Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Retired Women: Were You Prepared? What Would You Have Changed?

When this guest post was written, Baby-Boomer-Retirement was presenting an opportunity for our female readers to be part of an important new book and research project called Voices from the Other Side...of Retirement.  NOTE:  The authors have received all the submissions they need, as of May 1, 2019.  However, watch for their book to be released in the next year.  At that time, this post will be updated, along with a link to where you can purchase their book.

Original Post: 

 If you are already retired, you can contribute your experiences to the authors of this book and your thoughts about retirement may be included.  If you have not yet retired, whether you are a woman or you care about a woman who will be retiring in coming years, we hope you will watch for the book to be published and learn from the experiences of those who have already retired.  In this way, we can help all women prepare better, not just financially, but also emotionally, physically and psychologically for retirement.

Below is a guest post from one of the authors, Roxanne Jones, who will explain more about their project and how you can participate.  By the way, I have already submitted my thoughts on retirement to their website and am personally looking forward to learning more about the experiences of my peers when their book comes out.  Just be sure to register BEFORE you begin to answer the questions. I made the mistake of plunging right in without registering first, and had to repeat the process.  

Retired Women:

Were You Ready—or Not—for the Personal Impact of Retirement?

Tell These Baby Boomers Your Stories!

By Roxanne Jones

A great deal of retirement advice for women focuses on financial planning. But a new book in development looks at the personal impact of leaving work. If you’re a retired woman, your story could be part of it.

My co-author Leslie Inman and I are crowdsourcing content for an important new book entitled Voices from the Other Side…of Retirement. It will be a guide for yet-to-retire women, with insights on what retirement really feels like from women who’ve already left the working world.

“Unlike most retirement resources that deal with finances, Voices will explore the emotional, physical health, spiritual, relationship, and everyday joys and challenges that this stage of life presents us with,” says Inman. “And who better to explain what all that feels like than women who’ve been through it?” she continues. “So we’re inviting retired women to add their voices to this book by telling us about their retirement experience, what they’ve learned—and what they wish they’d known before they left their jobs.” 

To add your voice, simply go to www.retirementvoices.com and, after registering, complete a thought-provoking online questionnaire by April 30, 2019. If your submission is accepted (in whole or in part), you’ll receive a free copy of Voices when it’s published.

“The more retired women we can reach, the more powerful and valuable this book can be,” says Inman. “And the idea of women helping women, well, that never gets old.”

How this book idea came about

Inman, 67, first came up with the idea for a book addressing women and retirement when she started her own retirement process—for the third time—in 2017. Armed with an MBA from Boston University, she’d had a successful career in senior management in the insurance and higher education sectors. She also worked as a real estate agent in Florida and New Hampshire, and launched a Guatemalan handicrafts import business.

“I test drove retirement twice, stepping away from my career to fulfill my dream of living on a boat,” she says. “But each time I re-entered the working world for financial reasons, the last time working in management for a nonprofit organization in Maine.

“Then I stepped off the career track for good,” she continues. “As I interacted with female friends and family who had also retired, their feelings and perceptions about the experience surprised and intrigued me.”

She says that their transitions to retirement fell into three basic categories.

“Some had eased into retirement without skipping a beat,” Inman says. “Some struggled with the transition for a while; it took them a few months, even years, to get their retirement sea legs, so to speak. And others just foundered and continued to feel rudderless.”

Inman thought this diversity of women’s retirement experience had potential as a book, so she approached me to help her explore it further. Approaching “traditional” retirement age and wondering what my own transition might look like, I figured this was a serendipitous opportunity to get some inside information from women who’d gotten there before me. So together, we informally interviewed a couple of dozen women who were both pre- and post-retirement.

Both camps said that a book dealing with the non-financial aspects of retirement was needed, particularly if it shared advice on what helped women make a successful transition from the working world. So we felt we had our mandate.

Why focus on women?

