Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Affordable Care Act 2020 - Are You Eligible for the ACA?

Many middle-age adults who are not quite old enough for Medicare are currently being charged outrageous prices for their private medical insurance.  However, in some cases, they may be eligible for subsidies to help pay for their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.  Yes, the ACA, sometimes called Obamacare, is still around, although it does not get as much of an advertising budget as it did in the past, so people are not as aware of it.  As a result, a large number of people are paying more than they need to for insurance coverage. How can you apply and find out if you are eligible for an Obamacare healthcare subsidy?

Apply During the ACA Open Enrollment Period

The 2020 Open Enrollment Period runs from Friday, November 1, 2019, until Sunday, December 15, 2019.  That window is just slightly over six weeks long, so it is important you act quickly.  If you do not act by December 15, 2019, you cannot get coverage for 2020 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.  Once you have been approved for medical insurance with subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, your healthcare plan will be effective starting January 1, 2020.

Special Enrollment Periods Provide Some Exceptions

In the event you have had a change in your situation, such as losing your prior medical coverage, getting married, or becoming a new parent, it may be possible for you to get insurance through the ACA after the Open Enrollment Period has ended.  You can also apply at any time of the year if you already qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Apply Even if You Have Pre-Existing Conditions

Under the current law, health insurers under the Affordable Care Act cannot charge you more or deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing health condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.  In addition, they cannot limit the benefits you receive for that condition.  Once you have obtained health insurance, they cannot refuse to cover the treatment of your pre-existing condition. (However, this may not be true if you continue to have an older, private insurance policy which you purchased prior to March 23, 2010.  Those old policies are still allowed to put limits on your care.)

How Do You Apply for Insurance through the Affordable Care Act?

In some communities, you may see special pop-up stores in malls where agents will be available to walk you through the process of completing an application.  If you do not have one of these businesses near you, and you have access to a computer, you can go to the government website to apply.  The website is:


On the site, you will be asked to give your zip code, so they can help you sign up for a plan which will work in your state.   You will be able to apply right on the website.  Your premiums will be based on your income, as well as other factors, such as the size of your family and whether or not you are disabled.  In order to make it quicker and easier for you to apply, be sure to have proof of your household income and other financial information on hand while you are completing the application.

You can also get help from health insurance agents and brokers on the website by clicking on the button which says "Get Contacted."  Fill-in your contact information, and they will contact you to help you personally with the application process.  In some areas, a local agent may even be able to meet with you in person. 

Which ACA Plan is Best for You?

The plans which you can purchase through HealthCare.gov are available at three levels:  Bronze, Silver and Gold.  The Bronze plans are the least comprehensive and least expensive.  Silver is the moderate choice and Gold is the top-of-the-line plan.  The figures used below are for the typical Silver plan.  However, when you apply, you may want to check out the pros and cons of all three plans.

In addition to the option to choose plans which offer different levels of care, beginning this year you can also find out how the plans are rated.  The Star rating system which has been available for years for Medicare and Medicaid plans has now been extended to policies sold through the Affordable Care Act.  The health care plans which are listed on the healthcare exchanges will have a rating of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 representing plans of the highest quality. 

How Much Does the ACA or Obamacare Cost?

The amount you will pay depends on the size of the subsidy you are eligible to receive.  Currently, your portion of the cost of health insurance premiums through the ACA is capped at 9.5% of your income.

In addition, your maximum out-of-pocket expenses, excluding your premium, can range from $6,350 a year for a single person, up to $12,700 for a family of four.   While these out-of-pocket expenses may seem high, at least there is a cap and you cannot be hit with a huge, unexpected medical bill should someone in your family develop a major illness or require surgery.  The good news is that you may never come close to actually hitting the limits for your out-of-pocket costs.  Those fortunate families which remain healthy will rarely spend much more than their basic premiums and a few co-pays.

The actual amount you will be expected to pay in premiums will vary depending on the number of people in your family and your total household income. 

For example, assume you are a married couple with no children, which is common for many of my readers who have retired, but are still too young for Medicare. If you opt for the popular Silver insurance plan, you will receive a health insurance subsidy to reduce the cost of your premiums, as long as your household income in 2019 is under $65,840 for a married couple

If you are single, you can receive a subsidy if your income in 2019 is under $48,560

If you are a couple with a child you are supporting, you will receive a subsidy if your income is as much as $83,120.  If you have more than one child you are still supporting, your income limit can be even higher.

The exact amount of the subsidy you will receive will vary, and depends on your income and the size of your family.  If you think you are close to the income levels, it is still worth it to apply and see if you qualify for a reduction in your health insurance premiums.

Take Advantage of the Affordable Care Act if You are Eligible

Many people retire earlier than they planned, which means they often retire before they are eligible for Medicare.  In fact, the average American retires at age 63, and they cannot apply for Medicare until they are 65. In other cases, people become disabled and need to stop working at a much younger age.  Sometimes people are unemployed for an extended period of time, and COBRA coverage can be very expensive.  Purchasing health insurance through the ACA healthcare exchanges is a good alternative until you are working again.  One of our daughters obtained insurance through the ACA for herself and her two children when she obtained her teaching credential and it was several months before she found her first teaching job.  It was a relief to her to know that she and her children had health insurance until she was employed again and covered by her school district's group plan.

Regardless of your personal situation, you may be able to save a substantial amount of money if you apply for a health insurance subsidy through the Affordable Care Act.  It certainly will not hurt to apply and see if it can save you money.  After all, you have paid for these benefits through your taxes, so you should certainly feel comfortable using them when you are eligible.

If you want to learn more about Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, common health problems as you age, 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:  Pixabay

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Why Scammers Call You - Are You an Easy Mark?

If you are like most Americans, you receive frequent robocalls, personal calls and emails from potential scammers. The frequency of these calls may seem overwhelming. Some of them may even be initiated by seemingly trustworthy people.  For example, when you make a purchase or investment, you may occasionally encounter sales people who cross the line from offering legitimate sales assistance to suggesting deals which are outright fraud. At times, it may seem as if you are constantly under assault by criminals and you need to be suspicious of everyone.  You could be right.  You may have unintentionally become an easy mark for scammers.

Why you?  What is it about you that makes you especially vulnerable to being duped by dishonest people?  You may be surprised to know that the AARP Fraud Watch Network has done research on why certain people are targeted more easily and what personality traits they possess.  Once you understand your flaws, it will be easier for you to protect yourself.  Below are common weaknesses which make you more likely to become a fraud victim.

You May Respect Authority Figures Too Much

Some scammers try the approach of sending out official looking letters and emails, or they may call you and pretend to be officials with a government agency, such as the IRS, the police, Social Security or a court.  People should recognize that government agencies rarely call citizens, and almost never make a phone call as their first approach in dealing with a citizen.  They nearly always contact you first by mail.

In addition, if you are dealing with an agency such as the IRS, because of an issue such as unpaid taxes, they will never demand that you make an immediate payment.  Whenever you do make a payment, there are specific steps you must follow and only certain types of payments are allowed.  They NEVER accept  gift cards or similar methods of payment.  Let me repeat that.  If someone contacts you and says that you owe back taxes, a fee or a fine, no legitimate government agency will say that you must pay them immediately by using gift cards.  That should be your first red flag that something is very wrong.

If someone calls you and says they are from a government agency, tell them you only handle these transactions by mail and hang up.  When and if you do get an official looking letter, you should call the relevant agency using their official phone number listed on their website, NOT one which was given to you by a strange caller.  Be skeptical of any stranger who calls you unexpectedly, even if they say they are from a government agency.  If you have questions, call your local sheriff's department for guidance.

