Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dental Care, Oral Health and Retirement

One problem that most retirees will face is the expense of dental care after retirement.  Unfortunately, although oral health is absolutely essential to our overall health, Medicare does not cover dental care.  In addition, taking care of our teeth can become increasingly expensive as we become older, especially if we begin to lose teeth and need dentures or implants. This can put a financial strain on many of the elderly.

Dental Care After Retirement is Expensive

The issue is serious enough that my husband recently set up a GoFundMe account for a friend and retired veteran who needed to have a number of his teeth replaced with implants.  Neither Medicare nor the Veteran's Administration offered a program to help him.

Fortunately, the money was raised and friends of the man were able to work out a system to take turns driving him to a dental school about 60 miles away, so that he could get his implants at a discount.  However, GoFundMe accounts are unlikely to be the solution for every retiree in America.

Sadly, it is quite possible that the man would not have let his teeth decline to the point where his teeth needed to be pulled and replaced with implants, if he had been able to afford to get consistent dental care sooner.

Other Health Conditions are Affected by Poor Dental Health

One reason that we need to take care of our teeth is because poor oral health does not just affect your mouth.  The resulting decay and infections can complicate the treatment of other medical conditions, including:

Heart Disease
Alzheimer's Disease
Other forms of dementia

Symptoms of Poor Dental Health

There are a number of both obvious and vague symptoms that can indicate that a person needs to see a dentist.  These include:

Pain or discomfort
Bleeding gums
Bad breath
Difficulty swallowing or chewing food
Difficulty speaking
A decrease in socialization, often because of discomfort when eating or embarrassment over bad breath or the appearance of the teeth.

How to Make Sure You Will Have Adequate Dental Care after Retirement

Dental care is not part of Medicare.  As a result, most experts highly recommend that everyone get a dental insurance supplement when they sign up for Medicare.  It is available with both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans and is offered by most insurance carriers.  This is one reason why most retirees will not want to rely on basic Medicare without some type of supplemental plan.  In fact, the lack of dental coverage is one of several disadvantages of relying on basic Medicare alone; most people will be better off with either a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan, with an additional dental plan.

Many of the dental supplement insurance plans are offered in combination with a vision plan ... another healthcare issue that is not covered under basic Medicare.

Retirees need to know, however, that while dental plans are helpful in reducing costs, they will not completely cover dental expenses.  In addition, it is important for senior citizens to have extra savings in order to cover unexpected dental expenses, especially for major dental problems such as root canals, crowns, dentures or implants.

For example, with my Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage Plan, I pay an additional $20 a month for a dental and vision plan.  Under this plan, I pay $80 out-of-pocket every four months for teeth cleaning and approximately $1000 if I need a crown ... and that is only if I use one of their in-network providers.  Out-of-network providers can cost me double that.  However, despite the hefty cost of dental care, the co-pays are substantially cheaper with the insurance than they would be if I did not have dental insurance.

Advocating for Better Dental Care Insurance Plans

Considering that oral health is closely associated with cardiovascular health and other medical issues, it would benefit millions of people if better dental care programs were available to all senior citizens.  In particular, it would be helpful if plans with low co-pays were available to low-income and moderate-income retirees.

Hopefully, as Baby Boomers retire, they will put pressure on Medicare insurance providers to make sure that comprehensive dental care is included at a reasonable price.

Learn more about oral health at the website of the American Dental Association.

If you are looking for additional information for retirees about health issues that can arise as you age, or other retirement information, use the tabs or the pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Wellington - Vintage Senior Living in California

The Wellington is just 5 miles from Laguna Beach!

Once most seniors reach their 80's, depending on their health, many of them will make the decision to move to a Senior Living Community, Assisted Living, or to a Continuing Care Retirement Community. 

CCRCs are multi-level retirement communities that contain both independent living apartments or cottages, as well as at least one additional level of care such as assisted living.  A CCRC also has skilled nursing and/or memory care facilities.

Although I have researched a variety of assisted living and continuing care communities, I have only occasionally spent any length of time touring or visiting one.  When a friend of mine moved into The Wellington, a senior living community near my home, and invited a few friends over for the weekly cocktail hour, I thought it was time to check it out.

Although The Wellington in Laguna Hills, California is just one out of thousands of these communities around the United States, it is fairly typical of the way they are run.  I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when I visited.  Below are some of my observations.

What are Assisted Living or Continuing Care Retirement Communities?

*  First of all, these places are nothing like the old nursing homes where some of us may remember our grandparents living.  The Wellington is part of the Vintage chain of senior living communities, which has multiple locations on the West Coast.  Rather than living in a small room in a nursing home, residents in these communities have their own spacious, comfortable, private apartments. 

*  There are different ways to pay for a CCRC.  At many CCRCs, they require you to "buy in" and this can cost $200,000 to $400,000 or more (which can be partially refunded when you move out or die).  At the Wellington, and many other senior living communities, you rent your apartment and it is on a month-to-month basis.  This allows residents more flexibility, should they decide to leave and move somewhere else.  This is especially important because the Wellington offers independent living and assisted living, but it does not offer skilled nursing or memory care. In those situations where you need more intensive care, you may need to move somewhere else at some point in your life.

My Impressions of The Wellington

*  Upon entering The Wellington, the lobby area has the feeling of an upscale hotel.  On the far-side of the lobby is an elegant dining room with tables covered by white table cloths. I checked out the menu, which offers the residents a nice variety of choices in their meals, including daily specials. Residents order from the menu or off the list of specials and the meals are served restaurant style.

*  Our hostess showed us around the community and we saw a number of pleasing amenities including a large pool and spa, a putting green, a fitness center, a barbecue area and several park like sitting areas, shaded by large eucalyptus trees that are scattered between the buildings.

*  The individual apartments are large, comfortable and personally decorated by the individual residents, using their own furniture and artwork.  Each apartment also has a covered balcony where residents can relax in privacy and enjoy the outdoors.  Residents are even allowed to keep their pets with them.  There is no need to give up your beloved animal companion.

*  Most of the apartments at The Wellington also have large kitchens with full-size appliances, despite the fact that the residents are provided all their meals, as well as snacks throughout the day.  However, it is my understanding that many of the apartments in other, similar communities do not have kitchens or have very small kitchenettes.

*  Many of the apartments at the Wellington have stunning mountain and city lights views; others have a view of the tree lined paths in the inner courtyards.

*  According to our hostess and the calendar we were given, there is a full schedule of activities for the residents.  In addition to the weekly cocktail party, there are daily exercise classes, shopping trips to a variety of stores in the area, art classes, brain games, book club meetings, religious services, Bingo, movies, bridge and classes.  There is no reason for anyone to sit alone in their own apartment.

*  Transportation is available for field trips, shopping, doctor's visits, the airport, and special events or outings.  There is no need to use your own car, although you can keep one at The Wellington if you choose, especially if you wish to plan your own outings to places like nearby Laguna Beach (pictured above).

*  In addition to the independent living arrangement, additional services are available through their assisted living program.  These are offered for additional fees above the cost of the apartment rental.  These extra services can include keeping track of your medications, assistance getting to and from the meals and other activities, feeding assistance, housekeeping services, incontinence assistance, and help with bathing, grooming or dressing.  They will even bring your meals to you in your room, if you prefer.  If you have long-term care insurance, your rent and many of the xtra fees may be covered by your insurance.

What Else Should You Know?

*  While The Wellington has many wonderful attributes, there are limits to the care that is available there.  There are no skilled nursing services, physical therapy facilities, or a memory care unit.  Should you need any of those services, you would have to move to another community, at least temporarily.

Is Living in a Senior Living Community or CCRC Right for You?

Only you can decide when or if you should move into a senior living community, assisted living facility or a CCRC.  The average resident who moves into one of these living situations is usually in their 80's.  Some people move in earlier, especially if a husband or wife has a serious illness and their spouse cannot care for them alone.  For example, at the cocktail party I attended, my hostess introduced me to a very healthy, active man who had moved into The Wellington because his wife was dying and he needed help caring for her.

You need to be comfortable living and socializing with a wide variety of people, some of whom are feeble, ill or using walkers.  On the other hand, not everyone living in these communities is in declining health.  Among the outings that were shown on the monthly calendar was a men's lunch at Hooters and regular beach walks.  Activities are planned that will appeal to a wide variety of senior citizens, including aging Baby Boomers.

If you are looking for more information about retirement, use the tabs or drop down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles about where to retire, common medical issues, financial planning, changing family relationships and much more.

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Photo credit:  Photo of Laguna Beach taken by author, Deborah-Diane

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Websites to Help Protect Your Identity

If you are like most people, you probably feel as though your identity has been sold so many times that everyone in the world must have your name, address, Social Security number and other private information by now.  Identity theft is an ongoing problem and it seems to get worse every day.

However, there are still a few things you can do to protect yourself.  While no system is perfect, with the help of a few websites you can at least reduce the amount of information that can be used against you.

The first step you need to take is to limit the amount and kinds of information about yourself that is available.  Next, you need to know how to check your credit information to make sure it is correct and has not been contaminated by a company's carelessness or by someone who has been using your identity for their own purposes.  Then, learn how to keep your personal information private whenever you use social media.  Finally, consider using a credit tracking company to protect your identity in the future.  Below is the information you will need to do these things.

How to Get Yourself Off Phone and Mailing Lists

Everyone should contact the services below and have their name removed from as many lists as possible.  Start with these free services:

To Remove Your Name from Direct Mailing Lists:

or write:
DMA Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY  10512

For Telemarketing Lists - Use the Government Do Not Call List:

Remove the name of deceased individuals, whose identity is frequently stolen:

Opt out of pre-approved credit offers:
1-888-5 OPT OUT

Remove your email address from internet or email ads:

How to Check Your Credit Reports

Everyone is entitled to free copies of their credit reports.  It is important that you check yours several times a year to make sure no one is taking out credit cards or opening accounts in your name.  You can contact the credit bureaus directly or you can contact them all at once by using the single service listed below.  Do NOT pay to get your credit reports.  If anyone asks for your credit card information, you are on the wrong site.

Another site that provides free credit reports and will help monitor credit applications in your name is

A third site that allows you to check your credit scores is  They will also monitor your accounts and you can join for free.  They also update credit scores and credit reports every day, so your information is always as current as possible.

Learn How to Keep Your Information Private on Social Media

Both the police and criminals have become adept at using social media.  The police use it to catch criminals; the criminals use it to find victims.  You do not want to make yourself an easy victim.

Read the privacy information on sites like Facebook.  Make sure you use the tightest privacy settings possible.

Do not become Facebook friends with people that you do not know very well.  Unfriend people who you suspect are sharing your posts with strangers.

Just to be extra careful, do not post detailed personal information on social media, especially your travel plans.  Wait to post photos of your trips until after you get back home.  You do not want strangers to know that you are out-of-town.

In addition, reset your passwords periodically, especially if you think your account has been hacked.

Services that Protect Your Credit

In addition, if you are still concerned that your private information might be stolen, use a service like LifeLock.  For a monthly fee, they will give you your credit rating or report to you any attempt to open an account or credit card in your name.  If you are the person who opened the account, then there is no problem.  If you weren't the person, then you will be alerted and take immediate action.

A free service which will also give you free credit reports and monitor credit applications that are made in your name is Credit Karma. 

Take Action to Protect Your Identity

With so many hackers and other criminals, it is important for all of us to do everything we can to protect our identity.  While we would like to think that the government and corporations are doing it for us, the truth is that they are not doing a good job of protecting us.  We have to make sure we do everything we can on our own.

Another step you can take is to ask your bank and credit card companies to send you new cards that contain chip technology rather than the "old-fashioned" strips.  The chips are much harder to hack.

If you are looking for more information to help with your financial planning or other information of use to retirees, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Senior Living Communities for Baby Boomers

Senior living communities have many activities, today.
Occasionally, I allow retirement experts in specific fields to write a guest post for this blog, if I believe it is on a topic that would be of interest to Baby Boomers … either those who have already retired or those who are planning to retire.

The guest post below was provided by Jacqueline Hatch of Seniorly and deals with the ways in which senior living communities are changing so they will be more attractive to Baby Boomers as we age.   Seniorly helps match retirees with senior housing in California, but the information Jacqueline provides in this post applies to similar communities throughout the United States.

Whether we like to think about it or not, most of us will eventually need to spend a portion of our lives in an independent living retirement community, an assisted living facility or a skilled nursing home.  Many of us may have preconceived opinions about these types of living arrangements, especially if our parents or grandparents have lived in one.  However, Baby Boomers will be pleased to know that many of these types of residences have improved dramatically over the past few years.  The guest post below discusses some of the improvements you might expect to see in one of today’s senior living communities.  It also explains how you can find more information about living options in California, if that is where you want to retire.

Senior Living Communities Change to Appeal to Baby Boomers
by Jacqueline Hatch

Baby boomers entering retirement age have a different set of expectations when it comes to considering residency at assisted living, independent living, and skilled nursing communities. To meet these specific needs and preferences, communities are now transforming to improve their offerings, making their homes more marketable to a younger demographic.

Senior housing providers are looking to rebrand in order to highlight their full continuum of care, going beyond basic needs such as health care to offer more to their residents. It’s not uncommon for these communities to offer art and music classes, film nights, community outreach options, lifelong learning programs and even happy hours for the enjoyment of community residents.

After all, one of the greatest benefits of living in a care community is the socialization aspect. In their effort to attract boomers, communities are working to highlight the aspects of their programs that support socialization. Communal dining options, fitness classes and philanthropy opportunities all appeal to younger folks who want to remain happy, active and engaged as they age.

Our friends at share articles and blogposts on the topics of aging, health care and fitness for older adults.

Do you need to find senior housing for yourself or a loved one? Make the search process easier by signing up with Seniorly for free; you’ll get access to local community profiles, as well as a friendly customer support team and information on pricing and availability.


Are you looking for additional information on where to retire in the U.S. or abroad, financial planning, common medical issues, Social Security, Medicare or more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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