Voices focuses on women because retirement is largely uncharted territory, particularly for baby boomers.

“We are the first generation of women to have spent decades in the workplace in big numbers, and we broke new ground when it came to having careers,” says Inman.  “We’re also breaking new ground when it comes to retirement—so a road map to guide us to and through this transition makes sense.”

Speaking of numbers, estimates are that there were nearly 29 million retired women in the U.S. in 2017 (the most recent year for which statistics were found), comprising 54.74% of all retirees. And 52% of baby boomers are women, according to the 2014 Census Bureau report’s projected numbers. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, that adds up to a whole lot of women joining the ranks of the retired.

“The journey is different for each of us,” Inman continues. “We believe a book that explores these differences—and the commonalities—can have real value, especially when it shares the real-life experience and insights of women who’ve been there, done that.”

What the authors are hearing so far

We are delighted with the responses we’ve received to date. We began accepting submissions via our online questionnaire in early February. Three weeks in (at the time of this writing), we have heard from dozens of women in 21 states, Canada, Europe, Australia, and one on a sailboat off Central America.

“The submissions themselves are impressive,” Inman says. “Women’s candor about the positives and negatives of retirement, their self-awareness, and willingness to share what they’ve learned—it’s exactly the kind of honesty and insightfulness we were hoping for.”

But the success of this project hinges on us hearing from hundreds of women from all walks of life.

“To make Voices as valuable as we believe it can be, we want to share the perspectives of many different women,” Inman says. “Whether you were self-employed or worked in the corporate, nonprofit, government or educational world; whether you were a doctor, nurse, engineer, teacher, senior executive, waitress, lawyer, administrative assistant, supervisor, accountant, salesperson, social worker, writer, business owner, pilot, flight attendant—whatever your work was, we want to hear from you.”

Just do it!

So if you are a retired woman, we urge you to add your experience and insights to this important project. Simply go to www.retirementvoices.com, register, and complete and submit the online questionnaire by April 30, 2019. Please encourage your retired women friends to do the same.

“Frankly, we can’t do it without you,” Inman says, speaking to Baby Boomer Retirement readers. “So we’re immensely grateful for your willingness to contribute your time and wisdom not only to this project, but also to all the women who are following you into retirement.”

About the author:
Roxanne Jones, 65, is an award-winning freelance writer who specializes in health and medicine, and has been self-employed since 1995. Before that, she held PR and marketing communications positions at organizations as diverse as the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Boston University. She turned 65 in 2018 and is easing into retirement—what she calls a glide path versus a hard stop—downshifting to three-day workweeks to free up time for the Voices book project. 

If readers are interested in learning more about retirement planning, Social Security, Medicare, common health issues as you age, travel, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles on this blog.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit for picture of Roxanne Jones:  retirementvoices.com 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Is it Safe to Travel Alone? How Can You Make it Safer?

One of the activities which appeals to many new retirees is the ability to travel throughout the world.  A large number of retirees look forward to seeing exotic places and experiencing new adventures after they retire.  However, before you head off into the wild blue yonder, it may be worthwhile to research how to keep yourself safe, especially if you are planning to travel alone.

Treat Every Travel Location with Caution

Whether you are traveling in the United States or a foreign country, it is easy to get into "vacation mode," and assume that everyone is going to be friendly, helpful and honest.  While the vast majority of people you encounter are likely to be kind and welcoming, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin your trip.

A few years ago, two young male teachers I worked with decided to backpack across Europe during their summer vacation, staying in youth hostels. It seemed like an exciting adventure and an opportunity for them to travel widely on a budget.  However, one or both of them were robbed of their cash three times during their trip, always after falling asleep in a youth hostel.  One of them told me he would never stay in a hostel again.  If healthy young men can be robbed while traveling, senior citizens traveling alone need to be even more careful.

