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.

You are reading from the bog:

(Photo credit:

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.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit:

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.

You may also enjoy reading:

Boomers Are Headed Back to College

Resource for Solutions to this Problem:;_ylt=AwrSyCUp76NSY00AyimTmYlQ

You are reading from the blog:

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.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit: