Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Top Retirement Posts in 2021 - What Interested Baby Boomers the Most?

 At the end of each year, we post a collection of the posts which interested Baby Boomers the most during the year.  The subjects can change annually.  For example, in 2020, anything related to Covid was viewed frequently. In 2021, most readers were satisfied with what they had already learned about Covid, although they still wanted to know what to expect when they received their first Covid vaccines.  After that, they moved on this year to read more articles related to traditional retirement topics, such as the articles we posted on financial planning, and working after retirement.  Other topics which interested them included dental implants, rehab facilities, condo insurance, and how to find a good Memory Care facility.

You'll find a summary of the top posts below, along with direct links so you can find them easily and read the ones you missed. 

Top Posts of 2021

Amazon Savings Tips - How to Save Money Shopping Online - Did you know there are many ways to get a better deal, even when shopping online at major sites?  Sometimes on Amazon and the websites of other major companies, you can find coupons or other ways to get a better deal.  Check out these tips before you make your next purchase! 

Dental Implants - Which Kind do You Need? - More and more people are getting implants rather than the types of dentures which our parents received.  There are a lot of advantages to implants, but did you know there is more than one kind?  Learn about the types of implants and decide which one will work best for you. 

Covid 19 Vaccines: What to Expect Before and After You Get the Vaccine - If you are getting a Covid vaccine for the first time, what can you expect?  What side-effects are common?  What can you do to minimize these effects?  Although this article was written in the spring, when the vaccines first became available, the information is still relevant. 

Financial Planning Tips for Retirement - What the Experts Recommend - Are you financially ready for retirement?  If not, what can you do to reach your goals and have the comfortable retirement you hope for?  This article will help you make practical plans. 

Retirement Heaven or Hell - Which Will You Choose - What will your retirement look like?  This book will help you make the necessary plans to increase the likelihood that your retirement will look more like Heaven than Hell.  Even after all the material I have read about retirement, I found great tips in this book.  Read my review. 

Rehab Facilities: How to Choose the Best One for Your Situation - Many American families include at least one person with a substance abuse problem.  Alcoholism and drug addiction affect people of all ages.  This article will help you find the best rehab facility for your family situation.

Semi-Retirement - The New Retirement Model for Baby-Boomers - Many Baby Boomers have discovered that completely stopping work is not realistic for them.  They may want to continue working for financial, emotional or mental reasons. Learn more about how this could be the right retirement plan for you. 

HO-6 Condominium Insurance - What is it and What does it Cover? - Many retirees downsize and purchase a condominium for the first time in their lives as they prepare to simplify their lives.  One of the confusing choices they have to make is purchasing HO-6 Condo Insurance.  This article explains the various choices you may have, depending on the coverage already provided by your Homeowner's Association. 

Memory Care Communities: Part of Retirement Planning - None of us like to think about the time when we may not be able to handle our own affairs any longer. However, it is a reality we need to prepare for.  This article has some practical solutions for dealing for the problem, whether for yourself or a beloved family member.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credits:Pixabay - geralt


Friday, December 17, 2021

Safely Travel Alone - Solo Vacation Tips

Solo travel is becoming more popular in the over-50 age group, particularly for women. According to Overseas Adventure Travel, traveling alone has been the fastest growing segment of the travel business.  In 2010, women traveling by themselves made up 27 percent of their business; today solo female travelers make up 50 percent of their bookings.  The Tauck travel company has also seen an increase in solo riverboat cruisers over the age of 50, with 75 percent of the solo travelers being women.  Single travelers may be divorced, widowed, never-married, or married people whose spouses stayed at home while they went on a trip by themselves.  However, before you book your first solo trip, there are a few things you should know.

Traveling Alone Can Be Expensive

Most travel accommodations are priced for double occupancy.  This works well for people who have a travel companion, whether it is a spouse or friend.  For people who want to book rooms alone, the cost can be exorbitant. For example, a river cruise priced at under $2,000 per person for a double occupancy room, could cost over $3,300 for a single person occupying the same cabin alone.  This makes it too expensive for many people to travel alone.  However, some specialty tour companies, such as Wild Women Expeditions, Intrepid Travel, Exodus Travels and Adventure Travel, are helping single travelers by pairing them with other travelers who want to share a cabin, or by offering single accommodations for only a small additional fee.

Sign Up for a Tour or Cruise

While it can be exciting to travel completely alone, doing it through a tour company or on a cruise ship will give you more security and connect you with a group of other travelers to eat and chat with.  This can help you feel more comfortable and less lonely.  It can also be fun to share your adventures with other like-minded people. 

Choose Safe Destinations

All travelers need to recognize the importance of checking the State Department website for travel advisories and warnings.  We are fortunate, today, that we are able to find out important travel warnings with just a click on our computers. 

Years ago, my husband and I took our family on a trip to Cancun, although we had no idea that a hurricane was approaching.  On another occasion we went to Jamaica during a time of violent unrest, when several tourists at our hotel were killed by revolutionaries.  In both cases, we wish we had been able to easily find out about the danger before we left for these destinations.  

It is very helpful to read up on potential destinations before you choose one.  It is worthwhile to read travel guides (Ad), which are available for almost any destination in the world.  It is smart to know a little about what to expect before you head off on your adventure, and it could help your enjoy your trip even more!

Today, we also have the ability to check in advance to see if there are health, political, or weather related reasons why you might want to avoid certain locations, even if something comes up at the last minute.

The state department website can be found at:

Tell Other People Where You are Going

Remember when you had teenagers and you asked them to let you know where they were going and how to reach them in an emergency?  Today, your adult children or other family members will also worry if they do not know where you are or how to reach you.  Give your itinerary to your family. Check in with them periodically by email or by using a free app on your phone such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messaging.  These are free ways to send texts and you can also use WhatsApp to make video calls.  Of course, you have to make sure you will have WiFi available during your trip.

If you register your trip with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, they will notify you if something new comes up, such as a local political uprising, an approaching storm, or a serious increase in an epidemic, such as Covid.  Make sure they know how to reach you.

Get Medical Emergency Travel Insurance

We have had several friends who had to end their trips prematurely because of an unexpected illness or injury.  In each case, they had to spend time in a foreign hospital, and then arrange their own travel home.   Before they were allowed to leave the foreign country, they had to pay the hospital bill in full.  Typically, your Medicare plan will not cover any of these costs.  Consequently, you will want to purchase a medical emergency travel plan which covers preexisting conditions, as well as the cost of having a friend or relative meet you at the foreign hospital, if possible.  You will also want the insurance to cover the cost of evacuating you back to the United States as soon as you are able to travel. 

Be Extra Careful About Venturing Out Alone at Night

While it is important to be vigilant and stick with your tour group during the day, it is especially important at night.  Avoid getting drunk, which could make you much more vulnerable.  Watch your drinks carefully, to minimize your risk of being drugged by a friendly stranger.  Sign up for planned group trips to local night spots, restaurants, clubs and theaters.   The tour group leaders will know the fun places to go, will have no trouble getting the necessary reservations or tickets, and will minimize the danger.

Get a Few Safety Travel Accessories

If you are traveling, it could be helpful to purchase a few inexpensive travel accessories such as a secure, hidden, travel belt  (ad) for your money and ID.   If you are concerned about your safety in your hotel room, you can also purchase a portable door lock (Ad) for added security.  Another option is a portable door or window alarm which will awaken you if there is an intruder.  Taking along a few items like these will help you feel more secure wherever you go, although it doesn't replace remaining vigilant whenever you venture out on your own. 

Look for Opportunities to Meet Local People

There are ways to protect yourself while still taking advantage of opportunities to meet local people.  You may want to stay in a B&B or small hotel where you can meet other travelers.  You can also arrange visits with local people through some of the websites listed below:
Women Welcome Women World Wide

The last two sites allow you to book a meal with local hosts in their own homes in a number of countries around the world.  You will get a home cooked meal and have the opportunity to meet local people. 

Even when using these websites, it is a good idea to see if you can join a tour or put together a group of people who want to go together, so you are not traveling alone or spending time by yourself with strangers.  Many tour companies can include an evening in the home of a local as part of their package.  Ask about it when you book your tour.

It may also help if you take the time to learn a little of the language before you go.  Using a program like Babbel (Ad) could help you learn enough of a language to be able to get around more easily while traveling.  It will help you feel more confident about striking up a conversation or asking for directions, and increase the fun you will have.

Most importantly, do not give up on travel simply because you do not have a companion to go with you.  Do some research, find a tour or cruise, keep an open mind, and have the time of your life!

What About Safety on Road Trips?

You may also decide to take a road trip by yourself.  Some of the above advice will still apply.  According to Nicole Jordon, a young woman who has traveled in her Subaru Forester for two years by herself, below are some things she does to keep herself safe on the road.  Many of these tips are good to follow, no matter what mode of transportation you are using.

Stay in touch with family and friends. Let them know where you are and where you are going.

Take a satellite phone, so you are always in touch, you are able to send your coordinates to your contacts, and you can check for weather updates.  Most satellite phones also have an SOS feature, in case of an emergency.

Download offline maps and take along paper maps, so you can find the location you are headed towards, even if your GPS does not work.

If you are camping, choose sites with good reviews, near towns.  (I would add that they should not be too isolated. Park near a ranger station, if that is an option.)

If you are stuck in a city overnight, be careful about where you park. (This might be a good time to find an actual trailer park or other site which allows overnight camping.) 

Wherever you park, make sure you orient your car toward the exit and prepare yourself for the night, so you can take off quickly, without the need to get out of your car to gather belongings.  Always be prepared to leave quickly in an emergency.

Keep some kind of self-defense weapon with you, such as bear spray. (Ad)  (Nicole also suggests keeping a knife nearby.  The weapon you choose is a personal matter, but the bear spray tip is a good one, and they are available in a variety of price ranges and multi-packs. In addition to being able to use it on human predators, the spray can also be used on animals, especially if you camp in remote areas.) 

Maintain your car so it is less likely to break down in an isolated area.

Install curtains in your vehicle, so you can have privacy at night.

Stay well supplied, with extra food and water, and keep your gas tank full.

Don't share too much personal information with people you meet.  In particular do not tell them that you are traveling alone.  Suggest that you are on your way to meet friends, and be vague about where you are going.  With the same security concerns in mind, do not post exactly where you are on social media, because you do not want strange people to try to locate you.  If you want to post photos, post them a few days after you have left the place.

If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, act on it.  As Nicole says, "trust your gut."  Leave.

(Source: - Article by Nicole Jordon)

Most important of all, be a little adventurous and have fun traveling.  There are so many interesting places, both in our country and all around the world.

Going on a cruise or a trip to a beach resort?  Show your support of the ocean with this lovely tote bag.  

You can find it, a large selection of other tote bags, and a variety of gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts.  Check it out here:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post.
Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

If you are interested in learning more about traveling after retirement, financial planning for retirement, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, 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.

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Source of websites and statistics:  AARP Bulletin, December 2019

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Friday, December 10, 2021

When Assisted Living for the Elderly Might Be the Best Choice

 Many adults with aging parents worry about when they might need to help their loved ones move to an Assisted Living community. It can be a difficult decision.  Assisted Living is not the same as a skilled nursing facility.  The person moving to Assisted Living probably does not need a nurse checking on them every few minutes, but they would still benefit from a little help in order to have the best quality of life in their later years. How can you know when your elderly relatives are ready to move to Assisted Living?

This week's guest post is from Jim McKinley who has addressed this topic in a thoughtful way.  Readers may find it very helpful in determining when it is time for them to take their family member to visit various Assisted Living communities and choose the one which will work best for them.  Jim McKinley's guest post is below:

Signs It May Be Time for Your Elderly Loved One to Consider Assisted Living

If you have an elderly parent or grandparent living on their own, they may benefit from moving to an assisted living community. This will alleviate the burden of daily tasks like housekeeping, cooking, and yard work. It can also provide a valuable social network. As The Elder Care Alliance explains, socialization can help reduce stress and ward off depression and anxiety in older individuals. 

Discover the signs your loved one is ready to transition to a community in this article presented by Baby Boomer Retirement. This guide also provides guidance on how to bring up the topic with your loved one and explains how to choose a fitting facility — and pay for it. 

Signs it is time for an elderly parent or grandparent to transition to senior living 

A lack of home maintenance is one sign it's time for an older person to consider moving to an assisted living facility. Age-related decline in physical ability makes home and yard maintenance tough. This can be seen in piles of laundry, undone dishes, and general messiness. 

Some seniors may also start to lose weight because they are unable to do the shopping and cooking required for healthy eating. If your loved one needs more frequent medical care, they can also benefit from a skilled nursing facility, where they have constant support from staff. 

More frequent accidents are another indicator that it's time to make a change. The University of Rochester reveals that a lack of flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination can increase the risk of falls in elderly individuals. Unfortunately, even a short fall can pose a possibly serious health threat. 

How to discuss the option of assisted living with your elderly loved one 

If you believe that your loved one is ready for assisted living, broaching the topic can be difficult. Experts recommend recruiting siblings to help and emphasizing the positive points of the transition. For example, your parents or grandparents will have to do less housework and have more time for socializing. 

Further, come prepared with information when you open the discussion. Have some pamphlets or information from local facilities that might interest them. You can also schedule tours together to visit institutions in person. The point is to give your loved one as much personal agency over the process as possible. 

How to find the right community for your loved one 

As you check out assisted living options with your loved one, consider their needs. For example, do they require active nursing care? Location is also a consideration. Some seniors prefer to move closer to family, for example. This offers various benefits, such as being able to participate actively in grandchildren's lives. Websites like SeniorCare can help you and your loved one select a well-reviewed facility in the Dallas area that’s close to your family. 

Also, check out each facility's meal options, social agenda, and physical activity program. For instance, many facilities offer group exercise courses covering everything from Tai Chi to water aerobics. Regular exercise helps seniors remain independent. 

Finally, consider the cost. According to, the average cost of assisted living is $4,000 monthly. Your loved one can sell their home to help cover expenses. While in-person viewings can be tricky during COVID-19, you can go ahead with virtual viewings. Redfin details options like 3D walkthroughs, virtual open houses, and video chat tours. 

Making the move to assisted living can be daunting at first. However, your loved one will benefit from this transition. The above tips can help you guide them through the process.

Once your loved one moves to assisted living, you may be interested in ordering them gifts (Ad) to help with the transition. You can find anything from large print crossword puzzle books, to special adaptive silverware, and many other types of gifts to make their life easier.  

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about saving money, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Friday, December 3, 2021

Viruses - What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

 After spending the past two years dealing with a worldwide pandemic, viruses of all kinds are in the forefront of our minds.  What do we really know about them?  What are they?  How do they spread? What are the best ways to protect ourselves?

Recently, I ran across an article on viruses, originally published on, and thought the readers of Baby-Boomer-Retirement would like to know a few general facts from that article, as well as others I read. I was surprised by what I learned. One of the most serious things I discovered is that viruses can be invisible killers and what we don't know about them can be very dangerous.  Below are a few facts which may interest you.

Facts About Viruses

1.  Viruses are not technically alive, since they do not have cells and cannot survive on their own. Instead, they need to infect a host (like a human) and use that host in order to replicate.  They do this by taking over the host's cells, which can cause those cells to burst and die.  That is why viruses make us sick.  (Pretty disgusting to realize that a virus could be making our own cells burst!)

2.   There are many ways we make ourselves more vulnerable to picking up a virus, including biting our nails, touching contaminated surfaces, smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke, engaging in sex with an infected person, or doing something as natural and innocent as inhaling the virus from the cough, breath or sneezes of infected people.  That is why we do not want to "share the air" with strangers, if we can avoid it. 

3.  There are a wide variety of viruses.  Some diseases you may not have known are caused by viruses include rabies, herpes, warts, influenza, the common cold, chicken pox, measles, mumps, polio, smallpox, rubella, roseola, shingles, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), norovirus, yellow fever, dengue fever, meningitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, Ebola, and Zika. Since 2020, we can  now add Covid-19, including a variety of mutations such as Delta and Omicron, to the list.  There are also a number of lesser known viruses, which can be serious if they infect you. 

