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Protect Yourself with Disability Insurance

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In the event a disability that causes an inability to work occurs, Disability insurance works to replace a portion of your absent income. Although it should be obvious why Disability insurance is critical protection, many workers assume that they don’t need private Disability insurance since Social Security disability benefits are available. What many fail to understand is that eligibility for Social Security disability benefits hinges on the severity of the disability.

If the injury or illness doesn’t cause severe disability, the worker will not be eligible. Even if severely disabled, Social Security benefits will not begin for six-months and rarely are sufficient to fully cover living expenses. Disabilities that continue for an extended period of time can easily deplete savings before a return to work is possible. For these reasons alone, Disability insurance is the most reasonable method of financing a long-term disability.

The maximum coverage through private long-term Disability insurance is 45% to 70% of your salary, depending on how much you earn per year. The cost of the premium is largely based on how risky your job is; for example, physical labor is considered more risky than a professional employment. Age, overall coverage, and your health history are also factors that will affect policy pricing. The income provided by the policy while you’re disabled isn’t taxed if the policy is purchased on your own versus through your employer.

You might choose to supplement an employer disability plan with your own Disability policy. If so, you will want to know the amount of coverage offered, how long the benefit period will last, and what the waiting period will be so that you can coordinate the coverage appropriately.

There are six key provisions that you’ll want to look for when purchasing a Disability insurance policy:

What is considered a disability by the policy? 

Some policies might consider a disability as an inability to complete the main duties associated with your occupation. Other policies might consider a disability as an inability to perform any duties from any job. So, be sure to understand the disability provision as it relates to your specific occupation.

Does the policy have a non-cancellation clause?

A policy with a non-cancellation clause means that the provider can’t increase your premiums or cancel the policy until you’re 65-years-old. The only exception is if you don’t pay your premiums on time.

Does the policy include residual disability payments? 

These are payments that you’ll receive if you’re partially disabled and must take a lesser paying job. The benefits will be proportionate to the wage difference between your previous job and new job.

What is the benefit waiting period for the policy? 

Generally, the longer the waiting period, the more affordable the policy will be. For those that have employer disability benefits, you’ll often come out better to opt for a personal policy with a longer waiting period to reduce the cost.

How long will I receive benefits from the policy? 

The majority of private policies provide benefits until you’re 65-years-old.

Will I remain insurable?

You’ll want to make sure that the policy allows you to purchase coverage in the future without needing to be medically insurable.

Sadly, no one knows when an accident or illness will strike and cause a long-term disability. However, we do know that, if not prepared, the result is all too often financial devastation.

YOGA HELPS COMBAT STRESS IN SENIORS

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Senior citizens make up the group most affected by stress-related psychological and medical conditions. For such issues, yoga might offer great relief. Recent research shows that it is effective in treating people who suffer from high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease.

The theory that researchers have might help develop mind-body practices as preventative treatments for such conditions, which are helpful when used with standard treatments. In their theory, researchers believe that stress is a contributing factor in creating an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. The result is sympathetic over-activity and parasympathetic under-activity. In addition to this, it causes under-activity of gamma amino-butyric acid, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

This transmitter’s long name is often shortened to GABA. With anxiety disorders, there is low GABA activity. Low activity is also present in people with epilepsy, depression, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. The hypothesis these researchers have could also show why vagal nerve stimulation decreases depression symptoms and seizure frequency.

Although there are differences between the two, Eastern Medicine and Western Medicine are complementary. Yoga originated in the East, but professionals in the West are embracing its benefits. Recent research contributes to the theory that seniors feel better by simply relieving symptoms that present themselves in several common disorders.

Seniors & Yoga. Fitness experts believe that yoga is one of the best tools for combating the negative aspects of aging. With seniors, it can be used to reduce health concerns and increase mobility. It reduces or helps alleviate several health challenges, which means it is easier for seniors to adopt this form of therapeutic exercise.

Yoga & Walking. Walking is a common fitness choice for the aging population. Researchers compared two groups of people over a span of 12 weeks. One group walked for fitness, and the other group participated in yoga. The results showed that there were no increases in GABA levels for the walking group. However, the yoga group showed increased GABA levels. In addition to this, their anxiety levels had decreased. In a separate study, patients suffering from chronic pain in their lower backs were studied. Over a span of 12 weeks, they also experienced increases in their GABA levels. Their pain levels were greatly reduced in comparison with the levels commonly seen in conventional treatment results.

