Seasonal Well-Being Checklists

By Stacie Prada 

For me, autumn elicits memories of a new school year, football games, raking leaves, carving pumpkins, and pressing apples for cider. Prepare for winter with home tasks and wardrobe shifts. Move sweaters, boots and winter wear from boxes or the back of the closet to the front for easier access. Suggestions for weatherizing homes and belongings are prevalent and specific, but they are less so for personal health and well-being.   

Often, I experience recurring and seasonal symptoms before I realize I have a method that helps me cope.  I’d love to be able to avoid the suffering it causes if at all possible. I decided to create and follow a seasonal list of tasks to proactively address my health needs. It has an emphasis on issues that Multiple Sclerosis challenges or creates for me each year.  

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Turning Over a New Leaf

September knocks on our door and before we know it, the season of change is among us. Autumn arrives with crisper air, vibrant colors and fresh perspective. I’ve always viewed autumn as a transformative season, a time to “turn over a new leaf”- quite literally. Fall arrives with an array of beautiful colors and then eventually they tumble to the ground. Come next spring, the tree’s will be bursting with bright and fresh new leaves. The changing of season to autumn is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf in life and set new goals and embrace change.  

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Change is Beautiful

Fall is undoubtedly my all-time favorite season. There is something so tranquil about feeling my favorite flannel brush against the cool breeze. The sight of beautiful vibrant leaves falling upon the jack-o-lantern on my doorstep brings color to my world. The scent of freshly baked cookies being carried throughout the house warms me as I watch classic horror movie reruns on the TV. But for a multitude of reasons, autumn this year resonates with me on a deeper, more existential level. It is the season of change, both externally and internally. As we come to adjust our surroundings and habits to correlate with our altering environment, we may begin to reflect inward.

"Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go." text graphic
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Shaping the MS Experience: Facing Change

Let’s face it, change is hard, and you may feel MS causes you to be in a constant state of flux. Where you are always having to modify, adapt, adjust and shift. No two days are ever the same. 

That got me thinking about the word CHANGE and how we accept change in our lives. Changes in your life require faith, dedication, and perseverance. Did you know that the true test of intelligence is not how much we know, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do?

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Choose Joy

The year was an unexpected one,

to say the very least,

it was unlike any we’ve had,

let’s just say 2020 was a beast.

 

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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.

Connect - nashvillelgbtchamber.org

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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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