Archive for June, 2014

Life insurance 101: What you need to know

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Life insurance can help you provide for the people and organizations you care about. Choosing the right life insurance solution gives you peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be taken care of. Here’s a quick primer from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans on some of the most common types of life insurance.

* Term life insurance – Temporary life insurance that offers a death benefit and is generally less expensive than permanent insurance. It’s ideal for short-term life insurance needs, like when you are raising a family, paying off a mortgage or starting a business.

* Whole life insurance – Permanent life insurance that gives you a guaranteed death benefit, guaranteed level premiums and a guaranteed cash value that increases each year. The guarantees are contingent on all premiums being paid and no loans or changes being made to the contract.

* Whole life plus term protection – Permanent life insurance with added flexibility. It lets you “dial-in” your premium to the level of whole life and term insurance desired. This insurance offers lifetime protection through a blend of whole life insurance plus term insurance and paid-up additional coverage.

* Universal life insurance – Permanent life insurance that allows you to increase or decrease your death benefit and your premium is flexible; subject to any limitations in the contract. Accumulated value in a universal life contract earns interest at the current rate, with a minimum rate stated in the contract.

* Variable universal life insurance – Permanent life insurance that gives you a flexible premium and the potential to build accumulated value. However, death benefits and other values may vary, because you direct how the cash is invested among the investment portfolios offered. The investment performance has no guarantees and you could lose money.

How much life insurance should you have?

When purchasing life insurance, think about your goals for your overall financial strategy, your economic value to your loved ones and your wishes for your survivors.

First you’ll need to calculate your economic value – the value of your future earnings over your lifetime. To do so, consider the following factors:

* Your current annual earnings.

* The amount your annual earnings increase.

* How many years you plan to work until retirement.

* The rate of return you expect your invested assets to earn.

Use these numbers as a starting point when you sit with a financial professional to determine the level of coverage you might need. Remember to consider how much of your future economic value you want to replace in the event of your death. This will depend on the financial goals you set for yourself and your survivors.

Life insurance is an essential part of any healthy financial program. It is important that you choose what’s right for you and your situation and that you plan accordingly with a licensed professional.

To learn more about any of these contracts you can visit


About Thrivent Financial for Lutherans

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a faith-based, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping its nearly 2.5 million members to be wise with money and to live generous lives. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial joins with its members to create and support national outreach programs and activities that help congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit Also, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, 800-847-4836, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Thrivent Financial representatives are registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc. They are also licensed insurance agents of Thrivent Financial.

For additional important disclosure information, please visit

Move over carrots: other key nutrients for healthy vision

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Move over carrots and beta-carotene, there are other foods and nutrients that appeal to eye health. Dr. Michael Roizen, author and co-founder of, provides a brief tutorial on the best nutrients for eye health.

Lutein and zeaxanthin – The same survey found that less than half of Americans (41 percent) are familiar with lutein and only 6 percent of Americans are familiar with the nutrient zeaxanthin. Of the 600 known carotenoids, these are the only two that are found in the retina of the eye.
 Eat dark leafy greens (like spinach) and eggs and you’re on your way to incorporating lutein and zeaxanthin into your daily diet. While there is no established recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for lutein and zeaxanthin, the American Optometric Association recommends 10 mg per day of lutein and 2 mg per day of zeaxanthin.
 The recently published AREDS 2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2) was launched to determine whether a combination of key nutrients – including vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and omega-3s – can further reduce the risk of progression from the common dry macular degeneration to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Secondary analysis showed that the group receiving lutein and zeaxanthin versus those not taking lutein and zeaxanthin, had a 9 percent risk reduction for progression to advanced AMD.
 DHA and EPA omega-3s – DHA omega-3, found in fatty fish, fish oil and algae (the fish get it from algae—they don’t make it themselves), is a major structural fat in the retina of your eye (and in your brain). It plays an important role in infant visual development, in visual function throughout life, and in eyesight and memory support with aging.
 The LUTEGA study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology showed that supplementation of lutein, zeaxanthin, DHA and EPA omega-3s result in increased concentrations of these nutrients in plasma and a significant improvement in the optical density of the macular pigment in 172 individuals with “dry” AMD.
 Vitamin E – This essential vitamin, found in oils, wheat germ and peanuts, is an antioxidant that supports eye health. It may be difficult to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin E through diet alone – 15 mg/day for anyone older than 14. For example, to get 15 mg of vitamin E, you would need to eat one cup of peanuts that comes with about 827 calories.
 You can also get this vitamin in foods such as spinach, salmon and walnuts. But, if you’re not eating foods rich in these nutrients on a daily basis, consider adding supplements specifically formulated for eye health. Some of these supplements include Ocuvite, i-Caps and Centrum Specialist Vision. Check with your physician before starting any supplement program.

Roizen’s quick tips on how you can help support the health of your eyes include:

1. Avoid smoke, including second-hand smoke;
 2. Wear UV protective sunglasses;
 3. Take in 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin every day;
 4. Get 900 mg of DHA omega-3 a day.

Party-planning tips to make a happy host

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

(BPT) – Every host knows the elements of a great party – fantastic food and beverages, just the right balance of sophistication and fun, and decor that speaks to the season and theme of your soiree. In the right combination, those ingredients ensure guests will have a great time. But what about your good time? Staging a party should be every bit as sweet for you as attending it is for your guests.

As your celebration plans rev up, follow these simple steps to ensure your party-prep is both fun and effortless:

* Go with what you know. Sure, sampling new dishes can be fun and you can introduce a few unfamiliar dishes to your party menu. But for sure-fire success, stick with what guests know and love – and do the familiar with flare. Familiar, traditional and simple are just fine, as long as what you’re serving – hors d’oeuvres to dessert – is palate-pleasing.

* Plan one show-stopping experience for your party guests. Host a wine tasting event by pairing your favorite varietals with a selection of premium dark chocolates, like Lindt EXCELLENCE dark chocolate diamonds. Individually wrapped and available in four distinct flavors, these chocolates lend themselves to an array of wine pairings. Try serving Lindt EXCELLENCE A Touch of Sea Salt with a Pinot Noir or EXCELLENCE Intense Orange with a Chardonnay. -

* Make prep manageable. If you’re rushing to do everything the night before or the day of the party, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – and make mistakes. Look for ways to minimize day-of prep, such as making and freezing a batch of appetizers the week before, or tackling house-cleaning bit by bit over the few days leading up to the event. The day before, take care of set-up by placing decorations and arranging furniture to facilitate conversation and a clear path to the food table.

* End the evening on a high note. Give your guests something to savor and enjoy on the way home by offering each a parting favor. Individually wrapped treats such as the premium Lindt EXCELLENCE chocolate diamonds say “sophistication” and “’til we meet again” far better than a hasty hug at the door. Consider placing the individually wrapped chocolate in small mesh bags tied with colored silk ribbons. Place the bags on a decorative tray by the door at the end of your night to ensure that every guest leaves your party with a memorable token.

Celebrations should be fun for everyone – the hosts as well as the guests. You can maximize your party enjoyment and create a memorable event for guests by keeping things simple, planning ahead and serving familiar favorites with flare and fun.

Courtesy of BPT

Do you really know who is providing your medical care?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

(BPT) – Whether you’re being treated for a minor injury or undergoing major surgery, it’s likely you’ll encounter not just one, but a team of health care professionals. While having multiple professionals working to provide you with the highest quality and safest care eases some fear, it also can cause confusion. When undergoing a surgery or procedure, it is important to truly know and understand who is providing your care.

From physicians with various specialty backgrounds to nurses and assistants, it’s important to understand the credentials of those treating you. The need for more transparent communication across health and medical care providers triggered several pieces of legislation issued to protect patients.

The Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act focuses on eliminating misleading or deceptive advertising for health care services. It also requires health care professionals to identify licenses. A congressional committee is currently reviewing the pending federal legislation.

Additionally, recent legislation in Texas requires health care providers to wear badges clearly identifying themselves in the interest of improving patient safety. For example, badges must be clearly labeled and may even be color-coded – physicians may wear green badges, while nurses may wear red badges. Similar legislation has been enacted in 12 other states.

The need to identify the differences in medical qualifications is rooted in the quality and effectiveness of health care. A recent American Medical Association survey revealed 90 percent of respondents said a physician’s additional years of medical education and training, when compared to a nurse, are vital to optimal patient care. Furthermore, 83 percent said they prefer a physician to have primary responsibility for the diagnosis and management of their medical care.

It’s important for patients to know who is involved in providing their care, including the education, training, degree, licensure and clinical experience of each person. Without this essential knowledge, a patient is not well positioned to make the most informed and best decisions for their care.

For example, there are several levels of anesthesia providers – an Anesthesia Care Team consists of a physician anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants. To ensure the most optimal care, a physician anesthesiologist should always oversee other members of the Anesthesia Care Team, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Physician anesthesiologists have 10,000 to 14,000 hours of specialized medical education and training, while nurse anesthetists have 1,000 to 2,500 hours. In addition, physician anesthesiologists are able to diagnose and respond to any medical complications that may arise suddenly due to their exhaustive education and training.

In an emergency, when seconds count, having a physician anesthesiologist advocate for you or your loved one can make the difference between life and death. “I was caring for a 23-year-old first-time mother,” says Patrick H. Allaire, M.D., a physician anesthesiologist practicing at a 220-bed hospital in Ames, Iowa. “I had just given her an epidural and was still on the ward when her nurse ran into the hall calling for help. I ran back to her side and immediately determined she was having a heart attack.

