National Healthcare Decision Day is April 16th

National Healthcare Decision Day is April 16th

 

National Healthcare Decision Day logo

The goal of National Healthcare Decision Day is to inspire Americans to communicate their end-of-life wishes about healthcare with their families and healthcare providers.

Although making healthcare decisions is often a difficult process, making decisions for others is even more complicated.

According to the 2018 Conversation Project national survey, Americans are becoming more comfortable talking to their loved ones about their end of life wishes. Over half (53%) of Americans say they would feel relieved if a loved one started “the Conversation.”

multi family member photo

Start the family “conversation”
Photo Source: Laurie Osgood

Once you have initiated the conversation, experts recommend creating an advance care directive. Advance care directives are legal documents that are used to secure your decisions about end-of-life care, to avoid confusion and uncertainty later on.  These legal documents can include a living will, health care proxy, health care power of attorney or instruction directive. Having an advance care directive in place will help make sure that your wishes about your health care are fulfilled, even if you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.

Don’t wait for “the right time” to talk with your family, everyone should plan for their future, before a crisis arises.

There are many tools and online resources that can help you and your family begin this important conversation.

To learn more about National Healthcare Decision Day and advance care directives. Visit NHDD.org.  

 

Scam Alert: Fake “IRS” email

Scam Alert: Fake “IRS” email

IRS logo with Eagle symbol

The deadline for filing your federal income tax return is April 15, 2020. (Photo source: IRS.gov)

The IRS has identified a new version of a phishing email scam targeting tax professionals. The fake email states the preparer’s EFIN has been put on a temporarily hold and warns the EFIN will be suspended unless the preparers open an embedded document and confirm or deny that they submitted the Form 1040. The embedded “1040” document likely contains malware.

The IRS reminds all tax professionals that they are targets of cybercriminals seeking to steal client data or the practitioners’ identities. Thieves use many variations of phishing emails such as this. The fake emails are characterized by an urgent message (your EFIN will be suspended) and try to entice recipients to open a link or attachment. The IRS urges all tax professionals to be on alert and take security steps to protect their clients and their businesses. Review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, for how to be safer.

Some simple steps include:

  • Using the multi-factor authentication option offered by tax software to protect accounts from unauthorized access.
  • Use strong password protections on all devices.
  • Never open suspicious emails, links and attachments may carry malware.
  • Use strong security software and keep it updated.

For more information, please visit https://www.irs.gov/.

Scam Alert: Fake “IRS” email

For MOST Taxpayers, Federal Income Tax Returns are due on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

IRS logo with Eagle symbol

The deadline for filing your federal income tax return is April 15, 2020. (Photo source: IRS.gov)

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that they will begin accepting paper and electronic tax returns beginning January 27, 2020. The IRS encourages everyone to consider filing electronically and choosing direct deposit, as it is fast, accurate, and the best way to get your refund as quickly as possible.

Nonetheless, many software companies and tax professionals are accepting income tax return information now and promising instant refunds.  KNOW that money being promised comes with a charge. As they say, there is NO free lunch, especially around tax time.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund − even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This law change, which took effect in 2017, helps ensure that taxpayers receive the refund they are due by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud

The IRS also wants taxpayers to be aware it will take several days for these refunds to be released and processed through financial institutions. Factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS cautions that many affected taxpayers may not have actual access to their income tax refunds until the end of February 2020.  

The filing deadline to submit 2019 tax returns is Wednesday, April 15, 2020.  Procrastinators can request a six-month extension to submit their returns (Form 4868), but you only have until midnight April 15, 2020 to pay taxes owed without penalty.

It is amazing to know that the IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.   Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.  However, it is possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. Where’s My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund.

Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name, or both if it is a joint account. No more than three electronic refunds can be deposited into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund.

Whether you file electronically or on paper, direct deposit gives you safe access to your refund faster than a paper check.

Additional Resources:
Free Tax Return Prep for Qualifying Tax Payers (IRS)
What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site (IRS)

Dine In for Better Health

Dine In for Better Health

Make the pledge Tuesday, December 3rd to Dine In for better health – physical, social, and cultural.

Why

Most of us eat every day without thinking about it.  We need to eat to nourish our body, so it’s just a regular thing we do.  But eating also can be an important social and cultural way for families to come together.

FCS Dine In Day circle logo

FCS Dine In Day

When we eat together as a family, it gives us the opportunity to practice cultural traditions and share food histories.  We get the chance to explore new foods and learn new skills – like eating with chopsticks.  We may get the chance to learn and practice table manners and learn literary and conversation skills.  Paul Fieldhouse of the Vanier Institute of the Family says, “For young children, ‘table talk’ may be the main source of exposure to family conversation and the expression of thoughts, ideas, and emotions.”  Eating the family meal also can help us de-stress by setting a reassuring rhythm and structure to our day.

Eating family meals at home has additional benefits.  The University of Washington found that families who cook and eat more often at home tend to eat a healthier diet.  Their Healthy Eating Index is high – meaning they eat more fruits and vegetables and less calories, sugar, and fat.  They eat smaller portions helping to regulate weight.  Some research suggests we eat smaller portions at home because we eat more slowly and talk more.  This, however, does not equate to a higher cost.  Meals cooked at home generally cost less than those eaten out.

