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Ethnic Elders and Medicare Options

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By Linnie Frank Bailey –

Henry Romero, President and Owner of Riverside-based HR Benefits Consulting says seniors from ethnic communities need to consider the diseases that plaque their families when deciding on Medicare options. As an example, he points to high hypertension rates in the African-American community, and the prevalence of diabetes among Hispanics. He cautions, “African-Americans have to look at the treatment costs for high-blood pressure which can lead to stroke, heart, and kidney disease. And Latino seniors really need to look at which option has the best coverage for the medicines required to treat diabetes and its complications.”

Romero says ethnic elders must look at their individual health situation before evaluating the pros and cons of employer- sponsored plans, traditional fee-for-service Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Prescription Drug plans. Factors to consider include:

• What are the monthly premiums and co-pays, or upfront costs?
• What is the deductible?
• What treatments are included with the medical coverage?
• What are the costs for the drugs I might need?
• Which Doctors are in the network?
• Which hospitals accept the plan?
• What is the service area?

“Everyone’s situation is different,” says Romero. “You have to do your homework. You can’t simply go with the Medicare option your friend, family member, or neighbor goes with.” Linnie Frank Bailey wrote this article as part of the New America Media-administered California Wellness Foundation 2010 fellowship program on Health and Environmental Health for ethnic media journalists.

The Gift of Family Time

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Strengthening family ties during the holidays and beyond

By Kris Perry, Executive Director, First 5 California –

We all have such busy schedules that it can be a challenge to find time to spend together as a family. Although many African Americans get together once a year for a traditional family reunion, which often times includes extended family, frequent and consistent quality family time is important throughout the year because when parents learn and play with their children every day, it boosts a child’s selfesteem and helps kids develop positive relationships. Even 10 to 30 minutes of one-on-one time per day is a good start, as long as it’s part of a regular routine. Young children will benefit from the love and attention they receive during these precious moments.

This holiday season, First 5 California encourages parents as well as grandparents and caregivers to give the gift of quality time. By planning educational and nurturing activities everyone can enjoy together, families can set up healthy routines that last through the holidays and well into the New Year.

• Start a tradition. Plan a family meal at least once a week - - even more often if you can.

Eating together provides a wonderful opportunity to talk with your children about their day and show them that they are your top priority. Get kids involved by giving them age-appropriate tasks like setting the table, tossing the salad and cleaning up.

This holiday season is a good time to start an African American Kwanzaa tradition. Create activities for your children around the seven Kwanzaa principles which are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The Kwanzaa tradition calls for the youngest child to light candles each day and discuss one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Some families create an art piece to represent the principles. Kwanzaa is a great opportunity to be creative, to involve the whole family and to increase self-esteem in African American chi ldren about their cultural heritage.

• Open a book daily. Help your child’s imagination soar by reading favorite stories together. Point out fun things you see in picture books and let your toddler turn the pages.

• Host a weekly family fun night. On cold or rainy days, turn off the TV and computer, and get creative. Set up a row of chairs and role-play as a bus driver or train conductor; enjoy a game of musical chairs; or use everyday items like cardboard boxes, glue and cotton balls to create pieces of art.

• Take a field trip. Visit the zoo, local museums and libraries to learn about animals, interesting historical facts and other educational topics. Make sure to call ahead and find out if there’s a kids’ day, and ask if free or discounted tickets are available.

• Go outside for physical activity. Go for a walk, play catch, ride bikes around the neighborhood or visit the park. It’s a chance to spend time together as well as squeeze in a healthy dose of active play!

• Make every moment count . Above all , use every moment together to learn from and listen to your child, even when taking care of every day errands. Young children love to help -- take your kids grocery shopping and let them pick out fruits and vegetables while you ask about favorite foods. When driving, point to colors and shapes, and ask your child to count trees or read simple signs.

Remember, spending quality time with your children this holiday season is a priceless gift – your time and attention cost nothing and mean everything.

For more information on promoting your child’s healthy development, visit www.first5california.com/parents.

Community Briefs

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Canine Christmas at Jessie Turner Center

The Mayor and City Council invite the public to celebrate a Canine Christmas with their four-legged friends on Saturday, December 4, at the Jessie Turner Health & Fitness Center as they host a Canine Christmas from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. This is the perfect opportunity to bring your canine out to enjoy a morning full of pictures and treats.

Attendees will receive a special visit from Old Saint Nick.

Participants are also asked to bring their own camera to capture the special holiday moments.

Come and experience the Jessie Turner Health & Fitness Community Center at Fontana Park. This 43,000 square foot, community center serves as a regional facility designed to meet the needs of the community with unique programming and classes to benefit the active lifestyles of residents. The center features an indoor gymnasium, dedicated fitness gym, dance/aerobics room, multi-purpose room, technology center, a spacious 4,689 sq. ft. banquet room, and a small meeting room.

For more information about Canine Christmas or other upcoming events, please call (909) 854-5100 or visit jt.fontana.org

Cold Weather Kills – Cold Alert

County Fire Department, Volunteer Center of Riverside County and American Red Cross have partnered to open Warm Centers countywide to provide a safe, warm place for individuals to escape the cold temperatures during the winter months of December through March.

The following two levels of assistance and support for people during winter months will be provided:

Cold Advisory - issued by the Department of Public Health after contact with the National Weather Service when temperature forecasts are expected to reach 40° - for at least three (3) hours. Recommendations for avoiding heat related emergencies are the following: Drink warm fluids; Keep your home warmturn on your heater; Wear several thin layers of clothing; Move family pets indoors out of the elements; Know the location of the nearest Warm Center, should your home heating system fail.

Cold Warning - issued by the Department of Public Health after contact with the National Weather Service when the forecast anticipates temperatures of 40°- for three to five consecutive days. When Cold Warnings are issued, Warm Centers will be opened to the public, especially for those individuals more susceptible to the cold such as the elderly. Warm Centers can be activated beginning December 1, 2010.

Warm Centers are located throughout Riverside County. Warm Centers will provide some snacks and activities as well as resource and transportation information.

Seniors, low-income individuals and families are encouraged to go to a warm center.

The Cold Advisories and Cold Warnings will be disseminated through print and electronic media including television, radio and newspapers and through community and faith-based organizations.

A Hotline has been activated to obtain information on home measures to implement to stay warm and safe, Warm Center locations, hours and general information.

The Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Energy Crisis Hotline 1-888-636-8676 , TTY 951 955- 5126 or for General Information call 2-1-1 ( 24 hrs/day) or visit www.capriverside.org

Wiggins Debuts Christmas CD

Extraordinary singer Karen Wiggins will release her debut Christmas CD at Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1583 West Union St. San Bernardino, CA 92411 on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 5:12 p.m. She invites the public to attend and join her and friends as they bring in the season that celebrates the birth of Christ.

SCE Provides A Holiday Shopping Gift Guide Of Energy Efficient Products

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Southern California Edison (SCE) has a reminder for customers shopping for holiday gifts. Items that plug in have two costs: the cost to buy them, and the cost to run them. The more energy efficient an electronic device or appliance is, the less its owner will have to spend to use it.

To help navigate the dizzying choices of electronics and appliances, SCE created a downloadable gift guide, which can be found at www.sce.com/shopping.

In addition, SCE is holding a sweepstakes for two HD ENERGY STAR-labeled televisions.

All eligible California residents who pledge to “Be an Outlet for Change” by unplugging electronics, using energy-saving surge protectors and choosing ENERYSTAR- qualified devices are able to win prizes. Each week through Dec. 31, 10 winners will receive either a solar powered cell phone charger or an energy-saving surge protector. Grand prize winners of the two HD TVs will be selected in early January 2011. To learn more or to enter the sweepstakes, visit www.sce.com/change.