Researchers continue to test the effectiveness of yoga on mental health, physical health and overall wellness in seniors. The results still seem to consistently indicate that yoga is beneficial. By incorporating these new mind-body therapies, medical professionals hope to continue reducing several negative aspects of aging. Although not all seniors may be physically able to perform all yoga exercises, even those with limited mobility can benefit from some.

Importance of LTC’s Equipment and Home Modification Benefit

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Long-term care (LTC) insurance ensures people with disabilities, chronic illnesses or other conditions receive the daily help they need. The coverage includes a variety of benefits, including equipment and home modifications. Understand the value of these specific benefits as you determine if LTC insurance is right for you or someone you love.

What is LTC Insurance

While beneficial, your health insurance coverage from an employer or private source usually does not cover daily, extended care. Likewise, Medicare covers only a short nursing home stay or limited in-home care, and local agencies sometimes provide only a small amount of financial assistance to low-income adults.

LTC insurance can cover the expenses of the nursing and practical help you need. Equally important, it can pay for essential home modifications and the equipment you need to remain safe, comfortable and independent in your own home.

Items the LTC Equipment and Home Modification Benefit Covers   

You can use your equipment and home modification benefit to cover a variety of expenses.

  • Wheelchair ramp
  • Grab bars
  • Stair or bed rails
  • Walk-in shower
  • Raised toilet
  • Power recliner or chair
  • Accessible light switches and electric outlets
  • Wider doorways
  • Stair lift
  • Low-pile carpeting or other flooring

Each of these equipment items and home modifications improves your safety and comfort in your home. They also equip you to remain as independent as possible.

Why you need the Equipment and Home Modification Benefit   

The majority of disabled, ill or aging Americans prefer to age at home. However, you may need special equipment, such as a hospital bed, power recliner or shower seat to remain independent. Additionally, you may require home modifications like lever handles, accessible power outlets or low-pile carpeting that improve your home’s functionality and safety.

The costs of renting or purchasing the equipment you need can quickly add up, and home modifications could total tens of thousands of dollars. Conserve your personal funds for other needs like daily living expenses and medical treatment when you use your LTC insurance policy to cover a portion or all of the equipment and home modification costs.

Additionally, realize that your insurance policy funds will reduce caregiver stress. Your loved ones will gain peace of mind and experience less physical and financial challenges since your insurance benefit will pay for the equipment and home modifications you need to remain safe in your home.

How to Purchase LTC Insurance

The future is uncertain, but you can meet your daily living needs with LTC insurance. Discuss your needs, including the equipment and home modification benefit, with your insurance agent. Be sure to choose a policy that covers your expected financial needs, has an affordable premium and meets your long-term care needs.

Effective Ways To Relieve Stress When You Have A Child With Autism

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One in 64 children is diagnosed with autism. Coping with the diagnosis and everyday challenges can be stressful for parents. In honor of Stress Awareness Month and Autism Awareness Month, consider effective ways to reduce stress in April and throughout the year.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Your child may only eat a few foods, but you should eat a balanced diet. Whole, real foods fuel your body, balance your hormones and reduce the effects of stress. If your health insurance covers dietitian services, schedule a helpful consultation.

Exercise

After running around all day, you may not feel like exercising, but regular movement releases endorphins that clear your brain, calm your body and lower your stress. Try running on the treadmill, dancing to music or doing other doctor-approved exercises as you relax.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

A good night’s sleep equips you to handle each day’s challenges. To achieve good sleep hygiene:

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Practice relaxation techniques before bed.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time.

If you’re worried about your child waking up or eloping as you sleep, install a baby monitor or bedroom door alarm.

Go to your Happy Place

When you start to feel overwhelmed, close your eyes, think about your favorite place in the world, and feel the sand between your toes or the sun on your face. This guided imagery technique will instantly lower your blood pressure and your stress.

Breathe

A few deep breaths help you slow down, take time to think and calm your body. Breathe in through your nose, hold it and exhale from your mouth whenever necessary.

Get Organized

Juggling doctor appointments and all your parenting and personal duties requires organization. Find an app, calendar or other tool that helps you track and stick to your daily schedule. Getting organized keeps both you and your child calm.

Engage in Self-Care

Every day, drink a cup of hot tea, read a magazine or call a friend. See your doctor for regular physicals, too. Even a five-minute break can remind you of your value and help you feel centered.

