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Your Health, Your Plan, Your Choice!

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare begins on October 15th through December 7th, 2021, for 2022 coverage. During this period individuals who are on Medicare can review and make changes to their current health and drug plans that would become effective on January 1st, 2022.

Who Is It for and What Can You Do?

Medicare open enrollment is for individuals who are already receiving health coverage through Medicare. People who are eligible for Medicare and need to sign up can contact the Social Security Administration prior to open enrollment. During this enrollment period, those on Medicare have many options that are available to them including:

  • Switching original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch current Medicare Advantage plan to another different Advantage plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to original Medicare
  • Enroll in a Medicare Part D, prescription drug plan
  • Change Medicare Part D plan to a different plan
  • Drop Medicare Part D coverage

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Although Medicare open enrollment may seem like an easy process for some, it can be difficult to keep track of deadlines. Here are some helpful hints to avoid common mistakes during the Medicare open enrollment period:

  • Know the dates! Medicare open enrollment begins October 15, 2021 and ends on December 7, 2021.
  • Double check that this open enrollment period applies to you. Medicare open enrollment is for individuals who are already on Medicare, NOT for those who NEED to sign up for Medicare!
  • Let your agent/broker know of any changes to your medical information. Your health needs and doctors could have changed over the past year, and this could alter your Medicare plan. It is important to make note of these changes so you can get the best plan for you.
  • Pay attention to factors other than premiums. Although premiums are important, you should also pay attention to out-of-pocket costs, copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance costs!
  • Don’t assume there hasn’t been changes to your current plan. It is possible that prescription drug plans change their provider networks, and your current doctors and pharmacies may no longer be in network. It’s important to double check if these changes have applied to your plan.

“If you don’t take a little time to compare options during open enrollment, you’re probably leaving money on the table. You may pay too much in premiums, or miss out on a plan that would cut your out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy.”

 Louise Norris, licensed broker and analyst for medicareresources.org.

How to Prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment

Preparing for Medicare open enrollment can make the process during this period less stressful and an easier transition for you and your family. Here are some tips on how to prepare for this upcoming enrollment period:

  • Review your current Medicare plan and any changes for the upcoming year, then decide if this plan still fits your needs.
  • Preview Medicare plans for 2022. You can browse health care plans and compare costs at: Medicare.gov
  • Check your mail and reach out to an agent in your community!

Medicare open enrollment can be an overwhelming time for those who are unsure where to start or what to do. During this period, insurance companies and agents are more than willing to answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding your Medicare plans.

R. Kashmiry & Associates is a free service, so give us a call or visit our website to discuss your plan today!

330-758-4163, https://rkashmiry.com

The Year of the Nurse

The Year of the Nurse

National Nurses Week

Nursing is a stressful, demanding and rewarding job for most and the demand for nurses is at an all time high. COVID-19 has taken a toll on nurses and their mental health. This pandemic has been hard on everyone but especially hard on healthcare workers. Almost 4 million nurses nationwide have had critical roles during COVID-19, by keeping families safe and healthy. Normally, National Nurses Week is celebrated every year from May 6th to May 12th. This year, the celebration of nurses will continue all month long. National Nurses Week is an opportunity to reach out to nurses and let them know they are appreciated.

“When a person decides to become a nurse, they make the most important decision of their lives. They choose to dedicate themselves to the care of others.”Margaret Harvey, PhD, RN, president of the Indianapolis Campus of the Chamberlain College of Nursing

What is Nursing?

Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession. To put it simply, nurses save lives and can provide care in all aspects of their patients’ health, unlike doctors who typically provide care in one area of work. Nurses oversee the general care of their patients and identify any problems that arise within their care.

Roles of a Nurse

Nurses take on many roles and responsibilities during one shift. Working as a nurse, you must be adaptive, be able to coordinate care with various healthcare professionals, and prepared for any challenge. Overall, nurses evaluate and monitorpatients around the clock. Among these evaluations’ nurses also:

  • Perform physical exams.
  • Monitor patients’ vital signs.
  • Record patient’s medical history and symptoms.
  • Administer medications and treatments.
  • Analyze results of tests and provide results to patients.
  • Provide emotional support to patients and families.
  • Perform various testing, such as drawing blood.

The duties of a nurse revolve around patient care and doing what is best for the patient. When deciding on the best treatment options for a patient, they always have their best interest at heart. Nurses work hard to make sure that patients are educated about their illnesses, treatment options, and decisions they can make.

Nursing Specialties

The best part about nursing is that there are so many specialties that you can choose from. Depending on what interests you the most, you can choose a specific nursing specialty that fits your needs. When nurses decide on a specialty it is important to enjoy what you are doing and do what makes you the happiest.

