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Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 

Did you know, Thanksgiving is also National Family Health History Day? Officially designated as such in 2004 by the surgeon general, this day is dedicated to learning your family health history and starting conversations about the topic with your loved ones. 

Knowing your family health history is important and can help you prevent and watch for certain health risks that may run in your family.  It’s especially important to know your family health history when it comes to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These diseases are often inherited and knowing your family health history can help you be aware and take preventive measures. By knowing your health risks, you can make lifestyle changes and screen for illnesses before they happen. 

Additionally, some of these diseases can also skip generations. You may think you have a pretty good understanding of your family’s health history, but usually this only includes one or two generations that you have known in your lifetime. Asking grandparents about their parents and other relatives will help give a fuller picture of what health risks may run in your family and what diseases may pop up again after skipping generations. 

Starting these conversations with family members may be hard, but they are necessary not only for your health but for the health, but for the health of everyone in your family and of future generations. 

Common Latino and Hispanic health concerns 

For Latino and Hispanic families, some health concerns you may want to look out for include: high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. 

According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer in Hispanics are the two leading causes of death, accounting for about 2 of 5 deaths. Statistically, Latinos are more likely to suffer from heart disease and on average, Hispanic women at risk of heart disease are likely to develop the condition 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics according to data from Go Red for Women

Other health concerns that Latinos and Hispanics should discuss with family members are chronic liver disease, chronic kidney diseases, and strokes. 

Data shows that Hispanic Americans have twice the rate of chronic liver disease compared to non-Hispanic whites and are more likely than whites to die of chronic liver disease. 

Hispanics are also 1.5 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to other Americans, and 20 percent of people on the kidney transplant waiting list are Hispanic. 

Getting the conversation started

To get started talking about your family health history with your loved ones, begin by asking questions. The CDC outlines questions you can use to get the conversation started such as: 

  • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
  • How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was diagnosed? (If your relative doesn’t remember the exact age, knowing the approximate age is still useful.)
  • What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
  • What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

After asking these questions, record the information and update it as you learn more about your family health history. 

The CDC offers a free web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait, to help you organize the information. My Family Health Portrait also allows you to share this information easily with your doctor and other family members.

Once you have collected this information, you can then discuss these concerns with your doctor and make plans for screening tests and other examinations. 

Start the conversation this Thanksgiving with your loved ones and help each other learn more about your family health history to keep each other healthy for years to come!

Fatigue, brain fog, joint pain? You may be suffering from long-Covid

Asymptomatic Covid-19 and “long-Covid” are becoming a greater concern as many may be suffering from the virus without even knowing. 

Asymptomatic Covid and long-Covid have been flying under the radar however, the affects of both should not be overlooked. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people who have Covid-19 are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic Covid is more likely to occur in healthy and younger age groups, including children and in households where another member has contracted Covid. Individuals who have been in contact with others who have tested positive for the virus but do not display symptoms after contact could be asymptomatic. 

Additionally, about a fifth of asymptomatic individuals went on to develop what has been termed “long-Covid,” according to an analysis by FAIR Health. Current research suggests older individuals are more likely to contract long Covid, but it has been found in many younger individuals as well. Data from a study conducted by King’s College London found that 1-2% of people in their 20s who had the virus would develop long Covid. For people in their 60s that number increased to about 5%. Long-Covid has also been found to be twice as common among women according to the BBC. 

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

What is long-Covid and how does it affect the body? 

Long-Covid is characterized by symptoms continuing for more than 12 weeks after infection which cannot be explained by another cause. Those who contracted Covid and were asymptomatic may not even know they are suffering from long-Covid afterwards. 

“There’s a myth out there that it only occurs with severe COVID, and obviously it occurs far more frequently in mild COVID,” said Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, in an article with National Geographic

Many symptoms of long-Covid are often overlooked or written off as unrelated making the syndrome hard to pin down. Long-Covid can include a large range of symptoms such as pain, breathing difficulties, fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, sleep disturbance, and hypertension.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can impact your daily life, making ordinary tasks more difficult, and in extreme cases can lead to debilitating effects such as hallucinations, skin conditions, short-term memory loss, insomnia, hearing and vision changes, and gastro-intestinal problems.

Other symptoms according to the CDC, include: 

  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

The potential debilitating effects of long-Covid is cause for concern and individuals should keep an eye out for any changes to their health, even if they do not believe they have contracted Covid-19.

