Category Archives: Engagement

Declutter Your Life

Covered Bridge: Downsize and Declutter for Safety

The month of August has this great week called the National Safe At Home Week, August 26 to 30, and that got me thinking about things that people could do to keep their home safer.

Did you know that our local Area Agency on Aging, LifeStream, has a program called “Safety Solutions” that not many within their newly expanded service area in Indiana know about? This program allows individuals to send a referral to LifeStream to assess the needs of someone on safety item(s) that may need fixed to make their living environment safer.

When I think of Safe At Home Week, what came to me instantly was to declutter! I must admit that I am a bit of a clutter bug when it comes to paperwork. I somehow have a hard time parting with things I might need down the road.

I’m finding myself getting a tad bit anxious when the papers seem to be too much to keep organized or in place. I need to make a change, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Why not use this month, or a week in this month, to get the clutter bug under control? I think you might thank yourself later when you have more peace, maybe more money in your pocket (hey, the summer is a great time for a yard sale), and a safer environment that is less cluttered. (I don’t really believe in the notion of being “clutter-free,” but I think we can work to have less clutter in our lives.)

Reid Health Alliance has great presentations about a whole host of topics that we share with the community, and one of them is called Downsize and Declutter. It gives practical advice on how to start the declutter and downsize process, how to stick with it, and the possible rewards of getting through the process, along with other helpful tips. If you’re interested in having an outreach liaison, like me, present this to your group, please email me at Morgan.Gunder@healthalliance.org to schedule a time. Happy decluttering!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Teachable Moments

Covered Bridge: Teachable Moments

Recently, we purchased a “new” home, only 54-years-young, to begin the next chapter of our lives. We were looking for simplicity as we moved from a home in the country that had farm animals and more fixer-upper maintenance than I ever care to share.

In the search for our new home, we wanted something that was structurally sound, with only a few items on the honey-do-list to update. We could handle a few updates, such as painting, flooring, or the like. We wanted to make sure that from the roof to the electric, we wouldn’t have to worry that something would go wrong in the next few years.

I know that’s never a guarantee (that just comes with home ownership), but I was determined to stay within our budget, and eventually something would come about. We spent our weekends and weeknights going to showing after showing, until we stumbled upon a delightful, quaint, ranch-style home that seemed to fit what we were looking for.

We decided to take our 7-year-old daughter with us to view the home. Our daughter walked in, and the first thing she said was, “What’s that smell?” The previous owners were in their mid-eighties, and the house’s smell reminded us of our grandparents’ old homes.

She then stared at the bathroom’s blue tiles with big eyes and asked if we would be updating that soon. She quickly exclaimed this was going to be her bathroom, because she loves blue. Our daughter also noticed the various brass fixtures and was not too fond of them.

She continued to search the house. Walking into the kitchen, she hollered for us. She pointed to that “thingy” on the wall. It was a wall-mounted telephone. Oh, how things have changed! We had to explain to her that people used to make calls from them, and some of them even used to have a rotary dial. Imagine her face contorting, unable to comprehend that one.

With all new things comes change. Those smells are memories for some of us, while to others they are new. Those thingies on the wall are what kept us in contact with our friends and family, regardless of distance, without the option of a text message or email that lacks personal touch and effort.

It really blew her mind when she realized those “stickers” she constantly wanted to use actually cost money and let us send letters overseas to our family serving in the military or birthday cards with a handwritten note, which may be the only one they received in the mail.

I hope to teach our daughter about the simplicity of days gone by, and I hope this will remind you of some of yours.

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Finding Hidden Treasure

Long View: Finding Hidden Treasure

Recently, my husband and I attended a community meeting at one of our local libraries. Across the hall from the meeting, there’s a bookstore. Usually when I visit this library, the bookstore is closed. But this day, it was open, so my husband and I decided to peruse. What we thought would be a brief visit turned into an adventure.

The bookstore had a lot of friendly finds, from used books to magazines, videos, and gifts, all of which had been donated and were available for low prices. It had long rows of shelves hidden behind the walls of the library’s lower level. I felt like I was going through rarely traveled tunnels to find hidden treasures, like Indiana Jones in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There were books on just about every topic you could imagine. Not only were there printed books, but there were also audio books, large print books, and books in Braille.

