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12.07.21 | Sage Advice

Sage How-to: Carefully Shopping Online

With the giving season quickly approaching, stores are becoming overwhelmingly packed with gifts and crowds looking to purchase them; what many forget is that online shopping offers the perfect alternative to finding everything you’re searching for this holiday season. Although, as accessible and exciting as the experience is, it can come with unexpected events that may lead to negative experiences, especially during this time of year. Today, we’re highlighting the necessary steps everyone should take while shopping online to make your experience effortless and enjoyable this winter and throughout the year.

Use Familiar Websites

One of the most significant steps you can take to make sure your online shopping experience finishes without any troubles is by sticking to the websites of companies you know are trusted. It’s tempting to explore new stores, especially with the convenience of online shopping, but venturing into new sites isn’t always the best idea. To make it easier on yourself during the holiday season, make sure to bookmark all of your favorite online retailers throughout the year. If you want to shop somewhere you haven’t before, make sure to search the Better Business Bureau website for any complaints made against them, check out their online reviews, or simply call the business to verify their credibility. 

Only Shop In Secure Locations

You should avoid shopping in public spaces or businesses as much as possible if you can. Whether you are in an airport or your local cafe, public Wi-Fi connections offer the possibility for trouble. Because it can be easy for scammers to collect data through Wi-Fi connections, it’s always safest to either stay off Wi-Fi when in public or make your purchase from a secure location.

Go Mobile 

Shopping from a mobile device is easier than ever and offers some of the safest ways to protect your data while making your big purchases. Not only is shopping from your phone usually more accessible than shopping from a computer, but more and more companies are also developing apps for their customers to buy from, which frequently provide heightened security compared to their websites. While going mobile, you can also take advantage of its other affordances, including secure mobile payment options commonly protected by passwords and facial recognition. 

Check Your Statements

After making your online purchases, make sure to periodically check your bank or credit card statements for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Some accounts will even let you set up notifications alerting you of any new activity made on your card. In most cases, if possible, it’s best to use a credit card for your holiday purchases. Paying with a debit card grants easy access to your bank account for scammers, and while a compromised credit card is still not ideal, most companies offer $0 liability in cases of fraud. 

Whether you’re buying for a friend, family member, or even yourself, don’t hesitate to take control over your digital environment with these simple steps that can make your online shopping experience safer than ever, especially this holiday season.

A person with a laptop on their lap is holding a credit card ready to type the numbers in to buy something online.
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11.23.21 | Sage Advice

Sage How-to: Safety and Security on the Web

At Sage Collective, one of our primary goals is to encourage older adults to participate in programming that empowers their purpose and lifestyle, often using leading-edge technology on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Today, we’re exploring the easy steps you can take to make your online experiences safe by protecting your privacy and personal information.

Create and Manage Your Passwords With Care

Passwords are a tricky element in online security. While they are meant to safeguard your sensitive information, they can be dangerous if you don’t put enough thought and responsibility into creating and managing them. When building passwords, try to use at least 12 characters, including letters, numbers and symbols — and avoid any personal information. Then keep your passwords in a protected place; writing them down and keeping the list of passwords in a secure spot is a good idea, instead of housing them on your devices. Make sure to also change/update your passwords regularly, and avoid using the same password for multiple devices or sites. And make sure to lock all of your computer, tablet and smartphone with secure passwords to prevent any unauthorized person from accessing them.

Think Twice Before Making Hasty Decisions

More and more our online experiences are interrupted by suspicious texts, emails and popups, asking for questionable information or inviting a click to an unfamiliar site. It’s imperative to assess these situations when they occur and think twice before making any decision to share your information online or be redirected to an unknown site. If you find yourself questioning the authenticity of a link, email or popup window, always use your intuition and best judgment before responding. And whenever possible, take a moment to research the source and determine if they’re legitimate.

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out For Help

If you find yourself with questions about the technology devices you’re using or any programs, apps or websites, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family or community members. When you’re on specific websites and run into roadblocks, look for FAQs, online chat boxes, phone numbers or “Need Help?” resources. Or simply go to “Contact Us” forms and send an email with your questions. 

Use Social Media Wisely 

As entertaining and engaging as it can be, social media can be a misleading environment if used without care or responsibility. If you want a more private digital space, make it a priority to change settings so that only those you follow or are friends with will see your posts. And most important, limit sharing your location in your profiles, personal settings and posts. For example, it might be hard to avoid the temptation to post while on vacation, but letting the public know that you’re away can potentially lead to unwanted events back home. 

Although it may seem like extra work to be secure and safe online, the effort and care that you take when active in your digital environments can give you peace of mind and a greater sense of control over your privacy and sensitive personal information.

