Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2017

Each December, the Baby Boomer Retirement blog looks back at the retirement news which captivated our readers the most during the preceding year.  The most popular retirement stories of 2017 ranged from financial concerns to the latest news on how to live a long, healthy life while remaining free of dementia.  One interesting new retirement community also made our list of top stories.

All of the major topics covered in the past year were important both to people who have already retired, as well as those who are still planning their retirement.  Below is a list of the most popular articles of 2017, with links so you can read the entire article for yourself.

If there are additional topics which may interest you, use the pull down menu or tabs at the top of this page to find links to almost 500 helpful articles, organized by topic.

2017 Most Popular Retirement Stories

How to Find Jobs Late in Life - Millions of Americans are discovering they simply cannot retire on Social Security and their savings alone.  When this happens, their best option in many cases is to find a job and continue working as long as possible.  This article contains both general tips for finding a retirement job, as well as links to specific sites where you can explore the available jobs or find job retraining opportunities.

Travel Scams to Avoid - One of the joys of retirement is the ability to travel whenever you want, without concern for your children's school schedule or similar issues.  However, older people are also more likely to be victimized by scammers. Learn about some of the most common travel scams and the steps you can take to avoid falling victim to them.

How to Live Longer - Add Years to Your Life - Although no one can guarantee that you will live to be 100 years old, there are some interesting traits which appear to be common in those with the greatest longevity.  Read the tips in this brief article and learn how to minimize your odds of dying an early death.

Social Security Myths and Misunderstandings - Have you been told that it is too late to save our nation's Social Security program and there will be no money left by the time you retire?  Do you think the problem is result of people living too long?  You may have become a victim of some of the myths and misunderstandings which are prevalent about Social Security.  Learn the truth and discover the practical suggestions Congress could enact in order to save the Social Security for yourself and future generations.

Tips for a Sharper Brain and Better Memory - What can you do to keep your brain sharp and fully functioning?  What are the cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure numbers you should strive to achieve?  Do you know the connection between good heart health and good brain health?  This article will help you understand what your lifestyle, health and diet goals should be if you want to maximize your memory and brain function.

Margaritaville Retirement Communities - Remember the Jimmy Buffett song "Margaritaville?"  Many Baby Boomers think of it as a great theme for their retirement.  Now, a developer in Florida is actually building a collection of retirement communities which have been designed around a Margaritaville theme.  Learn more about these communities in this article and decide if one of these retirement communities might be right for you.

Early Diagnosis of Dementia is Possible - Many people are surprised to learn that memory loss is NOT the first sign that someone could be developing dementia.  Some of the earliest symptoms are much more subtle, such as anxiety, aggression, apathy and poor impulse control, to name a few. Learn more about how to recognize that you or a loved one could be developing dementia, so early treatment can be started.

How to Retire without a Car - Most Americans dread the day when they might have to give up their car. It could happen because the expense becomes too much for you to handle on a retirement income, or you may develop health conditions which make it impossible for you to drive.  Whatever the reason, there are a variety of affordable alternatives to driving which would make it possible for you to continue to get around and enjoy your life, even without a car.

Opiod Addiction in Retirees - Every year, approximately one-third of all Medicare patients are prescribed opioid painkillers by their doctors.  As a result, millions of Americans over the age are 50 have begun abusing these dangerous drugs.  In fact, roughly 42 percent of all the opioid overdoses in the U.S. have happened to people over the age of 45.  Learn more about this health crisis, including the names of the most commonly prescribed opioids, so you can insist that your own physician does not put you on the dangerous road to addiction.

Short on Retirement Savings? - One-half of all Baby Boomers have saved less than $100,000 towards retirement.  One-third have less than $50,000.  To make matters worse, the average amount of Social Security benefits is less than $1400 a month.  This article contains a number of practical solutions for helping to solve your retirement income shortfall so your senior years can still be enjoyable.

Medicare and Cancer Benefits - Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment - If you are on Medicare and receive a cancer diagnosis, you may be worried about your insurance coverage.  This article was written by a Medicare insurance specialist and will help put your mind at ease, in most cases.

Vacation Timeshare Risks and Benefits - Millions of Americans own timeshares, with the number increasing every years.  Many time share owners appreciate the convenience of owning a "second home" without bearing the full burden of the annual expense and maintenance.  However, there are also disadvantages to timeshare ownership and they can be difficult to resell.  Learn more about timeshare ownership. 

How to Hire a Home Care Agency - Assuming you are fortunate enough to live a long life, it is likely that eventually you or someone in your family will need the services of a caregiver. What requirements should you look for in a home care agency?  What characteristics are important in the caregiver they send to your home?  This article will help you find a reputable agency and high-quality caregiver for yourself or someone you love.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common health problems and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness:  10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which is due to be released by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Photo credit:  Twitter photo of a senior Tai Chi class

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What is a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?

If you are a senior citizen living in a long-term care facility and you have no friends or family members who can be advocates for you, a long-term care ombudsman could help make sure your needs are being met.  This federally mandated program is provided free by trained volunteers.  Every licensed facility in the United States is required to prominently display an Ombudsman poster which features the program's local contact information and a list of the services they can provide.

Ombudsmen are Well-Trained

In California and most other states, ombudsmen must go through an orientation which involves visiting skilled nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in their area.  They also must take a 36 hour class, spend time in the field under supervision and receive state certification.

The Ombudsman Program is based on the concept that even the very elderly have the right to privacy, confidentiality, self-determination, dignity and respect. They have the right to have someone listen to their concerns and make sure their wishes are carried out.  They also have the right to know that someone will take their complaints seriously and investigate accusations of abuse, neglect or theft.

There is a large need for volunteers who want to serve the elderly in their community as ombudsmen.  In my small California county alone, Orange County, there are over 1,000 licensed long-term care facilities, and each one is likely to contain at least a few seniors who do not have anyone who can stand up for their rights.

What Services are Performed by Ombudsmen?

There are a number of ways in which an ombudsman is able to help the residents of a long-term care facility:

*  Most importantly, they listen to residents, particularly their complaints
*  They make frequent, unannounced visits to care facilities to evaluate what the day-to-day life is like in the facility
*  They make sure the facilities are clean and well-maintained
*  They confirm the food being served is appropriate for the patients' medical conditions
*  They investigate suspected cases of physical and emotional abuse or neglect
*  They investigate cases of lost or stolen personal belongings
*  They confirm that medications are dispensed in a timely and correct manner
*  They report suspected problems to licensing agencies
*  They attend resident council meetings at the long-term care facilities
*  They can help mediate disagreements between residents and their families or caregivers
*  They can be a witness on an Advance Healthcare Directive so the final wishes of residents will be respected.

How to Get More Information

Whether you want to volunteer as an ombudsman in your community or you have a family member who might need the services of an ombudsman, you can get more information at:

 National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center

If you are looking for more information about retirement planning, common medical problems, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be published by Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds in 2018.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Get Paid to Retire in these Locations

Did you know there are places where you can get money or property if you move there?  People often worry about the high cost of retirement, especially if they know their retirement income will not be large enough for them to survive in their current location.  Many people have spent their working years in expensive cities like New York, Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles or San Francisco.  When they approach retirement, they are distressed to realize there is no way they can afford to retire in their current location.  Where can they go?

One solution is to look for affordable places which will actually pay you to relocate!  Yes, there are places which desperately want more residents and they are willing to offer financial incentives to those who will move there. Kiplinger and a few other online sites provided the information for the list below.

The locations on the list offer a variety of rewards for people willing to relocate, including housing allowances, free lots or home building sites, tax rebates, help with student loan repayment and more. Depending on the incentives which are offered, your entire family may even be motivated to relocate somewhere new.  As a result, this list does not contain just those offers which would be appealing to senior citizens, but also those which might make life easier for other family members, as well.

