Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Fifteen Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2013

Every year I compile a list of my most popular posts of the year.  This year's list includes topics ranging from statistics about Baby Boomers and information about long term care insurance, as well as a wide variety of different choices of appealing places to retire.  In fact, Boomers seem to be more interested in finding the right place to live than in any other topic.  Below is the list of the most popular retirement stories for 2013, beginning with my most popular post of all, "Lake Ashton, Florida Active Adult Community" (with nearly 9000 views in its first few months after publication).

In addition, look for more articles on similar topics in the coming year.  Already in the works for the first two months of the year is a list of important dates you will need to know in 2014, where to find stimulating second careers, an article about the best city for Americans who want to retire in Guatemala, as well as other retirement options for retirees, plus things to consider if you are planning to live in another country.

Meanwhile, make sure you have checked out these stories that attracted large audiences over the past year.  You can click on the individual titles that interest you if you wish to be linked directly to them.

Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2013

Lake Ashton Florida Active Adult Community

The Forbes List of Top Retirement Cities

Advantages and Disadvantages of Over 55 Retirement Communities

Ten Ways to Make Money After Retirement

Golf Cart Friendly Retirement Communities

Fascinating Statistics about Baby Boomers

Over 55 Retirement Communities by Del Webb

What If You Can't Afford to Retire?

Over 55 Retirement Communities by Four Seasons

Alternatives to Long Term Care Insurance

Age in Place Villages Provide Resources in Your Neighborhood

Senior Living in a Med Cottage or Granny Pod

Should You Move or Age in Place When You Retire?

More Places to Retire Overseas

Lennar, Pulte and Centerline Multigenerational Homes

If you are retired or planning to retire soon, you may also want to use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles about places to retire in the United States or overseas, financial issues to consider, medical concerns, and changing family relationships.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Becoming a Caregiver for Your Parents or Spouse

My sister just flew to Florida recently to pick up my parents, their car and some of their belongs, so she could drive them back to her home in Missouri.  My mother has severe dementia.  My father has been her caregiver for the past few years but he was beginning to become depressed by the situation.  My sister decided it was time to help him out.  She has a comfortable apartment over her garage and she was willing to have them live there, despite the fact that my mother insisted that she did not want to leave her home in Florida.  I am so grateful to my sister for taking on this difficult situation.

I have called and spoken with my father several times since the move, and he is so relieved.  He has repeatedly told me that he is much happier being around other family members and he is so glad that he is no longer solely responsible for my mother.

According to the Orange County Council on Aging, there are an estimated 20 million Americans who are still raising their own children while also helping with the care of their aging parents.  This does not include the millions of elderly people who, like my father, will spend years caring for a spouse with mental or physical limitations.  If you find yourself in one of these situations, you are not alone.

What a Caregiver Needs to Know

*  Caring full-time for another person can be demanding, exhausting and may take a toll on your job and your other relationships.  It is important that you take care of yourself and get all the help you can.  No matter what is going on with your loved one, you cannot take care of them for long if you are not taking care of yourself.  Make sure you get enough sleep, eat right, get exercise and that you get out of the house on a regular basis.

*  Have your loved one assessed by a geriatric specialist.  Make sure they also have dental, eye and hearing exams so that their quality of life is as good as possible.  There is no reason to make life harder on either you or them if there is a health issue, such as poor eyesight or hearing loss, that can be corrected.

*  Involve the elderly in as many of their healthcare decisions as possible.  If they are mentally competent, they have the right to be in control of their own life and make their own decisions about end of life care.

*  Expect that the elderly may be resistant to any changes and to your help.  They may not want to become a burden on you.  They may be embarrassed that they need your help.  They may miss having their own home, seeing their old friends, etc.  Understand that they may seem angry or depressed at times as they grieve their changing circumstances.  My mother is a perfect example of this.  Although she can no longer be left alone and she cannot cook, pay her own bills, or do many of the things she has enjoyed doing in the past, she was very resentful about the move.  She did not want to leave her own home because she was familiar with it and she felt safe there.

*  If you do not have relatives to help you, hire help, even if you can only afford to hire a care-giver for a few hours a day or a few days a week.  A caregiver may be able to drive your loved one to doctor's appointments, church or other activities.  They can also help with bathing, dressing or feeding someone who needs assistance.

*  If your spouse or parent has dementia, find out if there is an adult daycare center in your community.  This may be essential if you are still working.  These organizations provide supervision for someone who cannot be left at home alone during the day.  They also provide simple, but interesting activities for the elderly ... such as painting, jewelry making, physical exercise, games and entertainment.

*  Contact local nursing homes and assisted living facilities to find out which ones provide vacation care.  Many nursing homes and dementia care facilities can provide temporary care for your loved one when you are going to be out of town.  This may actually be more comfortable for them than dealing with the stress of airport security and other issues that could come up if you attempt to take them with you on a trip.

*   Try to make sure that your loved one's legal documents are in order ... including their will, Advance Health Care Directive, and insurance coverage.  Discuss sensitive issues, such as funeral planning, with them, if they are mentally competent.

*  Reassure yourself that their finances are being properly handled ... that bills and insurance premiums are being paid, assets are correctly invested, former residences are sold or leased out, etc.  In my family's case, my sister and my father have taken the necessary steps to list the Florida home for sale, fully furnished.  My nephew will be driving down with a truck to pick up the few items my parents want to keep and that would not fit in their car.

*  Talk to their doctor so that you fully understand what medications they should be taking and any adjustments that need to be made to their lifestyle.  For example, should their car be sold or do they need special safety equipment or assistive devices such as a walker?

*  Contact your local senior center for information on resources that may be available in your area to help you.  They may be able to give you information on community programs that could save you money and benefit your loved one. 

Even while dealing with your role as a caregiver, you may also need to take action to make your own retirement plans.  Use the tabs at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of articles about retirement planning, medical issues, and more.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Enjoying Retirement as a Couple

You and your spouse have both worked hard the past 40 years or so, earning a living, raising a family, taking care of a home, and perhaps even caring for grandchildren or elderly parents.  During this time, you never had to worry about how to fill your days.  You had plenty to keep you both busy.  If anything, you never seemed to have enough free time.

Now, finally, its your turn to relax and you can't wait to retire.  You've saved some money, qualified for your Social Security benefits, and paid down your debts.  You're ready to live the life you've always dreamed about.