You might be interested: Brain fog can be alerting you about these medical conditions

Diagnosing and treating long-Covid 

While the cause of long-Covid is not yet known, experts theorize that the infection may make some people’s immune systems “go into overdrive,” attacking other parts of the body while combating the virus. 

Another theory presented in a BBC article stated that “fragments of the virus could remain in the body, possibly lying dormant and then becoming reactivated.” However, there is little evidence to support this theory at the moment.

The range of long-Covid’s symptoms has made it difficult to detect and treat. BBC reported that a study conducted by University College London found “200 symptoms affecting 10 organ systems in people with long Covid.”

According to Melissa Pinto, associate professor in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at University of California Irvine, researchers found that some people who tested positive for Covid-19 but hadn’t reported symptoms at the time of infection  later came in with symptoms associated with long-Covid. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In diagnosing long-Covid, researchers and medical professionals must first test for any other underlying or preexisting conditions that may be causing symptoms.

Ann Parker, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and a specialist in post-acute COVID-19 care, said, “When a patient comes to see us, we do a very thorough evaluation because we still don’t know exactly what to attribute to COVID and what might be a pre-existing underlying syndrome. The last thing I want to have happen is to say to a patient, yes, this is because you had COVID and miss something else that we could have addressed.”

We are only just beginning to understand the effects of long-Covid and how to detect and treat it. With so much still unknown, it is important for individuals who have contracted Covid-19 to continue monitoring their health even after recovery. For those who may have been asymptomatic, you may not even know you had Covid or have long-Covid. In this case, individuals who have been in contact with people who tested positive for the virus should consider getting tested even if no symptoms are present. 

schools reopen

Schools reopen this fall: Is it safe? 

New Jersey announces students will be back for full-time, in-person for the 2021-2022 school year as schools reopen statewide. 

It’s time to say goodbye to virtual learning as schools reopen this fall. According to the official site of the state of New Jersey, schools will be reopening full-time and in-person for the upcoming school year. Schools first closed back in March 2020, when the pandemic began and instruction moved online. Throughout the 2020 – 2021 school year, the majority of NJ schools remained virtual or offered hybrid learning options, with a mix of in-person and virtual students. Now, officials say parents or guardians will not be able to opt children out of in-person instruction for this upcoming school year. 

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

The closing of schools last year led to mixed responses from parents and families. Some welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with their children. Others worried about the quality of their children’s education and wondered if virtual learning would be enough to keep children on track. Many working parents also struggled, juggling homeschooling and working from home. And parents who did not have the luxury to work from home faced the challenge of finding childcare for their children amid the pandemic. 

Now, schools are reopening, and feelings are once again mixed. Some worry that it’s not safe, especially with new, stronger COVID-19 variants spreading quickly across the globe, such as the more contagious Delta variant that has been particularly infectious among the young and unvaccinated–aka the prime population of students. Other parents are glad to see a sense of normalcy return to their children’s lives and routines. 

Regardless of where you stand in the debate, without the option to opt out of in-person learning this year, it is important for NJ parents to familiarize themselves with the new rules, guidelines, and safety precautions that will be in place for students this fall. 

Safety precautions for returning students 

According to NJ.gov, all students, educators, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face masks inside of school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.  Effective Monday, August 9, 2021, masks are required in the indoor premises of all public, private, and parochial preschool, elementary, and secondary school buildings, with limited exceptions.

Exceptions to the mask requirement include:

  • When doing so would inhibit the individual’s health, such as when the individual is exposed to extreme heat indoors;
  • When the individual has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance;
  • When a student’s documented medical condition or disability, as reflected in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Educational Plan pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, precludes use of a face covering;
  • When the individual is under two (2) years of age;
  • When an individual is engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as eating and drinking or playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering;
  • When the individual is engaged in high-intensity aerobic or anerobic activity;
  • When a student is participating in high-intensity physical activities during a physical education class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals; or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

Additionally, the Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Health, has produced a health and safety guidance document detailing recommendations designed to provide a healthy and safe environment for students and staff during the 2021-2022 school year.

These strategies are recommendations, not mandatory standards. The absence of one or more of these strategies should not prevent school facilities from opening for full-day, in-person operation.

You might be interested: Reopening schools during Covid-19? Educator and activist Maria Santiago-Valentin weighs in

Vaccinations, social distancing, and more: Will it be enough? 

Alongside the mask mandate, schools will also be enforcing social distancing, promoting vaccinations and testing, and encouraging parents and caregivers to monitor their children for symptoms. 

