Thursday, May 31, 2012

Brain Activities to Lower Alzheimers Risk

One of the greatest fears of many Baby Boomers is that we will begin to develop senile dementia or, worse, Alzheimer's Disease.  The thought that one day we will no longer be able to remember the past, or even recognize our loved ones, is horrifying.  Consequently, many of us are looking for practical ways to decrease our Alzheimer's risk factors.

Famed television host, Dr. Oz, recently presented an Alzheimer's prevention plan, and reprinted it on his website,  Below is a summary of the suggestions he has for reducing our Alzheimer's risk.

The Dr. Oz Recommendations to Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

1.  Take 600 mg. of DHA a day.  This omega-3 fatty acid will reduce your brain inflammation, combat plaque, and increase the blood flow to your brain.

2.  Use the opposite hand to cross-train your brain.  If you are normally right handed, try using your left hand to eat, brush your teeth, comb your hair, etc.  If you are left-handed, do the opposite.  This will stimulate new parts of the brain.

3.  Practice deep breathing three times a day to lower your stress, which is very damaging to the brain.  Dr. Oz calls this system 7-7-7.  Inhale for 7 seconds; hold it for 7 seconds; exhale for 7 seconds; repeat 7 times.

4.  Practice remembering lists of items by using silly word associations.  Try to work up to 20 or even 30 items.

5.  Do push ups.  That's right, this floor exercise, which builds your core body muscles, is apparently also good for your brain.  Doing seven push-ups a day will stimulate blood flow to the brain and generate new brain cells!

6.  Follow a brain building diet which includes elderberries, pecans, chicken giblets, clams, vegetable juice (up to 8 oz. a day), and beets.  All of these foods contain nutrients that are helpful to the brain.

These actions are all generally good for our overall health, and they are easy to do at home, without a doctor's prescription.  If we can radically reduce the number of Baby Boomers who will develop Alzheimers in the future, these easy steps will be well worth it.

If you are interested in learning more about Alzheimer's and how to reduce your risk of developing this dreaded disease, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page.  They will link you to hundreds of additional articles on health issues, as well as where to retire, financial planning, changing family relationships and more.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Natural Cures to Stop Snoring

Does snoring affect the quality of your rest, and disrupt the sleep of your partner?  If you or your spouse snores loudly and still feels tired in the morning, you could be developing Metabolic Syndrome, also called Syndrome X.  Snoring is not a problem that should be ignored.  It can increase your chances of having heart disease, diabetes, or a stroke.  One symptom of snoring is if you are tired and fall asleep easily during the day, even when you believe you have had a full eight hours of sleep.

Metabolic Syndrome is a Common Health Problem

If you have metabolic syndrome, you are not alone.  According to an article by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen on, titled "Stop Snoring to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome," about one in four adults in the United States suffers from this disorder.  Among the symptoms are sleep problems, bulging belly fat, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol.  If you have a significant snoring problem, you double your risk for metabolic syndrome.

Treatments for Snoring

There are medical treatments for snoring and, if you cannot bring it under control naturally, you should see your physician.  They can prescribe medications or medical devices that can alleviate the problem.

In addition to the medical treatments for snoring, here are a few tips that may help you cure your snoring naturally, and they are worth trying out:

* Lose 10% of your body weight.  Try walking 30 minutes a day and gradually increase it, if necessary, in order to lower your body weight.

Use healthier fats, such as canola oil, walnut oil, olive oil and peanut oil.  They will help boost your HDL and lower your LDL

Put away the sugar bowl.  Stop adding extra sugar or syrup to your foods.

Try changing your position when you sleep.  My husband and I have discovered that he only snores if he falls asleep on his back with his arms raised so that his hands are either cupped behind his head or are on the pillow above his head.  If he sleeps on his side, or if he sleeps on his back with his arms by his side, he does not snore.  This simple adjustment has made a big difference in both our lives.  Many people snore only when sleeping in certain positions.  Experiment with the way your sleep and ask your partner which positions seem to be the best.

Remember, if these natural changes do not solve your snoring problem, you should see a doctor, especially if you have any of the other symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome.  A few simple changes can extend your life dramatically, by reducing your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, or developing diabetes.

If you are interested in learning more about medical issues that can develop as you age, retirement planning, where to retire, family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hepatitis C Tests for Baby Boomers

Periodically, the federal government puts out a health alert that pertains to Baby Boomers and, when it does, this blog tries to respond quickly to get the word out, especially if the health alert is a matter of life and death.  Few things are more important to Baby Boomers who are planning their retirement than making sure they are doing everything possible to maintain their health.

Boomers Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C

In May 2012, the Centers for Disease Control proposed that every American born between 1945 and 1965 (the Baby Boomers) should see their doctors and ask for a one time test for the Hepatitis C virus.  In the United States, Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and liver cancer.  The need is urgent, because liver cancer is the fastest rising cause of cancer deaths in our country.

This information should be shared with all the Baby Boomers you know.  The CDC estimates that 75% of the people in this country who have Hepatitis C are Baby Boomers, which means that approximately 2 million Baby Boomers are currently infected with this deadly disease.  Five times as many Baby Boomers have the virus as other adults, and most of them do not know it.  In the case of this disease, ignorance is not bliss.  The virus can be damaging your liver for years before the symptoms become noticeable.  As a result, over 15,000 Americans are dying each year from Hepatitis C related illnesses.

The CDC believes it is extremely important that Baby Boomers be tested as soon as possible because new treatments can now cure up to 75% of infections caused by Hepatitis C.  The CDC estimates that screening for this disease could save thousands of lives.

If you want to read more about the CDC recommendations, here is the link to an article about it in the Federal Register: 

Citizens are even invited to submit their comments about Hepatitis C testing for Baby Boomers.

Meanwhile, the next time you see your doctor for your annual physical, ask him if he thinks you should be tested for Hepatitis C.  It could save your life.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

How to Access Your Social Security Information Online

Since 1999, the Social Security Administration has been mailing annual statements to all workers over the age of 25.  However, it has cost the SSA over $70 million a year to provide this information by mail.  In fact, for a while in 2011, they temporarily stopped mailing the statements; then, in 2012, they resumed mailing the statements to people over age 60 who were not yet drawing on their Social Security benefits.  All these changes have been confusing for many workers, especially those who are attempting to make retirement plans.

How to Find Your Social Security Statement Online

As of May 1, 2012, the Social Security Administration began to put everyone's Social Security benefit statement online.  Workers over the age of 18 can now see their statements simply by going online and creating an account at My Social Security.  You will need to set up an account by filling in your personal information, such as your name, address, phone number and Social Security number, and will have to answer a few security questions.

You can go to the Social Security Adminstration's website at this link:  My Social Security.

Once there, follow the instructions to create an account.  You'll see a button about halfway down the home page that says: "Sign In or Create an Account."  The information that is available is very similar to what you would see on the old paper statements.

Periodically, the site will be down for a few days while they update the statements.  If that happens to you, just try again a week or so later.

If you are looking for helpful information about Social Security, retirement planning, financial information, where to retire, common health issues 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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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Walking: Your First Step to a Long Life

How much time do you spend sitting, and how much time do you spend standing, walking or doing housework?  Most of us try to get some exercise every day, but it may not be nearly enough if we want to live a long, healthy life.

Sitting is Associated with a Shorter Lifespan

According to the Archives of Internal Medicine at, in a three year study of over 222,000 individuals over the age of 45, the more time they spent sitting, the more likely they were to die. broke the research down even more and explained that the people who sat for eleven hours or more per day were 40% more likely to die ... even if they exercised after they spent eleven hours sitting!

This is a significant concern for people who spend long hours sitting at a desk at work and then come home and sit in front of the television set.  It is also a problem for retirees who prefer activities that involve a lot of sitting ... playing bridge in the morning, watching television in the afternoon, going to a play or movie in the evening.  Too much sitting could lead to a premature death.

How Much Should You Move? generally recommends that people exercise at least 150 minutes a week, or 21 minutes a day.  However, that may not be enough for optimal health if you spend the remainder of your day sitting.  They suggest that, at the very least, you should get out of your chair as often as possible and spend more time standing, walking or engaging in other physical activities.  Even doing household chores will reduce the amount of time you spend sitting and make you healthier.

Recently, I saw a television report that said it actually makes a difference in people's heath if they get up during every commercial and putter around the house while they are watching TV.  If such a simple act can lead to a longer life, it is well worth the small amount of effort ... especially if you combine that with a 20 minute walk or period of activity once or twice a day.

Some people have found it helpful to walk around the house whenever they are talking on the phone.

Be Aware of How Much You Sit

For writers or other people who spend a lot of time on the computer, it is also important to become more aware than ever about the need to get away from the desk chair and walk for a while on a treadmill or take a stroll around your neighborhood.  You can also do chair exercises, spread a mat on the floor and do yoga, or go for a swim.  It is time for us all to realize that every step we take is a step towards a longer life!

If you are interested in other health tips, ideas on how to live longer, suggestions on where to retire, financial planning or family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Americans Retiring in Panama

Americans have been retiring to other countries for decades.  Because it is often difficult to find affordable places to live in the United States, moving to less expensive countries can be very appealing.  In fact, in 2014 over 600,000 Americans were receiving their Social Security checks in another country.  This does not take into consideration those that receive their checks in the U.S., but live at least part of the year overseas.

