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Baby Boomer Retirement



Useful information for retirees and the 10,000 people who turn 65 every day!



Updated: 2017-02-19T18:33:04.664-08:00

 



Strengthen the Memory of Your Spouse

2017-02-15T13:35:06.868-08:00

Most of the focus on dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, has been on what you can do to reduce your own risk of losing your memory.  But what if you are worried about your spouse's memory?  Is there anything you can do to help them?  According to the "Healthy You" column in the August/September 2016 issue of AARP Magazine, there are actually a number of steps we can take if we start to notice that our spouse is starting to have memory issues ... and you don't even have to tell them what you are doing!How to Help Your Spouse's Memory (and Your Own)The good news is that anything you do to help your spouse's memory will also help improve yours.  In this way, you both benefit.  Below are their recommendations:Babysit your grandkids occasionally - According to Australian research, watching grandchildren once or twice a week stimulates our memories, but only if it doesn't become a daily grind.  Keep things fresh and new by doing it no more than twice a week.  Having fun with your grandchildren will also prevent a common problem as we age ... isolation and loneliness.Both of you should lie down for a daily nap - A German study showed that getting enough rest improves our memories and a 45 to 90 minute nap has been shown to help us retain more information.Explore your creativity - Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that having an artistic hobby during both middle age and old age reduces your likelihood of cognitive decline by a whopping 73 percent!  Encourage your spouse to pull out that old paint set, pick up the guitar, sign up for classes, or join a group.  While you're at it, explore your own creative side, too!Do home repairs together - Doing home repairs is another way to draw on our creative juices.  Columbia University discovered that measuring, building, painting and making repairs requires us to activate our memories.  Exercise together - Over and over again, different researchers have shown that any exercise that is good for the heart is also good for the brain ... since our brain is using about 20% of the blood in our body at any given time.  The effect of exercise on the the brain is so impressive that the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that just one 20 minute exercise session can improve a person's long-term memory by around 10 percent!Have a drink together - Up to one or two alcoholic beverages in a day have been shown to help your memory, in some studies.  However, if you don't drink, don't take it up in the hope that it will improve your health.  There are other techniques which are just as effective.  In addition, too much alcohol can do more harm than good and alcohol often has negative interactions with many of the medications senior citizens are prescribed.Eat a healthy diet - A balanced diet is an important part of any memory prevention program.  Among the foods which were specifically mentioned in the AARP Magazine article were asparagus, shrimp, split peas and walnuts.  In other articles I have read, dark green vegetables and fatty fish are often recommended, as well. How to Tell If You Need to See a Doctor (or Send Your Spouse to One) about Memory LossLet's face it.  All of us occasionally forget a name, miss an appointment or lose our keys.  When does that normal memory loss become something which should worry us?  The AARP Magazine article suggested you should discuss memory loss with your doctor if you answer "yes" to two or more of the questions listed below:Do you look forward to lunch with friends, but forget to go?Do you have trouble following a recipe you have made many times before?Do you always have to rely on notes or your phone to remember things?Do you have trouble remembering today's date or what season it is?Are you paranoid and believe other people are "out to get you?" If you are interested in more information about dementia, healthy aging, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find[...]



Medical Malpractice and Healthcare Mistakes

2017-02-08T11:09:59.482-08:00

In a 2016 study by Johns Hopkins University, researchers discovered that over 250,000 deaths a year are caused by healthcare mistakes.  This means that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.In addition, government investigators released a report in July, 2016 which revealed that approximately one-third of patients in rehab facilities are harmed while undergoing treatment.  The types of harm range from being given the wrong medication to being given an infection or bedsores. What are some of the most common types of medical malpractice and what steps can you take to protect yourself and your loved ones?  According to an article in the September, 2016 AARP Bulletin titled "12 Ways the Healthcare System May Be Harming You," below are the most common problems and how to avoid them.A WRONG MEDICAL DIAGNOSISDoctors often miss even common causes for a patient's symptoms, so it is important for everyone to read up on their diagnosis, ask for their test results, get re-tested if they have doubts and get second opinions if they still have doubts about the diagnosis they have been given.SLOPPY CAREOne common issue today is that an estimated 45 percent of patients do not get the recommended care for their condition.  It is important patients ask in advance for the details of their treatment.  If the doctor seems vague and non-specific, get a second opinion.  Again, it never hurts to read up on your diagnosis and the common ways it is treated.  If your doctor does not not appear to be following a common treatment protocol, ask the reason for the variance.  It could be that another illness you have makes your treatment more complicated.  However, every patient has the right to understand what to expect.INADEQUATE HYGIENEWith everything we know about germs, including both bacteria and viruses, most patients assume that medical professionals take care not to infect their patients.  Sadly, this is not the case.  The CDC estimates that 721,800 infections are picked up in hospitals every year!  This means that about 1 in 25 hospital patients are suffering from an infection they picked up during their treatment.  About 75,000 of those infected patients die each year.  Patients and family members need to make sure the medical staff washes their hands and/or uses hand sanitizer regularly.  In addition, all visitors, including family members, should be careful to use good hygiene, as well.OTHER COMMON PROBLEMS AND HOW TO AVOID THEMCommunication lapses between various caregivers and medical personnel - Ask questions and try to have another person with you at the hospital and during doctor visits.  Make sure everyone who is treating you knows your full medical record.Confusing information at the time patients are discharged - Confirm that both you and another family member understands your discharge instructions, including what medications you should take, which ones to avoid, and what activities are allowed.Prescription drug mistakes and conflicts - Be certain your doctor knows all the prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements you are using.  Question the hospital caregivers or the pharmacist if a drug you are prescribed looks or tastes different than it did in the past.Doctors who are not up-to-date on the latest guidelines - Does your doctor know the latest recommendations for treating your condition?  You can investigate your care at the National Guideline Clearinghouse at guideline.gov.  Ask you doctor if there is a reason why they are not following the latest treatment protocol.Unskilled doctors - While most doctors do an excellent job of caring for their patients, just 1 percent of doctors are responsible for nearly one-third of malpractice claims.  Investigate your doctors and surgeons online.  One site where you can see their complications rate is projects.propublica.org/surgeons.Using small clinics and local facilities which are inadequate - M[...]



