Friday, January 29, 2021

Rehab Facilities: How to Choose the Best One for Your Situation


This week we have a very timely guest post from John Lewis on how to find an effective rehab facility. Many people of all ages, including Baby Boomers, are suffering from alcoholism or addiction, or they have relapsed after a period of sobriety.  This has been particularly true this past year because of the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic, financial losses, grief for the loss of family members, loneliness, and other setbacks.   

If you decide that you need help to get your life back on track, and want to kick your alcohol or other addiction problem, this article by John Lewis will help you know what to consider in making the right choice in a rehab facility.  You may also want to learn more about addiction recovery, by reading books such as "The Addiction Recovery Workbook: Powerful Skills for Preventing Relapse Every Day."  (Ad)  Below is the guest article by John Lewis.


5 Steps to Choose an Effective Rehab Center

Searching for the right rehab center is unlike any other decision you have to make in life. It’s not like choosing your laptop or selecting your next vacation spot. You’re dealing with a decision that will govern the quality of your life or your loved ones. Whether or not you can transition easily and successfully into a sober life will depend on which center you pick.

So, there is a lot to consider. You have to get this decision right in the first go. There’s barely room for a second shot. Since you’re dealing with life and death here, you must be super careful and consider the following factors before finalizing the decision:

Think About Your Rehab Needs and Goals

What is it that you want? Think about it. Which substances are you trying to recover from? Are there any destructive behavior patterns that you are trying to break? Is there some medical condition or dual diagnosis for which you seek treatment? You will know your goals and needs after you answer these questions. Do you aim to get sober after the first month? Are you aiming for a six-month mark to ease into sobriety? Perhaps a year? Only you can answer these questions and accordingly, you will need to pick a rehab which offers what you seek.

Seek Professional Help

Treatment professionals know aspects of rehab centers that a layman may not be aware of. They can make you aware of certain factors that you could never have thought of. Their advice can be a lifesaver when you're contemplating multiple facilities. Mostly they know the ins and outs of facilities and can offer a match between what you need and what the facility offers. In this way, they can connect you to the right rehab center.

Do Your Own Research

Before committing to a center, be sure to do your research. It’s one thing to make promises, but it is quite another to fulfill them. Most rehab centers will have larger-than-life promises on their home page. But, you need to dig deeper. See whether or not they follow any research-driven program, what their philosophy is, and what makes up the structure of their program.

Factors to Consider

Although you have to factor in a lot of aspects, below are some of the most important ones to think through:

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Facility

An inpatient facility, such as an inpatient drug rehab or inpatient alcohol rehab, will have you stay at the premises.  In case of outpatient programs, you will seek treatment and go home. Both have their own set of advantages. Which is best for you will depend on your individual preferences and needs. It’s thought that the inpatient arrangement tends to be more successful than the outpatient one, but it is also a lot more expensive. Outpatient treatment also lets you live a normal life without breaking your routine.

Number/Nature of Therapies and Treatments

There are literally thousands of therapies and treatment options out there. This allows everyone to pick what works best for them. However, it also means that the treatment you seek may or may not be available at your desired rehab facility. It’s good to do some legwork and see all options which are available.


While it may not seem like a huge deal in the beginning, location does play a major role in the success rate of the program, and your ability to have a successful recovery. Remember that rehab is supposed to give you a fresh start. Therefore, a location far away from your previous life is better. It helps the person disconnect from past relationships and habits so that a new beginning is easier. Additionally, a center located in a peaceful setting somewhere near the countryside rather than in an urban setting may help a quicker recovery. A luxury rehab center may provide even better surroundings - if you can afford it.


The sheer number of rehab facilities to pick from is huge and each one has a different set of amenities to offer. While some would provide you with really high-end facilities which would match the standards of a five-star hotel, others only give you extremely basic, yet functional, facilities. It is all about what you have in mind and what kind of amenities you need to lead a normal life, even in rehab.

