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Updated: 22 min 28 sec ago

Railway Emergency Training Keeps Responders on Track

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:10pm
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(NewsUSA) - A train rumbling down the tracks is an iconic part of America's landscape. For many, it represents economic empowerment -- a way for businesses to efficiently transport goods to market. America's increased energy production offers a good example of how rail is contributing to a growing economy. Though still a relatively small part of overall rail traffic, crude oil has increased as a percentage of rail cargo, and oil trains have become more common.

Though rail is one of the safest ways to transport crude oil, the addition of that cargo brings inherent risks.

This is a heightened concern for the Twin Cities, for instance, where six trains with 100 or more crude oil tank cars pass through every day. In the unlikely event of a derailment, local officials told the Minnesota Star-Tribune that "to fight a significant oil-train fire, local fire departments would need help from railroad emergency crews."

This is why BNSF Railway, a regional crude hauler, has created a free railroad hazmat-response training program. To date, the company has provided training to more than 65,000 emergency responders, or about 4,000 local emergency responders per year.

"It is in our interest to prevent any accident and injury, which is why we invest so much in safety," said BNSF Railway spokeswoman Amy McBeth.

While BNSF Railway's program has been in place for almost two decades, the railway understands that more can be done and the program can always be redefined and updated.

BNSF has specialized equipment and hazmat responders staged across its network to deal with hazmat and crude oil incidents, including firefighting and spill cleanup, more than 250 trained hazmat responders at 60 locations and a geographic information system for emergency incidents that enables the company to quickly identify emergency responders closest to any incident along one of its lines.

In addition, the company has developed and shared geographic response plans with state and local emergency response organizations in many areas and has also provided a computer-based emergency-response training program on hazardous materials to every fire department within two miles of its rail lines.

BNSF's desire to raise awareness about emergency response and to train first responders comes at a time when Congress, the Federal Railroad Administration, railways and tank car manufacturers are all studying rail safety to ensure transportation of crude by rail is as safe as possible.

For more information, visit www.bnsf.com.

Medical Cannabis Is Growing Like, Well, a Weed

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 12:45pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - United Cannabis Corporation was founded to advance the use of CBD's, or cannabidiols, in medicine through research, product development and education. The Company is dedicated to improving the lives of patients through the creation of products using only the highest quality genetics, purest extractions and most effective protocols possible. The Company's A.C.T. Now Program and patent pending Prana Bio Nutrient Medicinals provide a comprehensive solution, designed to enable physicians and patients to design, implement and monitor effective therapy protocols.

To provide patented and cutting-edge pharmaceutical CBD formulations, United Cannabis (UCANN) has entered into exclusive and long-term contracts with Dr. Brent Reynolds, currently a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Florida, and Dr. Dennis Steindler Senior Scientist, director of the neuroscience and aging lab at Tufts University, as chief medical advisors to run and manage discovery, research and development for UCANN.

Its primary focus is to explore the medical applications of CBD's. UCANN entered into a consulting contract with doctors Brent A. Reynolds Ph.D. and Dennis A. Steindler Ph.D., pursuant to which they will act as UCANN's research and development team to establish evidence of CBD-based medical efficacy and creation of Intellectual Property (IP) on medically efficient CBD-based products. Both are employed by division-one universities and run their respective departments. UCANN will own all the inventions or discoveries coming from the contractual relationship.

Drs. Reynolds and Steindler have a record of patent protection and product development. Jointly, they have published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Reviews Cancer, Cell and Cancer Research. The Doctors hold 19 granted U.S. patents, have founded several biotechnology companies and have developed products that are currently in the marketplace. Their experience in basic discovery and translating this into protected technology will allow UCANN to leverage its existing technology platform with the objective of producing unique and effective cannabinoid medications.

As a result of the doctors' work so far, 14 unique provisional patents related to the unique combinations of pharmaceutically active CBD's used to treat disorders of the nervous system, immune system and cancer with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The doctors continue to work with United Cannabis to further development of CBD's designed to combat a wide range of ailments that plague humans and animals.

6 Myths About Pet Allergies

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 10:20am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - By gaining a better understanding of the allergies caused by pets, you may be able to find a healthier coexistence with your furry friend.

According to The Humane Society, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. Yet, an estimated 31 million Americans are allergic to animals, including up to 30 percent of those who have asthma. Here's what you should know about pet allergies:

Myth 1: It's only pet hair that causes allergies to flare up.

Not true. Pet hair is a nuisance and causes allergies, as it contains saliva or other pet proteins. Allergic reactions to pets are actually caused by pet proteins contained in pet dander, such as microscopic skin flakes, saliva and urine. Overactive immune systems in those with allergies attack these otherwise harmless substances.

Myth 2: Continuous exposure to animals will eventually desensitize you to them.

Not only is this not true, but in some cases the opposite is true. If you have a confirmed allergy to animals, it usually will not get better through increasing exposure. In fact, it may get worse.

