Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Low Acid Diet for GERD, Inflammation and Your Overall Health

Do you suffer from acid reflux, heartburn or GERD?  Is your throat hoarse or do you cough frequently?  Do you ever get an uncomfortable lump in your throat or have occasional trouble swallowing?  You may be suffering from excess acid in your diet, and if the problem is left untreated you could end up with esophageal cancer or other serious health conditions.  It is even possible that excess acid in your diet and the resulting chronic inflammation which it can cause may contribute to Alzheimer's Disease, heart disease or diabetes.

Millions of Americans suffer from the symptoms of too much acid in their diet.  They often respond to their discomfort by using antacids, and these over-the-counter medications can temporarily mask the problem.  However, antacids do not necessarily heal the damaged esophagus, nor do they prevent the underlying problem.  Only changing the diet to a less acidic one can permanently cure the problem.  It is even possible to get relief by just changing to a low-acid diet for as little as 28 days.

Solving the Problem of Stomach Acid

According to Dr. Jonathan Aviv,  the Clinical Director of the Voice and Swallowing Center, who has researched this issue extensively, there are certain foods which you should avoid and, conversely, other foods which you should choose in order to lower your consumption of acid. 

You can get a detailed explanation of the problems caused by a high acid diet, as well as the best foods to eat, helpful menus, and more in Aviv's book, "The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program."(Ad)

In his book, Dr. Aviv recommends following a strict healing diet for 28 days, followed by a less restrictive eating plan once you have healed the delicate tissues in the esophagus and other parts of your digestive system.

Getting Started on the Acid Watcher's Diet

People who are affected by stomach acid need to avoid:

Tobacco
Caffeine
Chocolate
Carbonated sugary drinks
Alcohol

During the initial 28 days of the diet, you will also want to avoid:

All carbonated beverages
Raw Onions
Raw Garlic
Tomatoes
Mint
Other high acid foods

Choose to Eat more foods with a pH of 5 or higher such as:

Lean animal proteins
Whole grains
High pH fruits and vegetables
Aromatic herbs and spices

Eventually you will be able to add back some foods such as:

Caffeine
Some alcoholic beverages, such as potato or corn based vodka
Cooked garlic and onions
Select dairy products
Apples and peppers
Honey
Occasional sliver of dark chocolate

What Are the Potential Benefits of the Low Acid Diet?

Higher energy
Less bloating
Weight loss
Less indigestion and heartburn
Less phlegm in the throat
Less inflammation 

How to Get More Details

If you are concerned about the amount of acid in your diet and the damage it is causing your health, you will want to read Dr. Aviv's book "The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program." (Ad)  It explains why there has been an increase in the amount of acid in our food since the 1980s and how to reduce it in our current diets.

The book also contains food lists, menus, and recipes to help you eat a diet which will reduce the amount of acid you consume.  After just four weeks, you could feel better and be healthier.

Benefits of Eating a Low Acid Diet

At first you may think that changing your diet is too much trouble. You may believe you can just live with your indigestion and eat what you want.  However, are you willing to suffer all the future consequences of that decision?

Eating a high acid diet can cause more than indigestion.  It can lead to esophageal cancer, throat burn, heartburn, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also cause chronic inflammation which has been linked to a wide variety of disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, heart attacks, psoriasis and diabetes.

Regardless of what health problem you may be experiencing, you have nothing to lose and, possibly, a great deal to gain by giving the low acid diet a try for a few weeks, at least. 
 
Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you

If you are interested in learning more about common medical issues as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Wikipedia images - vegetables

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Retirement Resources for Baby Boomers - Where to Find the Information You Need

Occasionally, I come across helpful resources for people who are retired or are planning to retire.  Sometimes these resources are websites or organizations which I refer to when writing posts for this blog.  Since it would be impossible to write a post about every potential resource available, I thought it would be helpful to include a resource page on this blog for my readers who are seeking more information on a topic of interest to them. 

