Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Alzheimers Disease Research

Are you worried about developing Alzheimer's Disease?  You have good reason to be.  Currently, there are about 5.3 million people in the United States who have Alzheimer's.  By 2050, experts believe that there will be over 15 million people in the U.S. living with this dreadful disease.

Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik is a neurologist who has been researching Alzheimer's for the past 25 years, originally at Harvard Medical School and later at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  While he has not found a drug or technological treatment for the disease, he has discovered lifestyle behaviors that seem to dramatically reduce the risk.

Habits of People Who Have a Low Dementia Risk

1.  Physical activity lowers dementia risk.  You do not need to run a marathon to benefit.  Exercising three times a week for 15 to 30 minutes each time resulted in fewer cases of Alzheimer's disease, even for people who had the disease run in their family.

2.  Walk a mile a day.  People who walk six to nine miles a week have more gray matter in their brains.

3.  Dance!  Dancing not only provides physical activity, but it keeps you social.  Socializing and learning new steps are both good for your brain.

4.  Eat brain healthy foods ... leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.  Eating four servings of vegetables a day can cut your cognitive decline by 40 percent.

5.  Minimize unhealthy foods ... butter, margarine, red meat, cheese, sweets, desserts, fried food and fast food.

6.  Use brain healthy spices, especially curry and turmeric.  They contain the antioxidant curcumin, which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, cancer, arthritis and depression.

7.  Make friends and spend time with them.  As mentioned above, socializing is very important.  People who spend time with others had a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline over a 12 year period.

Take on mentally stimulating tasks.  Research shows that you can postpone dementia by nearly a decade by exercising your brain.  Here are some activities you could try:  read both fiction and non-fiction (especially new topics), play board games, practice a musical instrument, work on puzzles, draw, paint or sculpt.

How to Learn More about Reducing Alzheimer's Risk

Would you like to learn more about Dr. Kosik's research?  You can use this link to order his book "Outsmarting Alzheimer's" from Amazon.  It is available in both hardcover and paperback versions. You may also be interested in the other books on dementia shown below. They are well worth reading.

If you want to know more about common health issues as we age, where to retire, financial planning, family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other helpful articles.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Earn Extra Money from the Sharing Economy

Many Baby Boomers who reach retirement age are a bit short on money and long on energy.  They may not have saved as much money as would have been ideal, but they are still able to work, drive and travel.  Some of them have already discovered that they can turn their energy into extra retirement income through the sharing economy.

What is the Sharing Economy?

The sharing economy refers to our ability to "rent out" our assets, which include our homes, cars, skills and time.  The professional services firm PWC estimates that about one in five U.S. adults have been involved in the sharing economy as either a buyer or seller.  Many of the participants are over the age of 55.  PWC also calculates that the size of the sharing economy is approximately $15 billion currently and could grow to $335 billion by 2025.  This means that a large number of retirees will be able to enhance their retirement income this way.

Popular Services in the Sharing Economy

There are a number of well-known companies that allow people to become engaged in the sharing economy.  Here are  a few examples:

Airbnb - They operate a website that allows you to host guests in your home.  You can rent out a spare room or your entire home.  About 25 percent of the hosts in the United States are over the age of 50.  Many of them are empty-nesters with a spare bedroom and a need for extra income.  Some have found that it has enabled them to stay in their homes.  The typical host earns about $7,500 a year.  You do have to be careful, however, when you open your home to strangers.  Some people prefer to do it only when they are away.  Occasionally, people have returned to large messes or even significant damage to their home ... although this is not the norm.  The company says that this happens rarely and they provide liability insurance and damage coverage of up to $1 million.

Uber - This is a ride sharing service.  About 25 percent of the drivers are over the age of 50.  You must have a valid driver's license, car insurance, a clear driving record and be able to pass a background check.  You work when you want.  You can earn $18 to $24 an hour.  Drivers do not carry cash, which reduces their risk.

DogVacay - If you do not want to open your home to people, you may be more willing to host dogs, instead.  There are over 20,000 dog hosts in the U.S. and Canada and about one-third are over the age of 50.  The typical host earns about $1,000 a month, although some in rural areas can earn much more.  Hosts can choose the dogs they are willing to accept.  The company provides professional and liability insurance.  Payments are handled by the company, so hosts are not responsible for doing the collecting.

Fiverr - This company makes it easy for you to sell your professional or creative services, including graphic design and voice-overs.  Clients are charged at least $5 per job and the company keeps $1.  Obviously this means you only want to start out offering your services for tasks you can complete in 15 to 20 minutes.  However, the prices go up for custom orders and other extra services.  You need to be able to provide a service that is in demand and that can be performed over the internet.  I have known people who turned to Fiverr to get help with a variety of projects, including designs for book covers, ghost written articles and editing.