Myth 3: With the right pet breed, allergy problems go away.

Not true. All cat or dog breeds produce dander. However, some breeds are believed to be better for allergy sufferers than other breeds. Typically the best breeds are those that shed the least fur and/or are the most frequently bathed. Also, smaller dogs produce less saliva than do bigger dogs.

Myth 4: Small animals are not a problem for allergies.

Wrong. Hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and other warm-blooded mammals can also trigger asthma and allergies in people with allergies to animal dander, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Myth 5: Outside the home, you shouldn't have pet allergies.

Not necessarily. Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet allergens easily stick to clothing and other fabrics and are carried to other locations. Animal dander -- in sufficient levels to cause allergies -- can be found in many public places such as the workplace, classrooms and hospitals, according to the American Lung Association.

Myth 6: An air purifier will help with pet allergies.

It depends on the air purifier. Only a high-performance air purifier can help. Some allergy sufferers report that small, low-quality air cleaners make little or no difference at all. However, many allergy sufferers report that their IQAir air purifier, in combination with improved cleaning methods, has reduced or completely eliminated their allergic reactions to pets in their homes.

For more information, visit the IQAir website at www.iqair.com.

6 Common Myths About Pet Allergies

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:50pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - By gaining a better understanding of the allergies caused by pets, you may be able to find a healthier coexistence with your furry friend.

According to The Humane Society, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. Yet, an estimated 31 million Americans are allergic to animals, including up to 30 percent of those who have asthma. Here's what you should know about pet allergies:

Myth 1: It's only pet hair that causes allergies to flare up.

Not true. Pet hair is a nuisance and causes allergies, as it contains saliva or other pet proteins. Allergic reactions to pets are actually caused by pet proteins contained in pet dander, such as microscopic skin flakes, saliva and urine. Overactive immune systems in those with allergies attack these otherwise harmless substances.

Myth 2: Continuous exposure to animals will eventually desensitize you to them.

Not only is this not true, but in some cases the opposite is true. If you have a confirmed allergy to animals, it usually will not get better through increasing exposure. In fact, it may get worse.

Myth 3: With the right pet breed, allergy problems go away.

Not true. All cat or dog breeds produce dander. However, some breeds are believed to be better for allergy sufferers than other breeds. Typically the best breeds are those that shed the least fur and/or are the most frequently bathed. Also, smaller dogs produce less saliva than do bigger dogs.

Myth 4: Small animals are not a problem for allergies.

Wrong. Hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and other warm-blooded mammals can also trigger asthma and allergies in people with allergies to animal dander, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Myth 5: Outside the home, you shouldn't have pet allergies.

Not necessarily. Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet allergens easily stick to clothing and other fabrics and are carried to other locations. Animal dander -- in sufficient levels to cause allergies -- can be found in many public places such as the workplace, classrooms and hospitals, according to the American Lung Association.

Myth 6: An air purifier will help with pet allergies.

It depends on the air purifier. Only a high-performance air purifier can help. Some allergy sufferers report that small, low-quality air cleaners make little or no difference at all. However, many allergy sufferers report that their IQAir air purifier, in combination with improved cleaning methods, has reduced or completely eliminated their allergic reactions to pets in their homes.

For more information, visit the IQAir website at www.iqair.com.

5 Things You Don't Know About Superbugs

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:47pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - The news is full of headlines about the flu, CRE and the measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infections have doubled in recent years. If you or a loved one needs to go to the hospital, how do you avoid contracting a deadly infection?

There's no disputing the facts -- infections are caused by microorganisms like C.diff, MRSA, VRE, CRE and norovirus. These antibiotic-resistant germs lurk on high-touch surfaces in hospitals and health care facilities -- and some, like C.diff, can live for months on bedrails and tray tables. With new and deadlier viruses and bacteria emerging everyday, what do you need to know to avoid getting sick?

1. Superbugs are everywhere inside hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and even surgery centers. Research shows that even after the most thorough manual cleaning, 50 percent of the surfaces in a room are still contaminated enough to cause infection.

2. Do you need that antibiotic? Is it the right one? Don't use antibiotics for viral ailments, and don't insist on them for children's viral infections. C.diff reproduction in a patient's intestines is aided by broad-spectrum antibiotics and proton-pump inhibitors.

3. Be prepared, and carefully research the hospital where you are being treated. Look at the hospital's patient safety record. A good resource is www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. Look at its infection rates -- available at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

4. Hand hygiene may save your life. When you are in the hospital, follow hand-hygiene protocol carefully, and make sure every health care worker (such as doctors and nurses) washes their hands before they touch the patient.

5. Superbugs can be destroyed before they harm patients. Properly disinfecting a patient room with a Xenex germ-zapping robot adds only 10 minutes to room turnover time, and hospitals using Xenex UV light robots are reporting significant decreases in their hospital acquired infection rates. If you or a loved one is going to the hospital, make sure the room has been properly disinfected. Insist on only going to a hospital that uses Xenex germ-zapping robots to disinfect its rooms.

New antibiotics may be part of the solution for solving the superbug crisis, but getting the germs out of the patient environment before they make people sick is what can and should be done right now. It only takes a matter of minutes -- and it may save your life. Visit www.xenex.com to learn more.

4 Surprising Tips You Need to Know Before Buying or Selling a House

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 4:02pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Insider tips -- who doesn't love a good (legal) one?

And when it comes to buying or selling a house, it turns out some of the very best -- ones that can translate into big bucks -- are those maybe only someone with Brian Williams' imagination would think of.

Want to know why, for example, Starbucks may be the greatest predictor of home-value appreciation? Read on.

* March is the most profitable month. For sellers, that is. According to Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow.com, who mined his site's database of millions of homes in co-authoring the newly released "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate," properties listed then sold faster and fetched 2 percent higher than average.

Buyers, on the other hand, catch a break in December when even New York owners are apparently so demoralized by the cold that they're willing to part with their homes for 2.8 percent less during the second week of the month.

"You shouldn't list your house for sale before March Madness or after the Masters (in April)," says Rascoff.

* Your real estate agent's gender matters. Women, because they're "more willing to negotiate," tend to close deals faster, research suggests. But sellers take note: If you can hold out, men -- stubborn devils that they are -- are often better at getting the original asking price.

* A new roof is a sure-fire way to boost a home's resale value. Forget kitchen remodeling. "You could spend a fortune, and it still might not suit prospective buyers' tastes," explains Patsy O'Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby's in Montclair, New Jersey.

Replacing an unsightly roof with a spiffy new one -- better for that all-important "curb appeal" -- was one of the very few projects singled out in Remodeling magazine's new annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2015, rising a chart-topping 5.9 percent over even last year's double-digit increase.

In fact, says O'Neill -- and, sellers, pay close attention to the psychology here -- if your current roof really is an eyesore, buyers will be "predisposed" to find a zillion other things they hate about your place. Ergo, those craving the look of luxury at affordable prices should check out the Value Collection Lifetime Designer Shingles from GAF (www.gaf.com), North America's largest roofing manufacture.

* The Starbucks Effect. Don't laugh. When Rascoff was checking his data, he discovered that, lo and behold, homes within a quarter mile of a Starbucks had appreciated 31 percent more -; 96 percent vs. 65 percent -; over the last 17 years than others nationwide.

"Is it that Starbucks is really great at picking locations, or is that Starbucks is sort of an omen of gentrification?" he writes. "It's a little of each."

BrainStormers: Backyard DIY Inventors Tackle Weather, Test Ingenuity

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 3:59pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - For over 30 years, The Weather Channel has inspired viewers to explore, investigate and appreciate how it's amazing out there by providing the latest weather information for the modern era. The network continues to explore this connection with its newest original primetime series, "BrainStormers," where weather will be both the teacher and the enemy.

The series follows three backyard inventors, Rob "Poppy" Parker, Ryan Parker (a father, son duo) and Bill LeVasseur (Ryan's best friend), who channel their inner MacGyver by building and testing inventions that either fight inclement weather or harness its power for everyday use -- while on a budget.

From their Colorado-based workshop, the three men test their ingenuity and tackle weather issues by repurposing what some may consider junk. Sometimes the builds required our BrainStormers to start from scratch, and other times they were called upon to help other backyard inventors improve their projects. Every build comes with its own unique set of challenges, from creating a homemade mosquito trap or solar water heater to fixing a nearby town's wind generator.

Here are some of the creative inventions you can expect to see on "BrainStormers":

* A beer can heater. A Denver friend needs a low-cost fix to make her drafty bedroom warmer. So, the team decides a solar heater could work, but would require expensive aluminum tubes to transfer the sun's radiation to heat. What to do? Use beer cans, of course. By using rows of black-painted beer cans in a sealed wooden box, the team finds a solar heater can be built for pennies on the dollar.

* A snow maker. If you think living in Denver means enough snow for even the most die-hard snowboarder, think again. This is the issue for Seth Hill, a pro-snowboarder who wanted to make practice runs near his house when he's not on tour. He enlists the BrainStormers team to build an inexpensive snowmaking machine by using a junkyard power washer.

* A "swamp bucket cooler." An Arizona housewife can't take the high temperatures in her kitchen, and the family is tired of ordering takeout. They enlist the BrainStormers for a portable and low-cost way to cool the kitchen. The BrainStormers determine that an evaporative cooling system would work best for Arizona's high heat and low humidity, but how do you make it so it is small and inexpensive? Well, you'll just have to watch to find out.

For more information, visit www.weather.com/tv.

What Does It Mean to File a Tax Extension?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:55am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Can't file your tax return by the April 15 deadline? Taxpayers can request an automatic six-month extension of time to file the tax return. But, taxpayers beware, there is a catch. An extension is just an extension on the time to file the return -- it is not an extension on the time to pay.