You Could be Too Trusting and a People Pleaser

There are many disadvantages of trying too hard to please other people, including the fact that it can simply be exhausting.  However, another disadvantage is that people pleasers tend to put their own judgement aside in order to follow the instructions of others.  For example, you may receive an email from someone pretending to be a friend or coworker.  They may give you unusual instructions, such as asking you to purchase gift cards, take photos of the front and back, and email the photos to them.  A more skeptical person might question why they would want you to do this.  However, believe it or not, people regularly fall for this scam.  By the time the victim realizes the person sending the email is not who they are pretending to be, the scammer has already used the photos you sent to purchase something with the gift cards.  Even when you think someone you know is asking you to photograph gift cards, don't do it.  There is a good chance it is a scam.

You May be Lonely and Seeking Friends Online

Scammers love lonely people.  The perfect mark is someone who willingly enters into a lengthy conversation over the phone with the scammer.  It doesn't take a lot of time to convince a lonely person that the stranger on the phone wants to be their friend.

An even more dangerous person could be someone you meet through social media or a dating website.  Thousands of lonely men and women have developed online relationships with strangers, "loaned" them money, "invested" in various schemes and otherwise been reeled in.  Some people have even lost thousands of dollars this way.  Below are some rules you should follow to protect yourself.

Never send money to someone you have met online, either through social media or a dating site.

Never invest in business deals with strangers, even if you have been conversing with them online for months.  Many of these scammers go for the "long game" and are willing to spend months emailing a large number of people until they find someone who will send them money.

Don't let loneliness cause you to become a victim.

You Could be Under Stress or Grieving and More Vulnerable

Be wary of phone calls from strangers, especially after a crisis, including a death in the family, a home fire, a flood or other disaster.  There are crooks who try to trick people into giving out their personal information during times of stress.  They may pretend to offer help, when they are really trying to steal any insurance or settlement money you could be receiving.  If you are feeling overwhelmed and get a phone call from someone who is offering to help, you may be tempted to lower your guard and tell them things such as your Social Security or bank account numbers, because you believe it is necessary in order to get federal aid or other assistance.  Be particularly suspicious whenever you are under stress.   Take your time, meet personally with the people from FEMA or the insurance company, do online research and gather information until you know exactly what you need to do.

You May Have Been a Scam Victim in the Past, Making You a "Mark"

Did you know that people who have been victimized once are even more likely to be victimized again?  Once scammers know your weaknesses, they will actually sell your name to other scammers who will try new and different approaches to get their hands on your money.  Once you have been a victim of fraud, be extra careful for the rest of your life. 

You Could Be Too Confident that You Will Not Be Scammed

After reading articles such as this one, you may be absolutely confident that you would never fall for any of these tricks.  Do not get over-confident.  Many of the people who fall victim to fraud are intelligent, confident, well-read people who believe they know "all the tricks in the book."  However, the people who conceive of these scams are also intelligent and they put all their energy into thinking of new, creative ways to trick people. They know how to come across in different ways, depending on the scam. They might appear to be professional and businesslike, or caring and helpful.  They are able to be whoever they need to be.  They consider this their profession, not a hobby.  Be skeptical of anyone who approaches you for money.

Learn How to Protect Yourself from Scams

Without getting over-confident, pay attention to new scams in your area and learn how to protect yourself.

If you receive a call from a telemarketer or a robocall, hang up immediately.  Never give out information over the phone.  Never call back.  You could be calling a number that will charge you when you place the call.

Block the phone numbers of telemarketers so they cannot keep calling you using the same number.

Even if you have to block dozens of numbers, do not give up.  Telemarketing companies have a variety of numbers they can use, but eventually they will run out if you keep blocking them.

Immediately end online conversations with people who ask for money, no matter how convincing they are.  This applies to people who contact you through email, Facebook, Twitter or dating sites.  If they ask for money, no matter how convincing their story, do not send it to them. If you do it once, they will probably keep asking.

