(NewsUSA) - Lighting becomes more important as people age. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), with each passing year, everyone requires more light to see properly.
Terry McGowan, director of engineering for the ALA, says, "Older eyes experience two important changes."
First, the amount of light required to sustain visual performance increases with age. Research shows that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light as a 30-year-old.
Second, with time, human eyes become more sensitive to glare. This can seem like a bit of a Catch-22, as more light can often result in increased glare. That's what makes the quality of light more important as you grow older.
With many baby boomers reaching their mid-60s, homeowners should consider user age as a factor in their home lighting design. It is easy to enhance the visual performance and enjoyment for baby boomers and older folks with a few simple lighting adjustments:
* Turn on one or two table lamps while watching TV to reduce the contrast between the bright screen and the surrounding darkness.
* Use a torchiere for uplighting as well as downward illumination for versatility. Look for a fixture with a separate task light attached or one with a glass bowl at the top to shine some light downward.
* Have a task light that can be directed or pivoted.
In addition to providing sufficient light, proper lighting design is essential to human health.
"As people get older, it isn't just the amount of light, it is also the color of the light and when it is applied, that is key to regulating things such as circadian rhythm and REM sleep cycles," says McGowan.
Growing research indicates that light can impact human health in numerous ways, including susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease. The question is: What exactly can aging people do to help their eyes and health?
The answer, according to McGowan, is to enjoy bright days and dark nights. "If you're older and don't sleep very well, expose yourself to bright light, such as daylight, early in the morning ... a walk outside will do it ... and sleep in a dark room at night. That will do everything required to regulate your circadian rhythm," says McGowan.
To see fixtures to help improve light quality without increasing glare, visit a local ALA-member retailer or go online to www.americanlightingassoc.com.
(NewsUSA) - It's the driving force of nature. It's in every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies. And it's second only to oxygen as the thing we need most to survive -- pure, clean water.
So, how do you stay hydrated?
Dr. Scarano, a doctor of chiropractic trained in overall body wellness, in addition to providing care for conditions like back pain, offers some tips in this video: http://youtu.be/YH79L-84Ynk.
For more information, visit www.F4CP.org/findadoctor.
(NewsUSA) - As tax season approaches, there's still time to talk to a licensed tax specialist about your withholding and other possibilities for improving your tax-time savings.
The National Association of Enrolled Agents -- a group of licensed tax practitioners who focus solely on taxation year-round -- offers these tips:
* Increase or max out retirement contributions. Contribute more to your 401(k) to reduce your taxable income and your tax bill.
* The tax break for making a charitable gift from an Individual Retirement Account expired on Dec. 31, 2013. Anticipating that Congress will extend the deduction for 2014, some financial advisors are advising their clients to make the donations from their IRAs.
* If you can itemize deductions, giving to charity may also reduce your tax bill. In addition to contributions made by cash, check or credit card, items around the home that are in good condition can be donated to a qualified charitable organization. Remember to make a list of the items and determine their fair market value. Clip the list to the receipt from the organization, and keep it with your tax documents. Photos of donated items are also recommended.
* Gift-giving is another great tool. For 2014, the annual gift tax exclusion remains the same as 2013 at $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples making split-gifts).
* Sometimes, a major life change is thrown your way, and you might not think of it as a tax deduction. If you found yourself looking for a new job, then agency fees, resume expenses, career counseling costs and travel related to the job search may be deductible even if the job search was unsuccessful.
* On Jan. 1, 2013, the 3.8 percent net investment income (NII) surtax took effect. The surtax, which was passed by Congress to help fund health care reform, is imposed on the net investment in- come of higher-income individuals, estates and trusts that exceed certain thresholds. Generally, the surtax applies to passive income but can also hit capital gains from the disposition of property. Strategies should be considered to minimize, if possible, the surtax. The 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax that reaches higher-income individuals became effective on Jan. 1, 2013 as well.
* Watch the news. Late tax legislation by Congress might mean a delay to the start of the tax-filing season -- as was the case in 2013. If any adjustments in your plans need to be made, you won't be too late.
For more tips and to find an en- rolled agent, visit www.naea.org.
(NewsUSA) - By now, most households are familiar with the streaming television services like Netflix and Hulu. They are the major players in the shift of television viewing from traditional networks to streaming TV.
