Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eight Popular Retirement Stories from the Past

This article is intended to promote popular retirement stories from a few years ago.  Most of them are still relevant today.  Since this site has gained so many new followers since these articles were written, some of these timely stories may have been overlooked by our newer readers.

Generally, the most popular topics on this blog deal with finding a place to retire, making the most of our retirement income, maintaining our health and reaching out to our extended family. 

With these thoughts in mind, here are the most popular stories from 2011.  I thought this would be a good time of year to bring these articles to the attention of any readers who may have missed them.

Popular Retirement Stories

Cheap Places to Retire

Looking for an affordable location for your retirement years?  Here is a list of ten of the cheapest places to live in the United States.  While the prices may have risen slightly since this article was originally written, these communities are still less expensive than many places in our country.

Finding the Best Places to Retire

What are your criteria for good places to retire?  Are you looking for a low crime rate and a reasonable cost of living?  CNN produced a list of ten spots they thought were great retirement locations based on criteria they thought were important.  See if their list matches yours.

Prevent a Broken Bone or Hip Fractures

Every year about 300,000 people over the age of 65 fall and break their hips.  More than 20% of them will die as a result of these preventable accidents.  Learn what you can do to stay safe in your home.  This article could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Living on Social Security in the US

Don't have any retirement savings to supplement your Social Security benefits?  Don't despair.  Here is a list of ten communities where the average household income is about the equivalent of the amount the typical couple receives in Social Security benefits.  With a little planning, it is possible to survive on you Social Security.

Crafts to do with Your Grandkids

Looking for some fun activities to do with your grandkids?  One website I have found is which is full of easy to do projects such as homemade ornaments, jewelry and t-shirts.  Time you spend with your grandkids is time well spent, and this article is a good place to start.

Work From Home and Make Money

A number of Baby Boomers are facing retirement with less retirement income than they had anticipated.  Many of the retirees I know are supplementing their retirement income with little businesses they can manage from home.  For many people, earning anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand dollars a month can make a huge difference in the quality of their retirement.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

Have a Long Life and Live to 100

How long are you likely to live?  Did you know that there are specific factors that seem to make a real difference in your life expectancy?  Check this article out and see if simple life changes could extend your life.  You will find other articles on people who live to be over 90 in the Medical section of this blog.

Copy a Photo Album for a Unique Gift

Trying to think of a special gift that will be treasured by your adult children or grandchildren?  This article contains instructions on how to put together copies of your favorite albums and share them with other members of your family.  Our daughters have cherished the photo albums we have shared with them.

The archives of this blog are full of other articles that you may find interesting and useful.  I hope you will take the time to browse through them and explore other topics of benefit to you.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Downside of Downsizing your Home

For anyone who has been planning their retirement very long, you know the importance of having a balanced budget after you stop working.  For many people, an important part of their financial planning involves downsizing their home so they are better able to balance their income and expenses.  Frequently, this is referred to as simplifying your life.  Some people, however, have difficulty creating this simpler lifestyle for themselves, and this can cause serious financial problems.

Five Pitfalls to Consider when Downsizing Your Home

Here are some of the most common problems that people experience when they decide to downsize.  By being aware of them, you may be able to avoid them.

1.  Does moving to a smaller home mean that you will be renting storage space for all those items that will not fit in your home or garage?  When my husband and I first downsized from a large home to a small condo, we rented two storage units that were 10 x 20 feet in size.  We filled those storage units with extra bedroom furniture, formal living room furniture, boxes of books, old toys left behind by our children, lawn equipment and tools we no longer needed.  We stored those items for two years until we finally dispersed them among our adult children or gave them them away.  We spent over $350 a month in storage fees for those two years, which means we spent over $8400 to store things we neither wanted nor needed.  I hope that other people will avoid our mistake. Make sure you get rid of everything you no longer want before you move to a smaller residence!

2.  Are you planning to recreate the quality of your former house in your new home?  This is another common problem.  Many retirees are purchasing smaller, less expensive homes, and then spending tens of thousands of dollars more to decorate them with luxurious drapes and plantation shutters, or remodel them so they feature granite counters, custom cabinets, designer wallpapers, and upgraded flooring.  By the time they have recreated their old home, the retirees discover they are living in less space but spending almost as much money.

3.  Another temptation some retirees need to avoid is the idea that they are saving so much money on their primary residence that they can now afford to buy a second home, an RV or a timeshare.  Their monthly obligations can quickly grow to the point where the retirees are actually spending more in monthly living expenses than they had been spending prior to "downsizing!"

4.  One adjustment that may be difficult for many couples is the crowded living space.  Couples may become irritable with each other if they feel they no longer have their own space to pursue hobbies or just get away from each other to read, nap or relax.  When you downsize, make sure that each of you will still have some private space ... a home office, basement game room, or a bedroom that has been converted to a sewing or hobby room.

5.  Finally, before you move to a new neighborhood you need to give careful thought to what you will be leaving behind.  Will you miss your neighbors?  Will the move require you to change your church, find a new book club, or switch doctors and dentists?  Would it be possible for you to avoid some of these changes by downsizing to a nearby community rather than one in another town or state?  Make sure you are emotionally ready for any changes that will result from your move so you can avoid depression and similar psychological effects.  It may help if you choose a new location that is actually closer to some dear friends or family members.  This will lessen the pain of leaving other friends and family members behind.

Before you decide to sell your current home and move someplace smaller, you will need to plan carefully and have realistic expectations.  If your goal is to save money, make sure that the changes you make will achieve that goal, while minimizing the amount of disruption you will experience.   You want to have a balanced budget, but you will also want to have a satisfying life.  This has always been important to Baby Boomers and those two goals do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Downsizing or simplifying your life prior to retirement can make a lot of sense, if it is done right. Take your time, write out a budget and make sure that both of you are comfortable with the decision and the changes you will be making.

If you are preparing to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional help articles on a wide variety of topics.

You may also be interested in reading:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
Cheap Places to Retire

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Choose Optimism for a Happier, Healthier Life

There are many reasons to get bogged down by negativity and pessimism, especially during the mid-winter months or on the anniversary of family tragedies.  Finances may make your life more difficult.  Travel or life changes can be stressful.  Hosting relatives or extra people in your home may feel overwhelming.  Added to all this is the fact that many people suffer from SADD or Seasonal Affectedness Depressive Disorder, a type of seasonal depression that is more common when people spend a lot of time indoors in the winter.

As we have gotten older, many of us succumb to minor despondency, especially in the winter and during the holidays.  However, we can shake ourselves out of it.  Despite the fact that there are so many reasons to be negative and pessimistic, it is still possible to choose to be optimistic.  Yes, optimism is a choice.

How to be Optimistic

Many of the steps we need to take in order to be more optimistic seem simplistic.  Despite that fact, research shows that they really do work.  Below are some basic actions anyone can take in order to improve their lives ... and their health.

Use positive affirmations.  Start your day by telling yourself that something good is going to happen.  There may be problems but, overall, this day will be a good one.

Do something for someone else.  Studies show that we get as much pleasure out of giving something to someone else as the pleasure we experience from getting something.  Hold the door open for someone.  Let someone get ahead of you in line at the grocery store.  Give your change to a homeless person.  Not only will you make their day better, but these actions will make your own day better, too!

Smile.  Laugh often.  Read funny stories.  Watch comedies on television or at the movies.  Play a silly game with your grandchildren.  Laughter really is the best medicine!

Finally, end the day with gratitude.  As you close your eyes, think of at least one reason you have to be grateful. 

Benefits of Optimism for Our Health

As we grow older, many of us have lost both our sense of optimism and our sense of humor.  Perhaps those two things go together.  By regaining one, we may also be able to regain the other.

Some studies have shown that happy, optimistic people seem to have better health and live longer.  Whether that is true or not, they are more likely to feel less stress, engage in less binge eating and have lower blood pressure.  They also have fewer headaches and experience less overall pain. 

As you can see, the older we get the more reasons we should want to be optimistic.  Why let pessimism cause us unnecessary pain, discomfort and other health problems?

As you go through the end of this year and the beginning of next year, no matter what problems you are experiencing, choose to be optimistic.  It may be one of the best things you can do for yourself!

If you are interested in learning more about maintaining our health after retirement, finding good places to retire, financial planning and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other useful articles.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

American Retirement Opportunities in Borneo Malaysia

Are you looking for an exotic, unique place to retire?  Consider the city of Kuching, Borneo in Malaysia if you are looking for a romantic island with beautiful beaches, remote jungle rain forests, and proboscis monkeys, along with gorgeous golf courses, shopping malls, theaters, restaurants, museums and other modern conveniences.

Retire to Kuching in Borneo Malaysia

Cat lovers will be charmed by the city of Kuching, whose name means "cat."    There is a cat museum and cat statues located throughout the community.  Architecture is varied, ranging from English Colonial to Chinese and ultra-modern.  The official language is English.

According to a Yahoo! Finance article entitled "The Most Interesting Retirement Spot You've Never Heard Of," a couple can live in Kuching for about $800 a month plus the cost of housing.  There are generous incentives for permanent residency for anyone with an income of at least $3,200 a month, which makes it possible for American ex-patriots to set up residency there and live very comfortably on their Social Security benefits or other income sources.  These incentives include a program called My Second Home (or MM2H) which makes it easier and more affordable to buy a home there, and allows immigrants to import a car, work part-time, and even start a business.  If you are not quite ready for Social Security, you'll be pleased to know there are no age restrictions on this Malaysian program for foreigners who want to live there long-term.  The program also protects your foreign income from Malaysian taxes.

One of the biggest fears that many American retirees have about retiring to another country is the quality of medical care.  In the case of Borneo, there is little reason to be concerned.  Kuching is a popular destination for medical tourism because the hospitals and other medical facilities are modern and well-equipped, as well as very affordable. The doctors and medical staff speak fluent English.  Malaysia does not have a medical school, so their physicians have been educated in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand or Australia.

Safety in foreign countries is also a frequent concern for retirees.  However, Malayia is considered the 19th safest country in the world. Compare that to the United States, which is ranked 82nd.  Violent crime is quite rare.  You can comfortably enjoy living there, it is affordable, and you do not have to be rich or learn another language.

If you are interested, you may want to visit the country and explore your options for yourself.  At the very least, you will have a wonderful, exotic vacation.

If you are looking for other possible places to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of other articles, including on where to retire overseas.

You may also be interested in reading:

Best Places to Retire Outside the United States
Why Retire in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands or Guam
Retiring in Luxury to Hua Hin, Thailand

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to Help Grandchildren Deal with Death and Tragedy

A few years ago I read an article that said children who have at least five adults who are supportive, encouraging and interested in their lives are significantly less likely to become involved in alcohol abuse, drug use and crime.  Among the supportive adults that were mentioned in the article were the parents and grandparents, as well as Scout leaders, ministers, teachers and babysitters.  This knowledge supports the idea that it really does take a village to raise a child and that we all have a responsibility to be a positive influence on the children in our lives.

When children we care about are exposed to tragedy, whether it is the loss of a loved one in their family or a horrible event such as the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it is important that all of us reach out and let our children and grandchildren know how much we care about them.

Many of us feel insecure and uncertain about how to help children who are upset and stressed by tragedy.  However, ABC News and the other television networks have broadcast several interviews with child psychologists about how adults can help children deal with the emotions they experience when they are exposed to tragedy.  Below are some of the suggestions that have been reported.

How to Talk to a Child about Tragedy

First, most of the psychologists suggested that young children not be allowed to watch television coverage of significant tragic events like the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.  The graphic details that are sometimes depicted on television may be too upsetting for a child.

Next, always let children know that they can ask the adults in their family about anything and they will be given honest, non-hysterical answers.

When children do hear about a shooting or death, answer their questions honestly, but in an age appropriate manner.  Do not lie, but do not over-explain.  Keep it simple.

When children ask questions about an incident, start your answer by asking them what they already know.  It is not unusual for children to have misinterpreted some of the facts surrounding an event, so you want to make sure they don't have any crazy misconceptions about what happened.  The truth is frequently awful enough.  You do not want to let a child's imagination run wild.

If a child asks why someone would hurt children, ask the child why they think it happened. Take time to let children express their opinions. Then, engage the child in a conversation about how a few people, very few people, sometimes become mentally sick and make terrible mistakes.  Emphasize how rare this is and reassure them that they and their family are safe.

If the child expresses fear about returning to their own school, talk with them about all the safety precautions that are in effect at their school.  Remind them of all the adults who are there to protect them and talk about the safety drills they have practiced at school.  Be reassuring and express confidence that they will be safe.  There is nothing to be gained by further traumatizing a frightened child.

If you believe it will be helpful, offer to drive a child to school or walk them to class for the next few days.  Give them a bit more attention, love and care than normal.   Grandparents can often provide a little extra love and attention when a child's parents are overwhelmed with their jobs and other obligations. 

Remember how important it is for children to feel they are loved and supported by many adults, not just their parents.  By offering whatever help you can, you may do more than you realize to help your grandchildren grow up to be secure, happy adults.

If you are interested in learning more about Baby Boomers and their family relationships, financial planning, where to retire, common medical issues and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

You may also be interested in reading:

Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children
How to Cope with Death and Grief
Living with Your Kids

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Avoid Phony Online Pharmacies

Millions of Americans still lack affordable drug coverage.  This includes a large number of retirees on Medicare who continue to have high out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs, since the drug "doughnut hole" has not been completely closed, yet.  As a result, every year thousands of consumers seek out cheap online pharmacies as a way to save money on their necessary drugs. 

Unfortunately, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 97 percent of the online pharmacies they recently investigated did not follow U.S. pharmacy laws.  This lack of compliance with American laws can put the lives of innocent patients at great risk.  In response, the government has issued several warnings to help potential customers of online pharmacies identify the difference between those that are safe and those that are not.

How to Spot a Fake Online Pharmacy

You should be concerned about a pharmacy that exhibits these risky signs:

They will allow you to buy drugs without a physician’s prescription;
They offer unusually low prices;
They send out excessive amounts of spam email;
They are located in another country;
They are not licensed in the U.S.

How to Spot a Legitimate Online Pharmacy

Fortunately, there are online pharmacies that follow the rules and sell prescription drugs to American consumers in a legal and legitimate manner.  Here is how to tell if you are dealing with one of these legal pharmacies:

They always require a physician’s prescription in order to purchase prescription drugs;
They can provide customers with an actual physical address and phone number in the United States;
They offer good customer service, including the ability to speak with a real pharmacist over the phone;
They are used by your insurance carrier;
They have a license from your state board of pharmacy.

You can check to see if they have a license at:

Additional Warnings about Using Online Pharmacies

In addition, customers of online pharmacies may want to take the following precautions:

When you receive your prescription, look up the drug on the computer.  Make sure the pills look the way they are supposed to.

Be sure that you have a safe delivery location for your drugs.  A box left on your front doorstep that has a pharmaceutical company label can easily be stolen.

If you take these precautions, you may discover that you can still purchase cheap prescription drugs from online pharmacies without putting your health and your life at risk.

If you are interested in learning more about health issues that could affect you, financial planning, where to retire, and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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More information about your medications can be found at the Food and Drug Administration website at

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Financial Facts affecting Baby Boomers in 2013

Whether you are already retired, or hope to retire in the coming decade, you need to be aware of some of the upcoming financial facts that may affect you.  Each year as the calendar rolls over, government agencies, commercial banks and private businesses make financial changes that often affect retirees and those close to retirement.  Listed below are some of the changes that have been announced for 2013.

Medicare, Social Security and Federal Retirement in 2013

Social Security benefits will increase by 1.7 percent for those who are currently collecting benefits.  Since the average benefit is about $1,240 a month, this amounts to approximately $21 a month.  Federal government pensions, including for military retirees and disabled veterans, will also increase by the same percentage.

Offsetting the small Social Security increase is the fact that Medicare premiums are going up $5 a month from $99.90 to $104.90.  Depending on the final negotiations currently going on in Washington, Medicare beneficiaries who have an income of over $85,000 as individuals or over $170,000 for couples could see their monthly premiums increase by $42.00 to $230.80 a month.  Deductibles are also increasing for Medicare recipients.  For example, the annual hospitalization deductible will increase by $28 to $1,184 and the annual deductible for outpatient care will go up by $7.00 to $147.00.

Beginning in 2013, the discount that Medicare Part D beneficiaries will get on brand-name drugs will increase from 50% to 52.5% and the discount on generic drugs will increase from 14% to 21%.

Also beginning next year, taxpayers under the age of 65 will see the threshold for itemizing their unreimbursed medical deductions rise from 7.5% to 10% of their adjusted gross income.  Those over age 65 will not be affected until 2017, when everyone will see the threshold rise to 10%.

Making Financial Gifts to Loved Ones

If you are planning to give money to your children or grandchildren, you should know that you can give a $13,000 gift that is tax-free to as many people as you want.  A married couple can give $26,000.

Maximizing Your Retirement Income

Retirement advisors continue to recommend that you postpone collecting your Social Security benefits as long as possible, up until age 70.  The longer you wait to collect, the greater your income will be and the less you will need to depend on supplemental income.

Working part-time after retirement is a viable way to increase your retirement income and not only helps people financially, but is also an effective way for retirees to keep their minds sharp, their skills current, and makes it easier for them to maintain their social connections.  If you have not yet stopped working, you may want to talk to your current employer about cutting back on your hours rather than retiring completely.  If you have stopped working, you may want to talk to former employers, friends and local businesses about opportunities for part-time employment.

Bank interest rates are currently extremely low.  Most banks pay only 0.01 to 0.08 percent, which is far below the rate of inflation.  You can slightly increase your retirement income by getting around 1 percent from online banks such as Ally, Barclays, Ever-Bank and CIT.  You can see their current rates at or  Before you open an account with an online bank, however, you will want to make sure the bank you are considering is FDIC insured.  Go to "Bank Find" at to check.

You may also be interested in reading these blog posts:

Choosing an Executor of Your Will
Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
Cheap Places to Retire
Planning for Long Term Medical Care

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Financial facts as reported in Yahoo! Finance and the AARP Bulletin during December, 2012.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Choosing an Executor of Your Will

If you own a home or have any other financial assets, you should have a will that explains how you want your assets distributed after your death.  In addition, to simplify the way your assets will be probated, you should also have a trust.

However, before you write your will and set up a trust, there are a number of matters which need to be decided in advance.  First, you must decide how your estate is going to be distributed and you should make a list of any special bequests.  Then, before you meet with an attorney to write your will, you should also choose an executor who will be responsible for seeing that the will is carried out and that all debts and expenses will be properly handled.

Although many people consider it an honor to be appointed the executor of a will, they should also realize that there is a great deal of responsibility involved.  Before you choose an executor of your estate, you should discuss your decision with the person you plan to appoint.  You will want to make sure that they understand the responsibilities involved, and that they feel prepared to carry out the task.  My husband has been the executor for several family members, and it can be a time-consuming task. 

Responsibilities of the Executor of a Will

Listed below are some of the major responsibilities the executor will need to carry out.  Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, there may be additional matters that they will need to handle.

1.  Sort out all the finances of the deceased, including paying debts and taxes.

2.  File a copy of the will with the local probate court.

3.  Obtain multiple copies of the death certificate and send them to the Social Security Administration, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies and any other agencies and businesses where the deceased had an open account. (An executor may need as many as 20 or more original death certificates!)

4.  Open a new bank account to use to deposit funds from the estate and pay bills until all the property has been fully disbursed.  The executor should keep careful financial records.

5.  Maintain the property, such as the house, until it can be sold.  This includes continuing to pay for utilities, yard or pool maintenance, the mortgage payments and property taxes.

6.  Complete a full inventory of the decedent's estate and have valuable items, such as artwork, jewelry or coin collections, appraised.

7.  Make certain that all legal requirements have been met.

8.  Handle the sale of real estate and other property, including stocks and bonds, if necessary for an equitable division of the property between the heirs.  If there is only one heir, it may not be necessary to sell off property.  Even if there is more than one heir, it may be possible to reach an equitable division of the property without selling everything and splitting the proceeds.  The executor will have to ascertain this.

9.  Distribute the assets and bequests to the various heirs, according to the terms of the will.

Who Can Serve as an Executor

In most cases, the executor of an estate is a close relative of the deceased.  For example, in the case of a couple, the executor will often be the spouse.  Depending on the family situation, the executor may be the parent, child or sibling of the deceased. 

If the estate is small, or simple, the relative may be able to handle the job of executor without any outside assistance.  However, if the estate is large or complicated, you may recommend in your will that the executor obtain the services of a probate attorney.  The attorney who writes your will and sets up the trust is the logical person to provide this service.

For example, in our will, my husband and I are the executors of each others will.  If something happens to both of us, we have asked two of our daughters to serve as co-executors.  We have also stipulated in our will that some of the assets of our estate be used to pay for the services of a probate attorney to provide our co-executor with any necessary assistance.  It is our hope that this will reduce the amount of friction that could develop between the daughter who is our executor and her sisters.  We also hope that using a probate attorney will lessen the burden on our daughters.

Choosing Your Executor

Before you make your final choice of an executor, you should discuss these issues and make sure your future executor understands the responsibilities that will be involved.  Then, once your will has been written, be sure your executor has a copy.  In our case, we gave copies to all of our daughters so that questions, concerns and bequests could be dealt with while we were still alive.

In addition, you will want your future executor to have anything else they may need in order to handle the disposition of your property.  For example, we have given our daughters a list of our accounts and insurance policies, information about pre-planned funeral arrangements we have made, a key to our home and all the information we believe they would need in order to handle our estate.  We have even given them our health insurance information, in the event we are seriously injured or hospitalized and unable to communicate this information for ourselves.

Once you have taken care of these matters, you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done everything you can to make things easier for your heirs once you are gone.

If you are interesting in learning about additional planning you need to do, including financial planning, deciding where to retire, preparing for medical issues that could arise and dealing with changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You may also be interested in reading:

Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
How to Publish Your Autobiography for Free
Simplifying Your Life for Retirement
Retirement Income from Annuities or Investment Income

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

HIV AIDS and Baby Boomers - A High Risk Group

December 1 has been set aside each year as World AIDS Day, a day to recognize the on-going problem of HIV and the epidemic of AIDS that continues to spread around the world.  Baby Boomers are one of the highest-risk groups for acquiring this disease, so it seems appropriate that World AIDS Day should be acknowledged in this blog.

Since the disease first attracted national attention in the early 1980's, much of the original hysteria about the disease has diminished.  However, while the disease may not be attracting as much attention as it once did, it has not gone away.

According to CNN's Headline News, the Center for Disease Control has reported that there are over one million people in the United States who are currently living with the HIV virus, and individuals who are over the age of 50 make up one of the fastest growing groups of people who are contracting HIV.  One reason why Baby Boomers and older generations continue to be infected is because they are not well-educated about the behaviors that put them at risk.

Baby Boomers Fail to Take Precautions to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Since many Baby Boomers, and older senior citizens, no longer worry about pregnancy, they do not take precautions that could protect them from sexually transmitted diseases such as the HIV virus.  This is a serious problem. Headline News reports, in an online article entitled "The AIDS epidemic: 31 years later," that the HIV virus is now "the world's leading infectious killer."  Unfortunately, far too many Americans believe that the disease has gone away, or that it is not something they need to worry about.

AIDS is a Serious Health Risk for People of All Ages

Surprisingly, a number of Americans of all ages believe, incorrectly, that AIDS is no longer a serious problem.  I work at a high school and recently one of the science teachers gave the students a copy of an article about HIV and AIDS in teenagers (another high risk group).  One of the students pushed the article aside and told me that, since AIDS has been cured, he didn't need to read the article.  He used as his "proof" the fact that basketball star Magic Johnson is still alive.  Since this young man is only 15, his lack of knowledge may be understandable.  Unfortunately, I have heard adults much older than him who believe the same thing.

According to the World Health Organization, the truth is that each year about 2 1/2 million people around the world are becoming newly infected with HIV.  Right now almost 33 1/2 million people are living with HIV.  Children and adults throughout the world who become infected may have done so as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, blood transfusions, being exposed to contaminated blood, sharing needles during drug use, or sexual intercourse.

One in Five People With the HIV Virus Do Not Know It

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that, out of the one million people who are living with HIV in the US, approximately 200,000 of them do not know that they have the infection.  Because of this, they may spread the disease for years before they become aware of the fact that they are contaminated.

There is still no cure for HIV.  However, there are treatments, including a drug called Truvada which may prevent it.  Meanwhile, the best prevention is to be in a monogomous relationship with someone who has had a blood test.  It is also wise to use a condom if there is any uncertainty about your partner's health or prior activities.

If you are interested in learning more about health issues that could affect Baby Boomers, as well as where to retire, financial planning and changing family relationships (including dating), use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.


You may also be interested in reading these health related posts:

Sexually Transmitted Diseases After Age 50
Avoid Grapefruit When Taking Medications
Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Avoid Grapefruit When Taking Medications

Grapefruit, grapefruit juice and some other citrus fruits do not mix well with more than eighty-five oral medications.  In fact, the consequences of combining either fresh grapefruits or grapefruit juice with a medication can be so serious that it is probably wise to avoid consuming anything containing grapefruit and certain other foods if you take any medication, whether that medication is on the list or not.

This may seem like a drastic measure.  However, researchers are finding more and more dangerous drug and food interactions every day.

Common Drug Interactions with Grapefruit

Among the drugs which are known to have dangerous interactions with grapefruit are many that are taken daily by Baby Boomers, including statins for lowering cholesterol, certain heart drugs, cancer medications, anti-depressants, antibiotics and pain medications.

Why Grapefruit is Dangerous

Researchers at Western University have discovered that the result of combining many drugs with grapefruit can be "extraordinarily serious."   In fact, David Bailey, the head researcher for the group that completed the study, reported that the interactions can result in kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, respiratory failure and sudden death.

The reason grapefruit is so dangerous is because it interferes with enzymes in your body that break down drugs.  This causes the drugs to remain in your body and build up until they become toxic.  According to an ABC news report on the topic, you should not take one of the listed drugs within 24 hours of consuming grapefruit in any form.  For people on a number of daily medications, this means they should never eat grapefruit or drink its juice.

Drugs that Interact with Grapefruit

According to a report on Yahoo, the specific drugs that should not be taken after consuming grapefruit are: statins like Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor, calcium channel blockers like Procardia, Nimotop and Sular, depression drugs like Zoloft, anxiety drugs like BuSpar, the painkiller oxycodone, seizure medications such as Tegretol and Carbatro, heart arrhythmia drugs like Cordarone and Mujltaq (dronedarone), insomnia drugs such as Halcion and the malaria drug, quinine.

If you are taking one of these medications, you may want to check with your doctor or pharmacist in order to better understand the potential consequences of combining grapefruit with the specific drug you are taking.

Since I take simvastatin, I was alarmed to discover that combining it with grapefruit could lead to kidney damage or kidney failure.  Although I do not eat grapefruit often, I do enjoy other risky citrus fruit, including limes and Seville oranges in marmalade.  Like many other Baby Boomers, I will need to be more careful about thoroughly reading the packaging material that comes with my medications.

Other Foods That Interact with Medication

While we are discussing grapefruit, this is a good opportunity to mention other foods that could react with your medications.  In addition, don't forget to carefully read the insert that comes with any medication you take to see if there are other drug or food interactions that are not listed below.  New problems are discovered frequently.

Below are common foods to avoid eating while taking certain medications:

Black licorice (ACE inhibitors, diuretics, insulin, corticosteroids, Lanoxin, and birth control pills.)

Large quantities of leafy green vegetables  (Coumadin - get specific information from your doctor.)

Milk or Calcium supplements (antibiotics including Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox; my Synthroid package insert also mentions not consuming calcium within four hours of taking that medication.)

Alcohol (painkillers, OTC cold, cough and allergy medications, statins, Isodil, anxiety meds, epilepsy medications, arthritis medications like Celebrex and Voltren, depression drugs like Celexa, Effexor and Lexapro, and diabetes medications.  In fact, be careful about combining alcohol with almost any other medication.)

Pickles, Aged or Cured Foods such as lunch meats (avoid consuming while using MAO inhibitors for depression and antibiotics like Xyvox and isoniazid.)

Chocolate (MAO inhibitors for depression, Vicodin, Percoseet, asthma medications, Ritalin and some antibiotics)

The dangers of combining chocolate and Ritalin concern me because I know many Baby Boomers have grandkids on ADHD medications like Ritalin, and these kids often love to eat chocolate.  Apparently, the caffeine in chocolate (and other caffeine containing foods and beverages) are dangerous when consumed in excess with the stimulants in ADHD medications.

If you are concerned about drug interactions with foods as well as other drugs, do your reseach by reading the insert that comes with your medications and using the online interaction checker at:

Learn more at:

For more helpful information on common health issues, where to retire, financial planning or changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of this page.  They provide links to hundreds of additional articles that could interest you.

Baby Boomers may also be interested in reading:

Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Aging and Tips to Prevent Hip Injuries

You are reading from the blog:

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sun City Texas is a Premier Retirement Destination

When I sold real estate in Dallas, Texas in the 1990's, the other Realtors and I were delighted when Del Webb made the decision to build one of their fabulous Sun City retirement communities in Texas. Nothing like that existed in Texas at that time.

The developers made a presentation to the real estate community and told us that, although they had been aggressively promoting their Arizona Sun City to Texans for a number of years, they had found that the majority of Texans who visited Arizona were reluctant to leave Texas.  If they couldn't get Texans to move to an out-of-state Sun City, they realized they would have to build one in Texas.  Since then, of course, Del Webb has built up their Sun City franchise in a number of other states, including California.

Sun City Texas

The Sun City concept has turned out well for Del Webb.  It has also been a popular retirement choice for the people who moved to Sun City Georgetown (since renamed Sun City Texas) and has helped the economy of the charming town of Georgetown, located about 26 miles north of Austin's central business district in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. 

Sun City Texas is primarily made up of single family residences as well as a few duplexes.  You can legally drive golf carts in the streets, and there are special community parking spaces for golf carts.  The community has tennis courts, three golf courses, a large central activity center as well as satellite community centers, hobby facilities, several swimming pools, a fishing lake, dances, yoga classes and many other clubs and activities.  Southwestern University in Georgtown and the nearby city of Austin both provide the opportunity to attend many cultural and sporting events.

Georgetown, Texas

Georgetown gives you the advantage of living in a small community with a population of about 30,000 people, while being only a short drive away from the state capital of Austin, Texas.  There are many colleges and universities in the area, including the University of Texas in Austin and Southwestern University in Georgetown, a small liberal arts college which one of my daughters attended.

Georgetown, like most of Texas, has long, hot summers and cool, mild winters.  High temperatures in the summer range from about 90 to 100 degrees, and highs in the winter are typically in the 50's and 60's.  Occasionally, temperatures will drop near freezing.

Many people consider Georgetown to be one of the top places to retire in the United States because of its warm climate, close proximity to excellent medical care in Austin, and the approximately 11,500 retirees living in the master planned community of Sun City Texas.  In addition to Sun City, retirees may also want to consider living in one of the other over-55 communities that have been built in the area, including Wesleyan at Estrella, Heritage Oaks and the Oaks at Wildwood.  There are also different levels of assisted living in the area.

The charming community of Georgetown is another reason why Sun City Georgetown has become a popular retirement community.  The shops shown here are typical of the shops you will find facing the historic town square.  The town has made a genuine effort to reface their downtown buildings to enhance their Texas-Victorian architectural heritage.

In addition, several of the town's historic neighborhoods have also undergone redevelopment with the restoration of some of the older homes.  In fact, Georgetown has been called one of the best places to buy a historic home.

Whether you are a native Texan, or someone who wants to relocate to Texas because of its warm climate and low cost of living (including no state income tax), you may want to put Sun City Texas and the other Georgetown retirement communities near the top of your list.

If you are looking for more places to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire in the United States or abroad, common medical issues, financial planning and changing family relationships.

You may also be interested in reading:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
Cheap Places to Retire
Finding Niche Retirement Communities

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of Sun City Texas entry courtesy of

Photo of downtown Georgetown, Texas courtesy of and should be attributed to Austex.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving is said to be one of the favorite holidays for most Americans because it is simply a time we spend with our families.  There are no presents to purchase, no greeting cards to send, and most people look forward to the meal.  Thanksgiving also does not come with a lot of expectations regarding how you should spend the day.  Some people watch football on TV.  Others go to a movie.  This year there will even be a large number of consumers who will head to their favorite store to begin their Christmas shopping.

However, despite the generally laid back attitude about Thanksgiving, it will be still be a stressful time for many Baby Boomers.  Some of them will be torn between which child they will see this year.  Others will be depressed because they are far away from their children and grandchildren and will not get to see them at all.  Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters during the past year has caused many Americans to unexpectedly be living in hotel rooms or other cramped quarters.  With the difficult times many Baby Boomers and their family members experienced during the past few years, a number of people will be depressed by their financial situtation, which may make it difficult for them to cook a large meal or enjoy the holiday.   Others may be saddened by the recent loss of a dear relative or friend.

For those of us who will be sitting down to a bountiful table covered with food and surrounded by family and friends, let us be grateful for what we have and remember those who are not so fortunate.  Let's enjoy our time together and not allow this special day to be spoiled by petty squabbles with relatives, or stress over creating the perfect meal.

If you are able to reach out to someone and lend a helping hand, please do so.  Invite that lonely friend.  Donate a turkey or canned goods to your local food bank.  Help serve a meal at a soup kitchen.  Even making a phone call to a relative who is unable to share the day with you will be greatly appreciated.

Are you estranged from one of your adult children or grandchildren?  You may find it helpful to read my blog post, "Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children."  In fact, even if you currently get along with your children, you may still find it helpful to read this short article so that you can minimize any stresses that do exist in your relationship and avoid future conflict with them.

I want to thank each of my readers for their continued support during 2012, and wish you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Help For Caregivers - Reduce Caregiver Stress

If you are a Baby Boomer who is caring for elderly relatives in your home there are times, especially during the winter holidays, that may be especially stressful. 

In addition to being a caregiver for a senior citizen in your family, you may still have children living in your home.  If you do, they may expect holiday decorations, gifts and special meals that you feel they expect you to prepare.  If your children are adults, they may still assume you will put on the traditional holiday events they loved as children. 

In other cases, adult children may want you to come visit them and spend time with your grandchildren or other family members. 

All of these conflicting demands on your time can make your role as caregiver for an elderly parent or relative seem like a particularly heavy burden during the holidays.

While you may not be able to eliminate all of the stress that you are feeling as a caregiver, there are steps you can take to minimize your stress so you can actually enjoy your holidays and the time you spend with the rest of your family.

How to Reduce Caregiver Stress

Below are a few actions you should take, if possible, to relieve the stress you are experiencing.

Talk to your other family members and ask them to help you out.  If they want your home to be decorated, ask them to do it, especially if you still have teenagers or young adults living at home.  Heap praise on them, even if their efforts do not quite measure up to what you have done in the past.

Do not be a martyr, if you can avoid it.  For example, if there is a special event you want to attend, such as a child's school performance or dinner at a relative's home, do not feel that you will never be able to go.  Whenever possible, make the necessary arrangements.  Here are some ways you can manage that:

   * Ask friends or other family members if they can sit with your elderly relative for a few hours. 
   * Call an agency and see if you can temporarily hire a paid caregiver. 
   * Contact local nursing homes and see if they have a respite program where you can leave your family member for a few days and give yourself a break.  These respite programs are especially helpful when you want to take a trip to visit other family members.

See what services are available in your community to help you.  If you are feeling overwhelmed at of the year, call your local senior center and ask if they have an adult day care program.  Many communities offer these services for a very low fee.  Often elderly adults who suffer from dementia, depression, and other mental and physical problems really enjoy these adult daycare programs because of the opportunity it gives them to meet other senior citizens, while working on arts and crafts with their new friends.  In fact, these programs have been shown to significantly lift the spirits of many seniors.  Just as important, they give caregivers the time they need to take care of themselves.

Do not feel as though you need to use any free time you carve out to care for everyone else in your family.  Instead, when you get help, spend at least part of the time taking care of yourself.   Get your nails or hair done.  Sign up for a yoga or exercise class.  Socialize with friends.  Take a nap.  Read a novel.  Caregivers need to take time to energize themselves.  If they don't, they will eventually discover that they are too overwhelmed to care for anyone else.  Put yourself first every chance you get.

Take advantage of all the local services you can.  For example, if you are hosting a holiday dinner in your home, feel free to order a precooked meal.  Other services you should check out are grocery delivery, dry cleaning pick up, online banking, mail order prescriptions, etc.  Set up your life so that you need to do as few mundane errands as possible.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep.  Do not get up before dawn or stay up after everyone else has gone to bed in order to clean your house, wrap Christmas presents, prepare meals or do anything else.  Your sleep is more important than these chores.

If you want to be able to care for anyone else, you need to care for yourself.  Otherwise, you may end up sick and in need of a caregiver, too.  This is definitely a risk we take when we spend too much time putting others ahead of ourselves all the time.  You are important, too!

You may also be interested in reading:

Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Aging and Tips to Prevent Hip Injuries
Living with your Kids

You are reading from the blog:

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be Careful at Black Friday Sales

With Black Friday Sales coming up soon, as well as other big sales planned by major retailers, many of us will be spending more time than normal at our local malls.  So will the thieves. 

While shopping for my husband in a Macy's two Christmas's ago, two teenage boys were also casually shopping in the men's department.  I thought nothing about it until they ran to the door, their arms full of clothing, jumped into a waiting car, and sped off.  They could just as easily have grabbed my purse or that of one of the other nearby customers. In fact, as we get older we are even more likely to be thought of as easy marks and victimized by criminals who are looking for the opportunity to snatch purses, shopping bags or anything else of value that they see.  None of us can be too safe.  Therefore, it is worth repeating a few safety rules we need to remember before we head to the malls:

Holiday Shopping Safety Rules

Avoid shopping alone, if you can.  Go with friends or family members.

Wear comfortable shoes and leave your expensive jewelry and purses at home.

Do not hang your purse on the back of your chair in a restaurant.

Do not flash a lot of cash.

If you use a debit card, conceal your PIN number when you enter it.

Stay Safe in Parking Lots

Park as close to the stores as possible, in a well-lit area, or try to shop in daylight.

Do not leave packages visible inside your car.

If you put items in the trunk of your car and plan to do more shopping, you may consider moving your car to the other side of the mall parking lot, to avoid having someone watch you fill your trunk and then re-enter the mall.

If you are uncomfortable, ask mall security to walk you to your car.

Keep Your Gifts Secure at Home

Once you get your gifts home, do not display them under a tree in the front window of your home where others can easily see all the packages.  It is far too tempting for theives.

During the holidays take special care to make sure your home is locked up when you leave, and use your alarm system if you have one.

Do not open your door to unknown solicitors.  They may be planning to rob you.

While all of us hate to be so cautious and suspicious during the holidays, this is one time when it truly is better to be safe than sorry!

You may also want to read some of these articles from my Lies-and-Liars blog:

Phony iPad Hoax
Security Breaches Endanger Your Personal Information
How to Avoid ATM Theft, Scams and Skimmers
Credit Fraud and Identity Theft During your Vacation

You are reading from the blog:

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Live in an RV after Retirement

In the early 1970's, my husband and I spent six months traveling through nearly every state in Mexico, as well as across the Southern United States, in a VW Westfalia Camper similar to the one shown here.  We were young, spontaneous and not very worried about needing a lot of luxuries.  Things have changed since that time.  Today, I would need something much larger and more comfortable if I were going to spend months, or years, living in an RV.

During our trip, we met many retirees who had made an RV their permanent residence.  Some of them maintained small apartments in the United States where they could live when they returned home.  Others, like us, had put their belongings into storage during their travels.  I'm sure there were at least a few people who had sold everything and were carrying what they had left in their RV.  As a result of meeting these fellow travelers on the road, as well as our own experiences, we learned a lot about the advantages and disadvantages of life in an RV.

Are You Ready to Leave Your Friends and Family Behind?

Today it is much easier to communicate with your loved ones while you travel.  Most modern day vagabonds have laptop computers and cell phones, both unheard of when we were traveling in the 1970's.  However, even with though it is easier to stay in touch, it is not the same as being able to have coffee with your neighbor or lunch with your grandkids.

If you aren't absolutely sure you want to live in a motor home for a long period of time, you may choose to rent an RV for a few months and try out the lifestyle for a while before you sell your home, buy an RV and go on the road.

Can You Afford the Cost of Living in an RV?

Many people assume that living in a motor home is cheaper than living in a traditional home.  However, this is not always true.  First of all, a basic RV starts at about $20,000 and prices go up from there.  In order to avoid overpaying for your motor home, you can check out the value of used RV's through Kelly Blue Book and other online pricing guides, just as you would when purchasing a car.

In addition to paying for your vehicle, you will also need to pay a daily fee to stay in a a campground or RV park.  According to the website,, the daily fee at an RV park ranges from about $15 to $50 a day, with the majority charging about $30 to $40 a day.  If you do a lot of driving, your fuel costs can be astronomical.  From time to time you will also have repair and maintenance costs.  At $30 a day, you will pay a minimum $900 a month to park, plus the cost of fuel when you travel between locations.

In addition, you may be paying for an apartment back home, or a couple of hundred dollars a month to store your belongings.  Don't forget the normal expenses you will have, no matter where you live.  These include items such as health insurance, medical costs, motor vehicle insurance, groceries, life insurance, and any other debts and bills you have to pay.

Depending on your other expenses, the size of your RV payments, and the amount of driving you do, it is feasible that a couple could live and travel in an RV if they have an income of $3000 to $4000 a month.  This is well within the reach of many people on Social Security.  You will need to carefully consider your own budget to see if your income will cover the RV lifestyle you have in mind.

Can You and Your Spouse Get Along in a Small Space?

After my husband and I traveled in our Westfalia Camper for six months, we frequently said we knew that our marriage would last.  If we could get along as well as we did in such a small space, we were convinced that we could live anywhere.  After 43 years of marriage, that seems to have been true.

However, people need to be willing to adjust to the loss of space.  You will not have a garage, large walk-in closets, an attic or a basement.  There is very little room to store things that you do not absolutely have to have.  You also will not have a lot of privacy.

How is Your Health?

This is a serious question to consider before you move into an RV.  Remember that you will not have a regular physician.  There may be times while you are on the road that you could be a long way from emergency medical facilities.  If you have serious medical problems, you should discuss them with your current doctor before deciding if traveling around the US is a wise decision.

The Advantages of Living in an RV

Hopefully, I have not discouraged you from giving this lifestyle a chance.  My own parents lived in a fifth-wheeler for three years after my father retired.  While they now live in a retirement community in Florida, they look back fondly on their days of traveling around the country.

The older couples we met when we were traveling in Mexico in the 1970's all seemed to enjoy their lifestyle, too.  Living in an RV is relaxing. There is no yardwork to do, and the motor homes are small enough that very little housekeeping is necessary.  Many of the RV parks have a wide variety of amenities, including swimming pools, lakes, game rooms, and club houses.  Some of them are located on beaches or in fascinating state and national parks.

Living in an RV gives you the opportunity to travel around and see distant friends and relatives.  You can also go to out-of-the-way attractions and feel that you have plenty of time to take tours and really enjoy each place you stay.

Finally, I have never met someone who regretted the experience. Although I am sure that there must be some people who have taken off in an RV and hated it, all the RVers I have known have been excited to tell everyone they meet about all the wonderful experiences they had on the road.  Of course, most people also have at least one disaster story to tell, too, such as the time they got a flat tire in an inconvenient location, or had a complete breakdown on the way to visit a family member.  However, they usually are laughing about the experience once they have put it behind him.  In general, people on the road do not have the stress of time constraints, and they are able to change their plans easily, when they have to.

Of course, living in an RV is just one of the choices open to people after retirement.  If you are looking for more retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, common medical issues, changing family relationships, financial planning and more.

While you are trying to decide what you want to do, you may also enjoy reading these blog posts:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
Best Places to Retire Outside the US
Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
Cheap Places to Retire
Finding Niche Retirement Communities
Retiring Former Hippies Spark a New Generation Gap

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Photo of VW Westfalia Camper courtesy of 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Plan for Long Term Medical Care

As we Baby Boomers begin to age, sooner or later two out of three of us are likely to need Long Term Medical Care.  Approximately one of five will need that care for more than five years!  If you are married, the odds are extremely high that either you or your spouse will need assisted living or a nursing home in the coming years.

Long Term Care is Expensive

Unfortunately, the cost of these services is quite high.  For example, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal dated October 27, 2012 and entitled "The Cost of Living Longer," the average basic cost for assisted living in the United States ranges from $2751 to $4807 a month, depending on the number of services needed. In addition to the basic cost, however, patients should plan on paying about $347 for medication management, $236 for dressing assistance, $181 for bathing assistance and $504 for other personal care each month. That means the total cost of total care is approximately $4000 to $6000 a month. The cost of this has gone up about 2 to 4 percent every year since 2012.

It is easy to see that the cost of these services will quickly sky-rocket out of reach for most families.  Fortunately, there are steps we can all take now to make sure our future care is more affordable and less stressful for our other family members.

Buy Long Term Care Insurance

While you are still in your 50's or early 60's, look into the cost of purchasing Long Term Care Insurance from a reputable company like Genworth, one of the country's largest providers of this insurance coverage.  My husband and I purchased this insurance about five years ago, and we are glad we did.  The younger you are when you purchase Long Term Care Insurance, the less you will have to pay in premiums.

However, although this insurance will bring you peace of mind, it only helps if you are able to qualify for it and afford it.  If you wait until you have a serious medical problem you will not be approved or the premiums may be too high.  In those cases, you should look at the other money saving options that may be available to you, and let your family members know your preferences.  Here are some possibilities.

Long Term Benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs

A war veteran or their spouse may each receive as much as $2020 a month in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help pay for the cost of assisted living or nursing home care.  When combined with your other retirement benefits, this may be enough to cover the cost of your long-term care. The veteran only needs to have served in the military for at least one day during a war ... including the wars in Vietnam, Korea, etc.  They do not need to have served in a war zone while the war was going on.

If you think you may qualify, you can get more information and help with your application by going to  Then click on "Locations" - "State Veterans Affairs Offices" - "Veterans Service Organizations" or "Regional Benefits Offices."  Unfortunately, I have been told that at many as 60 percent of claims are denied the first time you apply.  If you are denied, you may want to get help with the application from a service organization such as Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Do NOT give up.  You are entitled to these benefits.

Medicaid Long Term Care for Low and Moderate Income Individuals

Many people confuse Medicaid and Medicare.  However, they are different government programs.

Medicare will only pay for the first 100 days of nursing home care.  After that, you are on your own if you have assets and a moderate to high income.

However, Medicaid will pay for most long-term care for low-income and many moderate income people, especially those with very few assets.  In the case of a couple, the spouse who does not need care is allowed to keep some assets, a home and, possibly, a business ... although they may be expected to contribute to the care of the spouse who is in the assisted living facility.

If you believe that you may qualify for Medicaid, you or your family members should apply as soon as you go into a nursing facility for care that is being covered by Medicare.  The people in the facility can help you with your application.  There are also private companies, such as Nursing Home Solutions and A Place for Mom, which can help you with the application and find an assisted living situation, if you qualify. In California, Medicaid is called MediCal.

Independent Living Apartments instead of Assisted Living

Assisted Living can be very expensive and many people do not need that level of care.  As an alternative, some people are moving into independent living apartments that provide local transportation, meals, exercise classes and other services.  Then the family can hire a caregiver who only comes in a couple of times a week or a few hours a day to provide other essential services, such as help with medication, bathing, getting dressed, etc.

To help you compare the cost of home healthcare in your community, use Medicare's Home Healthcare tool at

This choice is very common, for example, in the senior community where I live, Laguna Woods Village. In fact, it is common in most independent living retirement villages. In our community, many seniors stay in a typical condo or move to a high rise within the community known as Rossmoor Towers.  For about $2300 to $2800 a month, an individual or couple in the Towers has a private apartment with a full dinner provided every evening, and weekly housekeeping.  Each condo has a kitchen where the residents or their caregivers can prepare their own breakfast and lunch.  Many of the residents of the Towers share caregivers with their neighbors.  The caregivers arrive in the morning and help different residents with their meals, medications, bathing, dressing, etc.  Even with the additional cost of the caregiver, this arrangement makes it possible for a couple to stay together in their own private residence, even if one of them needs assistance with daily living.  The Towers are also far less expensive than the surrounding skilled nursing facilities.

Home Health Care - Age in Place

Similar to moving to the Towers, some people simply choose to remain in their own home and hire a caregiver to come to their home each day and provide the necessary assistance.  Whether or not this saves money depends on the cost of living in the current residence.  This may not be feasible for someone who lives in an expensive home with a large mortgage or for someone who will need a lot of personal assistance plus the cost of a housekeeper, landscape workers, etc.  However, it has become a popular and affordable option for many people.

Adult Day Services and Respite Care for Those Getting Care at Home

Another alternative is for the person who needs assistance to live with an adult child or other family member.  This can be stressful for the family members who are placed in the role of caretaker.  Consequently, being able to take an elderly person with dementia or other medical problems to adult day care makes it possible for the full time caregiver to work, run errands or just have a break each day.

Whether you use adult day care services or not, you may also occasionally need respite care. It is available in many areas.  Respite care is provided by many assisted living facilities to enable relatives to leave an older adult in their facility for a few days so that their family members can leave town or deal with a family emergency without worry.

Inform Your Adult Children or Other Relatives of Your Preferences

Once you decide on the type of care that you would like to receive when you are older, it is important that you inform your spouse, adult children or other relatives of your desires.  If you have purchased Long Term Care Insurance, give a copy of your policy to your nearest relative in case you are incapacitated.  If you know of independent living apartments that appeal to you or where you already have friends, inform your relatives of your selection.  If you would like to continue to live in your home as long as possible, others will need to know this, as well.  Finally, if you hope to live with your adult children or other relatives, you should discuss this possibility with them long before you become disabled.

If you would like additional information about where to retire, common medical issues as we age, changing family relationships or financial planning, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You may also be interested in reading:

Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Laguna Woods Village Active Adult Community
Garden Spot Village Community for Seniors in PA

You are reading from the blog:

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