Japan bans fans at Tokyo-area Olympics venues due to virus Shield Insurance Blog

Japan bans fans at Tokyo-area Olympics venues due to virus

Japan bans fans at Tokyo-area Olympics venues due to virus

TOKYO (AP) — Fans will be banned from Tokyo-area stadiums and arenas when the Olympics venues begin to open in two weeks, the city’s governor said Thursday after meeting with organizers of the pandemic-postponed games.

That means the Olympics will be a largely TV-only event, after the Japanese government put the capital under a COVID-19 state of emergency because of rising new infections and the highly contagious delta variant.

The declaration was made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and the spectator ban was agreed to by Japanese Olympic organizers, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, and the metropolitan government of Tokyo.

It was a serious blow for Japanese taxpayers and local organizers of the games, which already had been postponed from 2020 by the coronavirus. Hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket revenue will be lost, and that must be made up by the government. Fans also have endured months of uncertainty about whether the Olympics will go ahead.

“Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said after the meeting. “It’s gut-wrenching because many people looked forward to watching at the venues.”

Fans from abroad were banned months ago, and the new measures will mean no spectators in stadiums and arenas around Tokyo — both indoor and outdoor venues.

The ban covers Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures — Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. A smattering of events in outlying areas, like baseball in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, will allow a limited number of fans.

The state of emergency begins July 12 and runs through Aug. 22. The Olympics, which open July 23 and run through Aug. 8, fall entirely under the emergency period, while the Paralympics open Aug. 24.

“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” Suga said.

In principle, the July 23 opening ceremony at the new $1.4 billion National Stadium will be without paying fans, although some dignitaries, sponsors, IOC officials and others will be allowed to attend.

“We will have to review the situation about the dignitaries and stakeholders,” organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto said of the opening ceremony.

“No fans was a very difficult decision,” she added.

Hashimoto acknowledged some regrets, particularly about the decision coming so late.

“We had no choice but to arrive at the no-spectator decision,” she said. “We postponed and postponed, one after another. I have done some soul-searching about that.”

The emergency declaration made for a rude arrival for IOC President Thomas Bach, who landed Thursday in Tokyo for the games. He attended the virtual meeting on fans from his five-star hotel for IOC officials where he was self-isolating for three days.

“What can I say? Finally we are here,” Bach said, sounding upbeat as he opened the late night meeting that ended close to midnight. “I have been longing for this day for more than one year.”

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, said many sponsors, federation officials and others would be considered to be “organizers” and thus would be allowed to attend venues. He said some might occupy public seating, but he said he did not know “the numerical details.”

Organizers had expected to generate about $800 million in ticket sales. Any shortfall — and it could be almost the entire amount — will have to be made up by Japanese government entities.

Japan is officially spending $15.4 billion on the Olympics, and several government audits say it’s much larger. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

Two weeks ago, organizers and the IOC allowed venues to be filled to 50% of capacity, with crowds not to exceed 10,000. The state of emergency forced the late turnaround, which was always an option if infections got worse.

On Thursday, Tokyo reported 896 new cases, up from 673 a week earlier. It’s the 19th straight day that cases have topped the mark set seven days prior. New cases on Wednesday hit 920, the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13.

The main focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympics-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face requests to stay home and watch the games on TV.MORE ON TOKYO OLYMPICS:

“How to stop people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a main issue,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said.

The rise in infections also has forced the Tokyo city government to pull the Olympic torch relay off the streets, allowing it only on remote islands off the capital’s coast.

“The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it,” said Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser.

He urged authorities to take tough measures quickly ahead of the Olympics, with summer vacations approaching.

Omi has repeatedly called for a spectator ban, calling it “abnormal” to stage an Olympics during a pandemic.

A government COVID-19 advisory panel on Wednesday expressed concerns about the resurgence of infections.

“Two-thirds of the infections in the capital region are from Tokyo, and our concern is the spread of the infections to neighboring areas,” said Ryuji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The Olympics are pushing ahead against most medical advice, partially because the postponement stalled the IOC’s income flow. It gets almost 75% from selling broadcast rights, and estimates suggest it would lose $3 billion to $4 billion if the Olympics were canceled altogether.

About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are expected to enter Japan, along with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters and media. The IOC says more than 80% of Olympic Village residents will be vaccinated.

Nationwide, Japan has had about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths. Only 15% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, still low compared with 47.4% in the United States and almost 50% in Britain.

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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How to Assess When an Older Adult Requires Caregiving Assistance Shield Insurance Blog

How to Assess When an Older Adult Requires Caregiving Assistance

Sometimes an older adult’s need for additional help is obvious. It could be that he or she is having a hard time getting to appointments, seems confused by instructions or perhaps isn’t paying bills on time. More often, though, the change happens gradually. That’s where a professional assessment comes in. This comprehensive review of all aspects of person’s mental, physical and environmental condition is one way to determine if your loved one needs assistance. This helps to evaluate his or her ability to remain safely independent and identify risks and ways to reduce them.

A family member or caregiver also has an opportunity to evaluate how a loved one is doing in terms of health, safety and quality of life. “The goal,” says Ardeshir Hashmi, M.D., section chief of the Center for Geriatric Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, “is to pick up clues early, before they start to impact day-to-day life a significant way, so we can do something about them.” Here are red flags to look for, which may signal a loved one needs further evaluation — and possibly more support.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, more than 1 in 4 older adults will have a fall. To make sure your loved one isn’t part of that statistic, evaluate their living space, including potential fall hazards: unsafe indoor or outdoor stairs (especially without railings) or slippery throw rugs. Are they using unsafe stepladders or stools to reach for items on kitchen shelves? Do the soles of their shoes have good traction?

Pay particularly close attention to how well your loved one is getting around. A lack of mobility not only takes a physical toll, it can also have psychological repercussions. Lindsey Yourman, M.D., a geriatrician affiliated with the University of California, San Diego Health-Jacobs Medical Center, points to something known as life space, which is the area that you can walk to safely — meaning the environment that is available to you on a regular basis. “Decreased life space can mean decreased interactions with other people and decreased engagement in activities,” Yourman says, “which can lead to isolation and depression.”

There are some ways to evaluate a person’s mobility to see if he or she is steady on their feet. One is the timed up-and-go test: Mark a line about 10 feet from a chair. At the word “go,” ask your loved one to stand up from the chair, walk at a normal pace forward to the line, turn, walk back to the chair and sit down. On average, people who take 12 seconds or more to complete the test are at a high risk of falling. Also, observe them walking across a room and take note of their gait speed and the movement of their feet. Are they shuffling or dragging them? How far apart are their feet when walking? When someone spreads their feet far apart, that tends to indicate difficulty in balance. Other signs that may indicate strength or balance issues: difficulty rising from a chair, using furniture or a wall for support when walking, and difficulty pivoting. “If they walk down the hall and come back, how many steps does it take to turn? More than three steps may indicate a mobility issue,” Yourman says.

What to do: A certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) can suggest modifications to make your loved one’s home safer. These may include handrails on both sides of stairs, grab bars for getting in or out of the shower or a walk-in bathtub, a higher toilet seat or added ramps. In the kitchen, make it easier to reach everyday items by storing them in lower cabinets. Add inexpensive sliding pantry organizers and shelving to cabinets for easier access. A physical or occupational therapist can also evaluate the person’s home environment and mobility. A therapist can also recommend the best aid for your loved one and make sure they use it correctly. Pick-up walkers take a lot of effort, and their use can lead to a decrease in activity for someone with congestive heart failure or COPD who gets winded easily. “With a cane, you want to be sure it’s the right height,” Yourman says. “If it’s too tall or too low, it can throw off the mechanics of how you’re walking.”

Mental health

Depression can be tricky to spot in older adults. It’s normal for an older person to feel down every once in a while — perhaps frustrated by health problems or worried about money. What’s more, there isn’t necessarily a mood component. “We have a stereotype of depression as not getting out of the chair all day, kind of folding inward,” says Luci Draayer, a Denver-based clinical social worker and therapist. “That can be part of it, but there are other symptoms.” Among them: changes in energy levels; irritability or anger; loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities; difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more than usual; eating more or less than usual; and thoughts of death or suicide.

Dementia, meanwhile, is more a memory change or impairment. The common theme is forgetfulness, more than people would expect with normal aging. “Early on, changes and difficulty with what we call instrumental activities — financial management, managing medications and driving — on a daily basis may indicate impairment caused by dementia,” Hashmi says. Another cognitive issue, says Draayer, is “a loss of insight or poor judgment — say, the bathtub was left running and overflows because they left to go watch a movie.”

Depression sometimes gets misdiagnosed as dementia, since an older adult with depression may exhibit dementia-like symptoms. “People who have depression may not concentrate as well, and that may sometimes look like memory loss and dementia — we call that pseudodementia,” says Katherine O’Brien, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine, Division of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Being able to distinguish between the two is important. “Depression is eminently treatable,” Hashmi says. “And when depression is treated early, memory and concentration can also improve.”

What to do: Ask your loved one if they’re feeling sad or anxious about something. A chronic illness or limited mobility increases a person’s risk of developing depression. Listen and offer emotional support. If you don’t live nearby, ask friends and neighbors to look in on your loved one. Also, work with the Area Agency on Aging to develop a support plan. Or consult a geriatric psychiatrist, a doctor trained to recognize and treat mental illnesses in older people. Treatment can include antidepressants, talk therapy or a combination of the two. Visit the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s website to find a specialist near you. Finally, ask your loved one’s primary care physician or pharmacist if a specific medication — or combination of drugs — could be causing their depression. If you suspect dementia, you may want to contact a neurologist.

Money matters

What you’re looking for: stacks of unopened mail and unpaid bills, uncashed checks, and key home or legal documents that haven’t been dealt with. Another flag: unusual transactions or amounts of money going to charities. “During the pandemic, my clients have been bombarded with telemarketing scams,” says Robin Mansfield, a geriatric care manager and social worker at Aging Network Services.

What to do: The solution may be as simple as help sorting the mail and prioritizing. Offer to help with the more complicated matters while your loved one continues handling day-to-day household and personal finances. For example, help your loved one open another checking account that he could use for cash and basic needs, and pay the bills from his primary account. “You could suggest getting online access to at least look over their banking to see if something’s run amok,” says Virginia Morris, author of How to Care for Aging Parents. “You’re not managing or taking over their financial affairs, just acting as another set of eyes.” Also, many banks will arrange, with your parent’s permission, to have bank statements sent to you. You may also need to help your loved hire a financial manager. Finally, Morris says, be sure they have legal documents in place, so you are able to help manage affairs in an emergency.


By 2030, there will be more than 70 million people age 65 and older, and about 85 percent will be licensed to drive. In fact, seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, according to AAA. Multiple accidents or a number of tickets means it’s time to have a talk. “It can be subtle, like scratches or dings on the car,” Hashmi says, “particularly if your loved one can’t remember how they got there.”

What to do: Tag along for a ride and keep your eyes peeled. Is your loved one having close calls or getting lost on very familiar roads? Does there appear to be a cognitive problem or vision difficulties? It may be time for a medical evaluation. Poor vision may be easily fixed with a new pair of prescription glasses. Suggest that they refresh their driving skills by taking a driver safety course. AAA RoadWise Driver is an online course designed to help seniors adjust to age-related physical changes. The AARP Smart Driver course, available online or in a classroom, helps drivers 50 and older sharpen their skills — and may entitle you to a discount on insurance.

If it is time to hang up the keys, look for other transportation options to help your loved one get around and maintain their independence — from Uber and Lyft to senior shuttles in their town. The Independent Transportation Network of America (ITNAmerica) is a national nonprofit network of community-based transportation programs for seniors age 60 and older.

Changes in appearance

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Mold: a silent but rapidly growing environmental exposure | Shield Agency Blog

Mold: a silent but rapidly growing environmental exposure

At first glance, mold may seem unassuming but for commercial property owners, mold can be a highly problematic hazard that presents significant environmental risk.

Although frequently associated with the aftermath of natural disasters, mold is much more likely to result from routine maintenance issues such as leaky pipes or HVAC malfunctions. Taking a proactive approach to address mold is critical to help reduce the risk of property damage, guard against personal health effects, and avoid potentially costly future claims.

The health risks of mold

Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the general public becomes aware of health risks and symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potential adverse health risks can include a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash–with increased concerns for those with asthma or immuno-compromised individuals. Given these potential issues, commercial owners should prioritize mold as part of risk-management planning.

Industry-specific factors driving mold claims

While any business can be at risk for mold, certain sectors have experienced a significant uptick in the frequency and severity of costly environmental claims due to mold and indoor air quality issues. Here’s a look at the factors driving this trend in these sectors.

Heat and humidity create fertile breeding grounds for mold in schools.

Elementary and high schools (K-12) are vulnerable to mold growth for several reasons, including:

  • increased moisture due to painting or carpet cleaning
  • high humidity with reduced air conditioning or outdated heating systems
  • Especially during the summer, a lack of ventilation combined with heat and humidity creates a perfect mold incubator.  

Without regular maintenance, a school can rapidly experience significant mold growth. To mitigate the risk of mold outbreaks, schools should perform regularly scheduled inspections for signs of mold, moisture, and leaks, including during long breaks. The Environmental Protection Agency’s  Mold in Schools fact sheet provides additional guidance on how schools can mitigate this risk.

Renovations can lead to contamination surprises for hospitals and hotels.

Deferred maintenance can lead to delayed problems for healthcare and hospitality sectors, especially when it comes to larger projects such as roof or room renovations:

  • As a roof comes closer to the end of its useful life, the likelihood of leaking increases exponentially, as does the risk of mold growth.
  • Mold thrives where there is plenty of organic material, such as wood, paper, paint, drywall, and insulation—frequently uncovered behind walls, under carpet and ceiling tiles, and surrounding corroded pipes during routine maintenance or renovation projects.

Not having a plan to address this risk can be very costly. In addition to the costs to address structural damage, hospitals and hotels may also experience lost revenue if facilities need to cease operations or are held liable for mold-related exposures of individuals.

Putting risk mitigation plans to work

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Reducing safety risks for a returning and deconditioned workforce

Reducing safety risks for a returning and deconditioned workforce

The pandemic-era trend toward layoffs and early retirement means today’s workforce has less training and experience than in March 2020. On top of that, a year at home has physically changed our bodies, resulting in what experts call a “deconditioned workforce.” Unfortunately, this less trained and deconditioned workforce poses new safety risks for companies, particularly in more risk-prone industries like manufacturing, trucking, and construction. It is important for businesses to consider the safety risks associated with this trend and what they can do to help reduce workplace injury as employees return to work. 

With an accelerated vaccine rollout and the President’s expectation of getting “closer to normal” by July 4, 2021, many companies are thinking about moving back to regular operations before the end of the year. Despite this progress, it’s clear that the pandemic has made a lasting impact on our workforce—and the safety implications of returning to work need to be carefully considered.

Early retirement makes an impact

As a result of the pandemic, many older Americans working in heavily impacted industries retired sooner than planned. According to a study by The Schwartz Center, more than 1 million workers left the workforce between August 2020 and January 2021. In the last year, the unemployment rate for older workers has been significantly higher than mid-career workers—a rare occurrence in the job market.

For companies that laid off a large percentage of their workforce during the pandemic, this means that new hires will have significantly less training and experience than their predecessors. Compounding this problem is the fact that many workers are joining new industries due to COVID-19; according to a study by McKinsey, more than 100 million workers globally, or 1 in 16 people, will need to change occupations because of the pandemic.

All of these factors equate to increased risk for companies—especially those in certain sectors. According to David Perez, chief underwriting officer of Global Risk Solutions at Liberty Mutual Insurance: “In any job with a high safety risk, like construction, trucking, or manufacturing, untrained workers present tremendous exposure for accidents to occur.” In high-risk industries where training and experience prevent workplace injury, there is now a much more significant burden on employers to help keep untrained employees safe. 

A deconditioned workforce

Even for experienced employees returning to work, there is a greater risk of workplace injury when they come back to their jobs, post-pandemic. This is the result of worker deconditioning, or the degeneration of physical fitness and flexibility from lack of use. Bottom line? After more than a year of sitting at home, many of us simply aren’t as prepared to do physical labor as we were before the pandemic.

How bad is the problem? According to HumanTech, every day that we don’t use our muscles, we lose 1-3% of our strength. Months of sedentary behavior changes our bodies—and we can’t rebuild that strength overnight. Other factors, like reduced cardiovascular fitness and reduced flexibility, also contribute to workplace injury, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries. It will take weeks or even months for workers to regain the strength they had before the pandemic. In the meantime, companies need to be aware of the increased risk and adjust their insurance policies to reflect that change.

Reduce risk, invest in training

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Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology Shield Insurance Blog

Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology

Workers Expect Savvy Claims Technology: Here’s How the Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of claims technology, but many tools were already in place and poised for growth.

Even apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a significant year. According to the NOAA, 22 separate weather events including severe storms, wildfires, and cyclones totaled $95 billion in damages.

While many types of insurance bear the brunt of these disasters, workers’ compensation carriers, tasked with critical care needs that affect workers and their families, need special strategies to deliver care when catastrophe strikes.

For many organizations, these strategies utilize technology, built-in redundancies and, stepped-up conveniences like a direct deposit to ensure continuity of care, no matter the weather.

“We have to be ready for it all — hurricanes, floods, fires,” said Mark Bilger, CIO of One Call.

“In general, disaster recovery and business continuity are a staple of well-run IT management for any organization. Specifically, in claims and insurance, it’s heightened because of the critical care for injured workers.”

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, workers’ comp claims teams were challenged with the immediate expansion of remote work, resulting in necessary changes that are likely to endure even after the pandemic concludes.

“Before work from home, One Call had a few concentrated contact centers,” Bilger said.

“After work from home, we look a lot more like the internet. We’re dispersed and we had to make major upgrades to our virtual private network, essentially 10-fold. We went from 1 gigabit to 10-gigabit capacity. We strengthened our endpoint protections and it went from firewalls in our locations to everybody’s home becoming the One Call network.”

This growth in gigabit capacity is not isolated to the workers’ comp industry; reports indicate that pandemic-related growth has resulted in an estimated global wireless gigabit market size of $19 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $70 million by 2026.

In tandem with the global wireless market, gigabit size is the growth of cloud computing. Gartner forecasted 18.4% growth in a 2020 report to a total of $304.9 billion, noting that “the proportion of IT spending that is shifting to the cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.”

Workers Expect Claims Tech

Expectations have been set by regulation and digitization in the 21st Century that even in the wake of a natural disaster, services will continue.

“One of the technology solutions that we have had for a few years but that we pushed during COVID and any other type of catastrophic event is our claimant app, MyCare,” said Michael Jamason, SVP, business operations at CorVel.

“It gives the injured worker the ability to manage their pharmacy information, phone numbers for points of contact regarding their claim, information about payments being made to their accounts, and they can even establish their direct deposit in the app.”

Pharmacy information is especially important during disaster when medications are destroyed due to property damage or lost in an evacuation.

“We were able to utilize our partnership with our PBM to allow people to get early refills, and with mail order, we were able to even change the amounts of medication given,” said Melissa Burke, head of managed care and clinical, AmTrust.

“We expanded into other needs like telemedicine, ensuring that we have different types of providers available. We were able to expand that and ensure access in all of our states where allowed by regulatory governance, including digital doctor networks. Something important there too is transitioning injured employees. Typically a telehealth solution would be either on the frontend or the backend of a claim. We wanted to make sure that we could go back and forth depending on the state of the catastrophe,” Burke added.

Indeed, telemedicine expansion is at the forefront of many workers’ comp claims organizations’ radar. According to Mitchell’s “The Future of Technology in Work Comp 2020” industry survey, “many respondents believe that telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the industry within the next five years (32%), followed closely by artificial intelligence (30%) and predictive analytics (20%).”

The survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely would have boosted telemedicine’s impact on the results due to significant expansions.

For many industry leaders though, the specific technological solution is not as significant as the strategy behind the solutions. “We have to ensure continuity of care and benefits,” said Michele Tucker, CorVel’s VP of EC operations.

“Any interruption — whether it’s a natural disaster or anything else — impacts many lives and families. We’ve been doing some regular testing with payments and system recovery so redundancy is set up, and if we have an office impacted, our system allows for immediate replication and the pickup of services by another office.”

Growth Brings Security Risks

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Shield Insurance Blog | Father's Day Gift Guide

60 Best Father’s Day Gifts

60 Best Father’s Day Gifts for Every Type of Dad

Father’s Day Gifts Ideas: Full of unique ideas to celebrate your husband, dad, grandpa, or another father figure in your life.

Although your dad may say he doesn’t want anything for Father’s Day this year, you know that showing up at his door without a present isn’t a possibility. After all, he’s the guy you looked up to (quite literally) all these years, and it’s only fitting to get him a Father’s Day gift that shows just how much you appreciate him and all that he does for your whole family. Finding the perfect present for your dad is tricky, though: You want to get a unique Father’s Day gift that he’ll use — something that’s meaningful, funny, or a little bit of both.

That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up the best Father’s Day gifts for every kind of father figure in your life, including your stepdad, father-in-law, or grandpa. That’s right, most of these picks work for any of the men in your life, like your brother who just became a new dad or your husband who is the best dad to your kids. Oh, and if you’re shopping for multiple people, we made sure to include plenty of budget-friendly options that will arrive in two days or less, everything from hilarious gag gifts to personalized keepsakes.

This article features a ton of gift ideas with everything from homemade beer to a nifty blue tooth shower speaker. And don’t stop there! More ideas are listed in fresh articles at the bottom of their page….. WOWZA!

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What is mindfulness - Shield Insurance Blog

What Is Mindfulness?

What Is Mindfulness? And Why It Might Make You Happier

Focusing on the present moment can help you quiet anxiety and find perspective

En español | What is Mindfulness? When psychiatrist Judson Brewer, M.D., wants to help a patient stop smoking, one of the first things he does is ask the smoker to give his or her full attention to smoking a cigarette, focusing on how it tastes, smells and feels right then.

“Not one of them has come back and said that they enjoyed smoking,” says Brewer, who is director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center in Providence, R.I., and author of a new book, Unwinding Anxiety. Noticing that smoking is actually unpleasant can be the first step to quitting — and it’s a prime example of how mindful living can change your life, Brewer says.

That ability to focus fully on the present is what experts like Brewer mean when they discuss mindfulness. While the concept can be confusing to many people, Brewer says that his favorite definition, coined by mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, is that mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is “the awareness of the unfolding moment-to-moment experience,” says psychotherapist, author and meditation teacher Tara Brach, founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C.

It’s “being in the here and now, without having a story about it,” says neuroscientist Amishi Jha, an associate professor at the University of Miami and author of the upcoming book Peak Mind.

To be more mindful, these experts say, means lifting our minds out of their default mode, in which we are constantly ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, or otherwise out of touch with what is happening right now. We spend about half our time in that mind-wandering mode, research suggests.

When we pay attention, in the present, we can do more of what we want, Jha says. Attention is the “cognitive fuel” we need to make better decisions, regulate our emotions and connect with others, she says.

When we are mindful, we are kinder to ourselves and to others, Brach says: “I have to care to pay attention to you. And the more I really pay attention to you, with mindfulness, the more appreciation comes up.”

Mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

The best-known path to greater mindfulness is formal meditation — an exercise in which you train your brain by focusing on your breath, the sounds around you or some other anchor, while you let your thoughts and other distractions come and go, without judging or reacting to them.

Meditating “will set you up to be mindful throughout the day,” even if you struggle to maintain focus as you meditate, says Ralph De La Rosa, a meditation teacher and psychotherapist who is the author of Don’t Tell Me to Relax: Emotional Resilience in the Age of Rage, Feels, and Freak-Outs. “There are a lot of people who have the experience over and over again that they sit down to meditate and for 20 minutes it’s a mess. And then later that day they find themselves in an argument and they don’t react. Or they find themselves … being kinder to people [or] feeling better about themselves in some way.”

Meditation should be “the core workout” for anyone who wants to be more mindful, Jha says.

But Brewer says that in his research, he has found that less formal mindfulness practices, such as repeatedly noting how you feel when you smoke, overeat or worry too much, can help some people even more than meditating does.

And spending time in nature in a mindful way — even just a quiet walk in the woods — has been shown to quickly lower blood pressure and ease anxiety (see our story on the healing power of nature). Others experience a kind of mindful state when they’re immersed in creative hobbies such as gardening or knitting — an absorption known in positive psychology as “flow.”

If you are new to mindfulness, or want to try some different approaches, here are a few exercises that offer a taste of what it means to focus on the here and now:

Practice the simple art of pausing

At any moment in the day, “just pause and experience whatever activity is going on,” Brach suggests: “Open the senses. Pay attention to the sounds, the sensations, the feelings, even if it’s just for 20 seconds.” When you are caught up in thinking, you miss a lot, she says.

Breathe in and out

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Delay Claims Reporting Shield Insurance Blog

Delayed Claims Reporting

Delayed claims reporting: the true cost to businesses and injured workers

Shield Agency Blog: Delayed claims reporting

Delayed claims. Workplace injuries that go unreported can keep employees on the sidelines — uncertain about treatment and unclear on what to expect under their state’s WC system. When workplace incidents do happen, prompt claim reporting is a key factor to ensuring injured employees receive the necessary care to feel supported in a successful return — and minimizing business impact.

Businesses appreciate the value of speed. Consider these strategies to accelerate your injury reporting and prevent delayed claims:

  • Make the connection. Assigning a point of contact responsible for reporting helps employees know who to talk to.
  • Early education. Familiarize employees with the injury reporting process early and often, so they know what to do if the time comes.
  • Leverage technology. Your insurer may have apps, tools, or data enhancements to streamline your reporting to make it faster and easier.
  • Encourage treatment. Discuss injuries in private, and don’t blame or belittle workers for their injuries. Stress your support for their recovery, and help them find the right provider. You don’t want employees hiding an injury.
  • Measure. Rapid reporting has clear benefits — track successes and hold management accountable to reporting targets, with a recommended target of 80 percent of workers compensation claims reported within three days.

Get ahead of reporting lag, and you’re advocating for both your workers and your workers compensation outcomes.

Claim Reporting Lag Study

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Common Health Problems That Can Strike After 50 Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Common Health Problems After 50

7 Common Health Problems That Can Strike After 50

Some chronic conditions tend to start cropping up in midlife. Here’s what to do about them…

En español | There’s a lot to celebrate when you hit the big five-oh. Discounts start to kick in, investments begin to mature and — how does the saying go? — with age comes wisdom and maybe a few health problems.

But for all the money saved and knowledge earned, there’s a small price to pay: It’s time to really start tuning in to your health and addressing health problems.

“What we see is that some chronic health conditions are frequently diagnosed starting at age 50,” says Renuka Tipirneni, M.D., an internist and assistant professor in the Division of General Medicine at the University of Michigan.

The good news is that many of the conditions that creep up in midlife can be managed. And if they’re caught early and treated promptly, you can “prevent complications that are more serious,” Tipirneni explains.

Here’s what you need to look out for after you turn 50.

1. High blood pressure health problems

A common condition health care providers see among patients in their 50s is high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

One reason high blood pressure is so prevalent in this age group is that the vascular system changes as we age. Arteries start to stiffen and become less elastic, and the pressure inside them builds. The extra weight and stress that often accompany middle age can also contribute to creeping numbers.

The good news: High blood pressure is manageable with medication and lifestyle modifications, including diet and exercise. But because the condition often lacks symptoms, it’s easy to miss. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 adults with high blood pressure don’t know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That’s why Tipirneni recommends getting your blood pressure checked “more regularly” — at least every year — once you hit 50.

If you have a blood pressure cuff at home (they cost about $30), you can check it yourself. And pharmacies and health fairs often offer blood pressure checks for free, Tipirneni points out. Of course, your health care provider can also take it for you.

What you want to see is a reading at or below 120/80, which is considered normal by the American Heart Association. Anything over 130 on that top number (the systolic reading) is considered high and warrants a conversation with your doctor about possible treatments.

2. High cholesterol

Another contributor to heart disease is high cholesterol, which can build up on the inside of the blood vessels over time and form plaque that slows or blocks blood flow. This plaque can also break loose and cause a blood clot — even a heart attack or stroke.

Similar to high blood pressure, your risk for developing high cholesterol increases with age. It also comes with no symptoms or warning signs, which is why it’s important to check your numbers regularly throughout midlife with a routine blood test that can be done at the doctor’s office. Diet and exercise can help lower cholesterol, as can medication.

3. Diabetes Health Problems

While you’re getting your blood checked for cholesterol, your health care provider may also screen you for diabetes — another common condition that creeps up in your 50s and can wreak havoc on your health. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes — the vast majority have type 2 diabetes — and those in middle age are most at risk, according to the CDC.

Diabetes can often be managed with lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and physical activity. “Sometimes we need to add some medications as well” to help control blood sugar (glucose) levels, says Kate Lorig, professor emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a partner at the Self-Management Resource Center.

As with high blood pressure and cholesterol, the warning signs of diabetes are often silent, which is why it’s important to get screened. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to a whole host of health conditions, including kidney disease, vision loss and heart disease.

Warning Signs of Heart Disease

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Stop by the Farmers Market in Hudsonville!

TODAY June 2, 2021 9am to 1pm

at the Terra Square

Stop by to meet Joe, Sean and his wife Kat, and register to win a robot vacuum or local gift cards!!

All the details can be found at the Chamber website be sure to check it out and visit the market!


The home of Hudsonville’s Farmers Market.
Hudsonville farmers are passionate about bringing the community together over farm fresh produce they have been growing for generations. The Terra Square Farmer’s Market will be a place where we inspire healthy, full, and abundant living. Growing together, food and community.

Click here to visit the web site for all the detais !

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