But now they are not the only games in town. Some of the best bets on TV this season are coming from names that have been around for years -- like "Field & Stream," "Better Homes and Gardens," "Cycle World," "Time" and "Popular Science."
New shows from these brand legends are now coming to you as weekly, 30-minute TV shows on a new streaming network, Portico TV. This service offers free programs in six special-interest categories:
"Better Homes and Gardens"
"Newsy in 30"
"A Closer Look with the AP"
"The week in TIME"
"Field & Stream"
"People This Week"
"We work with terrific partners -- experts in particular subjects -- to create programs on the topics viewers love," said Tom Morgan, founder of Portico TV's parent company Net2TV and a television-industry veteran. "Viewers can quickly find a program they like, then lean back and enjoy it whenever and wherever they want," he added.
New episodes premiere each week in most cases. The free, streamed programs can be viewed on a variety of devices, including Roku-connected TVs, all major smart TVs and smart phones, and online at www.portico.tv.
(NewsUSA) - If we all had Leo DiCaprio's millions, we too could spend a small fortune powering our mansions with solar panels without having to worry whether the investment would ultimately wind up cutting our energy bills or not. But we don't have Leo's millions. (Sigh.)
Which means not only won't homeowners likely also be purchasing a $3,000 energy-efficient toilet anytime soon -- what's a celeb's L.A. mansion without at least one, right? -- but that they've got to look for more realistic ways to shave their heating bills this winter.
"Many of us don't realize how much we are needlessly spending to keep warm," says Bankrate.com.
Read on for some expert tips -- including one slightly weird one.
* Adjust door thresholds. Popular Mechanics magazine uses the word "sneaky" to describe this money-saver. The theory being, if you can see daylight beneath your front door, it means the indoor air -- which, remember, you're paying to heat -- is escaping outside. "A little light in the corners is okay, but don't raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door."
* Use ceiling fans shrewdly. Here's one from the "Simple Little Tricks Department": "[Running fans] clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months," advises U.S. News & World Report. (For those who've permanently fled New York winters for Florida, say, try to contain your desire to gloat to those shoveling snow back home long enough to recall the opposite applies in warm climes.)
* Make certain your attic is properly ventilated. Homeowners are practically begging for higher energy bills if there's not what Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, calls "a continual flow of air to protect the efficiency of your attic's insulation." Working against achieving that: the dreaded excess moisture build-up that clings to your roof's underside in winter from seemingly benign sources -- i.e., appliances, showers and cooking vapors -- before ultimately soaking the insulation when the condensed moisture falls.
Joplin's choice for heading off the problem is the Cobra Ridge Vent by GAF (www.gaf.com), North America's largest roofing manufacturer, because of its ability to "naturally promote ridge ventilation without electricity."
* One word: "plastic." Okay, here's the weird one. Jim Rogers has apparently seen so many poorly fitted windows in his time as president of the Energy Audit Institute that he advocates covering windows and sliding patio doors with clear plastic film. "Just by using that plastic," he's said, "you're going to save about 14 percent on your heating bill."
Sure, but tell that to your decorator.
(NewsUSA) - From farm to table, much about food production has changed -- for both farmers and consumers. Like any other business, farmers must adapt to a changing world -- one that will see its population grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. With finite resources, it will take innovation and a variety of technologies to meet the world's food demand. This includes using new technologies like biotechnology (also referred to as genetic engineering), which can help produce more food on the same amount of land, without having to destroy wildlife habitats.
A 2014 study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), "Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology," shows that more than seven in 10 consumers agree that modern agriculture --conventional farming using today's modern tools and equipment -- can be sustainable and produce high-quality, nutritious foods. The survey also underscored that two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents say it is important that their food be produced in a sustainable way, including producing food affordably with the same or fewer resources, in a way that is better for the environment.
"When consumers understand the potential benefits that technology in food production can have for both people and the planet, they can get behind it," said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, and senior vice president of Nutrition and Food Safety at IFIC. "People need to know what's in it for them." To this point, of consumers who ranked these factors of sustainability as important, most believe there is a role for biotechnology:
* Ensuring a sufficient food supply for a growing global population
* Producing more food with fewer natural resources
* Conserving the natural habitat
* Reducing carbon footprint
To address increasing interest in how our food is produced, IFIC Foundation provides a glimpse of modern agriculture in its new animated video, "Your Food, Farm to Table," showing how farmers in the U.S. and globally are working to produce our food year-round, including using technology to safely produce more food, while putting less stress on our natural resources. With more "precise" information at their fingertips, farmers can be more selective with supplies and resources such as fertilizers, pesticides, tractors and other fuel-run equipment, and irrigation water. As a result, they can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, pesticide applications, soil erosion and water run-off -- in turn, improving sustainability.
To view the video and find out more about biotechnology's role in producing food efficiently and sustainably, visit www.foodinsight.org/farm4thought.
(NewsUSA) - Nearly everyone gets heartburn now and then. But the fiery sensation that grips your chest and throat after eating spicy food, for example, can also be a symptom of a more serious condition: gastroesophageal reflux disease, which in its most chronic form can lead to cancer.
For years, the roughly one-third of Americans with GERD have mainly relied on prescription or over-the-counter medications to reduce stomach acid. However, as we've learned more about the potential long-term effects of the newest class of drugs called "proton pump inhibitors" -- which now take up more space on the shelves than good ol' Tums ever did -- that's made for a different kind of heartburn.
"The Food and Drug Administration has issued numerous warnings about PPIs, saying long-term use and high doses have been associated with an increased risk of bone fractures and infection with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile that can be especially dangerous to elderly patients," the New York Times has reported.
That helps explain the current excitement over a simple outpatient procedure that may actually correct GERD for good without the need for invasive surgery.
Stretta Therapy (www.stretta-therapy.com), which is FDA-approved, uses radiofrequency (RF) energy delivered to the muscle between the stomach and esophagus to, in effect, "remodel" the problem area.
"The sphincter muscle gets thicker and stronger, so it won't open as easily," explains Dr. Mark Noar of Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates in Towson, Maryland, who performs the procedure in his own practice.
Dr. Noar is also the lead author of a newly published, peer-reviewed study that tracked patients for 10 years after receiving Stretta Therapy, which is covered by most insurance (including Medicare). Among the most remarkable findings: 72 percent were found to have remained GERD symptom-free.
That's almost a job requisite for someone like Kathleen Dickinson, who -- loathe to even consider surgery -- sought the doctor out for Stretta Therapy after what she describes as "years of suffering" and concerns about possibly developing osteoporosis from the medication she'd been taking.
"For me, it wasn't just that I couldn't enjoy my favorite dishes," says the 70-year-old Maryland woman. "I'm a corporate trainer, and the constant coughing and clearing my throat affected my speaking presentations."
She's now back to eating Mexican food.
Oh, and one final reminder: While heartburn may be the most common symptom of GERD, it's not the only one. Others include chronic coughing, sleep apnea and a change in voice.
(NewsUSA) - No doubt, finding a qualified siding contractor can be tricky. Do you use a contractor who did a good job down the block? A cousin or in-law? Maybe crowd sourcing services such as Angie's List or Home Advisor?
Recommendations, whether personal or anonymous, might work out, but no matter the task, you'll have greater peace of mind with someone who has been certified in their industry.
"When you need someone to do your taxes, you look for a CPA. When you need your car serviced, you go a certified mechanic. Why wouldn't you want the same level of confidence with someone working on your home?" said Jery Y. Huntley, president and CEO of the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI).
Vinyl siding, including insulated vinyl siding, is the only exterior cladding with a certified installer program to ensure that installers demonstrate knowledge of industry-accepted application techniques, and a product-certification program that ensures that vinyl siding, insulated siding and polypropylene siding meet or exceed industry standards. Both are sponsored by VSI and administered by independent agencies.
"Siding is more than just aesthetics; it's the home's first line of defense against Mother Nature. If not properly installed, any siding product can be vulnerable to extreme weather conditions like high winds and rain, which can lead to degradation, repair or replacement," Huntley said. "Trained, experienced and certified professionals help ensure that your home's siding will not only look great, but perform as specified."
VSI Certified Installers have at least two years of experience, have successfully completed a training course and have demonstrated knowledge of vinyl siding installation based on internationally accepted standards. They must recertify every three years.