Even within the United States, I have had my debit card information stolen while traveling, with thieves attempting to use the stolen information while I was still away from home.  Fortunately, my bank was quick to pick up on the fraudulent activity, stop questionable charges, and contact me using my cell phone.  If it had not been for their vigilance, it could have ruined our trip.  Today, I no longer use my debit card when traveling and I am careful where I use my credit cards.

Certain Travel Destinations are Exceptionally Dangerous

While crimes can occur anywhere, Forbes Magazine published an article called "10 Most Dangerous Places for Women Travelers."  The list includes places where women tourists, in particular, are frequently the victims of assault or robbery.  It would be wise for men, as well, to be extra careful when visiting these spots.  The countries on their list are:


Do not take these warnings lightly.  Years ago, my husband and I took our young children to Jamaica.  A few days prior to our arrival, rebels entered our resort and killed everyone in in the lobby of the hotel!  During our stay, a private party in the golf clubhouse was interrupted by more armed rebels, who robbed and terrified the guests.  Other countries on the above list can be just as dangerous.  Wandering around alone could be risky for anyone, let alone someone who appears to be elderly or frail.

How to Protect Yourself

There is no way to keep yourself completely safe when you travel.  However, there are a number of steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of being a crime victim while you are traveling.
*  Before choosing a destination, check out the U.S. State Department Travel Advisories website to make sure there are no extraordinary reasons why you should avoid that country or a particular region within a country.

*  Ideally, it is best to travel in a group.  Join tour groups which are going to the areas which interest you.  The guide will try to avoid the most dangerous neighborhoods and there is usually safety in numbers.

*  Dress and behave appropriately for the area you are visiting.  For example, when traveling in the Middle East, women should dress conservatively with their shoulders, arms and knees covered, avoid making eye contact with men, and seek out local women when they are lost, need directions or seek other information.  Approaching a man can be viewed as flirting. In addition, it is wise to limit the amount of alcohol you consume and avoid drinking in bars with strangers.  In fact, this last recommendation is smart almost anywhere you travel, including within the United States.

*  Carry your cash, cell phone and important documents, such as your passport, in a money belt close to your body. Do not walk around looking at your phone.  It can be easily snatched by someone else. If you carry a purse or bag, choose a cross-body style and only use it for items which are easily replaceable, such as make-up, hair brush, maps, or brochures.

*  Do not walk around alone in a strange neighborhood after dark.  This is true almost everywhere, but particularly when you are in a foreign country. Take a cab from your hotel or a similar reliable, well-lit location.  Do not hail cabs on the street.

*  While at your hotel, take advantage of hotel safes, bring along a door stop to make it harder for someone to sneak into your room while you are sleeping or showering, and consider bringing along a battery operated, portable door alarm, which would wake you if someone enters.

*  Consider purchasing the "Travel Safety Handbook: Your Guide to Safer, Better Travel" for more ideas on keeping yourself safe on the road.  

If you take the precautions above, you are quite likely to be able to travel nearly anywhere and have a great time.  You've been waiting your entire life for the opportunity to enjoy unfettered travel.  Enjoy it!

If you are interested in more information about retirement travel, where to retire in the U.S. and abroad, Social Security, Medicare, retirement planning, common medical problems and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit: Google Images: Green Prophet

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Retire in a University or College Town - Affordable and Fun!

If you live in a college town now, you have probably already decided it will continue to be the ideal place to stay after retirement.  If you do not currently live in one, but look forward to opportunities for personal growth and interesting activities after retirement, you may want to look for a college town in the state where you plan to retire.  Many people have discovered that college towns are the perfect place to live during your working years and are even better later in life, when you are ready for retirement.

We raised our children just a few blocks from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  Our children practiced soccer on the sports fields at SMU, had their piano recitals in the performing arts theater, and bonded with many college babysitters over the years.  We also took them to see performances of the Nutcracker Suite, inexpensive concerts, plays and other special events.

When our children grew up and my husband and I relocated to California, we moved to another college town, near the University of California in Irvine.  As an adult, I have discovered that UCI offers special continuing education classes for senior citizens, membership in a lecture series at the University Club, and a lovely campus where we can walk.  Over the years, we learned there are numerous reasons why people of all ages, including retirees, benefit from living near a college or university.

College Kids and Retirees Have Many Needs in Common

If you are in your 60s, 70s or 80s, you may be wondering what you could possibly have in common with college students in their late teens or early 20s.  As it turns out, you may have more in common than you think.

*  You both like to be near affordable restaurants and similar services
*  You both enjoy affordable entertainment, including concerts, plays, ballet and orchestra performances.
*  You both may be sports fans and look forward to sporting events with admission prices far lower than the professional teams.
*  You both benefit from walkable neighborhoods where you can easily stroll to a variety of businesses.
*  You both can benefit from reliable public transportation, should you need it.
*  In addition, many large universities also have teaching hospitals and dental schools, an excellent way to obtain world class medical care at affordable prices.  Sometimes you can even sign up to participate in drug trials or other innovative treatments which may not yet be available everywhere.  For example, I am currently participating in a long-term dementia study.  Researchers at the UCI-MIND program test me annually to see if I will develop any signs of cognitive decline (which has not happened, so far).  If I do show signs of developing dementia, they will do further tests and offer to enlist me in drug trials in an effort to slow down the progression of the disease.  This is an opportunity which I am unlikely to have if I had retired far away from any major university.

Popular College Towns for Retirees

Below is a list of popular college towns based on the recommendations of AARP, and my own personal experiences.  You will see that the choices range from fairly large cities at the top of the list to small towns near the bottom. 

Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts
Portland, Oregon
Austin, Texas
University Park (in Dallas), Texas
Madison, Wisconsin
Arlington, Virginia
Minneapolis - St. Paul, Minnesota
Boulder, Colorado
Rochester, Minnesota
Columbia, Missouri
Columbia, Maryland
Irvine, California
Alexandria, Virginia
Berkeley, California
Princeton, New Jersey
Fitchburg, Wisconsin
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Lafayette, Colorado
Silver Spring, Maryland
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Lexington, Virginia
Bismarck, North Dakota
Brookline, Massachusetts
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Portland, Maine

Choosing the Best University or College Town for You

Of course, the above list is not comprehensive. There are dozens of other possible choices.  If you are interested in living in a college town which is not on the list, simply do a little research to make sure the community has amenities which interest you, whether that be a winning football or basketball team, performances which are open to the public, affordable housing, access to healthcare and good transportation.  You may also get more ideas for desirable college communities by purchasing a book about colleges and college towns.

Check out the Fiske Guide to Colleges:

If you are looking for a smaller community in which to retire, don't rule out the opportunities offered by local community colleges.  In Orange County, California, Saddleback Community College offers hundreds of free classes to senior citizens who live in the county.  These classes include photography, oil painting, history, yoga, aerobics, computer programs, health and much more.  Other community colleges across the country also offer free or low-cost classes to seniors.

In addition, you may want to investigate the crime rate and the overall feeling of comfort you have when you are strolling around the community.  Not all colleges, especially those in large cities, are in neighborhoods with low crime rates.

Finally, you may also want to check to see if the community you are considering has a Senior Center.  In addition to the resources which a college will make available, a Senior Center will also provide activities and resources geared specifically for an older population, including exercise classes, educational classes, low cost meals, entertainment and information about local services for senior citizens.

If you are interested in discovering more ideas for where to retire, in the United States and abroad, financial planning, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as you age, and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog: http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:   Photo of University of Missouri in Columbia courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Our Bodies at Age 70

Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 or more a day.  Since this has been going on for several years, millions of them are now beginning to reach their 70s.  Aging can be an uncomfortable transition, and often people wonder what the future will hold in the coming years.  Recently, AARP Magazine published an article titled "Your Body at 70+" in their April / May 2018 edition and our readers may be interested in their conclusions.