However, have you taken the time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your spouse to discuss exactly what you want to do after you stop working?  What are your plans ... both for yourself as an individual and for the two of you as a couple?  Are the two of you in agreement about how you will be filling your days after you stop working at your jobs?  If you haven't talked about these things, you may be headed for conflict until you work out these issues.

Reducing Conflict After Retirement

I have known a number of women who dreaded the day their husbands retired.  This does not mean that they don't love their husbands.  It is just that they have enjoyed having time each day to themselves, to use as they like.  While their husbands may look forward to having more free time after retirement, some of them want to spend every available second with their wives.  This means that the wives have to give up the free time they've grown accustomed to.

Examples of Retirement Issues that Can Arise

*  When my father-in-law married a retired Unitarian minister late in life, he looked forward to traveling.  He was thrilled that she was leaving her very time-consuming career and he expected that this gentle woman would want to travel all over the world with him.  Unfortunately, she had looked forward to leaving the ministry so that she could write the religious books that had been on her mind for years.  In addition, her former congregation still loved her, and frequently invited her back to be a guest minister.  Although my in-laws did travel occasionally, my father-in-law had not expected to have such a busy wife in retirement, and it did cause some conflict between them.

*  I have seen similar situations arise when one person wants to start a second career as a writer, artist, or shop owner while the other person wishes their spouse would play golf, go out to movies and dinner, and give them their undivided attention.  The first spouse feels that they have obligations to the new career they always wanted to pursue, and their partner sometimes feels left out and a bit jealous.  This can also be an issue when one person decides not to retire at all, but continues working, even when their spouse wants them to spend more time at home.  I have a friend whose 70+ year old husband is a doctor.  He claims he never plans to retire, while she would like him to quit his job, or at least cut back his hours.

*  I have also noticed that there can be some irritation on the part of a person who wants their spouse to be around more, when that spouse continues to take on new responsibilities, such as volunteering at the local art museum or hospital, or caring for an ill parent or other relative.

*  Sometimes one person can be overwhelmed by all the togetherness that retirement can bring.  When I was a Realtor, our sweet, part-time receptionist was a woman in her 60's.  This was her very first job in her entire life!  She had gotten the job when her husband retired.  She explained that she just felt she needed some time out of the house every day.

Working Out a Congenial Retirement

While conflicts cannot be completely avoided with couples, there are some steps you can take to minimize them:

*   If possible, talk about your vision for retirement before the day comes.  Each of you needs to tell your partner what your goals and dreams are for retirement and how you see your partner fitting into your vision.  The two of you may have lived together for decades, so by this time you should be able to discuss how to make things work for both of you.

*  Both of you need to be realistic.  After you have done some traveling and finished a few projects around the house that you may have been postponing, you need to decide how you are going to fill up your days for the rest of your life.  Without a job, you need to find your own ways to stay busy or you will become bored and expect your spouse to fill your days for you.

*  Plan ahead.  You could live another 20 or 30 years after retirement. What do you plan to do with that time?  Do you have goals you would like to achieve?  What are the things you would really enjoy doing?  Do you want to take classes, learn to sail, play bridge, write a novel, take up painting or sculpture?  These things won't happen unless you become proactive.  Make a plan and set up a schedule to make these things happen.  Be open to new things.  Join a theater group, sing in a choir, experiment with something that seemed crazy during your working years.

*  Be thoughtful of your spouse's needs and goals.  Talk about what things you will do together and what things you will do separately.  Each of you should feel free to enjoy your personal time to the fullest, without guilt.  At the same time, agree not to interrupt your spouse's pursuit of their goals during their personal time. Treat each other as if you both have jobs.  When you do this, you will both enjoy the time you have scheduled to spend with each other even more.

*  Plan date nights, including certain afternoons and evenings that are just for the two of you.  Plan for trips together.  Just as when you were working, you both need to schedule time to spend together, as well as the time you spend separately.

*  Finally, take responsibility for entertaining yourself, getting together with friends, taking classes, volunteering, or pursuing your own personal goals.  You'll be happier when you are both busy and engaged in fun activities.

When couples take this approach, they are much more likely to have a rewarding retirement that they can both enjoy.

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Boomers Are Headed Back to College

Resource for Solutions to this Problem:;_ylt=AwrSyCUp76NSY00AyimTmYlQ

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Boomers Are Headed Back to College

Baby Boomers have a lot of energy and most of us are definitely not ready for the rocking chair, regardless of our age.  Whether we are still working or have already retired, large numbers of Boomers are taking advantage of their local colleges.

Their educational pursuits may be geared towards getting a degree or completing a certificate program in order to help them start a new career.  The vast majority of Baby Boomers, however, are taking classes for fun and their own personal enrichment.  Often, these enrichment classes cost the students little or nothing.

Degree and Certificate Programs for Older Americans

When my husband and I took our grandkids to a local community college for their science career night, I noticed that although most of the students were in their late teens and early twenties, there were also a surprisingly large number of older adults who had gone back to school to become dental hygienists, x-ray technicians, medical assistants or to pursue similar careers.

I have also known Baby Boomers who decided to go back to school to get advanced degrees in their current field or to get the necessary training to start a brand new career.  For example, we have had friends who enrolled in programs to become chefs, computer technicians, and tax consultants, often as second career choices.

If you are a Baby Boomer who has not retired yet, and you are looking to start a new career or you are hoping to advance in your current job, going back to college is a smart first step towards reaching your goals.

When you enroll in one of these career programs, you should expect to pay tuition and you will have additional expenses for books and materials.  For those of you who are doing this to improve your job skills, your current employer may help cover the cost.  If you are going back to school in order to change careers, you should be eligible for a student loan through Sallie Mae that will help you cover all or most of the costs.

College Emeritus Enrichment Programs for Fun!

A large number of Baby Boomers are also signing up for free or low-cost Emeritus programs through the colleges in their communities.  Many institutions of higher learning ... from community colleges to private universities ... offer local senior citizens the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of educational experiences.  Often these classes are offered free or for a very low fee.  The choices available may include sitting in on lectures, auditing classes, or participating in programs that have been specifically designed for senior citizens.

For example, the University of California at Irvine sponsors an inexpensive monthly lunchtime lecture series in their University Club, and this program is open to the general public for a small annual fee.  For a very small additional charge you can also enjoy the hot lunch buffet.  The lectures are given by college professors or by local citizens who have had interesting life experiences that they want to share.  When I lived near UCI, I joined this group and enjoyed a wide variety of fascinating lectures on every topic you can imagine ... California art, life in an Afghan cave, horses, historical events, etc.

