October 2019

In this issue

As we move into the darker half of the year, vitamin D deficiency might be a possible concern. The Harvard Health Letter has this to say about routine tests in men, and here's advice from Consumer Reports on vitamin D testing and supplements in general.

Fall may bring the end of fire risk season in California, but disaster preparedness is always on our minds. The San Francisco Chronicle published this recent  interactive map of fire, earthquake, and flood danger zones .

The next time that wildfires hit, here's some advice on dealing with smoky air . Particle masks are useful, but if they don't suit your environment or fit properly, they're useless. Check this review of currently-available models to see what's best for your needs.

Speaking of problems in the air, if your allergies or asthma were particularly bad in late September, there's a reason for that - and here are some suggested things to do next year  to make peak allergy season more bearable.

Living in pain takes a toll, and it's good to be reminded that palliative care helps us live longer .

Cognitive deficit and dementia are stressful on everyone - the people who have it, their caregivers, their families and friends. Mindfulness practices can help everyone
, even those with moderate-to-severe conditions.
Preventing Domestic Violence

New Santa Clara County Office of Gender-Based Violence Prevention! 

In addition to its existing programs and hotlines for family violence, Santa Clara County just announced a new office to handle domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking . Other places where people experiencing domestic violence can find supportive services are through the Office of the District Attorney's Family Violence Division , through the San José Police Department's Family Violence Center , or through the agencies working with intimate partner violence listed on this county-wide support services webpage . Also, here's a list of emergency contacts for domestic violence prevention and support in the county. 

This report from Futures Without Violence suggests actions that adults can take to support children in families that experience domestic violence.

Stalking often leaves its victims feeling helpless and powerless. Here are some resources for support for those who are being physically stalked, and here for those experiencing cyberstalking online.
Talk About Your Medications

Among other health observances, October is "Talk About Your Medicines" month, to encourage people to take an annual review of the medications they use. Polypharmacy - multiple prescriptions, with sometimes conflicting or contraindicated medications - is a serious problem for people with chronic illness or multiple health issues. (For example, in last month's issue of PlaneTalkwe covered how polypharmacy greatly increases the risk of falls and injuries.) It's recommended that everyone who takes one or more medications regularly:
  • Make a complete list of your medications, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements. This checklist from the National Community Pharmacists Association could come in handy.
  • Discuss the list with your healthcare team and ask these questions.
Narcan (naloxone) counteracts an opioid overdose

In an editorial published earlier this year , the Director of the National Institutes of Health emphasized the importance of naloxone (Narcan) for reversing an opioid overdose: 
"Opioid overdoses lead to respiratory arrest. If not reversed in a few minutes, this will be fatal. In an effort to address this crisis, the federal government and many states have pursued various strategies to increase access to naloxone, which is a medication that can quickly restore breathing in a person overdosing on opioids. Naloxone, which can be delivered via nasal spray or injection, works by binding opioid receptors to reverse or block the effect of opioids. The challenge is to get naloxone to those who need it before it's too late." 

Dr. Collins pointed out that California is one of the states that has granted "pharmacists direct authority to dispense naloxone to anyone who requests it." A report from the Pew Trust gives more details; Narcan was also the subject of the episode "Life, Death, and the Lazarus Drug"  on NPR's Hidden Brain podcast series.

If you or a family member has been prescribed a high dose of opioid medications (or any opioid medication + a benzodiazepine drug), there is risk of an accidental overdose. You might be wise to have a dose of Narcan available to use in an emergency, and to let others know how to apply if needed. If your work or your volunteer activities are likely to put you in contact with someone who has overdosed on opioids, you might also consider having Narcan on hand and getting trained on its use. Training materials for professionals are available from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The California Department of Public Health has links to informational and training materials , and the Red Cross offers an online course on First Aid for Opioid Overdoses . The Santa Clara Opioid Overdose Prevention Project offers free kits, trainings, and regular meetings to stay current with county efforts to address the epidemic.
Grow Your Health

The health advantages of gardening aren't as well known as they might be. To start with, the University of North Carolina's Health Talk newsletter lists 8 benefits to gardening. A recent meta-analysis of quantitative clinical medical studies found that it "has a significant positive impact on health.... such as reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, stress, mood disturbance, and BMI, as well as increases in quality of life, sense of community, physical activity levels, and cognitive function." 

Living in Santa Clara county, we have the advantage of being able to grow year-round, and winter can be the best time to prepare and plan your garden. Two organizations that offer advice, how-to workshops, classes and events to the beginner and experienced gardener alike are:
Showcase of Miniatures
You are invited to the nation's third largest miniature show during the weekend of October 13 and 14. As a maker, collector, or curious browser, you'll enjoy the phenomenal artistry of the miniatures displayed by 100+ national and international vendors. Exhibits, an auction and workshops for adults and kids are also featured in this fundraiser.  For more information, please visit our  website.

All events are open to the public. Some require pre-registration.

Various dates/times (Countywide)

10/12 from  10am - 5pm & 10/13 from 11am - 4pm ( San Jose)
10/16 from  10am - 2pm ( San Jose)

10/16 from 8:30am - 5pm (Santa Clara)

10/23 from 6 - 8pm (Campbell)

10/26 from 11am - 1pm (San Jose)

11/1 from 8:30am - 3:30pm (Redwood City)

11/4 from 1:30pm - 2:45pm (San Jose)

11/7 from 11:30am - 12:30pm (Mountain View)

11/15 from 1:30 - 2:30pm (Mountain View)

Public Libraries in Santa Clara County offer many free fitness classes (tai chi, yoga for adults and for kids, Zumba, meditation), plus healthy eating programs and workshops on growing food by the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners. 

For details, check the following events calendars:

Santa Clara County Public Library System (Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Sratoga, Woodland) 

San Jose Public Library (limit by topic "Health & wellness")

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