Length of the Program

The majority of rehab programs last from a month to sixty days. Some can even go up to 90-days. Most experts recommend sticking with a 6-month time frame because they feel that 30 days are not enough to adequately work through the underlying issues which are causing substance abuse and dependency. Although you can find many facilities with excellent success rates with even a 30-day program, it all depends on your individual requirements. Also, sticking with a longer rehab program may not be feasible for all patients owing to familial, professional, and financial needs.

Look for Accreditations

As with any other service provider, it’s good to see if the rehab center has some seal of approval from an agency or association. When it comes to drug de-addiction and substance recovery, you would want to look for the CARF accreditation. It’s a mark that the center lives up to the required standards of performance and care in terms of their treatment and overall quality.

Final Words

Choosing a rehab center and the right program is a life-changing and sensitive decision. Equipped with the right information and proper research/knowledge, you should be able to find the best one for you. If nothing works out, you can always seek professional advice. 

* * * * * * * *

IMPORTANT  NOTE from Baby-Boomer-Retirement:  Millions of people have also found a solution to their alcohol addiction through Alcoholics Anonymous, and many rehab facilities even recommend that their patients follow their treatment with active participation in AA.  To learn more about that program, you may want to read the "Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous - Original Edition."  (Ad) Then, you can decide if you want to try their program, go to a Rehab Facility or do a combination of both, which is very common.

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


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Friday, January 22, 2021

Covid 19 Vaccines: What to Expect Before and After You Get the Vaccine

Every day, more and more people are getting the Covid-19 vaccine, which will hopefully lead us out of this pandemic and back to a more normal life, again.  Along with the number of people who have already had Covid and recovered from it, we could be able to reach herd immunity sometime late this year, if we manage to get the mutations under control.  

I have now had both my first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and the only symptoms I experienced were a little tenderness in my arm after each of the vaccinations, and I felt the need to take a nap immediately afterwards. I had no other side effects. One of our daughters who is in her early 50s and also received the vaccine, had the lymph nodes swell up under the arm where she received the Moderna shot. This is now considered a common reaction, particularly in women. One of our son-in-laws developed a rash a few days after receiving the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, and this was also determined by his personal physician to be a normal reaction.  If you have questions about any reactions you experience, you should consult your personal doctor. 

While you are waiting to get your vaccine, or if you have received it recently, you may have questions. Fortunately, the January/February AARP Bulletin and other sources have answered many of these questions, and a summary of the information is provided below.

In addition to the vaccine, what else can I do to reduce my Covid-19 risk?

In addition to being vaccinated, which is the most effective preventative, there are a few other things you can do to reduce your risk of getting Covid or, at least, having a bad case of it.  Here is what they have found to be the most effective:

    * Wear face masks, especially surgical masks or N95 masks

    * Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently

    * Get an air purifier with a HEPA filter (Ad) 

    * Test yourself using home COVID tests (Ad)

    * Take Vitamin D pills long before you are exposed.  People who regularly take statins and melatonin seem to have a lower risk of death from Covid, too.

My husband and I purchased two WINIX air purifiers (Ad) for our home and we are very happy with them.  Even Dr. Fauci mentioned that he has a couple of air purifiers with HEPA filters in his house, now.  They can be helpful in reducing the level of bacteria and viruses in your home, especially if it is necessary for you to allow repairmen and other strangers to enter.

Should I take NSAIDS or over-the-counter painkillers before or after getting the vaccine?

According to the University of California in Irvine newsletter from UCI Health, taking over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) before receiving any vaccine could reduce its ability to work and blunt your immune response to the vaccine.  The Explore Health website also recommends that you not drink alcohol the night before getting a vaccine, since the vaccine may give you flu-like symptoms, and you do not want a hangover on top of feeling like you have the flu! In fact, it is actually normal to have a reaction to the vaccine.  It means your immune system is mounting a response.  After the vaccination, it is OK to take an over-the-counter medication if you have symptoms which make you uncomfortable, although some of the websites recommended that you wait at least six hours before you do so.  If you currently take Tylenol, Advil or another NSAID or anti-inflammatory for arthritis or a similar condition, stop it a day before getting the vaccine, and start it again the following day. 

On the other hand, if you are prone to having allergic reactions to medications, Dr. Jen Ashton, who is a medical contributor to ABC News, has mentioned that she took an antihistamine before getting her vaccine, and she believes it helped. She also took Motrin a few hours after the vaccine, when she developed a fever.  Discuss you options with your personal physician and follow their advice. 

What side-effects can I expect from the Covid-19 vaccine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, you could have the following side-effects:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Swelling in the arm where you got your shot
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Moving your arm frequently for several hours after receiving the vaccine, and putting a cold cloth on it can reduce the pain and swelling at the injection site. Drink plenty of liquids to reduce fever and chills.  If you are really uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about taking Tylenol or Advil a few hours later.  I have heard some experts recommend that people take the day off after getting the vaccine.  In some cases, the second shot has produced more side effects than the first one.

Could I have an allergic reaction?

A very few people who have received the vaccines have had a serious allergic reaction, but that has been limited mostly to people with a history of anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction. The British government has recommended that people with severe reactions to drugs, food or vaccines should not take the Pfizer vaccine.  Our FDA is still considering what their recommendation should be.

If you are concerned, anaphylaxis usually happens within the first half hour after being exposed to an allergen, so it is suggested that you get your vaccine in your doctor's office or a similar safe facility with medical staff nearby who are prepared to treat anaphylaxis, and wait for an hour before leaving.  If you have serious side-effects after you have already left, call your doctor.  If you have a mild reaction, your doctor may suggest you take an antihistamine.  Remember, the risk to your health from getting Covid-19 is far greater than the risk of getting the vaccine.  

How long after getting the vaccine will I develop immunity to Covid-19?

According to Pfizer, you only have 52% effectiveness 21 days after the first vaccine dose. Israeli researchers have found that the effectiveness of one dose may be even lower, possibly as low as 33%.  The Moderna results are similar, except it takes 28 days to reach 50% effectiveness.

This basically means that if you are exposed to Covid, you have a 50/50 chance, or higher, of still developing a serious form of the disease, and some people have died from Covid even several weeks after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.  However, several weeks after the second dose of the vaccines, you can reach up to 95% effectiveness.  So, if you receive the first dose in mid-February and the second dose in mid-March, it could be mid-April before you have reached peak effectiveness.  You cannot hurry things.  In addition, it is important to remember that even after BOTH vaccinations, there is still a 1 in 20 chance that you could get Covid.  However, even if you do, being vaccinated appears to drastically reduce your risk of being hospitalized or dying from Covid.

After receiving both shots, can I go back to normal?

No.  That is very important to remember. You should still continue to practice social distancing, wear a face mask, and avoid travel.  This is because even after getting the vaccinations, 5% to 10% of people will not be completely protected from Covid-19.  Some people in your circle of friends who have already had Covid, and believe they are safe, could become reinfected.  Other people, because of allergies, medical treatments, or other health issues, will be unable to be vaccinated. Even after you have had both vaccinations, you still have a chance of getting it, especially because the virus is mutating and that is lowered the effectiveness of the vaccine.  Your best defense is to get the vaccinations, and then continue to wear a mask and socially distance until we reach herd immunity as a nation, and infection rates in your community have dropped to a very low number.

Here is the part I considered most surprising from the AARP Bulletin article:

"The vaccine itself doesn't prevent you from contracting the virus; it simply prepares your body to mount a vigorous defense so that, if you do become infected, the resulting illness is far less likely to be life-threatening."

Did you read that carefully?   You can still get Covid-19 and pass it to others, even after getting the vaccine!  It is less likely to kill you, if you've been vaccinated, but it could still kill an unvaccinated person you pass it to.  As a result, we all have to continue to be careful until at least 80% of the people in the country, especially the people we associate with, have had the vaccine.  Then, everyone you are around will be much safer from the serious consequences of getting Covid.

If you are concerned about how Covid-19 became such a serious problem, and how to prevent the next pandemic, you may be interested in reading "COVID-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One."  (Ad) It is fascinating. 

Should I get the vaccine even if I have already had Covid?

Yes.  Some people who have had Covid have gotten it a second time and, in some cases, it was much worse the second time. The best way to reduce your risk is to get the vaccine.  You should wait at least 30 days after you have recovered and finished your quarantine period, and then it will be a good idea to get vaccinated. 

How long will immunity from the vaccine last?

We do not know how long it lasts.  We hope it will last a year or two, but we will not know for sure until it stops working for some people.  When that happens, we will have to go through the whole process again, and everyone will need a booster shot.   It is possible that it will last much longer than we expect, much like the polio vaccine, and that would be very good news.

It is possible, according to Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, and other people who are carefully analyzing the results of the vaccine programs, that we may need to get booster shots annually or every two years.  This is how they expect to deal with the inevitable mutations and keep them under some control. Be prepared to expect to get vaccinated again the future, although you will probably receive the vaccine through your local healthcare provider or in the same way you currently receive your flu shot. 

Hopefully this information helps everyone get the most benefit possible out of the vaccine so we can all move forward and return to normal as soon as possible.

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If you are interested in learning more about 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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Friday, January 15, 2021

HO-6 Condominium Insurance - What is it and What does it Cover?

Many retirees decide at some point to sell their family home, with its big lawn and extensive outside maintenance requirements, and move to a condominium. However, if you have never owned a condo before, you need to know that you should purchase a condominium or HO-6 insurance policy. In some ways, this is very similar to the homeowner's insurance you had in the past, so having insurance to cover your new home should not be strange to you. However, there are certain differences between insuring a condo and insuring a house.  What do you need to know about condo insurance?

What is Condo or HO-6 insurance?

A condo insurance policy protects your specific condo unit, and also provides both personal liability coverage and living expense coverage in the event your residence becomes uninhabitable. HO-6 policies are sometimes called "walls-in" coverage, because they protect the interior of your individual unit, while the condominium homeowners association's master policy will cover the building's common areas.

It is important to know that a standard condo insurance policy will not protect you in certain situations, such as floods, unless you purchase a separate policy. You may also want to consider purchasing other additional policies, depending upon where your condo is located and how much time you spend there.  For example, my husband and I live in Southern California, where we do not have to worry about flooding in our community, but earthquakes are a serious concern.  As a result, we have purchased an additional earthquake policy.  One of the things I like about earthquake insurance is that it not only covers repairs and major losses, but also alternate housing while making the repairs.  We chose a policy with a high deductible. It was less expensive, but it will not cover minor damage to our property, such as the television or a piece of artwork getting broken.  Instead, we have done our best to make sure important items are securely anchored, so they are less likely to be damaged in a minor earthquake.  Ask your insurance agent if there are special policies you may require in your area.

Anyone buying a condo for the first time may also find it helpful to read "Condominiums and Townhouses: What You Need to Know Before and After Buying."  It could help you avoid a variety of issues and misunderstandings with your new neighbors and homeowner's association. 

What Will My Condo Association Cover?

Many people assume, incorrectly, that if they live in a condo and anything happens, such as the hot water heater leaks or there is a kitchen fire, the condo insurance will take care of the problem and cover the cost of all the repairs.  That is NOT normally true. The condo association insurance will not make repairs inside your condo. Those repairs are your responsibility and they can be quite expensive.

Before you can buy the correct HO-6 insurance policy, you need to know specifically what your condo association insurance does cover.  Typically, all common areas in a condominium building are covered under a "master insurance policy" which has been purchased by the condo association or HOA. This policy includes not only the building's roof and exterior but also internal areas such as elevators and hallways.  In other words, they take care of the building outside your front door, and you are responsible for the interior of your home.

