Allergy“Achoo !” , “Achoo ! “,God Bless You! It’s allergy season, and the grass, air pollution, dust, and pollen  have got you sneezing. Well, hold on to your tissues…helpful allergy tips are on the way. Allergies aren’t just for Springtime, over 67 million Americans suffer from allergies every day. The most common  allergen is Pollen. Pollen is an airborne allergen transferred by the wind. Various trees, grasses, and weeds create pollen; which is the culprit that irritates your sinus passages, eyes, and skin.There are also Seasonal Allergies, which include grass, pollen and mold. These allergies have triggers which are tied to particular seasons.
Seasonal Triggers
Winter  –  Smoke

Spring & Summer – Insect bites and stings

chlorine from indoor / outdoor swimming pools

Holidays – peanuts, other nuts, or chocolate

Thanksgiving & Christmas – Pine trees and wreaths

For allergy sufferers it is recommended that you work with your doctor or allergist to treat your symptoms, and find a way to avoid triggers.

Tips To Avoid Allergy Triggers
Monitor mold and pollen counts

Keep windows closed during allergy season

Go out early morning to do errands when pollen count is low

Wash hair, clothes and take a shower after being outdoors working, or playing

Use the air conditioner in your home and car

Use a humidifier

Get Allergy Healthy by seeing your doctor  or Allergist today!


Since today is National Walking Day, today’s newsletter focuses on small, but significant, changes that can improve your health- like walking! Time Magazine recently did an in-depth review of aging and longevity, citing many studies with some surprising results. In summary, a little bit goes a long way. Here are some of Time‘s findings on how you can improve aging, disease and general health.

  • Diet

It’s common knowledge that cutting calories is good for your waistline, but one study, published last year, shed light on another benefit. Participants’ calories were cut by one-fourth, which brought a huge health change: blood pressure and cholesterol were slightly better, and their risk of heart disease decreased by 47% (almost half!).

Another diet study that cut calories, from as little as one-third to over one-half of participants’ normal diets, found that their risks were lowered in areas of “aging, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, including lower blood sugar,” and lower levels of a growth hormone that speeds aging.

  • Exercise

Walking isn’t the only activity that can lead to a healthier future- simply doing chores around the house is a way to stay active. One study tracked over a thousand seniors in their 70s and 80s who had limitations on their physical activity. The results? Those who exercised the least had the greatest chance of a heart event within the next decade. But even small activities, like household chores, lowered the risk.

A different study involved 1,600 seniors between ages 70-89. One group took a health education course and one group did activities like walking. After three years, the walking group could walk over an hour and a half more per week than the other group. Their rates for major mobile disabilities were “significantly less.”

  • Mindfulness

Thinking positive makes a big difference. Results of a study showed that men and women who had negative attitudes toward aging in their 40s, had greater brain loss in the region associated with Alzheimer’s. They had the same level of brain loss in three years than those with positive outlooks had in nine years.

Other studies have found that those with negative views on aging have a greater risk of heart problems in the next 40 years than those with positive views. People with “mindful dispositions” have less body fat and better heart health, according to a study by Brown University.


June is Men’s Health Month.  The Purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten awareness of preventable  health problems, and to encourage treatment and early detection of diseases among men and boys.

There is a health crisis in America in Men’s health. The crisis references the management of medical diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol. These common and treatable health issues are causing men to die prematurely in the prime of their life.

According to a recent poll by  the centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men are 80 percent less likely  than women to use a regular  source of health care. Most men go to the doctor only when they feel sick  or have a medical emergency and that’s not nearly as often as they should.

Let’s focus on tips and ways for men to stay healthy at any age in celebration of Men’s Health Month. It’s never too late to take care of your health.  Six things that will help you maintain good health are : Getting 7- 9 hours of sleep,quit smoking, more physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding drugs and alcohol, taming stress by taking care of yourself , and connecting socially with family and friends on a regular basis.

For National Men’s Health Month, here are six recommended health screenings, most of which  can  be done in your local doctors office, that men should add to their list to ensure better health.

 Recommended Health Screenings for Men

Blood Pressure Test
Cholesterol Test
Prostate Cancer Screening
Colon Cancer Screening
Skin Cancer Check
Diabetes Check

National Men’s Health Month has a primary goal of educating and encouraging men and boys to feel better about taking steps to stay healthy. Not all men avoid there screenings or doctors appointments , but the disparity between  men seeking health care , and women has a large enough gap for a men’s health crisis to be declared. Take charge of your health today.
Check out’ for further information on details for screening and further statistics on men’s health.

