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Health Tip Recap #10 - March 2024

March 2024 saw the finale of a chilly winter, amid signs of a softer, warmer season developing. This batch of health tips weaves its way through our precious hours before concluding with methods for helping make powerful pollen and other environs a little less miserable. All of these ideas and suggestions are meant to support a sharpening of focus on a natural wellness that promotes happiness and productivity.

Habits for Healthier Sleep

Consistency Try going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, including weekends.

Silence  Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, calming, and at a comfortable temperature.

Tech-Free  Remove or turn off electronic devices, such as televisions, computers, and smartphones.

Eat and Drink Earlier Avoid large meals and sugary or caffeinated beverages just prior to bedtime. Give yourself at least two hours for digestion.

Move More  Strive to exercise. Being physically active throughout the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night and may encourage better rest.

Maximize the Morning

Meditate – Taking at least 5 minutes after you wake up to calm and center yourself through meditation or stretching can help set the tone for the remainder of your day.

Walk, Jog or Ride – Going on a brisk walk, a light jog, or taking a ride in the morning can allow your mind and body to mentally adjust to the day ahead and the tasks that require tending.

Stay Screenless – It’s important before bed and in the morning. Try to stay screenless for as long as you can after you get up, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. You’ll have tons of time to look at screens later on.

Light Reading – Whether it’s in a book or a physical magazine, doing some morning reading can gently stimulate the brain and prepare you for making new decisions.

Have Breakfast – Enjoying a nutritious and tasty meal at the beginning of your day can promote productivity and inspire quality eating for your next few meals.

Write it Out – Penning your thoughts and plans for the day ahead is not only meditative in its own right but may lead to completing even more tasks on multiple days of the week.

Keeping Your Day Bright

Sunning – One way to keep your day bright is to let in the sunlight. A good source of Vitamin D comes from the sun. Opening up or being near windows throughout the hours can boost your mood and productivity levels.

Hydrating – Indeed, coffee can prompt us to get our day started and churning forward, but regular glasses of water, without the extra ingredients, also help keep us hydrated and energetic.

Eating – This can be difficult to do depending on your workload or task list. However, it’s important to make sure we not only have breakfast in the morning and plan for a nutritious lunch around midday. Having such meals may assist with weight management and concentration.

Engaging – Whether it’s during a meeting or over lunch, chatting with colleagues or friends during the day can be relaxing and support brain health.

Walking or Riding – You can use your lunch break or just a quick pause at some point to go for a stroll or ride nearby. This can help with managing stress levels and provide a pleasant boost to finish the day off right.

Offsetting Spring Allergies

  • Check your local TV or radio station, your local newspaper, or the internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
  • Try staying indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • During days with high pollen counts, avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothing worn outside for extended periods and shower to rinse pollen from skin and hair.
  • Don't hang laundry outside as pollen may stick to sheets and towels.
  • Close doors and windows at night if possible or any other time when pollen counts are extreme.

This concludes another inspiring edition of Health Tip Recap. If you have some time to spare, be sure to glide right over to our January 2024 and February 2024 recaps that are bound to delight.

Additionally, check out our main ManhattanLife Blog page.


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Meaning What? Defining Insurance Words and Phrases

It’s important to understand the spectrum of options available to us concerning our healthcare and financial prospects. It also matters greatly that we have some familiarity with the specific terminology used in product and service explanations. There are words and phrases that, once explained, can make the insurance plans and opportunities they’re a part of even more comprehensible, and thus, more beneficial for the policyholder or contract holder.

What follows is a selection of health insurance words and phrases, along with their brief definitions, one might find while learning about ManhattanLife products and services. Please note: These terms are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or act in place of official documents related to or regarding plans and policies.

agent – a term for an individual that sells insurance on behalf of another company; for example, an insurance agent.

annuity contract between a contract holder and an insurance company wherein money is put into an account; then the contract holder or annuitant has the option to receive regular payments either immediately or in the future.

broker – another term for an individual that sells insurance on behalf of another company; for example, an insurance broker.

customized coverage – coverage tailored to an individual’s or particular employer group’s specific needs, comprised of different policy types.

deductible – usually the out-of-pocket amount that the insured must pay before the insurer begins sharing the cost.

encounter – a meeting with a healthcare provider, in which the insured receives any type of service.

enrollment – the process of signing up an eligible person to participate in a health insurance plan. This term may also mean the total number of participants in a healthcare plan.

indemnify – the act of returning someone who has sustained a loss to the position they were in before the loss occurred.

indemnity – issuing a payment or replacement to a person who has suffered a loss, be it financial or otherwise.

in-patient – an individual who has been admitted to a hospital or healthcare facility as a patient in residence.

lapse – the cancellation of a policy due to the non-payment of the premium due.

length of stay – the total length, in days, that an insured stays in a hospital or similar medical facility.

mature – this usually means when a permanent life insurance policy’s face value equals the death benefit, hypothetically for a whole or universal life product.