From time to time, as I discover new resources, I will add to this list.  People often send me links to their websites, or ask me to share links to books and articles they have written or agencies they represent. Sometimes they ask me to share articles they found helpful.  If I review the information and believe it adds a unique, helpful resource, without a bunch of ads, I may include it.

To the best of my ability, I will include links and information which appear to be worthwhile.  If you discover one which is out-of-date, or no longer useful, please let me know in the comments section so I can delete it and, when possible, replace it with a better one.  If you know of additional resources you believe should be shared, please add the information in the comments section, along with your explanation of why it would benefit other retirees.  However, I do not wish to advertise specific brands or products.

Resources Which Retirees and Future Retirees May Find Helpful

General Retirement Information

AARP.org - This organization represents the interests of retirees, whether you join the AARP or not.  They lobby the U.S. government for better Social Security, Medicare and retirement plans.  Members also receive their magazine and a bulletin, with a wealth of current information. In addition, members are eligible to get discounts for hotels, car rentals and other products.  AARP also sells their own line of Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans, but I recommend people do their own research in this area.

Baby-Boomer-Retirement.com - This blog has been ranked by Feedspot as one of the top 50 retirement blogs in the world.  It is a type of "reader's digest" of useful information for retirees and people planning their retirement, relying on information from a wide variety of sources.  It often provides brief summaries of much longer articles from other sources, and also includes original posts written by experts who offer to guest post on the site.

Government Agencies

Medicare.gov - This is the site to learn about your Medicare options, apply for a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan, and get a replacement Medicare card.  You should use it in conjunction with the Social Security Administration website in order to get all the information you need about government programs available to senior citizens.

SSA.gov - The Social Security Administration website is one of the most important government websites for retirees.  You can use it to apply for and manage your Social Security and SSI Disability benefits, as well as learn about how the various programs can help you.  Most of the questions you have about Social Security can be answered on this site.

Pueblo.gpo.gov - The Government Publishing Office in Pueblo, Colorado is a government bookstore. It provides free and low cost brochures on a multitude of topics of importance to seniors, including information on reverse mortgages, handling money, food safety, health, and travel information.  Take the time to explore what they have to offer and order an assortment of short, clearly written brochures to help you take better care of yourself, your money and your future.

travel.state.gov -  This is the website for the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consumer Affairs.  If you are planning a trip to another country, this website offers travel advisories, warnings and general advice for keeping you as safe as possible.  The information is updated frequently, depending on the circumstances in each country.  They will even tell you if there is a particular region of a country to avoid.  Because it is available online, you can also check the website if you are already overseas.

Investment and Retirement Planning

Sarwa Retirement Planning - Everyone should speak with an investment planner at some point to make sure they are on schedule to save enough money to reach their retirement goals.  At least annually, they should check back with the investment planner to determine if they would benefit by making changes to their plan.  Although I have not personally used Sarwa, they are part of the new trend in robo advisors and the information they provide on their website is very helpful and worth reading, to give you a basis for comparing them to other investment planners you consider using. Sarwa is a Dubai-based company, but it serves customers worldwide and it administers your money through Interactive Brokers.  All investment accounts at Sarwa are protected SIPC products. SIPC protects the securities of an account up to $500,000 against insolvency or bankruptcy.

Medical Facts

WebMD.com, mayoclinic.org and clevelandclinic.org - WebMd, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic websites all provide accurate, up-to-date information about a variety of medical problems.  Your personal doctor should always be your first choice for reliable medical diagnosis, treatment and information.  You should not use these websites to self-diagnose your symptoms, or self-treat them. However, these sites can provide you with general health information and facts about a condition you have been diagnosed with, as well as help you better understand your condition and common treatments.  

Medicare Assistance

Boomer Benefits at BoomerBenefits.com or (855) 732-9055 -  This agency is licensed in nearly every state and their agents can assist you with finding the best Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan to meet your specific needs in your community. They are insurance brokers, and we have received very good reviews about them.