If you believe the request could be from a legitimate company, such as a local charity, ask them to mail their request to you.  That will give you more time to check them out and think about your decision to make a donation.  If they begin to call repeatedly, hang up and block their number.

If you receive a call from a government agency, look up the number for that agency online and call them directly.  Ask that they put any questions or requests for information in writing and mail it to you.  Consult the police or an attorney if they harass you, especially if you are suspicious about why they have contacted you.

Do NOT cash unexpected checks or prize money you receive in the mail.  Check with your local sheriff's department, district attorney's office, or your bank to see if it is legitimate.  NEVER mail money back to the person or company that sent you the check. A common scam is to tell you that you have won money, then they send you a check for more than you supposedly won, and they ask you to mail them back the difference.  By the time you discover that their phony check has bounced, you have already sent them your real check and they have cashed it.

Always read the fine print before entering into any business deal.  Consult an attorney to protect yourself as much as possible.

Be skeptical of any requests for money, no matter how sincere, even if it is put in the form of a "loan" or an "investment."  Discuss real investments with legitimate advisors such as your lawyer, tax accountant, or financial planner.  In addition, investigate possible investments online.  There is plenty of information about both legitimate and dishonest business deals online, if people are just willing to do the research.

Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

For more information of financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, 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 helpful articles.

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

Photo credit:  morguefile.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Reduce Alzheimers and Other Dementia Risks - You Can Protect Your Brain Health

My mother died of dementia.  Her doctors suspected it was a combination of Alzheimer's Disease and vascular dementia.  It was heart-breaking to see an active, independent woman dissolve into someone who could not take care of even her most basic needs.  As sad as it is to admit it, some of my mother's lifestyle choices may have contributed to her dementia. For example, she began smoking when she was a teenager and did not stop until she died at age 86.  She also ate a diet which was high in sugar and saturated fats.  Fried chicken cooked in lard was our standard Sunday dinner when I was growing up. She loved donuts and ice cream sundaes.  Eventually, these behaviors lead to a massive heart attack at age 65, followed by bi-pass surgery and, a decade later, the development of dementia.  I am sure that if she had known the future consequences of her early behaviors, she would have made some changes.

You do not have to simply give in and let yourself or someone you love develop Alzheimer's Disease or other types of dementia.  While you may not be able to avoid the past damage you have done to your body and brain, or prevent every possible cause of dementia, such as a brain injury or environmental hazards, there is no reason to simply let your memory go without a fight.

Studies show that people who make certain lifestyle changes can greatly reduce their dementia risk.  I believe most people will think it is worth the effort.

Four Pillars of Brain Health

Recently, I attended a lecture presented by Alzheimer's Orange County.  The speaker did an excellent job of concisely explaining the steps we can take in order to protect our brains from decline.  She referred to her lecture as the Four Pillars of Brain Health, which are listed below. 

Follow a heart healthy diet.  Yes, this article is about brain health.  However, researchers have discovered that anything which is good for the heart is also good for the brain.  There are a number of beneficial books you may find helpful, such as  the MIND diet, (Ad) the DASH diet or the Mediterranean Diet.  They are all very similar and all of them will help your brain.  Simply put, you should eat lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, unsaturated fats such as olive oil, and some lean meats.  Avoid solid fat, sugar, salt, fried foods, fatty meats, and fast foods.

If you are at risk of developing diabetes, follow the diet your doctor recommends.  If you already have diabetes, treat it carefully.  There is a high correlation between diabetes and dementia.  In fact, some researchers have referred to dementia as Type 3 Diabetes.  If you want to protect your brain, you need to start by keeping your blood sugar at healthy levels.

Get plenty of exercise and take care of your physical health.   The more you move, the more you increase the blood and oxygen flow to the brain.  In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that, "Sitting is the new Smoking."  No matter how poor your current physical condition, you can do something.  Sign up for a chair exercise class, yoga, or water aerobics.  Go for regular walks in your neighborhood, even if you can only go a short distance in the beginning.  Lift light weights when you are sitting and watching television.  Any movement, even cleaning your home, will improve your physical condition, protect your brain, and keep you from spending endless hours sitting.

In addition, if your brain is important to you, you should stop smoking, make sure you get adequate sleep, keep your alcohol use to a minimum, handle your stress in healthy ways, avoid head injuries and see your dentist and doctor regularly for exams, blood tests and appropriate medications, when necessary, to handle problems such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.

To learn more about lifestyles which are good for both the heart and brain, you can use this link to a list of helpful Blue Zones books. (Ad) They have invaluable information for anyone who wants to live a healthy, long life.

Exercise your brain.  The jury is still out on whether or not it really helps to play brain games on the computer.  What you should focus on is making sure you actually use your brain regularly to learn new things.  Read books, play games which require a lot of thought, develop new hobbies, and take classes.  Your brain is like a muscle and you do not want to let it atrophy.  You are never too old to learn something new.  Is your cell phone driving you crazy?  Sign up for a class to learn all its little tricks.  Have you always wanted to play an instrument?  It is not too late.  Planning a trip?  Why not learn a new language?   Challenge yourself.  You may be surprised at just how much cognitive ability you still have.

Get socially involved with other people.  In addition to developing new hobbies, socializing regularly is a fun way to take care of our brains.  When I was a Camp Fire Girl leader for our daughters, they sang a song about friendship.  The lyrics were, "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold."  This is just as true as we age as it is for children.  We will lose friends as we get older.  It is very important we do not use that as a reason to sit home and isolate.  That is terrible for our brain health!  Join a club or social group. Sign up to sing in a choir, like the one pictured at the top of this article. Volunteer in the community, especially in a position which involves meeting other people.  Get involved in a place of worship. Join in the activities at your local senior center.  Whatever you choose to do, put some effort into meeting new people and getting involved in fun activities.

Whenever possible, choose activities which can help your brain in more than one way.  For example, having a lunch group can also help you eat right, as well as maintain social connections. Signing up for golf lessons will help your physical health and give you the opportunity to meet new people.  Learning to play bridge can benefit you both cognitively and socially.  The bottom line is to stay active, keep moving, and make healthy lifestyle changes which are good for your heart and brain.  Your body will thank you!

If you are interested in more information about how to stay healthy as you age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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

Photo credit:  Sonata retirement home choir in Florida - Sonata Twitter account

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Downsizing Tips for Seniors - How to Handle the Change

Sooner or later, many seniors discover that they need to downsize.  They may be moving to a smaller home in a new community, to a retirement condo, or to an apartment in an Assisted Living community.  Regardless of where they are moving, the decision can be complicated and often seniors feel overwhelmed.  What should they keep and what should they get rid of?  How do they choose?  Where do they begin?  No wonder so many seniors feel paralyzed by all the decisions they have to make.
This month we have a guest post from Michael Longsdon from Elder Freedom, which describes itself as "an organization of advocates working for the older adults of our community. It is our mission to help locate resources, events, and engagement opportunities to help enrich the lives of seniors." Mr. Longsdon has helpfully put together this information which will make it easier for seniors to downsize.

In addition to the information below, you may find it helpful read a book such as:  "Decluttering at the Speed of Life." (Ad) It has some great ideas for sorting through your belongings and purging your home of what you do not need.  