Medicare – a government operated and funded plan for paying hospital and other healthcare costs for those who qualify. These people are usually older than 65. Coverage is divided into Part A, which provides the compulsory hospital benefits, and Part B, a voluntary program that covers medical expenses.

out-of-pocket limit – the highest coinsurance an insured will have to pay. After this amount is paid, the insurer may cover all expenses up to the policy limit.

out-patient – a patient who does not reside in or have a bed in the hospital where he or she receives treatment.

payee – a person receiving money.

producer – an additional term for an individual that sells insurance on behalf of another company; for example, an insurance producer.

qualifying event – an event that causes the insured’s coverage; for example, a birth or a job loss.

recidivism – within the context of health insurance, this term is used to refer to the frequency with which an insured returns to the hospital for an in-patient treatment due to the same ailment.

rider – a provision added to a policy to increase benefits like adding coverage for another condition or event. Examples include a sports injury rider or critical illness rider.  

term – the length of time for which a policy is valid.

underwriter – a title given to a person specially trained to assess risks and establish rates and coverage amounts for them.

waiting period – also known as the elimination period; a period of time stated in a policy which must pass before some or all coverages go into effect.

A few of the terms exhibited here would be worth a lot of points in Scrabble. In fact, the next time you attend a game night with friends and you’re looking to disappoint them, give these terms the old college try. But, more significantly, these definitions, while not all encompassing and dependent upon context, should be useful. To have the healthcare or monetary outlook we really want, one must first be equipped with a strong knowledge of what is being offered. This helps imbue us with additional comfort and confidence moving ahead.

Keep reading with our recent blog article titled Upsides to Aging: 10 Reasons Getting Older is Great. Clever and replete with positivity, this article will have you absorbed in no time.

Find all of our blog articles on our main ManhattanLife Blog page.

 

Works Cited

Samaroo, Melissa. The Complete Dictionary of Insurance Terms. Ocala, Atlantic Publishing Group Inc., 2011.

 


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Upsides to Aging: 10 Reasons Getting Older is Great

When does time itself become a nemesis to defeat? When does the aging that attends it become a process we have to race to resist? These large shifts to competing with time’s passage as we mature can happen just after we turn twenty-five, when a young person gives us a sincere "Yes, ma'am" or "Yes, sir" in deference, or when we discover, perhaps with horror, a strand of gray on our head. The change varies by individual. Some people view getting older as extremely natural and a palatable notion. Others find the realization of it and the mere idea difficult to accept.

Because of pressures from our immediate environment or images in media, we can be at least slightly convinced that aging's more unfavorable trappings should be paused, rewound, or at the very least, slowed down. Certainly, healthy eating and fitness may contribute to a more youthful appearance for a longer period. But life, as it turns out, doesn't function like a Netflix show.

So, what are we left to do then, but celebrate? There are still advantages to getting older that have nothing to do with what our high-definition mirrors reflect. Physical concerns completely aside, aging is quite wonderful. Here are ten reasons why.

1. We worry less.

Mercifully, as we get older, we tend to worry less than we did in our younger years. That daunting calculus exam that erased hours of good sleep, that visit from abrasive, cheek-pinching aunts, or that special presentation ten years back upon which many career aspirations hinged. These have become hazy memories, their power largely extinguished. Such anvil-heavy anxieties don’t carry the same weight anymore.

These days, a grin and a guffaw invite a healing effect. Our hard-earned wisdom, the ocean of experiences we’ve had, and the awesome alchemy of both have led to the epiphany: a constant fear of the future doesn’t take us far. Being worried so much is also exhausting. Blend all this with an identity that’s never been so detailed and a confidence that would have been helpful decades ago, and you’re left with a dynamite human, primed to lead a parade.

2. Thanks, but no thanks.

We now feel much more comfortable declining requests or invitations for something that holds zero interest. It turns out the word “No” also works as a complete sentence. Once upon a time, refusing an offer to a friend’s holiday party and uninviting yourself from that group mountain hike could have resulted in a very stormy and pothole-filled social existence. But the original FOMO (fear of missing out) has been transformed into a love for being with just a few people, your partner, or by yourself; after all, you’re the best company you will ever have.

3. Relationships are richer.

With time comes a kind of filter, but not the filtering that's done to smartphone photos. This filtering is of the social variety and happens with friends as well as family. As the years pass, we begin gravitating toward the people we genuinely want to be around. But these curated relationships are also given the chance to grow and evolve, often becoming better in key areas, namely in conversation, support, loyalty and fun.

Along the way, we’ve developed a greater compassion for each other. We also have more patience, given that we grew up when waiting in line to pay for electricity wasn’t unusual or we got lost in a foreign city after failing to decode the oversized map we bravely unfolded. Now in 2024, with neither issue likely, we have even more time to care for one another.

4. Vesting and more discounts.

Keeping with the subject of richness, as a United States citizen, once you turn fifty-years old, you can apply to become an American Associations of Retired People (AARP) member, potentially gaining access to discounted financial assistance, car insurance, and in select cases, traveling. Many retailers and some entertainment venues also offer discounts for verified seniors.

Additionally, if you’ve worked for a single organization or company for an extended period and you’ve been putting your earnings into a retirement plan or 401(K), you may become vested in the organization. This means you should have full, guaranteed access to what you’ve accrued thus far. However, other perks and conditions may apply. Vesting is not offered by every employer, while its definition may vary by organization. Moreover, being vested could arrive at the age of thirty-five or sixty-two; it simply depends on where you work and how long you remain there.

5. We’re now the grownups with answers.

As children, our parents or teachers would often furrow their brows and hesitate briefly before responding to our questions, however logical or ludicrous. We were such curious creatures that wanted to know more. We’d ask these particular people because we literally and figuratively looked up to them as our elders, the omniscient authorities in the very complex field that is living life on earth. Well, now we’re the ones taking questions from an audience of younger folks. Sure, we don’t always have the correct answers and we have to be selective with our phrasing occasionally. But we know so much more than we’ll ever credit ourselves; hopefully everyone figures this fact out sooner rather than later.