  • Registered Nurse (RN): Provide health care to the public and is the backbone of health care.
  • Cardiac Nurse: Focus mainly on patients with issues of the heart.
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): Well trained and specializes in helping with anesthesia during operations.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): Type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who often takes part in leadership and educative roles.
  • Critical Care Nurse: Specializes in emergency situations.
  • ER Nurse: Specializes in providing care and assessments in the emergency room setting.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): Focuses on primary health care for all ages and families.
  • Geriatric Nursing: Focuses on the care of older adults.
  • Perioperative Nurse (Surgical/OR Nurse): Specializes in care in the operating room and post-operation care.
  • Nurse Midwife: Assists in the care of pregnant women and labor and delivery.
  • Nursing Administrator: Oversee nursing units and manages the duties of each nursing team.
  • Oncology Nurse: Specialize in care and education of cancer and treatment options.
  • Pediatric Nurse: Focuses on the care of children.
  • Travel Nurse: Able to travel to different locations around the country to work and expand professionally.

These are just some of the many choices you have when you chose nursing as a career. There are many different specialties, and you are guaranteed to find one that you really enjoy.

How to Become a Nurse

Becoming a nurse is very time-consuming and could be considered a challenge for some. There are different educational requirements depending on which field of nursing you choose. Typically, there are two main types of nurses that require education, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).

Education Requirements to become an RN:

Education Requirements to become an RN:

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN); a 2-year program
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); a 4-year college program.

Education Requirements to become an LPN:

  • 1-year degree from a trade or vocational school, or hospital

Regardless of what degree level is chosen, to become a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, you must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN. Those who decide to further their education past a Bachelor’s degree, will go on to earn their Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP).

What Specialties Can I Chose with a Masters of Science in Nursing?

  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  • Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

The length of time it takes to become a nurse depends on what degree level you decide based upon the specialty you have chosen. Becoming a nurse takes a lot of time and hard work, but one step at a time will get you that much closer to your goals.

Thank you, Nurses!

Nurses are heroes. They deserve to be celebrated not just this week, but everyday for dedicating their lives to the care of others. The COVID-19 pandemic has made their work even more difficult, so the appreciation is more important now than ever. Many businesses are showing their gratitude by offering discounts and free items to healthcare workers. Sending thoughtful letters, cards, or gifts are some ways to show nurses that you care. Remember to thank your hardworking nurses for all that they do!

“Nursing is the most rewarding career, and I am so thankful I get to do what I love every day.”Cassandra Feezle, BSN, RN, at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota.

COVID-19 Vs. Sexual Assault

COVID-19 Vs. Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Every 73 seconds, another person becomes a victim of sexual assault. Sexual assaults are one of the most common crimes in the United States with the majority going underreported. For many years, a lot of work has been devoted to changing the stigma around sexual assault and allowing victims to speak up. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and there is no better time than now to learn about sexual assault and what you can do to help.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault consists of the performance of unwanted sexual acts. These acts are performed without consent and against a person’s will. But what does consent mean? Consent is the act of giving permission, and saying yes. In some cases, consent is not given due to mental issues, under the influence of drugs, age, and various other reasons. Abusers will then force these individuals to perform sexual acts against their will, resulting in sexual assault. Often, abusers tend to be spouses or family members, but can also be friends, coworkers, or complete strangers. Knowing signs of sexual assault can help victims to come forward and report their crimes.

Signs of Sexual Assault:
  • Depression symptoms.
  • Appetite and sleep changes.
  • Disconnecting from friends and family, and extreme sadness.
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harming.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Avoiding specific people and places.
  • Alcohol or drug use.
  • Physical markings, such as bruises or cuts.

How COVID-19 has Affected Sexual and Domestic Violence.

Sexual and domestic violence have been common crimes for many decades. Today, with COVID-19, lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders, domestic and sexual assault cases in the home are on the rise. People forced to stay at home during these stressful times increases the risk of violence, especially from a spouse or partner. Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have also made it difficult for those victims of sexual assault. Closures of shelters, hotels, and housing leave victims with nowhere to go except for at home with their abuser.

“33 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner.”
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

Difficulties for Survivors

Not only is COVID-19 increasing the risk of domestic and sexual violence, but it is also causing obstacles for survivors. Survivors are scared to seek medical help from hospitals, with fear that they will contract the virus. Survivors are dealing with pandemic-related problems and are waiting to go to the hospital. Time to collect evidence after an assault ranges from 120 hours, or five days, for adults and 72 hours or 3 days for children. After these time periods, evidence of an assault is gone forever. Without physical evidence collected at the hospital, it makes it more difficult to conduct a case against their abusers.

Domestic and sexual violence survivors are also avoiding hospitals due to the mass amount of care going towards COVID-19. As hospitals become overrun with COVID-19 patients, sexual assault survivors do not want to seek care in an already overwhelmed hospital. Even those survivors who are going to the hospitals after an assault are noticing certain resources are no longer available. Normally, when a sexual assault is reported survivors are matched with a social worker or licensed volunteer to provide trauma support during their exams. Because of COVID-19 volunteers are not allowed to be with patients in hospitals. Leaving survivors with phone options for support after a traumatic event and for some survivors, it is not enough.

Heightened Violence Against Children

Although sexual violence among adults is common, the pandemic has caused an increase of children becoming sexual assault victims. Commonly, child sexual assaults are committed by a family member or family friend. With most schools going online and parents working at home, this is a perfect environment for abusers to attack. This can also remain true for babysitters or child caregivers who have been at home with children during the pandemic as parents work. It is important to always listen to children who state that sexual assault has occurred, even if they accuse family members. Reporting them and getting them checked right away can help catch the abuser and make your children feel safer.