What is the Average Amount of Social Security?

2017-02-02T16:27:39.318-08:00

How much will your Social Security benefits be, compared to what the average recipient receives?  Every year, the government mails you an estimate of the amount you can expect to receive in Social Security benefits when you retire.  When you look at those statements, how do you know if your benefits are about average, higher than average, or less than what the typical recipient will receive?  This article will help you determine if your retirement is on track compared to other retirees.  How Much Social Security Does the Average Retiree Receive? The numbers below are based on January, 2017 figures. If you are reading this after 2017, you can expect that the benefits will have increased slightly.  However, because the cost-of-living increases are typically modest, these numbers are unlikely to change dramatically.According to SSA.gov, the numbers below are for the average retiree.  Average Social Security benefits:     $1,360 a month / $16,320 a yearAverage Social Security for couple:  $2,260 a month / $27,120 a yearAlthough this is not a large amount of money, according to current government estimates, it does mean the average individual or couple will receive enough income from their Social Security benefits to not fall below the poverty line.While your Social Security income may not officially leave you in poverty, the amount is often substantially below what the average working individual or couple received in earned income, especially during the decade or two before they retired.  Consequently, the typical retiree often sees a significant drop in income, if their Social Security benefits are their only source of income during retirement.How Much Will Your Benefits Increase Each Year?Social Security benefits only increase at the rate of inflation, because retirees periodically receive a cost-of-living increase.  However, over the past few years, the cost-of-living increases have been either mostly or entirely eaten up by increases in Medicare premiums.  In other words, Social Security recipients frequently do not receive any increase in their annual benefits, even when there is inflation.To make matters worse, the government is considering changing the way it estimates the rate of inflation for Social Security beneficiaries.  Currently, they use the CPI-W, which is the abbreviation for the Consumer Price Index for Workers.  This is the increase in the cost of consumer goods and services which the average worker has experienced over the period of a year.  However, the government wants to change to using a Chained CPI. The Chained CPI is a less generous Consumer Price Index which assumes that, as prices go up, a retiree will substitute their purchases for less expensive items. Therefore, cost-of-living increases can be smaller.  The Chained CPI does not take into consideration the fact that many retirees are already purchasing the least expensive items they possibly can.In addition, neither Consumer Price Index considers the fact that many retirees actually spend more money on certain items after they retire.  For example, they may spend more on medical care or to hire people to help them do yard work or clean their homes.What Happens to a Couple's Social Security if one Spouse Dies?Another problem is that a married couple will see their household income drop by approximately 33 to 40 percent when one spouse dies.  This is because the surviving spouse will only be paid the higher of his or her own benefit or that of their deceased spouse ... but not both.  Since their house payments, property taxes, utilities and similar expenses will not decrease when their spouse dies, the surviving spouse may suddenly find themselves in worse financial shape.What is the Future for Social Security?Unless Congress takes steps soon to increase the size of the Social Security Trust Fund, it is expected to run out of money within 17 years ... or by 2034.This does not mean that Social Se[...]