Vaccinations are currently not required, however strongly encouraged for students and staff who are eligible to be vaccinated. Since most K-12 schools will have a mixed population of fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals at any given time, schools will require the layering of preventive measures to protect individuals who are not fully vaccinated. This will include social distancing within the classroom and an effort to screen and report when children are displaying symptoms. Caregivers are encouraged to actively keep watch of their child’s health and report symptoms to the school. Students who are sick should not attend school until symptoms subside. 

All these precautions are crucial to ensuring the safety of students as they return to full-time, in-person instruction. It is unclear if schools will remain fully open throughout this upcoming school year, however, for now, we can say goodbye to virtual learning as schools reopen for this fall. 

For information on the status of school reopenings in other states, be sure to visit your state’s official website. To check for your state’s mask mandate, see here

entrepreneur empoerment

2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch announces keynote and celebrity speakers   

The 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch will present Founder and Designer of Cenia New York as Celebrity Speaker. Cenia will do a dress giveaway for one lucky attendee. The winner will be announced at the event and will schedule a date to visit the Cenia New York showroom in New York City. 

entrepreneur empowerment lunch

Cenia Paredes, celebrity designer and founder, Cenia New York will be Celebrity Speaker at the 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch (Photo courtesy Cenia New York)

The Latinas in Business 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch (EEL) is shaping up to be the event of the year for small business owners. The “Beauty, Health, and Wealth: Taking Charge of Our Lives” event, co-hosted by Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and produced by 3L Communiqué, will welcome dynamic speakers and honorees for an opportunity to learn, connect and succeed! The 2019 EEL takes place Thursday, June 13 from 9 am to 2 pm at the college’s Culinary Conference Center, 161 Newkirk St, Jersey City, NJ 08736.

entrepreneur empowerment lunch

First Lady of New Jersey Tammy S. Murphy invited as Keynote Speaker (TBC) for her involvemment in women and children’s health initiatives. (Photo credit: NJ.gov)

First Lady of New Jersey Tammy S. Murphy has been invited as Keynote Speaker (TBC) for her involvement in women and infant’s health initiatives. Speakers also include Celebrity Speaker designer and founder of Cenia New York, Cenia Paredes, as well as a Fireside Chat with actress, TV writer and producer, women’s advocate and creator of StorySharing, Ivana De Maria.

Mayor Wilda Diaz of the City of Perth Amboy will receive a special recognition as a “Small Business Champion” for her distinguished work in building the city’s Business District.

In addition, 16 Latinas will be awarded for exceling at growing their businesses and building community around them.

For additional information and registration: Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch

 

Raising the bar for women entrepreneurs

“Latinas in Business Inc. is once again raising the bar to discuss the topics that provide entrepreneurs with key tools needed for small business success,” said Susana G Baumann, President and CEO of Latinas in Business Inc.. “This year’s theme is reflective of one of the fastest growing industries in the United States – Wellness- a trillion-dollar market broadly dominated by women entrepreneurs,” she said.

However, not all these businesses provide the financial wellbeing that entrepreneurs deserve for their efforts. Many struggle to get ahead in these highly competitive industries or markets. Some have accomplished certain degree of success but have reached a plateau and need to shake things up to get to the next level.

Most of them want to better their physical, mental or financial well-being and reclaim their natural beauty and vitality, re-establish balance and fulfillment. They want to take charge of their lives and businesses to achieve financial freedom while breaking away from negative stereotypes.

“Once again, the 2019 EEL is an educational and promotional event that continues to attract successful Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs from different industries. They are invited to speak about their journeys, the obstacles and barriers they overcame, and how they have achieved success. Women in general -and Latinas in particular-need to see and hear from those peers, and believe that they can also succeed,” Baumann said.

For information and registration, click on the image.

Bilingual workshops at the Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch

Workshops at the 2019 EEL are based on “peer-to-peer” knowledge sharing. Experts in each field are also invited to provide additional information to help build a solid foundation for attendees’ small businesses. This year, in addition to 6 workshops in English, 2 workshops in Spanish have been added.

“We have selected topics like branding, funding, and business strategies that were very popular last year at the Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch. Other topics include marketing products to major buyers, healthy consumer trends and how technology is disrupting the wellness industry,” Baumann explained.