Senior Safety - Products to Protect You from Various Risks

Medical Alert Devices - If you are at risk of falling, having a heart attack, a stroke, or a seizure, or if you live alone, you may benefit by having a medical alert device which will connect you to an operator or call 911 for you in an emergency.  You can find a variety of brands of devices and compare the different options available at https://amzn.to/359DlKo.  

WebCam Safety - This article provides information on how to make adjustments to your WebCam to prevent people from spying on you. Since so many people are now communicating through webcams, this information could be especially protective:  pixelprivacy.com/resources/webcam-security/

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Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in reading more about common medical issues as we age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credits: Morguefile

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Quick Recovery from Stress or Negative Thoughts

Did you smile today? Why not give it a try?
Everyone feels down sometimes, and we all have to deal with stressful situations.  Whether you are feeling overwhelmed by politics, world events, bad health, the death of a loved one, or a problem in your family, it is beneficial to know a few tricks to help you quickly improve your mood and put your worry aside, even if only for a short time.

No matter what you are dealing with, WebMD pulled together a list of suggestions to help you feel better in under 15 minutes.  Below is a brief summary of their tips, and some ideas on how they can be applied in your life.  Don't limit yourself to these suggestions.  Be flexible and creative.  Think of your own ways to make these tips work for you. 

Meditation -  This practice scares some people who believe they cannot "empty their mind."  In truth, that is not even necessary.  All you have to do is make some time for yourself, relax, close your eyes, and breath.  You may find it helpful to count while you do it ... for example, inhale for 5 seconds, hold, and then exhale for 7 seconds.  While you are busy counting, you cannot focus on your worries at the same time. Some people find it easier to pray than meditate. In fact, prayer can be very meditative, especially when you use a repetitive prayer for a period of time. When meditating, do not worry if you doze off.  It shows you are relaxing.  You will feel amazingly calmer after this practice, as well as more positive and patient.

Spend time outdoors - Sunshine and fresh air are perfect antidotes for the blues.  You do not have to do anything extraordinary.   You can work in your garden, take a walk in the park, or even just relax on your patio watching the birds and little animals that make their home in your backyard.  Time outdoors can give you more energy, improve your memory, and make you less anxious.

Laugh often and easily -  What makes you laugh?  Do you enjoy silly pet videos online?  What about jokes and cartoons?  Do you have a favorite sitcom or movie you like to watch?  Researchers have found that even the act of faking a smile can make you feel better. A real, genuine laugh can do even more!  It can brighten your day, release feel-good endorphins, and stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles.

If you enjoy reading uplifting, positive books, an excellent choice is "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works" by Dan Harris. (Ad)

Make a Gratitude List - Reminding yourself of the good things in your life and around the world is a great way to improve your mood.  If someone in your life has upset you, writing down all the good things about that person can have a positive effect on that relationship.

Practice compassion - When other people repeatedly upset you, it can be very helpful to pray for them.  If you prefer not to pray, simply think about them and mentally send them good wishes for their health and happiness.  Doing this will help you feel better about yourself and may improve your relationship with that other person.

Take a Walk - This simple activity can improve your mood, reduce your stress, and increase your creative thinking.  The exercise will flood your body, including your brain, with oxygen.  It strengthens your muscles. And, as mentioned above, spending time outdoors comes with its own benefits.

Listen to your favorite music - Are you getting stressed from watching the news, or is something in your life causing you to worry about the future?  Turn off the news and distract yourself from your worries by tuning in to your favorite music.  Whether it is soft and soothing, or loud and energetic, it is sure to take your mind off negative events.  If it moves you to dance, or you decide to sing along, it will have even more benefits.

Do something productive - We all have that mental list of little tasks which need to be completed, but we never quite get around to doing.  Accomplishing something simple, such as making a necessary phone call, answering an email, or making a small home repair, can make you feel so much better about yourself.
 