4. Many viruses remain in our body for decades after we think we have recovered from the illness they caused, and those old viruses can come back and cause new health problems later in life.  For example, polio can re-immerge years or decades later and cripple someone; chicken pox can return as shingles; some research has shown that the common herpes simplex virus may contribute to Alzheimer's disease; Covid-19 can cause later neurological symptoms or other problems, and we have no idea what could happen 20 years after recovering from an infection; and mononucleosis may make you more likely to develop seven serious diseases in later life including lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes.    (From:

Sometimes, the secondary infections can be more dangerous than the original infection. One example of that is the childhood illness chicken pox.  Although most children recover from it without a problem, later in life they could develop shingles, and shingles increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.   

It has also been discovered that people can get repeat cases of Covid-19 (about once every 16 months), and sometimes, the later cases are more serious than the first case. For example, a previous infection with the Delta variant does NOT protect you from getting the Omicron variation, even just a few months later.  In addition, people who get Covid, including a mild case of it, often experience some brain shrinkage afterwards.  No one knows how long that brain shrinkage will last, or if it could make you more prone to developing dementia in later life.  Everyone should try to avoid Covid if at all possible. 

Another serious future consequence of a virus is herpes simplex, which causes cold sores, and has also been linked to an increased risk of  developing Alzheimer's disease! The good news is that people who have taken an anti-viral medication to treat their herpes were able to cut this increased dementia risk by 90 percent.  That is something to consider if you think you will just "wait out" that cold sore.

5.  Although there are treatments for viruses, there is no actual cure for the flu and most other viruses.  Antiviral medications like Tamiflu may help you recover faster, but they are not considered a cure.

6.  Prevention is the best way to avoid catching a virus.

    Wear a facemask in crowds, not just to prevent Covid-19, but a host of other air-bourn viruses

    Get vaccinated against viruses, when a vaccine is available. Vaccines cannot prevent you from being exposed, but they could protect you from becoming seriously ill.

    Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. They make you more vulnerable to air-bourn viruses

    Wash your hands with soap and water regularly.  Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth and nose, so you do not infect yourself after touching a surface with a virus on it.  If you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitizer. However, soap and water is the preferred cleansing method.

    Clean surfaces with soap and water, hydrogen peroxide, or ammonia, not antibacterial wipes, to protect against surface viruses.

7. Lifestyle changes can help build your immune system and make it more difficult for a virus to take hold.  Among the changes which could help prevent some viruses include making sure you get regular sleep, eating a nutritious diet, getting exercise (but don't overdo it), getting enough Vitamin D, drinking green tea, and avoiding animal bites which could cause rabies.  In fact, avoid handling dead animals, including bats, if there is any possibility they died from rabies.  It is possible to become infected from dead animals, including a bat you might find lying around your property.  In 2021, three people in the U.S. died of rabies after handling a dead bat.  None of them thought to mention the incident to their doctors, until it was too late.

8.  You can treat warts with duct tape.  Covering a wart with a small piece of duct tape may be more effective than cryotherapy!  This was certainly an interesting piece of virus information.

The bottom line is that we need to treat viruses with respect.  Although everyone gets infected by a virus from time to time, many people do not realize how dangerous they can be.  Viruses are highly infectious, invisible serial killers!

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about common medical issues, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, financial planning, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credits:  Google images


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Aura Digital Frames are Ideal Gifts for Seniors and Others

Every 15 seconds, the picture in the Aura frame on my side table changes to a new photo of someone in our family.  It does so completely silently, and with no effort on my part.  Each of the several hundred photos which pop up on my frame has been easily uploaded by my husband, our daughters, or me from our smartphones.  The process is surprisingly simple.  We do not have to be at home or near the frame in order to upload a photo.

Our frame contains photos of all four of our daughters and their families, including our eight grandchildren.  It also includes photos of family weddings, trips to Disneyland, vacations, and even old photos of family members who passed away decades ago.  This has been one of the best gifts our daughters have ever given us!

Is Someone You Know Hard to Buy Gifts For?

After telling our daughters several times to stop sending us "challenging" technology gifts, which often involved complex set-up, one of our daughters called last summer and told us that she and her sisters wanted to buy my husband an Aura digital frame (Ad) for Father's Day.  I was unsure about it, but she convinced me that he would love it.  We both do!

Aura Frames Make it Easy to View Our Photos

Our daughter helped each of us download the Aura app to our phones.  When we click on "Add Photos" on our Aura app, it opens up a window on our phone showing us all the photos we have ever taken and stored on our phones.  We simply choose the ones we want to add to our frame and, within a few hours, they begin to randomly show up on our frame, mixed in with the photos which are already there.

Here is the best part.  Our daughters can also add photos to our frame from wherever they are, even thousands of miles away, and our frame will hold an unlimited number of photos!  If one of our daughters takes her children to Disneyland or on a hike, photos will begin to show up on our frame for us to enjoy.  If one of them discovers an old photo in an album, she simply has to take a picture of the photo with her phone, and then add it to our frame.  They can even download pictures from the internet, save them on their phones, and add them to our frame.  It is so easy, my husband and I have enjoyed adding photos of our parents, grandparents and other ancestors who have been deceased for many years.  You can add any photo you would like to see pop up on the frame.

Aura Frames are Like a Private Facebook Page in Your Living Room

Personally, I think of the frame as a private Facebook page that no one knows about, except members of our family.  We see our favorite family photos, as well as the favorites of our daughters, and we can share them with each other privately.

There Are a Variety of Frame Designs to Choose From

You can choose the Aura frame color, size and design (Ad) you prefer. You can scroll through the different options and choose the one which will fit the best with your home d├ęcor.  