TaskRabbit - Taskers, as they are called, sell their time to others who need little jobs performed for them.  You earn $35 a hour, less 15 percent which the company keeps, to do anything from yard work, shopping, running errands, hanging pictures and assisting people in similar ways.  The taskers must be able to pass an identity and background check, since they are going into the private homes of the clients.

RelayRides - Do you have a car that you do not drive very often?  You can rent it out and earn extra cash.  The vehicle must have less than 100,000 miles on it and be worth less than $75,000.  The average active owner earns about $475 a month.  The company provides $1 million in insurance to cover damage to the vehicle.

Vayable -   Would you like to be a tour guide in your city?  This company matches tourists and local guides.  Retirees often have the time to give tours and frequently they are also the most knowledgeable about their community.  The company screens all guides and the meetings take place in public settings, which reduces your risk.  This can be a fun way to earn a little extra money, meet new people and have fun.  Guides set their own fee and the company keeps 15 percent.  Tourists also pay a 3 percent commission to the company.

Other Ways to Participate in the Sharing Economy

In addition to the above companies and similar ones, you may also participate in the sharing economy on your own.  If you decide to do this, you may want to only offer your services to people you know or who are recommended to you by reliable associates.  In addition, check with your city or county to see if you are required to have a license to provide any of these services.  You may also want to talk to your insurance agent about your need for additional liability insurance.

Below is a list of services you could consider:

Dog walking
House sitting
Home staging for Realtors and home sellers
Caring for exotic pets ... iguanas, parrots, snakes, etc.
Renting out your garage or basement for storage
Assisting the elderly in completing medical insurance claim forms
Personal bookkeeping
Running errands or driving for elderly or disabled neighbors

You may also have other talents or know of services that you could perform, such as taking family or wedding photographs, party planning, babysitting or assisting people in similar ways.

One woman I know rents out two bedrooms in her home to two women who have long commutes and just need an affordable place close to their job where they can sleep on Monday through Thursday nights. The women eat all their meals out; my friend simply provides them each with a bed and access to a bathroom.  She earns a little extra money and her house guests have a place to stay that is convenient and less expensive than a hotel.

Whatever you decide to do to earn extra money in the sharing economy, it can make a significant difference in your financial situation after retirement.

If you are interested in more information to help you with your retirement planning, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, financial planning, common medical issues, changing family relationships and more.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Delaware Retirement Ideas

The State of Delaware is the smallest in the United States.  Because of this, I was surprised to discover that there are two neighborhoods in Delaware that receive a large number of internet searches each year by people who are looking for a place to retire.

While neither of the communities in this article are age restricted, over-55 communities, both of them attract many buyers who are either retired or who plan to retire in the near future.

Since Delaware is not in the Sun Belt and is not known for having a mild, tropical climate, it is even more surprising that this tiny state should attract so much attention by retirees. People who wish to retire in the Northeast will certainly want to know more about these communities.

Advantages to Retiring in Delaware

Both of the communities mentioned in this article are located in the town of Bethany Beach, Delaware, along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a popular resort area with three public golf courses within a five mile radius.

There are a number of advantages to living in Delaware.  For example, there are no state sales taxes and real estate taxes are low.  Social Security benefits are not taxed by the state.  Up to $12,500 worth of investment or other retirement income is exempt from state income taxes.  There is no state inheritance tax and no personal property tax.  Delaware has been named the most tax-friendly state for retirees by Kiplinger's Magazine.

The area along the coast of Delaware is ideal for those who enjoy golfing, bird watching, sailing, fishing, shopping or visiting museums and cultural events.  Delaware's beaches are among the cleanest in the country.

Waterside in Bethany Beach

Waterside is an unusually small community, considering it seems to attract so much attention.  It consists of just 80 homes ... 33 single family homes, 24 townhomes and 23 four-story Canal Woods townhomes.  All of the properties are condominiums.  Residents pay a quarterly assessment fee which takes care of the lawn care, grass mowing, plant mulching, and shrub trimming.  The fee also includes the maintenance of the buildings' exteriors, trash pickup, the maintenance of the community pool and snow removal in the winter.

The community is surrounded by gorgeous ponds, wetlands and the Assawoman Canal.  It a wonderful location for people who enjoy lush vegetation and the opportunity to see wildlife in a natural setting.

Although it seems secluded, it is actually quite near Bethany Beach and its delightful boardwalk where you can find a variety of shops and restaurants.  Residents are also within a short drive to several state parks, tax-free outlet stores, Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City, Maryland.  The community is within bicycling distance of the beach.