Now that I am retired, I take free yoga and circuit training classes from Saddleback, a local community college.  The classes I take are taught by Saddleback instructors, but are offered in my neighborhood. However, these classes represent only a fraction of those that are available.  In fact, they have free classes throughout central Orange County in a number of different communities, including Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Laguna Woods and Irvine.  The courses are offered in community centers, senior centers, churches and retirement communities. 

The subjects offered include: investing in stocks, art history and appreciation, ceramics, enameling and stained glass, jewelry making, painting and drawing, sculpture, natural history, bird watching, creative writing, sewing, health, a variety of physical education exercise classes, history, music appreciation, philosophy, photography, current events, Spanish, lipreading, theatre and much more.

The Saddleback Emeritus program is reputed to be one of the best in the United States.  However, wherever you live in the U.S. it is likely that your local community college or four-year university will offer at least some of the same free and low-cost non-credit course offerings for older residents of the area.  Check out their websites or call the colleges in your area to see what they offer.  If you live in Orange County, California, you can check out the local class offerings at

Although the classroom instruction is free for all the Emeritus classes mentioned above, students are expected to purchase their own supplies and equipment such as paints, canvasses, yoga mats, Pilates rings, cameras, books, etc.

Advantages of Going Back to College

Whether you are going back to school in order to improve your job opportunities or to enhance your health and enjoyment of life, remember that you are never too old to become a student.  People have been known to continue to take college classes well into their 90's.

Those of you who choose to take a free or low-cost Emeritus class will discover that these programs are a great way to meet new people with common interests, stay physically fit, and keep your mind functioning at its best.

In addition, it is healthy for everyone to pursue their own interests after they retire.  Taking a few classes will prevent you from becoming too bored, too much of a recluse, or from driving your spouse crazy trying to entertain you! 

If you are retired or making your retirement plans, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles on topics that include where to retire in the US, where to retire overseas, medical issues that affect Baby Boomers, family relationshipss and financial planning.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Free Ways to Give Thanks by Helping Others

Many of us want to do something to help those in need during the holidays.  One way to do that is to write a check to a charitable organization such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, UNICEF or a religious non-profit.  Like most of you, I have done all of those things. However, there are many people today, especially retirees and those who are near retirement, who cannot afford to give generously to charities.  Fortunately, this does not mean that there is nothing they can do to help others.  In fact, the cost-free contributions you make may become the best loved, most appreciated gifts of all.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get started and, if you look around your neighborhood, you are sure to come up with more ideas on your own.

Free Ways to Help Others

*  Reach out to your elderly neighbors.  Invite them to join you for one of your holiday meals or take a plate of food over to them.  Even if they already have some place to go on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, they may really appreciate sharing some of your leftovers with you a day or two later.  Take along a few flowers from your garden or a sweet treat.  The days between the holidays can be very lonely for many people, especially those living a long way from their families.

*  Stay in touch with people who may have lost a loved one in the past year.  Invite them to spend time with you and your family.  If they are not ready for a big family gathering, just taking the time to invite them over for coffee one morning could be greatly appreciated.

*  Don't just limit your help to a meal during the holidays.  Check in on the elderly in your area often during the year to make sure they are OK.  Offer to help with tasks that are easy for you, but may be difficult for them, such as changing light bulbs or blowing the leaves off their lawn.

*   Gather a few friends or take your grandkids to visit a nursing home.  Call ahead to ask when it would be a good time to come.  Go Christmas caroling there or take along some easy crafts or games.  Many elderly people love to see children around.  Encourage your grandkids to chat with the residents.  I had a friend who used to get her teenage grandson to dress like Santa Claus and visit a nursing home in our community.  The residents loved it!

*  If you or your grandkids enjoy making crafts, elderly people in your area may appreciate whatever you make ... whether you bake cookies or knit lap blankets for those who are wheelchair bound.  There are others who may also appreciate homemade gifts.  When I was a Campfire leader, our troop members would make friendship bracelets and similar items of jewelry that were popular at the time.  Then we would take them to a local orphanage for the girls who lived there.  It was a special way for our Campfire girls to reach out to others.

*  Volunteer to help at a local soup kitchen serving meals to the homeless.  This is a wonderful idea to do with your friends or other members of your family.  Soup kitchens often need extra volunteers around the holidays because they have more people who show up to be fed.

*  Volunteer at a food bank, and bring along any extra canned goods you may have.  Food banks frequently need volunteers to fill bags or boxes of food to give to the needy.  The holidays are the perfect time to volunteer because they frequently get more donations to distribute this time of year.

*  Volunteer at an animal shelter.  Many of them need people who are willing to walk dogs or help in the reception area.  Younger members of your family may love to do this with you.

*  Don't forget members of the military when you are reaching out to others.  Do you have stacks of books that you have already read?  Why not send them to the troops who are away from home?  You can do this by contacting -- a non-profit organization that collects and ships books to troops both in the U.S. and those who are stationed overseas.

*  Just be nice.  The holidays can be a particularly stressful time of year for many people.  They may be missing a loved one who died or moved away during the past year.  They may work for a retailer and feel overwhelmed by rude, rushed customers.  They may be having financial difficulties that make it hard for them to afford to buy gifts for their loved ones.  Whatever is going on with the people you encounter, you can either help them have a better day or your actions can make their day worse.  Choose to be kind, polite and considerate to everyone you meet.  You'll feel better about yourself, and you may make a significant difference in the life of someone else, as well. 

If you are retired or planning to retire soon, use the tabs at the top of this page to find articles about retirement financial planning, medical issues, family relationships and the best places to retire.  This blog is a great place to get started towards a happier, healthier and more financially stable retirement.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

UCI Study on the Brains of the Very Elderly

The University of California at Irvine has been engaged for the past decade in a landmark study aimed at understanding why some of the very elderly are able to stay mentally and physically healthy well into their 90's and beyond.  The results of this research could benefit millions of Baby Boomers who are just beginning to reach retirement age.

The study is being conducted by UCI neurologist Claudia Kawas and epidemiologist Maria Corrada.  It is called the 90+ Study.  It began in 2003 when Kawas and Corrada went to UCI after leaving Johns Hopkins University.

However, the real beginning of this research was in 1981 when a University of Southern California research team mailed 14,000 questionnaires out to residents of the Leisure World retirement community in Orange County, California (now renamed Laguna Woods).  Kawas and Corrada are using the information gleaned on that questionnaire and have set about contacting as many of the people who originally completed it, as possible. Many of them, of course, died over the years.

