Boomers benefit from hearing aids as they stay in the workforce longer

  • Written by ARA

1615171_webLet’s face it. The Great Recession put a kink in many Americans’ retirement plans. Combine that financial blow with the general uncertainty regarding Medicare and the future cost of private health insurance.

As a result, more boomers are staying in the workforce longer. In fact, between 2006 and 2016 the number of older people in the workforce is expected to soar, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Workers between the ages of 55 and 64 are expected to increase by 36.5 percent; the number of workers between 65 and 74 is expected to climb by 83.4 percent, and even the number of workers who are 75 and older is expected to grow by 84.3 percent. By 2016, the BLS says, workers age 65 and over are expected to make up 6.1 percent of the total labor force – a steep jump from their 3.6 percent share in 2006.

So what does this mean for individuals? It means people need to do what they can to age productively. It means they need to take charge of their health – including their hearing health – so they can maximize their chances for success on the job. Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s important that boomers routinely get their hearing checked – and that they address any hearing loss so it doesn’t undermine their efforts on the job or their quality of life.

Gone are the days of ignoring hearing difficulties. There are no more excuses. And given the technological advances of modern hearing aids, and the compelling data that illustrate the downside of leaving hearing loss unaddressed, there’s only one reasonable course of action. Maturing workers should be getting their hearing checked. And if there is hearing loss, they should discuss with their hearing healthcare provider whether or not hearing aids could help.

Consider this: More than 34 million Americans suffer from hearing loss – about 11 percent of the U.S. population – and 60 percent of them are below retirement age, according to the Better Hearing Institute ( Research shows that the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. Those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss who use hearing aids are twice as likely to be employed as their peers who do not use hearing aids. And three out of four hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life due to wearing hearing aids. The vast majority of people with hearing loss, in fact, could benefit from hearing aids.

More good news: Today’s employers recognize the changing demographics of the modern aging workforce and increasingly are making efforts to hold onto their older workers. Employers value the experience that mature employees bring to the job – along with the strong work ethic and other positive attributes that older workers tend to possess.

More and more companies, in fact, engage in workplace wellness programs to help keep their employees in good health. And hearing health –including hearing checks – is increasingly included in these programs.

“Never before has good hearing been so important - or so attainable,” says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute. “When people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase their earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve their professional and interpersonal relationships, and stave off depression.

“I urge anyone planning to stay in the workforce longer to take that first, most critical step to optimizing your hearing health and enhancing your chances for career success by taking a confidential, online hearing check at It will help you determine if you may need a more thorough hearing test by a hearing health professional,” Kochkin continues. “Your hearing health and continued job success are within your control.”

Americas Youth Fitness Test gets a makeover

  • Written by ARA

15424705_webMore than two decades after its last update, the physical fitness test many of us did in school is getting a makeover. Just in time for the new school year, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) announced that the former Physical Fitness Test is now the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, and that it will focus primarily on assessing health versus athleticism for America’s youth.

Since less than one in five youth get the exercise they need and high rates of childhood obesity are sweeping the nation, PCFSN and its partners recognize the importance of motivating children to get active, whether through sports or physical activity on the playground, in the park or in the backyard. Research shows nearly one in three children are overweight and one in six are considered obese. These numbers can have a major effect as youth grow into adults. Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

As a school district administrator in one of the largest school districts in the country, the move from recognizing athletic performance to health-based standards is a crucial step forward. These standards provide a guide for what a healthy student should be able to do based on age and gender. They emphasize personal fitness goals and minimize comparisons between children. It isn’t about who is the fastest or the strongest. It is about healthy kids and lifelong physical activity.

Since 1966, the Youth Fitness Test has been used to assess physical fitness. The updated program will now provide training and resources to schools for assessing, tracking and recognizing youth health-related fitness. Support available to all schools includes Web-based access to test protocol, standards for testing, calculators for aerobic capacity and body composition (BMI), promotion of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+), online training, school recognition programs and more. Schools and districts can also purchase additional resources, such as data management, reporting software and testing aids, to enhance the program.

Changes to the Presidential Youth Fitness Program were developed in partnership with experts in health promotion and youth fitness including the Amateur Athletic Union, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cooper Institute.

To learn more about the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, visit www.residential This article appears on behalf of the President’s Council of Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, which resides within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

By: Dr. Jayne Greenberg, district director of physical education and health literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Fla.) and President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Council Member

Keep food safe in your kitchen with these tips

  • Written by ARA

How safe is your kitchen? It’s a question you should always be asking yourself.

The majority of Americans find food safety important both at restaurants and in their own kitchen, according to new National Restaurant Association research. America’s restaurants serve 130 million customers each day, making the restaurant industry a critical component of the food safety universe. The industry has a long-standing commitment to food safety as there is nothing more important than the health and safety of guests. Almost all consumers say it is important to them to know that the restaurants they visit train employees in food safety.

When it comes to cooking at home, virtually all consumers say they have at least basic knowledge of food safety. Sixty-three percent say they are aware of proper food safety practices and always follow them, while 33 percent say they are familiar with some food safety practices and follow those when they can.

In order to prevent foodborne illness, avoiding cross-contamination is essential. When cooking at home, remember to follow these tips from food safety experts at the National Restaurant Association:

1. Wash your hands: Hand-washing is the first defense against cross-contamination. Wash your hands before handling any food and always after handling raw meat.

2. Touch nothing but your food: Don’t rub your nose, touch your hair or cough into your hand while preparing food, as germs from anything you touch can be transferred onto food.

3. Keep foods apart: Don’t store raw meats next to or above ready-to-eat foods in your fridge and use different utensils, knives, cutting boards and prep surfaces for raw and cooked food. A good way to remember which is which is to use different colored cutting boards, for example red for meats and green for vegetables.