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04.22.21 | Sage Advice

Chicago COVID-19 Vaccination: Where We’re At Now

As part of Sage Collective’s ongoing campaign to provide vital information regarding the COVID-19 virus, variants and vaccine to our community, we’re taking a closer look COVID-19 vaccination in Chicago, and where things stand today.

Open Eligibility

After a presidential decree stating that all U.S. adults should be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on April 19th, Chicago made it happen. This past Monday, Chicago joined the rest of Illinois (and the nation), opening vaccination appointments to all residents 16+ years of age. 

This move came just a week after Governor Pritzker announced that all Chicagoans were welcome to travel out to the suburbs to receive a vaccination dose, starting on Monday, April 12th, if they weren’t yet eligible in the city. 

Finding Your Shot

Now, Chicagoans are in a position where they can turn to local city vaccination sites to receive their shot — or they have the option to travel out to a nearby suburb if appointments in the city are hard to come by. 

To find a vaccine appointment in Chicago, you can use the city’s vaccine finder here. For those that are less inclined to use online technology, you also have the option of calling the city’s COVID-19 Help Line at 312-746-4835. Vaccine appointments can also be made at Costco Pharmacies, CVS, Jewel Osco, Mariano’s, and Walgreens. 

To find a vaccine appointment in Illinois, you can use the state’s vaccine finder here. You can also call the Illinois Department of Health Hotline at 833-621-1284 for assistance booking your appointment.

A Quick Word on Johnson & Johnson

With distrust of the vaccine already widespread, many were alarmed when distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was temporarily halted by the CDC and FDA. However, the number of those that experience side effects is slim, and the CDC and FDA continue to closely monitor the situation out of an abundance of caution. The City of Chicago’s official statement reads: 

“As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing 6 cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. We are monitoring the situation and in communication with federal partners. As we wait to learn more, we are not administering or scheduling the J&J appointments. We will continue to update as more information is available.” 

Where We’re At Now

Nearly 40% of Chicago residents 18 and older have received at least one dose. Meanwhile, that statistic falls to just 25% of all Black Chicagoans. As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Chicago, the dangerous and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community persists — while the city’s test positivity rate sat at 5.5% as of Tuesday, that number rises to 7.9% among Black Chicagoans.

As city and state officials continue to urge all residents to receive their vaccine, it becomes necessary for those officials to make a concerted effort to provide information and resources to communities of color, and to remain cognizant of the justifiable mistrust our nation’s history of public health inequity has sowed. 

At Sage Collective, we remain committed to keeping our community up-to-date with the latest information and insights. Stay tuned for more.

Orange traffic cones line a curb, with signs tied to them reading "Covid vaccine clinic parking only."
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04.13.21 | Sage Advice

COVID-19 Vaccine Testimonial: James M. Galloway

As part of our ongoing campaign to encourage and ramp up vaccination in Black communities across America, Sage Collective is creating testimonials that showcase why people have chosen to receive the coronavirus vaccine, and what the experience was like. To start, we’re engaging our own Board of Directors and Leadership Team to share their stories. 

After sharing the experience of Sage Collective’s own Donna Gaines and Dwain Kyles, this week we interviewed Rear Admiral (Ret.) James M. Galloway, MD, FACP, FACC, a United States medical doctor and Public Health physician, and member of the Sage Collective Leadership Team.

 

Why did you personally take the COVID-19 vaccine? Did you have any reservations or questions? Do you feel you had all the information you needed to take the decision to be vaccinated? What /who were your sources of information and guidance?   

As a physician and a public health professional, as well as a pandemic preparation lead under President Obama, I felt comfortable with vaccine safety in general but, of course, I had to do my diligent research into these COVID vaccines and the science behind them before being satisfied that they were safe and effective. I researched and reviewed the studies themselves as well as looked to the CDC and FDA for their evaluations and data. After these reviews, I felt very comfortable with receiving the vaccine. 

 

When did you receive your COVID-19 vaccine and from what company (Moderna, Pfizer, etc.)? What was the experience of signing up/scheduling? Have you received both shots? Where did you have to go to get your vaccinations? What was the experience like of getting into the chair and actually receiving the shot? (If you’ve received both shots, you can break this down by each experience).

As a vaccination center volunteer, I received my first Moderna vaccine in late February and the second in early March. At our vaccination center, in Arizona, sign up was on a website and obtaining the vaccine shot was simple and straightforward, with no untoward effects.

 

How did you feel after receiving the vaccine, physically or otherwise? Did you experience any side effects?  

