January  2018
Issue No. 88
In this issue
What's New for the 2017-2018 Flu Season?

About Us 
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  A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, long-term disability, short-term disability, voluntary accident insurance, and Medicare supplement for eligible Church of the Brethren employees .
Dental, vision, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities. 

Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120

Welcome to 2018! We hope you are as excited as we are to start the new year. We are bringing our newsletter to you with a new name and a slightly new look, and we hope you got the message that nothing else has changed. We will still greet you each month with news on various insurance products, and stories about health and wellness that we think you'll appreciate and enjoy. We will also keep providing brain puzzles, which we've heard is a hit with many of our readers.

A very popular topic in the world of insurance is Long-Term Care insurance. It may be due to all the commercials on TV about being properly prepared, or maybe it's just many of the personal experiences with friends or loved ones who suffered hard times trying to care and pay for care of family members who found themselves in need. No matter where you are in life, it's good to be educated on the availability of Long-Term Care insurance. You can read more about it in this month's issue.

And since winter is officially here, it seemed like the perfect time to think about how to prevent that nasty, unwelcome visitor -- the flu! You can learn what the flu is, what many healthcare professionals advise us to do to prevent it, how flu has made its mark across the world throughout history, and the remedies some people use to stave it off or relieve its symptoms. Not an entirely enjoyable subject, but in any case, we hope you are having an enjoyable January, free of the flu!
Protection for you and your family -- Long-Term Care Insurance

In recent years, more and more people are considering long-term care insurance. This may be because the cost of skilled nursing care is skyrocketing. It may also be because people across the age spectrum are thinking about the future.
Long-term care insurance provides for your daily personal care over an extended period of time, when you have a chronic illness or disability. This care ranges from assistance with simple daily activities to the skilled medical care provided by nurses, therapists, or other professionals. Extended time means 90 days or longer, and possibly much longer than that. Medicare and supplemental insurance are designed to pay for specific medical treatment only over a short period of time, while long-term care insurance picks up where these leave off.
LTCI covers care delivered in a variety of settings such as your home, a community organization, a retirement center, or a nursing home. People often buy LTCI to assure they are taken care of when they can no longer care for themselves at the end of their life, but this insurance will also pay for your care if an illness (a stroke, for example) leaves you permanently incapacitated, or if you have an accident that leaves you disabled.
Obviously, LTCI is protection for you, ensuring that you will receive the care you need when that time comes. But it is also protection for your family, ensuring that they will not have to exhaust their resources, time, and energy caring for you.
When buying LTCI, you will want to think about how much coverage you will need, and this will be based partially on the cost of nursing care in your area. You will also want to decide on a benefits period -- how long the coverage will need to last. The health history of your own family may give you some clues for how long you might need LTCI benefits. Also, your assets come into play. If you have considerable assets, you may not need as much assistance from LTCI.
Though LTCI can provide care in the event of a debilitating illness or injury for adults of any age, people usually buy it to protect against the rising costs of care at the end of life. Some retirement communities want to know if the prospective resident has LTCI as a consideration for admittance. With the aging of the U.S. population, LTCI becomes an increasingly important strategy.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends, and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends. If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at insurance@cobbt.org or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or click here to request more information.

It's flu season -- pay attention

We are now in the middle of flu season, and statistics from past years indicate that approximately 200,000 people will be hospitalized. As many as  49,000 people may die, depending on how virulent the year's flu strain is. What are the odds you will get the flu? And should you be concerned?
Well, even if you think you won't get the flu, you probably don't want to take the chance. Especially if you are elderly, diabetic, or have asthma or heart disease, since the odds for these groups go up. The odds of catching the flu are also higher for young children.
No one really wants to take the chance of getting the flu, since it brings on the misery of running a temperature, breaking out in cold sweats and shivers, suffering headaches and aching joints, feeling limp with exhaustion, developing a sore throat and a bad cough, living with a stuffed-up nose and congestion, or even worse -- coping with diarrhea and vomiting.
Those are the symptoms. Just thinking about them should make us all want to take precautions. And one of the best things we can do in terms of prevention is get a flu shot. Your doctor can administer the flu vaccination, or for convenience, in many places you can walk into your nearest pharmacy and take care of it.
The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine that contains the killed viruses that cause the flu. It is usually given as a shot in the upper arm, and it generally protects against three influenza viruses. Because viruses adapt and change, the dead viruses in the vaccine are changed year to year, and each year's vaccine attempts to target the viruses expected for that year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of the U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. The vaccines protect against the viruses that research suggests will be most common that year. For 2017-2018, vaccines are recommended to contain:
  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus."
This complicated language means nothing to most readers, but it is worth noting as a reminder of how complex and varied flu viruses are and how much care and research goes into preparation for each flu season.
It is believed that flu spreads in tiny droplets cast into the air when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can breathe these in if you are nearby, or they can land on a surface and be picked up by your hand and transferred by touching your mouth or nose. Flu is more common in the winter months and spreads more easily because you spend more time indoors close to one another. Once exposed, you can develop symptoms in one to four days; the average time is two days.
You can pass flu along before you know you have it, as well as when you are already sick. Generally, you are most contagious in the first three to four days after the flu begins, though you can be contagious longer. You can give others the flu as early as one day before coming down with symptoms and as late as five to seven days after becoming sick.
To avoid the flu, you should wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you get the flu, stay away from others, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Centers for Disease Control suggests coughing or sneezing into a Kleenex or your upper sleeve (the inside of your elbow) to avoid the spread of germs.
Let's say you fail to get your flu shot or you take precautions and get the vaccine but you still come down with the flu. How will you know you have it? You will have most of the symptoms noted above. The higher temperature, the cold sweats, the headache, the aching joints, and the extreme fatigue will tell you that you have more than a common cold.
So what should you do if you suspect you have the flu? Go home and stay home and get plenty of rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids -- i.e., water, broth, and sports drinks. This is especially important if you are vomiting or have diarrhea.
  • Treat your achiness with Tylenol or ibuprofen.
  • Use an over-the-counter remedy for your cough.
  • Try breathing in mentholated steam to help open your air passages or sit in a steamy bathroom.
  • Run the humidifier.
  • If your throat is sore, gargle with salt water and use throat lozenges.
  • Use saline nasal sprays.
  • You might consider asking your doctor to prescribe an antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu, Rapivab, or Relenza. These are helpful if taken within 48 hours of your first symptoms.
Pay attention to your body while you are sick. With the flu you can develop pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus and ear infections, so you should immediately go to your physician if you suspect any of these things. Also, if you already have asthma or heart disease, you may become even sicker. You should get emergency help if you have trouble breathing or are short of breath, if you have bluish skin and lips, if you feel pressure or pain in your chest or stomach, if your fever and cough persist, if you are dehydrated, if you feel dizzy and confused, or if you are continually vomiting. Get help -- don't allow your flu to develop into something much worse.
You should pay especially close attention if you or a loved one is in a high-risk bracket for these complications - young children under 5 years old, and especially under 2; adults older than 65; residents of nursing homes; pregnant women and women who have given birth within the past two weeks; people whose immune system has been weakened; people with asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes; and people who are obese.
If you pay attention and take the precaution of a flu shot, you can probably avoid this annoying condition. If you have the misfortune of coming down with it, prompt treatment will help you. Flu has been with us for many years, and, in consequence, many home remedies have been developed. Read further to see what some of these are.
May you sail through this season free of the flu, but if you do come down with it, may your good health return quickly.
From Soup to Coconuts
The Obvious to the Improbable
All sorts of remedies for the flu