When I was raising my children, a parenting tip I learned was to never ask a young child to "clean their room."  That was too broad a task and could overwhelm them.  Instead, ask them to pick up and put away five or ten items.  Then, check the room and, if necessary, help them put away a few more things.  Before my children knew it, the room was clean, and we had finished the task without a temper tantrum.  Today, I still use the same "trick" on myself.  Instead of telling myself I need to put away that big pile of laundry, address that stack of Christmas cards, or clean out my closet, I tell myself to just do ten small things.  I have found that once I have finished that task, I will usually just keep going and complete the job!  If it is more than I can finish in one day, I remind myself of how much less I will have to do the next day. Doing something productive makes us all feel better about ourselves at any age!

Connect with other people - People who spend too much time by themselves are more likely to be lonely and depressed.  The best defense against these feelings is to reach out to other people.  Call someone or arrange a video meeting with your family or a small group of friends.  Send a birthday card, email, or text to friends and family members.  You will feel happier and you will build up your support system, which is invaluable if something goes wrong and you need help.  Even during times when we must quarantine because of a pandemic, it is important that we reach out to others and put in the effort to maintain our relationships.

Eat healthy snacks - You will have more energy and have a better outlook if you enjoy fruit, nuts and whole grains for your snacks, rather than sugary drinks and cookies.

Help someone else - Need a real boost to your self esteem?  Do something for someone else.  Volunteer, even if you just make calls from home. Donate to a charity. Drop off a plate of cookies to a neighbor. Help a relative get through a difficult time. Smile at people you pass in the street.  If you are wearing a facemask, give them a little wave or nod of the head.  When we lift up other people, we lift up ourselves.

Stretch - Yoga is considered a healthy way to reduce your stress and supply your muscles with the food and oxygen they need.  If yoga sounds too difficult for you, just take some time each day to stretch all the muscles in your body, while taking deep breaths.  It will relax them, loosen them up and it is a great way to start your day!

Hug someone - During the Covid-19 pandemic, and whenever there is a contagious disease going around, one of the activities people miss the most is the simple act of hugging their loved ones.  One study even says that hugging can increase our immune system.  So, as long as you are at home with your immediate family and it feels safe, enjoy that hug!

Focus on your self-talk - Are you overly critical of yourself whenever something goes wrong?  Make a list of positive mantras to use instead of that negative self-talk.  Tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes.  You will do better next time.  It was not a big deal.  You're still a good person. Those types of statements will turn your day around.  One positive statement which I particularly like is "It is never too late to start your day over."  It is a great way to put your troubles behind you, especially if you are feeling guilty over loosing your temper or getting upset about a minor issue.

Send thank you notes - This is a wonderful way to become more grateful for the good things in your life.  I also like to keep a stack of "Thinking of You" cards on hand, to send to people I have not heard from in a long time.  Everyone likes to receive a personal, hand-written note once in a while!

If you keep some of these actions in mind, you will find that you can reduce your stress and turn those negative thoughts around!
 
Do not forget to be creative and find your own little ways to inspire and uplift yourself.  Read books that cause you to smile, make you happier, or inspire you. A good place to start is "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works" by Dan Harris. (Ad)

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in reading more about common medical issues as we age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credits: Pixabay

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Medicare Annual Election Period - Avoid Making Mistakes!

For the past few years, this blog has benefited from the wisdom of our Medicare expert, Danielle Kunkle Roberts.  She is the founder of Boomer Benefits and her company provides Medicare assistance to senior citizens in nearly every state.  Her contact information is always available in the side bar of this blog.  This month, she has written a helpful post which explains the most common mistakes people make during the Medicare Annual Election Period.

 If you are concerned about avoiding other potential Medicare mistakes, you will also want to read her new book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It is full of excellent tips which everyone should know about before applying for Medicare.

Mistakes to Avoid During the AEP

by Danielle Kunkle Roberts

Medicare has several different enrollment periods. Some happen only once in your life, while others happen annually. The Annual Election Period (AEP), also called the Fall Open Enrollment Period, occurs every year from October 15th until December 7th.