Overall Health for People in their 70s

If you have not yet reached your 70s, you will be pleased to know that half of people surveyed who have already reached their 70s said that their lives had turned out better than they expected.

If you are a woman around age 65, you can expect to live, on average, another 20.6 years.  If you are a man of the same age, you can expect to live another 18 years.  Of course, whether or not you achieve that lifespan will depend on how well you take care of yourself.

You are less likely to die of cancer than people of our parents' generation, as long as you get timely cancer screenings.  For example, colon cancer deaths have fallen over 50 percent since 1970 because of colonoscopies and other screenings.

Other medical advances, such as pacemakers, are also likely to keep you living longer.  About 225,000 people a year have pacemakers implanted and the average age when this happens is 75.

You do need to get serious about your diabetes risk, however.  Approximately 75 percent of older Americans have either diabetes or prediabetes, and this disease can damage your heart, brain, kidneys, eyes and other organs.  If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you can improve your health by enrolling in a diabetes prevention program, which will be covered by Medicare.

Your Brain in Your 70s

Because our generation is in better general health than the previous generation, our risk of dementia is about 27 percent lower.  That will be a major relief to those of us who have parents with dementia.

You can do your part to protect your brain by eating dark green leafy vegetables like kale, which contain the nutrients folate, lutein and carotenoids.  You may also want to read the other articles in this blog about reducing our risk of dementia by following the MIND diet, getting exercise, reducing your stress, getting adequate sleep, seeing your dentist and taking similar measures. (Click on the tab at the top of this article on Medical Concerns to find a number of additional research-based articles.)

Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep is a common complaint of nearly 50 percent of people in their 70s.  As a result, you may want to reduce your caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening, and drink less alcohol.  If you still have trouble not getting enough sleep, talk to your doctor about getting help with sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other problems which could be interfering with your sleep.

Your Eyes and Ears in Your 70s

Do not be surprised if you develop new vision problems at this stage of your life.  See your ophthalmologist regularly for checkups.  You may need cataract surgery or have to address other vision issues such as dry eyes.

Another common issue which affects about one-third of people in their 70s is hearing loss.  The National Institutes of Health reports that 50% of people over the age of 75 have a disabling amount of hearing loss. Modern hearing aids are barely noticeable and much more comfortable than the old ones, so do not hesitate to get one if you think you need one.

People in their 70s are more likely to develop dementia and have shorter lives if they have untreated vision and hearing problems, which is reason enough to take care of these problems.

Muscles and Bones in the Aging Body

If you are a Baby Boomer, it is highly likely that by the time you reach your retirement age you will have noticed some changes to your body.  Your joints may be stiffer, you probably have less muscle mass, and you may be getting a little shorter.  Exercise is the best defense we have against those problems, but talk to your doctor to make sure you are getting all the proper diagnostic tests to confirm you do not have a serious problem.  Ideally, you should combine a variety of types of exercise in your health plan, including weight bearing, aerobic, balance and strength training.  Many Medicare supplement plans include gym memberships.  You can also find classes through your city recreation department or the Emeritus program of your local community college. Reach out to find a variety of types of exercise programs.

Sex in Your 70s

According to the AARP article, one in six women and one in three men are still enjoying sex in their 70s.  Unfortunately, it is not possible for everyone.  Approximately 44 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction. In these cases, it can be helpful to see your physician and find out if your problem can be solved.  Another issue is that about 30 percent of women ages 64 to 84 live alone.  However, the good news is that this number has fallen in recent years because husbands are living longer. Since loneliness has been found to shorten our lives, maintaining connections in our life is one key to longevity.

The bottom line is there is no reason to fear your 70s.  You may still have a number of good years left to live and a better quality of life than you expected.

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

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Google Images from Vuing.com - Carl and Ellie Fredericksen