News You Can Use
"I need a new doctor. Who's a good one?"
This is one of the most common questions library patrons ask. While PlaneTree staff and volunteers do not recommend specific professionals, we have a variety of resources to help you select a new family doctor or specialist.
Among them is the nonprofit, advertisement-free Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook
. The Spring/Summer 2011 issue that just landed on our journal rack features local physicians whom
other Bay Area doctors named as "most desirable for care of a loved one." General practitioners and specialists from 38 disciplines are listed.
If you would like a copy of the ratings and related article for your personal use, please send us a request along with a stamped (64¢), self-addressed business envelope. (See our mailing address at the very bottom of this email.) Or come in to review it and other related materials.
For additional help, MedlinePlus
has tips for choosing a doctor. The Medical Board of California
, a state agency, has more tips and information about a physician's current licensure, any disciplinary actions taken by the Board, and other details as reported by the doctor. You can check the specialties in which a doctor has received board-certification, or locate all physicians who have received board-certification in a given specialty near your zip code, by clicking here
If you or a loved one needs to complete an advance directive, you'll find a selection of forms and helpful information (in multiple languages) on the website of Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.
One listed resource, Go Wish,™ is designed to "give you an easy, entertaining way to think and talk about what's important to you if you become seriously ill." It may be played online
or as a card game. English-language decks are available ($9.95) in the PlaneTree bookstore. Order Spanish-language decks
The Lights, They Are a-Changin'
Only 10% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is turned into light, with the remainder turning into heat. That 90% wasted energy represents a terrific opportunity for us consumers to save our money and lower the environmental costs of power plants.
The most common, more efficient alternative is compact fluorescent lamps. CFLs have improved significantly since they became widely available on the mid-90s, with better color and faster start-up. You'll find shopping advice on this video; a purchasing guide has helpful charts.
CFLs do contain minute amounts of mercury, so give special care to recycling, cleaning up broken bulbs, and avoiding breakage. If you use CFLs, consider keeping these instructions handy by posting them inside the cabinet or closet door where you keep spare bulbs.
Another article in the new Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook addresses these questions:
- What does 'organic' mean?
- Is organic food more nutritious? Safer?
- How is organic food production better for the environment?
- What does organic food cost compared to non-organic?
- Which fruits and vegetables typically have the most and the least pesticide residue?
If you buy organic, you may wonder how well organic producers actually meet the ideals of humane, sustainable farming practices. Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit public interest group, has developed scorecards rating egg and dairy producers. Note that clicking a brand name reveals relevant details about the company's farms.
The Family Caregiver Alliance has information on a broad spectrum of care-giving issues, online discussion and support groups, and resources for locating services such as care-planning and respite care.
Additional Santa Clara County resources for caregivers (and for individuals who need assistance in order to remain in their homes) are described in this brochure.