One trick to traveling cheaply: flexibility Shield Insurance Agency Blog

One trick to traveling cheaply: flexibility

By SAM KEMMIS of Nerd Wallet July 14, 2021

So you want to travel on a budget. Who doesn’t? Yet it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the cheap travel tips, hacks and strategies out there that promise unbelievable deals on airfare and hotels.

In reality, there’s only one important tactic for traveling cheaply: being flexible with your travel dates, destination and plans. It might sound simple — or even simplistic — but you would be surprised how few travelers are willing to take this piece of advice to heart.

To be fair, this flexibility-first mindset requires a paradigm shift for many in terms of how they start planning vacations. It requires moving from this type of planning:

“I want to go to Amsterdam from Sept. 5th through 13th.”

To this:

“I want to go somewhere fun in September.”

For some, this degree of flexibility is simply impossible. Yet for those who can loosen their preconceptions about how to plan travel, it can lead to big savings — and maybe even more fun — whether you’re paying with cash or using points.


The cost of travel depends on the interplay between many factors, including:

— Demand.

— Supply.

— Randomness.

— Number of options.

When you make specific plans from the get-go, you essentially constrain the last variable — you give yourself fewer options. This means that the cost of your trip will depend entirely on the first three variables, which are completely outside of your control.

This economic interplay will sometimes fall in your favor, and you’ll score a good deal on the exact destination and dates you wanted. But more often than not, you’ll end up paying more than average simply by starting with a severely limited set of options.


You can still set some boundaries around your search. Example parameters might include:

— I want to travel in the fall.

— I want to sit on the beach.

— I don’t want to spend more than $X.

From here, you can begin weighing different destinations and dates to see which could maximize your preferences. For example, you might start with flights to Hawaii, but notice that airfare is through the roof. So you switch to the Caribbean, narrow your interest to a few destinations with cheap flights, then start researching hotel prices.

Finally, you can find the dates and destinations that offer the best combination of price and features, then book your travel.

Think about how many times you (or someone you know) have gone about it the other way — by starting with dates and a destination, then accepting whatever costs come up.


As this flexible travel approach gains in popularity, travel booking sites and services have begun offering helpful tools specifically designed for the task.


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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.

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Safeco Off-road ATVs: Coverage for your off-road ATV Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Off-road ATVs: Coverage for your off-road ATV

Safeco® Off-road ATVs: Coverage for your off-road ATV

Do you have an off road vehicle? Safeco will insure all-terrain vehicles with four or six wheels, a wide variety of utility-terrain vehicles (UTV), side-by-sides, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, golf carts, and other select off-road vehicles. Talk with a Safeco agent to get details about all the vehicles types we cover. Connect with your Safeco independent agent today to get the details and determine the best coverage options for your off-road vehicle: Disclaimer: Subject to policy terms, conditions, and limitations. Discounts and savings available where state laws and regulations allow and may vary by state. State insurance requirements apply. Insurance offered by Safeco Insurance Company of America and affiliates, Boston, MA.

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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.

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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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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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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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Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award by Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce

Big News from the Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce!

It’s Awards Season!

The Chamber is SO excited to be hosting the Chamber Awards once again this year!

Here are our nominees for the 2021 Awards!

::::: drumroll :::::

Business Excellence Award

  • Hudsonville Physical Therapy
  • Advent Physical Therapy
  • Shield Insurance Agency

Leadership Award

  • Dr. Therese House-Vereeke
  • Patrick Waterman
  • Mary Jane Schreur

Spark Award

  • Hand 2 Hand Ministries
  • Meijer
  • Joy 99

The winners of the Awards will be announced at our official Awards Ceremony MEAL. June 17th at noon at the Pinnacle Center.

Make sure to get registered, we hope to see you there!

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Michigan Tornado Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Michigan Tornado: Be Prepared

Michigan Tornado

On average Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes are known to develop rapidly, with little advanced warning. The average lead time for a Michigan tornado warning is 10 to 15 minutes and winds can reach over 200 mph, which is why Michigan residents are encouraged to prepare and make a plan before a tornado strikes.

Each year during Severe Weather Awareness Week, a statewide tornado drill is held so you can practice your plan.



Michigan Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. When there is a Watch, move near enough to a shelter or sturdy building to be able to get inside quickly if there is a Warning or if you see signs of a tornado approaching. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Michigan Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Supercell: A system producing severe thunderstorms, featuring rotating winds sustained by a prolonged updraft that may result in hail or tornadoes.

Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale: Rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada. There are six categories for the EF scale and are in order of increasing intensity. *It is based on wind estimates of a 3-second gust.*

  • EF0: Tornadoes with an estimated wind speed of 65-85 mph and leads to light damage.
  • EF1: Estimated wind speed of 86-110 mph with the potential of moderate damage.
  • EF2: Estimated wind speeds of 111-135 mph with significant damage potential.
  • EF3: Estimated wind speeds of 136-165 mph with severe damage potential.
  • EF4: Estimated wind speeds of 166-200 mph with devastating damage potential.
  • EF5: Estimated wind speeds of over 200 mph with incredible damage potential.

Before a Michigan Tornado:

  • Identify safe rooms built to FEMA criteria or ICC500 storm shelters or other potential protective locations in sturdy buildings near your home, work, and other locations you frequent so you have a plan for where you will go quickly for safety when there is a Warning or an approaching tornado.
  • For schools, malls, and other buildings with long-span roofs or open space plans, or many occupants, ask the building manager to identify the best available refuge. 
  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.  If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.  In an emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.  Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado:

  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!  Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
  • If you are in school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building then:       
    • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room built to FEMA criteria, basement, storm shelter, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a smaller interior room, such as a closet or hallway, that is away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body as best you can e.g., with a heavy coat or blankets, pillows.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Do not open windows.

After The Tornado

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