However, when Kawas and Corrada found someone who was still alive and at least 90 years old, they invited them to join their 90+ Study.  Most were eager to do so.  Participants agree to have their blood tested twice a year, demonstrate their mental acuity by doing things like counting backwards from 100 by 3's, and donate their brains to the researchers when they die.

About one-third of the people in the study have dementia, but the other two-thirds do not.  Kawas and Corrada hope to learn why.  The National Institute on Aging recently awarded them a $9.5 million grant to continue their research.  The money will be used to pay for MRIs and positron emission tomography scans on the donated brains so they can compare those people who have dementia to those that do not.

This is the largest study of the 90+ population in the world, and it will be fascinating to find out what these researchers discover.

Although I am not old enough to be part of this study, I am delighted that it is taking place in the community where I live.  I look forward to watching for future reports on what is being learned and I promise to pass updates on to my readers as new data is revealed to the public.

If you are retired or planning to retire soon, use the tabs at the top of this page to search for more information on medical issues, retirement finances, family relationships or places to retire.  Using those tabs, you will find links to hundreds of helpful articles.

Source of information on the UCI study:

"UCI's 90-plus Study Tackles Age-Old Question" by Lori Basheda.  Laguna Woods Globe, October 17, 2013 (a subsidiary of the Orange County Register)

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Best Cities for Military Retirement

If you are retiring from the military, your retirement needs are likely to be quite a bit different from those of civilian retirees.  The typical military retiree leaves their branch of service in their 40's with a pension that is approximately half of their military pay.  Since many of them still have children they are supporting, they often have to start a second career.  Even if they don't have children to support, they may want to continue working in a civilian job for other financial reasons after they retire from the military.  As a result, they have unique challenges that they need to consider when they decide where they want to retire.

U.S. News recently addressed some of these challenges when they put together their list of the best places for military retirees to live after they leave the service.  The research they used when they complied their list was conducted by USAA, an insurance company that covers military families, as well as by, a website geared towards active and retired military personnel.  They reviewed 380 metropolitan areas in the United States and looked at issues that are important to most military retirees such as low crime rates, good schools, nice climates, nearby military facilities, VA medical services, low unemployment (since many of them will be looking for jobs), local colleges (so they can get re-training), affordable housing, and tax policies that are favorable towards military pensions.  Shown below are the cities they chose.

Best Cities for Military Retirees

Waco, Texas
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Austin, Texas
College Station, Texas
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
San Angelo, Texas
Madison, Wisconsin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
New Orleans, Louisiana
Syracuse, New York

More Considerations for Military Retirees

You'll notice that three of the ten cities are in Texas.  This may be because Texas is generally supportive of the military, has low unemployment, no state income tax and a low cost of living.  Therefore, if the three cities mentioned on the list don't appeal to you, or they are not near your family, you are likely to find many of the same advantages throughout the state.

This brings up the point that there are other factors that will affect your choice of the right city that may not have been considered by USAA and, such as job offers you might have received, where you grew up, and proximity to other members of your family.

You'll also notice that the above list does not include places that have traditionally been popular with retired military personnel, especially retired members of the Navy, such as San Diego and Honolulu.  Although these are wonderful cities with fabulous climates and nearby military bases, they also have the disadvantage that they are really expensive for people who are primarily dependent on a military pension.  While many members of the military have happily retired to those places over the years, it may be difficult for more recent retirees to find affordable housing in those cities.

The bottom line for military retirees is that the above list may give them some general ideas, but they also need to consider other issues that may be more important for them.  One thing you should consider is the fact that the government will pay for one final move when you retire from the military.  Therefore, you want to spend the last year of your service doing some careful research so you end up in the place where you really want to live.

If you have served in the military during war time, you may also want to read this article about VA long-term care insurance:

In addition, if you are planning to retire or you are already retired, use the tabs at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of other articles that contain ideas about where to retire in the United States or abroad, financial planning for retirement, medical issues, family relationships and more.


You can read their full list of criteria used at:

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You Eligible for VA Long Term Care Benefits?

A few months ago, I wrote an article on "Alternatives to Long Term Care Insurance."  Because many people do not think about purchasing this insurance until they are already in their 60's or they have a serious illness, they are frequently turned down or faced with unreasonably expensive premiums. That is why several readers requested that I write an article on some of the alternatives that may be available to them.

When I wrote that article, I was unaware of another possible alternative (although I have gone back and added a link to this article.)  Recently, I was watching a program on the in-house television station for our retirement community and discovered that one in three Americans are eligible to receive veterans long-term care benefits through the Veteran's Administration, but only about one in ten of the eligible people are aware of it!  I thought this was shocking and disappointing.

Qualifications for VA Long Term Care

The VA will provide financial assistance that can be used towards the cost of either a nursing home or an at-home caregiver for either a war veteran or their spouse.  While the money does not fully cover the cost of a nursing home, it can make a significant difference to a family that is struggling to afford necessary nursing care.  It can also go a long way towards covering the cost of a home healthcare aide.

In order to qualify, the former member of the military must be an honorably discharged war veteran or be the surviving spouse of one.  The veteran could have served during WWII, Vietnam, Korea or the Gulf War.  Here's the good part.  The veteran does not have to have actually served in the war zone!  It is also not necessary that the war was going on the entire time they served.

The veteran needs only to have served for one day during a war and had ninety days or more of total military service during the war era.

The veteran could even have served stateside during the war and never actually seen any military action at all.

In order for the spouse to qualify to receive long-term care benefits, they must have been married to the veteran at the time of the veteran's death.

Long Term Care Benefits

If you are eligible, the VA may provide up to $24,000 a year tax-free for a married couple towards their in-home care, personal care, assisted living care, or whatever assistance they need in order to live.  There is no cut-off.  The benefit can last the lifetime of the the veteran and the surviving spouse.

These benefits will not affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits.  In other words, your Social Security and Medicare benefits will not be decreased because you are receiving this VA benefit.

This supplemental $2000 a month can be life-changing for a family struggling to provide care for their elderly parents.

More Facts You Should Know

First, the eligible persons do not have to initiate the request for this program.  This is important because dementia or other health problems may make it difficult for them to apply.  A spouse or adult children can initiate the request for care.  

You do not need to be poor to get this benefit.  You can have assets and income and it will not matter in most cases, especially if you have high medical expenses that are offsetting your income.