The most memorable books my husband and I bought were about finance, agriculture, church hats, and dinosaurs.

The dinosaur book is this gigantic oversized book with vibrant, full-color drawings of every kind of known dinosaur. We didn’t see this book in the display window until we passed it on the way out the door. My 2 young boys are so fascinated with dinosaurs that we just had to go back in and buy it.

This newfound treasure was too good to keep to ourselves. My husband read it to my sons’ entire daycare class. It was so worth it to see their eyes light up on their little faces. Oh, the joy of finding hidden treasures!

Since my last visit to the library, I’ve learned there’s a whole week dedicated to libraries. National Library Week is each year in April, generally the second full week. This year, it’s April 8-14. It’s a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This is also the perfect time for us to plan another expedition to the library. We may even take the children with us this time to find some treasures of their own.

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.

Busting Stereotypes Across Generations

Long View: What Exactly Is a Whippersnapper?

I once told a youthful and entrepreneurial friend of mine that I was having trouble viewing his website. He responded, “You need to update your browser. A lot of older people use the one you have on your computer.”

I’ve found it best to pause before responding to comments like these. After counting to 5, I responded, “That’s called ageism-prejudice or discrimination against a particular age group.” I refrained from calling him a whippersnapper, although it was on the tip of my tongue. While he seemed to get my point of view, the incident started me thinking.

How often do we all make snap judgments based on stereotypes? More often than we care to admit. I rarely associate youth and wisdom, but that said, I know mature people who have managed to avoid accumulating any wisdom or insight during their lives. I guess we all associate youth with vitality, but we all know teens who are confirmed couch potatoes or spend inordinate amounts of time glued to their smart phones.

Here at Health Alliance, we work with some folks who require more support and information. Others want to cut to the chase and get on with their lives. Impatience doesn’t seem to be a trait associated with any particular age, does it?

It seems to be human nature to hold stereotypes dear, even subconsciously. We all have experiences that color our perceptions, so what’s the problem with making assumptions based on our own biases?

Prejudice stops us from fully experiencing the people in our lives. It’s easy to drop people into simple, broad categories and focus on more important things, like our own busy lives. The loss occurs when we dismiss people without getting to know them as individuals. Having preconceived ideas about any group saves time, but it diminishes our chance to get to really appreciate someone as a fellow human being instead of a representative of their subset.

I’m making a concerted effort to be more sensitive with the words I use, and I am trying to be aware when I make a snap judgment. I know some of you feel you are prejudice-free. Ask yourselves if you are truly non-biased or just kidding yourself.

Actually, I meant to say, ask yourselves if you are being naive and lacking in experience.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Spring Break with Assist America

Enjoy Spring Break with Peace of Mind Thanks to Assist America

The spring break travel season has arrived! Each year, more than 65 million Americans travel for spring break, and this number continues to grow year after year.

When planning our next trip, the last thing we want to think about is the risk of getting sick or injured and whether good medical care will be available at our destination. We bask in the sun on white-sand beaches, zipline in the jungle, ski in the mountains, camp in the woods, and explore new countries. But the truth is that when getting away from it all, we are usually also away from quality health care.

This is why we offer Emergency Travel Assistance Services, provided by our partner, Assist America. The Assist America program is designed to get you to the best possible care provider in the shortest possible time.

Let’s take a look at how this program works:

A college student from North Carolina was driving to meet his friends for spring break. While jet-skiing, he got into an accident with a sailboat and suffered multiple fractures and a severe concussion. The local hospital he was admitted to at the time of the incident was not capable of appropriately treating such serious injuries. Assist America was notified and evacuated the student via private jet ambulance to an excellent facility capable of treating his injuries. Once he was in stable condition and released from the facility, Assist America arranged and paid for a first class return trip home with a medical escort.

What happened to his car? Assist America looks at all the elements involved in any case. The travel assistance company arranged and paid for an agent to drive the vehicle to the student’s home, so that it would be available to him upon his return and recovery.