Ask for Help

You may not trust many people to care for your child, but try to find one or two trusted family members, friends or professional respite workers who can give you a break. You could also hire someone to clean the house, run errands and ease your burden.

Connect with Other Parents

Find an in-person or online support group and chat with other autism parents. Then share helpful resources, tools and encouragement as you manage everyday life.

Manage stress as you parent your child with autism in these ways. They help you cope successfully with everyday life.

Small Heart-Healthy Changes To Make With The Whole Family

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March gives your family the perfect opportunity to talk about love and improve your heart health. Involve your entire family in making positive changes when you take several small heart-healthy steps.

Find Free Time for Active Movement

Whether you have 15 minutes after dinner or several hours on the weekends, exercise and activity improve your heart health. Review your family’s schedule to find free time for activities everyone in the family enjoys, such as hiking, biking, swimming, sports and active video games.

Cook Together

Kids may balk at any dietary changes or new foods unless they help with the meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Encourage your kids to help you research heart-healthy meals and snacks, too, as you introduce unprocessed options into your family’s everyday diet.

Drink More Water

Water hydrates and fuels your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, adult men should drink 15.5 cups of water and women need 11.5 cups of water daily. Children should consume between five and 11 cups of water depending on their height, weight and age. To boost your water intake, replace other beverages with water, eat foods high in water content and drink a glass of water before and with each meal.

Reduce Stress

While you probably can’t avoid stress altogether, you can work as a family to reduce your stress levels, which makes your heart happy. Consider cutting unnecessary activities, doing yoga, spending time outdoors, enjoying fun hobbies and embracing other effective strategies that reduce stress every day.

Choose Less Screen Time

Technology can improve your health, especially when you use a fitness tracker to monitor your activity and diet. Too much screen time, particularly if it involves sitting around, can negatively affect your health, though. As a family, choose to replace some of your screen time with family board games, hobbies or volunteer activities.

Visit the Doctor

Involve your doctor on your journey to better heart health, especially if you’re new to exercise or have a history of heart issues. Your health insurance should cover a physical and regular checkups, and it may even offer reimbursement for exercise or nutrition classes you may take as your family pursues better health.

Give Yourself Permission to Take Baby Steps

Implementing and maintaining heart-healthy improvements takes time. Encourage your family members to view your new adventure as a marathon rather than a sprint because with baby steps you’re more likely to stick with your new lifestyle changes over time.

This February, prioritize heart health with your entire family. Every step you take toward a healthier lifestyle improves your quality of life and can help you live longer.

How A Pet Can Help You Live Longer

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Your life insurance policy provides financially for your family, but you obviously want to live as long as possible. Pet ownership can help you achieve that goal.

Improve Heart Health

Your blood pressure and cholesterol could drop when you own a pet. Care for a cat, and your heart attack risk could drop by one-third. With these benefits, you improve your heart health and may prolong your life.

Reduce Obesity

Obesity remains a top health concern because it can cause heart disease, diabetes and other health concerns. Your pet could help you maintain a healthy weight as you walk it, spend time cleaning its cage and perform other pet-related tasks each day.

Move More

Because your pet likes to exercise, you will move, too. Whether you walk your dog outdoors, play ball with your cat or chase your goat around the barn, the movement helps you reach your daily exercise goals and stay active. Plus, exercise boosts your immunity, decreases anxiety and improves your overall mood.

Decrease Stress

Erase the effects of a bad day when you spend time with your pet. A friendly greeting and social interaction can decrease your cortisol level and calm your nervous system.

Improve Immunity

Your body can fight off germs and illness thanks to your pet. As you laugh with your pet and groom it, your immunity gets a boost, and your body produces antibodies that fight germs.

Detect Illness

Trained dogs can detect epilepsy, certain cancers and other illnesses in their owners. You can rely on your pet to provide an alert that allows you to seek medical help right away and address ongoing health problems.

Receive Disability Support

If you suffer from a disability, a pet can offer life-saving support. Use your seeing eye dog or another pet to improve your mobility and mental health.

Gain a Purpose

Feeding, walking and caring for your pet gets you out of bed each day. With a purpose, you’re more likely to avoid depression and choose to stay active and engaged in your life.

Cope With Trauma

If you face a serious illness or other trauma, turn to your pet for support. Your furry friend will listen to you, love you unconditionally and remain loyal throughout the ordeal.