You Have Control of Your Frame

In settings, you can set the time when your frame turns on in the morning, and turns off in the evening.  You can also control how long each photo is visible, before being replaced by the next one.  We have them change every 15 seconds, but we could also let each photo stay in place for 30 seconds, a full minute or even longer. You can also move your hand over the top to scroll through them a little faster, or back up to one you just missed.  

You also control who gets invited to add photos to your Aura frame.

No Smartphone?  There is an Aura Frame for That, Too!

If you don't have a smartphone or don't want to use an app, you can still get an Aura frame and add photos to it, using a "photo backup stick to get from phone or computer to frame, with no WiFi."  They have thought of everything!

Personally, now that we have lived with our frame for a few months, I cannot imagine a better gift for someone special in your family.  Our daughters shared in the cost of our Aura digital frame (Ad), and it is now one of our favorite gifts from them.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about saving money, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credits:  Amazon

Friday, November 12, 2021

Gifts Retirees Will Appreciate - Finding the Right Gift for a Senior

 Buying gifts for retirees and the older relatives in your family can be very difficult and frustrating.  Whether it is for a birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas or another holiday, you may find it extremely difficult to come up with an idea, especially if it seems they already own so many things they are currently trying to give away!  

How can you find the perfect gift for a senior citizen in your family?  What do you think they will want or need?  What can you buy an older relative that will not end up being re-gifted or given away?  Here are some basic ideas to get you started, including links to some of the items to make it quick and easy for you to purchase them.  However, not all the gifts need to be purchased online.  Many of the gifts listed here are things you can purchase locally.

Art and Craft Supplies

Does your family member enjoy painting or making crafts?  Paints, canvasses and other art materials (Ad) can be very expensive. Some people actually give up their hobby because they cannot afford to keep purchasing the necessary materials.  If you know their favorite shop, you may want to purchase a gift certificate to it, especially if it is small, locally owned business.  In this way, you not only help your loved one, but also a small business.  If you know exactly what they want however, you can save them a trip to the store by purchasing it for them and having it delivered directly to their home.

Many seniors also enjoy paint-by-number kits, or adult coloring books, (Ad) as a way to enjoy creating works of art, even if they do not feel they are especially talented.  I have even seen some lovely paint-by-number works of art for sale at the art shows they hold in my retirement community.  Often they are spectacular when they are finished. A final thought in this category is to take one of their favorite finished paintings and have it framed for them, so they can hang it in their home and display it with pride. 

A Shopping Trip for their Favorite Clothing Items

My father only likes to wear long-sleeve Polo style shirts with a pocket on the chest.  Although he owns them in a variety of colors, over the course of a year they begin to wear out.  Replacing them regularly with new ones is a nice way to enable him to continue to wear his favorite clothing item.  Almost everyone has a certain type of clothing which they wear frequently, and needs replacing often.  Do they need new walking shoes, a jacket, a sun hat, gardening gloves, or similar useful items?  Many seniors go without because they do not have a lot of disposable income, or they do not know where to buy these things.  If possible, take them shopping, so they can pick out something they actually would enjoy wearing, and you know will fit them.  This also gives you some special time with them ... a gift they may appreciate as much or more than the actual gift itself.

Sports Equipment

Many retirees are still active and involved in sports for decades after they stop working.  You may need to quiz them a little, but find out if they need a new golf putter, a new tennis racquet, a paddle for the paddleball court, a badminton racquet or some other item they need to pursue their favorite sport.  Even grandchildren can buy grandpa a box of golf balls or a tube of tennis balls.  (Ad)  

Photo Gifts

One of our daughters purchased us an Aura digital picture frame, (Ad) which allows all of our daughters to upload photos directly to it, no matter where they are.  Now, we have a constant display of new and old photos appearing on the frame in our living room.  Our frame includes photos taken over 80 years ago of long deceased ancestors, as well as photos which were taken just a few days ago of our grandchildren.  We could watch the pictures glide by for hours!  We have it set so a new photo shows up every 15 seconds, but you can have your photos stay much longer before switching to a new one.

Other photo gifts a retiree might enjoy is a Polaroid camera (yes, they have begun making a new, improved version again) (Ad), or a photo album, especially if you give it to them already preloaded with a few pages of favorite family photos.  You can even send companies like Shutterfly a photo of a beloved family member or pet, and they can turn it into a special photo gift which they will cherish! 

Check out some of the photo gifts from my Etsy store, and see if one of them would be a good gift for someone in your family.  Here is a tote bag designed with a photo of the Canadian Rocky Mountains from Banff National Forest in Alberta, Canada.  

This is just one of the many gifts available for retirees and others on my Etsy store. You can find it here:  

Books and Magazines

Does your family member enjoying reading?  You could always purchase them the latest book (Ad) from their favorite author.  

However, has reading become more difficult for them because of vision problems?  Why not purchase them a membership to Audible? (Ad) For about $15 a month, they can download one book a month to their cell phone, laptop, tablet or similar device and listen to the books!  Many of the women in my book club use Audible and enjoy hearing their favorite books read by professional actors and actresses.  No one needs to give up reading, anymore, even if they have vision problems! Our daughter even listens to Audible books during her long commute. It is a terrific way to pass the time.

Consumable Items

Everyone has items which they love to use, but need to replace periodically.  This can include perfumes, after shave, make-up, face creams, favorite candy, wine, bourbon, and similar items.  Some of these items can be expensive to replace, so receiving them as a gift can be very meaningful to a retiree.  You might ask them, first, the brands of their favorite products, so you purchase them something they will actually enjoy. 

If they live in an Assisted Living community where their meals are provided, they still might want to keep a few favorite snack items in their private room.  Put together a care package of their favorite treats, including small boxes of cereal, bags of chips, fun size candy bars, and similar items.  They will love having something to snack on between meals!

Gift Cards

Gift cards to a favorite business can be a greatly appreciated gift.  Is going to Starbucks or some other coffee shop a special treat they often skip because they cannot afford it?  A gift card may be something which makes it easier for them to socialize with their friends.  Many senior citizens enjoy meeting friends at Starbucks, and other coffee shops like Coffee Bean, to get out of the house and chat.

Amazon cards (Ad) not only allow them to purchase whatever they want for themselves, but it also enables them to buy groceries in many parts of the country, by using Amazon Fresh or one of the other services they offer.  For a person who is skimping just to get by, this can be a greatly appreciated gift which enables them to buy their favorite foods.  If they are nervous about shopping for groceries at Amazon Fresh, help them get started.  It took me a couple of attempts to feel comfortable shopping for food online, but now I realize how much easier it has made my life!

Gifts to Avoid

Unless specifically requested, it is best to avoid things which most seniors do not need.  This would include decorative items for their home, such as new vases, dishes, picture frames, candles, collectibles, and any other items they have not specifically requested.  

In addition, do not give a gift of anything living which an elderly person may find challenging to take care of, unless they ask for it.  This means do not give them a plant, puppy, kitten or parakeet, unless they requested one and are involved in selecting it.  

Other things to avoid would be items which could involve using unfamiliar technology they are unprepared or unable to learn how to use.  A new cell phone, tablet, digital camera, computer game, or similar item might seem like a great idea to a young adult, but can end up being left in a closet or re-gifted to someone else by a senior who feels that using it will be too challenging.  

Technology Gifts Which Might Be Helpful

If you do purchase a technology gift, make sure it is something the recipient wants and will be able to use, with a minimum of assistance.  There are some "senior friendly" phones and other types of technology which can be a good choice.  

It took us a while to become accustomed to talking to our "Alexa" devices, (Ad) but now "she" turns on some of our lamps, reminds us when to take food out of the oven, and answers questions about the weather and other things.  Many seniors would enjoy having one, but be prepared to help them learn to use it. 

If you know someone who loves to garden, they might appreciate this lovely t-shirt with a photo I took of hydrangeas and the words "Happiness Blooms in my Garden."  There is also a matching coffee mug.  

You can find more gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credits:  Morguefile

Friday, November 5, 2021

Should You Change Your Medicare Plan? What to Consider

Every fall, from October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries are given the opportunity to change their insurance plan.  Most people are happy with their current plan, and approximately 90% do not move to a different insurer. However, in some cases, they may actually be missing out on the opportunity to save money and/or improve their Medicare experience.

Whether you are completely satisfied with your current Medicare insurance coverage or you think you might want to investigate other opportunities, there are a few situations when AARP recommends that consumers should at least check out their other choices and possibly make a change.

However, before you make ANY change, it is important for people who are currently on a Medicare Advantage Plan (such as Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage) to understand that they should not switch back to original Medicare unless they have been accepted by the Medigap plan they want.  

Medigap insurers are allowed to turn you down or charge you more for preexisting conditions, if you have been on Medicare Part B for at least six months, with or without a different insurer.  Do not make a change in haste until you are sure you will be accepted by a new company at a reasonable price.

Everyone should also consider reading the highly rated book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make."  (Ad) It could save you a lot of money in the future, and was written by a Medicare agent who is licensed in nearly every U.S. state. 

After taking all that into consideration, now you need to look at the reasons why you might want to change your current Medicare policy to a new one.

Why You Might Want to Change Your Medicare Plan

1.  If you have seen a sharp increase in your prescription drugs.  In this case, if you are on Original Medicare, plus Medigap and a drug plan, you may want to investigate other Part D drug plans to see if there is one with a formulary which will cover your drugs at a lower price.  Your pharmacist may be able to help you choose the one that covers most of your prescriptions at the lowest price.

2. If you have cancer or need surgery and you want to use a physician or surgeon who is not part of your Medicare Advantage or HMO network. Switching your policy may be the best policy, especially if you need highly specialized care.

3.  If you have a serious chronic condition, and you are not sure your current plan offers the best type of treatment for you.  This sometimes happens to people who are on Original Medicare, but never chose a Medigap plan.  In this case, you may want to see if you qualify for a Medigap plan which will offer the care you need, or you might want to see if there is a Medicare Advantage plan in your area which will offer a comprehensive treatment for your medical condition no additional premium, above the cost of Original Medicare. Switching to a Medicare Advantage plan or adding a reasonably priced Medigap plan, instead of paying out-of-pocket, could save you a lot of money.

4.  If your former employer changes its retiree health benefits, you may be required to choose a different Medigap policy.  If this happens to you, you can call the Medicare Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center at (855) 798-2627. They can help you get accepted by a different Medigap carrier without paying a penalty based on a preexisting condition.  This phone call could save you thousands of dollars a year in unnecessarily higher premiums, if you are forced to make a change through no fault of your own.

5.  If you spend part of the year living in different states, your Medicare Advantage plan may not work in both places.  This could force you to have to see out-of-network doctors in one of the states, especially if you have a serious or chronic illness.  If you cannot find a Medicare Advantage plan which works in both states, you may need to go back to Original Medicare, plus get a nationally accepted Medigap plan and Part D drug plan. You will want to shop around to find the plan which will meet your medical needs and allow you to see doctors in each of the states where you reside.