6. We’ve been around for every season of The Simpsons. 

Okay, perhaps some might not consider this quite an accomplishment or anything to brag about, but The Simpsons has left such an indelible mark on international pop culture. As of this writing, the television sitcom has been on the air for a staggering thirty-five seasons. To have been around when a show like this was originally created and seen what a universal piece of art it’s turned into is undeniably fascinating.

The show’s extreme popularity somewhat foreshadowed the ubiquity of media in the twenty-first century and the dominance of screens displaying it. On the rosier side, the show’s endurance can also be used to tell someone how old you are. When questioned about your age, simply answer: “I’m the number of the seasons The Simpsons has been airing, plus ‘fill in the blank number’.”

7. Art means more.

That song playing on the first, big family road trip when you were eight years old. The poem you heard read aloud in a village café during an otherwise awkward first date. The Spanish-language film that still resonates with its striking use of color and eloquence. What is it about art as we get older? It’s as if these creative pieces’ intangible worth, their conveyance, their passions and much else, simply expand with their sense of human truth, power, and being. Our response to the art we see, hear, touch and feel is usually the summation of our experiences, understandings, and awareness up until that very point. Given time and age, these creations rise in depth and seem to sink a bit further into the soul, as we gain a firmer grasp of what the art actually means to us and everything it took to exist.

8. We appreciate the importance of letter writing and phone calls. 

We understand the literal meaning of "putting pen to paper" and are unafraid to pick up a phone (on a landline even - yikes!) to call another human for an engaging conversation or to complete a transaction. Oh, the joys of growing up with less technology at our disposal! Certainly, computers have expedited communication and smartphones have made playing addictive games very easy. But a still underrated activity is taking a comfortable seat at a table, preferably wooden to help set the right mood. Then with a pen and a large wide-ruled notepad, you write a letter to a loved one, a friend you’ve lost touch with, or a letter to yourself that praises your incredible diction, laments the lost art of letter writing, and basks in your rare ability to complete the act.

9. But technology is totally terrific! 

You’ve seen the world develop a lot over the decades. We have moved from talking on bulky, corded telephones and enduring cacophonous dial-up, all the way to chatting with people via earpiece, while having access to a wireless network virtually everywhere we wander. This is something to marvel at. That the film The Fifth Element with its prominent display of flying vehicles was not too far away from the flying vehicles we may soon see in our own skies, is nothing short of a fantasy realized. Not to mention, there have been untold advancements in the healthcare industry. The powerful merging of medicine and technology continues to benefit countless individuals throughout the world.

10. We’re acing life’s unlimited subjects. 

We’ve come this far, so we must be doing many things correctly. Over the years, whether it’s painting, gardening, working on our vehicles, tai chi, archery, caring for children or teaching them, we became better at various activities and sharpened our talents. By now, we are extremely practiced in several subjects. We’re quite acquainted with our minds as well as our bodies, so much so that we usually know how we want to employ them and how far they will take us. As we all press on, we make each new day as memorable and productive as can be managed, laced with at least some laughter.

This next metaphor is as overused as the snooze button on an alarm clock, but let’s not fix something unbroken. Now, imagine yourself on a rollercoaster during a cool, sunlit afternoon. The rollercoaster itself is as bright blue as the skies above. It hums right along, steel clamoring against steel, wheels spinning onward, the winds rushing past your ears, a surge of thrills coursing within you. Then, very briefly, you take a moment to glance all around and notice that, in fact, you’re not alone, but instead joined by friends, loved ones, complete strangers. Each of you is afraid, to various degrees, harboring uncountable uncertainties and sporting a smile or two.

Soon you become brave enough to look down, reminding yourself how high you are off the ground, with the theme park’s other visitors appearing miles beneath. Rather than grab that second, enticing stick of cotton candy and confine yourself to the nearest bench, the decision was made to be on this particular and moving ride, one marked by a chain of blurred images that solidify into crystal clarity. Despite the mental preview of infinite possibilities, good or bad, the whole adventure was still pursued. As for the main attraction? It proves to be infinitely sublime.

The list above is, of course, not definitive. Everyone will have their own, customized 10 or maybe 30 reasons to rejoice. But the ruminations given are intended to be affirming and shed additional, flattering light on the intangible bright spots of aging in a world that doesn’t naturally bolster the unavoidable. Perhaps the larger message is to finally convince ourselves of the true and immense value, fortune, and beauty that getting older invariably introduces.


By Jaymes R., Communications Specialist                                                                                                                                                           

About the Author                                                                                                                                                                                            As though he were using a feather quill pen, Jaymes has written several blog articles for our website, exploring annuities, voluntary benefits, and basic finance tips, among other topics. You can check out some of those articles on our main ManhattanLife Blog page

© 2024 ManhattanLife


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Health Tip Recap #9 - February 2024

Welcome to the ninth Health Tip Wednesday recap where we review the weekly feature's social media posts for February 2024. With these posts, we try to leave no topic unexamined. These particular posts focus on healthy teas, some practices for being kind to our bodies and to ourselves.

Tea-rrific Teas!

Ginger Tea
This type of tea has been known to aid in offsetting nausea and offers digestion support.

Peppermint Tea
This tea may encourage nasal congestion relief, relax a sore throat and overall, help strengthen your immune system.

Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is popular for its potential to reduce stress and in some cases, help people achieve better sleep.

Black Tea
Black tea can offer multiple benefits including assistance with weight loss, lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and more.

Green Tea
This tea is made from leaves that have aged and oxidized. It also holds some of the same possible benefits as black tea.

Practicing Good Self-Esteem

1. Recognize various situations may influence self-esteem. These situations might include:
- A work or school presentation
- A challenge with a spouse, loved one, or close contact
- A change in roles or life events, such as a new job or a child leaving home

2. Become aware of intrusive thoughts and beliefs.
- Your thoughts and beliefs about yourself might be positive, negative, or neutral. They might be rational, based on reason or facts, or they could be irrational, based on false ideas.
- Ask yourself if these thoughts and beliefs are true. Would you say such things to a friend? If you wouldn't say them to someone you care about, then why say them to yourself?

3. Challenge negative thinking.

Certain thought patterns may diminish your self-esteem. These thought patterns include all-or-
nothing thinking, mental filtering, mistaking feelings for facts, and negative self-talk.
4. Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. But mistakes aren't permanent reflections on you as an individual. They're merely moments in time and don’t completely define your character.

5. Use hopeful statements. 

Be kind and encouraging to yourself. Instead of thinking a situation won't go well, adopt more optimism and trust that you can handle whatever transpires.

Prioritizing Posture

Phone Holding – Looking down at your smartphone often can cause you to flex your neck and strain your cervical spine. If you’re standing and looking at your phone, maintain good posture by holding your phone close to eye level. When sitting and looking at your phone, sit fully upright and use armrests or a desk to support your arms.


Standing Right – When standing, keep these tips in mind: Stand straight and tall with your shoulders back. Keep your head level and in line with your body. Pull in your abdomen. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Additionally, avoid locking your knees. Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet and let your hands hang naturally at your sides.


Wearing a Bag Correctly – Carrying a shoulder bag, suitcase or briefcase can impact your posture and bones. Even an empty bag will cause you to contract your shoulder muscles and raise your shoulder to keep the bag from sliding down your arm. A good practice is, when you use a bag with a shoulder strap, place the strap over your opposite shoulder.

 

Stretch for Flexibility

1. Cross shoulder stretch

Sit or stand up straight. Keep shoulders even. Extend right arm across chest. Place left hand on the right elbow to gently support your arm. Feel the stretch in your right arm and shoulder. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat this stretch on opposite side, using right hand to stretch left arm and shoulder.

2. Triceps stretch

Stand up straight, with knees slightly bent, toes facing forward. Place feet hip distance apart. Keep shoulders even. Bend right arm at elbow, with elbow pointing to the sky. Lift arm next to your head. Position right fingers so they touch the shoulder blade area. Place left arm across top of head, and place left hand on the right elbow to gently support the arm during this stretch. You should feel a stretch in the back of your right arm. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat this stretch on the opposite side, using right hand to stretch left triceps.

3. Chest stretch
Stand up straight, with knees slightly bent, toes facing forward. Place feet hip distance apart. Keep shoulders even. Place arms behind your back. Clasp your hands together, lifting your arms behind your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Feel the stretch in your chest. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold stretch for count of 15.

4. Quadriceps stretch
You're going to be standing on one leg, so you may want help staying steady. If so, stand facing a wall or other surface, about 1 foot away from it. Put your right hand against the wall. Raise your left leg behind you and gently grab your foot with your left hand. Relax your left foot in your hand. Press your right hip forward to stretch the muscles in the front of your left thigh. Keep your knees close together. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat the stretch with your right leg.

If this article left you feeling a little limber and light, then we'll consider it a success. We have many other months' worth of health tips you can read through and gain something from. Check out the Health Tip Recaps for December 2023 and January 2024.

 


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Health Tip Recap #8 - January 2024

Could it be that the first month of 2024 is already done? With that confirmed by the calendar, let's review what we showcased in this month's Health Tip Wednesday social media posts. Here we give the spotlight to everything from obtainable goals for the new year to types of seeds that support our health and are scrumptious too!

Wellness Goals Worth Trying 
  
Goal # 1 - Move more and drive less. 
If you’re fortunate enough to live within walking or riding distance of your favorite stores and gathering places, resolve to use a healthier and greener form of transportation. Such activity may lead to lower risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, while helping strengthen muscles and bones, and making weight maintenance easier. Additionally, you can save money on gas. 
  
Goal  #2 - Cook with less meat and more beans.
Consider consuming more beans such as pinto, black and kidney beans, whether they’re canned or from a bag. This type of protein is often less expensive than other proteins like fish and red meat and can still provide considerable nutrition. Beans are even better if you purchase the kind with low-sodium and if they’re dried, rinse them before use. Plus, beans are a fibrous food, which is good for many diets. 
  
Goal #3 - Find entertainment in nature. 
If the weather permits, take a break from the television or mall and consider taking in the inviting outdoors. You can visit a local park or areas in your neighborhood with trees and other vegetation. Soaking up some nature can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, reduce stress, and improve memory, studies suggest. 
Then, while you are outside, look and listen for birds: One study found that seeing and hearing birds boosted mental well-being, even in people with depression. 
  
Goal #4 - Seek out more community. 
Finding other people with similar interests and hobbies can lead to engaging discussion and fresh friendships. You can start by joining an organization or club in your local area. In general, spending time with family and friends can encourage creativity, the acquisition of new skills, the use of older skills, and a stronger communal connection, which is beneficial for everyone. 

Enriching Your Mind 

1. Language Learning 

Outside of being able to communicate with more people, speaking another language can have multiple cognitive benefits. It can help with memory and visual-spatial skills. 


2. Meditation 
Meditating can help regulate breathing and invite tranquility. This may reduce anxiety and encourage a cheerful mood. 
  