Tips for a Sharper Brain and Better Memory

2017-01-24T20:46:58.519-08:00

While most of us will not completely lose our memory to Alzheimer's Disease or another form of dementia, there may be times when nearly all of us feel as though our thinking is a bit fuzzy or we cannot remember as well as we used to.  At the same time, we are constantly amazed by some of our peers who seem to stay "sharp as a tack."  Is there anything the rest of us can do to have a sharper brain and clear memory?  According to a number of leading experts, the answer is "Yes."The Connection Between Your Heart and BrainOur brain is dependent on the nutrients which our heart sends its way.  According to Dr. Hannah Gardener in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami, the stronger our heart, the less cognitive decline we will experience.  She suggests that everyone strives to meet as many of the goals on this list as possible:Stop SmokingHave a BMI of under 25Be physically active at least 150 minutes a weekHave a total cholesterol under 200 mg/dLHave a healthy blood pressure under 120/80 mmHgHave a healthy blood sugar under 100 mg/dLEat a diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole gains; low in sodium and sweetsEven if you cannot achieve all of the above goals perfectly, the closer you come, the better off your brain will be.Follow the MIND DietThis blog has discussed the MIND diet before.  It is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.  MIND is much easier to remember.  Below is a brief summary of the diet, although anyone who wants to follow it would be smart to get a more detailed book on the subject.DO EAT6 servings of salad a week7 servings of other vegetables a week2 servings of berries a week5 servings of nuts a week3 servings of whole grains a day1 serving of fish (not fried) every week3 servings of beans a week2 servings of poultry a weekUse extra-virgin olive oil instead of butterOptional: 1 glass of wine a dayLIMIT THESE FOODSButter - no more than one tablespoon a dayCheese - no more than one serving a weekRed meat - no more than four servings a weekFried foods - less than one serving a weekSweets and pastries - no more than five servings a weekExercise Your BrainResearch has shown that people who regularly give their bodies and brains a work-out are able to postpone the signs of cognitive decline.  Here are some of the things everyone should do:Get exercise - walk, cycle, swim and lift light weights - 150 minutes a weekPlay games - chess, board games, puzzles, etc.Meditate - spend your "down time" meditating a few minutes every dayExplore Your Artistic Side - sing, act, draw, paint or play an instrumentRead - in particular, read books as well as newspapers or magazinesOther Health and Lifestyle ChangesIn addition to the above recommendations, research has shown a link between socializing with others and having a higher level of cognition.  On the other hand, people who are lonely tend to have poorer brain health.  Stay in touch with family and friends.  Join a club.  If you are religious, get involved in a place of worship.  Sign up to take classes.  The more time you spend interacting with other people and learning new things, the more likely you will be able to postpone dementia.In addition, see your doctor regularly and treat any other problems you may have, including emotional ones.  People who have depression in middle age are at a higher risk for cognitive decline in later life.  People who have sleep problems also see more rapid mental decline as they age.  Talk to your doctor about any health issues you are experiencing and get them treated.   Medications and DementiaIf you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing signs of dementia, see your doctor as soon as possible.  Researchers are continually discovering new medications which seem to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.  The sooner these drugs are started, the more successful the[...]



How Much Retirement Income Will You Have?

2017-01-18T21:28:19.372-08:00

Many people mistakenly believe that every time they misplace their car keys or forget an appointment, it is an early sign of dementia ... including Alzheimer's Disease.  The truth is that everyone sometimes forgets something.  However, that does not mean that early diagnosis of dementia is not possible.  Researchers have discovered that changes in behavior or personality could be a better way to predict dementia than occasional forgetfulness.Mild Behavioral Impairment Could Indicate Brain ChangesDr. Zahinoor Ismail of the University of Calgary and his team of researchers have compiled a checklist of symptoms which could be a red flag for doctors and families who are watching for signs of mental decline.  In putting together the checklist, they discovered that the brain changes that eventually lead to dementia can affect other parts of the brain years earlier.  In fact, people can develop signs of behavior impairment as much as a decade or two before they begin to show memory loss.Symptoms of Behavioral ChangesAmong the behavior changes which could be symptoms of future dementia are:Has the patient lost interest in their favorite activities?Are they getting unusually anxious, aggressive or suspicious?Are they making crude or inappropriate comments in public?Have they developed signs of depression?Are they experiencing "sundowning" ... agitation or memory problems which are worse late in the day?Have they become apathetic?Do they get anxious about activities which have always been routine?Are they losing their impulse control?Have they started flaunting social norms?Are they losing their appetite or showing less interest in food?Dr Ismail emphasizes that these changes should be new problems that last more than six months.  In addition, they should not be problems that can be explained in other ways, such as by a clear mental health diagnosis or the recent death of a loved one. These need to be new behaviors. Early Treatment Can Delay Alzheimer's Disease and Other Types of DementiaIf you notice that you or someone you love has developed recent personality or behavioral changes, it could be worth it to discuss the problem with your family doctor.  There are treatments which have been successful in slowing the progression of dementia.  It is also possible that early treatment could be even more successful if it is started as soon as mild behavioral impairment is noticed.Medications are available to help people control their depression, anxiety and irritability, which could make life easier for both the patients and their family members.Other Ways to Slow Down DementiaMany researchers believe working crossword puzzles and playing a variety of brain games could slow down the development of dementia.  While these games may help, it is possible that social activities could be even more important.  Researchers from the University of Wisconsin reported their findings that "complex jobs that require working with people may help the brain build resilience against dementia, what's called 'cognitive reserve.'"  In addition to being engaged in complex activities with other people, researchers from the University of South Florida discovered that reaction-time training could significantly decrease your risk of being diagnosed with dementia.  In the study, led by Dr. Jerri Edwards, 14 percent of people in a control group that received no intervention were diagnosed with dementia a decade later.  Those who had received just ten hours of reaction-time training over a five-week period lowered their risk of a dementia diagnosis to 12 percent; those who continued to get extra booster training lowered their rate of diagnosis to 8 percent.  The booster training consisted of four extra sessions one year after the original training and four more two years later.  The scientists measured the cognitive and functional changes at the beginning of the study, as well as at[...]



