Lighthouse Series annoucement

The ManhattanLife Lighthouse Series of Senior Products

The ManhattanLife Lighthouse Series

The ManhattanLife Lighthouse Series was created to ensure that ManhattanLife continues to serve a rapidly expanding senior market.

Designed specifically to meet the unique needs many seniors have, the ManhattanLife Lighthouse Series is meant to provide added security and protection when you need it most.

As part of the ManhattanLife Lighthouse Series, we’re offering:

  • Cancer and/or Heart & Stroke
  • Home Health Care
  • Medicare Supplement
  • 2 Dental, Vision & Hearing plan options
  • Final Expense Life Insurance

Choose one or multiple plans to build coverage that best meet your insurance needs.

Cancer and/or Heart & Stroke (CHAS)

For life’s uncertainties.

Heart disease, cancer, and stroke are in the top 5 causes of death in the United States. Insurance can help bridge the gap traditional insurance may leave behind and help lessen the financial burden of a diagnosis.

With Cancer and/or Heart & Stroke, you can choose Cancer coverage, Heart & Stroke coverage, or a combination of both. Include a Cancer Recurrence Rider and/or a Heart & Stroke Restoration of Benefits Rider to add value and longevity to the policy! 

Heart & Stroke coverage includes qualifying events such as heart attack, stroke, heart transplant, coronary artery bypass surgery, aortic surgery, heart valve replacement/repair surgery, angioplasty, and stents.

Benefit amounts for each policy and each optional rider start at $5,000 and may go up to $75,000 in $5,000 increments.

Home Health Care

Recover at home in the comfort of your family and friends.

Home Health Care provides the opportunity to recover at home when a sudden illness, injury, or debilitating chronic condition strikes.

You’ll have flexible, affordable, and guaranteed for life coverage. Choose from one of three plans: Classic/Premier/Deluxe.

Among many other benefits, HHC also features:

  • Flexible Maximum Daily Benefits
  • Prescription Drug Benefit
  • Restoration of Benefits
  • Home Health Care Aide included
  • Multiple Riders Available

Our prescription drug benefit helps cover a portion of both generic and brand prescription drugs with maximum benefits of $300/$600/$600 per year.

Under the policy’s built-in Restoration of Benefits, the Maximum Benefit Period for Home Health Care and Aide benefits will be restored if benefits have not been paid or required for 180 consecutive days.

You can add an Extra Benefits Rider, an Ambulance Benefit Rider, and/or a Critical Accident Benefit Rider for additional premium and build even more coverage.

Home Health Care is available in 10 states under ManhattanLife Assurance Company of America and 20 states under Standard Life and Casualty Insurance Company.

Medicare Supplement

A policy to supplement your Medicare plan to help keep your out-of-pocket healthcare costs down.

Medicare Supplement plans are government standardized, meaning the benefits across each plan must be the same regardless of the company that offers them. The difference comes with quality of service and premiums.

At ManhattanLife, we’re delivering a Medicare Supplement offering backed by our strong customer support, reliable claims processing, and competitive prices. Choose from Plans A, F*, G, and N and find the coverage that best meets your needs.

Medicare Supplement is currently approved in 16 states under ManhattanLife of America Insurance Company.

Dental, Vision & Hearing (DVH)

2 Dental, Vision & Hearing plans to choose from to best meet your needs.

We’re now offering 2 Dental, Vision & Hearing (DVH) plans! Both include Day 1 coverage for Preventative or Basic Services.

With our original DVH, you’ll have bundled dental, vision & hearing coverage.

With DVH Select, you start with a base dental plan and choose whether you want to add vision and/or hearing coverage. DVH Select includes a 50% orthodontia benefits from Year 2 onwards.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Helping to provide peace of mind for your loved ones.

Life insurance can play an important role in paying final debts we may leave behind, helping our families with funeral expenses, mortgage payments, or for any other expenses they may have.

Final Expense is a whole life policy that provides your family with an immediate death benefit that they can use towards their most pressing financial needs.

Final Expense Life Insurance is approved in 19 states under Standard Life and Casualty Insurance Company.




For all products listed: Not all plans, benefits, and riders available in all states.

ManhattanLife is the brand name for plans, products, and services provided by one or more of the subsidiaries and affiliate companies of Manhattan Life Group Inc. (“ManhattanLife Entities”). Plans, products, and services are solely and only provided by one or more ManhattanLife Entities specified on the plan, product, or service contract, not Manhattan Life Group Inc. Not all plans, products, and services are available in each state.

ManhattanLife Assurance Company of America, Standard Life and Casualty Insurance Company, ManhattanLife of America Insurance Company, Family Life Insurance Company, and Western United Life Assurance Company are all ManhattanLife Entities.

19 retirement activities

19 Things to Try in Retirement!

Your Next Big Adventure!

  1. Get out and grow
    • Start a garden! Grow flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, or a mix. You can start a patch in the backyard, get a raised garden bed, or do indoor or outdoor container gardening.
  2. Sports enthusiasts
    • Join a sports league. Many cities and town have senior sports leagues, and if yours doesn’t, maybe you can be the one who starts it.
  3. A class on flexibility
    • If you’re more interested in a quiet workout environment, try out a yoga class. Yoga gives you the benefits of exercise and community.
  4. Share your time
    • Teach a class at the local library or volunteer at the local food bank, shelter, or animal shelter. Volunteering is a way to connect with other people while also giving back to the community.
  5. Arts & Crafts
    • Embroidery, woodworking, crochet, sewing, floral arrangements, carpentry, painting, clay working - there's an endless list of different arts and crafts to get into.
  6. Dance the night away
    • Learn a new dance! Salsa, meringue, foxtrot, ballroom – you can find classes for pretty much any dance you can think of.   
  7. Writing
    • Sign up for a creative writing, poetry, or even a screen writing workshop. Or keep it more casual with daily journaling.
  8. Sailing through retirement
    • If you live near sailing towns, join a sailing club!
  9. Surf’s up!
    • Learn to surf. Some beaches offer surf lessons year-round!
  10. Linguistic Interest
    • Learn a new language
  11. Family Fun
    • Spend time with relatives, watch grandkids
  12. Photography
    • From landscapes to portraits to flowers and animals, you can find interesting subject matter everywhere.
  13. Not just for kids
    • Video games aren’t just for kids! Try console, computer, or handheld games. From puzzle to action to open-world games, there’s something for everyone.
  14. Learn astronomy and go stargazing
    • You may have to drive a bit outside of the city to see a clear sky, but the sight will be worth it. Learn about astronomy and the best times to see the most interesting planets, constellations, and stars.
  15. Find a local part-time job
    • Not ready to give up working entirely? A part-time job can help keep you connected to other people and also supplement your income if needed.
  16. Plan a trip
    • If you’ve got more time than ever on your hands, think about a long trip! Try a cross-country road trip or an overseas adventure.
  17. Join the local theater troupe
    • Audition for the local theater troupe. Theater is another activity that can help keep you connected to other people
  18. Hit the books!
    • Take some classes at the local community college or university. It’s never too late to learn something new!
  19. For the reading enthusiasts
    • Start a book club! Stick to one genre or try a new one for every book. You’ll find new stories and get to share them with others too!

Remember that retirement is meant to be for you. If you start a hobby or activity and decide you’re not that interested after all, you can still move on to the next new thing. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be perfect or even good at the activity. If it brings you enjoyment, then it’s worth the experience!

Consult your healthcare provider when trying to determine the amount of physical activity that’s best and safest for you.

infectious diseases part 2

Critical Illness Series - Infectious Diseases Part 2

Table of Contents

What is Cerebrospinal Meningitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Cerebrospinal Meningitis?

How is Cerebrospinal Meningitis Usually Treated?

Can Cerebrospinal Meningitisbe Prevented?

What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis?

How is Necrotizing Fasciitis Usually Treated?

Can Necrotizing Fasciitis be Prevented?

What is a Osteomyelitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Osteomyelitis?

How is Osteomyelitis Usually Treated?

Can Osteomyelitis be Prevented?

What is Tuberculosis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

How is Tuberculosis Usually Treated?

Can Tuberculosis be Prevented?

Necrotizing Fasciitis

What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Commonly known as “flesh-eating disease,” necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection thought to be most caused by group A Streptococcus. The bacteria commonly enter the body through some break in the skin such as cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds, and surgical wounds.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Early symptoms can include:

  • Red, warm, or swollen skin inflammation
  • Pain disproportional to the degree of inflammation
  • Fever

Early detection is important, so watch for these symptoms especially after an injury or a surgery.

Later symptoms can include:

  • Ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin
  • Changes in the color of the skin
  • Pus or oozing from the infected area
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Diarrhea or nausea

Doctors can diagnose necrotizing fasciitis by performing a biopsy, completing bloodwork and looking for signs of infection and/or muscle damage, and imaging the damaged area (CT scan, MRI, ultrasound).

How is Necrotizing Fasciitis Usually Treated?

IV antibiotics and surgery are the typical first treatments if there’s suspicion of necrotizing fasciitis. Early detection and early treatment are the most important factors in successful treatment.

Can Necrotizing Fasciitis be Prevented?

Taking extra care of wounds can help prevent skin infections such as necrotizing fasciitis.

Clean all your minor cuts and injuries with soap and water.

Clean and cover draining or open wounds with clean, dry bandages until they heal. Replace the bandages as often as needed to avoid drainage from soaking.

Visit your doctor for puncture or other deep/serious wounds or injuries.

Wash your hands with warm water and soap often. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if hand washing isn’t possible.

Care for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

Avoid spending time in hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.


What is Osteomyelitis?

From osteo meaning “bone,” myelo meaning “bone marrow,” and itis meaning “inflammation,” osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria or some other germs. Infections can also reach the bone indirectly from the bloodstream or nearby tissue.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Osteomyelitis?

Usual signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling, warmth, and redness over the area of the infection
  • Pain in the infection area
  • Fatigue

If you experience worsening bone pain along with fever, see your doctor as soon as you can.

How is Osteomyelitis Usually Treated?

Most people will have surgery to remove areas of the bone that are infected or have died. Strong IV antibiotics are also generally needed after the surgery.

Can Osteomyelitis be Prevented?

Preventing infections in general can help decrease risk of developing osteomyelitis. Avoid cuts, scrapes, and animal scratches or bites. As with helping to prevent necrotizing fasciitis, take extra care of wounds or injuries. Clean and cover minor cuts and injuries and see your doctor for more serious injuries.


What is Tuberculosis?

An infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While most commonly associated with the lungs, this bacterium can actually attack any part of the body, including the kidney, spine, and brain. Tuberculosis (TB) can be latent (TB infection) or active (TB disease) in our bodies.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

Symptoms can depend on where the bacteria are growing.