“It’s our mission to help our customers make smart energy decisions – this season and beyond,” said Gene Rodrigues, SCE’s director of Customer Energy Efficiency and Solar.

“The ENERGY STAR icon is an easy way to identify the most efficient products that help save money, energy and the environment.” The SCE gift guide includes the following energy-saving tips:

• ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs use about 40 percent less energy than standard units. The most energy efficient models are liquid crystal display TVs with light-emitting diode (LED) screens. The average cost to run a 50-inch ENERGY STAR-labeled TV is more than $46 per year; the same sized plasma TV without the ENERGY STAR costs about $92 per year, nearly twice as much.

• DVD players and combination TV/DVD units account for the greatest portion of “standby” electricity consumed in homes – approximately 35 percent.

(Standby power is the electricity used by a device when it is off or in sleep mode.) ENERGY STAR-rated players use as little as one-fourth of the standby energy of standard models.

• Holiday light strings with LED bulbs cost a fraction of the price to operate as light strings with incandescent bulbs, and they’re safer because they emit almost no heat.

• The average American household spends $100 a year to power electronic devices while they’re off or in standby mode. (That’s more than $10 billion annually in wasted energy costs.) Energy-saving surge protectors or “smart strips” can help by automatically turning off the power to electronics when not in use.

• Ninety percent of the energy used in operating a washing machine goes toward heating the water that will wash and rinse the clothes. Water-saving models can cut water and energy use by more than 40 percent. The most energy-efficient washers are front-loading models, which use about a third of the water to wash the same amount of clothes.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Elects Leadership for the 112th Congress

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) recently announced the unanimous election of its leadership for the 112th Congress. In elections held this past week, the CHC elected Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20) as Chair, Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) as 1st Vice Chair, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) as 2nd Vice Chair, and Congressman Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) as Whip.

"I am proud of what the CHC accomplished these past two years," said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, current Chair of the CHC. "Through investments in education, targeted assistance to small businesses and passage of the Recovery Act, we have fostered job growth while creating greater economic opportunity for Latinos. The historic healthcare legislation expanded access to quality care, extending coverage to 8.8 million Latinos. Equally important, last year, we passed a critical milestone with the appointment of the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court. The CHC leadership team elected today will build on these successes, further advancing an agenda that benefits the entire Hispanic community."

"I'm honored to have the support of my colleagues to lead the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 112th Congress," said Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, the Chair-elect of the CHC.

"Hispanics continue to be the fastest growing minority group in the U.S and the CHC is faced with unique challenges and opportunities to work together to find a common ground for real solutions. As we rebuild our economy, create the much needed jobs, and build a world-class education system for our children, the CHC will continue to represent the Latino communities in order to create a strong and inclusive nation that values hard work and dedication to family. Every American strives for freedom and a chance to build a better life, and we are dedicated to ensuring the same opportunities are available to our Latino communities."

"I am honored to have been elected 1st Vice Chair to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I, along with my colleagues in the CHC, will continue to work on the issues that affect our Latino community in the 112th Congress," said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, 1st Vice Chair-elect.

"Together, CHC members will follow our new Chair, Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, in our commitment to finding solutions to the problems facing our Hispanic communities. I look forward to serving in my capacity as the 1st Vice Chair of the CHC and as a U.S. Congressman. We will all work vigorously to address the challenges that face Latino families today."

"I am I honored to be elected as the 2nd Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the 112th Congress," said Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, 2nd Vice Chair-elect. "Our nation is facing a number of challenges.

I am humbled my colleagues have entrusted me with this position. I look forward to working on issues of importance to the Hispanic community including empowering students through educational opportunities, strengthening small businesses and our middle class, and looking out for our seniors and veterans."

"I am honored to serve as the Whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus," said Congressman Dennis Cardoza, the Whip-elect.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the most pressing issues facing the Hispanic community.

Additionally, I look forward to this unique platform from which I can advocate the moderate values, and the unique challenges and needs, of those I represent in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley of California."

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BVN National News Wire