Many people have been told, incorrectly, that they do not qualify for this benefit.  In fact, the man who was providing this information for my local television station said that his own mother was initially denied.  If this happens to you, you should appeal the initial decision.  You may wish to contact a specialist to get help.

The application forms are extremely complicated, which is another reason why you may want to get assistance from an accredited VA attorney.

In addition to long-term care, there are also other programs which could help you.  For example, you may be eligible for the VA disability benefits that are due to people who were injured during war time.  You may even be eligible if the injury does not appear until later ... such as in the case of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.

For more information, you may also want to contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs directly at:

If you are retired or preparing to retire, use the tabs at the top of this page to access links to hundreds of other articles that may be of interest to you, including information about where to retire, your changing family relationships, medical issues, and handling your retirement assets.


William Jordan Associates in Orange County, California is a Southern California wealth management company that assists people in handling their assets.  This company also provides free assistance to people to help them apply for some government benefits, specifically their VA long-term care benefits.  (However, be aware that they also sell retirement and investment services.)
(949) 380-8600

"This Day" television program, Channel 6, Laguna Woods television station, 9/25/2013

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Retirement Communities in Maine

When many people think of over-55 retirement communities, they often believe that the vast majority of them are located in the Sun Belt states of Florida, Texas, Arizona or California.  However, as nice as many of these locations are, many people do not want to move far away from their families, friends, doctors, churches and social network.

Recently, one of my readers asked me about retirement communities in Maine and I promised to do some research to discover what is available.  I was pleasantly pleased to discover that people who want to retire in Maine will have all the same options that are available in Sun Belt locations.

Full Spectrum of Retirement Choices Available

Maine has any type of retirement housing you are likely to need, both when you first retire and when you begin to age and need more help, including active adult communities, assisted living homes, senior apartments, continuing care, and dementia facilities.

Readers can find a comprehensive list of the facilities that are available in Maine at this website:

Gorgeous Highland Green Active Adult Community

In addition, I wanted to mention one specific award-winning, over-55 community that is specifically geared towards active Baby Boomers:

Highland Green
7 Evergreen Circle
Topsham, ME 04086


This charming community is located near the college town of Brunswick and also provides easy access to the cultural opportunities available in Portland.   Because Highland Green is located along the coast of Maine, there are abundant recreational opportunities available in the area, including fishing, sailing, boating, hiking and simply relaxing at the beach.

Golfers will love the beautiful nine-hole golf course; non-golfers will appreciate the fact that you only pay if you use it.  Golfers and non-golfers alike will love the natural beauty that the golf course brings to the community.

Highland Green has a strong neighborhood feeling.  Approximately half of the residents are from Maine and the other half are people who retired to Highland Green from another state.

The homes in Highland Green are modern and energy efficient, built in a classic New England style.  Residents can choose from lots that are next to the golf course, adjoining conservation land, or that back up to wooded forest land.  All the home designs have a main living area that is one-story with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, ranging in size from 1,400 to over 3,000 square feet. The homes also have nine foot ceilings and extra tall windows.

In addition, homes may contain options such as basements, lofts, fireplaces, crown molding, chair rails, studies, sunrooms and screened porches, depending on the desires of the buyers.

Visit their website (linked above) for more information.

For More Retirement Help

There are also hundreds of additional articles in this blog about places to retire, financial issues, medical concerns, family issues and more.  Use the tabs at the top of the page to find links to the articles that interest you most.

Please feel free to leave a comment, below.  All comments are emailed to me and I will respond in this blog, if possible.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Beware of Advance Pension Loans

As if there are not enough scams that target older Americans and retirees, now there are people who are trying to cheat them out of their retirement income by offering to lend them money against their pensions.  

You have probably seen ads for payday loans.  The loans that are targeted at retirees are essentially the same as payday loans, except they are called advance pension loans.  The annual interest rate on these loans can be as much as 100%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

An interest rate of 100% is outrageous, especially since the loans are taken out against secure pensions which are generally guaranteed as long as the person is alive. 

Warnings Against Advance Pension Loans

The CFPB is warning retirees to avoid these types of loans.  They report that the loans are being offered in very deceptive ways.  This is an important enough issue that I wanted to pass on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warnings.
The companies making the loans are often secretive about the terms of the loan and may be very aggressive about getting people to sign up.  In addition, as mentioned before, the interest rates are usually outrageous!

How Advance Pension Loans Work

In particular, the lenders purposely target retired military personnel, police officers, firemen, state employees and others who are entitled to a government or private pension.  The lenders typically offer to loan the recipient a lump sum and, in return, they ask for access to the retiree's pension information until the loan is paid off.  Since the interest rate can be 100% (and sometimes more), it can be almost impossible for someone on a tight fixed budget to ever be able to repay the loan. 

These lenders are often operating illegally.  It is against federal law for pensions to be assigned to a third party; however, the lenders are getting around the law by opening special joint bank accounts with the retirees in order to hide what they are doing. The pension is deposited into the bank account and the lender removes it.

Since the lenders often do not reveal the exact terms of the loan, the pensioners frequently do not have any idea how much they will have to repay and many have no idea what they are getting themselves into.
The problem has become so serious that New York's Department of Financial Services has launched an investigation into these predatory lenders.  Several have already received subpoenas.  The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, released a statement saying that these deceptive practices will not be tolerated.

The national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also concerned and they have issued a nationwide alert.

How to Protect Yourself from Predatory Lenders

How can a consumer protect themselves from these predatory lenders?

1.  Do not give a lender access to the bank account where you receive your pensions.  Do not enter into an agreement with someone in which you pledge your pension in return for a loan.

2.  Do not borrow money from an unfamiliar organization or loan company.  Go to your bank or a trusted financial advisor if you need money in a hurry.  There are better options and you may be able to take out a personal loan or a loan against one of your assets, while getting much better terms such as a lower interest rate, particularly if you have a long-term relationship with your bank.

3.  For more ideas, check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau article below.  (It is the third link listed in the Resources section.)

Resources for this story: 

In addition, if you want more retirement planning information, check out more articles using the index tabs at the top of this page.  In particular, you will want to check out the Retirement Money tab.
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

What Will You Do After You Retire?

Like many recent retirees, I worried that I would get bored once I stopped working.  In fact, I have known many Baby Boomers who are nearing retirement age who have expressed this fear.

Frequently, they make statements such as, "I don't want to play golf every day," "I don't want to get roped into babysitting my grandkids too often," "I'm not the type to play bridge all the time," or "I hate just sitting around the house watching TV."