3. Get out the Cards 
Whether it’s Bridge, Solitaire, or Crazy Eights, playing cards can promote strategic thinking, improve memory, and help maintain motor skills. 
  
4. Expand your Vocabulary 
Learning more words can stimulate the brain. Jot down a new term and its meaning. Then use it repeatedly until it becomes part of your vocabulary.

 Anti-inflammatory Foods for Winter!

- Pears
Prebiotics are fibers that nourish our existing gut microbes, and pears are a great source of prebiotic fiber to help the body’s good bacteria prosper. Pears are also one of the highest-fiber fruits as a medium pear contains approximately 6 grams of fiber. 
- Beets
Beets are a terrific source of potassium, folate, and vitamin C, all of which play various roles in the immune system's regulation of inflammation. But two other compounds in beets—betaine and nitrates—truly help distinguish this vegetable from others.
- Leeks
Found predominantly in winter and early spring, leeks can be a great substitute for other alliums in recipes. If you have never cooked with leeks, they are much like scallion with a bigger root and broader leaves, plus a slightly more pungent flavor that’s still milder than onions. Leeks go well in soup, braised in the oven or even folded into mashed potatoes.
 - Broccoli
While it is readily available year-round, broccoli is really a winter vegetable because of its talent for thriving in the cold. Like other cruciferous vegetables, this one contains bioactive sulfur compounds called glucosinolates that minimize disease risk by reducing inflammation. Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and turnip greens are equally healthy substitutes.

Selection of Seeds 

Chia Seeds - They don’t just remind us of terracotta figurines popularized in the 1980s. Chia seeds also contain fiber and omega-3 fats. 

Flaxseeds - These seeds may assist in lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol. 

Sesame Seeds - They can add extra texture to a meal, especially one with chicken. They also carry protein and antioxidants. 

Sunflower Seeds - These tasty seeds have a healthy dose of Vitamin E and may help reduce inflammation. Plus, the flowers they stem from are just as delightful. 

If you found this article spellbindingly informative, be sure to view our Health Tip Recap #7 - December 2023.


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Check-Ups to Check Off!

Many of us drive a vehicle. We rely on these rather complex machines to take us from place to place, whether it's to the grocery store, to work, or on our next road trip. Some of this is accomplished by ensuring the vehicle's oil is changed or its battery is fully charged. The vehicle is regularly looked after by people that understand it's intricacies well and especially cared for by the folks that use it often. Would anyone want to happily hop into a vehicle that's delipidated or clearly shows signs of neglect? Of course not. We can consider our health in a similar fashion. Let's take an extended look at the important numbers needed to keep us informed about the state of our physical health and keep us moving forward. 

Cholesterol: Finding you have high cholesterol grants you the opportunity to lower your risk of heart disease. Healthy adults should strive for a low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, of less than 100mg/dL. It is recommended that men begin regular screenings for hyperlipidemia at age 35, while women should start at age 45.

Blood Pressure: It is advised that you get your blood pressure checked every three to five years, if not more often. Anything above 120/80 mm Hg is considered abnormal. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that those at higher risk get tested at least once a year.

Skin Cancer: The USPSTF does not recommend skin screenings, but you should discuss with your primary care physician any suspicious lesions, including those that are new or change in color, shape, and size.

Type 2 Diabetes: It is advised that you get screened every three years for Type 2 diabetes starting at age 35, with a simple blood test called a hemoglobin A1C. If you are overweight or have a family history of diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol, your doctor may test more often.

Hearing Tests: Some organizations or groups advocate for hearing loss screenings at age 60 or older regardless of symptoms, though the USPSTF does not advise it. If you have any concerns about your hearing, discuss testing with your physician.

Eye Exams: By age 65, you should be getting your eyes examined every year or two. Regular eye exams are even more important after 60 as many age-related conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, can affect eye health. Vision disorders associated with aging include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.

Dental Exams: The American Dental Association recommends a dental cleaning around every six months, in addition to periodic X-rays. Those with higher risk of dental challenges may consider planning for more visits.

As we all know, life is much more a marathon than a sprint. By valuing excellent maintenance over expediency, we commit ourselves to having better health while choosing preparedness over passivity. At the start of the year or throughout the months, it's good to take charge of your physical wellbeing. We can accomplish this by planning a visit with a healthcare professional, where we can gather invaluable information about ourselves.

Works Cited: Tune up your body: A health checklist for every age. The Washington Post. January 2024.


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Health Tip Recap #7 - December 2023

Welcome to our seventh Health Tip Wednesday recap! Here you will find a few details on the vitamins that keep us strong and vivacious, as showcased in December 2023 on our social media pages. You will also discover the benefits of wintry weather, because it turns out, there actually are a few to note. Check out the fun yet informative quasi-exploration below.

A thru K, Part 1

Do you know the vitamin alphabet? It’s not as long as the alphabet you’re used to, but it’s teeming with important nutrition to keep us moving each day. Here we take a quick glance at the first handful of vitamins and describe their respective roles. As always, consult a healthcare professional for questions about diet.

Vitamin A accomplishes a lot by helping form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucous membranes, and skin. Sources include eggs, carrots, and mangoes. 

Vitamin B is especially essential and a true heavyweight in the nutrition arena, as it is actually a collection of 8 water-soluble vitamins consisting of: Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. These are all responsible for supporting a range of actions throughout the body including heart function, having healthy nerve cells, body growth, the production of red blood cells, brain function, the production of hormones and cholesterol, in addition to so much more. Examples of food containing these vitamins are fish and non-citrus fruits for Vitamin B6, while Vitamin B12 can be found in poultry and milk. 