This month is Better Hearing and Speech Month. According to the National institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, an estimated 26 million Americans have hearing loss in some capacity, due to noise.
The good news is that noise induced hearing loss is preventable. Hearing loss due to noise is not exclusive to the senior population, it affects  seniors, children and young adults, and the good news is that it is preventable.

Our Hearing and speech are essential to being productive in our daily lives, and we must take proper care to assure that we are functioning at our highest and healthiest capacity.
How We Hear
Being one of our five senses, hearing is a process of picking up sound, and attaching meaning to the sound. The ear is divided into three parts leading up to the brain. The outer ear, middle ear and  inner ear. How we hear is a pretty complex process. I will summarize the three major parts and their functions.
Outer ear – The ear canal and eardrum – sound travels down the ear canal, to the ear drum causing vibrations.
Middle ear – Three small bones connected in a cluster behind the eardrum at one end and to the inner ear at the other vibrate and creates movement of the fluid in our inner ear.
Inner ear –movement of the tiny hair cells sends electric signals from the inner ear to our auditory/hearing nerve to the brain, which causes what we know as sound.

Listed are a few steps to prevent hearing loss:

  • Turn down your stereo volume
  • Limit your exposure to unsafe sound levels.
  • Wear earplugs


Speech is crucial to our daily existence. Being able to communicate and express ourselves is crucial.  Approximately 40 million Americans experience speech communication disorders. Seniors  may also experience voice disorders often as a result of medical conditions such as cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s or traumatic brain injury. You may also be subject to voice disorders that have existed since childhood, such as stuttering.
If you are diagnosed , or through sudden illness you develop a speech disorder, you should seek treatment from a  Certified speech–language Pathologist .


Doctor stethoscope examLet’s take a look at what Medicare covers in regards to whether your doctor’s appointment is a Physical Exam or a Wellness visit.  The NIH, The National Institute of Health defines the physical exam as when a doctor / health care provider studies your body to determine if you do or do not have a physical problem. This exam would include inspection, feeling the body with hands or fingers, listening to you take a deep breath, while touching your back, sticking out your tongue, and checking your reflexes. Any tests resulting from this physical exam will not be covered under the cost of the exam.

Medicare Part B covers a Welcome to Medicare Visit and Annual Wellness Visits. Your Welcome to Medicare Visit is called an Initial Preventive Physical Exam (IPPE) This benefit is available for a single visit once you are eligible for Part B within the first year of your enrollment.

Services completed by your provider during your IPPE include recording and evaluating your medical history, current health condition and prescriptions. Checking your blood pressure, vision and weight. Making sure your health screenings and any shots are up-to-date, and ordering any further tests. There is no copay for this visit, and Part B does not apply to the cost of the visit. After the visit you may have to pay a co-payment for recommended services, and your Part B may apply.

Your Annual Wellness Visit is developed to provide you with a personalized prevention plan. This visit would include an assessment for future health risks and any preventive measures that may be needed. Your provider will compose a list of risk factors and treatment options just for you. There is no co-payment for your Annual Wellness visit, and they are not a part of your Part B deductible. However, you may have to pay a share of the cost for recommended tests or services.




Medical SymbolsHepatitis C is an infection of the liver. There are many forms of the virus. Symptoms include Jaundice, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. The Baby Boomer population from 1945 – 1965 most often are not aware they are infected and / or need screening for the virus; as noted by senior study author, Dr. Ellen Carmody, an infectious disease researcher at New York University.

Hepatitis C is only spread through exposure to infected blood; which would include sexual contact with an infected person, and sharing needles or equipment to inject drugs. There is no vaccine to prevent the Hepatitis virus, however, new medicines are available that make the virus easier to treat. Left untreated Hepatitis could lead to serious liver problems such as cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver, liver cancer, or death.  It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that all Baby Boomers get tested for Hepatitis C at least once as part of their standard medical care. Testing is the only way to detect Hepatitis. Take charge of your health today, and get tested.

Here’s what to know before the snow comes this weekend

Chances are, you’ve heard the forecast for snow starting Friday. In case power is lost or you’re unable to travel, or if you’re just planning a trip to the grocery store before it hits, here are some tips to keep you safe and warm until the snow melts.


  • Water. You can buy bottled water, or fill bottles at home with water ahead of time. Generally, there should be enough for 1 gallon per person per day.
  • Non-perishables. Some basic options are granola bars, trail mix, cereal, crackers, peanut butter and bread. Fruits and vegetables are good to have on hand, too.
  • Some dairy products. Hard cheeses (Cheddar, Colby, etc.) are safe to keep un-refrigerated if they are wrapped and sealed. Yogurt can also be left out of the fridge for up to 8 hours. Since it’s so cold, even if power went out, these items would still be safe to eat.
  • Pet Food. Don’t forget Fido! Be sure to have plenty of food on hand for your pet.
  • Store hours:
    • Kroger and Martin’s are open 6am-12am.
    • Food Lion is open 7am-11pm (some close at 10pm).
    • WalMart hours vary; some are open 24 hours and others are open 6am-12pm.


  • Medications. Enough to last you a few days if you won’t be able to get a refill.
  • Blankets, hats, mittens and scarves. These will keep you warm if you must go outside, and if your power goes out inside. A good pair of winter shoes or snow boots will come in handy, too.
  • Light. Keep flashlights, lanterns and candles within reach. Be sure to have a stock of extra batteries and matches.
  • Heat source. A portable heater, firewood for your fireplace or a wood-burning stove are heat alternatives if you lose power.
  • Non-clumping kitty litter. Sprinkling a bit of this in your path will prevent slipping when walking outside. You can use rock salt or sand for the same purpose.

Safety numbers

  • Emergency contact numbers. Neighbors, or family and friends who live close by.
  • Dominion: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)
  • VEPCO: 804-224-8817
  • Keep a cell phone charged!

So, you might be stuck inside all weekend. What is there to do? You’re already online, so here are some options:

✶ In the very near future, Tom will have Word Seek, Crossword and Sudoko books for clients. If you would like one, please respond to this email or call us at 804-788-1965 ✶

Aims to improve quality and cost of care

Medicare will implement new system for hospitals performing hip and knee replacements, which are the most common surgeries among Medicare beneficiaries. If hospitals don’t meet the standards, they will have to pay back a part of the cost to Medicare. If they do perform well, they will get a monetary reward.

What is the new program?
The Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model (or the CCJR model) aims at better quality care. It will begin April 1, 2016.
67 geographic areas are included in the program. The Staunton-Waynesboro area is the only one in Virginia.

How does it work?
Hospitals will be evaluated for an “episode of care,” which lasts 90 days after the surgery. The cost of the episode of care, including the procedure and any related care, is in question for the hospital.

If the hospital’s care doesn’t meet the cost and quality standards, they will owe Medicare for a portion of the cost for the episode of care. If they succeed, Medicare will give the hospital a financial reward.

The program is meant to create incentives not only for hospitals, but skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and other health providers to providing comprehensive, coordinated care.

Why start this program?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say on their website that these surgeries are the most common among beneficiaries, but the care varies from hospital to hospital. They want to not only coordinate the quality of care and its costs, but improve care nationwide. The inconsistencies in the health of patients after these surgeries reflects the state of the entire health care system.


This fall, Tom is teaching seniors how to use the Medicare Plan Finder.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Richmond is a program of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Classes are offered on topics including literature, travel, culinary arts, history, and health. The University of Richmond is one of 119 Osher Institutes at colleges and universities nationwide.
In 2004, the University of Richmond received an endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation, which includes lifelong learning for adults as part of its mission.
The website for the Osher Institute says, “There are no entrance requirements, no tests and no grades. In fact, no college background is needed at all. It’s your love of learning that counts.”

Tom’s class is called “Guiding You Through the Medicare Maze”.
It will be held on Tuesday, October 1st from 1:30-3:30 p.m. The cost is $20. The class description reads, “Figuring out Medicare and what’s right for you is no easy task, especially when it comes to medications. Come learn how to naviagte the Part D Plan Finder on and how simple changes can make a big financial difference.”

A membership to Osher is required to attend classes. More information on memberships can be found here.


“We find that our members are eager to learn more about a favorite subject or gather information about something they previously knew nothing about. Many are drawn to our array of history classes, but the offerings are diverse- from a study of the World War II to writing one’s memoirs. Osher members simply love to learn! This is also a very social group of people, and we find that lasting friendships are made and kept among Osher members.”

-Peggy Watson, Director
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Richmond
[email protected]


Tom Says:
“I have always wanted to do this, and I believe Osher is the perfect vehicle to teach seniors about Medicare. I am excited for the opportunity to give back to the community and to participate in this excellent program. And of course, to guide seniors through the Medicare Maze. I hope to see you there.”


To see the class schedule and brochure from the Osher Institute, click here.

Follow this link to visit the website for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Richmond.

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We’ve been trying to spotlight some healthy recipes for you lately, and boy do we have a good one for you today! I don’t know about you but here at My Medicare Planner we are looking forward to a fun, festive Thanksgiving with lots of delicious food, and this recipe could just be the newest addition to your holiday menu. Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen, this is an easy and healthier dessert option–Pumpkin Brulee Cheesecake.

Check out the recipe here.

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