6.  If your income has dropped during retirement, you might discover that most Medicare Advantage plans are less expensive than Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a Part D drug plan.  Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, you will pay the same basic monthly premium for your Medicare coverage.  However, most Medicare Advantage plans charge very little in additional premiums, and sometimes nothing at all. On the other hand, people with Original Medicare usually also need a Medigap plan plus a Part D drug plan, and there will be additional monthly premiums for those.  If you are trying to save money during retirement, finding a good, low-cost Medicare Advantage plan in your area may save you thousands of dollars a year in additional premiums.

7.  If you really want to keep your current doctor, and he changes to a different Medicare plan, then you may want to change plans, too.  However, even if you have a good reason to change, do not forget that if you are switching to a new Medigap plan, you can be denied coverage or be required to pay higher premiums for any preexisting conditions.  Do not make the change until you are sure you will be accepted by the new Medigap plan at a price which is acceptable to you. 

Currently, about 42% of Medicare beneficiaries use a Medicare Advantage plan, with the percentage increasing every year.  However, as you can see, there is no one choice which is right for everyone.  When you first sign up for Medicare, it is important that you consider the advantages and disadvantages of a Medicare Advantage plan vs. getting Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan and a Part D drug plan.  In addition, each fall you should reexamine your choice and make sure it is still meeting your needs.  

You may also want to read the other post on this blog:  "Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage Plans - What are the Differences?"  It will also help you clarify your decision about which system of obtaining your Medicare benefits will be the best for you. 

Source of facts: AARP Bulletin, October 2021

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits: Amazon book cover

Friday, October 29, 2021

Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage Plans - What are the differences?

While chatting with a friend of mine recently, a woman who has been retired for over 15 years, she referred to her Medicare Advantage plan as a Medicare Supplement. She did not know the difference.  This might not have been a serious problem, except she told me that she was giving retirement advice to one of her daughters who plans to retire in a few years, and much of what she was telling her daughter about Medicare was incorrect.  

Signing up for Medicare is more complex than many people expect it to be.  We have so many decisions to make, and they have to be done at exactly the right time, or we can end up paying higher premiums for the rest of our lives!  Often, our personal physicians cannot answer our questions, because they do not do the Medicare billing themselves.  They hire a company to do it for them.  It is important for retirees to do their own research.  While this post cannot answer all your questions, it will clarify some basic information and help you get started on making the best decisions for yourself.

What Medicare Choices Will You Have?

You have more choices in Medicare than you realize, whether you are purchasing it on the open market, or your former employer or union will help pay for your retirement coverage. You may get a good deal through the plans they offer, or you may find just as good a deal on your own, unconnected to your former employer.  You need to evaluate as many different choices as possible, to make sure you get the best plan to meet your healthcare needs.

The age you start Medicare is NOT connected to the age you retire.  They are completely separate. You can retire anytime you are financially able and can afford to retire.  You can start receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits anytime from age 62 or older.  You can retire from some government jobs at an even younger age.  

Regardless of when you retire, you are not eligible for Medicare until you are at least age 65, unless you became eligible for Medicare Disability at a younger age.  In some cases, you can sign up for Medicare if you are older than 65, particularly if you are still working and covered by an employer plan when you turn 65. If you are not working, and you wait longer than three months after you turn 65 before you sign up, you may pay a Medicare penalty for the rest of your life.  The best time to sign up for Medicare is during a time window which consists of the month you turn 65, or the three months before, or or the three months afterwards.  This could change in the future, but currently, the eligibility age is still 65.  It is important that all retirees pay attention to any changes which may be made to Medicare coverage.

If you want to make sure you do things correctly when you sign up for Medicare, and at the lowest possible cost, you will want to read the book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It is well worth the $10 it will cost you.  

TWO Separate Options for Your Medicare Benefits

There are two different systems for obtaining your Medicare benefits.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but research has shown that medical outcomes are the same, no matter which system you choose. 

Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will still pay your basic Medicare premium.  The amount of the premium changes annually, and is higher for retirees with a higher income.  In 2021, the premium was $148.50 for most people, but the premium rose to $207.90 for people with an individual income of $88,000 or more, and is as much as $504.90 for retirees with an individual income of more than $500,000.  Each year, the basic Medicare premium usually rises a small amount. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, your premium will be deducted from those benefits.  If you are not receiving Social Security, you will be billed separately.  

These premiums pay for what is known as Medicare Part B.  In return, Original Medicare will pay for 80% of what is they consider normal medical expenses.  If you want coverage for the remaining 20%, which nearly everyone does, you need to decide if you want to keep your Original Medicare and add a Medigap plan and a Part D drug plan OR select a Medicare Advantage Plan which is a single payer system where you deal only with one company, similar to what you are used to doing when you had regular health insurance before you were old enough for Medicare.

What should you know about the two different options, so you can decide which one would be best for you?

Original Medicare plus a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) and a Part D Drug Plan  

What most retirees expect to do when they reach age 65 is sign up for Original Medicare, pay their monthly premium for it, and then purchase an additional Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy, plus a Part D drug plan.  There are many Medigap plans and Drug Plans to choose from, and they all have different premiums and co-pays, in addition to the monthly premium you are charged by Medicare. 

The top Medigap plans (such as Plan G or F) can cost several hundred dollars a month, and this is above and beyond your basic Medicare premium. In addition, you will usually have to sign up for a separate drug plan and, in most cases, a separate plan for certain types of specialty medical care such as dental and vision.  Altogether, depending on your plans, you can end up paying an extra $300 to $500 in monthly premiums, in addition to what you pay for your Original Medicare premiums. 