Top Over-55 Communities in U.S.

2016-10-26T14:11:13.398-07:00

Although many people decide to stay in their current homes when they retire, others choose to move into private, age-restricted retirement communities.  These over-55 communities, which now exist throughout the United States, must comply with federal guidelines and may have additional special requirements of their own.  For many retirees and those who are nearing retirement age, life in an over-55 community can seem like a dream come true.  Some people even describe them as "summer camps for adults."What to Expect in an Over-55 CommunityThe amenities in over-55 communities vary, depending on the location.  They nearly all have swimming pools, exercise facilities, meeting rooms and art studios.  Many of them have golf courses and tennis courts.  Some have more unique facilities such as fishing lakes, hiking trails, garden centers or equestrian facilities.Over-55 communities are NOT skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.  The people who live in these communities are able to live independently.  The properties may consist of single-family homes, attached homes, townhouses, condominiums, apartments or a combination.  No matter how the housing is designed, the communities are full of people who want to remain active and involved in a variety of physical, social, artistic and intellectual activities for as long as possible ... years before they are ready for assisted living.Some people are able to remain in their over-55 communities well into their 90's, especially if they avail themselves of private or community help in the form of caregivers, meals-on-wheels, taxi vouchers and other assistance that makes it possible for them to remain in their private homes.However, not everyone in an an over-55 community is elderly.  Only one person in the home needs to actually be age 55 or older.  Their spouse can be any age, so it is not unusual to see a wide range of adults living in these communities.  Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to live in the home permanently, although they can enjoy visiting their grandparents, even for a few weeks, in most cases.Which Over-55 Communities are Ranked the Highest?The list below shows the top choices from the website 55Places.com.  All of the communities listed below are well worth checking out. Of course, everyone should thoroughly investigate any community before moving there.Even if a community is not listed below, but it is in a town where you would like to live, you should look it up online and personally visit it.  New communities are being built continually and many established ones are very nice, even if they did not make it onto the "top" community lists.Recent Recommendations by 55Places.com The Villages - The Villages, FLSun City Hilton Head - Bluffton, SCOn Top of the World - Ocala, FLSun City Summerlin - Las Vegas, NVSolivita - Kissimmee, FLSun City Carolina Lakes - Ft. Mill, SCSun City Huntley - Huntley, ILSun City Texas - Georgetown, TXLaguna Woods Village - Laguna Woods, CASun City Center - Sun City Center, FLYou'll notice that the communities mentioned above include locations in Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and California ... giving retirees options from coast-to-coast.  The communities have also been built by a variety of developers.Websites to Help You Learn More About Over-55 CommunitiesThere are several websites that list the over-55 communities in every state.  People who are looking for a community will want to read the reviews on these websites, look up the community's website and do additional research, including paying a visit to the locations they are considering.  They will also want to compare several communities that interest them.  Lower in this article you will find a list of questions you should ask.In addition, it is important to do a Google search on the community to see if people have posted anyt[...]



Social Security at Age 70 Maximizes Future Income

2016-10-19T09:47:31.856-07:00

We have all been told by financial and retirement planners that the best way to maximize the size of our Social Security benefits is to wait until age 70 to begin collecting.  However, according to research completed by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, only one percent of retirees who are currently receiving Social Security waited until they were 70 years old before they claimed their benefits.  The median age to claim was 62, which is also the earliest most people can claim, meaning that the vast majority of senior citizens are willing to take reduced benefits rather than wait eight years in order to receive substantially more money.Why Don't People Wait Until Age 70 to Claim Social Security?If people can receive more money by waiting to receive their benefits, why don't they?1.  Most Americans cannot afford to wait. As soon as they decide to stop working, they must begin to collect their benefits because they don't have enough assets to support themselves.  The median household between the ages of 60 and 64 has approximately $202,000 saved for retirement.  At a 4 percent withdrawal rate, that is only $8,000 income a year, which is not enough income to live on.2.  In addition, 60 percent of retirees stop working sooner than they planned ... which means they need to start taking their benefits earlier than anticipated.  Of that 60 percent, about two-thirds stop working because they lost their job; a little over one-quarter of them retired because of health problems.3.  Some Americans have been misled to believe that Social Security will soon run out of money, so they rush into claiming their benefits as soon as possible.4.  A few people nearing retirement believe they can successfully invest their Social Security benefits while they are still working, doing even better than the increased earnings they will receive by waiting.  While a small number may be successful, most of these people will find that their guaranteed increase in benefits is more reliable than their ability to invest the money wisely despite the ups and downs in the market.When Should You Take Social Security Benefits Early?Yes, there are times when the smart move could be to take your Social Security benefits as early as possible.1.  If you have no other way to support yourself because you have lost your job in your 60's or you have developed a major health problem, then your only alternative will be to claim your Social Security ... and be thankful it is available.2.  You may also wish to collect early if you develop a life-shortening terminal illness.  The average man at age 65 can expect to live until age 84.3; the average woman should live until age 86.6.  If your life expectancy has been significantly reduced because you are on kidney dialysis or have a cancer that has metastasized, for example, then you may have good reason to take your benefits early.Spousal Benefits Can Complicate the DecisionEven if you fall into one of the categories that would justify taking your Social Security benefits early, there is one reason why you may decide to postpone collecting as long as possible ... the effect your decision will have on your spouse.For example, if you could receive $3,000 a month at age 70, your spouse would also be entitled to $1,500 a month at their full retirement age of 66 or 67.  If you die after age 70, your spouse would then get their benefits bumped up to what you have been receiving.  On the other hand, if you collect in your early 60's and only receive around $2,000 a month, everything will be proportionally reduced for your spouse, as well.  If you want to be sure your spouse will have enough money to live on after you are gone, you may want to postpone collecting as long as possible. Does It Make a Difference in Your Total Lifetime Earnings?While your monthly benefits are hig[...]



