02-27-2020 Columns

Common cold prevention

Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more. Most people get colds in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get a cold any time of the year. Symptoms usually include sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and body aches. Most people recover within about 7-10 days. However, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or respiratory conditions may develop serious illness, such as pneumonia. You can help reduce your risk of getting a cold with these tips: Wash your hands often with soap and water; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; stay away from people who are sick. If you have a cold, you should follow these tips to prevent spreading it to other people: Stay at home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others; cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose; wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. There is no cure for a cold. To feel better, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Over-the-counter medicines may help ease symptoms but will not make your cold go away any faster. You should call your doctor if you or your child has a temperature higher than 100.4°F or symptoms that last more than 10 days. To learn more, visit www.bchdmi.org or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bchdmi.

Apply online for Medicare

Did you know that you can apply online for Medicare, even if you are not ready to retire? We can help you make an informed decision about when to apply for benefits based on your individual and family circumstances. Applying online can take less than 10 minutes. There are no forms to sign and usually no required documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare to begin. There, you can apply for Medicare and find other important information. If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after that birthday. Some Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for extra help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. To qualify for the extra help, a person must be receiving Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. For more information on Extra Help, read www.socialsecu-rity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10525.pdf.

You may also be interested in reading these publications: Apply Online for Medicare — Even if You Are Not Ready to Retire www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10530.pdf. When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf. Helping a friend or family member with this information can improve the quality of their life. Share these resources with someone you love today. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

Avoid these estate planning mistakes

You save and invest to meet a variety of goals during your lifetime: college for your children, long vacations, a comfortable retirement, and so on. But you probably also want to leave something behind – to your loved ones and, possibly, to the charitable organizations you support. To do so, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive estate plan, but to make that plan work you must avoid some common mistakes. Here are a few of these pitfalls you’ll want to avoid: Not writing a will – If you were to die “intestate” – without a last will and testament – the state in which you live would determine how your property was distributed. And the state’s decisions may not match what you had in mind at all. Furthermore, a will is where you would name guardians for your minor children. Not going beyond a will – While a will is an essential component of estate planning, it’s often not enough. You may need to create other documents, such as a living trust, which, among other benefits, enables your estate to avoid probate, a time-consuming and public process that can lead to disputes among your heirs and others. And a living trust lets you place highly specific c