April 2020

...avoid popular outdoor recreation areas, now that more people are crowding the trails?

Just because we still need to avoid crowded conditions, and maintain a safe distance, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy spring outdoors. Here are several recommendations on how to spend time in nature safely.

...take precautions to support my joints?


It’s second nature to be protective of a joint problem, maybe one that has been weakened or stiff from a previous injury, or from osteoarthritis. However, immobilizing it too much can make the problem worse. Make sure that any brace - for a knee, wrist, or ankle support - fits properly and still allows for a normal range of motion. If a brace would be too limiting, kinesio tape might give adequate support. And be sure to talk with your health care team about stretching and strengthening exercises!

...plan to travel as soon as I’m fully vaccinated?

Recent guidance from the CDC is that it is safer for fully vaccinated people (that is, who are at least 14 days after the last dose of a 2-part COVID vaccine, or at least 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine) to be around other people in their daily lives. While the CDC permits travel, the CDC also warns that travel precautions are still needed, especially if travelling through airports, by transit, staying in accommodations, and/or eating in restaurants. If travelling with companions who have not been fully vaccinated (like children), or visiting with people who are not fully vaccinated, be prepared to postpone the trip or cut it short should they show symptoms or be exposed. (Consider cancellation insurance, too.) Check for travel restrictions (domestic as well as international if relevant). And if you have medical conditions that make you more at-risk, check with your health care team before making firm plans.

...laminate my COVID vaccination card?


If you received one dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, absolutely not! You will need to bring that card to be updated when you get your second dose.

After receiving the full vaccination, it’s still not necessary to laminate it - and that could cause problems later if it turns out that we need to record regular booster shots on the same card. Although the U.S. federal government will not be issuing any “vaccine passports”, there may be a need to provide proof of vaccination for some future activities (we just don’t know what, yet). So it would be wise to keep it in a safe place, where it could be found easily if needed.

...take possible racial bias into consideration when looking for a care facility?


Unfortunately, racial discrimination can be a very real problem at any level of health care, and especially worrisome for our most vulnerable populations. While this article focuses on long-term care facilities, the suggestions on how to examine these places for possible neglect or discrimination along racial lines would also be useful when considering  short-term nursing or rehabilitation centers. Add these questions to the others described in the Evaluating Options section of PlaneTree health Library’s Later Life Guide to Giving Care to help find the best care for your loved one.

...update my asthma treatment?


People diagnosed with asthma some years ago may wish to discuss with their health care team the new treatment guidelines recently released from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.


Spring allergies 

April is peak pollen season in the Bay Area <atchoo!>, and if it feels worse this year than in past years, global warming may be partially to blame. People suffering from spring allergies may wish to track the daily pollen counts and avoid extended periods outdoors on peak days or hours (the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau has a map of pollen registry sites in the U.S. - there’s one located in San José). 

These websites have self-care advice for managing allergy symptoms:

Some people use herbal remedies, traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture) and/or Ayurvedic methods (nasal saline irrigation) to treat allergy symptoms, others turn to over-the-counter (OTC) remedies. With OTC decongestants, be sure to follow directions about how often to use, and don’t exceed recommended doses. Some decongestants - most recently, Benzedrex - have been found to cause serious harm if misused, according to the FDA (especially in older adults, and/or for people with heart conditions or hypertension). And since drowsiness is a common side effect of decongestants, be careful when driving or operating machinery when taking them, even at safe levels. (FDA tip: check how long the decongestant effects last!)
The list of free, public, health-related events in the South Bay that used to be included in PlaneTalk has moved online (as are the events themselves). You’ll find our Community Events Calendar on the web at:
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