The Retirement Income Red Zone Danger

2016-10-12T11:59:17.738-07:00

If you have put together a sizeable portfolio prior to retirement, knowing how to protect those assets during your first five years after retirement will be extremely important, especially if you want to be sure they will last the remainder of your life.  These first five years after retirement are sometimes referred to as the red zone ... the time when decisions you make can have the biggest impact on your future.What Bad Decisions Do People Make in Early Retirement?When people first retire, they often have a number of of pent-up dreams they wish to fulfill.  They still feel healthy and they may want to move somewhere new, travel, buy a boat or RV, and have a little fun.  After all, they have waited and saved their entire lives for this moment and they want to enjoy it before age and illness slows them down.Next, retirees often stop saving and putting aside money for the future.  As they pull money from the principal without replacing it, retirees gradually see their assets become depleted.In addition, retirees sometimes do not prepare adequately for rising expenses or problems that could come up in the future, including extra medical expenses such as health insurance deductibles, expensive treatments, long-term care, etc. They also sometimes fail to prepare for things like replacing their car, hot water heater, furnace or other expensive items.Even if new retirees do not make any of the above mistakes during their first five years after retirement, their assets could become depleted because of poor investment decisions.Should You Invest for Growth or Safety?Investment advisors recommend that your retirement assets should be invested for both growth and safety ... but what is the correct balance?  According to an article by CNBC writer, Kelley Holland, "Five Crucial Retirement Years For Your Money," it is extremely important that you do not have negative investment returns during your first five years of retirement.  When experts from Prudential Insurance examined two hypothetical $1 million portfolios, Portfolio A had negative returns for 4 of the first 5 years, but positive returns for all of the remaining years of its existence.  Portfolio B had all positive returns in the first 5 years, but had negative returns in 4 of 5 years between years 25 and 30.What were the results?  Portfolio A had dropped to zero within 15 years.  Portfolio B had doubled in value by the end of 30 years, despite the negative returns at the end.What Should an Investor Do?After examining the results of these two hypothetical portfolios, experts believe it is important that investors manage their money conservatively early in retirement so their portfolio continues to grow in value, even modestly, during this crucial period.  In order to do this, it would be a mistake for retirees to make risky investments or begin depleting their principal for trips or other large purchases.Retirees need to work with their investment advisor to make sure their money is wisely invested.  Holland recommends that no more than 40 to 60 percent of a retirement portfolio should be in stocks (and, obviously, these should be Blue Chip stocks, not high-risk ones).As retirees begin to live off their assets, their withdrawals should be modest and their asset allocation should be conservative, particularly during the first five years.  In other posts on this blog, we have reported that most investment advisors suggest that no more than 3 percent of assets should be withdrawn for living expenses during retirement, with tiny increases in the withdrawal rate as the years go by.  If the principal balance is invested conservatively, the assets of most people should last well over 30 years.Some investment advisors also recommend that any income from the assets that is in excess of what is needed for living expenses should the[...]



