Covid-19?

The short answer, from the CDC factsheet, states: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The FDA elaborates a little on this stating: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses themselves are not new. According to the WHO: Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. It is believed that covid-19 originated in bats.

A different CDC article defines a pandemic as a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide. Covid-19 cases have been detected in most countries worldwide and community spread is being detected in a growing number of countries. On March 11, 2020 the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the WHO.

This is the first pandemic known to be caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus. In the past century, there have been four pandemics caused by the emergence of novel influenza viruses. As a result, most research and guidance around pandemics is specific to influenza, but the same premises can be applied to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to Date News Geared Towards the Visually and/or Hearing Impaired

Visually Impaired Resource: NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more. Anyone who cannot read printed publications due to vision loss, dyslexia, or a physical disability is eligible to receive NFB-NEWSLINE.  Please register by calling your state’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or the National Federation of the Blind at 866-504-7300 to request an application. You may also download and mail an application or complete the online application. After your registration is processed, you will receive a message containing your activation codes and instructions.

In response to the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Federation of the Blind has decided to provide up-to-date information to all eligible subscribers of the service.

COVID-19 updates are available in the “Breaking News” category of NFB-NEWSLINE. This information is being obtained by the system searching the thirty-four publications in the Breaking News category for “coronavirus” and displaying the results. This information will also be available for those few states that are currently not sponsored for the next sixty days starting Monday, March 16.

Access the coronavirus COVID-19 information using the telephone by pressing 5 from the main menu, then press 1 for the Breaking News category, followed by pressing the 1 key which will bring you to the virus information. If you are using the NFB-NEWSLINE mobile IOS app, look for the virus information under the “All Publications” section. The content can be accessed with Braille devices such as notetakers and refreshable Braille displays.

Hearing Impaired Resources: Most televisions come equipped with a closed captioning option built in which allows for a transcription of what is being spoken to be shown at the bottom of the television screen in live time. YouTube also has the ability to do closed captioning by clicking on the small square that has “CC” in it towards the bottom right hand corner of every video.  Many news channels, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have YouTube channels.

If you prefer news updates done in American Sign Language (ASL) the Daily Moth is a good option. The Daily Moth delivers news in video using American Sign Language. The deaf host, Alex Abenchuchan, covers trending news stories and deaf topics on new shows Monday-Fridays.

Tips, Assistance, and Ideas to Stay Busy

Tips: There are five steps recommended to take in order to help keep yourself as healthy as possible.

  1. Hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. It’s also a good idea to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  2. Elbow: Cough or sneeze into your elbow to help keep any germs from spreading to those around you. Another option is to cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  3. Face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Space: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. It is recommended to keep 6 feet between you and others. The common term for this is practicing social distancing.
  5. Home: Whenever possible stay home, especially if you’re sick or experiencing symptoms.

Assistance: If you need assistance finding food, paying house bills, or other essential services, use the search bar at the top of the 211 website to find your local 211 or dial 211 to speak to someone that can help.  This website can also assist in finding answers about covid-19, locating your local United Way, information on unemployment benefits, and various other resources that can be useful during the pandemic.

To learn what the Federal Government is doing in response to covid-19 by department visit the USA Coronavirus page for complete details.

Ideas to stay busy:  What’s there to do while stuck indoors? USA Today has compiled 100 suggestions to help make your time quarantined as interesting – and perhaps even as productive – as possible. Some of the many listed ideas include playing games, completing a puzzle, playing an instrument, learn a new language, meditate, read a book, finally clear out that junk drawer and the last item on the list is sleep. Some of the suggestions are more or less serious than others but should provide at least some entertainment just reading through the list.

Small kids at home? What Moms Love offers 87 energy busting indoor games and activities for kids (because cabin fever is no joke).  Not only are these games fun and entertaining but they help encourage and define gross motor skills which helps kids be better able to function in the world around them.

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March is National Save Your Vision Month

March has been designated as “National Save Your Vision Month” to promote eye health. This year’s focus deals primarily with digital strain (blue light) and ensuring that you get a regular routine eye exam by a certified optometrist.  We’ll also look at a few tips that should help ensure you keep your vision for as long as possible.