If growing in the lungs:

  • Bad cough lasting 3 weeks or longer
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up phlegm from deep inside the lungs (sputum) or blood

Other symptoms include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

How is Tuberculosis Usually Treated?

Tuberculosis generally requires strict medication regimens, whether it is a latent TB infection or TB disease.

Not everyone with TB bacteria becomes sick, but a medical professional would decide when to start treatment for latent TB. Latent TB can eventually develop into TB disease, so treating the infection promptly is important. Treatment regimens for latent TB infection may include: Isoniazid (INH), Rifapentine (RPT), and Rifampin (RIF).

Treatment for TB disease lasts for 6 to 9 months. If the patient stops taking the medication too soon, they put themselves at risk for getting sick again. If they do not take the drugs exactly as prescribed, they risk the TB bacteria becoming drug-resistant, meaning they become more difficult and expensive to treat.

Drug-susceptible TB treatment regimens may include: Isoniazid (INH), Rifampin (RIF), Ethambutol (EMB), and Pyrazinamide (PZA).

Can Tuberculosis be Prevented?

If you’re traveling out of the country, research whether tuberculosis is prevalent. Avoid close or prolonged time with TB patients in crowded, enclosed spaces.

While tuberculosis is not usually easy to catch, a TB disease positive person can still take steps to prevent friends, family, and other people from getting sick.

To lessen risk of transmission: Stay home, ventilate the room you’re staying in, cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or yawn, and wear a mask when you’re around others.

The person with TB disease should stop being contagious generally after a few weeks of treatment.

Treating latent TB infection generally prevents TB disease from developing, but your doctor will determine if or when to start a treatment regimen.

*This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions or illnesses or act as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your health.

Back to Top

  1. CDC. Necrotizing Fasciitis: All You Need to Know
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Necrotizing Fasciitis.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Osteomyelitis.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Osteomyelitis.
  5. CDC. Tuberculosis (TB).
  6. Mayo Clinic. Tuberculosis.

critical illness infectious diseases

Critical Illnesses - Infectious Diseases

Table of Contents

What is Malaria?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Malaria?

How is Malaria Usually Treated?

Can Malaria be Prevented?

What is a Encephalitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Encephalitis?

How is Encephalitis Usually Treated?

Can Encephalitis be Prevented?

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease?

How is Legionnaires’ Disease Usually Treated?

Can Legionnaires’ Disease be Prevented?

Covering high-level, basic information about three infectious diseases: malaria, encephalitis, and Legionnaire’s disease. *


What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasitic disease that most commonly enters the bloodstream through a mosquito bite. Plasmodium parasites from infected mosquitos travel through the bloodstream to the liver. Some parasite types can lay dormant for up to a year, but at some point, the parasite will begin to infect red blood cells. The infected red blood cells can burst as they travel throughout the body, spreading more parasites.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Malaria?

Malaria symptoms generally include:

  • Fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur.
  • Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin and eyes) because of the loss of red blood cells. If not promptly treated, the infection can become severe and may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death.

How is Malaria Usually Treated?

Antimalarial drugs are available for treatment – doctors base the exact type of drug prescribed on the type of malaria, where the person was infected, the person’s age, whether they are pregnant, and how sick they are at treatment start. Both the CDC and WHO have guidelines for treating malaria.

Can Malaria be Prevented?

Speak with your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before traveling to places known for malaria transmission. The 4-6 weeks should allow enough time for any prescribed antimalarial drugs to become effective. The CDC also recommends sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, using insect repellent, and wearing long-sleeved clothing when outside.


What is Encephalitis?

From “encepahlo” (brain) and “itis” (inflammation), encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. The most common cause of encephalitis is a viral infection.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Encephalitis?

Encephalitis often causes only mild flu-like symptoms (fever/headache) or no symptoms at all. It can also cause confused thinking, seizures, or problems with movements or senses (sight/hearing).

Severe cases include:

  • Severe headache
  • Sudden fear
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

How is Encephalitis Usually Treated?

  • Oral and intravenous (IV) medicines to reduce inflammation and treat infection.
  • Antibiotics that address underlying bacterial infections.
  • Antiviral medications.
  • Medications or other therapies to control seizures.

Can Encephalitis be Prevented?

Maintaining proper hygiene and handwashing, avoiding mosquito and tick exposure, and keeping vaccinations up to date. Consult your healthcare provider before traveling to areas known to have encephalitis-causing viruses to see what vaccines may be needed in preparation.

Legionnaires’ Disease

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

A severe form of pneumonia caused by a bacterium known as legionella, most commonly contracted from inhaling the bacteria from water or soil. Legionella is found naturally in freshwater environments such as lakes and streams, but it can grow in:

  • Showerheads and sink faucets
  • Cooling towers
  • Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
  • Decorative fountains and water features
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large plumbing systems

What are the Usual Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia and has similar symptoms that usually develops 2-10 days after exposure. Common initial symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever that may be 104 F or (40 C) or higher

Symptoms starting on the second or third day usually include:

  • Cough – look for mucus and sometimes blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Confusion or other mental changes

Most healthy people do not get sick when exposed to Legionella. People who have an increased risk include:

  • Smokers – former/current
  • Those with weakened immune system
  • Those with chronic lung disease or other serious conditions (diabetes, kidney failure, liver failure)
  • People 50 years or older
  • People with cancer

How is Legionnaires’ Disease Usually Treated?

Legionnaires’ disease requires antibiotics and most cases of it can be successfully treated this way.

Can Legionnaires’ Disease be Prevented?

People generally spread Legionnaires’ disease to others only under rare circumstances.

One of the most important steps in preventing Legionnaires’ disease is to maintain water systems as previously mentioned: hot tubs, hot water tanks and heaters, large plumbing systems, cooling towers, and decorative fountains.

This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions or illnesses or act as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about any of the topics discussed above.

Back to Top

  1. CDC. Malaria: About Malaria.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Malaria
  3. Mayo Clinic. Encephalitis.
  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Encephalitis.
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Encephalitis.
  6. CDC. Legionella (Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac Fever).

dental care

Oral Care Awareness!

Table of Contents

Did you know?

So why does Oral Health matter?


For the kids

Don’t forget about baby!

Did you know?

The oldest found drilled molars were discovered in Pakistan and are thought to be 9,000 years old. The most recently discovered ancient dental fillings were found in Italy – thought to be about 13,000 years old, the fillings are made of a naturally occurring tar!

The Babylonians and Egyptians created what historians agree is the first “toothbrush” – frayed twigs. In the 1400s, the Chinese created toothbrushes with bristles made from pig necks. In the 1800s, Americans were using toothbrushes with handles made of carved bone or ivory.

Even though the science and understanding behind oral health was nowhere near what they are today, people have been taking care of their teeth since ancient times.

So why does Oral Health matter?

Our teeth and our mouths affect how we eat, speak, and show emotions, and they even affect the shape of our face. Issues with our teeth, gums, or mouth are more likely to negatively affect our diet and overall health.

Prevention is the best tool against potential costly procedures and negative health effects.

1 in 4 adults between 20 and 64 years old has at least one cavity.

         Cavities can cause pain and infections, such as abscesses in serious cases.

Nearly half of all adults 30 years or older show signs of gum disease.

         Aside from causing general gum discomfort, gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.

One quarter of adults 65 years or older have 8 or fewer teeth.

         Tooth loss can affect your ability to eat meat, fruits, and vegetables. 

Oral health across all age groups is important, from building a strong foundation in childhood to maintaining routines as an adult.


Toothbrush Tips

Remember 2x2! Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes at least 2 times a day.

Teeth Tech. An electric or battery-operated toothbrush can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease. Electric or battery-operated toothbrushes can also be beneficial if you have arthritis or difficulties moving your hands.

3 Month Rule. Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head for electric & battery-operated toothbrush at least every 3 months.

It’s best practice to replace your toothbrush after a cold, flu, or other illness.

Let's Talk Technique. Angle the toothbrush slightly with the bristles aimed at where your tooth meets gum. Brush in gentle circular, back-and-forth motions. Wait a while after eating before brushing, and don’t forget to brush your tongue!


Look for fluoride toothpastes. 

If you vomit for any reason, you can rinse your mouth with 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water to help wash away stomach acid and keep your enamel safe.

Floss Facts

Flossing is an extremely important part of any dental care routine. Flossing between teeth helps keep plaque from building up in between teeth, helps remove smaller food particles, and helps maintain gum health.

You can use waxed or unwaxed floss or other interdental tools such as floss picks, tiny brushes for between the teeth, or brushes designed for cleaning around implants.

Don’t Forget the Dentist!

Visit the dentist at least once a year whenever possible. Dentists can clean away built up tartar, look for early signs of oral disease, and take x-rays to check on your tooth and bone health.

For the Kids

Toothbrush Tips

Kids should brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes 2 times a day. Letting them choose their own soft-bristled kids toothbrush may help get them interested keeping the healthy habit.


Look for fluoride toothpastes. Many kids themed toothpastes also contain fluoride, so kids can be engaged while also caring for their teeth.

Flossing Fun

It’s time to start flossing when kids have at least two teeth that touch; floss for them until they’re old enough to do it for themselves.


Take your child to the dentist for regular cleanings and ask about dental sealants to see if they’re an option for your child.

Don’t Forget about Baby!

If no teeth have come in yet, wipe their gums with a soft, clean cloth twice a day – once after their first feeding and again right before bed.

Use a soft, small-bristled toothbrush and plain water when teeth start coming in. Brush 2 times a day.

Happy Birthday, Dentist

By your baby’s first birthday, make sure to visit the dentist for early detection of any problems.


Always consult your dentist and health care provider if you have questions or concerns about your teeth or overall oral health. The above is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace professional medical/dental advice or direction from doctors/dentists. 


gardening tips

Gardening: Get Out and Grow!

Table of Contents


Positive Physical Effects

Positive Mental Effects

Different Types of Gardens

Dress for the Occasion

The Usual Tools



Gardening: Get Out and Grow!

Gardening is an ancient phenomenon found across the world, varying based on the culture, the clime, and the purpose. For National Garden Month, we're looking at how gardens can improve physical and mental health, tips for getting started, and the recommended outfit and tools. 

Positive Physical and Mental Health Effects

From hauling around bags of soil to kneeling among the greenery and pulling, digging, and planting, gardening offers plenty of opportunities for improving physical health. Studies have also shown though that gardening can positively affect our mental health as well.