Alternatives to Pet Ownership

Pet ownership improves your health. However, you may not want the financial or time obligations that accompany pet ownership. In this case, volunteer at an animal shelter, pet sit for friends or walk dogs after work.

Pet ownership can help you live longer. Whether you adopt a dog, cat, fish or snake, con

Why And How To Switch To Healthy Caffeine Alternatives

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Coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks all contain caffeine. Unfortunately, the caffeine you consume each day affects your health in a negative way. Change your habits and switch to caffeine alternatives as you get your energy boost and improve your health.

Benefits of Consuming Caffeine

Numerous studies show that you can gain several benefits when you consume caffeine regularly.

  • Decrease risk of developing diabetes
  • Enhance metabolism of glucose found in carbs
  • Reduce colon cancer risk
  • Boost antioxidants
  • Experience higher energy
  • Improve mood

Health and Life Benefits of Quitting or Reducing Caffeine

Although you may consume caffeine because you appreciate the benefits and alertness it provides, too much caffeine can cause dependency and dizziness, acid reflux and anxiety. You may even experience headaches, fatigue and irritability when you don’t get your caffeine fix. Additionally, caffeine can cause health and life challenges such as:

  • Increased release of stress hormones
  • Inability to regulate insulin
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • More digestive discomfort
  • Increase in calorie consumption, especially if you consume sugary caffeinated foods and drinks
  • Lower serotonin release
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Imbalance in calcium, potassium and magnesium levels
  • Difficulty detoxing liver
  • Low birth weight and other problems in infants born to moms who consume caffeine

Healthy Caffeine Alternatives

You’ll improve your overall health when you reduce or cut caffeine from your diet. If you’re dependent on caffeine, consider making the switch gradually to these alternatives.

Rooibos tea – Gain an immune boost with this tasty hot or cold tea.

Teeccino and Cafix – Enjoy the familiar taste of coffee when you drink these two substitutes made from chicory, grain, figs and beetroot.

Ice Water – Jumpstart your metabolism, energy and focus as you fuel your body with ice water throughout the day.

B Vitamins – Gain mental clarity, energy and better sleep when you consume lean meats, nuts, seeds, and other foods that are high in B vitamins.

Apple – Open neural and muscle pathways while boosting your metabolism as you chew an apple.

Protein – Maintain energy, concentration and mood with a protein-packed meal or snack.

Ginkgo Biloba – Improve your focus, creativity and well-being when you consume this herbal extract as a tea or capsule.

Ginseng – Stimulate blood flow and reduce stress and depression with ginseng tea or capsules.

Stretch – Boost oxygen in your blood and spark alertness and focus when you stretch your body.

Cutting caffeine from your diet can improve your health and prolong your life. Talk to your doctor and health or life insurance provider for more tips as you switch to healthy caffeine alternatives and improve your overall health and well-being.

7 Healthy Ways To Prepare For Your Life Insurance Medical Exam

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Life insurance provides financial resources for your dependents after you pass away, and it gives you peace of mind. You may need to undergo a medical exam, though, to determine your eligibility for a life insurance policy and your premium cost. Even a small reduction in your blood pressure and weight can reduce your premium, so take seven steps now to improve your health before your exam.

1. Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet

Check your diet during the week before your medical exam. Reduce the amount of sodium, sugar, red meat and saturated fats you eat, and boost your intake of whole grains, oats, nuts, fish and vegetables. With these dietary changes, you’ll feel more alert, and your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels could improve.

2. Drink Water

Water hydrates your body, cleanses your digestive system, increases blood flow and improves your ability to give a urine sample. Drink plenty of water to improve your energy, too, and help you feel positive before your exam.

Alternatively, abstain from alcohol during the week before your exam. Your weight can stabilize, and you will not receive an alcoholism flag on your medical record when you avoid alcoholic beverages.

3. Follow Fasting Guidelines

If your medical exam involves a blood test, fast for 12 hours before the exam. The fast improves your blood test results and can reduce your weight.

4. Avoid Intense Exercise on Exam Day

As a rule, exercise improves your health, but intense exercise also elevates your blood pressure and urine protein levels. Relax on exam day, and save the exercise for later.

5. Dress Light and Stand Tall

Your weight-to-height ratio plays a role in your life insurance premiums, so dress light to reduce your weight and stand tall to increase your height.