Digital Eye Strain

According to the North Carolina Optometric Society, Digital Eye Strain describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.

The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or working from home. To help alleviate digital eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet away.

The most common symptoms associated with digital eye strain include eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and should pain. These symptoms may be caused by poor lighting, glare on digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems, or a combination therein.

ILA sells many Reticare screen protectors to help ease eye strain caused by blue light emitted from digital screens. These protectors not only safeguard the screen of your electronic device, it protects your eyes from glare and toxic light emanating from the display of your device.  No matter what type device you utilize there is a screen protector available.

In addition to screen protectors, ILA offers many types of lighting choices to help alleviate eye strain due to poor lighting. One option is the OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp.  This Ottlite is a color changing LED desk lamp that offers 3 levels of lighting, from warm light to cool light to natural daylight. This lamp is an excellent choice for people trying to avoid the higher blue light Kelvin temperatures often found in most LED lamps.  With a choice of 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000 Kelvin temperatures, the user can use the lower settings and avoid the higher blue light choices.

Routine Eye Exams

Getting an eye exam once every one or two years can help identify vision problems early on and improve vision quality if you need prescription changes. Factors such as age, health, and a family history of vision problems may determine how often you need an eye exam. Many vision plans cover you for an annual comprehensive eye exam. Be sure to talk to your eye doctor to figure out how often your eyes need to be checked. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, they may recommend more frequent exams.

At the beginning of an eye exam, your eye doctor will ask for your medical history and if you have been experiencing any vision problems. If you currently have glasses or contacts, be sure to bring them to the exam so your eye doctor can see if you need prescription changes.

A comprehensive eye exam can take an hour or more, depending on the doctor and the number and complexity of tests required to fully evaluate your vision and the health of your eyes. A few of the routine eye and vision tests you are likely to encounter are visual acuity tests, color blindness test, cover test (where one eye is covered at a time), ocular motility testing (eye movements), stereopsis test (depth perception), retinoscopy, refraction, and glaucoma testing.

Information in this section was taken from Cigna and All About Vision.

Tips for Protecting Your Eye Health

It’s important to take steps to protect your sight. For 2020: Year of the Eye, the American Academy of Ophthalmology presents 20 tips to keep your eyes in top shape no matter what turns life takes. A quick overview from this list include good nutrition, wearing sunglasses, and wearing safety glasses to do dangerous tasks.

When it comes to diet more is learned every day about nutrition and eye health. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach contain vitamins that nurture nerve tissue inside the eye. Orange vegetables such as carrots and squash also boost eye health. A diet rich in plant-based foods and low in saturated or animal fats is best. It’s also important to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Nature is also good for our health, whether exercising or quietly taking in the beauty. Most risks to eyes come from sunlight and allergic reactions to pollen. Whenever you’re heading into the sun, wear sunglasses — even in the winter. There are many choices out there when it comes to sunglasses. For example, the NoIR SpectraShield medium amber sunglasses offer 100 percent ultraviolet protection and 15 percent light transmission. This general-purpose filter provides good glare protection.

Safety glasses or other protective eyewear can shield your eyes from many hazards at home, at work, or at play. In and around the house cooking, yard work or gardening, cleaning and home improvement projects top the list of potential eye hazards. Did you know oven sprays and bleach-based cleaners can permanently damage the surface of the eye?  In the garden, brimmed hats offer protection along with glasses to avoid getting poked in the eye by a twig or bush. Same goes for home improvement projects. Safety glasses can also be beneficial for people who work outdoors or with heavy equipment or chemicals which are all jobs that tend to get more injuries than office workers. Sports related injuries can also be curbed by utilizing this safety measure.

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Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Atomic Clock Accuracy

Daylight Saving Time brings with it the promise of upcoming spring and of longer days ahead. Typically, it begins the 2nd Sunday in March and ends the 1st Sunday in November. Its history is a bit convoluted and not everywhere in the world, or even in the United States, observe it.  This blog will discuss its history, where it is and isn’t observed, and conclude with how atomic clocks are able to stay accurate despite all of this.  Information included in this blog can be found at Time and Date, Web Exhibits, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

History of Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA

The United States first observed Daylight Saving Time in 1918. The US has observed DST for 103 years between 1918 and 2020. Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November. The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005. According to section 110 of the act, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) governs the use of DST. The law does not affect the rights of the states and territories that choose not to observe DST.