Positive Physical Effects

  • Vitamin D and Calcium
    • Exposure to sunlight when you’re gardening can help you increase your vitamin D levels, which positively affects your calcium levels.
  • Multicomponent Physical Activity
    • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gardening can be a ‘multicomponent’ physical activity depending on the type and intensity of your gardening. Multicomponent physical activities incorporate aerobic, muscle strengthening, and balance exercises. Digging, raking, and mowing are all calorie-intense exercises, and a study found that less than half of the participating gardeners were overweight or obese versus the nearly 70% of the participating non-gardeners.
  • Hand strength
    • Digging, planting, and weeding help you develop hand strength over time.
  • Eating healthier
    • You’ll know where your food comes from – your own garden! Add fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you grow yourself to your plate. You can some fruits, vegetables, or herbs in smaller planters if you don’t want or are unable to commit to a larger garden space.

Positive Mental Effects

  • Decreased dementia risk
    • A study found that daily gardening predicted a 36% lower risk of dementia.
  • Mood-boosting
    • Soil contains a specific bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, that a team of neuroscientists and immunologists have found activates a set of serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain. A study has also shown that
  • Helps combats loneliness
    • Community gardens especially offer the opportunity to connect with other people who share similar interests (flowers, vegetables, gardening in general). These connections can reduce feelings of loneliness.
  • Self-esteem
    • The nurturing, continued care, and successful growth of plants contributes to greater self-esteem. Low maintenance plants can be a good place to start for beginner gardeners or those without a self-proclaimed green thumb.
  • Reduces stress
    • A study examining the effect of gardens and plants in healthcare settings such as hospitals have shown that just looking at greenery, flowers, or water was more effective in promoting recovery or restoration from stress. This was true with both nonpatients and patients in the study.  

Different Types of Gardens

With so many options for what to plant and how to cultivate your garden space, having an idea of some garden types can be a good place to start.

Butterfly Gardens

Gardens focused on attracting local butterflies. You can plant flowering plants to invite adult butterflies or include a range of plants that provide nectar, water, and shelter for the butterfly’s life stages. Nectar plants provide food for the butterflies and caterpillar food plants, of course, provide food for the caterpillars. Learn more about Butterfly Gardens here

Container Gardens

For when you don’t have a lot of gardening space. You can use large planters to plant a variety of plants in one place. Mixing plants that flower at different times in the year can help keep the planter fresh and interesting year round.   

Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs

Homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be a great way to add some fresh, seasonal flavor to your plate. You can grow a little of everything or focus on one of the three. If you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to choose plants that have the same needs (light, water, soil, etc.) at first.

Gardening Tips

Whichever type of garden you decide on, here are some general tips.

  • Try using natural herbicides and fertilizers. Your local plant shop or garden center should have most if not all the things you’ll need to get started, including plants and seedlings suited to grow in your area.
  • One study has found a connection between more biodiversity and increased psychological benefits, so don’t be afraid to add variety to your garden!  
  • Not sure what plants would grow best in your area? You can find information on plant hardiness from the USDA.

Dress for the Occasion

Recommended outfit and accessory ideas:

  • Hats with a wide brim or visor or bucket hats for when the mosquitos and gnats are out
  • Sunscreen and Sunglasses
  • Loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirt
  • Overalls or long pants to protect your knees
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • Waist apron or utility bag – keeping your tools within comfortable reach
  • Shoes may depend on the season and climate!
    • Waterproof and/or slip-resistant sandals may work best for summer and spring
    • Work boots that cover your ankles may work best for colder weather
    • Taller rubber boots may work best for wet and rainy areas

The Usual Tools

Whichever type of garden you choose to start, some basic gardening tools include:

  • Three-tine cultivator for tilling
  • Spade-shaped potting trowel for scooping soil
  • Hand fork for aerating soil
  • Weeder for persistent taproots
  • Narrow trowel for weeds


You can still strain yourself while gardening, so take it slow and check in with yourself often. Stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and take rests as you need. Consult your physician if you have health concerns when it comes to any of the more strenuous gardening activities.

allergies and allergens

Allergens and Allergies

Table of Contents

When is Allergy Season?

What is an Allergen?

What Happens in an Allergic Reaction?

Allergy Symptoms

What Can I Do to Help with My Allergy Symptoms?

Spring Allergies and Allergens

While the Spring Equinox still signals the official start of Spring, allergy season is starting sooner every year. Trees are blossoming sooner, and grasses and weeds are growing faster, all sending more pollen into the air earlier and making allergy season last longer. Understanding allergens can help us better manage our allergies.

When is Allergy Season?

We generally think of the start of Spring as the start of allergy season. But different allergens hit their peaks at different times during the year: pollen levels are higher for trees in the spring, higher for grasses in the summer, and higher for weeds in the fall.

What is an Allergen?

An allergen is something usually harmless that our bodies consider a threat. Allergens can be environmental, seasonal, or even food-related. Environmental allergens are ones that can affect us year-round like dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Pollen is the main seasonal allergen.

What Happens in an Allergic Reaction?

When our immune systems react to allergens as threats, we experience an allergic reaction. During a reaction, our immune system triggers our white blood cells to release a chemical called histamines into our bloodstream. Histamines can make us sneeze, tear up, itch, or develop cold-like symptoms. Most over the counter allergy medications contain some sort of anti-histamine.

Allergy Symptoms

Most allergic reactions, especially those triggered by environmental or seasonal allergens, resemble the symptoms of a common cold. Food allergens can cause more severe reactions such as digestive issues, hives, swollen airways, or anaphylaxis.

