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!
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
- Repeated infections
- Loss of appetiteDepression
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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)
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.
- 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)
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
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.
CHANGE OF LIFESTYLE
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: