Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Holiday Stress (and Making Memories)

As the temperature drops and we officially move into holiday season, many are looking forward to the decorations, gatherings, meals, and time with family and loved ones. However, the joyful side of the holidays is often accompanied by the not so joyful side, stress and depression. The pressures associated with the holidays can be overwhelming and have a negative effect on your health. 

If you are looking for ways to make your holidays less stressful and more joyful, the Mayo Clinic (2019) suggests several helpful tips to prevents stress and depression from taking over. For most, holiday memories are associated with loved ones and generate feelings happiness; however, for some, this happiness can be accompanied by feelings of sadness and grief. If you are saddened during this time of year, acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself time to accept them; you are not required to be happy simply because of societal expectations. It is healthy to feel grief. It is also healthy to accept the absence of loved ones and focus on happy memories or making new memories. Reach out to positive friends and family members to may ease the weight you may be feeling.

Stress and depression are also connected to our own expectations of what the holidays should be. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your idea of the holidays, take a step back and re-evaluate the things you hold as important. Be realistic in your idea of the holidays, try not to expect too much or attempt to do more than you are capable. Scaling back gatherings and expectations can bring forth new traditions and restore your holiday delight. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic address budgeting and time management as ways to ease holiday strain. 

The holidays can be exhausting. It is important to find a healthy balance so you can focus on the things that make you happy. If you are looking for a way kick off a happy holiday mood, join me on Friday, November 1st at the Ben E. Keith Community Room in Commerce for Making Memories, the annual holiday craft, goodies, decor, and more program. The program will begin at 9:30 am and usually lasts about two hours. Local volunteers are preparing a full lineup of holiday demonstrations including festive crafts, tasty treats, budget friendly gifts, and home decor. Attendees may enjoy a variety of refreshments while following along with presenters in their copy of the project booklet. Tickets are $5.00 and may be purchased in advance at the Hunt County Extension Office.

If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to call (903) 455-9885, email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu, or come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas 75401. You may also read more about this and many more topics on my blog, http://agentsarah.blogspot.com/.  For additional information on area issues and events, follow us on Facebook, by simply searching for Hunt County AgriLife. 

References:
Mayo Clinic. (2019). Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544


Making Memories Flyer:


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Annual Pecan Fundraiser

The Hunt County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office is taking orders for our annual pecan fundraiser now through October 11th.  Our pecans are top quality, Texas pecans. This year the sale includes your choice of a 1lb bag of halves or a 1lb bag of pieces. Proceeds from this sale go toward educational programming in Hunt County and we truly appreciate your support! For your convenience, this year we have multiple ways to order. To order online visit https://huntagrilife.ecwid.com/, email your order to hunt-tx@ag.tamu.edu, or stop by our office.  

The pecan tree is the state tree of Texas and is native in 150 counties across the state. Pecan trees are popular for both landscaping and as a source of nuts. In 2014, the U.S. produced more than 200 million pounds of pecans with roughly 61 million of those pounds being produced in Texas.  Seventy-five percent of the U.S. pecan crop comes from just three states, Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas.

Most of the pecan questions that come through our office deal with tree or nut issues and most are not aware of the nutritional benefits associated with adding pecans to your diet. Pecans are packed with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which can help lower blood cholesterol when substituted for foods high in saturated fats.  In addition to good fats, pecans serve as an excellent source for many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.  To top it off, the USDA ranks pecans as the most antioxidant-rich tree nut. Antioxidants are known for their age defying characteristics. Add a little spunk to your diet by including pecans. We all love pecans in pies and pralines, but they are also a tasty addition to eat with yogurt, fruits, or on salads. 

If you are interested in growing your own pecan trees, and not so much the nutritional benefits, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension offers a detailed publication filled with information and you may pick up a copy of this at the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas 75401. 

If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to call (903) 455-9885, email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu, or come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401. 

References:

Ritter, Corie. (2019). Pecans: What you need to know. Path to the Plate. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. https://pathtotheplate.tamu.edu/pecans-industry-overview-and-what-you-need-to-know/


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Back to School Safety Tips for Motorists and Kids

Greenville, Texas – As the summer is starting to really heat up in Texas it signals the time for children return to school. Motorists are sharing the roads with school buses, children walking or on bicycles, and even lots of new teen drivers taking their first car to school.