Places Which Will Pay You to Live There

Rural Kansas - If you would like to move to rural Kansas, and you have not lived in the state for the past five years, 77 of the state's 105 counties offer state income tax waivers for up to five years.  Seventy of those counties also offer student-loan repayments of up to $15,000, if you have a young adult in your family who would like to relocate with you.  They must have received an associate's, bachelor's or post-graduate degree and meet other requirements. A few of the counties are also offering free lots or other incentives. This could be an opportunity for your entire family to get a fresh start.  Kansas also has an affordable cost-of-living and some couples will find they can live there on the average amount of Social Security alone.

The State of Alaska - When my husband and I traveled in Alaska about ten years ago, we were amazed by the number of people we met who had spent their working years in the "lower 48 states" and then retired to Alaska.  The incentive is that Alaska pays mineral royalties to all their residents each year.  The annual royalties have ranged from less than $500 to over $2,000 per person in the family.  You cannot be absent from the state for over 180 days a year and you cannot have been convicted or incarcerated for a felony or certain misdemeanors.  Residents must apply each year between January 1 and March 31.  The royalties are a terrific way to supplement your retirement income.  In addition, many of the retirees we met were working during the summer in the tourist industry as bus drivers, store clerks and tour guides.  In the dead of winter, residents of Alaska often take their vacations or visit relatives who live in more moderate climates, so you are not stuck living there all year long.  In fact, you can spend half the year living in a more temperate climate, while still receiving the annual royalties.

Harmony, Minnesota - This town of roughly 1,000 people will give you a $12,000 cash rebate if you build a new home in the community.  There are lots available in the town for about that price, so basically they are giving you the cost of a home building site.  There are several large companies in the area which create some job opportunities for people nearing retirement or other members of their family. If you enjoy outdoor life and an affordable, small town environment, this offer could make it possible for you to build your own retirement home.

The Province of  Saskatchewan, Canada - If you are willing to relocate to Canada, the Province of Saskatchewan wants to attract and keep more college graduates.  If you or other family members are recent college graduates, they will reimburse the tuition fees which were paid during college.  In turn, this money could be used to pay off college loans.  If the adult children in your family are looking for a way to pay off their student loans, and they want to live in an area with other highly educated people, this could be an exciting place for the entire family to relocate.

New Haven, Connecticut - Because of the low homeownership rate in the city, they are offering as much as $80,000 in incentives to help residents purchase homes or make energy-saving home upgrades.   Your children or grandchildren can even get free tuition to any Connecticut college if they graduate from public school in the state and are in good academic standing.  If you love the Northeast and are looking for a lovely state where you can enjoy your retirement, you may want to explore this offer.

Curtis, Nebraska - If you would like to build your own retirement home, but cannot afford to purchase a lot, another place you might consider is Curtis, Nebraska.  This small town of less than 900 people is offering free lots on which you can build a new home or set up a modular home.  This could be a very affordable opportunity for many retirees. You have to start construction within six months of being given the lot, and complete construction within 24 months.

Detroit, Michigan -  If you happen to work for certain companies which are located in the downtown or midtown parts of Detroit, they will give cash and loans to both renters and new homeowners who are willing to live in certain communities in the city. They are trying to attract new residents to the inner city so, if you are willing to be an urban pioneer and would like to work for one of the companies on their list during the years prior to retirement, this could be a good way to get yourself in a better position to retire.

Niagara Falls, New York -  This romantic mecca for honeymooners will help repay student loans for recent college graduates or those who have a two-year technical degree. Recipients can receive as much as $3,492 a year for two years.  In return, they must agree to live in certain parts of downtown Niagara Falls for the full two years.  Because the population of the city is shrinking, they are trying to attract young, educated adults.  If you have a young adult in your family who is struggling to repay their student loans, your entire family might find it beneficial to move to Niagara Falls.  Retirees may even be able to find work in the tourist trade in the area.