“Fortunately, I was able to diagnose the multiple complications occurring and treated each quickly,” says Dr. Allaire. “We performed a cesarean section and delivered the baby safely. It remains to this day one of my biggest saves – two lives at once. I am absolutely certain that had I not been immediately present, this story would have a very different and heart-wrenching ending.”

Dr. Allaire recounts several instances where he bumped into his patients at the grocery store or ice cream shop over the years following this life-saving event. Each time, the mother reminded her daughter who Dr. Allaire was, affectionately referring to him as their “guardian angel.”

As a patient, it’s essential to be informed. Knowing who is on your medical team, their respective roles and what training and education they bring to the table ensures you are well prepared to achieve the most optimal outcomes. As a patient, you must feel empowered to ask questions about your providers’ qualifications and experience. Being inquisitive isn’t intrusive; after all, every patient deserves the highest quality and safest medical care.

For more information, visit

Courtesy of BPT

Trouble remembering to take your medications? Text message reminders may help

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Americans are busy people, and with everything that goes on in our daily lives, remembering to take a prescribed medication can be a challenge. But studies show that forgetting your medications has consequences, including creating a more serious and even dangerous health issue.

According to The New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 70 percent of medication-related hospital admissions in the United States are the result of not taking a prescription medication as directed by a doctor.


The good news is that there are new technologies that are helping remind patients to take their medicines, such as text messages that arrive at a precise day and time. In fact, a recent study of 580 patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension showed that text messaging could help patients stick to their medication schedules. 

The study, by OptumRx, a leading pharmacy benefits management company, found that patients receiving text message reminders had higher rates of taking their medication as instructed (known as “medication adherence”) than those who did not – 85 percent vs. 77 percent. The adherence rates for those taking medication for diabetes were even higher – 91 percent vs. 82 percent. Even patients older than 60 showed significant improvement in their adherence with the use of text messages. 

“Many of us are using our phones to do more – check the weather, read a news article, research information on a medical condition. It makes sense that reaching patients through technology could improve their adherence, and now we have the evidence to prove that it can, even among older patients,” says Dr. Brian K. Solow, chief medical officer of OptumRx. 

The study’s findings on diabetes adherence also are important, Solow says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 26 million people in the U.S. had diabetes as of 2010. 

“Diabetes continues to be a growing, global health issue with devastating complications, including heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. Ensuring that people with diabetes stay on their medication as directed can go a long way in helping them maintain and improve their health,” Solow says. 

To find out if text message reminders are available to you, contact your pharmacy benefits manager or visit 

Courtesy of BPT

Parents urged to get kids vaccinated against meningococcal disease for new school year

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

(BPT) – Moms do all they can to prepare their kids for a healthy transition from summer vacation to the new school year, which brings new teachers, homework and demanding sports practices. But, when gearing up for the transition, there is one thing moms might be forgetting to protect their children against: potentially fatal meningococcal disease.

While parents may have grades and carpools on the mind, they should know that meningococcal disease is the result of a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can progress very rapidly and take the life of an otherwise healthy person in as little as one day. Symptoms that parents and their teens should watch out for could include stiff neck, fever, lethargy, sensitivity to light, irritability, headaches and vomiting.

With school in session, kids are going to bed later and waking up earlier; the resulting fatigue may raise the risk of meningococcal disease, possibly by weakening the immune system. Common activities such as sharing water bottles and utensils can also facilitate the spread of the disease. As fall sports season approaches, student athletes can be at greater risk of exposure to meningococcal disease, since cramped locker rooms and long bus trips can increase the risk of exposure to the germs.

To help raise awareness about the serious consequences of meningococcal disease and urge parents to take action and vaccinate against the disease, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) partnered with Sanofi Pasteur to launch Get in the Game: Keeping Teens Healthy. Get in the Game is a national Campaign that is a part of the Voices of Meningitis educational program and features Olympic swimmer and mom Dara Torres along with meningococcal disease survivors.

“As a mother, I know how busy this time of the year can be, running from one sports practice to another,” says Torres. “But parents shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of vaccination for meningococcal disease. I hope that parents will feel empowered and motivated to speak with their children’s health care provider to make sure their child is up-to-date with their vaccinations.”

Adolescents and young adults can be especially vulnerable to the disease; however, many parents aren’t aware that this disease is a threat or that there are vaccinations – recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – available to help prevent this disease.

“At NASN, we want parents to know about the serious consequences of meningococcal disease and the importance of vaccination,” says NASN’s President Elect, Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN. “In addition, as a school nurse, I want parents to know that teens who have already been vaccinated for meningococcal disease may now need a booster to help protect them during the years when they are at greater risk of infection. The new school year is an excellent time to have that conversation with your health care provider.”

Visit to learn more about meningococcal disease and the Get in the Game Campaign.

Courtesy of BPT