For additional information and registration: Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch

Cenia Paredes, Celebrity Speaker at the Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch announces giveaway
entrepreneur empowerment lunch

One lucky winner will visit the Cenia New York exhibit room to pick up her prize (Photo courtesy Cenia New York)

“We are honored and grateful to have the presence of Cenia Paredes as Celebrity Speaker in this year’s Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch,” Baumann said. “She caters to the woman who embraces her curves, is sassy, self-secure and wants to look tastefully sexy and radiant no matter what size or body shape. At Latinas in Business, we support women’s self-acceptance and encourage them to stay away from negative stereotypes.”

In 2011, Cenia was chosen among 900 companies as one of the 22 participants of The Workshop At Macy’s, and she was one of 4 vendors chosen to launch her product in selected stores in the June’12. Since then, Cenia has expanded her distribution to specialty stores globally and has expanded her line to include a highly successful denim line with her patent pending Cenia Convi Jean. In the Spring of 2016, Cenia’s debuted on Shopping Life 24 in Russia and HSN in the USA.

In addition to inspiring entrepreneurs and providing advice on getting brands noticed by corporate entities, Paredes will do a dress giveaway for one lucky EEL attendee. The winner will be announced at the event and will schedule a date to visit the Cenia New York showroom in New York City to pick up their prize.

“I’m an entrepreneur who knows all too well what it takes to obtain success as a small business owner,” said Paredes. “I’m honored to be this year’s Celebrity Speaker at the Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch. After dedicating years to building my brand and expanding my designs, it gives me great pleasure to pass on some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.”

You might be interested: Erica Torres Pagano from corporate America to Total Fitness Evolution

Join us for an open discussions, interactive panels and peer-to-peer sharing with successful Latinas and other women entrepreneurs who took charge of their lives and their businesses in these very competitive industries, and the companies and organizations that are disrupting the wellness industry with products, services and technology.

Ignite your passion to achieve your ideal beauty, health, and finances. You will gain a clear and deep understanding of what truly motivates you and work toward your own personal and entrepreneurial breakthrough.

For additional information and registration: Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch

Latina entrepreneur achieves American Dream growing healthy food

Cindy Cruz Agropek founder and CEO in Puerto Rico

Cindy Cruz Agropek founder and CEO in Puerto Rico

Cindy Cruz Torres is the CEO of Agropek LLC, a small agricultural business dedicated to the cultivation, harvest, and sale of healthy food. Cindy, one of AccessLatina Accelerator finalists, has proven once again that hard work, perseverance and dedication can overcome any obstacle and bring success. However, the road to success for Cindy was anything but easy.

According to the Brookings Institution, nearly 13 percent of the US population is foreign born accounting for nearly 40 million individuals. Immigrants coming to the USA are allured by the American Dream, the belief that if they work hard and play by the rules, they can achieve success.

This belief universally resonates in many people like Cindy Cruz. Even though there is no guarantee that they will achieve success, Cindy stands at the top of the heap revealing that the American Dream is still alive and well.

So how did it all start?

According to Cruz, she was not a business-minded person and like many nationals from Puerto Rico, had little money working for someone else. However, the economic crisis in 2010 led to her being laid off.

“At the time I was pregnant with my first child. Living with my parents gave the time to ponder about my future,” she recalls, and soon the first seeds of a business venture evolved in her mother-in-law’s backyard.

She glanced over the landscape and thought that perhaps she should venture into the agriculture business. Locally, there was a serious shortage of quality foods; however, Cindy had no acumen in business, had never taken any economic classes and knew of no one in business.

“I did not even know what being an entrepreneur meant and had no idea how to start a business,” she shared with LIBizus.

Facing the challenges to achieve healthy food

Agropek workers healthy food

Cindy with Agropek workers in beautiful Puerto Rico

Although she had attended the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce and obtained degrees in accounting and forensic psychology, Cindy faced a major obstacle, lack of capital investment.

Everyone she spoke to asked about prior experience in agriculture and her business plan, none of which she had.

But most importantly, her biggest challenge was lack of confidence, great insecurity and the fear of failing. “I did not have a lot of savings and it would destroy many lives if I lost everything in a foolish business venture,” she affirmed.

She did not know what the toll of a new business venture would have on her lifestyle and pregnancy. Would she be able to cope as a mother, wife, daughter and business woman all at the same time?

Preparing for the future takes time and investment

Cindy then spent the next few months reading about her potential future business in agriculture. She spoke to many people, read the local laws, invested in workshops and seminars. She spoke to other business people and her family.

“The conclusion was that if I did not try I would never know,” she recalls. She was keenly aware that the path to any business was fraught with difficulty because the economy was poor and unpredictable.

