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Free family health kits offer news you can use

Published May 15. 2013 4:00AM

DEAR ABBY: When friends and family get together, the conversation often turns to the subject of health. They swap stories about the medications they may be taking and the lifestyle changes they're making to improve their health. They look to each other for support and tips to get through the flu or a nasty case of food poisoning, and rely on each other's experience to tackle challenges like quitting smoking, managing heart disease, diabetes, menopause or conquering insomnia.

To help your readers support their loved ones through these health issues and many more, the FDA's Office of Women's Health and the GSA's Federal Citizen Information Center have created the free Friends and Family Health Kit. It contains more than 20 publications that are quick to read, easy to understand, and feature health care and prevention tips for women and their families.

Abby, thank you for letting your readers know about the Friends and Family Health Kit, and for sharing advice we can all use to better care for ourselves and for one another.

- Marsha Henderson, FDA assistant commissioner for women's health

DEAR MARSHA: Your letter is timely because we are in the middle of Women's Health Week, which runs from May 12 to 18. I'm always glad to receive your health kits because they are constantly being updated to reflect the latest information.

This year's health kits cover subjects that include recognizing health scams, preventing food poisoning, managing your medications from pregnancy to menopause, participating in clinical trials (which can be a lifesaver), controlling asthma, selecting a mammography facility, and staying safe with cosmetics and tattooing.

There is no charge for the Friends and Family Health Kits and they're easy to order. Just send your name and address to Friends and Family Health Kit, Pueblo, CO 81009; go online to www.promotions.usa.gov/dearabby.html; or call: 888-8-PUEBLO (that's 888-878-3256) weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. The publications can also be read online in PDF format, or be downloaded to your computer and printed out. Print supplies are limited, so don't wait to order them.

DEAR ABBY: I live in Alaska and have good friends I visit every summer on the East Coast. I have some acquaintances and former co-workers who live there, too. Many of them want me to visit when I come down. I have grown apart from these former friends and keep in touch only through occasional emails and Facebook.

Flying from Alaska to the East Coast is expensive and time-consuming. I really just want to rest and hang out with the friends I'll be staying with. Even when I avoid posting pictures of my vacation on Facebook until after the trip, I get comments or emails about me not stopping by or letting them know I was in town.

What's the polite way to tell these former co-workers and acquaintances that I don't want to spend my vacation time with them? Or should I just get over it and devote some time to them as well?

- Trying to be polite in Anchorage

DEAR TRYING TO BE POLITE: If you have any desire to continue the relationships with your former co-workers and acquaintances, why not arrange to meet a group of them at an agreed-upon place one afternoon for a "reunion"? If you don't, then either ignore their comments or respond to the emails by saying you needed to rest, which is the reason you didn't socialize more during your vacation.

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