Friday, April 16, 2021

Drugs that Induce Dementia - Are Your Meds Causing You to Lose Your Mind?

Most cases of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's dementia, vascular dementia and others, are caused by various health problems which affect the brain.  One cause of dementia symptoms which is frequently overlooked could be the medications you are taking.  If you begin to think you are "losing you mind," becoming forgetful or confused, and having difficulty dealing with the complexities of life, you should immediately ask your doctor to review your medications.

Anticholinergic Medications are a Serious Risk

Millions of people take anticholinergic medications for a variety of health problems.  However, researchers have discovered that people over the age of 55 who have taken them for three or more years have a 50 percent greater chance of developing dementia.*  That is a high price to pay for what could otherwise be a helpful medication.

These drugs treat a wide variety of health problems including COPD, bladder conditions, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders and the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

When taken for a short period of time, they can cause confusion and memory loss.  When used for a longer time, many of these drugs seem to increase your risk of developing more serious symptoms of dementia, which may or may not be reversible when the drug is discontinued.

According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine* researchers found that there were "increased risks of dementia for anticholinergic drugs overall and specifically for the anticholinergic antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-parkinsons drugs, bladder drugs and epilepsy drugs after accounting for other risk factors for dementia.  No increased risks were found for the other types of anticholinergic drug studied such as antihistamines (like Benadryl) and gastrointestinal drugs."

The researchers determined that about 10 percent of dementia cases could be attributed to these drugs.  

List of Anticholinergic Medications You May Want Your Doctor to Review

Common anticholinergic drugs which may be risky for older people include antihistamines, sleeping pills, tricyclic antidepressants, and the drugs which you may be prescribed to treat an overactive bladder. Some of these drugs may be prescribed by your doctor.  Others are available over-the-counter and you may be administering them to yourself, without your doctor's knowledge.  This is especially risky if, for example, you are using over-the-counter Benadryl in combination with one of the other drugs.  The Benadryl, by itself, may not be a problem when taken as an antihistamine for a short period of time.  However, when taken daily for years and combined with one or more of the other drugs, it could make your dementia symptoms worse.

Examples of these drugs are:

Desyrel (trazodone)
Ditropan (oxybutynin)

Enablex (darifenacin)
Paxil (paroxetine)
Remeron (mirtazapine)
Sinequan (doxepin)

Toviaz (fesoterodine)
Urispas (flavoxate)

What to do if You are Taking one of These Drugs

If you have been taking these drugs, pay attention to your thinking and mental clarity. Ask your family if they have noticed any differences.  You will also want to discuss your dosage and the length of time you have been on the drugs with your doctor. Ask if there are alternatives which might treat your condition just as well, or if you can take a lower dosage for a shorter period of time.

In addition, be aware if a change in any medication causes you to feel as if your thinking is "foggier" or you have reduced mental clarity.  Although the anticholinergic drugs seem to be the ones most commonly associated with bringing on dementia-like symptoms, you should speak to your physician if any drug makes you feel as if you are having trouble functioning properly. 

Take Care of Your Brain

There are a wealth of other articles on this blog to help you take care of your brain and reduce your risk of dementia.  You can find them by clicking on Medical Concerns here, or by using the tab or pull-down menu at the top of the page.  Learn how lifestyle changes such as exercise, a healthy diet, reduced alcohol use and eliminating tobacco can also reduce your dementia risk. 

In addition, you may want to check out  "The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook: Recipes and Lifestyle Guidelines to Help Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia."  (Ad)

It is an excellent book and will help you make the best lifestyle choices to protect your brain.

If you are interested in learning more about common health problems as we age, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, financial planning or more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Working After Retirement - Should You Consider It?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of people between the ages of 65 and 69 are still in the work force and this is expected to rise to about 36 percent over the next five years.  Many of these people will continue to work well into their 70s.  This is a dramatic change from twenty years ago when a much smaller percentage of people continued to work after their full retirement age of 65.

Among the retirees I know, many of them have continued to work, either full or part-time, well into their 70s as financial advisors, doctors, lawyers, accountants, tutors, bloggers, or bagging groceries at our neighborhood store. Our retirement community also hires residents to work at the entrance gates, or help in a variety of offices. 

Seeing this number of senior citizens still in the workforce may cause you to wonder why they are still working so long.  It appears that a lot of people are looking at their financial situation and deciding that going back to work, or keeping their current job as long as possible, may be the best financial decision for them.  Of course, there are other reasons people choose to keep working, too.

Sometimes retirees decide they need or want to keep working, but they would prefer to try a new career. This is often called an Encore Career.  If this is something you think might interest you, you can get a wealth of job ideas by reading "The Encore Career Handbook."(Ad)

Financial Benefits

According to a survey of seniors aged 65 and older, completed by a senior living community called Provision Living, money is the primary reason why 62 percent of those who are still working have made that decision.  They simply cannot afford to retire.  Social Security benefits only cover about 40 to 50 percent of the typical living expenses for most people. If they do not have a substantial retirement savings account, most people cannot cut their expenses drastically enough to live on Social Security alone.

Not All Retirees are Happy About Working so Long

While there are many benefits to working longer, approximately 47 percent of the older workers admit that they wish they were financially capable of retiring. From this, however, we can assume that over half of working senior citizens are happy with their decision to stay employed well past the traditional retirement age. About 20 percent of those surveyed said they do not mind working, but wish they were able to cut back their hours..  

What are some of the benefits of working past the normal retirement age?

You Could Increase Your Social Security Benefits

By postponing your retirement until at least age 70, and not collecting Social Security until then, you could substantially increase the size of the monthly benefit you will receive when you do finally start to collect.  This alone is an excellent reason to stay in the work force until you turn 70, or at least for a few extra years after your full retirement age, especially if Social Security will be your primary or only source of retirement income.  In addition, your Social Security benefits are based on your 35 highest paying years.  If you did not earn very much during your early working years, the extra income in your later years could provide an additional increase in your retirement benefits.

More Time to Improve Your Financial Outlook

Some people use these extra working years as an opportunity to add more money to their retirement savings, so they can give themselves additional financial security when they finally do stop working.  They may also improve their financial situation in other ways, such as paying off their mortgage and/or other debts. 

Health Reasons for Working Longer

Statistically, people who work longer also are healthier and tend to live longer.  Of course, this could also be because people with serious illnesses are simply unable to keep working, even if they want to.  However, if you are physically capable of working past the age of 65 and you want to, you should give it a try.  It could help you stay physically active and maintain your good health.

Mental Health Reasons for Working Longer

Some of the biggest dangers we face after retirement are loneliness and boredom.  If you continue to work, you will see other people regularly, keep up with new technologies and other changes in the outside world, and be intellectually stimulated on a daily basis.  Having a job will also give you a reason to get up in the morning and feel as though other people are depending on you.  All these advantages are bound to help improve your mental health and give you a better outlook on life than you might have if you sat at home every day watching television.

The bottom line is that you may want to consider working past your full retirement age, whether it is for financial reasons, your health or your happiness.

Don't forget that if you are considering changing careers at this time of your life, you may want to consider reading "The Encore Career Handbook."  (Ad) It has some great ideas and very useful information which could help you achieve your retirement goals, while simultaneously providing you with financial help, job satisfaction, and improved mental health.  

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues after retirement and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the to of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful retirement articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Friday, April 2, 2021

Financial Planning Tips for Retirement - What the Experts Recommend

How much thought have you given to your financial planning?  Do you know how much money you will have available to you in retirement?  Have you calculated whether or not your savings will last the rest of your life? Have you considered the impact of inflation on your financial planning?  Annual expenses usually rise faster than increases in your Social Security benefits.  Have you allowed for that in your financial planning?  Are you also prepared for periodic downturns in the stock market?  Are you ready for unexpected emergencies?  

While no one can be 100 percent sure they have planned for every eventuality, it is smart to be as prepared as possible when you enter retirement.  If you are already retired, it is shrewd to periodically review your plans and be certain you are still on track to maintain your current standard of living for the rest of your life.  Reading a book such as "Retirement Heaven or Hell: Which Will You Choose?" can help you make sure you are well prepared for all aspects of retirement, and that you are staying on track.  

What are some of the specific tips financial experts have for retirees?

Protect Your Financial Security in Retirement

Keep six to twelve months of living expenses available - While you will want to invest most of your retirement savings, it is also smart to set aside six to twelve months of living expenses in an easy-to-access account which pays you some interest.  This money does not need to cover all your living expenses, since presumably a portion of what you live on will be covered by your Social Security benefits and/or any fixed pension you may have.  However, if you need additional funds each month in order to live, you want to set enough aside money so you will not need to sell stocks or bonds when the prices are low.  Having this money set aside will also give you peace of mind as you go through the ups and downs of your later years. It is important to remember that this money is specifically earmarked for living expenses.  You don't want to start spending it on travel or other expenses you may have.

Set additional money aside for planned expenses - Many financial advisors recommend that you set aside 1 to 2 percent of the value of your home every year to pay for future maintenance and repairs.  If there are other expenses you expect in the years after retirement, such as buying a new car, travel, or a potential homeowner's association assessment, you may want to set that money aside at the start of your retirement, too, so you are not caught by surprise.

Create a realistic retirement budget - How much money will you need to meet your basic expenses during retirement?  Make sure you do not forget to budget for the taxes you may have to pay on IRA withdrawals.  Then, determine whether you have saved enough money to cover those expenses for 25 to 30 years after you stop working.  If your savings will not last at your current level of spending, cut your expenses immediately at the start of your retirement.  Do not wait until you are in a desperate situation and then try to cut back.  

Most financial planners recommend that you start your retirement withdrawals by taking no more than 3 percent a year out of your savings to add to your Social Security benefits in order to cover your living expenses.  You can gradually increase this amount, but only by about 3 percent a year. In other words, 3 percent the first year, 3.09 percent the second year, 3.18 percent the third year, etc.  In this way, your savings should last 33 years or more after you retire, since presumably you will also be adding interest and/or dividends to the principle amount over the years.  If your savings will not generate enough income to meet your needs, in addition to your Social Security, you need to make changes to your lifestyle as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could run out of money in your 80s or 90s.

Meet with your insurance broker - Do you have enough life insurance to cover your funeral expenses and make up for the loss of family income in the event you die before your spouse?  Should you get long-term-care insurance to pay for assisted living or a nursing home for the last few years of your life?  You do not want to over-insure your life during retirement, since you are probably not supporting children. However, a small amount of life insurance could help provide financial security to you and your spouse.   

In addition to life insurance, ask your agent if you are carrying enough homeowner's insurance, including insurance to cover disasters such as floods or earthquakes.  An insurance broker can help you decide how much insurance you need and what size premiums will fit into your budget.  .

Choose the best Medicare plan to meet your needs - Once you reach age 65, you have two different choices you can make for your Medicare coverage.  

1.  You can choose a Medicare Advantage plan, which covers virtually all your medical needs.  You may little or no premiums over the cost of original Medicare, but you will have an annual deductible and co-pays.   For most people, this is the least expensive option, but you will be limited to only using doctors in your network, except in an emergency.  Ask your current doctor if there is a Medicare Advantage plan which they accept.  Then, you can use this less expensive option, while keeping your current physician.

2.  Or, if you want more freedom in choosing which doctors you will use, you can choose to stick with original Medicare, which covers 80% of most medical expenses, and then you can buy a Medicare Supplement and drug plan, which will cover most of the additional 20% which doctors charge.  However, the supplement and drug plan will require you to pay premiums in addition to your Medicare premiums, and those premiums usually make this the more expensive option.  Depending on the supplement you choose, you may or may not have a deductible and co-pays.  

It is highly advised that you choose the plan which will help you stay within your budget and meet your medical needs.  In addition, I also recommend that you read "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make."  It contains very useful information and is written by a Medicare broker who is licensed in nearly every state.  

Meet with a financial planner to decide how your savings should be invested - How much of your money should be in stocks and how much in bonds?  How will you diversify?  Will you follow Warren Buffet's advice to retirees and put your savings in a variety of index funds?  Once your money is invested, do not simply forget about it and assume everything will stay the same.  Meet with your financial planner at least annually and evaluate each holding you have to determine if it is still generating the growth and/or income you expect.  Re-balance your portfolio periodically.  Strive to live within your means and follow the general financial plan you set up when you first retired.

Do not become a victim of a scam - Sadly, many senior citizens fall for scams in their attempts to get an unusually high return on their money.  Often, this causes them to lose all or most of the money they have saved over a lifetime.  Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Stick with reputable companies and well-known investments.  

In addition, do not "loan" money to people, especially those who contact you through the internet or on dating sites.  It is very unlikely you will ever get back any of the money you loan others.  If you cannot afford to give your money away, do not loan it. Finally, ignore unsolicited phone calls and emails.  If you want to make a purchase, initiate the contact yourself, not because someone contacted you.  A very high percentage of unsolicited phone calls and emails are cleverly disguised scams.  

Read up on retirement planning - It is always a good idea to study different retirement planning programs and choose the one which you think will work best for you.  For example, you may want to occasionally read popular books on financial planning for retirement. 

If you follow these suggestions, you may not be able to avoid every possible financial disaster, but you will have substantially lowered your risk of running out of money during your lifetime.  In fact, you may even have some money and other assets left over to leave your loved ones.  You will also be able to sleep better and be more relaxed when you know you have planned your retirement well.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical problems and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Senior Discounts - Use Them Wherever You Go

Over the past few years, increases to the Social Security benefits of senior citizens have been tiny or non-existent.  Most seniors have tightened their belts as much as they possibly can, but this does not mean they want to stop enjoying life. They just cannot continue to pay the ever increasing prices for the things they enjoy.  This is why senior citizens should take advantage of every possible senior discount they can find.  Why pay more than necessary for the things you enjoy?

General Senior Discounts

If you belong to either AARP or AAA, you may discover they offer a wide variety of benefits, including senior discounts. Even if you do not belong to either of those organizations, there is no harm in asking about senior prices everywhere you go ... restaurants, hotels, movie theaters or for transportation.  Many businesses offer a discount, even without a membership, but you have to ask.  In addition to the ideas listed below, you can also get more ideas for saving money by reading the inexpensive book "The Money-Saving Idea Book: Inside Tips for Starving Students, Frugal Seniors, and Every Financial Survivor."

Below are some specific discounts you might appreciate:

AARP discounts:  Use your card to save money at Ticketmaster, Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Denny's restaurant, EyeMed, prescription drugs purchased from OptumRx, Delta Dental, Pet Plan Pet Insurance, auto and other types of insurance products, Avis, Budget and Payless car rentals, cruises, and a wide variety of hotels.  You will also get the AARP magazine and Bulletin, which regularly offer information of interest to retirees.

AAA discounts:  AAA offers many of the same benefits as AARP.  Whenever we make a hotel or car rental reservation, we always ask if one of these cards offers better discounts than the other.  Usually, they have very similar discounts but, with AAA, you also get roadside assistance for any car you are in.  AAA also offers locksmith services for both home and auto, discounts on select items at Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart and other retailers, restaurant discounts through, discounts at the Hard Rock Cafe, Rainforest Cafe and other popular eateries, and many other discounts.

Senior Discount Websites - You may be able to check online to find discounts for anything from airline tickets to restaurant meals.  Check out, and

Professional Organizations - The retiree unit of the public employee union I belong to offers discounts on my AT&T cell phone service.  This one discount, alone, saves me several times the amount of the retiree union dues, so belonging to the union pays for itself.  The union also offers discounts for a number of local attractions.  In addition to my union membership, I have also received discounts on performances in our area through the clubs I belong to in our community.  Before you pay the full price to enjoy a local performance, visit an amusement park, or attend a festival,  check to see if the local senior center, your union, or any clubs you belong to can help you obtain a discount.

Groupon - This smartphone app is another way to get discounts for the admission to local attractions. Scroll through what they have to offer in your area.  You may be surprised to find Groupon discounts for a number of popular activities. 

Basically, check out all your options before purchasing tickets to anything.  Avoid paying full price whenever you can.  We all need to stretch our retirement dollars as much as possible.  

Medical Discounts

In addition to the generous benefits offered by AAA and AARP, you can find individual organizations which offer discounts. Here are few to help with your medical expenses: - Click on Dental Schools and find a list of schools which will perform your dental work for significantly less than many dentists.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance - - If you qualify, you may be able to save money on your prescription medications.

RxSaver - All pharmacies do not charge the same price for prescription medications.  Check out this website to save money, especially if you not qualify for prescription assistance. - People over the age of 65 may be able to get a thorough eye exam and a year of free care from a volunteer ophthalmologist. 

Vacation Discounts

Everyone wants to travel once in a while, either for a well-deserved vacation or while taking a road trip to visit your family and friends.  Discounts on travel can make this easier.  Don't forget to check out the hotel and restaurant discounts you can get with AAA and AARP.  In addition, you may want to take advantage of the deals listed here:

Amtrak and Via Rail Canada both offer 10 percent discounts for seniors ... Amtrak at age 62 and Rail Canada at age 60.

National Park Service - - You can find free entrance days at the national parks on the site.  If you love to spend time in the national parks, you will want to get an America the Beautiful senior pass for $80, which entitles you and everyone in your car to get into any national park for the rest of your life!

Discounts on Insurance

Safety Course Discounts on Auto Insurance - Talk to your insurance agent about how you might qualify for a discount on your auto insurance.  One way could be to take an older-driver safety course.  Some insurance companies will give you a reduction of as much as $100 a year.

Non-smoker Discounts on Life Insurance - Healthy people who exercise, do not smoke and maintain an ideal weight can often save money on life insurance.

Multi-Policy Discounts - If you get both your home and auto insurance from the same company, you may also get a discount.

Online Shopping Discounts

Recently, I wrote another post devoted entirely to getting discounts while shopping online on sites such as Amazon, Walmart, Macy's or Target.  It contains a lot of great ideas for shoppers of all ages. You can read that in-depth article here:

Finally, if you are a struggling retiree who is worried about how you can make sure your money lasts for the rest of your life, I recommend the Suze Orman book, "The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime."

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning in retirement, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common health problems as you age, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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