6. Stay Calm

Stress, anxiety and frustration affect your digestive system and elevate your blood pressure. Attempt to stay calm during the week before your medical exam for the best test results.

7. Postpone the Blood Pressure Test

You may feel nervous about your medical exam, and those nerves can increase your blood pressure. Ask the examiner if you can wait until the end of your exam for the blood pressure test. By then, you should feel calmer and more comfortable.

With these seven tips, you can pass your life insurance medical exam and hopefully improve your premiums. However, you may also discuss your health with your insurance agent for advice. Life insurance provides for your dependents and gives you peace of mind, and you definitely want to purchase adequate and affordable coverage.

When to Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Appointment

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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and you can celebrate by making sure your children see the dentist regularly. Even your babies need a dental exam. Learn more about when your baby should see the dentist for the first time and what to expect at this visit.

Schedule Your Baby’s First Dental Visit

According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should see the dentist by the time he or she turns six months or within six month of the first baby tooth eruption. Rather than a full dental exam, the initial visit allows the dentist to meet you and your child, gather medical and dental history and teach you about good oral hygiene and proper preventative care. The dentist will simply feel your child’s gums and visually inspect any erupted teeth to make sure they’re healthy. It’s a non-invasive appointment that sets the stage for good oral health in the future.

Choose a Dentist

You could take your baby to see your dentist. However, consider scheduling your child’s first dental appointment with a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating infants and children. The entire dental team is prepared to examine squirming, fearful and anxious children, and the waiting room is filled with age appropriate books, toys and games or an aquarium.

Make the Visit Fun

No matter how you feel about dentists, your child needs to know that visits to this medical professional are fun and safe. Keep your anxiety in check by treating the first dental visits like a fun play date. Smile at your child, speak cheerfully and remain calm so that your baby feels calm and relaxed.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene at Home

Your baby’s oral health improves between dental visits when you practice good oral hygiene at home. Rub your baby’s gums with a clean, wet washcloth after meals to reduce bacteria growth. Once the first baby tooth emerges, brush it at least twice daily with non-fluoridated toothpaste as you promote healthy oral habits and a healthy mouth.

When you take your baby to see the dentist, you lay the foundation for a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Take advantage of your dental insurance and schedule your baby’s first exam today.

What Exactly Is Short-Term Disability Insurance?

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Short-term disability insurance is an important resource you may have heard about through your job or private insurance agent. Understand what short-term disability insurance is as you decide if it’s right for you.

Short-Term Disability Insurance Defined

Short-term disability insurance is a benefit that covers a temporary disability caused by an illness or injury. Usually in effect for a short time period, it pays the policy holder up to 66-2/3 percent of their weekly earnings.  It may also include a benefit that helps an ill or injured employee return to work.

The waiting period to file a short-term disability insurance claim is up to two weeks after you become ill or injured. Be prepared to show medical proof of your illness or injury. Benefits usually last from three to six months. Your policy will have a maximum per-month benefit cap.

Why You Need Short-Term Disability Insurance

Short-term disability insurance is designed to provide financial assistance if you suffer an illness or are injured. The top five reasons people purchase short-term disability insurance include:

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Injuries
  3. Joint disorders
  4. Digestive issues
  5. Cancer

If one of these or any illness or injury affects you and you have to take time off work, do you have enough financial resources to manage your living expenses and other financial obligations? In essence, short-term disability insurance protects you and your resources. It covers your living expenses and gives you peace of mind until you can return to work.

An Example of how Short-Term Disability Insurance Works

Here’s an example of how short-term disability insurance can help you.

Let’s say you acquire a bad infection and must be on bed rest for a few weeks. Instead of worrying about money, tapping into your savings, racking up credit card debt or pushing to return to work before you’re healed, rely on short-term disability insurance.

Your policy only covers a portion of your weekly income, but it is a big help. If your salary is $32,000 with weekly gross earnings of $615.38, your weekly short-term disability insurance benefit will be approximately $406.15. You can use that money to pay any expenses, including rent, groceries or other bills.

Who Should Buy Short-Term Disability Insurance?

Short-term disability insurance is important for almost anyone, especially if you don’t have a big nest egg saved for emergencies. Review your financial portfolio with your financial advisor as you decide if a short-term disability insurance policy is right for you.

How to Buy Short-Term Disability Insurance

Talk to your Human Resources manager about short-term disability insurance. You can also purchase a policy through your personal insurance agent. It’s invaluable coverage that protects you and your financial security.