Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2016

As we look back over the past year, it is interesting to review the most popular retirement stories of 2016 which were covered by the Baby Boomer Retirement blog.  There were a wide range of topics that appealed to Baby Boomers this year including an overview of Social Security and Medicare, information about voice therapy, longevity tips, housing choices, painkiller addictions, social media scams, family relationships, Alzheimers research and how to earn extra money.

All of these are topics of importance to those who have already retired, as well as those who are preparing to retire.  Below are links to the most popular retirement articles of the past year, as well as more details about the information they contain.  Just click on the links to go directly to the articles which interest you.

2016 Most Popular Retirement Stories

Social Security and Medicare Information - This is an overview article which contains links to a number of other articles that cover many of the questions people have about maximizing Social Security benefits, getting the maximum benefit from Medicare, and more.

Voice Therapy for Senior Citizens - Many people begin to discover that their voices become faint, sore or hoarse as they age.  Senior citizens may believe there is nothing they can do about these problems; however, there are therapies which can improve the quality of their voices.  Learn more about the types of therapies available.

Longevity Tips from Time Magazine - Do you want to live a healthy life as long as possible?  Here are the most current tips that will increase your chances of maximizing the number of years you have left.

Reata Glen and Other CCRCs in Orange County, California - Continuing Care Retirement Communities are becoming increasingly popular with aging senior citizens, especially those who do not have long-term care insurance.  Learn more about them, including specific information about the ones in Orange County, California.

Risks of Social Media Phishing - Social media such as Facebook are popular ways of staying in touch with our family and friends.  However, some of the games and other apps can be used to obtain your personal information.  In addition, when you use Twitter or Facebook to contact the customer service offices of companies, you could be contacting a fake site. Learn more about dangerous social media phishing and how to protect yourself.

Best Senior Housing Choices for Aging Boomers - What are some of the housing choices people have as they age?  This article explains the various options and how they might fit your lifestyle.

Senior Living Communities for Baby Boomers - Information about the types of senior living communities which could appeal to aging Baby Boomers.

Dangerous Prescription Painkillers Addictions: Opiods - Opiod painkiller addiction has become an increasingly serious problem for senior citizens.  Many people who never dreamed they could become addicts, discover that they have slipped into this overwhelming situation after surgery or other painful treatments. 

How to Overcome Resistance to Assisted Living - Do you have an aging spouse or parent who needs to move into an assisted living or memory care facility?  Do they oppose the move?  This article may help you reduce their resistance and help them become more accepting of the idea.

New Alzheimers Disease Research - Alzheimers and other forms of dementia are some of the most feared consequences of aging.  Learn more about the research which is being done and how these dreaded diseases could become less common in the future.

Earn Extra Money from the Sharing Economy - Would you like to use your home, your car, your garage or your talents in order to earn a little extra money?  Learn how easy it can be to join the "sharing economy" and supplement your retirement income.

Family Relationships - How to Stop Arguments - Do you feel stressed when you spend time with your family over the holidays or on other special occasions?  This article will give you tips on how to reduce the tension and, in many cases, stop family arguments in their tracks.  

If you are interested in reading more retirement information, use the tabs or pull-down menus at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles about where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, common medical problems and more.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Family Relationships - How to Stop Arguments

One of the most painful situations for many retirees and younger adults is when they have a feud with a family member or close friend.  Whether this person is a spouse, sibling, parent, adult child, friend or neighbor, the continual stress of squabbling with a loved one can cause depression and place a cloud over all your interactions.  Sometimes it may seem as if you need a megaphone in order to make them hear you ... but the louder you get, the less they seem to hear.

This is a particularly important issue when we consider the fact that having frequent social interactions with others is one way we can reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia.  People who engage in frequent socializing are more likely to retain their memory as they age.  However, who wants to socialize if they feel it will only lead to arguments and friction?

As a result, when a friend emailed me a list of statements we can use to stop an argument, I thought it would be beneficial to pass these suggestions on to others.  While these statements may not be 100 percent effective at always preventing a disagreement, any reduction in conflict is worth the effort.  With that thought in mind, below is a list you may want to print out and keep handy ... especially when you are about to enter into a situation which could be difficult and stressful for you, including family holiday parties and trips to see difficult relatives.

Concepts to Help You Deal with Difficult People

Before we say anything when someone has upset us, it is important to have the right attitude.  As a result, below you will find a few concepts to keep in mind when you are going to be around someone with whom you disagree ... whether it is over religion, politics, money, family or controversial social issues such as gay marriage or abortion.  Remembering these points could prevent you from engaging in an emotional, painful disagreement with them.

Ask yourself: How important is it?
Choose to live and let live
Don't force it
Look for progress, not perfection
Remember that this too shall pass
Accept that another person's opinion of you is beyond your control and none of your business

What to Say When You Do Not Agree With Someone

(Making the statements below do not mean you agree with the other person; you are just willing to let them talk and not engage them in an upsetting discussion.)

No kidding!
You might be right.
That's interesting.
Boy, I had no idea!
I never thought of it that way.
No fooling.
Thank you for telling me.

If Someone You Care About Makes a Decision You Think is Risky

Tell them:  I love you, I believe in you, and I know you will do the right thing for you.
You can also say:  I love you and it will be interesting to see how this turns out.

How to Handle Someone Who Keeps Trying to Convince You of Something

Remember: "No" is a complete answer (don't keep explaining your decisions)
Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean.

How to Buy Time When You Do Not Want to Commit to Something

It's possible; let me get back to you.
I'll see if I can juggle some things.
I can't do it, but can I give you a rain check?
I'm not sure; can I get back to you?

How to Bring a Difficult Discussion to an End

This is so painful for me, can we talk about something else now?
This is all I can handle right now; can we talk more another time?
My brain is on overload; I need to think about this.  Can I call you (or talk more) another time?

More Thoughts on How to Stop Arguments

We all need to accept that we are rarely able change another person's mind and we cannot stop another adult from doing whatever they decide to do, no matter how wrong we think it is.  Sometimes, the best way to influence someone else is to maintain the best possible relationship with them.  With this thought in mind, it is better to focus less on arguing with them and more on keeping our conversations friendly, caring, positive and agreeable.

If you are interested in reading more on how to improve family relationships, where to retire, financial planning for retirement, common medical issues and 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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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Casinos Encourage Gambling Addiction in Senior Citizens

Gambling addiction is becoming a dirty little secret among retirees who do not want to admit they could have a problem.  Sadly, however, there is evidence of it in nearly every casino in America and almost everything the casinos do is designed to fuel that addiction ... from the exciting environment to the free drinks. 

A few years ago, my husband and I were in Las Vegas for a family reunion.  While walking through the MGM Grand casino to get to the swimming pool, one of my young grandsons asked, "Why are there so many old people at the slot machines?"  Although my grandson was not aware of it, casinos are now actively marketing to older Americans and many of them are developing serious gambling addictions as a result.

Few People Admit Their Losses to Families and Friends

Over the years, I have noticed that no one ever seems to lose money at the casinos ... at least from what they tell their family and friends.  Everyone is always excited to tell their friends when they win a big jackpot ... or even a small one.  Other times, however, they will only say they "broke even" or were down "a little," but they had so much fun it was worth the small cost because they view it as entertainment.

However, all those glamorous casinos spread around the U.S. were not built because the casinos are losing money.  It is their patrons who are ultimately the big losers ... with just enough winnings to keep people coming back.

The Attraction of Casinos for Older Americans

According to an October, 2016 AARP Bulletin article titled "The Casino Trap,"  nearly half of the 101 million visitors to American casinos are age 50 and older.  U.S. casinos reported over $66 billion in gambling revenue in 2014 and a substantial amount of that came from older gamblers.

Only a few decades ago, nearly all casinos were located in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, NJ.; however, today there are approximately 1,400 casinos in 40 states.  This makes it much easier for almost everyone, even those who are too poor or infirm to travel long distances, to find a casino near them.  In addition, the casinos frequently send shuttles to retirement communities and senior centers to pick up gamblers for the day.

Regular gamblers are also given a wide variety of perks including cheap or free hotel rooms, discounted or free meals, free drinks, entertainment and prizes.  Many lonely retirees view these excursions as a fun way to overcome their boredom and get a cheap trip away from home.  Unfortunately, for many of them, the trips are much more expensive than they would like to admit.

The Older You Are, The Easier it is to Become Addicted to Gambling

One of the most addictive forms of casino gambling are the slot machines ... sometimes referred to as electronic crack.  Psychiatrist Hans Breiter, formerly of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, used MRI scanners to confirm that people playing slots have a similar reaction in their brain to people using cocaine.

There are other reasons, however, for people to easily become addicted to casino gambling.

They may be trying to get relief from loneliness, boredom or grief over the loss of their spouse or friends.

People who are in the early states of cognitive decline or dementia can be especially vulnerable to becoming addicted to the repetitive activity and stimulation of slot machines.  They can also begin to lose their sense of the value of the money they are spending.

Especially interesting has been the discovery that compulsive gambling can be the side effect of certain medications, particularly those used to treat Parkinson's Disease.  As many as 10 to 15 percent of people on Parkinson's medications could develop gambling problems which subside when the medications are removed.  No one knows what other types of medications could also make the elderly more susceptible to becoming addicted to gambling or other behaviors.

People also become addicted because the casinos assign VIP hosts to big gamblers in an attempt to attract them to the casinos and keep them gambling once they get there.  The more the gambler loses, the more the host earns in bonuses, so they often lavish abundant attention on their clients in order to keep them playing.  For lonely people, the attention itself can become addictive.

Casinos Deny That They Contribute to the Problem

Of course, casinos themselves insist that they try to prevent gambling addictions.  They leave brochures in hotel rooms that encourage "problem gamblers" to call an 800 number in order to get help.

People are also able to put their names on a self-exclusion list so they will no longer be encouraged to visit the casinos with promises of free trips and other perks.  However, this will not not keep them from going to a casino and gambling anonymously, using a friend's players card, or visiting casinos where their name is not on the self-exclusion list.

If you suspect that your spouse, parent or another family member could be addicted to gambling, you may wish to call Gambler's Anonymous, talk to their family physician, or discuss the problem with other family members.

Are you interested in learning more about subjects which could affect us as we age?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on financial planning, where to retire, Medicare, Social Security, and more.

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Photo credit:  Las Vegas photo taken by author

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Keep the Holidays Affordable

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah or another holiday, gift giving can become expensive, especially for someone who is retired and living on a fixed income.  While you want your loved ones to know you care about them, you also need to find ways to get through the holidays without going into debt or spending more than you can afford.  How can you keep the holidays under control?

Holiday Shopping Does Not Have to be Expensive

Start with a Budget and Stick with It -  Make a list of the people who will be receiving gifts from you and decide how much you can afford to spend on each person ... even if it is only a few dollars.  If the list includes grandchildren, remember their parents are primarily responsible for providing what they need.  It is not necessary for you to overwhelm them with gifts.  One or two small gifts is adequate in most cases.  If you are buying gifts for your friends and neighbors, stick with small, thoughtful items, some of which you can purchase at a Dollar Store ... hand lotion, hot chocolate, gloves, or similar presents they can use or consume.  Stay away from knickknacks and collectibles which will only gather dust and your friends probably do not need.

Make a Plan and Shop Early -  Try to make as few trips to the stores as possible.  The more visits you make to the mall, the more likely you are to overspend.  Watch for ads and purchase the items you need when they are on sale.  Keep an eye on internet prices and sign up for email alerts from your favorite chain stores or shopping sites, such as Amazon, Macy's, JC Pennys, Kohls, Best Buy and Target. Many stores will match prices if you find the exact same item online somewhere else for a lower price.

Once You are Finishing Shopping ... Stop - One of the problems many people have during the holidays is when they spend the money they budgeted and then keep going back to the shops, finding more gift items and purchasing them, as well.  Once you have a gift for everyone on your list, relax and enjoy the holidays.

Make Some of Your Gifts - Some of my most cherished gifts are the quilts and embroidered pillowcases which were made by my own grandmothers decades ago.  In return, I crocheted baby blankets for all my grandchildren when they were born, as well as miniature baby blankets for our granddaughter's dolls.  Homemade jam, candy, cookies or cake are wonderful gifts, if you enjoy cooking!

Avoid Buying Gifts for Yourself - Once you are in the mall, a common cause of overspending is buying gifts for yourself. According to the National Retail Federation, 55.8 percent of shoppers admit they spent an average of $130 on themselves while they were purchasing gifts for other people!

More Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

Draw Names if You Have a Large Family - If you have a large number of children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews in your family, and have traditionally purchased gifts for most of them, you might suggest that everyone make it easy on themselves by drawing names, so you only need to purchase gifts for your immediate family and the one name you draw from your extended family.  Everyone in your family may appreciate this idea since it will reduce their stress and the cost of holiday shopping for them, too.

Have Pot Luck Holiday Meals - Whether it is a New Year's Eve party, Christmas dinner, or Hanukah meal, providing food for a large number of guests and family members can become expensive.  However, if you only offer to provide a main course, plus non-alcoholic beverages, and suggest that everyone else bring a side dish and whatever else they want to drink, it will remove a heavy financial burden from you, as well as reduce your work load.

Remember What is Most Important about the Holidays - While gifts and lavish meals are fun, it is important to remember that these are not what make the holidays special ... it is the time you spend with family and friends.  Focus more on that and less on the money you spend.  You will soon find you will enjoy the holidays more and will be less likely to get stressed or exceed your budget.

If you are interested in other tips to make retirement easier, financial planning, dealing with common medical problems, deciding 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 helpful articles.

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Photo credit:  Photo of mall decorations taken by author