Monday, April 28, 2014

The Best Years of Your Life - After Age 65

Have your ever thought about what you are going to do with the final two or three decades of your life?  While many people retire from their jobs sometime in their 60's, they may continue to live an active, healthy life for another 20 to 30 years.  If you feel healthy and active as you approach your retirement years, what do you plan to do with all that time?

Well known broadcast journalist, Jane Pauley, addressed this issue in her outstanding book, "Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life."  

By using the link above, you will be taken directly to its Amazon page where you can read the first section of her book and decide whether or not you think it might inspire you.  You can also read the review I wrote for the online magazine Squidoo here:  Book Review: Your Life Calling.

Even aside from the Jane Pauley book, we need to explore the many options we have for spending our lives after retirement.  We may choose to travel, immerse ourselves in a hobby, take care of our grandchildren, or enjoy the free time we will now be able to finally spend with our family and friends.  All of these are worthwhile pursuits that can bring us a great deal of satisfaction and joy.

However, some people choose to completely transform the second half of their lives.  A few may decide to pursue an occupation that they hope will change the world.  Others may choose new career goals that are much more modest.

Whatever you decide to do, it is important to realize is that age 65 does not need to be the end of your working careers ... it can be the beginning of something that truly inspires you.

Because of this, I highly recommend Jane Pauley's book.  It is the perfect way to start re-thinking the term "retirement."  Instead of planning to spend those years in a comfy recliner, you may find yourself looking forward to the best years of your life.

If you are planning your retirement and you would like more helpful information, use the tabs at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of articles about the best places to retire in the United States and overseas, medical issues, financial planning, family relationships, and more.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Aging Services in the United States

I recently attended the Orange County Senior Summit that was held in one of the clubhouses at the retirement community where I live in Southern California.  The speakers at the summit included:

Nora Eisenhower of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Laura Mosqueda who is a Professor of Geriatrics at the University of California, Irvine

Lisa Gibson, a registered dietitian and consultant for Age Well Senior Services

Marilyn Ditty, DPA, a Gerontology expert and the CEO of Age Well Senior Services

Karen Roper, MBA, the Executive Director of the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness (a serious issue in some parts of affluent Orange County)

The topic of the conference was Aging in Place with emphasis on the resources that are available to people who hope to age in their current homes.

The information that I gleaned from these experts was fascinating and, over the next few weeks, I plan to share a bit of what I learned with my readers here at

Today I thought people would be interested in the amazing effect that Baby Boomers are about to have on American society, per Karen Roper.

US Population Age 60 and Over

2005:     49,712,000
2020:     76,986,000     

In a 15 year period, the population of people over age 60 will have increased 55% ... and the population is expected to continue to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.  The population of the extremely elderly is expected to grow rapidly, as well.  For example, between 2005 and 2020, the population of people age 85 and over is also expected to have increased by 55%.

Another interesting statistic that Ms. Roper mentioned was that in 2020 (which is only 6 years from now), 20% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65 and 20% of the U.S. population will be under the age of 16.  This will be the first time ever that the number of elderly and the number of children in the U.S. were approximately equal.

The aging population means that there will need to be a significant increase in the services that are available to help an aging population such as:

Adult Day Care
Elderly Nutrition Programs
Elder Abuse Prevention
Affordable Housing
In-Home Care
Legal Assistance
Case Management

How these services are going to be managed is something we all need to be thinking about.  We are fortunate that there are people who are already planning for ways they can help us as we age.  For example, many communities have already set up adult day care programs.  These are services that are available to help people care for loved ones who have dementia.  Being able to leave your spouse or parent with an agency during the day can make a difference between being able to care for them in your home or finding it necessary to institutionalize them ... at great expense.

Community nutrition programs for senior citizens organize services such as low cost hot lunches at senior centers and Meals-on-Wheels for the home bound.  These can make a significant difference in the ability of a person to successfully age in place.

Organizations are also helping to arrange transportation for the elderly to doctor's appointments.  Sometimes volunteers will drive them and sometimes the elderly are eligible for services like low cost taxi vouchers.  These are helpful solutions for people who are no longer able to drive.

Elder abuse is a problem that I have talked about in the past.  While this can mean physical abuse, more frequently it involves financial abuse when trusted family members or advisers swindle money from the elderly.  While there are organizations that try to watch for this type of situation, it can be difficult for people outside the family to detect.

Some of the other discussion topics at this year's summit included helping seniors find affordable housing, locate in-home care or accessing legal assistance.  If you or someone you know could benefit from these services, they should contact case carriers from the state Social Services department or talk to someone at their local senior center to find legitimate sources of help.

In the next couple of weeks, this blog will cover some of the other issues that were discussed at the senior summit, including maintaining your nutritional health as you get older and how to talk to people with Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.

If you are getting near retirement age, you may also wish to check out the tabs at the top of this blog.  They contain links to hundreds of other articles to help you, including where to retire in the US and abroad, medical issues that could arise, financial planning, and more.

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Photo taken by author, Deborah-Diane; all rights reserved.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Where to Retire Near St. Louis, Missouri

Many people in the mid-west have deeply established roots in the area where they currently live ... including their relatives, churches and community involvement.  While they may enjoy spending time vacationing in the warmer states to the south, they don't want to permanently stray too far from home.

Because of the strong feelings these people have about staying near their current location, I want to include retirement information on this blog about a wide variety of cities throughout the United States.  The first one of these will be the area around St. Louis, Missouri.

Climate in St. Louis

Missouri clearly has four seasons.  In January the average daily high is 42 and the average low temperature is about 21; at the other extreme, in July the average daily high is 90 and the average low temperature is 66. The temperature extremes can be even greater than is indicated by these averages.  For example, in the winter the weather can hover around 0 to 10 degrees; in the summer, you will occasionally see days when the temperature rises to nearly 100 degrees.

Missouri gets enough precipitation to remain lush and green throughout the summer.  There are a multitude of lakes and rivers in the region which makes the state very appealing for people who enjoy water sports in the summer such as fishing and boating.

Cost of Living in Missouri

The cost of living in Missouri is lower than in many locations along the east and west coasts.  The state sales tax is 4.225%, and food is only taxed at a 1.225% rate.  State income tax rates range from 1.5% to 6%.  Property taxes are typically about 1.1%.  High income Social Security recipients may have to pay state income taxes on half their benefits.  Pensions are taxed if they are greater than $6,000 a year.

Retirement Communities and Independent Living Apartments

There are at least 30 independent living communities in and around St. Louis, including some on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.  Virtually all of them are independent living apartment complexes, which enable residents to have greater security than those who live in the general population of the city. In addition, residents of these complexes do not have to worry about dealing with snow, yardwork and home maintenance.  While you can find a fairly complete list at the website for "A Place for Mom," here is a selection of some appealing ones that are either within St. Louis or its nearby suburbs:

McCormack House at Westminster Place
Tower Grove Manor
Homer G. Phillips
Alexian Court Apartments
Pacific Place Retirement Community
Tesson Heights
Orchard Terrace
The Rockwood
Crestview Senior Living
St. Catherine Retirement Community
The Hallmark of Creve Coeur
Desmet Retirement Community
The Villa at Riverwood
Lakeview Park
Fairwinds - River's Edge
The Gatesworth
Aberdeen Heights

For those retirees who wish to live in an over-55 community that has private homes, the closest one I could find was the upscale and beautiful Heritage of Hawk Ridge, a community of privately owned homes built by Del Webb in the Lake St. Louis area.  The amenities in this community include a 10,000 square foot clubhouse, a 9-hole par 3 executive golf course, swimming pool, fitness classes, bocce ball and more.  Home prices start at around $175,000.

Another option for people who are looking for an affordable retirement community in Missouri is the Village of Boulder Creek, which is located near Cape Girardeau, about two hours south of St. Louis.  They offer the privacy of single-family, maintenance-free, 2 bedroom rental homes in an over-55 age restricted community.

For seniors who wish to age in place in the homes where they currently live in the city, St. Louis also has seven senior activity centers which offer a variety of services including exercise classes, dances and other programs designed to assist senior citizens.


If you are interested in retiring in the St. Louis, Missouri area, you will also want to check out the information available on the websites listed in this resource section.  I've compiled this list to make it easy for you to find the information you need quickly and easily.

Book:  "Where to Retire: America's Best and Most Affordable Places" (See ad in the sidebar of this blog.)

If you are preparing to retire, you will also want to check out the tabs at the top of this page.  They contain links to hundreds of articles about where to retire in the US or overseas, financial planning, medical issues and more.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You Too Young for Retirement Planning?

When I was in my twenties, retirement was the furthest thing from my mind.  While my husband and I had a few investments and bought our first home, we only had a vague idea about creating a long range plan.  In addition, we made several poor investment decisions at that stage of our lives which we might have avoided if we had been given the right information.  Getting our advice from other people in their twenties was not the best decision.

Our behavior back then is still common today.  Most young people do not put a lot of thought into what they will be doing in another 40 years.  It just doesn't seem real to them.

Unfortunately, when young adults wait too long to start their retirement planning, it will be very difficult for them to make up for lost time.  The advantages of techniques like compounding and dollar cost averaging are more effective when investors start at a young age.

As a result, when one of our daughters graduated from college a decade ago, we gave her the Suze Orman book which is available on Amazon at "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke."

She liked the book so much that she purchased another copy of it to give to one of our other daughters.  Both of them continue to refer to the book frequently.

You can learn more about this book from the review I recently wrote on Squidoo:

One of the beauties of this book is that it provides far more information than simply helping young adults make good investment decisions.  It also helps them understand their credit score and gives them tips on making major financial decisions such as buying their first home and car.

While some of the information in the book may not seem directly related to retirement, any time we make a bad investment decision we are affecting our future ability to have a successful retirement.

Whether you are a young adult yourself or you are related to one, you may want to get a copy of this book.  No adult is too young to start planning for retirement!

If you are starting to think about retirement, you will also want to use the tabs at the top of this blog to find links to hundreds of other helpful articles.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Are You A Retirement Planner, Procrastinator or Crasher?

When researching Continuing Care Retirement Communiites recently, I came across an interesting quote by an industry expert.  He said that most people fall into one of three groups when it comes to moving into a CCRC ... they are planners, procrastinors or crashers.

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, I assume that most of you fall into the role of planners.  You are already thinking about your options for the near-term, as well as for the more distant future when you may need more services. 

What is the difference between the three groups?

Continuous Care Planners

These people are in acceptance of the fact that they will probably need help or extended care at some point in the future.  They also do not want to be a burden on their adult children or other members of their family.  They want to have fun and enjoy life as long as they can, while feeling comfortable that they have taken steps early to assure that they will be taken care of when the time comes and they need more help.  These are the people who explore their options early, decide where they would like to live when they are ready, and let other family members know about their decision.

Continuous Care Procrastinators

Procrastinators are similar to planners except they postpone investigating continuing care facilities as long as they possibly can.  Sometimes they later regret their procrastination, later admitting they wish they had made the decision and moved sooner.  They just didn't realize how much more fun they could have been having by moving to a community where they no longer had to worry about meal preparation, cleaning and similar day-to-day chores.

Continuing Care Crashers

These are the people who do not believe that they will ever need help.  Sometimes you may hear them say things like, "I don't expect to live that long," or "With a heart like mine, I'll probably die suddenly," or "I eat right and take care of myself so I don't think I will ever need someone to help care for me."  No matter which opinion they hold, there is a good chance that they will be wrong.  With today's modern healthcare advances, people often do end up living longer than they expect and discover that they do need assistance later in life, whether they ever thought that would happen or not.  What frequently happens with this group is that they go directly from independent living in their own home directly into a skilled nursing facility, skipping the transition period of living independently in a continuing care community.

Which Is the Right Choice for You?

There is nothing wrong with falling into any of these categories.  Of course, the managers of Continuing Care Retirement Communities would prefer that people move into their facilities when they are in their late sixties or early seventies.  However, for people who are still working or active, this may not be the right decision.  Becoming a procrastinator may be the right decision for a large percentage of people.  I know my husband, who still works, enjoys our traditional over-55 community that does not provide continuing care.  I don't think he would be happy living in a CCRC where no one else had a job.

In fact, there is a good chance that many people, like my husband, would be perfectly happy to be labeled as "Crashers."  He plans to continue to work for several more years and has no intention of moving out of our current community until he is ready for a nursing home.  Circumstances may change as we get older, but that is how he feels at the moment.

On the other hand, if I were a widow in my seventies, I would probably be perfectly happy in one of the Continuing Care Retirement Communities in our area (and there are a number of lovely ones.)  I know that I do not always prepare healthy meals for myself when I am home alone and it would be nice not to have to worry about it.  I also enjoy being around other people and would love to be in a social community where my meals are prepared and there are planned trips, outings and parties I could enjoy, as long as I also had my own, private apartment or cottage.

This is a decision that each of us has to make on our own.  The important issue is not which category you fall into.  What is important is that you make the decision consciously.  Personally I've always believed that the best inheritance we can give our children is the knowledge that they will not have to spend their senior years taking care of us when we are sick and fragile.  I am investigating various CCRC's because I want to know that regardless of the type of illness or dementia that may befall me, my children will not have to feed and care for me 24 hours a day in my later years. 

If you are interested in learning more about Continuing Care Retirement Communities, you may be interested in reading this article that I wrote last week:

Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community

In addition, be sure to check out the tabs at the top of this page to read more about where to retire, family relationships, medical issues and financial planning, including topics like long-term care insurance and its alternatives.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Healing Your Plantar Fasciitis

Now that I am in my 60's, it seems as if at least a quarter of the women and ten percent of the men I know suffer from Plantar Fasciitis.  According to the Mayo Clinic, it is the most common cause of heel pain.  It's an inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the band of tissue that runs across the arch of your foot from your heel to your toes.  Plantar Fasciitis is the name of the condition you develop when your plantar fascia begins to tear away from the heelbone and becomes inflamed.  It can be extremely painful.

Some people only experience the pain when they first stand up in the morning.  As the plantar fascia warms up, the pain goes away.  Other people suffer from it whenever they have been seated for a long time, or if they have been standing or walking a lot.

It is a very common ailment for people who have been runners or dancers, those who have to stand up on their jobs, those who are overweight, and people who wear shoes that do not provide a lot of support.  It also becomes more common as we get older. In my case, my doctor suspected that the sandals and flats that I typically wore were probably the cause of the problem, along with the fact that I was getting older and I had worked for years at a high school where I spent a lot of time on my feet.

Once you are experiencing pain, it is possible to heal your injured foot.  However, it can take months for the pain to go away, even when you immediately begin a treatment plan.  Despite this fact, it is important that you begin treatment as quickly as possible.  If you try to ignore the pain, believing that it will eventually go away on its own, it will only get worse and you could develop foot, knee, hip and/or back problems.

Treatments vary.  In my case, my podiatrist gave me a shot in my heel to reduce the inflammation and pain.  Then, he created a mold of my foot and had custom orthotics made to fit in my shoes.  Unfortunately, even though they were custom made, I did not use the orthotics very often because I did not think they were comfortable.

When I discussed this with my internist, she said that frequently a patient just needs a change in shoes in order to heal the foot.  Both my internist and podiatrist told me that I should wear shoes that were slightly more elevated in the heal than the toe, and my podiatrist gave me the names of some shoe brands to try.

Much to my delight, I have found several attractive, stylish and comfortable brands of shoes that I am able to wear.  Best of all, I haven't felt any pain in my heal in over six months.

While I was experimenting with the different brands, I wrote a series of articles for the online magazine, Squidoo, where I am their "Retired and Loving It Contributor."  These articles were about the different brands of shoes I tried out in an attempt to find the styles that were most comfortable for me, personally.  I am including links to those articles later in this article, so that you can learn more about these brands and see photos of the shoes they offer.

Since I live in Southern California, I particularly wanted to find some flip-flops that I could comfortably wear to the beach in the summer without further inflaming my feet.  Rainbow flip-flops were the ones that worked for me, and there is an article about them below, too.  Both Rainbow flip-flops and Birkenstocks have styles that are also designed for men.

I own at least one pair of every type of shoe mentioned in the list below ... and several pair of the Easy Spirit Travelers that turned out to be the style that was most healing for me.  If you suffer from this common problem, the articles below could be very helpful to you.

Links to Articles about Shoes for Sore Feet:

Easy Spirit Shoes for Women with Sore Feet
Rainbow Sandals for Sore Feet
Comfortable Mephisto Shoes for Women with Sore Feet
Dansko Shoes for Women with Sore Feet
New Balance Walking Shoes for Women with Sore Feet 
Birkenstock Shoes for Men and Women with Sore Feet

Source of information about Plantar Fasciitis:

If you are interested in information about other health problems that could affect you as you age, be sure to check out the tab on Medical Concerns at the top of this blog.  It contains links to a number of other interesting articles.  In addition, you may want to check out the tabs on great places to retire in the U.S. and abroad, financial issues, and other topics of interest to people who are retired or planning to retire.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community

One retirement option that is appealing to more and more retirees as they age is the concept of moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community.   These are a great choice for people who wish to move only once after they retire and stay in the same place for the rest of their life, without the stress of worrying about ever having to move again.

There are approximately 1,900 CCRC's in the United States.  The most popular states for them are Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa and North Carolina.

Cost of Moving to a CCRC

Although they appeal to a large number of retirees, moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community is not cheap.  Most of them require the residents to make a large upfront deposit that ranges from about $80,000 to $750,000 ... with a average of about $250,000.  In some cases, a portion of the deposit may be refunded to your heirs when you die, depending on how long you lived in the community.  While this may seem like an impossible amount of money for the average person, the majority of residents used the equity they received when they sold their home ... since they had no intention of moving back into a single family residence, again.

In addition, you will be expected to pay a monthly fee that covers your housing, meals and other amenities.  This can range from $1000 to $2700.  Again, while this may seem like a lot of money for some people, remember that it covers your rent, utilities, meals and transportation for the rest of your life.  This expense is affordable for many people who are planning to live off of their Social Security and/or pensions.  Therefore, while expensive, these communities are not as unaffordable as many people may first believe, although some people may need to supplement their Social Security or pensions with money from their retirement savings or other sources.

Types of CCRC's

Your community may be all-inclusive, taking care of nearly all your needs for the rest of your life; or they may be partially inclusive, where certain things are included and others are covered by private insurance; or they may be set up with a fee-for-service structure, where you only pay for what you use.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities vary in how they charge you for medical expenses and nursing care.  Some CCRC's include health-care costs.  In other cases, residents can use their private insurance, Medicare, and long-term care insurance to cover their medical needs and skilled nursing care. It is important to discuss this with management in advance, so you have a clear idea of how this will be handled.

Before you move in, expect the CCRC to evaluate your ability to cover your future anticipated expenses.

What to Expect in a CCRC

These communities are appealing residential communities, not old-fashioned nursing homes.  Residents live in private apartments or cottages.  Depending on the community a resident chooses, they may either have one meal a day or all of their meals served to them restaurant style.

Like other over-55 communities, the typical CCRC will have clubs, activities, entertainment, transportation, classes, swimming pools, shops, hair salons, and fitness facilities.  In addition, many of them have access to caregivers or skilled nursing care, often provided by outside contractors for an additional fee, for those who need it.  These residences also have modern amenities like cable television and Wi-Fi.

While the average age to move into a CCRC is about 80, some people do decide to move in while they are in their 60's and 70's, especially if they have have a chronic condition that makes it more difficult for them to prepare their own meals, drive their own cars, etc.  It is an ideal living situation for many senior citizens who are single, have had a heart attack or stroke, who are losing their eyesight, developing Parkinson's Disease, or have similar infirmities.  Younger adults are frequently delighted that they made this decision when they realize that they are still young enough to fully enjoy the amenities.  Older residents often say they wish they had moved in years before.

How to Find a Continuing Care Retirement Community

One way to search for a CCRC in the area where you want to live is to go to  This is the website of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities ... which evaluates and accredits both rehab facilities and retirement communities.

On the website, go to Home - Find a Provider.  Click on Advanced Search. Then enter the State and under Program scroll down until you find Continuing Care Retirement Communities.  When I entered this information for my home state of California, I found 24 CCRCs in my state that were accredited by CARF.  By clicking on the ones in the towns that interested me, I was able to learn more specific information about them.

Once you have a list of CCRCs that interest you, I highly recommend that you look at their individual websites and then go out and pay them a personal visit ... possibly more than once.

In addition to the CARF website, you may also find information on the CCRCs in your state by going on the website for the Department of Social Services in your state.  Their site should explain state regulations for these communities and answer some of your questions.  For example, in California, I learned a lot at, including finding a list of both non-profit and for-profit providers.  The state list was much longer and more comprehensive than the list on the website for, which indicated to me that there are many CCRCs that are not affiliated with CARF.

Moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community is an appealing choice for many people and one that should be explored by anyone who wants the security of knowing that they have a permanent home for the rest of their life, regardless of changes in their health.

Resources: (from the California Department of Social Services)

"Understanding CCRCs," Where to Retire Magazine, January/February 2014. (website for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities)

If you are looking for more retirement information, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to articles about where to retire in the United States and abroad, financial planning, medical issues, family relationships and more.

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