Three Strategies for Downsizing Which Every Senior Needs to Know

by Michael Longsdon
Downsizing is a popular lifestyle move today. The potential benefits include everything from stress relief to discovering what you truly love in life. But for seniors who are moving to a new house, there are more complex emotions and physical hurdles in your path. Here are three strategies for downsizing which every senior needs to know before it is time to pick up the new keys.
Downsizing 101: Paring Down the Smart Way
Getting rid of possessions can be fraught with emotion. Ideally, you should be getting rid of things which are merely taking up space. But in many cases, you will struggle to let go of objects which have some significant history. Whether it is a painting which you do not like, but kept because of family ties, or a piece of furniture you did not want, but have grown to love, detaching from possessions is a process.
Ideally, you should start working toward downsizing well in advance of a move. Sifting through belongings should not be a rushed process. Instead, start with one room in the house and begin sorting everything into piles. Choose a bin for donating, a box for keeping, and have the trash can conveniently located, too.
Consider how much space you will have at your new place and pare down accordingly. Think critically about each item and decide whether you need it. Creating a focus for your life moving forward can help. Think about whether the item will benefit you in your new life. Will it bring you joy, or will it remain in a box for years after your move?
Choose things which make you happy and contribute to your daily enjoyment of life, in general.
House Search: How to Find the Right Fit for Your Golden Years
Finding the right home to live in through your golden years is crucial for your future happiness. Your first consideration is whether to buy an already-accessible home or one you need to modify. An older property, or one needing upgrades, will cost less up-front than a modern and well-equipped home.
Depending on the remodeling costs, you may find that purchasing a home that already has what you need is ideal. For example, the areas where remodels are most likely necessary are the bathroom and kitchen. The average cost to remodel a bathroom in Fort Worth ranges between $5500 and $14,000, while the average cost nationally for a kitchen remodel is around $22,000. 
If you have the budget—and specific ideas about the layout or features of your home—opting for a remodel might be the best option. Conversely, choosing a home with accessibility features already in place is often a wise choice, especially if you do not have time to manage a project.
Features such as wide doorways and halls, grab bars in restrooms, low kitchen countertops, and low-graded entries are highlights of universal design homes. In universal design, accessibility is streamlined into the overall home layout and plans—no remodeling necessary.
Decide what is best for your budget, timeline, and enjoyment of your new home before making an offer on a new place.
Making the Most of Your Move
Moving can be emotional and stressful, and if you are downsizing after living in your family home for decades, the move can feel traumatizing. The best plan for preparing for a move is to start as early as possible. This way, you can take time to adjust to the idea of living somewhere new.
Research your new neighborhood and find out what is amazing about it, and consider local amenities and community perks. While moving always has drawbacks, there are many positives you should recognize, too.
If you are interested in learning more about where to live after your retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, or common medical issues after retirement, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other additional articles.
You are reading from the blog: http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com
Photo credit: Photo provided by Elder Freedom; the source was pixabay.com/photos/kitchen-kitchenette-apartment-room-2094707/

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Camping Tips for Retirees - Stay Safe and Have Fun!

One of the advantages of retirement is that you can go camping whenever you want, not just on your children's school holidays.  This opens up the possibility of traveling around the country to various state and federal parks, spending extended periods of time in beautiful places you always dreamed of seeing.  America has some fabulous, scenic locations, and retirement means you can visit them whenever you wish, including in the "off-season."

There are many financial and health benefits to camping vacations, as long as you take a few precautions to avoid becoming the victim of a crime or injury. The information and tips below should help make your camping trips even more fun and rewarding.

Retirees Save Money on National Park Camping

Once you are over the age of 62, you will qualify for an American the Beautiful Senior Pass, which makes camping vacations even more affordable.  In 2019, a lifetime senior pass sold for $80 and an annual senior pass was available for $20 a year.  In addition, there was an extra $10 charge to purchase the passes online or by mail.  The senior pass covers your entrance fees and day use fees, and may give you a discount of up to 50 percent on your camping fees, boat launch fees and similar services.

According to their website: "Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person)."

In addition, you may want to check your state park service to see if senior citizens are eligible for discounts on camping, entry fees or other charges in the state parks.

Finally, don't forget that seniors are eligible for discounts at many other tourist sites, especially if you are a member of either AARP or AAA.  Don't forget to ask for your senior discount, even if you stop at a motel or restaurant. You've earned these discounts; enjoy them! 