Important:  Be sure to thoroughly check out the offers which interest you.  Each one of them has special requirements which you may or may not be willing to accept.  For example, you may be required to build your home within a certain length of time or in a certain neighborhood; or you may be required to work for a particular company.  Make sure you fully understand the offer before making a major move.  

If you are looking for more ideas about where to retire in the United States or other countries, financial planning, common medical problems, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be released by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Photo credit:  Google images

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Do You Have Alzheimers or Dementia?

As we grow older, every memory lapse can cause us to worry and wonder if we are getting some type of dementia, especially Alzheimers.  The slightest mistake or moment of confusion can strike fear in our hearts.  If we are married or have elderly parents, we may carefully observe everything they say and do, watching for signs of cognitive impairment.  When we do see the symptoms, it can be heart-breaking.

My own mother, pictured here, died of dementia in her mid-80s.  By the time she died, she was very confused about where she was living and who lived with her.  She could no longer drive or handle money. She recognized my father and sister, but was hostile towards most other people.  Her dementia was obvious, but that is not always the case.  How do we know if everything is operating normally with our brains, or when we should be worried?

Fortunately, the Cleveland Clinic has put together a list of behaviors which are normal, along with a list of memory problems which can indicate a serious problem.

Normal Cognitive Aging of the Brain

*  Trouble remembering a phone number
*  Forgetting where you left your car keys
*  Taking longer to perform basic math
*  Forgetting why you entered a room
*  Momentarily forgetting the next step in a process
*  Forgetting the name of a public figure or a person you have not seen in a while
*  Taking longer to come up with the right word

Abnormal Cognitive Impairment or Signs of Dementia

*  Difficulty managing your finances
*  Problems performing tasks which involve a sequence
*  Failing to recognize familiar people
*  Getting lost in familiar places; inability to follow directions
*  Problems following your medication prescriptions
*  Trouble remembering how to do things you have done many times before
*  Asking the same questions repeatedly
*  Difficulty following conversations
*  Easily losing your train of thought
*  Increasingly poor judgment

Relax if the Cognitive Impairment is Mild

If the majority of your memory lapses fall in the top category, it is time to relax.  Some memory and cognitive problems are normal for everyone, beginning in your 60s.  Feeling stress, or worrying and obsessing over your memory will only make things worse, so lighten up on yourself.

What to do if the Cognitive Impairment Seems Abnormal

If you or someone you care about is having memory lapses which fall in the second category, you need to become more proactive.  There are several actions you can take.  Most of these actions are a good idea, even if your memory seems normal:

*  Talk to your doctor about prescription medications which could help slow down the dementia symptoms
*  Ask your doctor to make sure you are not experiencing a B12 deficiency, thyroid problems, or side effects from your medications
*  If you are experiencing hearing or vision loss, sleep apnea, or depression, get those problems treated because they can lead to dementia
*  If you smoke or drink too much, give up these high-risk behaviors
*  Eat a heart healthy, Mediterranean-style diet that is plant based; anything which is good for the heart is also good for the brain
*  Get at least 30 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking, a minimum of 5 times a week
*  Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other blood factors at optimal levels
*  Play online brain games, particularly those which involve speed of processing.  They have been shown to be the most effective games at slowing down your cognitive decline.  Check out Luminosity or any number of brain game apps on your smartphone or mobile device.
*  Stimulate your brain in other ways, such as reading books, solving crossword puzzles, learning a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.
*  Stay socially engaged with other people.  Isolation increases your dementia risk.

Learn more about dementia from the Cleveland Clinic website.

If you are interested in learning more about common health problems as we age, financial planning, where to retire in the U.S. or overseas, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other useful articles.

Watch for my book "Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement" which will be published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Photo credit: Author's personal family photo