Environmental & Seasonal Allergies

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing / Shortness of Breath
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sinus pressure
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Fever

Food Allergies

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching, or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, nasal congestion, or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting

Emergency treatment is needed for anaphylaxis:

  • Constriction and tightening of the airways
  • Swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Shock with a severe drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness

For a reminder on COVID-19 symptoms.

What Can I Do to help with My Allergy Symptoms?

Tips to Manage Allergies
Start taking allergy medicine before your symptoms start
Over the counter remedies include: anti-histamines (Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra), decongestants (Sudafed, Afrinol), nasal sprays, eye drops, and combination anti-histamines & decongestants (Claritin-D, Allegra-D)*
Try a nasal rinse to flush pollen and dander from your sinuses**
Wear a pollen mask during outside chores & a dust mask for cleaning around the house
Shower after coming inside from a walk or doing outdoor work and after cleaning the house - showering helps remove pollen and dust from skin and hair
Keep doors and windows closed
Vacuum and sweep often
Try to sleep in a more upright position if comfortable
Always double check ingredient lists and ask for recipe details to avoid allergens

For tips on the other health benefits of healthy cleaning habits, check out: Springing into Healthy Cleaning Habits.


American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (

spring cleaning

Cleaning and Our Health: Springing into Healthy Cleaning Habits

Table of Contents

Cleaning and Our Health

Physical Health Benefits

Mental Health Benefits

How do I get Started with Cleaning?

Getting Started Around the House

Getting Started with the Kitchen

Getting Started with the Bathroom

Cleaning and Our Health

Cleaning regularly and maintaining an organized home can positively not only our physical health but our mental health as well. However daunting the task of cleaning an entire home or apartment may appear, the benefits can be worth it in the end. Spring can be a great time to set your cleaning habits for the rest of the year and beyond.

Physical Health Benefits

Immune System Strength and Respiratory Health

Dust, pet dander, and allergens can make their way and settle into our homes, affecting our respiratory health and immune system.

Promote Wellness

Disinfecting is an important part of cleaning that can help us avoid illness, whether it’s foodborne, bacterial, or viral. Regularly clean and disinfect your most used items, which could include your phone, keyboard, bedding, and bathroom and kitchen towels. The kitchen is usually the first place foodborne illness originates, so washing produce and regularly disinfecting surfaces and the fridge can help stop foodborne illness.

Avoiding Falls

Decluttering and organizing can help you avoid falls in the home. Keep walkways clear of shoes, rugs, toys, and any other miscellaneous items. Use shoe racks, storage bins, and shelves as designated storage places.

Physical Fitness

Findings from a study on the relationship between physical activity and features of the study subjects’ neighborhoods showed that the interior condition of the study subject’s home affected their physical activity. “If you spend your day dusting, cleaning, doing laundry, you’re active,” says NiCole Keith, one of the leads on the study and associate professor in the Department of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Mental Health Benefits


Clutter can negatively affect our focus whether we’re conscious of it or not. One study found that when we have a lot of objects in our field of vision, they compete for our attention and limit our processing capacity. Decluttering becomes an important part of cleaning as a way to increase our focus.

Mood and Stress

As part of increasing focus, decluttering can also help increase our overall mood and decrease our stress levels. Based on one study’s analysis of speech patterns and how study subjects talked about there homes, those with higher ‘restorative home scores’ had decreased daily depressed mood.

How do I get Started with Cleaning?

Knowing the benefits of cleaning sets a good foundation but knowing where to start is just as if not more important.

Clean Room by Room

Think of spring cleaning as a room-by-room project. Prioritize your rooms by time or overall workload and start at the top of each, dusting first and vacuuming/sweeping last.

Sort as You Go

As you clean, sort your belongings into four categories: trash, give away, store, or keep.

Get the Family Involved

A family reward can keep everyone on track for finishing the clean. Set realistic expectations for how much kids can do and for the quality of what they finish. Try specific directions such as “make sure all of x is put away in y place” versus a broad direction to “clean up.”

Choose the Right Tools 

Keep cleaning products to a minimum - too many can create their own clutter. Look for one or two all-purpose cleaners and washable microfiber cloths. Worried about allergies? Wear a dust mask for inside cleaning and a pollen mask for outdoor work.

If you or someone living with you has respiratory issues, watch out for cleaners with volatile organic compounds (often found in citrus and pine-scented cleaners). You can also try baking soda and water, vinegar and water, and other ‘homemade’ cleaners. Always research before mixing household items for appropriate ratios and for safety.

Make It Fun

Put on your favorite music to get you moving. Set cleaning goals for every half hour or hour and reward yourself if you meet your goal.

Areas and items to consider tackling this spring clean:

Getting Started Around the House

Ceiling fans

  • Use an old pillowcase to cover and wipe down each fan blade - the pillowcase catches dust as it falls.


  • Work top to bottom, moving from left to right across each blade.


  • Use a lint roller on the lower half.
  • For a deeper clean, toss them in the dryer with a damp towel, run an air-fluff cycle for 15 minutes, then hang them up right away.


  • Use vacuum attachments in couch crevices.
  • Toss smaller pillows into the dryer for 10-15 minutes to kill dust mites & freshen the pillows.


  • Washing your bedding (sheets, pillowcases & blankets) regularly can reduce allergens & dust.
  • Throw smaller pillows into the dryer for 10-15 minutes to kill dust mites & freshen the pillows.
  • Vacuum your mattress & sprinkle some baking soda over it (you can mix in a few drops of an essential oil if you’d like).
  • Come back & vacuum the baking soda after a few hours for a fresher mattress.


  • Move tables and shelves to vacuum/mop/sweep under them.


  • Vacuum starting in the corner away from the door.
  • An annual steam cleaning can help reduce allergens & freshen the house.

Trash cans

  • Hose down the inside.
  • Spray it with a disinfectant.
  • Scrub with a handled brush.
  • Rinse it out either outside or in the tub.
  • Place upside down to dry.


  • As you clean doors & windows, check for and seal any air leaks in the frames that could allow moisture inside.

Getting Started with the Kitchen

Chrome/glass/ stainless steel

  • Spray these surfaces with a 50% water/50% rubbing alcohol mixture.
  • Polish and clean with a dry cloth, removing water spots and fingerprints.

Lime buildup

  • Lay vinegar-soaked paper towels over lime buildup to soften the deposits & make them easier to remove.
  • Wipe down with a clean towel.


  • Take everything out of the pantry and throw out old or stale items as you organize. Put like items together as you refill the pantry.
  • Put newer items towards the back – follow “First In, First Out”


  • Take everything out of the fridge and throw out expired items.*
  • Work top to bottom as you wipe the interior and each shelf down with hot, soapy water. Wipe with clean water after to rinse off the soap and dry with a clean towel.
  • An optional step after cleaning with hot, soapy water is to use a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach in 1 gallon of water to sanitize.
  • Wipe down food and drink containers with hot, soapy water before returning them to the clean fridge.

*Don’t leave food out for more than 2 hours.


  • Remove any splatters/dried food with a damp sponge.
  • Run the self-clean cycle.


  • Heat a cup of 50% water/50% white vinegar for 5-10 minutes to loosen any sticky or caked on food.
  • Wipe the microwave down with a clean towel.

Kitchen Sink

  • You should try to deep clean the sink every day, not just during spring cleaning.
  • Don’t let dishes or food waste build up to help avoid germ growth. 

Getting Started with the Bathroom


  • Spray down tile first, allowing the cleaner to sit while you clean.
  • Use a baking soda & hydrogen peroxide paste on moldy/mildewy grout.


  • Clear the counter surface completely.
  • Wipe the counter and faucet with a white vinegar/hot water mixture then a clean towel or cloth to dry.
  • Throw away old or unused items and wipe down any items you’re keeping before putting them back on the counter.
  • Clean out all the bathroom drawers.
  • Wipe down the inside of the drawers with a microfiber cloth.
  • Throw away any old or unused items and wipe down any items you’re keeping before putting them back in the drawers, organizing as you go.

Shower heads

  • Spray the shower head with a 50% water/50% white vinegar mixture.
  • Wipe down with a clean towel or cloth to remove the grime.

critical illness cardiac cerebral vascular condition

Critical Illnesses: Cardiac Conditions and Cerebral Vascular Disease

Table of Contents

What is a Heart Attack?

What are the Common Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

What are the Main Causes of a Heart Attack?

What is a Stroke?

What are the Common Symptoms of a Stroke

What are the Main Causes of a Stroke?

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

What are the Common Symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm

What are the Main Causes of a Brain Aneurysm?

Heart Attack

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood.

What are the Common Signs of Heart Attack?

Common Heart Attack Warning Signs from the American Heart Association

  1. Pain or discomfort in chest
  2. Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  3. Jaw, neck, or back pain
  4. Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  5. Shortness of breath

In addition to those, women may also experience an unusually tired feeling.

What are the Main Causes of a Heart Attack?

Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attacks. When plaque builds up in our arteries, our risk for a heart attack increases. As plaque continues to build, blood has less room to flow, and eventually the plaque can erupt. Sever spasms or sudden contractions of a coronary artery can also stop blood flow to the heart muscle and cause a heart attack, but this is less common.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke involves an interruption of blood flow in the brain.

Three main types of strokes: Ischemic, Hemorrhagic, and Transient Ischemic Attacks

Ischemic strokes are the most common type and occur when blood flow through the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked, usually because of a blood clot.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur in the brain. An artery in the brain leaks blood or breaks open, and the leaked blood puts too much pressure on brain cells. The two types of hemorrhagic strokes are:

  • Intracerebral. Most common. Occurs when an artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood.
  • Subarachnoid. Less common. Refers to bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it.

Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are sometimes referred to as “mini-strokes.” The blood flow to the brain is blocked only for a short time, usually about 5 minutes or less. TIAs are usually a warning sign of a future stroke, and although referred to as a “mini-stroke” are still a medical emergency and require emergency care.

What are the Common Symptoms of a Stroke?

Remember B.E. F.A.S.T.

Balance. Has the person suddenly lost their coordination or balance?

Eyes. Is the person suddenly experiencing double vision or vision loss in one or both eyes?

Face. Is one side of their face drooping? Ask the person to smile.

Arms. Is one arm drifting downwards? Have the person raise both arms in the air.

Speech. Is their speech slurred or are they having difficulty getting the words out? Have the person repeat a simple phrase.

Time. If the person is experiencing or showing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Additional Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

What are the Main Causes of a Stroke?

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and diabetes.

Brain Aneurysm

What is a Brain Aneurysm?