Camping Has Health Benefits for Retirees

While any opportunity to relax and take a vacation is good for you, there are special reasons why a camping trip may have extra health benefits.

Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that being out in nature, even for a short time, can increase your recall ability by 20 percent.  They speculated that part of the reason for this is that it is easier to stay mindful when our brains are not overstimulated by traffic, crowds, and noise in the city.  This is a good reason to sit back and practice a little solitude and peaceful meditation while in the forest.

You are also more likely to hike and stay active when you are camping out, away from your computers, television and other electronic distractions.  One study showed that a two-hour walk in the woods could trigger a 50 percent increase in white blood cell activity, giving your immune system a boost.

In addition, you will probably be breathing pure, highly oxygenated air from the surrounding trees and other vegetation, far from sources of air pollution.  While spending time outdoors, you may also get more Vitamin D from the sun.

Remember Camper Safety!

Depending on where you are camping, as well as your plans and activities, you may need to take special safety precautions.

If you are going to hike in unfamiliar locations, everyone should consider purchasing a GPS tracker from Amazon or a sporting goods store. These trackers will help you stay on the trails and will make it easier for rescuers to locate you if you get lost or injured.  If you like to hike, taking a tracker with you could literally save your life.

In addition, it is a good idea to hike and camp with a backup solar charger (Ad) for your cell phone.  You may not have cell phone service in all areas but, if you do, it is important to keep your phone charged so you can reach someone in an emergency.  Even without cell service, you can use a cell phone as a flashlight to attract the attention of rescuers and, in some cases, the GPS will work, even if you are unable to make calls.

Other important safety equipment every camper should consider purchasing includes flashlights, a first aid kit, bear spray, (Ad) a whistle, water purification drops, and a portable radio.  All these items, and more, can be purchased from a sporting goods store or on the Amazon page for camping safety equipment.

In general, you should practice the same safety procedures while camping that you would at home.  For example, keep your car and camper locked when you are not around. If you tend to travel alone, you may want to join a camping club and caravan to various camp grounds with other senior citizens.  It will be more fun to travel with a group of friends and it will be safer.

Do not leave food lying out where it could attract wild animals.  Dispose of leftovers and food wrappers in properly designated trashcans, preferably away from your campsite.  Stay in approved camping areas and check-in with park rangers.

Do not go off-trail in remote areas.  Do not leave a campfire unattended.  Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy.  Do not go near the edge of cliffs.  People die regularly around the Grand Canyon from slipping off the rim.  If you decide to take a selfie, do not turn your back towards a cliff or on wild animals, such as bison or bears.  In fact, do not get to close to wild animals, even if you are facing them. Stay aware of your surroundings.  

Have Fun and Stay Healthy!

If you want to get the most enjoyment from camping after retirement, plan to have fun, enjoy new experiences, and meet fellow campers. Learning new skills, getting fresh air and exercise, socializing with interesting people, and reading about the places you are visiting are wonderful ways to maintain your mental facilities.

If you become ill, Medicare works in all 50 states, but not outside the U.S.  If you venture into Mexico or Canada, you need to have a special travel plan to obtain medical care overseas, in the event you need it.  Discuss this with your Medicare insurance provider.  Make sure your Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan will provide care for you in all 50 states, and find out what arrangements they have for travel outside the U.S. 

Take the time to eat well while traveling, too.  Avoid relying on easy snacks like chips and cookies, or foods you pick up at fast food restaurants on the road.  Bring along plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which often can be wrapped in tin foil and heated over a campfire or prepared on a grill.

Explore new locations.  If you aren't sure where to camp along the way, you may want to get a copy of the "Smart RV Travel Guide For The Lower 48 States: List of RV and National Parks, the Cost, the Amenities, What to See and Do in Each State." (Ad)

For more travel tips for retirees, or information on financial planning, where to retire in the US and overseas, common medical issues, Social Security and Medicare, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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

Photo credit:  Twitter account of Leisure Travel