Taxpayers are required to estimate the amount of tax that may be due with the tax return and remit payment with the extension to avoid failure-to-pay penalties. These penalties and interest could accrue from April 15 until the tax is paid, regardless of the extension. If a balance is still owed when the actual tax return is filed, at least the penalties and/or interest will have been minimized.

"If taxpayers are unable to file their tax return by April 15, there are several ways to request an automatic extension of time to file an individual return," says Twila Denton Midwood, EA, an enrolled agent with Advanced Tax Centre, Inc. of Rockledge, Florida and president of the Florida Society of Enrolled Agents.

"Most enrolled agents and other tax professionals can e-file the 'Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Tax Return' for taxpayers. Or the application can be found on the IRS website (look for Form 4868), which can be printed and then mailed to the IRS. Whether taxpayers use a tax professional or print the application themselves, all or part of the estimate of the income tax due can be paid with a check or credit/debit card or by using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System."

Information regarding remitting payment can be found on Form 4868. The fee charged will depend on the amount of the payment. Be sure to record the confirmation number provided upon payment.

If a taxpayer estimates that he will owe taxes and is unable to pay, it is important that they file their returns timely. Failure-to-file penalties may be assessed in addition to failure-to-pay. So, to minimize penalties, it is always best to file the return or an extension and remit as much as possible with either. Payment plans may be established later.

If you receive a notice from the IRS at any time during the year, contact your tax preparer immediately. If you did not hire one to prepare your tax return, you should then contact a licensed tax professional. Only enrolled agents (EAs), CPAs and attorneys have unlimited rights to represent you before the IRS. The term "enrolled agent" reflects that an EA can act as your agent before administrative levels of the IRS -- meaning he or she can talk to or meet with the IRS in your stead.

To find an enrolled agent in your area, visit the searchable "Find an EA" directory at www.naea.org.

8 consejos para que las personas de la tercera edad puedan ganarle al estrés

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 10:58am

(NewsUSA) - A medida que los nacidos durante la explosión de natalidad de la posguerra se jubilan de sus trabajos en índices sin precedentes en los EE. UU., uno tiende a pensar que ellos estarían disfrutando de su tiempo libre con amigos, leyendo el periódico mientras toman café por las mañanas o tomándose vacaciones en enero en algún lugar cálido. Pero muchas de estas personas se encuentran actualmente ante un dilema que pocos prevén para esa etapa de la vida: volver a criar niños. Los censos indican que 2,7 millones de abuelos son responsables del cuidado de sus nietos. Estas nuevas responsabilidades pueden ser gratificantes, pero también causan mucho estrés.

De hecho, hay muchas cosas que pueden generarles estrés a los jubilados; pagar las cuentas con un ingreso fijo, los problemas de salud, el ocuparse de parientes o esposos enfermos, e incluso el ser abuelos. El estrés en exceso puede provocar problemas serios de salud.

"Al estar estresado, el cuerpo libera sustancias como cortisol y adrenalina que afectan a todos los órganos y que provocan tensión en los músculos, secreción de insulina y un aumento del ritmo cardíaco", señaló Arthur Hayward, médico geriatra y Jefe del cuerpo de médicos del Instituto para el Cuidado de Ancianos de Kaiser Permanente.

"No es posible evitar el estrés, pero manejarlo puede ayudarlo a preservar su salud y bienestar", añadió el Dr. Hayward. Recomienda identificar y comprender la causa del estrés y buscar formas de liberarlo, como alguna de los siguientes consejos:

1. Modere su propio ritmo. No trate de abarcar demasiado. Sea consciente de sus limitaciones.

2. Fíjese objetivos y expectativas realistas, y no tenga miedo de pedir ayuda.

3. Planifique tiempo para usted mismo. Recargue sus baterías.

4. Haga ejercicio y siga una dieta balanceada. Coma muchas frutas, verduras y alimentos integrales.

5. Intente practicar técnicas de relajación como meditación o yoga.

6. Duerma lo suficiente. Si tiene problemas para dormir, consúltelo con su médico. El tomar bebidas con cafeína y alcohol puede afectar su capacidad para dormir bien por la noche.

7. Hable con alguno de sus afectos o escriba en un diario personal.

8. Sea positivo. Los pensamientos positivos pueden hacer la diferencia, como "Tengo esperanza" o "Las cosas van a mejorar".

Para más información, consulte kp.org/healthyaging. Para preguntas o consejos sobre una enfermedad específica, consulte a su médico.

Buyer Beware: Termite Inspections a Necessity for Spring House Hunters

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 4:04pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - A home is the biggest financial investment most people will make in their lifetime. However, dream homes can quickly turn to nightmares if destructive termites find their way into the structure.

With warmer weather on the way, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that termite swarmers will be on the hunt for vulnerable homes where they can establish new colonies and inflict costly property damage that is often not covered by homeowners insurance. Termites, known as "silent destroyers," feed 24-hours a day, seven days a week on the cellulose found in wood and paper products and cost U.S. homeowners about $5 billion each year.