In addition to the medical treatments for influenza, there are a surprising number of home remedies. Perhaps when confronted with the sudden, fierce, insistent, and overwhelming symptoms of flu, people through the years have been willing to try almost anything. The result is an astonishing array of remedies. Many of these are tried and true and are even backed up by research. They are generally not harmful (although note that honey as a remedy comes with an important warning, as do elderberries). Flu has a long and terrible history as a threat to life and comfort, and the list below is a testimony to people's effort to find relief and healing.
These have been culled from a number of websites. You'll find the links at the end of this list. We make no claims for the efficacy of any of these concoctions. We offer the list for your curiosity and interest and for the possibility that you might find something that could help you. Please enjoy reading this collection of the things people have turned to when faced with the flu.
  • Chicken soup
    This classic, soothing concoction, a source of protein and minerals, may help with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. It may support the healing properties of white blood cells. Some people also seek relief by inhaling the steam of this hot soup.
  • Garlic
    Generally thought to help healing, it contains the compound allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties.
  • Warm compress
    Placed on the forehead and nose, it helps relieve headache and sinus pain.
  • Lemon juice
    Mixed with hot water, it is a soothing drink, good for a sore throat. It may help reduce phlegm.
  • Ginger
    Steeped in boiling water to make a tea, this pungent plant helps relieve sinus symptoms and congestion. It may also help ward off the nausea that sometimes accompanies flu.
  • Nasal irrigation
    It can ease stuffiness and post-nasal drip. Use of a neti pot with salt water is also helpful.
  • Apple cider vinegar
    This may be too strong for some tastes, but for some people it brings relief from a sore throat. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties that kill the microbes that cause sore throats. It can also loosen and help expel mucus.
  • Vitamin C
    Some studies show that it helps battle cold and flu. It can relieve upper respiratory tract infections. Your immune system needs vitamin C. It is believed to boost white blood cells.
  • Nettle leaves
    They contain vitamins and trace minerals, which can help the body stay hydrated.
  • Yarrow
    This fern-like plant with clusters of white flowers has soothing properties and is good for the liver and kidneys. It supports the immune system.
  • Chamomile
    A warm cup of chamomile tea can help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Peppermint
    This is good for digestive disturbances and for calming a fever.
  • Honey
    This nearly perfect food has some antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Honey with lemon can ease a sore throat, and also serves as a cough suppressant. VERY IMPORTANT: honey should not be given to a child under one year of age, because it often contains botulinum spores which an infant's immune system cannot fight off.
  • Echinacea
    Its active ingredients include flavonoids which can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. It can increase the levels of properdin, a chemical that fights off bacteria and viruses.
  • Probiotics
    These "friendly" bacteria can help keep your gut and immune system healthy.
  • Vapor Rub
    This may reduce cold symptoms, open up air passages, combat congestion, and reduce coughing.
  • Warm bath
    Submersion in warm water may help reduce cold and flu symptoms. Adding Epsom salt may help reduce body aches. At the very least, a warm bath can produce a soothing, relaxing effect.
  • Elderberries
    Ingested dried or in a syrup, they will support the immune system. They may reduce bronchial inflammation and may shorten the length of flu symptoms. A study published in the BioMed Central's Journal in 2011 found that elderberries were effective in defending against influenza. The berries and the flowers are the only portions used for medicinal purposes, and the berries must be cooked before use. PLEASE NOTE: the leaves, bark, and roots are toxic and should be avoided.
  • Oregano oil
    This may have antiviral effects.
  • Zinc
    Zinc may support the immune system and have an antiviral effect, but excessive amounts are not good for you.
  • Brewer's yeast
    Containing B vitamins, chromium, and protein, this remedy can help with respiratory tract infections and can stimulate intestinal enzymes to help relieve diarrhea. It can help symptoms dissipate more quickly.
  • Frankincense
    This essential oil rubbed on your neck and the bottoms of your feet helps support your immune system.
  • Chiropractic care
    It seems to have beneficial effects on immunoglobulins, white blood cells, and pulmonary functions.
  • Cinnamon
    One of the oldest spices known, it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and improves colon health.
  • Chlorella
    This "superfood" is made of blue-green algae and is packed with vitamins A, C, and E. It also contains phytonutrients, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorous, biotin, magnesium, complete vitamin B-complex, and several amino acids. It increases the antibody levels in the body, and can help stop the flu virus from spreading in the body.
  • Olive leaf extract
    This may have antiviral and antibacterial properties and is believed to increase energy and lower blood pressure.