Benefits of Senior Roommates

2016-10-04T22:01:52.897-07:00

A significant percentage of senior citizens will spend at least part of their lives living alone.  When this happens, they may suffer from loneliness and depression.  In addition, it can be expensive for one person to afford to pay all the bills.  Because of this, senior roommates are becoming a popular trend.According to an article in the "Answers" book for the Orange County, California Council on Aging, four million American women now live in households with at least two women over the age of 50.Why Women are Alone as They AgeMore than one-third of women over the age of 65 now live alone.  The reasons for this could be the death of a spouse, divorce, or the fact that they never married. On average, women live about five years longer than men.  In addition, women often marry men who are older than they are ... which means that some women may live a decade or longer after their husbands die.Another issue is that there has been a huge increase in gray divorce.  Since 1990, the divorce rate for people over the age of 50 has doubled, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research.Advantages of Senior RoommatesWhen women decide to enter a house sharing arrangement, they can both benefit in several ways. *  Financially, people supporting themselves on fixed incomes can live more comfortably if they share the cost of housing, utilities and other expenses.*  The added security of having another person in the home can be one more advantage of having a roommate. *  Socialization is an additional reason for finding a roommate.  It is easy for people to become isolated, lonely and depressed as they age.  People who live with an amicable friend will always have someone to talk to, eat with, and sometimes they will do other things together ... such as attending movies or traveling.Is Having a Roommate Right for You?Not everyone actually wants to have a roommate close to them all the time.  You need to know yourself, and evaluate the home you will be sharing.  Will you have enough personal, private space?  Are you flexible?  Do you have a lot of allergies, health problems or food preferences which could make it difficult for you to live with other people?What Guidelines Need to be Put in Writing?If you are planning to live with another person, it may go better if the two of you put your expectations in writing and discuss them first.  Below are some issues your agreement may need to cover:*  Decide in advance specifically how the expenses will be shared.  Will one person be the landlord and the other the tenant, or will everything be split right down the middle?*  Decide who will perform which household tasks and how often ... cleaning, cooking, dishes, yardwork, etc.*  Decide if the two of you are going to cook and eat together or if you will each be responsible for your own meals.*  Reach an agreement about pets ... if they are allowed, what kind, how large, where they will be kept, etc.*  Discuss grandchildren with each other.  Will they be allowed to spend the night, how often, where they will sleep, etc.*  Discuss other relatives, such as adult children, and whether they will be allowed to spend the night.*  Discuss dating and whether your dates will be allowed to spend the night.*  Discuss personal habits such as smoking and drinking.*  If either of you have strong religious or political opinions that could be the source of arguments, you should consider that before making a decision about whether or not you want to live with this person. *  Discuss other expectations such as entertaining friends, relying on each other to do the shopping, what time the house should be quiet, using earphones to watch TV, when you could each practice playing your musical instr[...]



Credit Scores and Retirement

2016-09-28T16:23:08.385-07:00

Once you retire, your credit score will still be important.  Even if your mortgage is paid off and you have no plans to borrow money ever again, you will still want to carefully monitor your credit rating and make sure there are no issues with it.When the credit-reporting company, TransUnion, polled a group of Baby Boomers, nearly half of them said that their credit rating would no longer be important after they retired.  This misconception, however, could cause them to have unexpected problems later in life.Your Credit Rating Could Drop During RetirementEven though your credit rating will continue to be important when you retire, the truth is that the score normally declines for most people as they get older ... even if they have an excellent credit history and solid assets.Why will your credit rating go down? Below are some common reasons:If you are like most people, you will use less credit as you age.Using your debit card to immediately pay cash for purchases does not help you maintain your credit score.As you pay off your house, car, credit cards and other debts, your credit report and activity become "thin" and could virtually disappear.Why is a Low Credit Rating a Problem in Retirement?Today, many people are living 20 years or more after they retire.  While you may think you will never again make a large purchase during the remainder of your life, eventually you may want to downsize to a smaller home, purchase a new car or have other credit needs.Lenders will look at your credit score if you decide to get a mortgage on a new home, take out an auto loan, apply for a new credit card, or co-sign for a student loan for one of your children or grandchildren.  If you decide to rent an apartment in a retirement community or other location, the management company and the utility companies will want to see your credit score.  In addition, your auto and homeowners insurance premiums will be higher if you have a low credit score.How Can You Improve Your Credit Score Without Adding Debt?The last thing you want to do in order to maintain a high credit score is take on new debt.  However, experts recommend some actions that will improve your credit score ... and they don't involve adding debt.* Every couple of years, ask your credit card issuers to raise your limits by $500 to $1000.  Whenever you have a high limit, but a low balance, your credit score gets a boost.*  Do not close old accounts, even if you rarely use them, for the same reasons mentioned above.  It is better to have lots of available credit, but a low balance.*  Keep your main credit cards active by occasionally making a modest purchase using one and paying off the balance quickly.*  Be careful to make all your payments on time.  If you travel, set up auto payments with your bank so that none of your payments are ever late. *  If you have let your credit completely lapse and you don't have any credit cards, you may need to rebuild your credit history.  To do that, you may have to start with a secured card from your bank.*  Check your credit report regularly to be sure there are no errors on it that could drag down your credit rating.  You can get a free copy of your report every year from each of the three major credit-reporting companies.  You can contact them individually or you can go to annualcreditreport.com.  You can also sign up on the free site CreditKarma.com to find out your current credit rating, get suggestions on how to raise it, and see your credit reports.Take the above steps, protect your credit, and monitor your credit reports regularly.  Just because you are retired, you should not forget these simple precautions.If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, common medica[...]



