April Health Tips and National Observations
Here’s some news you can use for April 2021!
Alcohol Awareness Month During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Observed every April, Alcohol Awareness Month is meant to raise awareness about alcohol use and break the stigma by discussing how alcohol-use disorders affect individuals, families and communities. This year is especially critical as COVID-19 restrictions and stress can increase your susceptibility to substance misuse, addiction and relapse. In fact, alcohol sales in the United States have grown nearly 30% in the last year.
Alcohol abuse can affect both your personal and professional life. Prolonged drinking puts you at risk for developing serious health complications—such as high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and stroke—and can trigger other life-threatening consequences.
Know the Warning Signs
Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe, based on the number of symptoms you experience. Keep in mind that symptoms often occur at the same time.
Common physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of alcohol misuse include the following:
- Feeling irritable or experiencing mood swings
- Having poor coordination
- Showing signs of slurred speech
- Experiencing blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Isolating from friends and family
- Failing to complete responsibilities and obligations at home or work
- Drinking alone or in secrecy
- Making excuses for drinking, such as to relax or deal with stress
- Engaging in risky behavior, such as drunk driving
Alcohol use disorder can include both periods of alcohol intoxication and withdrawal symptoms—such as sweating, shaking and nausea.
If you or a loved one are concerned about alcohol use, talk to a doctor or use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in fats in your blood, which your body needs to function. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins:
- LDL (low‐density lipoprotein)—known as bad cholesterol—makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL (high‐density lipoprotein)—known as good cholesterol—absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, where it’s flushed from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow, blocking blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause chest pain or a heart attack.
How prevalent is high cholesterol?
Children, young adults and older adults can all have high cholesterol. According to the CDC, nearly 95 million American adults have high cholesterol levels. Additionally, 7% of American children have high total cholesterol.
PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT
Planning For Retirement While You Are Still Young
Retirement may seem abstract and far in the future at this stage in your life. However, preparing now for retirement is crucial, and the sooner you get started the better.
The biggest advantage to starting young is time. If you put $1,000 into an individual retirement account (IRA) each year from age 20 to age 30 (11 years), and the account earns 7 percent annually, you will have $168,514 in the account when you retire at age 65. If you don’t start until age 30, but save $1,000 each year for 35 years straight earning 7 percent annually, your account would grow to only $147,913.
Saving for retirement may seem like a strain on your budget right now, but you can start small and grow. Even setting aside a small portion of your paycheck each month will pay off in big dollars later. By starting young, you also can afford to invest more aggressively since you have years to overcome the inevitable ups and downs of the stock market. Developing the habit of saving for retirement now will make it easier to continue saving throughout your working years.
Planning for Retirement When There’s Little Time Left
What if retirement is just around the corner and you haven’t saved enough? Some of these tips may be tough to swallow, but they will all help you toward your goal.
- It’s never too late to start. It’s only too late if you don’t start at all.
- Commit everything you can to your tax-sheltered retirement plans and personal savings. Try to put away at least 20 percent of your income.
- Find ways to reduce expenses in your budget and funnel the savings into your nest egg.
- Take a second job or work extra hours.
- Aim for higher returns, but don’t invest in anything that you are uncomfortable with.
- Retire later. Even working part-time after your planned retirement age may be enough.
- Refine your goal. You may have to live a less expensive lifestyle in retirement.
- Delay taking Social Security. Benefits will be higher when you start taking them.
- Make use of your home by renting out a room, or move to a less expensive home.
- Sell assets that are not producing income or growth, and invest in income-producing assets.