Drivers need to be vigilant because school children can be very unpredictable. They’re easily distracted and can often run into traffic or out from behind parked cars. Looking out for children, rather than expecting them to look out for vehicles, is the best defense for drivers.

Last year, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there were 765 traffic crashes in Texas school zones, resulting in one death and 15 serious injuries. The most common causes for these crashes were failure to control speed, driver inattention, and failure to yield the right of way when turning left to a private drive or at a stop sign.

Whether it’s a parents’ oldest just starting kindergarten, or they’re taking that first trip to school in his or her own car, parents can play an important role in keeping their children safe. For young children, make sure they know the rules about school bus safety when it comes to boarding and getting off the bus. If transporting children to school, remember that children under 13 should always ride in the back seat in a car seat (including a booster), or seat belt, depending on whether they fit properly in the seat belt.

Teen drivers and their parents should be aware of the Texas Graduated Driver License Law and the restrictions it puts in place, including no cell phone use and no more than one passenger under 21 in the vehicle unless the passenger is related to the driver. And, most importantly, always stress buckling up on every trip — even on those short trips to and from school!

Sarah Latham, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service FCH Agent in Hunt County, reminds drivers to follow these safety tips from TxDOT to avoid needless tragedies.

Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School:
  • Always walk on sidewalks whenever they’re available.
  • Cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again before proceeding.
  • Always obey crossing guards.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Follow all traffic rules, signs, and signals.

Tips for Driving in School Zones:
  • Stay alert and put your phone away. Using a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone is against the law.
  • Always obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember: Traffic fines usually double in school zones.
  • Drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.
  • Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
  • Watch for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles.

Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road with School Buses:
  • Never tailgate. Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
  • Stop for flashing red lights or a stop sign on a school bus, regardless of which direction you're headed. Continue your trip once the bus has moved, the flashing lights stop flashing, or the bus driver signals it's OK to pass.
  • Violations can lead to a fine up to $1,250 for a first offense.

Motorists can make a big difference by remembering to drive with extra caution when driving in and around school zones. Driving at slower speeds and paying extra attention may very well save a life!
Visit: https://www.txdot.gov/driver/kids-teens/school.html, for more information on back to school driving safety.


If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to call (903) 455-9885, email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu, or come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Area Agency on Aging Programs (Fall 2019)

A few months ago, I would be offering A Matter of Balance program in Hunt County for individuals with advanced birthdays that were concerned about falling or that wanted to start activities to decrease their likelihood of falling.  The first program session was extremely successful, and I am happy to announce Hunt County Texas A&M AgriLife is partnering with the Greenville Fire Department and the Area Agency on Aging to offer a second session.  This program will be offered on Thursdays in Greenville at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center, 5501 Business Hwy, 69 S. Greenville, TX 75402 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am beginning September 26th. 

A Matter of Balance, an eight-session evidence-based fall prevention program, has been specifically designed to help seniors age sixty and older reduce their fear of falling and increase activity levels. Many older adults who develop this fear often limit their activities, which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater. Activities are conducted in two-hour sessions once a week over an eight-week period (North Central Texas Council of Governments, 2017). Please join us if you are concerned about falls, have fallen in the past, have restricted your activities due to falling concerns, or have an interest in improving balance, flexibility, and strength.

In addition to A Matter of Balance, Hunt and Rockwall Texas A&M AgriLife will be joining together to offer another Area Agency on Aging program in September, Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM).  CDSM is a six-week program was designed by Stanford University to help individuals living with a chronic disease build confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives. Participants will learn techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance; appropriate use of medications; communication techniques, proper nutrition information, and decision-making skills. If you are living with a chronic disease or are a caretaker of someone with a chronic disease, please join us.  CDSM will be held every Monday from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm beginning September 9th at the Hunt County AgriLife Extension Office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, TX 75401.

Both programs are open to all and free of charge; however, space is limited and we ask that you please register by emailing Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu or calling (903) 455-9885.