In 2010, she finally launched Agropek on a small scale offering non-processed foods. However, her competitive edge was that her products were distinguished by quality and freshness. Then in 2015 Agropek added new products as processed (value-added products).

Within a few months, her customers started to make positive comments about the high nutritional value and durability of the healthy food. Over the next few years, her business started to expand.

By 2015, she had enlisted several other Latino business women to help start other stores in Puerto Rico. Today, Agropek is a profitable business that has created jobs for Latinos and Americans as well.

Looking back at the past five years, Cindy points out that her success was largely due to her ability to function as a leader who was able to multitask.

“I knew that failure was not an option and had prepared well for the business, despite having no background in the corporate world,” she shares.

Reaping what you sow

Value-added products are natural with no preservatives

Value-added products are natural with no preservatives

Today, she continually faces challenges but is not afraid to tackle them. “Success,” she says, “ also builds confidence.”

Even though she initially aimed her business at Latinos, the overwhelming popularity of her products has attracted people of all races and cultures. She strongly feels there is a need for more Latino women to enter the business world because there are opportunities for those who work hard.

“Latino women have always had the ‘work-hard’ spirit , one virtue which is difficult to find. For Latinas who want to venture into business, I encourage them to create good work ethics and develop strong social bonds. There will be disappointments and failures along the way, but the path for those who persist is marked with success,” Cindy said.

As to why Agropek has succeeded when there are so many other similar businesses, Cindy believes her foods are focused on “Healthy and Responsible Eating.”

What makes a good entrepreneur? “A successful entrepreneur should have the following qualities: passion, vision and perseverance. My favorite quote, which she abides by in daily life is, ‘Make a habit of helping others, or at least to do no harm’,” she shared.

As our politicians continue to debate the economic benefits of Hispanic immigrants, they should constantly be reminded that many profitable American companies were developed by individuals born outside continental USA such as Cindy.

Foreign born individuals are more likely to start a business than someone born in the USA. Businesses like one that Cindy Cruz operates also employ many Americans. Her success epitomizes that even today, one can achieve the American Dream.

 


affordable care act, medicare, indetity theft

Identity theft in healthcare coverage

affordable care act, medicare, indetity theftBy Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC

October and November are the time of year when you need to pay attention to your healthcare coverage. Whether you need to switch, revise or renew your health coverage, here are some important tips from the Consumer Information page at the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s open season for everyone who wants to switch health coverage. As you select your health insurance plan, watch out for scams. Whether you are on Medicare, selecting a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or have private insurance, here are some tips to help you more safely navigate the open enrollment season.

Affordable Care Act

If you are shopping in the Health Insurance Marketplace, only shop at HealthCare.gov. People who try to sign you up elsewhere may be scammers. If you’re overwhelmed, you can find free official helpers at HealthCare.gov. Official helpers will never ask for money or try to sell you a particular plan.

Another important tip: the government will not call to sell you health insurance. And no one from the government will ask you to verify your Social Security number or bank information over the phone.

Private insurance

If you’re looking for health insurance, make sure that’s what you’re buying. Be on the lookout for medical discount plans. They’re not the same as health insurance, even though they sometimes pretend to be. Many of these plans are scams that don’t deliver on the services promised. Others are just a way for identity thieves to get your personal information. Your state insurance commissioner’s office can tell you if a plan isn’t insurance and whether the seller is licensed in your state.

Medicare

A variety of scams take advantage of Medicare recipients. Here are a few:

  • An “official Medicare agent” knocks on your door selling Medicare insurance that can save you money. Stop. It’s a scam. There are no Medicare sales representatives. It’s probably someone who wants to use your information to commit fraud or identity theft.
  • Someone calls and says you must join their prescription plan or else you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. Don’t believe it. The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is voluntary.
  • Someone calls claiming that you need to give your Medicare number in order for you to keep your Medicare coverage under ACA. It’s a scam. Don’t give your personal information over the phone. If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to medicare.gov.

Report health care scams

If you think you may be a victim of a health care scam, report it to the FTC. If the scam is Medicare-related, report it at medicare.gov.

If you gave out personal information, then call your banks, credit card providers, health insurance company, and credit reporting agencies immediately. The FTC’s website has more information on health care scams and medical identity theft.

(Read this information in Spanish here.)

Recognizing signs of addiction in the workplace

drug-free(From the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery)

The most valuable resource of any company, large or small, is its people. Without healthy, productive, capable employees, no business can remain competitive and profitable. Chemical dependency or compulsive addictions can dramatically affect an employee’s ability to contribute to your company’s success. Read more