“Even in the midst of a pandemic, we want survivors to seek the care they need.”

Barbara Osborne, director of The Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center

Sexual Assault in the Age of Technology

As a society, we have become a digital country. Advances in technology have made major impacts to the medical field. But what most people do not realize is that the internet is also a common place for sexual exploitation to occur. Most children today live with cell phones, computers, and tablets making them vulnerable to online predators at the click of a button. Monitoring children to recognize signs of predators online, can make the internet safer for adults and children.

Signs of Online Sexual Exploitation:
  • Sends or asks for sexual images against your will.
  • Performing sexual acts virtually without your consent.
  • Grooming children for future sexual abuse.
  • Threatening you into performing/sharing sexual content.
  • Sends you sexual photos.

Men are Victims Too

Most sexual assault cases tend to be female with 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced sexual assault. It is important to recognize both male and female victims of sexual violence as they are equally important. Although less common than women, 1 in 71 men in the United States have experienced sexual assault. These numbers for male victims are still alarming because in a perfect world, sexual assault would not occur at all.

Resources and Hotlines

There is a great number of resources available to domestic and sexual abuse survivors. Getting help and discussing what happened with a professional is the first step in coping with the trauma. Never be afraid to ask for help and use these servicesat any time. Remember to be an advocate for yourself and others and speak up when you or someone you know has been sexual assaulted. You are not alone.

Women’s History: Then and Now

Women’s History: Then and Now

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

Hillary Clinton

Women’s History Month

Since the beginning of time, women have been making major impacts on society and contributions to the world. Officially in 1987, March became known as Women’s History Month, celebrating amazing women who opened the door for women’s rights. Women’s history month is full of ways to celebrate women, including International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8th every year. During women’s history month, it is important to remember the powerful women who started the fight for equality and continue to impact fighters today.  

Women’s History Month

Since the beginning of time, women have been making major impacts on society and contributions to the world. Officially in 1987, March became known as Women’s History Month, celebrating amazing women who opened the door for women’s rights. Women’s history month is full of ways to celebrate women, including International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8th every year. During women’s history month it is important to remember the powerful women who started the fight for equality and continue to impact fighters today.  


  • Abigail Adams: Known for being a strong advocate for woman’s rights in the late 1700’s.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Known for their activist ideas during the Suffrage Movement. Founders of the National Woman Suffrage Association which ultimately led to the passage of the 19th amendment, women’s right to vote.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell: The first woman to graduate from medical school and become a doctor.
  • Sojourner TruthAfter living a terrible life as a slave, she became a well-known women’s rights activists, delivering her most famous speech “Ain’t I A Woman?”
  • Margaret SangerOpened the first birth control clinic in the United States. She is an advocate for women’s reproductive rights and founding the American Birth Control League which lead to the development of modern day Planned Parenthoods.
  • Amelia EarhartThe first woman to fly an airplane nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.


  • Nancy Pelosi: The first female speaker of the House.
  • Hillary Clinton: The first female to become a presidential nominee.
  • Kamala Harris: First woman and woman of color to become the Vice President of the United States.

Women in Medicine

Women’s rise in the medical field started when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to earn a medical degree in 1849. Back in the 1900’s, it was very hard for women, especially of color, to be accepted into medical school. Men were the only ones who were awarded for their contributions in medicine. Today, women are eagerly taking over the medical field and being awarded for their contributions to medicine.

Powerful Women in Medicine

  • Dr. Virginia ApgarDesigned the first test for the health of newborns, known as the Apgar Score.
  • Dr. Helen TaussigLed a cardiac operation that led to the development of open-heart surgery.
  • Dr. Irene FerrerHelped to develop the cardiac catheter.
  • Dr. Marilyn GastonKnown for sickle cell disease research and helped develop nationwide screenings.

Although women created advances in medicine, today they are still faced with several challenges. These include:

  • Female doctors are paid less than men in the same field.
  • Fewer research and leadership roles for women.
  • Not receiving tenure at academic schools.

Despite these problems, women came a long way in the medical field and continue to inspire young girls every day.

Women in The Workplace

During the early 1900’s women did not work outside of the house. Their jobs were, childcare, and household tasks. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1900’s that women began taking over the workplace. Women would prepare for careers by getting an education and earning a degree. As of December 2020, women held 50.4% of American jobs. The two largest careers by women are health care and retail services. The growth of women in the workplace has benefits for society, but women still face many struggles in the workforce today.

Benefits of Female Workers

  • Women workers show higher, job satisfaction, meaningful work, and less burnout.

Supporting Women in the Workplace

  • Do not discriminate by gender. Give all genders the ability to receive raises, and praises for their work.
  • Offer flexible work that fits into their lifestyle.
  • Take the time to get to know them and support their ideas.
  • Involve them in leadership roles and provide job advice.

Women in Sports

During the early 19th century women were told to not participate in sports and the sports industry remained a male field until the late 1900’s. Theories about sports in the early 19th century showed damaging results to women’s health, particularly reproductive health. Women competed for the first time at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900. Of the 997 total players at the games, only 22 were women and they only competed in 5 sports, golf, tennis, equestrianism, sailing, and crochet. Women’s role in sports steadily increased during the late 1900’s. Today, female athletes are recognized for their talent and contributions to the sports industry. In 2012 at the Olympic Games in London, women played in every sports category and at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, 45% of competitors were women.

Leading Women in Sports

  • Wilma RudolphAn African American sprinter who was the first woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympics.
  • Janet GuthrieIn 1977, she became the first woman to compete in the Indy 500.
  • Manon Rheaume: In 1992, she became the first woman to compete in a National Hockey League game.
  • Billie Jean KingKnown as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. She is also a major advocate for women and LGBTQ equality.
  • Serena & Venus Williams: Considered 2 of the best female tennis players with Serena being the only woman on the Forbes world’s highest paid athletes.
  • Lindsey VonnWon 4 World Cup championships in female skiing, becoming one of only 2 female skiers to accomplish this.
  • Danica PatrickBecame the first and only woman to win the IndyCar series in 2008 at the Indy Japan 300. She is the most accomplished woman of American open-wheel racing.

For decades women fought for recognition in the medical field, workplace and in sports. While women receive recognition for their achievements, there is still a long way to go. As Women’s History Month continues, let’s uplift each other by spreading kindness to the women in our lives. Be an advocate for women’s right and speak up for what you believe in. Always encourage other women to join in the fight for gender equality.

“Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”

Serena Williams

The Basics About Kidney Health

The Basics About Kidney Health

March is National Kidney Month, so what better way to celebrate then getting to know all about them! Here is everything you need to know about your kidneys and kidney health.

What do our kidneys do?

Our kidneys are very important in everyday health functions of our bodies. You cannot live without your kidneys, although some people do live healthy lives with only one kidney. The kidneys are two bean shaped organs that are only as big as a human fist. Our kidneys act as two filters for our blood, removing waste and toxins from our bodies. They filter roughly a half cup of blood per minute, removing toxins and extra fluid in your body. This waste and extra fluid is removed through urine production. The kidneys are connected to the bladder by two small tubes called ureters. The urine travels from the kidneys, through the ureters and to the bladder, producing urine. The importance of staying hydrated to help remove the waste through our urine is essential for kidney health.

Our kidneys are very important in everyday health functions of our bodies. You cannot 

Our kidneys have other functions as well. Such as:

  • Production of red blood cells.
  • Controlling blood pressure levels.
  • Supports bone health and strength.
  • Removes acid from blood. (Caused by cells in our body)

What happens if kidneys do not work properly? If this is the case, the waste and toxins are not filtered to the bladder and are filtered back into our blood stream. This can cause serious issues with health and lead to kidney disease.

What is kidney disease?

More than one in seven American adults suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease. Having chronic kidney disease means your kidneys have been damaged and do not filter your blood correctly. Kidney disease is gradual, and loss of function happens over time. Eventually waste can build up in your body making you feel very sick. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, needing dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. Kidney disease can cause serious health problemsthat include:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Repeated infections
  • Loss of appetiteDepression

Risk Factors

Kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. Knowing the risk factors can promote healthy lifestyle changes to lower these risks. Those who are most at risk for kidney disease include:

  • Those who have diabetes. (Most common cause of kidney disease)
  • Those who have high blood pressure. (Second leading cause of kidney disease)
  • Have a family history of chronic kidney disease.
  • Old age. (Those over the age of 60 are more likely to develop kidney disease)


Knowing the signs of potential kidney disease can increase treatments sooner. Having kidney disease is hard to diagnose because most people might not even feel sick until the disease is progressed. Symptoms appear as signs that one or both of your kidneys are starting to fail. Symptoms include:

  • Dry, itchy skin.
  • Swollen feet and ankles.
  • Feeling fatigued and lowered energy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle cramping (especially during nighttime.)
  • Puffy eyes (More common in the morning)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble breathing
  • Excessive urination or not urinating enough

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect kidney disease, a series of tests performed to diagnose. Doctors will ask for a background of your medical history first. This includes, family history of kidney disease, if you suffer from any diseases currently, and a physical exam. Kidney disease diagnosis tests include:

  • Blood and urine tests. (Most common in detecting abnormalities)
  • Imaging tests.
  • Collecting a kidney biopsy to determine any decreased kidney function.

On the other hand, treatment can become more difficult. Certain kidney diseases can be managed and treated but chronic kidney disease has no effective treatment or cure. Management of symptoms for chronic kidney disease include:

  • Medications for high blood pressure.
  • Supplements to control anemia.
  • Diuretics to reduce swelling.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to support bones.
  • Medications to lower cholesterol.
  • Low protein diets.

Prevention tips to keep your kidneys healthy

Preventing chronic kidney disease starts can be as simple as choosing healthy lifestyle choices. In the early stages of kidney disease symptoms are low, so routine doctors’ visits are important to keep an eye on your health. Some prevention tips to keep your kidneys healthy include:

  • Having a healthy diet. (Eat fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit salty and fatty foods.)
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Manage diabetes and blood pressure. (Take medications if prescribed.)
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Exercise routinely.

Preventing kidney disease does not have to be hard. Simply swapping one bad habit for one good habit can reduce your risk dramatically.

Other kidney problems to look out for

Along with the risk factors of chronic kidney disease, there are other kidney conditions that can pave the way to chronic kidney disease development. Spotting and treating these conditions early can reduce the risk of kidney disease. Some kidney conditions that are left untreated become very high risk for kidney problems. Some kidney conditions to be aware of include:

  • Kidney stones. (Most common and treatable kidney problem.)
  • Kidney infections. (Untreated urinary tract infections can lead to kidney infections. Women are most at risk.)
  • Kidney cancer.
  • Acute kidney injury. (Life-threatening if not treated as soon as possible.)

Chronic kidney disease is a global killer hidden in plain sight. The evidence is clear: Many nations’ health systems cannot keep pace with the dialysis demand. Cases far exceed and are well beyond the ability of those systems to handle. The consequences, literally, are deadly.”Dr. Theo Vos, professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Mental Health During the Pandemic

Mental Health During the Pandemic

COVID-19 and Mental Health

During this uncertain time, it is hard to keep your mind from worrying and stressing over every detail. Did I wash my hands enough? Do I have my mask? Am I social distancing? All these questions are becoming the new norm as we transition through February 2021, marking one whole year of the COVID-19 outbreak. Working from home, becoming unemployed, children doing virtual school, not being able to see friends or family members and overall fear of contracting the virus, all impacting our mental health. Learning about what you can do to support your mental health, for yourself and families, during difficult times is the key to happiness.

Managing Stress

The Coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of stressful challenges for many of us. For adults, working from home can soon become overwhelming. Online school can also cause distress and high emotions for children and young adults. Following social distancing rules can also make us feel alone, stressed and cause anxiety. There are many ways to cope with stress in a healthy way and help you realize you are not alone.

How to cope with stress:
  • Limit watching, reading, or listening to the news and disconnect from your screen time for a while.
  • Exercise daily and get enough sleep.
  • Be mindful of your body. (Meditating, breathing exercises, yoga.)
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Discuss with others how you are feeling. (Friends, family, or therapists.)
  • Take time for YOU. Unwind and do relaxing things you enjoy. (Read a book, take a bath, go for a walk.)
How to help others cope:
  • Online video chats can help you stay connected.
  • Phone calls, emails, texts, can let someone know you care.
  • Offer advice and listen to their concerns.

Coping with Loss

Along with stress, COVID-19 is also bringing large amounts of grief and loss. In the United States, 463,445 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. That is 463,445 families grieving the loss of a loved one. Coping with the grief of losing family members and friends is not easy and takes a large toll on our mental health. There is no handbook on the grieving process but recognizing that there is life after loss can make this difficult time a little easier.

  • Do not be hard on yourself. Be kind and listen to your body and mind.
  • Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling. (Do not hold it in)
  • Express your emotions. (Talk to someone, go for a walk, do an activity)
  • Be patient with yourself. Grief is a journey, it takes time.

“We believe grief is a form of love and it needs to find a place in your life after you lose someone close.”

Psychiatrist Dr. M. Katherine Shear at Columbia University

Ways to Support Mental Health

Managing stress and coping with grief are two important factors to control during the pandemic. Along with stress and grief there is an overwhelming number of emotions that also occur. Adapting to this new way of life can be challenging for all of us, especially parents, older adults and those who already have a mental illness.

Advice for parents:
  • Make sure to stay involved during children’s in-home learning. Set time aside for schoolwork and activities.
  • Keep them informed of COVID-19 and safety rules. Use easy to understand language if they are younger.
  • Keep the same routines from before the pandemic. If these are not possible, form new routines and stick to them.
  • Encourage video chats with classmates, friends, and family members to stay connected.
  • Limit screen time. (Do activities together that do not require a screen)
  • Spend extra time together and give extra attention.

Advice for older adults:
  • Stay informed on current Coronavirus information.
  • Stay home and stay safe. (Especially if you have a preexisting medical condition)
  • Keep in touch with family and friends through phone calls, emails, and video chats.
  • Keep a healthy diet.
  • Participate in physical activity daily.
  • Use resources to limit time out in the public. (Grocery delivery services, restaurant delivery).
  • Make sure to have extra supplies of medications.
  • If you must go out in public, wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart.
  • Reach out to family, friends, or neighbors for help.
Advice to help all of us look after our mental health:
  • Make a routine. (Go to bed and wake up at the same time, eat meals at the same time, consistent exercise)
  • Stay connected by social contact. (Virtually through video chats, FaceTime, Skype).
  • Stay informed but make sure to not overdo it. (Limit television and news to a few times daily)
  • Minimize screen time daily.
  • Support others by helping them through this time.
  • Support healthcare workers. Make sure to thank them online and in your own communities.

What do I do if I already have a mental health condition prior to the pandemic?

Living with a mental illness through a pandemic can worsen symptoms and make it more difficult to work through your mental illness. If you are struggling, just know you are not alone. There are healthy ways to cope with a mental condition during the pandemic. There are various resources and programs that can assist you during this time.

Advice and resources for those with a mental health condition:
  • Make sure to keep enough medications on hand. (Ask your doctor for extra supplies, refill them early)
  • Continue routines. (If old routines are interrupted, create new ones to fill the gap)
  • Get involved in virtual meetings for clubs, friends, and family members.
  • Stay connected with psychiatrists and therapists. (Virtual video therapy sessions or phone calls)
  • Use online support groups. (Crisis Text Line, text MHA to 741741)
  • Get in touch with a warmline. (A support tool run by others suffering from mental illness).

“COVID-19 can result in psychological issues due to both pandemic stress and the physical effects of the disease,” 

Brittany LeMonda, PhD, a senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Anxiety, depression, and panic disorders are on the rise due to COVID-19. Even those recovering from COVID-19 are likely to develop some mental health condition. Those who have gotten COVID-19 are twice as likely to develop a mood or anxiety disorder sometime after their recovery.

Staying connected and supportive of others will help us get through the pandemic. Supporting healthcare workers, local businesses and staying safe are important rules to follow during this stressful time. We are all in this together.

5 Tips to Start Building a Healthy Heart

5 Tips to Start Building a Healthy Heart

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. Heart disease is a term that groups together various heart conditions and symptoms. Sometimes, heart disease can be undetected. Most people will notice heart disease with the signs of a heart attack or heart failure.

Risk Factors:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Having prediabetes or diabetes.
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Unhealthy diet and eating habits.
  • Severe stress and disturbed sleep patterns.

Tips to prevent heart disease:

In honor of February being American Heart Month, spreading awareness about the preventions of heart disease can lower rates of heart related issues around the world. Learning what you can do to keep your heart healthy is the first step to a healthy heart.

Tip #1: Establish healthy eating habits and choose heart healthy foods and drinks.

Developing healthier eating habits can be as easy as simply eliminating certain foods from your diet. Reading nutritional facts and doing research of what foods contain certain basic nutrients, is an important step in developing a healthy diet.

Foods to eliminate:

  • Foods high in sodium. (processed meats, instant microwave products and pre-seasoned and pre-made mixes and sauces)
  • Added sugars. (sweetened drinks and desserts)
  • Saturated fats. (fatty meats and meats with skin)
  • Trans fats. (processed foods)
  • Alcohol.

Foods to increase in diets:

  • Fruits and vegetables. (leafy greens and fruits)
  • Protein rich foods. (fish, lean meats, eggs, and nuts)
  • Whole grains. (brown rice and whole wheat or whole grain breads)
  • Fat-free and low-fat dairy products.
  • Avocados.
  • Seeds. (sunflower, sesame, and flax)

Tip #2: Engage in a moderate level of physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition recommends adults to get a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine might not be as hard as it seems! Participating in physical activity can also increase your ability to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your chances of obesity.

Physical activity recommendations:

  • 150 minutes of moderate activity level per week (aerobics, walking, running, swimming & dancing)
  • Break your activity levels up throughout the week in increments.
  • Reduce your sitting time!
  • Include weights overtime to help aid in muscle strengthening.

How to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Discuss with your doctor about your weight and to set an ideal weight for you.
  • Engage in as much physical activity as you can weekly.
  • Reduce overeating by controlling portion sizes in your meals.
  • Include healthy snacks such as, veggies or fruits, to your diet.

Tip #3: Manage your stress levels and get an adequate amount of undisturbed sleep.

Managing stress and getting adequate sleep can have monumental benefits to our heart health. An abundance of stress can cause levels of blood pressure to rise and create uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety. Being severely stressed may also cause disruptions in the sleep cycle, thus creating more health issues in return.

Ways to manage stress:

  • Pinpoint the stressor in your life and create solutions that could reduce the stress levels. (journaling or making lists.)
  • Engage in physical activity to get your mind off the stress.
  • Reach out to a friend or loved one who can talk you through the situation. (family member, friend, coworker or a licensed therapist)

Ways to get better sleep:

  • Get on a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it. (going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day)
  • Refrain from using technology such as, cell phones, tablets and computers, before going to sleep.
  • Ensure the room is dark enough to not keep you from falling asleep. (use a sleep mask or room darkening curtains to keep out the light).

Tip #4: Quit smoking!

It is no surprise that smoking tobacco or vaping products can cause serious problems to your heart health. Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate, causing the heart to overwork itself.. Cutting the bad habit of smoking can do optimal things for you and your health. Not only will you feel better mentally and physically, but you will increase your lifespan.

Tips to quit smoking:

  • Discuss with your doctor the best options for you. (Nicotine patches, nicotine gums, or prescription medications).
  • Call a hotline or join a club or program to help you stop smoking. (1–800–QUIT–NOW or http://smokefree.gov/ )

Tip #5: Attend routine doctor’s visits to check important vitals such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Going to the doctor’s can sometimes be stressful, overwhelming or even be too time consuming in your busy schedule. In reality, routine doctors’ visits can prevent diseases and other medical conditions by routine checkups. Routine doctors’ visits can have excellent effects on our heart health, by checking blood pressure and cholesterol routinely.