As spring also kicks off the house-buying season, the NPMA encourages all homebuyers to obtain a wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection separate from their home inspection, and all homeowners to have a termite inspection completed every one to three years. According to a recent survey by the NPMA, 52 percent of Americans have never had their homes inspected for termites.

WDO inspectors are specially trained to recognize the often-subtle signs that termites may be present in a home, while the average home inspector will look only at the structural soundness of a building. WDO inspectors are also able to determine if conditions in a home are conducive to infestations or if there is evidence of past treatment for termites.

A WDO inspection is a vital part of the home-buying process and always in the buyer's best interest as any undetected damage from a termite infestation becomes the buyer's responsibility after the home is purchased.

Homeowners should also be aware of the following signs of possible termite infestations in their homes:

1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.

2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.

3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures.

4. Cracked or bubbling paint.

5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest.

6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home.

If you believe you may have a termite infestation, contact a pest management professional immediately. For additional information and prevention tips, visit www.pestworld.org.

How to Get an A-Plus in Student Identity Theft Prevention

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 4:01pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - There are many things parents teach their kids before sending them off to college. Protecting their personal information and being aware of identity theft can go overlooked.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 16 million people were victims of identity theft in 2012, which resulted in more than $24 billion in lost money. Mary Johnson, vice president of financial literacy and student aid policy for Higher One, cautions that certain behaviors lead to students becoming victims of identity theft.

"Living with roommates, making online purchases and communicating through social media channels are just a few of the ways students can leave themselves dangerously open to thieves," she says.

There are ways, however, that colleges and parents can help protect students and minimize the risk of compromising their information. The following tips can help:

* Avoid carrying personal IDs together. Experts caution to never carry your Social Security information and driver's license in the same purse or wallet.

* Check online banking transactions often. Reconcile your accounts, credit card statements and transactions with your own records -- but never on a public Wi-Fi or cyber-cafe. Institutions like Higher One (www.higherone.com), a financial services company dedicated to helping students reach their goals, offers low-cost and affordable banking services that can help monitor your accounts.

* Learn more. The most important thing about protecting your information is to be proactive about keeping it safe. To this end, organizations like Higher One can help students by educating them on finances, budgeting and money management through its financial literacy program, $tart with Change. Consider this: According to "With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them," a 2009 study commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 54 percent of students surveyed who left college without graduating said they did so because of the stress of having to work and go to school at the same time, while 31 percent cited the cost of tuition and fees as the main reason for dropping out.

* Check your credit report yearly. Credit reports are not just for working adults. College students can receive these reports from the three major credit-reporting agencies by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

Finally, as you continue to build your protection, look for a college or university that offers robust money-management tools and advice to help you build a solid financial foundation.

8 Tips to Help Seniors Conquer Stress

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 4:32pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - As boomers retire from their jobs at unprecedented rates in the U.S., you'd think they'd be spending their free time with friends, lingering over the morning newspaper and coffee or taking January vacations in a warm place. But many seniors are finding themselves in a predicament that few anticipate in retirement: parenting for a second time. Census reports indicate that 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. Their added duties may be fulfilling, but they may be stressful, too.

In fact, many things can trigger stress among retired adults -- paying bills on a fixed income, failing health, caring for ill parents or spouses, or even grandparenting. Excessive stress can lead to serious health problems.

"When stressed, the body releases substances such as cortisol and adrenaline that affect every organ and can cause muscle tension, insulin secretion and increased heart rate," said Arthur Hayward, M.D., a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente's Care Management Institute.

"You can't avoid stress, but managing it can help preserve your health and well-being," Dr. Hayward added. He recommends identifying and understanding the cause of your stress and finding ways to relieve it, such as these eight tips:

1. Pace yourself. Don't take on too much. Be aware of your limitations.

2. Set realistic goals and expectations, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

3. Plan time for yourself. Recharge your batteries.

4. Exercise and eat a balanced diet. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

5. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.

6. Get enough sleep. If you have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. Drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol can affect your ability to get a good night's sleep.

7. Talk with a loved one or write in a journal.

8. Stay positive. Positive thoughts can make a difference, such as "I am hopeful" or "Things will be better."

For more information, go to kp.org/healthyaging. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.

Using Tax-Deferred Investments to Promote Long-Term Wealth Building

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 3:35pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Tax season is in full swing, and many people are being reminded of the tax burden their investment returns carry.

As a result, some are adopting a smarter strategy for maximizing long-term returns by deferring taxes and allowing gains to compound over time. This route can generate considerable savings simply by enrolling in a tax-deferred retirement account and investing through it.

"Tax-deferred accounts provide an opportunity to boost overall investment returns by deferring taxes until the age at which you begin required minimum distributions," said Preston Despenas, co-founder and senior partner of Growth Equity Group. "While some of the most common choices are traditional accounts, self-directed IRAs are gaining significant momentum with investors because they allow greater investing flexibility."