Medigap plans are available as both HMOs and PPOs.  The premiums are higher for PPOs, but you can choose your own doctor (as long as they accept Medicare).  In addition to the premiums, in most cases you will also have some co-pays and deductibles.  The more you pay in premiums, the greater your choice of doctors, and the less you will pay in co-pays and deductibles, which makes this option attractive to some people.  

Medigap billing can be complicated, because everything has to be billed first to Medicare and then to your Medigap supplement. You are sent copies of all the bills, which can be overwhelming if you are receiving frequent treatments by a number of different doctors, and this is common as you get older. It can also be confusing, if you are uncertain what part of the bill you owe, and what portion of the bill is still being reviewed by Medicare or your Medigap plan. 

This double billing after each medical appointment is different from how things were handled before you were on Medicare, when everything was just billed to your insurance carrier, and then you were billed for any co-pays and deductibles you might have.  Basically, with Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan, you are covered under TWO separate insurance plans ... Medicare and your supplement.  In addition, you may have to deal with one or two other insurance carriers for your prescription drugs and dental coverage, which means you may receive a lot of different bills.  Some people become so confused that they hire people to review their medical bills for them, to make sure they are being billed correctly.

Option 2 is an All-in-One Medicare Advantage Plan 

Approximately 42% of Medicare beneficiaries turn to Medicare Advantage plans, which are generally less expensive and less complicated to use than Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a drug plan.  The way Medicare Advantage plans work is similar to the system you were used to when you had medical insurance before you were on Medicare.  You only deal with one company for most things. 

The main difference is that Medicare pays a premium on your behalf to your insurance carrier each month, so that one company can handle all or most of your medical needs.  The Medicare Advantage companies are required to offer you everything that Original Medicare does, but most of them offer much more.  For example, they may offer gym memberships, vision, hearing and dental coverage, and other special services.  You only deal with your insurance carrier, not with Medicare directly.  Billing is much less complicated.  

Medicare Advantage plans are available to ANY retiree. Your choice depends on the state where you live.  For example, Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage (the plan I use) is available in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.  Other states have different Medicare Advantage plans available, such as Scan, United Healthcare, Humana, Blue Cross, or CVS Health.  You will have to research which plans are available in your state.  In particular, you will want to make sure that your local doctors are part of the Medicare Advantage network you want to use, since these plans require that you only use their network doctors and medical facilities in most cases. 

Of course, anyone on any plan can always choose to pay full price and see an out-of-network doctor, anytime they want.  Seeing an out-of-network doctor will cost you substantially more, however, unless it is an emergency.  It is always best to use in-network doctors, whenever possible. 

Do you worry about what will happen if you become sick or get injured when you have a Medicare Advantage plan and are away from your network? Most Medicare Advantage plans, such as Kaiser, will also cover the cost of an out-of-network doctor if you are traveling in another state or if, in an emergency, you have been taken to an out-of-network hospital in your area.  

Just in our family alone, we have had two examples of family members who were treated well, despite using an out-of-network doctor in an emergency:  

When our daughter had a medical emergency, Kaiser covered the cost of the first hospital she was taken to, until she regained consciousness and was transferred to the ICU at a Kaiser hospital.  In fact, because she had a brain aneurysm which needed to be treated quickly, she was flown by helicopter to the nearest Kaiser facility that had an available surgical team and an ICU unit.

When my husband developed bronchitis while visiting a different daughter in Delaware, we were not forced to drive to a Kaiser facility in Maryland for him to get medical care.  We were able to get him treated at an Urgent Care in Delaware, and we were charged the same as we would have been if we had gone to a Kaiser facility at home.  If you are getting a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure you understand what medical care will be available to you when you are away from home.   If you like to travel overseas, find out what care your insurance company will provide, and whether or not you need to purchase a short-term travel medical emergency policy.  Original Medicare does not cover you when you are out of the country.

Most Medicare Advantage plans, like Kaiser, usually have no additional premiums, other than your regular Basic Part B Medicare premium.  In some cases, you may have a very small premium, such as $20 to $40 a month. You may also have some low co-pays and deductibles.  In most cases, using a Medicare Advantage plan is much less expensive than using Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a Part D drug plan.  However, some people are willing to pay extra to use Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan and drug plan, because they have a wider choice in doctors.  The decision is entirely up to you.

Billing is simpler with Medicare Advantage plans, because the Advantage plan handles everything.  Doctors do not bill Medicare first, and then your private insurance.  You are only dealing with your private insurance company. Medicare Advantage plans are generally less complicated than using Original Medicare, plus a Medigap and drug plan.  Most people are satisfied with Medicare Advantage plans, as long as they are happy using the doctors in their network. In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans include their own drug plan and dental plan.  

Research has shown that the medical outcomes are virtually identical, regardless of which type of Medicare plan you use. 

Is It Hard to Find a Good Medicare Plan?

When you turn 65, you choose whether you want Original Medicare plus separate Medigap and drug plans, OR if you want to use a Medicare Advantage plan.  All Medicare plans, including Medigap and Advantage plans, HAVE to accept all new retirees regardless of the patient's preexisting conditions.  If you change your mind later, however, Original Medicare still has to accept you, but the Medigap plans can reject you or charge you more for some health conditions.  Once you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, do not cancel it and go to Original Medicare until you are sure a Medigap plan has accepted you at a price you are willing to pay.  

Remember that the above information just covers the basics. You will still want to make sure you do things correctly, and are getting the most for your money, by reading the book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It was written by a Medicare insurance broker who has seen many people make the same mistakes over and over again, and the book could save you a lot of problems later in life. 

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, 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.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

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