  • Cayenne pepper
    This seemingly unlikely remedy can break through congestion, decrease inflammation, open nasal passageways, and relieve joint and muscle pain. It contains high levels of vitamin C.
  • Turmeric
    Claims are made that turmeric, with its main ingredient curcumin, can do everything from improving heart health, to speeding up the healing of wounds, to relieving arthritis inflammation. Among the many claims, those most relevant to flu treatment are turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties, and the fact that it has been widely used to treat coughs, headaches, sore throats, and congestion.
  • Green tea
    Its distinctive mix of six different kinds of antioxidants make this tea an effective antiviral drink. It is good for the immune system.
  • Ginseng
    This root, when ground up, helps build up the immune system against bacteria and viruses.
  • Eucalyptus
    The oils or tea leaves can be used to treat upper respiratory infections, sore throats, and flu.
  • Goldenseal
    This contains Berberine, which activates specialized white blood cells that attack bacteria and viruses.
  • Coconut oil
    Coconut oil is claimed by some to be nature's most powerful antiviral compound. It is believed to have the ability to kill off intruding pathogens while not harming healthy cells. 
It you want to find more about the remedies on this list, check out these websites:
Flu pandemics
The number of people who come down with the influenza virus and who die from it varies from year to year, but there are years when enough people are affected that the word "epidemic" is used, which means by definition that the flu that year was widespread, affecting many people at the same time and spreading from person to person in a place where the disease is not prevalent. Sometimes there are so many people affected that the word "pandemic" is used, which means an epidemic prevalent throughout an entire country or continent or across the whole world -- an epidemic over a large area.
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 came at the end of World War I and caused more deaths than the war itself. It has been called the worst epidemic in recorded world history. More people died in one year than in the four years of the Black Death (1347 to 1351).
In two years, influenza ravaged the globe. An estimated 500,000,000 people, about a third of the world's population, were infected. An estimated 20 to 50 million died. More than 25 percent of the U.S. population became sick, and approximately 675,000 Americans died. In contrast, 116,708 soldiers died in World War I. The remarkable thing about this flu epidemic was that it  disproportionately affected young adults.
In the 1957 Asian Flu Pandemic , 69,800 died in the U.S. and an estimated 2 million (according to the World Health Organization) died across the world. In the 1968 Hong Kong Flu Pandemic , approximately 33,800 people died in the U.S. and an estimated 1 million worldwide. With the 2009 Flu Pandemic (swine flu) , figures for the worldwide death toll vary, but 200,000 is probably a good estimate. In the U.S. there were an estimated 60.8 million cases and 12,469 deaths.

Though our medical science has advanced since the 1918 Pandemic, we still cannot predict exactly which flu viruses will be present each year. We know that every year people will catch the flu and, depending on the virulence of the strain, between 3,000 and 49,000 will die. We have not yet found a way to protect ourselves once and for all against this insidious disease.
In fact, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, reported in September that experts are saying we are soon due for another pandemic. Seasonal viruses usually change only slightly; thus, the body can be prepared for them. In a "pandemic," flu spreads quickly and easily throughout the world, because it is caused by a new virus that has just emerged. This virus can come from animals or from a dramatic series of mutations. The result is something new, not seen before -- a pathogen that can move rapidly from person to person, because our immune system does not know how to fight it, and we are defenseless.
It is almost certain that such a "virulent" virus will develop one day. The effect will depend on how fast we can respond. Currently, it takes about 30 weeks to identify a new virus, devise a vaccine, mass produce it, and send it across the world. Gupta says if we can get that down to six weeks, we will protect countless people from illness and save millions of lives.
Brain Puzzle
We hope you are enjoying our  monthly BRAIN PUZZLES -- just for fun! Hopefully these questions will test your reasoning a bit.

CRYPTOGRAM  (from Braingle.com)

The quotes below have a common theme that revolves around those lovable little kitties who manage to make life richer for those of you who experience knowing them. Can you decipher these wise cat witticisms?

(The alphabet letter key is the same for both quotes. Click on the text for a larger, printable version.)


A man worked for a high-security institution, and one day he went to work only to find that he could not log in to his computer. His password wouldn't work. Then he remembered that the passwords are reset every month for security purposes. So he went to his boss and they had this conversation:

Man: "Hey boss, my password is out of date."

Boss: "Yes, that's right. The password is different, but if you listen carefully you should be able to figure out the new one: It has the same amount of letters as your old password, but only four of the letters are the same."

Man: "Thanks boss."

With that, he went and correctly logged in to his computer. 

What was the new password?

BONUS: What was his old password?

It's always a good time to sign up for Long-Term Care Insurance
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance all through the year
This month's issue gave you a lot of information about long-term care insurance. If you're interested in purchasing coverage, you should know that e ligibility for benefits is determined by the inability to meet at least two of these six activities of daily living -- bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, or transferring. Cognitive impairment can also trigger benefits.
It's difficult to think about the fact that a debilitating condition or a disabling injury might leave you unable to care for yourself, or that when you reach your twilight years, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It helps assure that the cost of your custodial care will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it can help protect your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at  insurance@cobbt.org or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or  click here to request more information.