I had no side effects from either shot. My wife, a nurse who worked at the center as well, had some mild fatigue that evening and went to bed early – and felt fine the next day.

 

What is your doctor saying about how COVID-19 vaccination fits into your long term health plan? Are you taking any aftercare measures — if so, what?  

The risk of COVID for me was much greater than the risk of the vaccine and provides me with a sense of relief I have not felt in a year. It remains critically important, even after vaccination, to wear a mask and maintain social distancing in public and around those who have not been vaccinated as well as continuing to avoid large gatherings. However, within our household and among our close relatives, all have been vaccinated now – and you cannot believe the wonder of hugging my 5 year old granddaughter again after a year! 

 

Are you serving as a guide to others who are seeking information and reassurance about being vaccinated?  

Absolutely. I have spoken with a great number of people who were hesitant about getting the vaccine due to concerns about its safety. After I had the chance to share with them the results of my research and study, many of these individuals proceeded to get their vaccinations. 

 

Overall, what do you believe makes COVID-19 vaccination so important to society writ large, and in your specific community?  

It is imperative that we protect our families and community members by getting OUR vaccine! It is also important for us as a nation and a community to get back towards normal, to open our schools, our businesses, our communities and our homes. 

Text overlay reads: "The risk of COVID for me was much greater than the risk of the vaccine and provides me with a sense of relief I have not felt in a year."
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04.08.21 | Sage Advice

Join a Roundtable Discussion About COVID-19 Vaccination

With Biden recently announcing all adult Americans will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by April 19th, many are preparing their arms for the shot. But access aside — what if you still don’t want the vaccine or are questioning whether to receive your dose? 

We’re here to listen to your concerns. Tell us how you feel about these issues at our live, virtual roundtable discussion:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. CST

During the roundtable, we invite our community members to discuss their decision to receive (or not receive) the COVID-19 vaccine. What makes you hesitant to receive the shot? What are the questions you want answered? Whether you have questions, or you know someone who could benefit from this discussion, all are welcome! 

We’ll be joined by our Leadership Team members Rear Admiral (Ret.) James M. Galloway, MD, FACP, FACC and Dr. Joseph West, experts in the fields of medicine and epidemiology, who will share their sage advice. 

Interested in attending? Please RSVP here

 

This live roundtable discussion is part of Sage Collective’s robust campaign to begin conversations about COVID-19 vaccination within our community, paying particular attention to older African Americans. 

As we seek to increase awareness of how the COVID-19 vaccine works and why it is important, we recognize that historic and systemic medical inequities in Black communities have bred justifiable mistrust. That’s why we must have meaningful conversations about our communities’ viewpoints on, and relationship to, the COVID-19 vaccination — so that we may find a solution that promotes health, safety and comfort for everyone moving forward.

Image text reads: I can get the COVID-19 vaccine, but I don't want it. Now what? Join us for a live virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday April 20, 2021, 1:00 PM CST. Image includes a photo of a vaccine vial and the Sage Collective logo
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03.16.21 | Uncategorized

Our Guide to Spring Cleaning

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to talk about that dreaded annual task: spring cleaning. Luckily, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be something you dread. With the right planning and strategy — and the right people to help lend a hand and brighten the task — spring cleaning can be a breeze. To get you started on the right path, we present: Sage Collective’s guide to spring cleaning.

Partner Up and Plan

Spring cleaning is a much easier — and much more fun — task when you have someone else to do it with you. Whether it’s a neighbor, friend or family member, invite someone over to take on the job with you. Start off by boiling a fresh kettle of tea and putting on a favorite record to set the mood. Together, work to create a checklist of everything that has to be done and to dole out responsibilities accordingly. That way, you can tackle the challenge together, and maybe even sing along as you go.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Supplies

First and foremost, you should always consider your safety when going about cleaning the house. That’s why choosing the right cleaning supplies is essential to getting the job done right, and done without incident. Things like long-handled brooms and stand-up dust pans ensure that you won’t have to constantly bend down when sweeping. Meanwhile, when it comes to those hard-to-reach places, an extendable duster will help make getting to every nook and cranny much easier!

Not Just Cleaning — But Decluttering

In addition to getting your home spotless, sparkling and shining, spring cleaning is the perfect time to tackle decluttering. From cleaning out the medicine cabinet to remove clutter and the safety hazards posed by expired medications, to cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator of any expired or unused food objects, to tackling those piled up stacks of bills, you’ll thank yourself later! These things stack up throughout the year, but by tackling declutter each spring, you can ensure a home where what you want and need most is easy to store and find later. 

