Five Ways to Manage Your Arthritis Pain and Stay Sane During the Winter Months

Written by James Fleming

Winter is coming, and that’s often not a good sign for folks with arthritis. Cold and/or damp weather typically has a pretty profound effect on the joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

If you find yourself dreading the winter months because of what the cold weather does to your body, keep reading. These five tips will help you manage your arthritis pain and stay comfortable and sane as winter rolls around.

Why the Cold Makes Arthritis Pain Worse

There are a couple of reasons why cold weather can make arthritis pain and stiffness worse. One of the main explanations, though, is the change in barometric pressure (the weight of the air) that occurs when the temperature drops.

When it gets cold outside, the barometric pressure tends to decrease. This drop in pressure, in turn, can cause the tissues in the joints to become swollen. The swollen tissues then put pressure on the nerves in the body that control pain signals.

How to Manage Arthritis Pain During Winter

Now that you know why it is that the winter tends to make your arthritis pain worse, it’s time to explain some specific remedies you can utilize to decrease that pain. These five methods are great for managing discomfort and helping you stay comfortable all winter long.

  1. Layer Up

Both indoors and outdoors, make it a point to dress warmly and wear plenty of layers to help trap body heat. It’s especially important to cover up the extremities (head, hands, and feet).

Some tips for dressing warmly and staying comfortable include:

  • Wear a hat, beanie, or headband
  • Wear a scarf to keep your neck warm
  • Wear thick, waterproof socks, especially when you’re going outside
  • Wear gloves

You can also benefit from wearing compression clothing. Items like leggings, socks, and arthritis gloves relieve pain with mild compression. These items improve your blood flow and will keep you nice and warm.

  1. Stay Inside to Exercise

Research shows that exercise can be very beneficial for people who suffer from arthritis. However, when the weather’s cold and your joints are aching, the last thing you probably want to do is lace up your sneakers and go for a run.

Try to find ways to exercise indoors instead of braving the harsh winter weather. Good at-home indoor exercise options include:

  • At-home aerobics videos
  • Household chores like mopping and vacuuming
  • Dancing while listening to music
  • Stretching and doing body weight strength training exercises
  • Climbing the stairs
  1. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

Many studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and arthritis pain. During the winter, it’s not easy to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D, which your body makes when it’s exposed to the sun.

Vitamin D plays a major role in bone strength and muscle health. Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory benefits. As you probably know, inflammation is at the heart of arthritis and arthritis pain.

If you tend to experience more severe joint pain in the winter, try taking a vitamin D supplement to help boost your levels.

  1. Take a Warm Bath

Sometimes, the most important thing to do when you’re struggling with arthritis pain is to simply kick back and relax. Soak in a warm bathtub to ease your stiff joints and promote better blood flow.

You can make your bath extra luxurious with Epsom salts and essential oils. Peppermint oil is especially good for joint pain since it provides a nice cooling sensation that distracts from your discomfort.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water during the winter. When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to skip over your eight glasses of water a day and turn to drinks like hot chocolate and coffee instead.

You can still have these staple winter beverages, of course. However, it’s also important to make sure you’re staying hydrated with water, too.

Research shows that dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain.

If you can’t bear to drink cold water, remember that there’s nothing wrong with drinking it warm. You can also get your hydration from herbal tea or naturally flavored water, too.

Alternative Methods of Paying Cancer Medical Bills

Written by Lacey Ellison

Cancer is expensive. You have to pay for medical appointments, lab tests, imaging, radiation therapy, surgery, medications, and countless other big and small costs. Tragically, a third of cancer survivors go into debt, and 3% file for bankruptcy after the ordeal is over. If you’re in the midst of paying for cancer treatments and you want to protect your retirement account, there are options. From viatical settlements to government programs, check out these tips on reducing and covering your bills.

Get a Little Help From Your Friends

In tough times, people need to band together. Although it can be hard to ask for help, you may want to reach out to your friends. Consider creating a fundraiser on a site such as GoFundMe. Then, share it on your social media pages and ask your friends to share as well. Alternatively, try some in-person fundraising ideas. If you live in a small town, shops in the community may be willing to put out a collection jar, or your church or social group, may host a fundraiser on your behalf.

Leverage Your Home

If you have equity in your home, there are several ways to tap into that equity to cover cancer treatments. Depending on your financial situation, you may want to try the following:

* Refinance your mortgage — this can lower your payments so you have more money for medical bills

* Apply for a reverse mortgage — you need to be at least 62 years old. Essentially, the bank buys your home from you. You get to stay in the home, but the bank sends you monthly payments.

* Take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) — like a credit card, you can spend a line of credit as needed, and typically, you just need to make small monthly payments.