There are several types of tax-deferred accounts that allow people to maximize long-term returns:

* Investing Pre-Tax vs. Post-Tax Income. With traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or 401(k) plans, contributions are made to the account with pre-tax income. Later, when the funds are withdrawn, they're taxed just like ordinary income.

* Tax Incentives With Self-Directed IRAs. For investors seeking to invest in alternative assets to safely diversify their portfolios and generate income, the lesser-known self-directed IRA is also tax-deferred, but provides additional flexibility. This account enables the holder to invest in assets such as residential property, commercial real estate, precious metals and oil.

* Using Real Estate to Diversify. Self-directed IRAs can help protect from risk through diversification and, for that same reason, can provide extra earning power. Real estate tends to be less correlated with the stock markets and thus is less volatile when the markets experience wide swings.

With a rental property asset in a self-directed IRA, rent payments from tenants are directly added to retirement savings, where they compound and grow tax-deferred until the investor takes a distribution in retirement. Self-directed IRAs are managed by a qualified custodian on behalf of the investor. The trustee helps file the proper annual IRS reports to ensure compliance with the tax code.

"Real estate and rental properties are popular investments because they can generate income in addition to a long-term return on investment," said Brett Immel, co-founder and senior partner of Growth Equity Group.

To find more information about self-directed IRAs and real estate investments, visit www.growthequitygroup.com.

Giving the Elderly a Helpful Lift -- In the Home

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 12:28pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Although home may be where the heart is, for older people, it may not be where they are able to stay.

This need (and recognition) to downsize, yet not wanting to because of the memories associated with the home (after all, it's where they have lived for decades and may have raised their families), can be a problem. It may also be impractical due to today's still sluggish housing market.

So, what to do? Instead, you might want to consider a stairlift to make your current home more practical.

While there are a whole host of reasons to install a stairlift, the most common is that someone has become too infirm to walk up and down the stairs because of age, illness or injury.

For Cornelius Rice, 80, of Wilkins, Pennsylvania, it took a nasty fall to admit he needed help from a stair lift to deal with his balance problem.

"[A stairlift] makes it convenient for me to get around, and makes it easy on the wife," Rice told the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette in an interview. "She doesn't have to take me here or there now, or be lifting me."

Unlike chair lifts of old, new models like those sold by Orlando-based Acorn Stairlifts are powered by two small 12-volt batteries under the seat or by regular house current. The chair and built-in footrest typically fold up when not in use, allowing for easy passage on the stairs. All lifts have sensors around the perimeter of the foot platform that will stop the lift when a sensor is triggered -- be it by a child's toy, a pet or a foot that has slipped off the platform.

For Tim McCool, VP of Sales and Marketing for Acorn, having a built in stairlift makes sense for the elderly.

"When I first started with Acorn Stairlifts over 10 years ago as a sales rep, one of my first customer interactions was with a woman suffering from ALS," said McCool. "She had to be carried up the stairs just to use the restroom. I talked with her for over an hour, and it's stuck with me all these years, and it's why I'm so committed to what we do to improve people's lives."

The biggest challenge, say experts, is getting older folks to admit they need one. Once installed, however, many find they wished they'd done it earlier, said one consultant, who added that older people sometimes don't want to spend the money on this kind of thing because then they have to admit they have a disability.

For more information, visit http://www.acornstairlifts.com.

Do More With Less

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 4:15pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - It's not easy being green. Much of what we purchase to feed our daily habits comes in extraneous packaging better suited to surgery than snacking.

While growing eco-consciousness has yielded no shortage of products to help you avoid wastefulness, the simplest solution is to find ways to do it yourself -- and the following products are cleverly designed to help you do just that.

Problem: Using too many disposable cups.

Solution: Canning jar and a Cuppow drinking lid. From the water cooler to the café, bringing your own cup reduces your footprint without sacrificing your favorite routine.

Available at cuppow.com, $8.99 (free domestic shipping).

Problem: Taking expensive coffee to go.

Solution: CoffeeSock Pour-Over Coffee Filters. Buying your daily cup can add up to more than $1,000 a year, but brewing it yourself can keep that total under $100. A simple pour-over set-up with a reusable organic cotton filter from CoffeeSock Co. gives you the same great taste with none of the waste.

Available at Whole Foods Market, $9.99-$12.99.

Problem: Over-packaged junk food snacks.

Solution: Wide-mouth canning jar with a BNTO jar lunchbox adapter. Convenience comes with a hefty cost at the grocery store, and nothing beats making your own snacks for a fraction of the price. Reusable products help you skip the expensive, over-packaged junk and focus on healthy options while saving money and the environment -- one treat at a time.

Available at BNTO.com, $8.99 (with free domestic shipping).

New Treatment for Undiagnosed Sports Injuries -- From Your Dentist

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 4:12pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Sports-related injuries are common and, when an athlete is hurt, care follows a proven, long-standing protocol of rehabilitation. But what happens when impact occurs to the head, face or jaw, and -- at the time -- no immediate injury is diagnosed?