Home prices range from about $230,000 for three bedroom condos to approximately $600,000 for larger, single-family detached homes.  Most of the properties were built between 2003 and 2007.

You can find more information about this community at:

Millville by the Sea in Bethany Beach

This charming community has its own lake for paddle boats, row boats and fishing.  Next to the lake is a new Lifestyle Center where residents can gather to enjoy entertainment and recreational activities.  There is also a clubhouse that contains its own pub, a dance studio, a fitness library and a Wellness Center with exercise equipment.  Residents can enjoy the community Crab Shack with screened pavilion and a swimming pool (including an area especially designed for kids).

This community is located near the beach and just four miles to the popular resort town of Bethany Beach.

New single family homes in the community with 3 or 4 bedrooms range in price from about $250,000 to $375,000.  Both one and two-story designs are available. 

You can find more information about this community at:

Other Popular Retirement Areas

In addition to the two retirement communities listed below, there are other locations in Delaware that are popular with retirees.  Many people enjoy retiring to Rehoboth Beach, another resort town near Bethany Beach.  You may also want to check out the beach towns of Lewes, Georgetown and Bridgeville.

You can find the names and additional details about specific retirement communities at:

Delaware active adult communities

If you are interested in learning more about where to retire in the United States or overseas, medical issues that can arise in retirement, financial planning and changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Voice Therapy for Senior Citizens

A woman I know enjoys having lunch with me at noisy, popular restaurants. We also attend many of the same gatherings of our friends. However, whenever she speaks, a number of people will later tell me that they could not hear anything she said. Her voice, which was always quiet, has diminished to the point that it is almost impossible to hear what she says unless you are sitting right next to her in a quiet room.

Recently, I read an article titled “Take Care of Your Voice: Why You Sound Hoarse (or Old) and What to do About It” in the September, 2015 issue of Reader’s Digest Magazine.  The article is about common vocal problems in senior citizens.  Many people experience these voice issues, but may not realize that there are therapies that can improve the quality of their speaking voice.

Therapy for a Hoarse Voice

One common problem is having a voice that constantly sounds hoarse.  This often occurs in people who have careers that involve a lot of speaking … lawyers, teachers and people who spend hours on the phone.  It can also be an issue for people who have smoked, experienced chronic allergies or were exposed to chemical fumes.

A hoarse voice can be caused by nerve damage or a polyp or similar growth on the vocal folds.  If the hoarseness is caused by a polyp or growth, it can be surgically removed.  In addition, the patient should see a vocal therapist who can recommend appropriate exercises to enhance their voice quality and prevent a re-occurrence.

Treatments for a Soft Voice

If people have a hard time hearing you and it is difficult for you to project your voice, you may have developed vocal fold atrophy or presbyphonia.  Our vocal folds can become weaker as we age.  This is especially true for women after menopause or for anyone who is not using their vocal cords enough … for example, someone who has retired and lives alone.  This can be a particularly frustrating problem, because it often happens at the same age when our friends are also developing hearing loss.  You cannot speak louder and they cannot hear.

Having too soft a voice is another situation for which you will want to see a vocal therapist.  An Ears, Nose and Throat doctor should be able to refer you to one. The therapist will use vocal strength training exercises, called PhoRTE (pronounced “forte”), that are designed to help you develop better control of your voice volume.
If the voice therapy does not resolve the problem, doctors can also inject a filler into the vocal cords, similar to the fillers used to eliminate face wrinkles. 
Medical Conditions That Change Your Voice

As we all know if we have ever screamed too loudly at an exciting sporting event, there are many situations that can temporarily affect our voices.  For example, when you catch a cold, one symptom is often the nasal quality your voice develops.  However, if you experience a voice change that lasts more than three weeks, it could indicate a more serious condition including allergies, sinus problems, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), vocal cord cancer or Parkinson’s.
While it is more likely that your vocal problem is caused by an issue that can easily be resolved with therapy, it is important to get a diagnosis and not ignore long-lasting changes to your voice.

How to Care for Your Voice

If you wish to avoid some of the problems mentioned above, here are a few tips for taking care of your voice:

Drink plenty of water, especially if you take medications
Avoid large quantities of coffee, caffeinated soda and alcohol
Do NOT yell or scream
Sing or read aloud daily to work your vocal muscles
Do NOT smoke
Do not purposely try to speak in a deep, low voice that is not natural to you
See your doctor if you are experiencing voice problems; do not accept it as a "normal" part of aging.

If you follow these steps, most people will be able to maintain a pleasant, resonant speaking voice throughout their life.

Additional information available at:  The Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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

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