Dangerous Medications, Vitamins and Herbal Remedies

2016-09-21T13:12:30.795-07:00

Virtually everyone in the United States uses either prescription medications, vitamins, or herbal remedies.  In the right doses and combinations, most of them are safe.  However, your prescriptions and supplements can turn against you.  In extreme circumstances, they can cause you to develop new health problems or dangerous drug interactions.According to an article in the August/September 2016 AARP Magazine, you should periodically have a "Checkup for Your Medicine Cabinet."  You should repeat it annually to make sure the pills you are taking are helping you, not making your health problems worse.Examine Your Prescription MedicationsCheck Expiration Dates:  While you do not want to keep any drug after its expiration date, according to the article, you want to be particularly careful about insulin, inhalers, oral nitroglycerin, EpiPens, anti-convulsants, warfarin, digoxin and thyroid medication.  If the drug is in its original packaging, the expiration date should be stamped on the side or bottom.  Otherwise, you may have to ask your pharmacist or follow their recommended "discard by" date.Avoid Allergy and Sleeping Pills:  There appears to be a link between the long-term use of allergy or sleeping medications and problems with decision-making and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.  Even common over-the-counter products such as Benadryl and Nytol can cause problems. Find alternative, drug-free ways of dealing with your allergies or insomnia.Do Not Overdo the VitaminsMillions of Americans take vitamins.  However, excessive amounts of certain vitamins can cause health issues, rather than eliminate them.  Below are four vitamins that the article particularly recommended people limit:Vitamin B6 - Over 100 mg. a day can cause temporary nerve damage.Vitamin A - Over 10,000 IUs a day can cause vomiting, headaches, dizziness and blurry vision.Vitamin D - Over 10,000 IUs a day can cause poor appetite, frequent urination and kidney problems.Vitamin C - High doses (which were not specified in the article) can double a man's risk of kidney stones.Watch for Interactions between Herbal Remedies and Certain DrugsIn an effort to avoid taking too many prescription drugs, Americans often resort to herbal remedies.  However, these preparations can be dangerous, especially when combined with medications that have been prescribed to you.  Make sure your doctor knows what herbal remedies you use.  Below are some that are particularly worrisome:St. John's wort - It can interfere with your statins and high blood pressure medications.Ginkgo and ginseng - These herbs can interact with blood-thinning medications, which could dangerously increase your bleeding risk.Kava - Even when it is not combined with other medications, this herb can cause liver damage.Bottom Line:  Any time you add a new medication or supplement to your usual routine, discuss it with your doctor to make sure it will not conflict with something else you are already taking.  Regardless of whether or not you have been taking the same drugs and supplements for a long time, check with your doctor if any new symptoms develop.  Sometimes it can take a long time for the toxicity to build up in your body.If you are interested in learning more about retirement planning, common health problems as you age, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.comPhoto credit:  morguefile.com[...]



Dangerous Silent Heart Attacks

2016-09-14T10:15:52.931-07:00

A study that tracked nearly 9,500 men and women from 1987 to 2013 discovered that approximately 45% of heart attacks are silent and the victims have no idea that they have experienced a heart event.  Men are more likely to experience silent heart attacks, but women are more likely to die from them.  In fact, anyone who has experienced a silent heart attack has triple the risk of dying from heart disease and is 34% more likely to die from all other causes.How Do You Know if You Have Had a Silent Heart Attack?Since these types of heart attacks do not exhibit the classic symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath, how can someone find out whether or not they have had one?  A doctor can detect them with an EKG, which measures the heart's electrical activity.  In fact, most of the time people only learn that they have had one accidentally, during a routine physical.What Symptoms Could Indicate You are Having a Silent Heart Attack?The symptoms of a silent heart attack can be very subtle, but anyone should see their doctor for a physical if they are experiencing several of the following symptoms:Unexplained fatigueMuscle pain in the upper back, jaw or armsPainful indigestionSudden sweatinessNauseaFlu-like symptomsOften, people do not recognize that they have had a heart attack at the time.  They only recognize these symptoms when a test shows damage to their heart and they look back and remember a time when they experienced some of the above symptoms.Are These as Dangerous as "Typical" Heart Attacks?Yes!  In fact, silent heart attacks can be even more dangerous than a typical one, because the patient may not get the treatment they need in order to prevent another one.  This lack of treatment is even more common for women than it is for men."Just a Little Heart Attack" is a short movie about silent heart attacks you can watch using the link to this CNN article:  "Almost Half of All Heart Attacks are Silent."How Can You Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk? If you would like to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, either your first or a second one, there are some steps your doctor can help you take.  You should quit smoking, lose weight, get exercise and, if appropriate, make sure your cholesterol and blood pressure are both under control.Treatments for Silent Heart AttacksHospitals and doctors should treat you in the same way they would if you had experienced more traditional symptoms.  There is no difference in the damage that could have been caused by the different types of heart attacks and, in fact, the damage could be more severe in a silent one because of a delay in seeking treatment, since any heart attack will stop or reduce the flow of blood to the heart for a period of time.If you have been experiencing unusual fatigue, nausea or shortness of breath, especially during mild exercise, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.Interested in learning more about medical issues, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, or other topics that pertain to Baby Boomers?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.comPhoto credit:  Morguefile.com[...]



Will You Enjoy Retirement?