How

So, how can your family eat more meals together at home?

  • Try making and eating meals at home a priority for your family. Think about how important it is spending time together.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t worry about making a big, fancy meal.
  • Start with just a few meals a week. Then slowly add more meals together as you find your “family meal groove.”
  • Let the whole family help plan meals. Think about foods your family likes and build around those ideas.  Try to get all the MyPlate healthy food groups in – whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables of all colors, shapes, and textures, lean plant and animal proteins, and low- and no-fat dairy.  Make your grocery list together.
  • Let everyone be involved in planning, preparing, table setting, and cleaning up afterwards.
  • Make it a goal to start this December 3rd to Dine In for better health.

 

Resources:

(Still) Eating Together: The Culture of the Family Meal.  Retrieved November 16, 2019 from https://vanierinstitute.ca/eating-culture-family-meal/

Cooking at Home Tonight?  It’s Likely Cheaper and Healthier.  Retrieved November 15, 2019 from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170314150926.htm

Pound for Pound, Peanut Butter Saves

Pound for Pound, Peanut Butter Saves

Delicious, nutritious, and super helpful for today’s needs, peanut butter is a great addition to your shopping cart. But it’s more than just a tasty and healthy food that also helps those in need (more on that below). Pound for pound, peanut butter saves.

Nutty for Peanut Butter
Photo Source: Angela Hinkle

Compared to a pound of ground beef, a pound of peanut butter saves:

  • Money at the grocery store. A pound of peanut butter currently comes in at around $2.50. A pound of ground beef will run you around $3.82.
  • Time. It takes about 2-3 minutes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A burger at home will take you anywhere from about 8-15 minutes to prepare.
  • Environmental costs. If you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch instead of a hamburger, you can save 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 133 gallons of water, and 24 square feet of crop land.
  • Saturated fat. That’s the kind that tends to clog up arteries and cause health problems. Eating the PB&J gives you about 3 grams. You consume about 10 grams of saturated fat in a 90% lean quarter pound hamburger.
  • Utilities. No gas, coals, or electricity is required to cook or safely store peanut butter.
  • Hunger. Families in hardship situations often need help from food pantries. The most requested item from these pantries is – yes, you guessed it – peanut butter. It is shelf stable so you don’t have to worry about keeping it cold or heating it up. People like it. And it is a healthy plant-based food with fiber and oleic acid – a healthier monounsaturated fat.

Maybe you’re like me – you like a really good, juicy all-beef burger. Every once in a while, sure. But pound for pound, peanut butter really can save the day.

Here’s how you can help with the local hunger part:

  • Buy peanut butter. Look for BOGOS (Buy One Get One Free Sales). Keep one for yourself. Then…
  • Now through November 27, donate unopened jars of peanut butter for the Peanut Butter Challenge. Check with your Florida Panhandle UF/IFAS Extension Office for collection sites.
  • All collected peanut butter will be given to local food pantries to assist hungry families in need.

So save, save, save with peanut butter. And help save a family from hunger.

Check out 2019 Peanut Butter Challenge for additional information.

Resources:    https://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources/  and  https://www.farmprogress.com/peanut/peanut-s-environmental-footprint-stretches-beyond-farm

Living Well Resources for Times of Disaster

Living Well Resources for Times of Disaster

Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30, with peak season in September and October.  And hurricanes are not the only disasters we have to contend with.  Living Well in the Panhandle provides the trusted Disaster Resources you need so you know what to do to keep your family and you living well.

Disaster Resources

Below are helpful resources for preparing for and handling the aftermath of a disaster.  For more information, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.

Food Safety
Is My Food Safe to Eat?
Keeping Your Food Safe During Emergencies:  Power Outages, Floods, and Fires
USDA – A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety-Severe Storms and Hurricanes Guide
Well Water Safety
Well Water Testing

Housing
Search for an open emergency shelter near you by texting SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362) Example:  SHELTER 01234

lightning storm with palm trees

Lightning storm. Photo Source: UF/IFAS

Cleaning Up After a Hurricane
Safety Comes First!
Get the Right Tree Care Professional
Hiring an Arborist – Spanish
Cleaning Mold After a Flood
Hurricanes and Mosquitoes
Mosquito Control Tips for Homeowners

Money Management/Consumer Issues
Avoiding Fraud and Deception
Six Steps in Making an Insurance Claim
Replacing Lost or Damaged Documents
FEMA – Individual Disaster Assistance
FEMA – Interim Housing Resources
USDA Farm Service Agency Disaster Assistance
Disaster Recovery Loans
Tax Relief After a Disaster
Complaints – If you have a complaint about disaster relief assistance, contact the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s Office at 1-800-323-8603.

Family Health and Wellness
Call the Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 for free counseling – 1-800-985-5990 (TTY) 1-800-846-8517
OR text TalkWithUs to 66746
Mental Health for Adults
Mental Health for Kids
Mental Health for Adolescents

Agriculture and Natural Resources
Practices to Minimize Flooding Damage to Commercial Vegetable Production
Florida Panhandle Agriculture
Florida Panhandle Agriculture Facebook