Weeks, months or even years later, many of these players begin to experience headaches, TMJ/D, migraines, vertigo or tinnitus -- estimated to impact 50 million people in the U.S. to some degree.

"Undiagnosed head trauma from sports injuries -- or other types of impact, including minor car accidents -- is one of the most common causes we see of chronic headaches, migraine, tinnitus and vertigo," says Dr. Ben Burris, an orthodontist with 28 clinics in Arkansas.

Now, these long-term and sometimes debilitating conditions can often be resolved with a painless, non-invasive treatment without drugs or needles -- and all at the dentist's office.

"For over three years, we have been able to help patients with conditions caused by sports injuries," says Dr. Tad Morgan of Tyler, Texas. "If you damaged your knee or shoulder, you would go to the sports medicine clinic for rehab. With injuries to the head, face or jaw, rehab was unavailable until the advent of TruDenta care."

Once diagnosed using a painless, digitally enhanced process, patients receive treatment through a proprietary combination of FDA-cleared, low-level laser therapy, therapeutic ultrasound and other modalities. Each of these was originally developed by MDs in sports medicine to speed the healing of joints and force-related traumas. The TruDenta system can quickly resolve issues in the head, neck, face and jaw, which people may have suffered for years.

"Many of our patients with chronic headaches and migraines are females who have played sports -- soccer, gymnastics or even cycling," says Dr. Richard Hughes of Sandy, Utah. "The common denominator is some form of undiagnosed head trauma which was not properly rehabilitated and resulted in long-term painful symptoms."

TruDenta doctors report rapidly resolving these issues for the majority of patients with long-lasting results. Care is often covered by medical insurance, and TruDenta doctors provide a free consultation.

"We are excited to help these patients in 12 weeks or less without drugs or needles," says Dr. Jeffrey Mastroianni of Glen Carbon, Illinois. "It is truly life-changing for many."

To download the free e-book "Start Living Pain Free," visit www.TruDenta.com/NUSA or call 844-202-2651.

Beat the Crowds: Visit Europe During the Shoulder Seasons

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 4:06pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - With the dollar stronger against the euro than it has been in years, many Americans are considering a European vacation this year. More than 11.4 million Americans visited Europe in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which predicts greater numbers in 2015.

More importantly, over half of those Americans traveled in the summer, contributing to crowded museums, attractions and restaurants during the hottest time of the year. To avoid the crowds and to take advantage of milder weather, savvy travelers are beginning to plan their European vacations during one of two "shoulder seasons."

Shoulder seasons run from April until early June and from mid-September to November, and typically are characterized by thinner crowds, comfortable temperatures and lower prices. With fewer tourists comes better access to café culture, world-class museums and historical sites. Less-pressed locals can take more time to offer recommendations, and tour groups are more intimate, enabling everyone to have a more relaxed experience.

While most of the region is temperate during shoulder seasons, the southern and eastern Mediterranean are the sunniest, resembling the warm climate of Southern California. Travelers can still enjoy a swim in the sea in Greece, Croatia and Ibiza as late as October.

For a European vacation that's not a classic "If it's Tuesday this must be Brussels" experience, consider a cruise on one of Star Clippers' authentic tall ships. Besides unpacking just once while visiting multiple countries, the ships sail throughout the Mediterranean from April to November, visiting Europe's most popular cities and smaller ports inaccessible to large cruise ships.

Onboard, the intimate, yacht-like ambience and casual, convivial atmosphere combine to create a unique experience complemented by continental cuisine and a relaxing European pace.

For more information, visit the website www.starclippers.com.

8 Tips to Selecting Colors for Your Home's Exterior

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:31pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - You've no doubt driven down a street, seen a house, and thought, "Yikes! What were they thinking?"

Colors can evoke a visceral response, especially on home exteriors. At once both personal and public, colors make a first impression, can accentuate attributes and soften flaws and offer a glimpse into your personality.

"Homeowners can be influenced by many sources -- friends and neighbors, magazines, TV shows or the guy at the hardware store -- so you'll need to be careful you're not just chasing the latest trend; otherwise, your house might be the one that people end up rolling their eyes at," says PBS home improvement expert Vicki Payne.

Payne says you'll be happy for years to come by following eight tips on selecting colors for your home's exterior:

1. Deciding between bright and cheerful colors or deep, rich earth tones will influence all other decisions.

2. Pick colors that will blend in with your surroundings.

3. Make sure your choices in siding and trim don't clash with materials you are not going to replace, such as roof shingles, brick, stone and tile.

4. The size and lot location of your house matter. Light colors can make a house look bigger, and dark colors can make it look smaller.

5. Landscaping will continue to grow and change colors as the seasons change, so trees, shrubs and flowering gardens need to be considered.