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. Additionally, it assists in the body’s absorption of iron, supports healthy tissue, and is crucial for wound healing. Examples of food sources are citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes. 

A thru K, Part 2 

The following presents the remaining vitamins in the vitamin alphabet, each with their distinct ability to support our well-being and humanness. 

Vitamin D is also known as “the sunshine vitamin” because it is made by the body after being in the sun. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week is usually enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D for most people. 

People who do not live in sunny places may not make enough vitamin D. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium, which you need for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. This vitamin supports proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, as well. 
  
Vitamin E is an antioxidant also known as tocopherol. It helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K. 

Vitamin K is needed because without it blood would not coagulate normally. Some studies suggest that it is also important for bone health. 

Winter Weather Benefits 

Frigid temperatures often receive a frost reception. Though staying warm may be the goal for many throughout the wintry season, these potential upsides to the cold may help melt some of that dislike away. 

Allergies 

Cold weather may help lessen the effect of outdoor allergies, as the pollen count is usually much lower than in warmer months. 

Cognition 

Lower temperatures can help increase your brain power. Summer months require more overall use of glucose, needed for cognitive processing, than in winter. Exercising in the cold could help sharpen your thoughts. 

Defense 

Cold weather may assist in lowering inflammation, the potential for infection, and the onset of certain diseases, as all three often need warmth to develop. 

Rest 

During warmer months, it can take a while for the body to lower its core temperature as you sleep. But when it’s chilly out, the process takes far less time. This helps encourage better rest. 

 

We hope you found the above equally beneficial and revealing. Check out our other recaps with Health Tip Recap #4 - September 2023, Health Tip Recap #5 - October 2023, and Health Tip Recap #6 - November 2023 for further wellness details. We wish you joy and good health this and every year!


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Health Tip Recap #6 - November 2023

With the holiday season already here and more celebrations still to go, it’s a fantastic time to remind ourselves about what matters most: our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those we cherish. While these last months of the year can be a trying period, November 2023’s Wednesday Health Tips shine some extra and positive light on dental care, cooking practices, healthier eating, and self-care.

 

Tending to your Teeth

Some of us may have given in to our candy cravings this Halloween. But there are still multiple methods to keep prioritizing oral health and help ensure our dentist remains impressed.

Brushing 

  • Gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, if not sooner. 
  • Use small circular motions and short back-and-forth strokes. 
  • Brush carefully and gently along your gum line. 
  • Lightly brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to help keep your mouth clean. 


Floss & Rinse 

  • Clean between your teeth with dental floss, pre-threaded floss, a water flosser, or a similar product. This removes plaque and leftover food that a toothbrush can't reach. 
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly after flossing. 


Dental Visits 
Visit your dentist at least once a year for a checkup.

Are you in search of great supplemental dental insurance? Then check out our Dental, Vision and Hearing Select product.

Healthier Eating for the Holidays

If the calendar is to be believed, then the holidays are truly here. That means many opportunities to enjoy meals with loved ones and stay healthy! These are adapted from a list by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  

1. Control What You Can 
You may not be able to decide what food is served, but you can try to meet certain challenges: 

  • Try eating close to your usual times. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtimes and eat a little less when dinner is served. 
  • If you’re invited to a party, ask to bring a healthy dish. 
  • Eat slowly to promote better digestion. 


2. Beat the Buffet 

  • When you encounter a spread of delectable holiday food, you can still make healthy eating choices: 
  • Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table. 
  • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite. 
  • Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full. 
  • Avoid or limit beverages that are high in sugar. 


3. Don’t Forget Favorites 
No food is on the naughty list. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year. Slow down and savor a small serving, and make sure to count it in your meal plan, but also consider eating in moderation and substitutes for certain ingredients, if possible. 


4. Remain Active 

You have a lot on your plate this time of year, which means physical activity is sometimes neglected. But being active is your secret holiday power; it can help make up for eating more than usual. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday meal or going for a bike ride in the morning. 


5. Keep Your Sleep 

Going out more and staying out later often results in having less sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your mental and physical health, and when you’re sleep deprived, you tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Strive for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. 

Healthy Cooking Practices, Part 1

The holidays are a time to show we care, through cooking. This tip focuses on a few ways to help make our meals better for ourselves and those that matter greatly to us.

Measure accurately

Consuming the correct serving size of meat and carbohydrates like pasta and rice keeps calorie levels down. Additionally, make sure to accurately measure ingredients like oil, salt, and other items used for cooking or baking. 
  
Minimize added sugars and sweeteners 

Sugar adds empty calories. That means it may increase your weight without giving you any useful nutrients. 
  
Avoid margarine or cream-based sauces on veggies 
Fat and cream-based sauces will ramp up the calorie count of your vegetables. For example, ranch dressing on your salad can make your healthy greens less nutritive. 
  
Try low-fat cooking by boiling or steaming 

If you boil or steam food, you avoid the chemicals created by high temperatures and cut out extra fat, which can help you stay at a healthy weight. 
  
Minimize saturated fats 
If you reduce the amount of cheese and butter in a meal, you may lessen the amount of saturated fats it has. Consider replacing half of the butter you typically use with olive oil, or including super-fine grated cheese, which makes less seem like more. 

Healthy Cooking Practices, Part 2

In the sequel to the previous Health Tip post, we examine more methods for creating dishes that are as delicious as they are nutritious. 