2016-09-06T18:35:38.378-07:00

If you spent the last decade of your working years looking forward to the day when you could "take this job and shove it," have you given much thought to how you will spend your days once you walk out of your office or workplace for the last time?According to research by the National Center for Health Statistics, the average person who reaches age 65 can expect to live another 19.3 years ... or until they are age 84.  What do you plan to do with those extra two decades of life?  Have you given that serious thought?Will Retirement Be Fun?Many people imagine spending long days on the golf course, in their fishing boat, or taking cruises and vacations to exotic locations.  However, is that really what you want to do every day for the last twenty years of your life?  Will you even be able to afford that daily round of golf, the fishing boat, or the travel?According to U.S. News & World Report, the typical retiree between the ages of 65 and 74 spends four hours a day watching television ... and that is the age group of the youngest retirees, the ones who are most capable of being active.Is it inevitable that your retirement will eventually leave you feeling isolated, bored, and lonely?  Not necessarily.What Retirement Options Will Keep Your Life Interesting?In addition to financial planning, people who are preparing to retire, or who are newly retired, should spend plenty of time thinking about the lifestyle choices they can make as they approach their mid-60's.  Below are some options they may want to keep on the table:*  Keep working at their current career - What?  After all these years of planning to retire, why would you want to keep working?  Presumably, you have earned a nice income from your job in the past and now you will be able to supplement that income with your Social Security benefits ... which will give you extra money for travel and having fun.  You might also decide to postpone collecting your Social Security until you are age 70, thus substantially increasing your benefits.  Staying at your current job also enables you to maintain your work friendships and connections with other people.  It can give structure to your life and keep your brain alert ... without resorting to endless crossword puzzles.*  Find an Encore Career - What if there is no way you want to keep working in your old career?  That doesn't mean you need to give up working altogether and just sit home every day.  There are so many possible career choices.  You could find a job with a local business or non-profit, work as a consultant in your former field, become a tutor, or give lessons.  Retirees are even eligible to sign up for the Peace Corps and share their valuable knowledge and experience around the world.  Yes, many people in the 60's (and sometimes a little older) join the Peace Corps.*  Volunteer in your community - If you really don't need extra income, you still do not want to spend your days sitting around the house, watching television.  Why not contact your local hospital or charity and see if they need your help?  I know a woman who helps out one day a week in a local hospital. She particularly enjoys caring for premature babies that just need extra time being held.  The work is not physically demanding, but she feels it is very rewarding.*  Find affordable, social hobbies - Everything you do in retirement does not need to be expensive.  Nor do you need to spend time alone when you are pursuing your hobbies.  Join a book club or other activity that you can enjoy with other people.  If you don't know how to find other people who enjoy your hobbies, try www.meetup.com.  T[...]



Confusing Parts of Medicare

2016-08-30T14:11:00.267-07:00

Are you confused about all the different parts of Medicare ... the so-called Medicare "alphabet?"  If so, you are not alone. Whether people are getting prepared to sign up for Medicare for the first time or are already using it, the different parts can seem like a foreign language.  Below is a brief summary of the different parts, as well as a little basic information that everyone needs to know. Medicare Parts A, B and D Medicare is broken up into four different parts and each one has a different purpose and, in some cases, different requirements that determine whether or not you are eligible.Medicare Part A:  This section will help pay for your stay in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. It might also pay for home health services and hospice care, if the patient meets certain criteria.  If you or your spouse paid into Medicare long enough during your working years, you do not pay monthly premiums for Part A.  If neither you nor your spouse paid into it while you worked, you can still buy Part A services by paying monthly premiums.  Everyone is entitled to Medicare Part A, either free or for a monthly fee.Medicare Part B:  This section will help pay for doctors' services (whether in or out of the hospital) and outpatient care, including lab work, tests and health screenings.  It can also cover the cost of some types of medical equipment and supplies, under some circumstances, as well as most vaccines or drugs that the doctor gives you in his office.  You do pay monthly payments for Part B.  However, low-income people may quality for state assistance.  There is a seven month window to sign up for Part B ... three months before your 65th birthday month, during your birthday month, and three months after your birthday month.  If you wait too long to sign up, you can still obtain it, but you will pay extra premiums for the rest of your life.  Medicare Part B only covers about 80 percent of their approved costs and the patient pays the other 20 percent.  At the bottom of this article is more information on the two options you have for covering your portion of the bills.Medicare Part D:  This section covers the cost of prescription drugs that you take at home.  There is an additional premium involved in getting a Part D drug plan, unless you purchase it as part of a Medicare Advantage Plan.Medicare Supplements and Medicare Part CMedicare parts A, B and D are frequently called "basic Medicare."  People often believe they are all you need.  However, sometimes they do not realize they need to sign up for Part D to cover their drugs.  In other cases, people do not realize that when they settle for basic Medicare alone, they are still obligated to pay 20 percent of their medical bills ... which can be substantial.What do people do to solve these problems?  They have two choices.  First, they can get the three parts of basic Medicare (A, B and D) PLUS purchase a supplemental health insurance policy.  Second, they can simply get a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Medicare Part C, PLUS a Part D plan if the Medicare Advantage plan they choose does not include drug coverage.  Confusing enough?  Below is a little more information.Supplemental Insurance:  Many insurance carriers offer supplemental policies, sometimes called Medigap policies, including Anthem, Humana and United Healthcare.  There are different rates, depending on the size of the deductibles and co-pays you prefer. The government even has a website to help you compare Medigap policies.  If you decide to get a Medigap supplemental policy, do it as soon as you sign up for Medicar[...]