As I have mentioned before, I live in an over-55 retirement community with lots of activities ... more than any human being could possibly do.  Within weeks of retiring from my job, I had signed up for a circuit training class three days a week and a yoga class twice a week.  I also joined the Writer's Club and was pleasantly surprised by the number of published authors in my community.  Before retiring, I had already been involved in horseback riding and walking on the beach every weekend.  In other words, I quickly got involved in a wide variety of activities.

In addition, I also drive two of my grandchildren to school every morning during the school year.  While they could ride their bikes or walk to school, I actually enjoy having the freedom to pick up these two grandkids and spend that twenty minutes or so in the morning with them.  One day a week, when my granddaughter has a late start at school, I take her to Starbucks and we sit and chat for half an hour before I drop her off.  This extra time with my grandkids has been one of the perks of retirement.

I've also discovered that I like cooking again ... at least once in a while.  Let's face it, when you are a working wife and mother, it gets to the point where dinner is whatever you can put on the table.  In the past, I was most inclined to stop and pick up a pre-cooked chicken, order pizza or sushi, or do something easy that required the least cooking possible.  Now I'm preparing full meals that take a little more effort.  While I still fall back on my easy meal ideas a few times a week, I find that I am cooking more often than I have in years ... and actually enjoying it.

Of course, I also write this blog and provide content for a number of websites.   This not only is a creative outlet for me, but also provides additional retirement income, doing something I love.

However, this is my personal experience.  So, prior to writing this post, I also decided to canvas some of my friends who do not live in a retirement community and do not have grandkids that live nearby.  What surprised me is that they have no trouble filling up their free time, as well.

Some of them have signed up for classes from the local community college or senior center.  They also enjoy being able to engage in activities that they couldn't spend much time on before ... painting, writing books, hiking, reading and having lunch with friends.  They are cooking, gardening, spending time with grandkids, traveling, redecorating their homes, volunteering for charities, driving Meals on Wheels, and so much more.

While our level of activity will, of course, decline as we get older, I have discovered that Baby Boomers are finding a wide variety of ways to stay busy and enjoy their retirement.  In fact, one refrain that I heard over and over again is, "I'm so busy now, that I don't know how I found the time to work!"

So, if you are hesitant to retire because you believe you will be bored or you won't have enough to do, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.  Anyone who has the energy to work all day will be eager to find more enjoyable things to do after retirement!  Jump right in ... the water's fine!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

2014 Social Security Raise Expected to be Tiny

Social Security recipients are going to receive a tiny increase to their benefits again this year.  The preliminary estimate is that the increase will be only about 1.5 percent.  Considering that the average monthly benefit is currently about $1,162, this means the estimated increase will amount to approximately $17 for the typical beneficiary.

The size of the COLA not only affects retirees on Social Security, but also disabled veterans, disabled civilian workers, federal retirees, and SSI recipients, as well as their survivors.  The same cost of living estimates are used for all these groups.  This percentage may also be applied to other types of pensions, so this tiny increase will affect millions of retirees and disabled Americans.

Last year the increase was only 1.7 percent and, prior to that, there were no increases at all for the previous two years.  Over the past few years, more and more Social Security recipients are beginning to feel the pinch.  It is also becoming more difficult for them to put aside money for emergencies or unexpected expenses such as medical co-pays and car repairs.

The reason given for the low 2014 cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is because consumer prices have not gone up much during the past year, according to government figures. In addition, fuel prices have actually gone down over the past year.  For people who are still working, lower fuel prices are certainly helpful, although this may be a less significant benefit for people who no longer commute and use their cars very little.

Some advocates for senior citizens say that the way the government measures inflation is unfair to retirees, as they tend to spend a higher percentage of their income on health care.  The low COLA doesn't help them very much since medical costs have actually risen an estimated 2.5 percent over the past year.  This is one reason that so many retirees feel that they have been falling further behind.

Things may become even more challenging for retirees over the next few years.  Congress is currently looking at making changes to all the entitlement programs, including Social Security, Medicare  and federal pensions.  The goal is to make these programs more sustainable in the long run, which is a worthy goal.  However, this plan is likely to make it even tougher for retirees to survive on their benefits alone.

For example, if the government switches to a chained CPI to calculate future cost of living increases, as has been suggested recently by several members of Congress, we can expect to continue to receive extremely low Social Security cost of living increases in the coming years.

AARP has been actively fighting against the use of a chained CPI to calculate future cost of living increases.  However, it may be a hopeless battle, since this currently seems to be the most popular recommendation for entitlement reform.  I will continue to keep my readers up-to-date on developments with regard to this issue.

(The number used in this post for the 2014 COLA will be revised should the actual increase be higher or lower than 1.5%)


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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Baby Boomers Moving Downtown and Uptown

When I sold real estate in Dallas, Texas in the 1990's, my last project was a gorgeous high-rise loft building on the edge of downtown, with a fabulous view of the city lights.  Several of the buyers were people who had decided to shuck their suburban homes, their lawns, and their yard work, and move to this classy loft building.

In the 1990's, these people were considered urban pioneers.  They were moving into an area that had very few support services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and dry cleaners.  However, what they lost in convenient shopping at suburban strip malls they replaced with easy access to the city's top restaurants, bars, theaters, museums and cultural events.  Most of these high-rise buyers felt it was a fair trade-off.

Recently, both Realtor Magazine and USA Today wrote articles indicating that this trend has become even more common among Baby Boomers over the past decade and a half.  Many empty-nesters who are no longer worried about schools and playgrounds are deciding that they want to live closer to adult amenities.

While high-rise condos and luxury apartments in the downtown area of most cities can be more expensive than life in the suburbs, some Boomers with grown children have discovered that they can now afford to indulge this lifestyle.  After all, they no longer need to have three-bedrooms and a large amount of square footage.  In addition, hopefully they are no longer supporting their kids!

The trend towards downtown living can be seen in cities across the United States.  Here are sixteen cities that were specifically mentioned in the Realtor Magazine and USA Today articles:

Dallas, TX
Phoenix, AZ
Austin, TX
Nashville, TN
Portland, OR
New York, NY
Boston, MA
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Denver, CO
Sarasota, FL
Washington, D.C.
Boulder, CO
St. Petersburg, FL
Seattle, WA
Baltimore, MD

There are a few disadvantages to high rise living.  First, you have to carry your groceries and other packages much further.  You no longer have a garage situated right next to the door into your kitchen. Second, highrise living usually involves significant downsizing at the time you move into a condo or apartment.  Third, living downtown means you are more likely to experience issues with traffic when you need to go places that are not within walking distance.