* Downsize — you may even want to sell your home, move into a smaller place, and use the proceeds to cover your care.

* Rent out space — In lieu of downsizing, you may want to rent out some space in your home to get extra money. If you don’t want someone in your home, consider renting out a garage stall to someone with a boat or RV.

Put Your Life Insurance to Work

You don’t have to put your home or your retirement accounts in jeopardy. If you have a life insurance policy, a viatical settlement can turn your policy into cash. Viatical settlements work for term and whole life insurance policies. You sign over your policy to a viatical settlement company, and they give you a one-time, tax-free payment in exchange for the policy.

Upon your death, your heirs receive your home, retirement accounts, and any other assets, but they don’t receive your life insurance benefit. The trade-off is that you get to use the funds from your viatical settlement to cover your cancer bills or any other expenses you have.

Use a Flexible Spending Account

A flexible savings account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) won’t necessarily cover your medical bills, but these accounts can help you save money. If you put funds in an FSA or an HSA, your contributions are non-taxable. In other words, you don’t pay any income tax on the money you put into these accounts. Then, you can take out the money plus any interest that has accrued and use the funds to cover treatment costs. Note that anyone can use an FSA, but only people with high-deductible health insurance plans can use an HSA.

Apply for Government Assistance

Consider applying for government assistance. In many states, Medicaid income thresholds were increased when the Affordable Care Act became law. Alternatively, you may want to look into government programs to help with other expenses. For instance, if you qualify, food stamps can cover your grocery bill to help free up extra money. So, you may qualify even if you didn’t in the past. In some cases, you can get financial assistance from cancer organizations.

Cancer is physically and emotionally difficult, but there are ways you can reduce the stress of the cost. Consider the above ideas, and reach out to viatical settlement companies, lenders, and government programs for help.

Lacey Ellison is the Marketing Director for American Life Fund a viatical settlement company located in Atlanta, Ga. She is passionate about making connections with audiences seeking help funding for their cancer financial assistance.

How to Invest in the Stock Market for Retirement

Written by Becky Wilcox

It’s never too late to invest in the stock market for retirement– even if you are retiring soon or are already retired. Investing in the stock market has proven to be one of the best methods used in accumulating wealth– even in the short term. Stocks are assets known to trounce any other type of investment available.

When reaching retirement age, it’s understandable to be concerned about your financial status. Consider investing in stocks as a means to offset your post-retirement expenses. Before you begin investing, it’s important to understand how the stock market works and what you can expect.

Understand the Market

You cannot venture into this industry without understanding some basic information about how it operates. With a little research, you can become familiar with the language used in the industry so that you are not lost when stock jargon is used. Begin with the simple terms such as a stockbroker, money market, futures, forwards, and market fluctuations, and then expand from there. Keep in mind that on some days, trading is not available. For example, it’s good to know the Stock Market Holidays 2019 schedule and plan for days when the stock market is closed.

Profit Expectations

Profit earned from stock market investments can vary. Your broker can point you towards the safest investments with the best likelihood of short-term gains. Depending on your age, it may be prudent to include some 20-year investments in your portfolio as well. However, most of your investments should target returns after three to ten years.

Understand Risks

Investing in the money market is like investing in any other industry. It is possible to incur losses, especially if various factors don’t work in your favor. So don’t invest all your savings into the stock market just in case something goes wrong or there is another global recession.

Understand Diversification

Be sure to spread your investments over multiple entities and industries. It’s generally considered a bad idea to invest in a single company. It’s also not advisable to invest in the same industry, because the same issue could affect every company. The best strategy is to consider investing in several companies in different business sectors. For example, you could consider a technology company, a real estate company, a banking/financial company and a manufacturing company. Investing in a diverse group of entities will provide sufficient security for your investment. In case one industry declines, you will still have your other investments intact.

Invest in What You Know

One of the most important principles to incorporate into your investment plan is to invest in a company that you know. It’s hard to predict the success of a business if you don’t understand their business model. A good rule of thumb is: If you cannot explain what a company does in a single sentence, avoid investing in that company.

Take Advantage of Stock Volatility

High volatility rates characterize the stock market. Market volatility is the tendency of the market to either rise or fall sharply when responding to several variables in the market. The higher the volatility, the riskier is the market. Have a backup plan just in case the market takes a downturn by taking advantage of favorable fluctuations. For example, you can consider selling some of your stocks if they rise sharply before they bounce back down. You can make some profits in this period of uncertainty, and your broker should be able to offer you solid advice.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Investing

Investing in the stock market is a great way to accumulate wealth after retirement. You don’t have to wait decades before seeing a profit from your investment. Many options can offer returns in less than five years. If you are about to retire, or even if you are already retired, it’s not too late to learn how the stock market works and start investing.