A ballooning or bulge in a blood vessel in the brain, usually caused by a weakness in the walls of the blood vessel. It isn’t always clear, however, what causes the weakness.

What are the Common Symptoms of a Brain Aneurysm?

Unruptured Aneurysm

  • Loss of vision or double vision
  • Pain above or around the eyes
  • Numbness or weakness on 1 side of the face
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Headaches
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty concentrating or problems with short-term memory

Leaking Aneurysm

An aneurysm may leak a slight amount of blood, but a severe rupture often follows leaking.

  • Sudden, extremely severe headache

Ruptured Aneurysm

  • Sudden, extremely severe headache – often described as “the worst headache ever”
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizure
  • A drooping eyelid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

While most brain aneurysms don’t rupture or cause health problems or symptoms, a ruptured aneurysm quickly becomes life-threatening and emergency medical treatment is needed.

What are the Main Causes of a Brain Aneurysm?

The cause is generally unclear, but some factors can increase the risk for a brain aneurysm to develop.

  • Older age
  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Drug abuse, particularly the use of cocaine
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions or illnesses or act as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your health.

Back to Top.

  1. CDC. Heart Disease. Heart Attack Symptoms, Risk, and Recovery.
  2. CDC. Stroke. Types of Stroke.
  3. Stroke Symptoms.
  4. Mayo Clinic. Brain aneurysm. Overview.
  5. American Heart Association.

heart health and cholesterol

Heart Health Part 3: Cholesterol

Heart Health Part 3: Cholesterol

Table of Contents

What is Cholesterol?

Why does Cholesterol Matter?

Typical Cholesterol Targets?

What are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?

What Affects My Cholesterol?

What are the Risks of Abnormal Cholesterol Levels?

What Can I do to Meet My Target Cholesterol Levels?

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need, and we get additional cholesterol from food – meat, poultry, and dairy.

Why Does Cholesterol Matter?

High cholesterol is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

Typical Target Cholesterol Levels


  • Total Cholesterol
    • The sum of your blood’s cholesterol content. HDL + LDL + 20% Triglycerides = Total Cholesterol.
  • HDL = High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
    • “Good” cholesterol that helps carry away LDL cholesterol, which keeps arteries open and blood flowing more freely.
  • LDL = Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
    • “Bad” cholesterol that causes buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in arteries, reducing blood flow. If a plaque ruptures, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • Triglycerides
    • A type of fat found in the blood. Your body converts unneeded calories into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells. Factors that contribute to higher triglyceride levels:
      • Being overweight or obese
      • Insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome
      • Diabetes mellitus, especially with poor glucose control
      • Alcohol consumption, especially from processed foods
      • High saturated fat intake
      • Hypothyroidism
      • Chronic kidney disease
      • Physical inactivity
      • Pregnancy (especially third trimester)
      • Inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus)

What are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?

Most people don’t realize they have high cholesterol until they have a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to regularly have your healthcare provider test your cholesterol.

What Affects My Cholesterol?

While we cannot change or control all factors related to high blood pressure, making some simple lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure and can help reduce your risk for related complications.

Factors that we can control:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Diet
  • Being obese and overweight
  • Smoking cigarettes and exposure to tobacco
  • Diabetes

Factors that we should be aware of but can’t really control:

  • Family history of high cholesterol
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Aging
  • Gender

What are the Risks of Abnormal Cholesterol Levels?

Too much LDL or not enough HDL increases the risk of cholesterol buildup in the inner walls of arteries that feed the heart and brain. If a blood clot forms and blocks in a narrowed artery, you could have a heart attack or stroke.

What Can I do to Meet My Target Cholesterol Levels?

Diet and regular physical activity are important in keeping cholesterol within your target limits. Consult your healthcare provider for guidance on a meal plan that takes any current health conditions you may have into consideration and works best for you.

Eat These

Foods low in saturated and trans fats such as.

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • A variety of whole grain foods such as whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, and brown rice. At least half of the servings should be whole grains.
  • Fat-free, 1%, and low-fat milk products.
  • Skinless poultry and lean meats. Look for “loin” and “round” cuts of red meat and pork as those usually have the least amount of fat.
  • Fatty fish – salmon, trout, albacore tuna, sardines, etc. Recommended 8oz of non-fried fish each week.
  • Unsalted nuts, seeds, and legumes (dried beans or peas)
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils like canola, corn, olive, or safflower oils

Limit These

  • Foods with a lot of salt (sodium)
  • Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Red meats and untrimmed fatty meats
  • Processed meats (bologna, salami, and sausage)
  • Full-fat dairy products – whole milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and cheese
  • Baked goods made with saturated and trans fats – donuts, cakes, and cookies
  • Foods with “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list
  • Saturated oils – coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, etc.
  • Solid fats – shortening, stick margarine, lard, etc.
  • Fried foods

Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults

  • Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both per week
  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week
  • Move more throughout the day. Light-intensity activity can help offset some risks of being sedentary.
  • Gradually increase intensity and overall amount of activity time

For more physical activities ideas, check out “Take a Break! The Long-Term Benefits of Physical Activity.”

Consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider should be able to help you determine what your cholesterol targets should be and how to reach them.

This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions or illnesses or act as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Back to Top

  1. CDC. Cholesterol: About Cholesterol.
  2. American Heart Association. What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean.
  3. Mayo Clinic. High Cholesterol: Overview.
  4. Adult Treatment Panel III’s National Cholesterol Education Program