6. Use neutral colors to de-emphasize things such as an air conditioning unit or gutters and downspouts, and use contrasting or accent colors to highlight things such as architectural detailing, porch railings, windows and front doors.

7. Computer visualizers can give a general idea of what colors will look like, but large swatches (about 2 by 3 feet) give a truer look at what colors might actually look like on your home. (Take a look at the swatches at different times of day. The colors will look different as the intensity of the sunlight changes.)

8. Make it last. Who wants to invest thousands of dollars every few years to re-paint? An alternative is pre-painted planks, but their finishes degrade just like paint. Better are cladding products that are certified and warranted to retain their color over their lifespan. Vinyl and other polymeric siding manufactures incorporate color at the front end of production -- actually blending the pigment into the formulation. The color can't chip, pit or peel, giving homeowners peace of mind that they won't have to paint or repair the finish. And just like the leading paint manufactures, vinyl siding, soffit, trim and accessories come in an enormous number of colors -- from classic lighter colors to deep barn reds, hunter and sage greens, deep blues and more.

"Keeping your home's exterior looking fresh and timely doesn't have to be challenging," Payne says.

For more information about certified vinyl siding, visit www.vinylsiding.org.

Building a Better Bridge From Hospital to Home Health Care

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:26pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - There are many things that American health care professionals do well, but transitioning patients from hospital to home still isn't one of them.

From anxiety about at-home care to confusion with instructions and medications, to lack of appropriate equipment, coupled with little to no communication between doctors and patients, it's no wonder that hospital readmission rates remain at an all time high, according to a 2012 report from the Alliance of Community Health Plans.

A Pittsburgh-based health care services company, however, believes this doesn't have to be the case. Instead, a new program by AdvaCare is helping patients and doctors come together.

"By becoming an advocate for both patients and physician's, AdvaCare has found a way to bridge treatment for patients from hospital to home and help reduce overall health care costs," said AdvaCare Home Services President Tammy Zelenko.

Zelenko noted that the Patient Partner Program, which recently launched, decreases health care costs for patients by reducing the number of hospital readmissions, emergency room visits, and additional health complications that can occur during the hospital-to-home transition.

No small undertaking, but a necessary one since, according to the report, the U.S. loses $26 billion annually in Medicare readmissions, which means that AdvaCare's program could be just what the doctor ordered.

And if insurance won't cover the cost of a home health care provider, be prepared for some sticker shock. According to disabled-world.com, depending on what city you live in, the average out-of-pocket expense of hiring a home health care aide is $29 an hour or $18,000 a year for someone to come in three times a week for 12 months. In Los Angeles, the price tag goes up to $50 per hour.

For its part, AdvaCare helps patients with the transition from hospital to home by monitoring its patients and providing detailed, individualized patient care plans and in-home assessments.

"The program offers physicians and doctors an additional route that helps save lives and money," Zelenko said. "The focus is not only to help patients adjust to their diagnoses, but to make lifestyle changes, and educate them on their chronic diseases. Through this level of dedication, AdvaCare is helping hospitals avoid costly readmission penalties, allowing more involved patients to better manage their healthcare," she said.

For more information, visit www.advacarehsppp.com.

This Year, Make a Goal to Contribute More to Your 401(k)

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 3:42pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Are you participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan? If your company has one, consider yourself fortunate. But if you've been ignoring whatever your company is offering, it's time to get the facts.

A good retirement plan will allow you to defer taxes on whatever you contribute to your 401(k) account until you begin to withdraw money, presumably in your retirement. The amount of money you contribute is deducted from your salary when Uncle Sam is tallying up your taxable income for the year. Granted, you won't see the money you contribute until you retire, but committing to a plan like this is one way of both saving on taxes and forcing yourself to save for the future.

If your company offers any kind of a "match," meaning it will throw in some money to match your contribution at a certain proportion, you are definitely leaving money on the table by not participating. For example, a company may match 50 cents on one dollar up to 4 percent of pay -- yours could be better or worse.

One primary reason a retirement account is such a good idea is compounding interest. Add earned interest to the money you are contributing, plus an employer match, deduct the amount contributed from your taxable income, and you're well ahead of the game.

Most 401(k) plans allow you to choose how to invest your money. The plan administrator provides a choice of investments, which may include cash equivalents, bonds, stocks or a mix. When choosing your investments, you can decide exactly how aggressive or conservative you wish to be.

IRS increased the contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k) plans from $17,500 in 2014 to $18,000 for tax year 2015. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k) plans increased from $5,500 to $6,000, which is motivating to many baby boomers who are behind in saving for retirement.

Sitting down with a tax professional to determine what you can do to minimize your tax burden this year and take advantage of every tax deduction and credit available to you just makes good sense. A licensed tax professional can help. Enrolled agents ("EAs") are licensed by the U.S. Department of Treasury after passing a stringent three-part exam on taxation. They must complete IRS-approved continuing education to keep the license. You can locate an EA in your area using the "Find an EA" directory at www.naea.org.

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