Resources for Mental and Emotional Wellness

Anxiety and depression are among the most common symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. It can be challenging trying to navigate through life with a disease that affects both your body and your emotions. In this blog, I’d like to share some helpful resources for mental and emotional wellness. I want you to know that if you find yourself battling anxiety and depression, there are resources available to help you manage and improve your mental and emotional wellness.  Continue reading

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Autumn Mock-Tail Recipe

We are officially in the fall season, and as the weather cools down, our taste buds start to crave certain festive drinks. We are not talking pumpkin spice – although I can appreciate a good fall pumpkin spice anything.

Why not try a Mock-Tail. I love this Mock-Tail recipe because it reminds me of Autumn. It has all the colors I love to see outside this time of year.

Ingredients Continue reading

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Medicare Open Enrollment 2021

We’ve entered that time of year again when insurance changes and decisions are upon us. And during what has been a very challenging and different, (to say the least), year, these decisions are more crucial than ever.

Medicare open enrollment begins tomorrow, October 15th, and will last until December 7th. During this time period, individuals can review their current Medicare plan and make changes if needed. You do not need to sign up for Medicare each year but reviewing your plan and making adjustments and changes as needed to make sure your healthcare needs are met, is essential.

Some new changes to note for the 2021 coverage year include lower premium costs and increased benefits and plan options for Medicare Advantage recipients. Premiums will be at their lowest rate since 2007, and extra telehealth and supplemental benefits, such as in-home support, will be offered as well. But it’s important to review out-of-pocket costs with these plans, even though premiums could be low, as well as making sure your providers are in the coverage network. These plans are very localized as well, so review what options are offered in your specific area/zip code for coverage. *Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and B benefits.

Medicare beneficiaries who have a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan should receive paperwork called “Evidence of Coverage” or “Annual Notice of Change” letters from your health plan showing coverage outlines and any changes that will occur. It’s very important to review these materials to make sure of any changes in the plan’s costs, providers, benefits, drug formularies, etc. so that if something is changing with your plan, you are aware of it and can make changes to your coverage if needed. These plans can change their benefits so it’s crucial to review your policy and any upcoming changes.

According to Medicare, you can make the following changes during the open enrollment period:

Also, if you are not satisfied with your Medicare Advantage Plan, you can disenroll from that plan and join Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. This disenrollment period is open from January 1st to February 14th of each year.

The Medicare website offers a Medicare Plan Finder where you can search for and compare health plans, benefits, coverage and estimated costs. You can also contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for information and questions.

You can also receive assistance and guidance in choosing coverage through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). This resource provides one-on-one insurance counseling and support regarding Medicare benefits. Visit https://www.shiptacenter.org/ to find your local office.

MSAA’s My Health Insurance Guide is a helpful source for the MS community to find more information about insurance options and resources, in addition to the Medicare Planning and Multiple Sclerosis brochure that helps to outline important parts and questions about Medicare coverage.

This is an important time to review your plan’s policy and make changes if needed to ensure that you have the appropriate coverage for your healthcare needs.

 

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Yes, it’s common with MS, and you are not alone

On the MSAA helpline we are often asked the question if depression and anxiety are common with MS. Those diagnosed and/or their loved ones reach out wondering about these symptoms and if others experience them too. The answer is yes. These symptoms can be very common with MS and are experienced by many with the disease. Questions about why and how, are ones still being researched to this day. And in a year like we’ve had, will probably be highlighted even more so moving forward.

There are many factors that connect these symptoms to MS and the disease course. MS can affect parts of the brain that help to control and regulate emotions and behaviors. Side effects of medications, other symptoms, and changes in the body due to MS can also contribute to depression and anxiety. And let’s not forget the general life stressors and daily changes encountered all the time.

Learning that depression and anxiety are common with MS and happens to others can help to alleviate some of the stress and burden felt when questioning the symptoms. And though that doesn’t always necessarily make it easier to cope with or manage, finding validation and support are definitely helpful keys. The first step is talking about it. Finding someone trusted to confide in and disclose what you’re feeling is an action you owe yourself to take. There may be things that are out of your control when it comes to MS. But your ability and strength to share what you’re feeling is not lost.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, or even if you’re really not sure what it is that you’re feeling, talk to your doctor. Be open and honest about what’s going on. If you or others around you have concerns or questions, bring them up. And if you feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about symptoms with certain people in your life, then choose that one person you know will listen without judgment and that you would trust. Whether that’s a medical professional or starting the conversation with someone close to you. Do yourself that justice and reach out for support. There are many ways that depression and anxiety can be treated and managed, and you deserve to have it be so.

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Voting Reminders – In-Person or Mail-In Ballot

Election season is upon us and we are less than one month away from election day. Across the country, there are many important federal, state, and local elections awaiting the decision of the people on November 3, 2020. This year in particular, many people are considering how they want to vote – either in-person at their polling place or via a mail-in (or absentee) ballot. Whether you plan to vote-by-mail or in-person this election, below are a few things to keep in mind as we get closer to Election Day. Continue reading

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Warm Apple Crisp

There is nothing that says the Fall season is approaching like warm apple crisp. The leaves are starting to change color and the apples are delicious this time of the year too. I do not know about you, but Fall is my favorite season.

And the best part is…this dessert can be made super quick and requires no baking skills!

Ingredients: Continue reading

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Coping with Change

Coping with change is something that every human has had to experience at least once in their lives. Whether expected or unexpected, exciting, or disappointing, change is an inevitable part of living life. Learning to effectively cope with change comes with great benefits that can help improve your quality of life. Coping with change can also help lower your chances of experiencing anxiety and depression while increasing your level of resilience. Here are some helpful ways to increase your ability to cope with change.

Ask yourself, “What am I thinking?”

When changes arise, you might find that your mind automatically jumps to the worst possible outcome of the situation. If you notice this happening to you, slow down and take the time to sit down with yourself. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking?” Then, examine your thoughts to determine how rational they really are. You will find that in most cases, the worst possible outcome of the situation is extremely unlikely to occur.

Be in the Moment

During times of change, looking to the future can be a positive experience when it is done with expectation and positive thoughts. However, it can be a slippery slope when you are looking to the future with excessive worry about worst possible outcomes. It is important to be focused on the present moment, and not allow life changes to pull you towards negative future predictions. If you notice this happening to you, stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, and bring yourself back to the present.

Reach out for Support

As changes arise, there might be moments when you are feeling overwhelmed. It is important to realize that during these moments it might be best to reach out for emotional support. Talking with friends or family or even joining an online support forum can really make a big difference when you are coping with change. MSAA offers a great (and free) online community called My MSAA Community, https://mymsaa.org/msaa-community/my-msaa-community-forum, for individuals with MS, their families, and their care partners. This is a great resource for those who are looking for emotional support, especially during times of change.

Remember friends, we might not be able to control whether changes happen, but we can control how we respond and cope with those changes. You’ve got this!

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And The Beat Goes On…

We are a just a few months shy of seeing the end to 2020, and I don’t know that that’s necessarily a bad thing. To say that we’ve encountered our fair share of change this year is a massive understatement. The entire world shifted, and we essentially had to alter how we live and interact with one another. It was a change we didn’t see coming, but one that we had to adjust to quickly. We were given no choice and had to modify our day to day and try to make the best of an unpredictable and uncertain situation. Not unlike Continue reading

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Meet the Board – Kelly Waters

MSAA strives to be a leading resource for the MS community by improving lives today through vital services and support – and we could not accomplish this without the help of our volunteer board members. MSAA’s Board of Directors is comprised of accomplished professionals from across the country who volunteer their time to further MSAA’s mission. With our ongoing series, Meet the Board, we hope to introduce you to our wonderful volunteer board members!

This month, MSAA is proud to highlight our newest board member Kelly Waters, Esq. Continue reading

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My Favorite Fruit Dip

This simple fruit dip recipe is always a hit at BBQs, parties, and holiday gatherings. Kids love it and it can be a great way to encourage them to eat a healthy snack. This dip can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. It is delicious served with pretzels or pound cake. Continue reading

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