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.

Five Safety Tips for Seniors Who Want to Start Yoga

Written by James Fleming

Exercise is important for people of all ages. However, seniors, in particular, need to make regular movement a priority.

Currently, only 28-34 percent of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 are physically active and only 35-44 percent of seniors over the age of 75 are physically active.

If you’re part of the majority of seniors who don’t exercise regularly, it’s pertinent you make a change and find ways to add more activity to your life. Regular exercise will help you maintain muscle mass and bone density and avoid balance issues that could lead to falls and injuries.

Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for seniors, especially seniors who haven’t exercised in a while.

Before you head to your first yoga class, you need to make safety a priority. It’s very easy for beginners to be a little overzealous in their first class and push themselves too far. Be sure to keep these five safety tips in mind. They’ll help you avoid injuries and get the most out of your yoga practice.

  1. Find a Beginner-Friendly Class

Finding a yoga class is just like finding any other type of fitness class. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and certain instructors and styles will be better for you than others.

For seniors who are new to yoga, a beginner-friendly class is a must. Most yoga studios and gyms will clarify on their schedule whether or not a specific class is good for beginners.

You can also talk to the instructor before the class starts and let them know that you’re new. They will keep an eye on you and show you how to modify specific poses, or they might suggest a different class that better suited for you.

  1. Understand Basic Alignment

Before you go into any yoga class, even a beginner-friendly one, it’s helpful to understand some basic information about proper alignment. Every pose is different, but the following guidelines will apply to just about everyone who practices yoga:

  • Keep the knees in line with the second toes — don’t let them rock inward or outward.
  • Keep your weight in your heels when the knees are bent and toward the toes when legs are straight.
  • Keep a small bend in your knees and elbows at all times to avoid locking them out.
  1. Modify Poses as Much as You Need

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with modifying a pose. Don’t hesitate to put your knees down in a plank or use a bolster or pillow when doing seated poses like sukasana.

You might feel a bit awkward modifying specific poses is no one else seems to be, but remember that you’re there at yoga for yourself, not for them. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing — it matters that you feel safe and comfortable during your practice.

  1. Use the Right Equipment

Using the right yoga equipment can help you feel more comfortable and more secure during your first class. Some basic pieces of equipment that everyone should have on hand include:

  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga blocks
  • Yoga strap
  • Blanket or bolster

You can also use special pieces of equipment like wrist wraps or a knee brace. These tools can give your joints some extra support and make it easier for you to practice without feeling any pain or discomfort.

  1. Know How to Spot Red Flags

You shouldn’t experience any pain while practicing yoga. You might feel uncomfortable at times, but if anything hurts, you should skip it.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if the sensations you’re experiencing are par for the course or something about which you should be concerned.

There are some specific red flags you need to look out for during your yoga practice, including the following

  • Sharp, shooting pains
  • Numbness, or tingling in your limbs
  • Intense sensations deep in the joint

Another good rule of thumb is to check and see if you can smile and breathe steadily while doing a specific pose. If you can maintain a smile and a consistent breathing pattern, you’re probably on the right track. If breathing becomes difficult and you’re grimacing in pain, it’s time to back off.