Benefits of routine doctors’ visits:

  • Ability to detect diseases or medical conditions that are especially dangerous.
  • Decreases your chances of catching viral illnesses (common cold, or the flu).
  • Produces more time for treatment interventions.
  • Ability to monitor health risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI)
Juicing Benefits

Juicing Benefits

The first evidence of juicing leads back to B.C. time, but it did not become popular until the 1970s. The diet involves solely consuming juices of vegetables and fruits.While being mindful of the risks involved if not done properly, juicing can prevent diseases and conditions like cancer, asthma, arthritis, and more.


  • Gives your body extra nutrients
  • Rich in anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Boosts immune system and provides energy
  • Introduces healthy enzymes that improve digestion


  • Harmful if suffering with a kidney disorder
  • Weight loss is typically temporary, not long-lasting
  • Consuming unpasteurized juices can lead to a higher risk of illnesses
  • Consuming not enough calories can cause low blood sugar


One cup of beetroot juice contains:

  • 58 calories
  • 0 g of fat
  • 0.84 g of protein
  • 15 g of carbs
  • 10.84 g of sugar
  • 0.8 g of fiber

Due to beets’ nitrate content, scientists have found this juice to lower blood pressure. Nitrate is converted into nitric oxide, which then dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. A study testing this theory had participants with hypertension drink 250 ml (a little over 1 cup) of beet juice every day for 4 weeks. They concluded that this lowered the test group’s blood pressure.
Beet juice contains betalains, which is an anti-inflammatory compound. These compounds were found to reduce the activity of an inflammatory enzyme by 32%. This helps prevent inflammatory diseases.
Anemia is a condition caused by low iron levels. Iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen around the body. Since beets are rich in iron, drinking beet juice can prevent your iron levels from reaching dangerously low.


One cup of pineapple juice contains:

One cup of pineapple juice contains:

  • 132 calories
  • 0.9 g of protein
  • 0.3 g of fat
  • 0.5 g of fiber
  • 25 g of sugar

Researchers found that when ovarian and colon cancer cells were exposed to juice from the core, flesh, and stem of pineapple, the growth of the cells were suppressed. An additional study found that beta carotene, found very prominently in pineapples, reduces the risk of colon cancer.

In addition to beta carotene lowering the risk of cancer, it also promotes healthy skin. Pineapples are high in vitamin C and beta carotene. These antioxidants reduce wrinkles, improve skin texture, and minimize skin damage. Vitamin C strengthens the skin’s structure by building up collagen.


One cup of cranberry juice contains:

  • 116 calories
  • 30.9 g of carbs
  • 0.3 g of fat
  • 30.6 g of sugar
  • 1 g of protein
  • 0.3 g of fiber

A study testing cranberry juice on females with metabolic syndrome found that it increased the antioxidants in blood plasma. They were also found to have a lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is commonly known as the “bad” type of cholesterol.

Researchers found the chemicals in cranberries help fight off certain viruses and bacteria. A common cause of food-borne illness, norovirus, was found to dissipate when introduced to cranberry juice. In a different study, they found cranberry juice to inhibit the growth of 7 different bacterial microbes.

The most common use of cranberry juice is urinary tract infection (UTI) prevention. Cranberry juice has been found to be beneficial against the growth of bacterial pathogens. This is especially true when looking at the bladder.


One cup of carrot juice contains:

  • 94 calories
  • 2.24 g of protein
  • 0.35 g of fat
  • 21.9 g of carbs
  • 1.89 g of fiber

Since carrots are naturally rich in antioxidants, they play a large role in cancer prevention. In a study testing this theory on stomach cancer, scientists found carrots to decrease a person’s risk by 26%. In addition to antioxidants, carrots also increase the level of carotenoids in blood. Higher levels of carotenoids in the blood lead to lower risks of breast cancer. For those suffering with leukemia, carrot juice extracts were found to stop the leukemia cell cycle.

In addition to cancer, scientists found a direct link between dietary vitamin C intake and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with COPD were found to have lower levels of carotene, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Since carrot juice is naturally high in all of these nutrients, scientists believe consumption of this juice will lower one’s risk of COPD.


One cup of celery juice contains:

  • 42 calories
  • 9g of carbs
  • 2g of protein
  • 0g of fat
  • 4g of fiber
  • 6g of sugar

Celery contains two beneficial antioxidants – apigenin and luteolin. These two components help reduce inflammation and reduce the severity and risk of inflammatory diseases. Asthma and rhinitis are inflammatory diseases of the upper and lower airway. Luteolin was found to reduce the inflammation and allergic responses of these two diseases.

Researchers found apigenin could suppress arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It first suppresses the immune system by interrupting the transportation and signaling capabilities of cells that trigger inflammation.

When looking at celery’s effects on fertility, it differs between women and men. For men, celery has a protective effect. Celery can protect against substances that can damage sperm production. Whereas for females, high consumption of celery means a high consumption of apigenin. While having positive effects, high levels of apigenin can also lower fertility

Menopause Side Effects and Home Remedies

Menopause Side Effects and Home Remedies

The hormonal shift from the menstrual cycle to menopause is physically and mentally tolling. With side effects ranging from dry chafing during sex, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances – ‘the change’ can be a roller coaster of emotions. Treatment options are far and few and many leave you with a higher risk of certain diseases and health conditions. Finding home remedies to subside the pain and discomfort is essential.