The Annual Election Period (AEP) is for people who are already enrolled in Medicare, so if you are new to Medicare, the AEP will not pertain to you. During the AEP, you can enroll in, change, or drop a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan. The AEP does not apply to Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans, however. You can apply for Medigap at any time, but if you are outside your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you might have to pass a medical underwriting before a new company will accept you. 

Knowing exactly what the AEP is designed for and how to prepare for it will help you avoid these mistakes.

Mistake:  Missing your Annual Notice of Change

Every year, Part D and Medicare Advantage plans must send out an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter to their beneficiaries. If you have a Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan, you should receive your ANOC by September 30th.

Your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) will either be mailed or emailed to you, depending on your preference. This notice will explain all the changes made to the plan for the following year, such as premium and formulary changes. Some insurers send letters with instructions for viewing your plan changes online. If your insurer is one of those, the notice you receive may not actually contain changes to your plan.

It’s important to review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) every year before the Annual Election Period (AEP) is over. If you ignore your ANOC and stick with your current plan, you may be surprised to discover on January 1st that your plan dropped one of your daily medications from the formulary or canceled a benefit you relied on.

The Annual Election Period is generally the only time you can change Part D plans each year, so if you’re unhappy with your current plan, make sure you explore your options and make the switch during the AEP.

On the other hand, if you are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, you have a second chance to change your coverage during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1st – March 31st).

Mistake:  Dropping your Medicare Advantage plan before getting approved for your Medigap plan

If you decide to switch to Original Medicare and Medigap during the Annual Election Period, make sure you are approved for a Medigap plan before you drop your Medicare Advantage plan. Unless you have Medigap guaranteed issue rights, you may be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

Outside your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, it may take a few weeks for the insurer to approve your application. This is especially true if the company wants to review your medical records.

Wait until you get your approval letter and effective date to drop your other coverage. Otherwise, you could find yourself past the Annual Election Period with no opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan until the following year.

Mistake:  Not using the Medicare Plan Finder Tool to shop Part D plans

Medicare created an online Plan Finder Tool several years ago that has become a one-stop-shop for Part D plans. It is the go-to place to compare all Part D plans offered in your ZIP code. The Plan Finder makes it easy to compare multiple Part D plans at one time.

At Boomer Benefits, we recommend that our Medigap clients use this tool during the AEP to shop for Part D plans. Since most Medicare enrollees have access to dozens of different Part D plans, the Plan Finder is really the easiest way to compare premiums and formularies. 

Remember, all of our Medigap clients have access to our client service team for help with issues related to Part D, even if your plan is with a company we do not represent. This is a completely free service for our Medigap clients. 

You will also have access to an annual Part D video which explains how to use the Medicare Plan Finder Tool to make sure you find the most cost-effective plans in your area every year.

Mistake:  Not enrolling in a new Model Part D plan as an insulin-dependent beneficiary

Starting January 1, 2021, there is a new program called the Part D Senior Savings Model. The 2020 AEP is the first time you can enroll in one of the new Model Part D plans. Enrolling in a Senior Savings Model Part D plan will cap your insulin copayments at $35 or lower.

If you take insulin and it’s covered by Part D, not Part B, be sure to enroll in a new Senior Savings Model Part D plan during this year’s AEP. Doing so will cap your insulin spending at no more than $420 for 2021.

Conclusion

For many Medicare beneficiaries, the Annual Election Period (AEP) is a stressful time of year. But if you know the purpose of the AEP and how to prepare for it, you’ll glide right through and get the coverage you need.

If you are shopping for Medicare Advantage plans, Boomer Benefits can help you find the most cost-effective plan in your area. You can also give us a call at (855) 732-9055 if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, but would like to switch to a Medigap plan. You can learn more at BoomerBenefits.com.

Be sure to check out Boomer Benefits co-founder Danielle Kunkle Roberts’ new book, "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make." (Ad) This best-selling book discusses ten other mistakes it is all too easy to make throughout your Medicare journey.

Are you interested in learning more about Medicare, Social Security, common medical problems, financial planning, where to live in retirement and more?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Graphic credit: Book cover