As a general rule, remember that Assist America provides the following services:

  • Medical referrals
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Hospital admission assistance
  • Medical monitoring
  • Medical or non-medical escorts
  • Compassionate visit
  • Care of minor children
  • Repatriation
  • Return of mortal remains
  • Prescription assistance
  • Lost luggage assistance
  • Language assistance
  • Return of vehicle
  • Legal referrals
  • Pre-trip planning

Travel Assistance plans are not all the same, and here are the reasons why we partner with Assist America to offer the right plan that works for our members:

  • With Assist America, members will not be charged for the services provided. Assist America pays for all of the services it arranges.
  • Members can travel anywhere in the world, from the most remote places to areas at risk, Assist America has no geographical exclusions.
  • While some plans have strict exclusions for pre-existing conditions, Assist America will not exclude a member because of past or existing health issues.
  • Members can be adventurous with peace-of-mind, knowing that Assist America will be there if needed, no matter what sport or activity members do.
  • Many plans have dollar limits on how much they will pay for a service, such as a medical evacuation – Assist America does not.

Make this year’s spring break memorable by having fun and helping yourself and your family stay safe and healthy. When leaving for your spring break vacation, remember to download the free Assist America Mobile App for Android and iPhone for immediate connection with Assist America’s 24/7 Operation Center and access to a wide range of services.

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App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.

Purposeful Connections

Vantage Point: Purposeful Connections

Everyone knows that February is the month of love. It’s the month with the holiday where we buy our loved ones candy, flowers, a card, and maybe even dinner as a token of our love for them. We purposefully connect.

With that being said, how much time do we really spend purposefully connecting with the people around us, including loved ones, outside of designated holidays?

Technology has really enhanced our social connections with those far away, but in my opinion, it may be hampering our social connections with those close to us. What would happen if we took the time to connect to the people in our lives, no matter the day or relation?

If you want to connect to those in your life more, these are my ideas to get started:

  1. Call (yes, actually call) a friend or family member that may have moved away or who you haven’t talked to in a while, and start up a conversation. If the conversation sparks that I’ve-really-missed-this-person feeling for you, maybe invite them to something, like coffee.

  2. Give a compliment to someone, and really mean it! Plus, don’t forget to smile. If you want extra credit, maybe leave a nice note for your loved one where they will see it. No texts, actual paper and a pen.

  3. Limit technology time. I know this is a popular suggestion, but maybe just limiting the times that family can be on their phones, tablets, or video games, or even limiting phone usage while out at dinner will help.

And if you’re looking to make more meaningful social connections, volunteering in the community might be a good idea. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, all while giving back. The Harman Center is always looking for volunteers. Contact them at 509-575-6166 for more information.

This isn’t a be-all-end-all list, but it’s a list to get your creative ideas going. What are other ways that you can connect with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers? Someone in your life or community might really benefit from a kind smile and a sincere compliment. You never know what people are going through.

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

Covered Bridge

Covered Bridge: What’s New with Reid Health Alliance Medicare

I would like to take this time to introduce our new monthly e-column beginning in January 2018, called The Covered Bridge.

The e-column is meant for community partners that I work with as a part of my outreach efforts, but they will also be available on our blog. So feel free to share those posts with anyone you think would benefit from the message.   

The Covered Bridge will be a lighthearted column, full of handy information, humor, and useful topics for many facets of life. It may also focus on different things going on in the communities we serve, as well as health and wellness. We also appreciate your input on things you think are important to share and discuss. I hope you will enjoy reading these as much as I will enjoy writing them!

I know that normally I’m out and about in the community at events and meetings with many of you, and that has decreased a little with the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare, which runs October 15 to December 7. I’ve been busy helping support people with Medicare questions who are interested in knowing more about our new Reid Health Alliance Medicare plans available in our area. I will be back out meeting with many of you again after December 7, but don’t hesitate to reach out at 765-973-3119 or email if you need me in the meantime.

I cannot thank you all enough for allowing me to get to know you and be a part of this community. Together, you, your organization, and I have participated in and created opportunities and events for the people in the area. It’s been great getting to know you, your organization, and what it does in the community, and I look forward to seeing what’s to come! Don’t be alarmed if you end up getting spotlighted in one of my e-columns!

And please feel free to ask me any questions you have about Reid Health Alliance or health insurance in general. We appreciate the opportunity to be a community resource.  

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.