The specific knowledge Certified Installers are tested on includes knowing how to correctly fasten vinyl siding securely on the wall, accounting for normal expansion and contraction properties so it lies flat, and properly preparing the area around doors, windows and other openings to prevent water infiltration.
In addition to withstanding winds of 110 mph (and most achieve a wind rating higher than that), and resisting the weathering effects of heat, cold and moisture, properly installed certified vinyl siding comes with the strongest guarantees for any exterior cladding -- vinyl siding manufacturers generally offer lifetime warranties for the original homeowner and typically carry prorated warranties of at least 50 years to subsequent owners.
"Neither the fiber cement nor engineered wood industries put their products through a stringent third-party certification program, nor do they sponsor programs to independently certify the professionals on knowledge of proper installation and best practices," said Huntley. "Certification provides homeowners with an unprecedented degree of confidence that their vinyl siding will provide lasting value to their homes."
For more information, visit www.vinylsiding.org/homeowners/why-vinyl-siding/.
(NewsUSA) - The average American generates a lot of trash and recyclables -- about four pounds per day. That adds up to more than 250 million tons of trash every year, and more than a third of it gets recycled and repurposed into new products. Many Americans are working to expand recycling. Some communities are also beginning to divert food and yard waste out of their waste stream, and that could expand the amount of waste that is repurposed.
What happens with the rest of the waste?
Thanks to many advanced technological innovations, much of it goes to well-regulated, highly engineered modern landfills that are safer, smarter and greener than ever. These landfills feature high-tech, carefully monitored containment systems that reduce greenhouse gas output, control water and air emissions and minimize nuisances such as odor.
Strict federal regulations do not allow landfills in floodplains or wetlands or along fault lines. Layers of special liners and collection systems also prevent groundwater contamination.
"Landfills are an important and necessary tool for managing waste while protecting public health and the environment. Significant advancements such as gas collection have allowed us to enhance the value of landfilling with energy generation," said Sharon H. Kneiss, president and CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association.
Landfill gas -- the source of most odors -- is controlled through collection and, in many cases, is converted into energy. Methane captured from landfills often is used as a form of green, renewable energy that can fuel vehicles or help power the electricity grid. Landfill-gas-to-energy projects also help ease our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. In the past year, these projects delivered enough energy to power nearly 2 million homes and businesses.
These facilities also generate stable, well-paying jobs in the communities that host them. Landfills are also an important part of the tax base in these communities.
For the Future
Looking ahead, today's landfills provide continued environmental benefits even after they are closed. Engineers and landscape designers transform these sites into parks, golf courses, wildlife refuges and other spaces that can be enjoyed by the entire community.
For more information, visit
(NewsUSA) - Americans catch approximately 1 billion colds each year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 20 percent of people in the U.S. will get the flu this cold and flu season. A majority of people (seven in 10) will use over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to treat their symptoms, and many of these medicines contain acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in America, found in more than 600 prescription (Rx) and OTC medicines, including pain relievers, fever reducers and many cough, cold and flu medicines. It's safe and effective when used as directed, but taking more than the maximum daily dose of 4,000 milligrams is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.
The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition (AAC), a group of leading health, health care provider and consumer organizations, is reminding consumers to double-check their medicine labels to avoid doubling up on acetaminophen this winter.
"Cold and flu season is a very important time to remind patients to be diligent about reading their medicine labels and knowing the ingredients in their medicines," said Anne Norman, APRN, DNP, FNP-BC, Associate Vice President of Education at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, a founding organization of the AAC. "People may use a medicine to treat their cold or flu symptoms on top of a medicine they are already taking, not realizing that both might contain acetaminophen."
The AAC's Know Your Dose campaign reminds consumers to follow four medicine safe-use steps:
1. Always read and follow the medicine label.
2. Know if medicines contain acetaminophen, which is listed on the front panel of packaging and in bold type or highlighted in the "active ingredients" section of OTC medicine labels, and sometimes listed as "APAP" or "acetam" on Rx labels.
3. Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time.
4. Ask your health care provider or a pharmacist if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines that contain acetaminophen.
For additional information and a list of some common medicines that contain acetaminophen, visit KnowYourDose.org or follow @KnowYourDose on Twitter.