Toss in fruits and veggies 
If you use more fresh fruits and vegetables, which can even include frozen produce, you can increase the amount of healthy nutrients in your meals. Antioxidants and phytochemicals in plants may help your body combat diseases. Canned vegetables should be purchased carefully; opt for the low-sodium and no-added-sugar varieties. 
  
Enjoy olive or canola oil 
Research has shown that the use of olive oil may be linked to a lower risk for obesity and cardiovascular problems. If you prefer it, canola oil can be a good second choice. Canola oil does contain some healthy omega-3 oils and has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. It may be a healthier alternative to corn, soy or vegetable oil and animal fats like butter. 
  
Substitute refined grains with whole grains 
Whole grains like brown rice instead of white rice contain more fiber. Your body also digests it more slowly, which can make you feel fuller longer. Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet and eating them has been linked to reducing the risk of diseases like heart disease. 
  
Add herbs and other ingredients 
Herbs, spices, onions, garlic, and citrus are ingredients that give your food additional flavor without any of the downsides of salt and sugar. Many of them also come with extra antioxidants, which may help your body fight disease. 

Self-Care for the Holidays

The holidays are about caring for others, but tending to yourself is important as well. Here is a list of techniques to help support your well-being throughout the season.

  • Build a budget and keep to it. Consider creative methods to stretch your budget. This might include holding a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone on your list, making handmade gifts, or looking at alternative ways to give this season.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no”. Rather than going overboard to meet the demands of the holidays, take care of yourself by assessing what you can realistically do and saying “no” to commitments outside that threshold.
  • Find support if you need it. The holidays can be an emotionally charged time. It may also be challenging if you are balancing personal, relationship, or family-related issues. Know you are not alone and that it is okay to ask for help. 
  • Enjoy holiday treats in moderation. Consider having a light, healthy snack before visiting holiday parties to avoid over-indulging. 
  • Stick to your exercise routine. Exercise can counteract stress. It may also help you manage all those readily available holiday treats and large meals.   
  • Seize moments of solitude. Whether you are arranging plants in your garden or meditating in a recreational room, having a few minutes of solitary silence here and there can take you far. 

  

As with most things in life, the intentions can wield much more weight than the ultimate actions. But we have been known to conquer the unconquerable before and making even small health-related adjustments can lead to larger changes later. If you found this recap enthralling, feel free to dive into our other Health Tip Wednesday recaps with Health Tip Recap #4 - September 2023 and Health Tip Recap #5 - October 2023.


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Aspects of Annuities, Part 3: Customer Care and Bridging Your Financial Future

Try thinking of the last customer service experience you had. What was it like? Was it over the phone or in person? Did that interaction make you want to remain a customer or seek the business’s products and services again? Almost every day seems to include various customer service experiences. Though each of these moments is simply a snapshot in our lives, there is a handful of these experiences we remember, ones that leave an indelible impression, whether that be positive or otherwise. In these situations, what often makes the greatest difference is who the people, the customers, communicate with.

There are a few key parts to consider about the Company’s representatives or associates: how they inform, how they help, and how they transform seemingly insurmountable needs into viable solutions. According to a 2021 study, 80% of consumers feel more emotionally connected to a company when customer service solves their problem.* Yet there is an impersonal, procedural feeling from a financial transaction that some people have come to expect.

The employees and insurance producers with Western United Life Assurance Company, a ManhattanLife Company, are refreshingly different. They invite an exchange with a true, person-to-person connection in which the contract holder feels heard, informed, and generally, reassured. As specialists in annuity purchases and management, they initiate these human relationships that lay the foundation for productive and lasting relationships.

West of the Rocky Mountain foothills and not too far south from “The Great White North” sits the city of Spokane, Washington. As of 2023, its population consists of over 228,000 people residing throughout the charming and serenely scenic town. The Annuities Operations office for ManhattanLife is just off West Sprague Avenue, a building set within the historic downtown area, replete with thriving businesses, entertainment, and architecture that stuns.

As previously stated, Western United Life Assurance Company issued its first contract in 1978.The industry has steadily evolved since then and so has the Company, evidenced by its tremendous growth. Its office now includes a dedicated staff of 35 people who provide excellent service to over 25,000 contract holders, and where phone calls are answered by a live person in the United States. These individuals understand the importance of having an annuity contract that entirely matches the customer’s plans, thereby aiding the customer in reaching their retirement goals by supplementing the accessible funds for their later years. The staff and producers help achieve this by ensuring the customer obtains an annuity with prudence and purpose behind it, whether that means purchasing our Discovery Plus or Navigator Elite MVA products, among several options. 

All Western United Life Assurance and Manhattan Life Insurance annuity contracts are serviced out of the Annuity Operations office, led by Western United Life Assurance Company President Marc Puzzo. Additionally, there are four Regional Vice Presidents across the country in the following states: Washington, Texas, Minnesota, and Connecticut.

For the past 40 years, Western United Life Assurance Company has offered among the most consumer-oriented fixed annuities in the business. The Company’s many decades of endurance are largely fueled by this unyielding goal to prioritize the customer’s interests and needs. That prioritization is fully reflected in the office’s highly trained and responsive staff which has an average tenure of over 12 years, with a management team that has an average tenure of over 20 years. They are an extremely helpful group, each of them willing to work determinedly to help solidify the next chapter in your life story. Their level of customer care remains unmatched, as they recognize the sensitivity and seriousness of investing in your financial future. Feel free to give them a call or chat with one of our supportive producers to find out more about the annuities we offer. After a most pleasant introduction with a friendly grin you can practically hear on the other end, you’ll know that you’ve made the ideal choice for an annuity provider.