4. Treat friends with food allergies to a safe meal: Take extra care to prep dishes for guests with food allergies, as it’s not enough to simply pick the item in question off a dish. Prepare the dish separately from other food, including using separate cutting boards and utensils.

September is National Food Safety Month, with an annual campaign to heighten awareness about the importance of food safety education.

This year’s National Food Safety Month theme is Be Safe, Don’t Cross-Contaminate, providing tips and education on preventing the transferring of germs from one surface to another.

National Food Safety Month highlights components of the NRA’s ServSafe Food Safety program - the leading source of food safety training and certification for restaurant and foodservice industry professionals for nearly 40 years.

While the campaign is held each September, remember that food safety is critical year-round and should be practiced every day. For more information and free resources, visit

Certified Nurse Midwife for Life

  • Written by Snoqualmie Valley Midwife

More and more women are seeking midwives for care during pregnancy and for birth. It is not a surprise since worldwide research has demonstrated midwifery care to be associated with higher satisfaction and healthier mothers and babies. Midwives are the experts in normal and acknowledge that being pregnant and birthing is something women are designed to do. What many are not aware of is that a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is qualified not only to care for pregnant and birthing women, but also to provide ongoing care for women through all their life cycles.

In Washington, CNMs are also Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNP). ARNPs are independent health care professionals. CNM, ARNPs are qualified to provide women’s health care including annual exams, family planning, preconception counseling, problem visits for menstrual irregularities, infection checks, etc. Generally, CNM, ARNP visits are longer with more time devoted to listening, teaching and strategizing for improving and maintaining vibrant health and well being.

Listening is the cornerstone of midwifery practice. Midwives are fully aware of the importance of each individual’s beliefs and values and acknowledge each individual as the expert in their personal feelings and experiences. Midwives realize the value of forming a trusting relationship to support quality care-giving.  Therefore, listening as one shares their perceptions promotes a chance to sort through one’s thoughts and feelings to be able to identify what the real issues are at any given time.

Teaching is another emphasis midwives have. Midwives believe in the importance of presenting evidence-based information. Midwives want to help dispel beliefs and practices which do not promote health and well being. Midwives provide information on the risks and benefits of options so that a decision can be made. Midwives approach health from a holistic perspective and often include alternative health care  information.

Perhaps the most important aspect of midwifery care is strategizing how to achieve and maintain vibrant health. It is often said, we know what to do to be healthy but somehow simply knowing what to do does not make it happen. Through the in- depth communication of an individual with her midwife, barriers can be identified and steps can be determined to lead to the path of vibrancy. In addition, knowing someone is both invested in one’s success and supporting all of one’s efforts makes a huge difference.

If the description above is not the way you receive your women’s health care at this time, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with a CNM, ARNP. And remember CNM care is for all your life cycles.

Creative and healthier after school snack ideas

  • Written by ARA

When school starts, kids’ schedules fill up fast, and that means they need the right fuel to keep their growing bodies and minds satisfied. After a long day of learning, kids require a snack that will get them through homework, after-school sports and other activities until dinner is served. Before you reach for the default bag of chips, consider these healthier alternatives that are just as easy and convenient.

Creative, healthier after-school snack ideas that your kids will gobble up:

1. Refresh with frozen apple sauce

Apple sauce has been a snacking staple for years, but now you can add a little excitement to those prepackaged apple packs. Simply buy Tree Top apple sauce cups, made with 100 percent USA apples, and place them in the freezer for a tasty treat similar to sorbet, and a healthier alternative to most ice cream and frozen snacks. Kids can grab them on their own when they get home from school so mom and dad don’t have to lift a finger. Stock up on Tree Top apple juice boxes, too, for a complementary, easy grab-and-go drink option.

2. Delight in dip

It’s no secret kids love to dip, so make after-school snacking more interesting by providing dip along with fresh fruit, veggies and crackers. Instead of salad dressing, change things up by mixing a single serve apple sauce cup with two tablespoons of peanut butter for a healthier dip alternative. Watch as your little ones wolf down their carrots, celery, apples, pretzels and more. Parents love that this dip option has many nutritional benefits - the apple sauce in it is a good source of vitamin C and peanut butter is packed with protein.

3. Wrap it up

Keeping whole wheat tortillas on hand is a smart move for any parent because they are extremely versatile. When kids come home from school hungry, it’s easy to take a tortilla and fill it with their favorite nutritious fillings. For example, spread with classic peanut butter and jelly, add some banana and honey, or fill with turkey and mozzarella for a satisfying snack that keeps kids focused through all their homework.

4. Happily hydrated

Making sure your kids are hydrated is an important part of keeping them healthy and feeling great each day. When kids are busy at school and with after-school activities, they can become dehydrated quickly. Instead of sugary sodas, choose a more nutritious alternative like Tree Top reduced sugar 100 percent fruit juices. These tasty and refreshing drinks are made with hydrating coconut water and no artificial sweeteners and have 25 percent less sugar than regular 100 percent juices.

5. A smooth finish to the school day

Smoothies are a fun way for kids to get a ton of nutrients in one single drink. It’s easy for parents to stock up on frozen fruit at the local grocery store. Then, when kids get home, they can choose what flavors they want and you can blend the fruit with low-fat milk, yogurt and ice for a cool and delicious drink. You might even sneak in a few veggies by adding a splash of vegetable juice, or a couple pre-steamed vegetables like carrots, kale or squash. The fruit flavors are so robust, your kids won’t even notice the veggies.

Healthy after-school snacks don’t have to be boring or bland. Try these ideas and you can feel good about what your kids eat - they may love them so much they’ll be requesting them every day.