As a result, I have also noticed over the years that some Baby Boomers prefer not to move to a high rise in the downtown area of the city and, instead, choose to live in uptown townhouses, since they are still convenient to all the restaurants, bars and theaters that the downtown area had to offer.

If you are looking for an opportunity to experience a new type of lifestyle, ask your Realtor to show you some examples of downtown highrises, lofts and uptown townhouses in your city.  You might be surprised at how appealing these homes can be when you no longer need to be concerned about schools and other child oriented neighborhood amenities.


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to Fix Medicare

Something needs to be done about Medicare.  If no adjustments are made to the current program, in another ten years it will no longer be able to cover the full amount of seniors' hospital bills.  Different proposals are being floated by politicians in Washington and by advocates for senior citizens, and these proposals were recently evaluated by AARP  in the October, 2013 ARRP Bulletin.

Here are the two approaches currently being considered to solve the Medicare problem.  They are completely different and, according to the AARP analysis, the second option is by far the most preferable.  Since many of my readers are politically active, I thought I would lay out the choices so you can advocate for the changes that you believe would be best.

Option #1 - Increase Medicare Copays to Seniors

Some Washington politicians have proposed that senior citizens begin to be charged copays for certain services, such as their home health care visits.  For example, the suggested amounts range from about $100 to $600 for each 60 day period of home health care.

AARP points out that this was tried once before and it was later repealed because it placed such a heavy burden on many seniors.  Such a bill would cause some seniors to forego home health care and other services, which could actually cost Medicare more if patients end up being hospitalized.  In addition, it could simply switch the burden for these services to Medicaid, which would then put a heavier burden on the states.  Finally, the premiums for Medigap insurance policies would also increase.

Option #2 - Reduce Medicare Fraud and Abuse

There is a new bipartisan bill before Congress that is known as the PRIME Act - "Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures Act."  This bill is aimed at saving taxpayers an estimated $60 - $90 billion a year in Medicare fraud and abuse.  Here are some of the highlights of the bill:

* It makes it more difficult for criminals to steal the identities of physicians and bill for Medicare services that have not been performed.

* Increases the penalties for stealing the identities of patients.  It outlaws the illegal sale, purchase and distribution of Medicaid and Medicare ID numbers.

* Increases the federal reward for fraud tips and establishes a Senior Medicare Patrol.

* Cracks down on doctors who improperly bill Medicare.  Steps would be taken to close loopholes, stop double billing and generally do a better job of tracking payments.

* Penalizes private companies that handle bill paying for Medicare if they do not meet specific payment accuracy goals.

Share Your Opinion With Congresss

Personally, I believe that every possible effort should be made to decrease Medicare fraud before higher fees are charged to senior citizens.  I cringe every time I hear a news story about doctors being arrested for billing Medicare for treatments that either never took place or that were unnecessary.  Even if fees eventually need to be increased, I believe that the PRIME Act should be passed, first.

What do you think?  Do you have other suggestions for lowering Medicare costs and keeping it more sustainable?

No matter which Medicare option you prefer, you can express your opinion to Congress by calling 1-877-940-1510.

With discussions occurring right now over the budget and debt ceiling, now is the time for you to let members of Congress know how you feel.  Sooner or later, this issue will affect nearly every American citizen.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Minto Homes - Florida Retirement Communities

Until recently, I had never heard of Minto Homes.  Much to my surprise, however, I learned that Minto is a Canadian company that has been building quality projects for over 60 years.  Over the past few years, they have expanded into the Florida housing market, offering choices in a wide range of prices from about $200,000 to $1,000,000 in master planned communities.

If you are considering a relocation to Florida, there is a good chance that you may see some Minto houses in several of the more popular neighborhoods ... both those that are age restricted for senior citizens as well as those that are open to everyone.  Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to my readers to learn more about this well-respected home builder.

You can also find links to other articles about a variety of retirement communities in the United States and overseas by using the tabs at the top of this blog.

Shown below are the current developments in which Minto is involved.

Mento Homes in Florida

Harbour Isle on Anna Maria Sound

This is your opportunity to live along the beach on a private island in Anna Maria Sound (pictured above).  New homes range from about $380,000 to $500,000.  Although this is not a golf community, there are a number of golf courses nearby.  Within the community you will find a private clubhouse, pool, cabanas, and a marina.  The homes are energy efficient and your homeowner's dues include maintenance, for a carefree lifestyle.

Sun City Center in the Tampa / Sarasota area

This over-55 community contains paired villas as well as single family homes.  Prices for Minto homes in the community range from about $170,000 to $500,000.  There are other builders who also build residences in Sun City Center.  The community has its own hospital and several nursing homes.  There are about 20 golf courses, two indoor pools, an outdoor pool and many other amenities.  Minto offers a stay and play program that may interest you, too.  For just $99, you can stay in a Minto home in Sun City Center for two nights, while enjoying some of the amenities on the property.  This is a great way to decide if this neighborhood is right for you.

Twin Eagles near Naples

Minto has recently completed  two new model homes in this luxury development that contains two highly rated golf courses and a lavish clubhouse.  Single family home prices start at about $500,000 and go up to over $1,000,000.   If you purchase a home from Minto in this community, it currently comes with a free golf membership, although the members are responsible for paying annual golf dues.

Town Park in Port St. Lucie

This is another adult community for those who prefer to live in an age restricted neighborhood.  Home prices are very affordable, ranging from the $200,000's to the $300,000's.  The community offers a wide variety of amenities and is near a number of restaurants and retailers.

Better Business Bureau Report on Minto Homes

In doing research online, I did not find any complaints or angry articles written about Minto Homes.  I thought it was also worthwhile, however, to check out their Better Business Bureau report, just to be on the safe side.

The Better Business Bureau gives Minto Homes an A-.   The BBB has received four complaints about the company during the past three years.  Only one of the complaints occurred in the past 12 months.  Of the complaints that were file, one complaint was over advertising or sales; the other three complaints dealt with problems with the product or service that was offered.  All of the complaint files have been handled and closed by the BBB.

The BBB report goes on to say they they know of no government actions against the company and they have nothing negative to report regarding the company's adertising

Contact Information:

In addition to finding more information on the websites listed in the source section below, you can also call Minto directly at:


Sources for the Information in this Article,_Florida

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Myths About Over 55 Retirement Communities

Having living in an age restricted over-55 retirement community for more than nine years, I have noticed that there are a lot of myths about these communities.  As a result, I thought this would be a good time to clarify a few things and dispel some of these myths.