According to Kathleen Peddicord of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group, one country that attracts a lot of American attention is Panama.

Panama Uses the U.S. Dollar

Among the appealing features of Panama is the fact that the U.S. dollar is also Panama's currency.  That makes it easy to handle your finances, even though you are in another country.  There is no need to worry about exchange rates, which can sometimes have a detrimental effect on the lifestyle of people living in other countries.

High Quality Medical Facilities 

Another attraction is that Panama has top-notch medical facilities and it is very affordable to purchase health insurance there.  While Medicare does not work in foreign countries, many people go ahead and purchase a basic Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan, which is then available to them during visits to the U.S., especially for major surgery, or to use if they should decide to return to the U.S. later in life.

Wide Choice in Lifestyles and Climates

Panama also has a variety of lifestyles and climates to offer.  If you want to live in a big, busy city, you can move to Panama City with a population of around 900,000 people.  If you want to live in a smaller community, you can move to one of the beach towns that dot the Panamanian coast, or to a cooler mountain location.

Cost of Living in Panama

Although prices in beach communities close to the capital of Panama City can be quite expensive, there are small towns further away where it is possible to rent a two-bedroom home on the private market for as little as $600.  Some Americans have found it possible to live comfortably near the beach in a small city like Las Tablas, Panama, for as little as $1500 a month.  This means an American couple living on $2500 a month, about average, could life a very comfortable life in Panama, and have money left over for trips back to the U.S. once or twice a year.

Communities like Las Tablas will not leave you feeling as if you are cut off from the rest of the world, either.  You will find many other Americans living in the area.  In addition, this region has reliable cell phone and internet services, as well as cable television.  Of course, if you want to travel, or live in Panama City, your monthly expenses will be higher.  On the other hand, if you have always dreamed of retiring near the beach, it would be hard to find a better place to spend your Golden Years.

Affordable for the Average American Retiree

Since the average retired American currently receives about $1250 a month in Social Security benefits, many American couples will find it well within their means to live a quiet, relaxed, and comfortable life in Panama.  Even if they each pay $120 a month for a Medicare Advantage plan in the U.S., they could still afford to live a comfortable lifestyle in a small town in Panama.

If you are interested in learning about other places to retire overseas or in the United States, financial planning, common medical issues, changing family relationships 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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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pros and Cons of Taking Aspirin

Many Baby Boomers and older senior citizens have heard the benefits of taking an aspirin a day, or at least several times a week, in order to protect their health.  However, did you know that there are also disadvantages to taking aspirin, and that aspirin therapy may not work for some people?

Pros of Taking Aspirin

Many doctors think of aspirin as a type of insurance policy against a number of illnesses.  According to Bottom Line Health, in their Spring 2012 edition, taking aspirin is protective against strokes and heart attacks.  Aspirin also lowers your risk of dying from some types of cancer by anywhere from 28% to 58%.  In one study, they report that people who take aspirin or other NSAIDs were 23% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Men were 25% less likely to develop moderate to severe prostrate enlargement.  These advantages make it sound as though everyone should immediately begin aspirin therapy.  Not so fast, however.

Cons of Taking Aspirin

While aspirin may sound like a miracle drug, there are also some problems associated with it.  Some people are aspirin resistant and those people can have double the chance of experiencing a heart attack or stroke if they take aspirin.  In addition, there are dangers even for people who are not aspirin resistant.  They can develop stomach irritation, heartburn, facial swelling, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, asthma attacks, ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.  Finally, aspirin use can increase your risk of developing cataracts by 44%, and can even cause you to go blind from macular degeneration.  With so many disadvantages, what should a person do?

See Your Doctor and Get Tested for Aspirin Resistance

Before beginning an aspirin regimen, talk to your doctor.  Your doctor will know your health history, and whether aspirin is more likely to be helpful or harmful.  If you develop any unusual symptoms, particularly stomach or vision problems, let your physician know right away.  In addition, ask your doctor to run a simple blood test called an optical platelet aggregation.  According to Bottom Line Health, most medical insurance policies cover it, and the test can tell you whether or not you are aspirin resistant.

As always, we are best equipped to make good decisions when we have the necessary information.