Get started with the Annuities Overview on our website! You can also have a producer contact you. To contact Western United Life Assurance Company regarding a contract, please call 800-247-2045.

For the history of annuities and how different types of annuities function, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series.

 

 

Works Cited:

*Morgan, Blake. "100 Customer Experience Stats for 2023". Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2023/06/26/100-customer-experience-stats-for-2023/?sh=6f00e86d7e6e. 30 November 2023.

 


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Health Tip Recap #5 - October 2023

The autumnal months have a way of modifying how we feel from day to day, our outlook on the world surrounding us, and the precautions we take. This October, we drew attention to staying active, allergies that can aggravate, traffic that never seems to cease, and candy carefulness. Let's review these posts from our social media pages.

 

Outdoor Activities to Liven Your Day

The weather is shifting to cooler, if not cold temperatures for some of us. But before winter makes its chilly introduction, let’s look at ways to enjoy the outdoors. 

Biking – Though it requires some safety measures, biking is a pleasant way to exercise and take in fresh air. Whether you travel alone or with others, a breezy, screenless ride to a near or far place can aid in improving your physical and mental state. 

Soccer – Team up with friends and family and take to the grassy fields with an outdoor activity that seems to have endless appeal. While playing soccer, you can get a little sweat-inducing cardiovascular exercise, a lot of camaraderie, and perhaps a hint of competition. 

Tennis – With good equipment and good company, you’ll be all set to play. Indeed, hand-eye coordination and speed are essential for succeeding at this sport. But even if you don’t excel at either of those, you’re bound to appreciate the practice it takes to become better. 

Jogging – After many hours at work, sprinting may feel too demanding and walking may be too glacial. But jogging can be a satisfying, mostly moderate exercise that glides comfortably between those two and often doesn’t require hours out of the week to feel the results. 

Jumping Rope – You probably delighted in jumping rope as a child. But why not become reacquainted? The activity likely hasn’t lost an ounce of fun. Plus, it is easily one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise that similar to jogging, requires little equipment and only yourself to get started. 

 

Standing Up to Fall Allergies

Fall is upon us and that means contending with the allergies that blow in. Today we take a look at fall allergies: what causes them and methods to lessen their severity.

What Causes Them? 
Mold - Fall is when mold is more likely to grow and spread. Fallen leaves combined with rotting wood cause mold levels to peak in many areas. 
Smoke - Smoke is a known environmental irritant for many people. In some states, people burn leaves and other brush to clear their yards of natural debris. 
Ragweed - Ragweed allergy affects millions of people in the United States. Ragweed, unlike other pollen counts, peaks in September and starts in mid to late summer, with over 17 species of ragweed growing throughout the United States. 
  
Ways to Lessen Their Impact 

  

Track 
Monitor mold and pollen counts on local radio and TV weather reports. Know when pollen counts are highest and plan outdoor activities around it. For instance, ragweed tends to be worse in the morning. 
  
Close Up 
Keep windows and doors shut at home, work, or in the car to prevent allergens from getting inside unnecessarily. 
  
Clean 

While being outdoors is usually good for your health, washing hair, clothing, and skin after working or playing outside can aid in easing the effects of allergens. 
  
Guard 
Consider wearing a NIOSH-rated 95 mask when outdoors mowing the lawn or performing any similar activities. 

 

Contending with Traffic

The act of driving is familiar to most of us. But no matter how used to it we are, it can still introduce unpleasantness. Let’s look at positive practices to support our mental health while on the road.

Plan Ahead 
Be sure to leave for your destination with plenty of time to arrive. This helps prevent rushing and the stress that accompanies it. 
  
Leave Stress Behind 
Once you get into a vehicle, whatever difficulty or disagreement you may have just had, set it aside for the duration of your travels. When you’re behind the wheel, your safety and importance are imperative. 
  
Set Up a Playlist or Podcast 
Before getting on the road, setting up a favorite music playlist or podcast can aid in keeping the mood in the vehicle as positive as can be. 
  
Stay Focused on the Road 
No matter what distractions arise, maintaining complete focus on the road is better for you and everyone else. Plus, it will likely get you to your destination quicker. 
  
Breathe Well 
During your drive, whether you’re in the middle of a traffic jam or cruising through the country, constant concentration is vital. Taking full, meditative breaths can aid in minimizing your stress level and help keep your awareness strong. 

 

Food Safety on Halloween

Halloween can be an exciting experience. But amid the merriment, there are some food precautions to consider from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

For the little kids (and us big kids), remember: 

  • Don’t eat candy until it has been carefully inspected at home. 
  • In case of a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Advise children not to accept - or eat - anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. 

Additionally: 

  •  Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys from Halloween treat-or-treat bags. 
  •  Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Discard anything that appears suspicious. 

For those attending or having a party, keep in mind: 

  • Unpasteurized juices and juices that have not been further processed are at higher risk of food-borne illness. Look for the warning label to identify juice that hasn’t been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products made on-site.   
  • Before bobbing for apples, reduce the risk of bacteria by thoroughly rinsing the apples under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt. 
 
With the holidays on the immediate horizon, there is a whole host of methods for staying healthy and feel joy often. Additionally, take a look at our August 2023 and September 2023 recaps for more healthful ideas. To see these health tip social media posts and other posts covering a wide range of topics, check out our LinkedIn and Facebook pages.