What You Should Know about Active Adult Communities

1.  Many people believe that in order to move into an over-55 community both members of a couple must be at least 55 years old.  However, only the husband or wife needs to be age 55 or older.  Their spouse can be any age.  It is also possible for a resident who is over the age of 55 to have a roommate who is at least age 40, or they can have an adult of any age as their live-in caregiver.  There are also special exemptions for residents who have a dependent adult child who is mentally or physically handicapped, although you may have to provide evidence of the adult child's disability.  Contact the retirement community that interests you to see if they have any specific requirements or limitations, such as whether live-in caregivers can use the amenities.

2.  Often younger people of retirement age believe that everyone in an age restricted community is extremely old.  The truth of this may depend on how old the community is.  For example, the community where I live was founded in the 1960's.  Therefore, there are a number of residents who have lived here for 30 years or longer. Consequently, the median age is 76, although it has been falling in recent years because of the influx of younger retirees. There are thousands of residents who are much younger than the median age.  In fact, the Baby Boomers club is the most popular and fastest growing club in our community.  If you are looking at a new age-restricted community, the median age may even be under age 70.

3.  Sometimes people are hesitant to move to one of these communities because they have the impression that everyone is either a shut-in or that they spend their days sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs.  While there are definitely some shut-ins in any retirement community, the vast majority of people are very physically and mentally active.  In our community, we have a group of synchronized swimmers, horseback riding classes, tennis courts, two busy golf courses and a wide variety of exercise programs including line dancing, circuit training, yoga, water aerobics, and much more.  There is a large group of bridge players and over 200 clubs. There are also regularly scheduled dances throughout the community. 

4.  Another misconception is that your children and grandchildren will not be able to stay overnight in your home with you.  In truth, guests under the age of 18 can legally stay up to 60 days a year.  In fact, when one of our daughters moved to Southern California from another state, she and her two young children stayed with us for about six weeks until she found a job and an apartment of her own.

5.  Baby Boomers who still have active careers may feel uncomfortable about whether they should move into any place labeled a retirement community while they are still working.  However, about a quarter of the people who live in our community have jobs.  Some of them work full-time, like my husband, and others work part-time, as I did until I recently retired.  Not only do many people work outside the community, but our retirement community also offers jobs to hundreds of residents.  These residents hold a wide variety of jobs including positions as gate guards, bus drivers and office clerks.  Many retirees find that working part-time for the homeowner's association is a great way to supplement their retirement income.  In fact, homeowner's associations in retirement communities may be one of the easiest places for retirees to be able to find part-time jobs.

6.  Another mistaken impression some new residents have is that these communities are so safe that the residents do not need to practice good personal security.  As a result, it is not uncommon for people to leave their homes unlocked while they go for a walk, leave their cars unlocked when they visit friends, or leave their purses sitting in plain view on the front seat of their cars.  (I have frequently observed all of these behaviors.) Good personal security is as important in a retirement community as anywhere else.  While these communities usually do have a low crime rate, crime does exist.  It isn't wise to tempt outside visitors and workers in the community by practicing lax security.

I hope this has dispelled some of the myths that you may have had about living in a retirement community!  If you have other questions, please leave them in the comment section and I will modify this article to answer the readers' inquiries.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Would You Recognize a Heart Attack?

When my mother was 65, only one year older than I am now, she had a massive heart attack, followed by triple by-pass surgery the next morning.  Until the heart attack hit her, she thought she was only feeling a little uncomfortable because of the heat that day.  She and my Dad were in the process of cleaning out my grandmother's house after my grandmother had moved to assisted living.  They spent the day cleaning and packing up granny's belongings.  It was a hot summer day and my parents were carrying things in and out of the house, so the fact that my mother was perspiring heavily and feeling a little weak did not alarm her ... until she collapsed.

Symptoms of Heart Attacks 

We are all accustomed to the movie version of heart attacks in which a man puts his hands to his chest and collapses.  However, while this dramatic event will sometimes occur, it is not the first or most likely sign that you may be having a heart attack.  Listed below are the symptoms that both men and women should be concerned about:

Excessive perspiration, including a red face
Shortness of breath when you have not been exerting yourself
A heavy feeling in the chest or back
Achy, flu-like symptoms
Pain in the jaw, neck, back, or chest that doesn't go away
Extreme and sudden weakness or fatigue

All of these symptoms are especially alarming if they come on quickly and they are not relieved when you sit or lie down.   However, if you are experiencing these symptoms and cannot figure out why, you need to seriously consider the possibility that you are having a heart attack.

As you'll see in the comment section below, Domestic Diva said, "Your warning symptoms should be taken seriously. I think one of the reactions you'll find experienced by many heart attack survivors is that what they felt was somehow different. It wasn't quite like indigestion they've had before, or a flu they've suffered in the past. If you've lived to your 60s and experience a discomfort you've never had in all those years, it's worth getting checked out."  I moved her comment up here because I thought her words were something everyone should read.

Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate

When you read the list of symptoms above, many of them can also indicate very common illnesses, such as the flu, a strained muscle, or heat exhaustion.  Because many heart attack symptoms are vague, it is no wonder that my mother thought she was simply suffering from the effects of the heat.  Although she was a smoker, she was not over-weight and she had no history of heart disease.  She had no idea that she was in the process of having a heart attack until she collapsed and woke up in the hospital.

Many people still think of heart disease as an illness that primarily kills men.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Women are actually about 15% more likely to have a heart attack than men, and they have double the chance of having a heart attack within six years of the first one.

Everyone should know that heart attacks kill women as well as men.  In addition, women (and their family members) need to know that women, in particular, can have a heart attack and never experience any chest pain!  About one out of three women will die of heart disease.  About two-thirds of them will have no prior symptoms. 

Our family was fortunate.  My mother is still alive at age 81, sixteen years after her heart attack and open heart surgery.  She has gone on to live an active lifestyle and, until recently, played golf on a regular basis. While she is suffering from other age-related health problems today, I'm pleased that she was able to survive her heart attack sixteen years ago.

For more information about this killer disease, go to the website of The American Heart Association.

If you are nearing retirement age and want more information about how to have a higher quality of life during your retirement years, please check out the index articles below.  They contain links to a number of helpful articles on a variety of topics.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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