Thinking About Safety

Spring cleaning is also a great time to check-in on the safety initiatives you have in place in your home. Plan to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure their batteries are still good and everything is in working order. And did you know fire extinguishers have an expiration date? Be sure to add checking those to the list! Because checking these things often requires climbing a ladder, consider enlisting a younger neighbor, caregiver or loved one to traverse the ladder for you in order to avoid fall risks. 

Other safety considerations to add to your spring cleaning checklist: check in on, or put together, a simple emergency kit. This can include first-aid kits, flashlights with spare batteries, and an easily-accessible list of numbers to call in case of an emergency. 

With these tips in mind, and with the right helping hands, spring cleaning might even become something you look forward to each year! 

A clear plastic spray bottle filled with yellow fluid. Lemons sit on the countertop next to the bottle
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10.08.20 | Sage Advice

Overcoming Challenges Posed by COVID-19

COVID-19 poses many challenges particularly to vulnerable populations such as older adults but with every challenge is an opportunity to overcome it. We spoke with Dr. John K. Holton, PhD., to discuss lessons learned and positive outcomes during the pandemic. Holton is Director of Strategic Initiatives for Social Policy and Research at the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and board member at Sage Collective. 

Finding New Ways to Connect

With older adults at higher risk of being severely affected by COVID-19, many are taking CDC safety guidelines more seriously than the average American, which can lead to increased social isolation and loneliness. “While no one is happy to see the quality of life for older adults affected,” explains Holton, “increased awareness of the risk of social isolation has created a positive impact: people are now more concerned about the wellbeing of older adults than ever before.”

The increased attention and care for older adults in our communities has led to inventive, highly organized solutions. “We’ve seen responses raised, like setting up phone banks or block-by-block check-ins on homes led by local faith institutions,” says Holton. “These solutions are being used to blanket communities with networks that were always there informally, but that have now taken on a more formal responsibility of influence.”

Holton goes on to say: “During the pandemic, the slogan we’re all in this together has arisen. But what should go hand-in-hand with that slogan is the additional call to action: and here’s how you can be helpful. That kind of thinking is what takes the spirit from passive connection to fruitful action, making the power of the collective come alive.”

Graphic reads During the pandemic, the slogan We're all in this together has arisen, but what should go hand in hand with that slogan is the additional call to action: and here's how you can be helpful

Making Solutions Accessible

Every challenge (and subsequent solution) is a learning experience. Holton echoes this sentiment: “There are lessons we’re learning from experiencing this pandemic, and best practices we’re evolving for the years to come, because while this is the first pandemic in over a hundred years, it certainly won’t be the last, and we need to be prepared. We’re gaining invaluable understanding and insight as we go, as this pandemic continues to reshape our economy and our social practices.” 

But as we invent new solutions, they can’t be one size fits all. Different circumstances call for different approaches, and Holton stresses the importance of accessibility and consideration for more vulnerable populations (such as older adults). “In other words, as we develop best practices writ large, are we making sure to adapt them to apply to our most vulnerable populations?” challenges Holton.

Learning Lessons, New and Old

One example Holton uses is the 1995 Chicago heat wave. Over a period of five days, 739 heat-related deaths occurred in the city, with the majority of victims being elderly residents. Many could not afford air conditioning or were unable to open windows in their homes, and as a community we failed to check in on them and ensure their needs were being met. “That was a wake-up call for everybody,” reflects Holton, “including city government. We knew then we had to do better. Failing to meet that challenge led to posthumous solutions like cooling stations and phone banks organized by the Illinois Department of Human Services [IDHS]. In these periods of extended crisis, we learn to create solutions that fit the needs of our most vulnerable populations, because we have to, to do better as a public body.”

Another example comes from widespread criticism of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Many felt FEMA did an inadequate job of encouraging evacuation in target areas before the hurricane hit. “What we learned from FEMA,” explains Holton, “is that the protocols it had in place to help people understand the urgency of the situation only worked for a certain class of folks — in other words, folks who had transportation and were able to organize belongings and jump in their cars. Meanwhile, folks who weren’t in that position needed other types of assistance to help them evacuate. Borrowing from that example, we learned then and will learn now what does and doesn’t work with certain pockets of our population.” 

We’re facing parallel challenges today: meeting the needs of nursing homes and skilled care facilities during the pandemic. Early on, many were hit hard and were scary places to be for vulnerable populations. But as time goes on and we learn more, communities are taking more civic responsibility for the health and safety of each and every person, because as Holton says, we’re all in this together, and we need to do what we can to help. And when we do work together for a better future, wonderful things arise from it. 

JOHN HOLTON
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