If you are interested in additional information of use to Baby Boomers, including medical issues, financial planning, where to retire and changing family relationships, 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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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gifts for Baby Boomer Mothers

Are you trying to decide what gift to give your Baby Boomer mother for her birthday, Mother's Day or some other special occasion?  I often hear younger adults complain that they can't decide what to give their mother ... saying things like: she has everything she needs, she can go shopping anytime she wants, I never know what to pick out for her, and so on.  If you are one of those people, here are some suggestions:


Moms love to see photos of their children and grandchildren.  You could always give a framed photo, of course.  However, you can also choose to be more creative.  Pull up a couple of dozen photos on your computer and use Snapfish or Shutterfly to create a photo album.  They'll even mail it directly to your mom for you.  You can also select from the the hundreds of items that can be imprinted with the photo of your choice ... coffee mugs, aprons, t-shirts, computer mouse pads, fleece blankets and more.  You'll bring a smile to your mom's face every time she sees your gift.

Birthstone Jewelry

Your mom may not need another piece of jewelry, but if you pick out a ring or necklace that has the birthstones for all her children or grandchildren, you will absolutely delight her.  Many jewelers, as well as online sites like and, sell customized birthstone jewelry.  You just need to tell them the birth months of the children or grandchildren, and they can deliver a piece of jewelry that contains all those different birthstones.  She'll love it because, whenever she gets a compliment, she will have an excuse to talk about each of her kids or grandkids!

Things She Will Use Up

If your mother truly has everything she needs, consider getting her something that she loves and regularly consumes.  You could pick out a box of her favorite candy, perfume, face cream, lotion or another item that she may run out of from time to time.  If you are choosing perfumes and cosmetics, however, just make sure you are picking out items that she actually does like and need.

Gift Certificates

Another popular choice that most mothers will love is gift certificates from Amazon, Macy's, Starbucks or their favorite store.   They come in all denominations, so you can get a card regardless of your budget.

The Gift of Time

Perhaps no gift is more valuable to a mom or grandmother than the gift of your time.  Invite her to lunch, or take her to a restaurant.  Go to a movie, museum, theater, ball game or concert together.  Whatever the two of you do, she will especially appreciate the gift of your time.  It doesn't matter whether the activity costs you very little.  The two of you can go on a relaxing walk at a nearby nature preserve.  Whatever you do, it is your time that she will remember the most. 

When I talk with my Baby Boomer friends, their favorite stories are the times they got to spend alone with one of their adult children.  Those days are so precious and rare, they are more valuable to moms than the most valuable gemstone.

If you are looking for more information of use to Baby Boomers and their families, 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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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Alcoholism after Retirement

Recently, I wrote a post about the increasing number of senior citizens who have begun spending time in gambling casinos in recent years.  While gambling addiction is a serious problem, alcohol addiction after retirement may be even more serious.

I was in a grocery store a few months ago, standing in line behind an elderly man who lifted a case of beer, several bottles of wine, a fifth of bourbon and a fifth of gin onto the counter.  The grocery checker cheerfully commented, "It looks like you're having a party."  The man became indignant and replied, "This will last me all week!"  The checker and I just looked at each other.  It was a tremendous amount of alcohol for anyone to drink in a week!

Help for Alcoholic Baby Boomers is Available!

According to the website,, the disease of alcoholism affects as many as 10% of all people over the age of 60.  They refer to alcohol abuse in the elderly as an "invisible or hidden epidemic."  Frequently, alcoholism is mistaken for other health problems, such as dementia.  It can contribute to depression, anxiety, heart disease, liver disease and cancer.  According to the website, 70% of hospitalized seniors have a problem with alcohol.  Shockingly, many doctors and hospital administrators do not even ask their patients about this. 

What is even more serious is the fact that many seniors themselves are unaware of how dangerous it can be, as they age, to continue to drink the way they did in their younger years, especially if they are combining their drinking with over-the-counter and prescription medications.  Alcohol reacts badly with at least 150 different medications.

As a resident of an over-55 retirement community, I see the effects of alcohol abuse at nearly every community party we attend.  At times I have felt as if I am attending college parties, rather than events for senior citizens.  I have seen my peers become drunk, loud, and aggressive; I have seen them stumble and fall into tables; I have seen them drop their bottles of bourbon in the parking garage.  One reason why some seniors are reluctant to move into assisted living facilities, even when they desperately need to, is because they are afraid it will be more difficult for them to obtain alcohol.

If you have an elderly relative who may be abusing alcohol, help is available.  They may need to go to a treatment center, or begin attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The physicians who prescribe their medication should be informed of their problem with alcohol.  Don't turn a blind eye to this problem; alcohol abuse may already be shortening their life.

I already know of one neighbor who is dying from liver cancer ... yet she continues to drink champagne every evening, while undergoing chemotherapy twice a month.  It is so sad to see the consequences of her drinking problem.

You and your loved ones do not need to be the next victim of this debilitating disease.

If you are interesting in reading more about medical, financial or other issues that could affect you after retirement, use the tabs at the top of this page.  They will link you to hundreds of additional articles.

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