Doctors recommend when going through the change to follow the below guideline to begin a healthier, stress-free, transition:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Seeking counselling for anxiety, mood changes, and relationship concerns
  • Establishing good sleeping habits and getting plenty of rest
  • Doing kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
  • Discussing the experience of menopause to friends and family
  • Exploring new ways of enjoying intimacy with a partner
  • Joining a club, volunteering, or taking a new hobby


Before menopause begins, estrogen levels start to decrease. This lowers your chance to become pregnant. Diet, exercise, and keeping your body healthy is crucial when trying to conceive a child. Changing your diet and lifestyle can boost fertility rates by up to 69%. 

Some easy lifestyle and diet changes that you can make are:

HIV: Then and Now

HIV: Then and Now

June 27th is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). Since the start of the epidemic in the mid- to late 1970’s, over 32 million people have died from an AIDS-related illness. Although the rate of infection has decrease by 40% since it’s peak in the late 90’s, the HIV epidemic is far from over. 1 in 7 HIV-positive Americans are unaware of their status. National HIV Testing Day brings awareness to this disease and encourages people to get tested and seek treatment.


June 27th is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). Since the start of the epidemic in the mid- to late 1970’s, over 32 million peoplehave died from an AIDS-related illness. Although the rate of infection has decrease by 40% since it’s peak in the late 90’s, the HIV epidemic is far from over. 1 in 7 HIV-positive Americans are unaware of their status. National HIV Testing Day brings awareness to this disease and encourages people to get tested and seek treatment.


HIV is believed to have crossed species from chimpanzees to humans around 1920. Since HIV is not accompanied by noticeable signs or symptoms, there is no detailed data depicting how many cases occurred until the 1980’s. 

The epidemic started in 1981 when the first few cases of a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, started to appear. Finally in 1984 researchers created a blood test to screen for HIV. At this point, over 7,600 AIDS cases and over 3,600 AIDS-related deaths have occurred in the U.S. 

3 years later, in 1987, scientists finally develop the first HIV medication. Azidothymidine was created mainly to reduce mother to child transmission. By the end of the 80s, the number of reported cases in the U.S. reached 100,000. 

In May of 1992, the FDA produced a 10 minute testing kit which could detect HIV. A year later, in an attempt to diminish the spread of the virus, congress banned travel to the U.S for anyone diagnosed with AIDS.

By 1996, the FDA approved the first home testing kit. At this time, there was an estimated 23 million people in the world living with HIV.

Finally, the new treatment, HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), is introduced. This comes 10 years after the previous HIV medication, Azidothymidine. It caused a 47 percent decline in death rates. Later that same year, the FDA approved Combivir to use alongside HAART.

Although HAART and Combivir are both still used today to stop the progression of the condition, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS.


HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted through:

  • Shaking hands
  • Hugging
  • Kissing
  • Sneezing
  • Touching unbroken skin
  • Using the same toilet
  • Sharing towels
  • Sharing cutlery
  • Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • Saliva
  • Tears
  • Feces
  • Urine

The CDC originally labeled the virus GRIDS, gay-related immunodeficiency syndrome. Because of this, many people believe the disease was only contracted by men who had sex with men.

HIV can be passed from person to person via the following:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Anal mucous
  • Breastmilk

Since there are multiple strains of HIV, just because you currently have the virus does not mean that you are not at risk from a different strain. If infected with two or more strains of HIV, your treatment may be effected.


Unfortunately, some do not develop symptoms until months or years after contracting the virus. Late stage symptoms are more severe and dangerous than early stage symptoms.

Early Stage Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Night sweats
  • Enlarged glands
  • Red rash
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Unintentional weightless
  • Thrush

Late Stage Symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea, persistent or chronic
  • Dry cough
  • Fever over 100 lasting for weeks
  • Night sweats
  • Permanent tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen glands lasting for weeks
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • White spots on tongue or mouth


HIV is is a immunodeficiency virus, meaning individuals are more susceptible to developing other illnesses or infections. These conditions developed because of a lower immune system are called opportunistic infections (OIs).

Opportunistic infections can range from fungal infections in the skin, pneumonia, herpes, tuberculosis, cervical cancer, and much more.

In addition to OIs from a lower immune system, HAART can also cause complications. Over 20 percent of people develop a condition called immune reconstitution inflammatory response (IRIS) when beginning HAART. IRIS can then lead to other conditions, such as psoriasis.


Changing ones lifestyle is crucial when diagnosed with an imunnodeficiency virus/disease. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimine is important to ensure a lower chance of contracting an OI.

Not only does HIV take a toll physically, but it is also important to keep track of one’s mental health. Neuropsychlogical disorders, such as dementia, have been linked to HIV. Discussing your mental health with your primary care doctor is crucial during the initial diagnosis phase.


With National HIV Testing Day approaching, the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund is hosting webinars, conferences, and Twitter chats to open up dialogue and educate people on this virus/disease.

The nonprofit’s goal is to improve prevention, care, and treatment for racial and ethnic minorities across federal programs through innovation, systems change, and strategic partnerships and collaboration.