You're Probably Not Washing Your Reusable Water Bottle Enough

iStock.com/Paulo Resende
iStock.com/Paulo Resende

Carrying a reusable water bottle is an economical and eco-friendly choice. By not lugging around one-time-use plastic bottles, you're reducing waste headed to landfills and saving money on water that flows freely from your tap. (Unless, of course, you own a home and have to pay the water bill.) Whether they're made of glass, have a filter, or come insulated, the bottles carry clear advantages over crates of packaged water.

As beneficial as these bottles are, they tend to lull consumers into a sense of false security. Since only water goes in them, there's a pervasive feeling that they don't need to be washed often. Some users may not even wash them at all. As Reader's Digest contributor Lisa Marie Conklin points out, that's not a good idea.

Conklin spoke with microbiologist Miryam Z. Wahrman, Ph.D., a professor of biology at William Paterson University, to get some insight on why washing reusable bottles should be a habit. For one thing, Wahrman notes, people sipping from the nozzle frequently have traces of food in their mouth that can migrate to the bottle and the remaining water inside. Any germs in or around your mouth can also find their way into the supply. The next time you drink—an hour or a day later—you're consuming that potentially unfriendly bacteria.

Those microbes can begin to proliferate in stagnant water, especially if it's left inside a hot car, in front of a sun-exposed window, or other places where a warm environment can contribute to their growth. Bottles can also pick up all the same germs transmitted by your hands during a typical day.

To avoid contamination, it's best to wash your bottle daily with soap and water. Michigan State University advises filling the bottle with water and dish soap and letting it soak for several minutes. It's also a good idea to empty the bottle if you're not going to be using it for extended periods.

[h/t Reader's Digest]

Veterans Can Now Access Their Health Records Through Apple’s Health App

SeventyFour/iStock via Getty Images
SeventyFour/iStock via Getty Images

Apple’s iOS Health app is great for more than just checking how many steps you took during a lengthy walk in the park—it also stores health records from Johns Hopkins, Quest Diagnostics, Allscripts, and more than 400 other healthcare organizations.

Now, Fortune reports that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has joined that list, making it easier than ever for military veterans who receive healthcare through the Veterans Health Administration to access all of their health records, including medications, immunizations, lab results, and other information. In the press release, Apple explains that the app will automatically update the records, so all veterans need to do is log into their providers’s patient portals through the Health app for a “single, integrated snapshot of their health profile whenever they want, quickly, and privately.”

apple VA health app screenshot
Apple

Though the official announcement coincides nicely with Veterans Day on Monday, the change itself has been in the works for several months—the VA released the new feature to certain patients over the summer.

According to its website, the Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated healthcare system in the country, servicing more than 9 million patients across 1255 healthcare facilities. With such an expansive network, any successful attempt to streamline processes and improve the flow of information—especially when it comes to sensitive, personal data—has the potential to be a major game-changer for veterans.

apple VA health app screenshot
Apple

“Helping veterans gain a better understanding of their health is our chance to show our gratitude for their service,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said in the press release. “By working with the VA to offer Health Records on iPhone, we hope to help those who served have greater peace of mind that their healthcare is in good hands.”

Wondering what you can do to help veterans? Here are 11 honorable ideas.

[h/t Fortune]

A Handful of Lucky College Students Live With Senior Citizens in This Minnesota Mansion

vadimguzhva/iStock via Getty Images
vadimguzhva/iStock via Getty Images

When Winona State University student Ashley McGaw skateboards home after a long day of nursing classes, she’s greeted by an unusual entourage: the elderly residents of a Minnesota assisted living facility called Senior Living at Watkins.

According to WFAA, McGaw and several other college kids live there with 45 seniors as part of Winona Health’s “Students in Residence" program, in which students volunteer their time with residents in exchange for discounted rent. For 10 volunteer hours per month, it’s $400, and doubling your hours drops it to just $200 per month. Not only does that include meals, it also gives students the chance to forgo the usual college dorm building for the stately glamour of an old mansion—their rooms are located in the historic Watkins Manor House, which is attached to the assisted living facility.

For freshman Joel Olson, the opportunity seemed like a no-brainer.

“'All you have to do is spend some time with some really nice people?'” he remembers thinking, according to KARE 11. “Of course!”

As for how they spend that time, it’s up to the students. Graduate student Laura Jensen hosts weekly crocheting sessions, nursing student Hanna Rottier offers manicures, and bulletin boards advertise free tech support.

And, in return for sharing their time and talents, students get to experience the familial affection and grandparental concern that’s often scarce on a college campus.

“They all mother me,” Jensen tells KARE 11 about the members of her crocheting club. “They take care of me.”

Winona Health assisted living director Cheryl Krage sees evidence of this, too.

“I hear residents wondering how the students are doing with their studies,” Winona Health assisted living director Cheryl Krage tells KARE 11. “‘Are you eating enough, are you getting enough fruits and vegetable[s]?"

According to the program page on Winona Health’s website, the program is especially beneficial to students looking to enter the healthcare industry, whether that’s medical school, nursing, social work, rehabilitative therapy, or even music therapy.

It also keeps senior citizens connected to the next generation in a deeper way.

“Helps us stay young – ger,” senior resident Diane Sheldon told KARE 11.

[h/t WFAA]

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