If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to call (903) 455-9885, email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu, or come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Fall 2019

Image borrowed from Forbes.com
Summer 2019 was super busy at the Hunt County Extension Office.  I have never looked forward to school starting back and my family (and work life) getting back into a routine as much as I am this year.

We have many new and exciting programs starting up this fall.  We look forward to bringing you many new and amazing educational programs!  Stay tuned to see what all we have to offer!


Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Matter of Balance


Aging comes with a variety of unique quirks, oddities, and issues, but falling seems to be a universal association. In the United States, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries. According to a compiled list of fall related statistics by the National Council on Aging (2019), one in four Americans over age sixty-five fall every year. Additionally, every eleven seconds someone over age sixty-five is treated in the emergency room as a result of a fall and every nineteen minutes someone dies from a fall related injury. In other words, falls are responsible for more than 2.8 million ER visits and more than 27,000 deaths annually. The fear of falling can lead to reduced activities, physical health decline, social isolation, and depression. However, falling (and injury) does not have to be a part of aging. Falls can be avoided through lifestyle changes and participation in evidence-based fall prevention programs. 

A Matter of Balance, an eight-session evidence-based fall prevention program, has been specifically designed to help seniors age sixty and older reduce their fear of falling and increase activity levels. Many older adults who develop this fear often limit their activities, which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater. Activities are conducted in two-hour sessions once a week over an eight-week period (North Central Texas Council of Governments, 2017).

Hunt County Texas A&M AgriLife is partnering with the Area Agency on Agency of North Central Texas to host A Matter of Balance. This eight-session program will be held on Mondays beginning July 1stat 11:00 am at the Commerce Public Library, 1210 Park Street, Commerce, Texas, 75428. Please join us if you are concerned about falls, have fallen in the past, have restricted your activities due to falling concerns, or have an interest in improving balance, flexibility, and strength. 

This program is open to all and is free of charge. However, space is limited. Please email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu or call (903) 455-9885 to register. 

If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to call (903) 455-9885, email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu, or come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401. 

References:
National Council on Aging. (2019). Falls Prevention Facts. https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/
North Central Texas Council of Governments. (2017). Health Classes for Older Adults. https://www.nctcog.org/aging-services/older-adults/health-classes



Thursday, May 23, 2019

May is Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Do you know your numbers?


According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults are living with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), yet many are unaware that they have it. In kids and teens, elevated blood pressure is becoming increasingly common, which may lead to health problems later in life. During May’s National High Blood Pressure Education Month, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is working to raise awareness and share the most important tips to prevent or manage high blood pressure. 

Knowing your risk factors is the first key prevention strategy. “Besides age, genetics and a family history of high blood pressure, there are lifestyle risk factors that you can control, such as obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Sumathi Venkatesh, a health specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Certain medical conditions like diabetes can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure,” she added.

Because there are no obvious symptoms or warning signs for high blood pressure, it’s often called a “silent killer.” That’s why regularly monitoring your blood pressure and understanding your results is another key prevention strategy. A blood pressure measurement includes two numbers: The top number measures systolic pressure, which is the force of the blood against the arteries when the heart beats, and the bottom number measures diastolic pressure, which is when the heart is relaxing between beats. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is considered normal, while readings above 130/80 mean a diagnosis of high blood pressure. 

Knowing your numbers could save your life. “Chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and result in heart attack or stroke, the two leading causes of death in the U.S.,” said Dr. Venkatesh. “High blood pressure may also contribute to kidney disease, vision problems, and peripheral artery disease, but the good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled by taking prescribed medications and following a healthy lifestyle.” 

Following The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or “DASH” dietary pattern, is one of the best ways to prevent or treat high blood pressure. This healthy approach includes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables plus whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy products, while limiting added sugars and saturated fats. Sodium intake should not exceed 1500 mg per day, so it’s important to check the sodium content listed on the nutrition facts label for any packaged foods. Other key prevention strategies include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Finally, be sure to talk with your doctor if you have any health concerns or challenges. Healthy blood pressure is a target within reach.

For help understanding your blood pressure numbers, click here

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to call (903) 455-9885, email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu, or come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401. You can also read more about this and many more topics on our website, https://hunt.agrilife.org.