It may look a little different this season…

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe we’re already stepping into the holiday season. It’s bizarre to think that this year is almost over. I think many will be glad to see its end, as 2020 has for sure brought so many changes and ups and downs. In what has become a most unconventional year, the holidays may rightfully look a little different too. But that’s not to say that they will have any less meaning or celebration. This holiday season may just have a uniqueness unlike years before.

In this context, different doesn’t have to mean non-existent or absent. Maybe it means just having to tweak or modify the way the holidays are celebrated. It may not be the same nature of holidays past, especially with large gatherings and mingling. But you can still connect, still rejoice, and reflect. I always believed this time of year held special beliefs and a bit of magic. That does not have to change.

So instead of large family gatherings with everyone being in the same place at once, maybe celebrations are broken down into smaller groups at a time—much smaller groups. Weather permitting, maybe dinners and activities are held outdoors this year. And heaters and fire pits can be used in chillier climates, unless MS heat sensitivity is an issue, then the colder temps may be welcome. There’s also the possibility to find community traditions and events still being held in your area this season too. Again, with some changes, but still bringing a sense of festivity and merriment for this time of year.

Virtual connection remains a strong, ongoing theme of 2020, and throughout the holidays it will be more important than ever for many. Still being able to talk to and see one another, even if miles apart, will help keep holiday spirits alive. Whether it’s having virtual game nights and mealtimes, watching holiday movies or reading/telling stories to one another. The holidays can still create happiness and cheer. Especially after what this year has brought. Not celebrating the season would be an added sting that we don’t deserve. Staying connected through the holiday season is what’s going to keep beliefs strong, and joy possible.

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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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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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The Tsunami

By Chernise Joseph (Zivvy)

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with tsunamis.

I know how that sounds, tsunamis aren’t the friendliest natural phenom to be fascinated by, but I think that’s why they’ve caught my attention like they have.

When I think of change, I think of tsunamis. Consider this: tsunamis are the perfect representation of change, not only because they have the ability to change lives in seconds, but because they’re water. Continue reading

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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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Keeping Positive in Challenging Times

Keeping Positive in Challenging TimesHope is made for the day that tries your understanding, when your blessings can’t be counted and the sky has changed to darkness.

By Penelope Conway

Living with multiple sclerosis can be challenging. Add the required social distancing and it can make life a bit more complicated and interesting. My groceries are now delivered to my front door making it a bit more challenging to put everything away on my own, my doctors appointments are taking place on the phone keeping me on my toes to remember everything we need to talk about, physical therapy is Continue reading

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New Year, New Outlook

It’s hard to believe we’re through the thick of the holiday season and into a new decade already! 2020 brings with it the potential to try new things and gain new perspectives, or I like to think that it does. I’m not one for liking change or trying something new but I am choosing to alter my outlook in this new year. It’s just going to take some time and hard work. And even more patience.

I don’t typically make resolutions Continue reading

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Put Change in Your Pocket

By Doug Ankerman

Change is inevitable. It’s a part of life. Change is how we learn, cope and grow. Change excites, directs and motivates.

Me? Hmm, not so much. And for that I blame multiple sclerosis.

You see, pre-MS, I was casual. Nothing shook me up. Change was brushed off like crumbs on a table. But now after a couple Continue reading

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Seasons of Change

It’s hard to believe that fall is right around the corner. Where does the time go? I don’t know if it’s the culture of our society that makes time go by even faster with its quick pace, but time sure does fly and change is constant. The change that comes with the start of fall has begun, especially in the form of back-to-school routines for the kiddos.

I do not do well with change but that doesn’t stop it from happening. Life constantly evolves and moves forward. And there are times that change can Continue reading

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Hope in the New Year

Hello, 2019! You got here fast! And I hope you brought some good and positivity with you for the year ahead. Right before the New Year rang in my cell phone died for a period of time in the final hours of 2018. Because I tend to be a bit of a pessimist at times, my first thought was, “Oh great, is this a sign of what 2019 has in store? Because if it is I’m sleeping through it!” My husband, who is definitely a glass half-full type of personality, completely changed my way of thinking. Since I’ve been Continue reading

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