Historically, there were no uniform rules for DST from 1945 to 1966. This caused widespread confusion, especially in transport and broadcasting. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 aligned the switch dates across the USA for the first time. Following the 1973 oil embargo, the US Congress extended the DST period to 10 months in 1974 and 8 months in 1975, in an effort to save energy. After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the DST schedule in the US was revised several times. From 1987 to 2006, the country observed DST for about 7 months each year.

Observance of DST

In the U.S., clocks change at 2:00 a.m. local time. In spring, clocks spring forward from 1:59 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.; in fall, clocks fall back from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. In the EU, clocks change at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time.

For the U.S. and its territories, Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona. The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states.

A quick look at the history of observances in all 7 continents shows the following:

  • Africa: As of 2020 there are 2 countries in Africa that observe DST. There are 16 countries that no longer observe DST and 38 countries that have never observed DST.
  • Antarctica: There are no time zones or countries on this continent.
  • Asia: As of 2020 there are 7 countries that observe DST. There are 25 countries that no longer observe DST and 19 countries that have never observed DST.
  • Australia and Pacific: As of 2020 there are 5 countries in Australia and the Pacific that observe DST. There are 3 countries that no longer observe DST and 11 countries that have never observed DST.
  • Europe: As of 2020 there are 49 countries in Europe that observe DST. There are 5 countries that no longer observe DST and 1 country that never observed DST.
  • North America: As of 2020 there are 8 countries in North America that observe DST. There are 11 countries that no longer observe DST and 20 countries that have never observed DST.
  • South America: As of 2020 there are 2 countries in South America that observe DST. There are 7 countries that no longer observe DST and 5 countries that have never observed DST.

How do Atomic Clocks Stay Accurate During DST?

An atomic clock has an atomic oscillator inside (such as a cesium or rubidium oscillator). A radio-controlled clock has a radio inside, which receives a signal that comes from a place where an atomic clock is located.

In the United States, the signals received by radio-controlled clocks originate from NIST Radio Station WWVB, which is located near Fort Collins, Colorado. WWVB broadcasts on a frequency of 60 kHz. Your radio-controlled clock actually has a miniature radio receiver inside, which is permanently tuned to receive the 60 kHz signal.

At 60 kHz, there isn’t enough bandwidth to carry a voice or any type of audio information. Instead, all that is sent is a code, which consists of a series of binary digits, or bits, which have only two possible values (0 or 1). These bits are generated at WWVB by raising and lowering the power of the signal. They are sent at a very slow rate of 1 bit per second, and it takes a full minute to send a complete time code, or a message that tells the clock the current date and time. When you turn a radio-controlled clock on, it will probably miss the first-time code, so it usually takes more than one minute to set itself (sometimes 5 minutes or longer) depending on the signal quality and the receiver design.

Once your radio-controlled clock has decoded the signal from WWVB, it will synchronize its own clock to the message received by radio. Before it does so, it applies a time zone correction, based on the time zone setting that you supplied. After it has synchronized, it won’t decode the signal from WWVB again for a while. Most clocks only decode the signal once per day, but some do it more often (for example, every 6 hours). Those that decode the signal just once per day usually do it at midnight or in the very early hours of the morning, because the signal is easiest to receive when it is dark at both WWVB and at the site where the clock is located. In between synchronizations, the clocks keep time using their quartz crystal oscillators.

When working properly, radio-controlled clocks always display the correct time, down to the exact second. This means that you should never have to adjust them. During the transition from standard time to daylight saving time (DST) they “spring forward” one hour, and when DST is finished, they “fall back” one hour. If you live in an area that does not observe DST there is likely a toggle switch on your clock to turn the DST option off. If no toggle switch exists, it may be necessary to change the time zone for which your clock sets itself to in order to allow the correct synchronization of time.

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