It’s A Birthday—Social Security, Medicare & You
This summer Social Security celebrated its 80th birthday and Medicare turned 50. There are more than a few naysayers talking about the ills of Social Security, but in reality, the fact that they are available is one very positive factor in the well-being of many. One of the myths about Social Security is that you have to be retired to receive those benefits. That is only partially true. Social Security benefits are resources that include child survivor benefits, widow’s survivor benefits, disability and retirement benefits. Any of these circumstances can contribute to stress and stress will have a negative impact on health.
The American Psychological Association (APA) “Stress in America Survey” reports that the primary cause of stress among Americans is money, with 72% of survey respondents reporting feeling stressed about finances. Stress and worry are at odds with well-being. Stress can weaken the immune system, interfere with sleep patterns, and cause overeating, headaches, stomach problems or back pain along with many other ailments that affect your ability to honestly say, “I feel good.”
The benefits of Social Security can play a huge role in allying financial challenges and the Medicare component aids in easing concerns about the medical expenses of those receiving Social Security benefits. However it is important to be proactive in managing your personal and family health even before you are eligible for Social Security benefits. Here are steps you can take to focus on maintaining a healthy outlook and lifestyle.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
- Choose a diet that’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in sugar, salt and total fat.
- Avoid injury by wearing seatbelts and bike helmets, using smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, and being aware of your surroundings.
- If you own a gun, recognize the dangers of having a gun in your home and use safety precautions at all times.
- Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
- Drink in moderation if you drink alcohol. Never drink before or while driving, or when pregnant.
- Ask someone you trust for help if you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS by using condoms every time you have sexual contact. Condoms aren’t 100 percent foolproof, so discuss STI screening with your provider.
- Brush your teeth after meals with a soft or medium bristled toothbrush. Also brush after drinking and before going to bed. Use dental floss daily.
- Stay out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s harmful rays are strongest and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
By adopting these habits you’re making positive moves for better physical health. Make adjustments to reduce stress and improve emotional health with the following:
- Positive self-talk–Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Instead of saying “I can’t do this,” say “I’ll do the best I can.” Negative self-talk increases stress.
- Emergency stress stoppers–If you start to feel stressed, count to 10 before you talk, take a few deep breaths or go for a walk.
- Finding pleasure–Engaging in activities you enjoy is a great way to stave off stress. Take up a hobby, watch a movie or have a meal with friends.
- Daily relaxation–Engage in some relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga and tai chi have all been shown to reduce stress levels.
Birthdays are always great to recognize, including those big dates for Social Security and Medicare—just remember by following these guidelines you too can reap the benefits of good health and well-being through the years.
Take Away: Be proactive and adjust your lifestyle for maximum health before you become eligible for Social Security and Medicare programs.