The cost of the master policy is shared by all unit owners, usually in the form of monthly condo or association fees (which also covers other expenses the association may have, such as employees, pool maintenance, common area electricity, lawn maintenance, etc.).

There are three main types of condo master insurance policies:

Bare walls coverage is a limited master insurance policy which covers the structure, as well as most fixtures and furnishings in the common areas, only. This policy also covers any property that is collectively owned by the condo association, such as clubhouses.  If this is the type of insurance your association has purchased, your HOA fees may be lower, but the condo policy you personally need to buy will probably be more expensive.
Single entity coverage offers everything included in  the bare walls coverage described above, PLUS it provides coverage for built-in property such as the fixtures in individual condo units.  This may include fire damage to things such as appliances, but NOT repairs due to age or wear-and-tear. 
All-in coverage applies to all property collectively owned by the condo association, or which is part of the condominium structure. It is the most comprehensive condo master insurance policy,  and covers all condo improvements and additions. It will enable you to buy the most affordable personal condo policy, but will probably result in higher homeowner's association dues.
Essentially, you will pay for fully insuring your condo in one way or another.  Some of the coverage will come through your homeowners association master policy, and some from your personal policy.  

The type of master insurance policy your HOA or condo association has purchased will directly impact the type and amount of condo insurance you will need to purchase in order to have complete protection. Your personal insurance broker and mortgage lender will ask the association for a copy of its declaration page, which gives them details about the policy and what it covers.  Then, they will be able to tell you the type of HO-6 insurance you need and how much your policy will cost.  Make sure you fully understand exactly what is covered under each of the different policies.

Why Do You Need an Additional Policy if Your Condo Association has One?

Even if your condo association has a pretty comprehensive policy, you still need to have your own policy for a number of reasons.

Liability if you cause damage to someone else's condo - What if your hot water heater or washing machine overflows and water pours into the condo below you or next door to you?  What if you inadvertently cause a fire which damages not only your own condo but those of your neighbors?  These are common issues and they can be very expensive to resolve.  You could be liable for making the repairs to your neighbor's home, and would need to pay for another place for your neighbors to stay until the repairs are made.  Without insurance, the costs to repair both your condo and your neighbor's, as will as provide temporary housing for your neighbors, could easily amount to $50,000 - $100,000 or more, depending on the extent of the damage.

Liability if someone is injured on your property - What if you are having work done inside your condominium and a worker is injured?  If they sue you, your policy might help cover any judgement against you, depending on the coverage you choose.

Personal protection if your home is damaged - You also need to be protected if something happens to your condo and it becomes temporarily unlivable while repairs are made.  A few years ago a broken pipe in the concrete slab of our condo broke and the insurance adjuster discovered that there was also another, slower pipe leak in a wall, and it had caused extensive mold and mildew damage in the walls.  Our entire kitchen and the nearby bathroom had to be torn out and rebuilt, including flooring, cabinets and pipes.  We had to stay in a hotel. We were so grateful for the insurance. 

Reimbursement if your condo is burglarized and/or vandalized - Depending on the insurance riders in your policy, you may receive some reimbursement if your home is burglarized and/or someone breaks in and vandalizes it.  Ask your agent if you need a special rider to cover the loss of personal property.   

Other Condo Insurance You May Need

As mentioned above, in addition to your basic condo insurance policy, you may need additional policies or riders to cover special circumstances. These include flood insurance, earthquake insurance or loss assessment insurance. This last one will help protect you if the repairs to a damaged common area exceed the insurance coverage, and the association decides to assess all the residents with a fee to cover the cost of the additional repairs.  

Another type of protection you may require is vacant condo insurance.  If you plan to travel or be away from your condo for more than a month at a time, your regular policy might not cover you if something happens while you are gone, since insurance companies believe vacant condos are a higher risk. Make sure you have this additional rider on your insurance policy.

The Bottom Line on Condo Insurance

Because some retirees pay cash for their retirement condo, and no lender is involved, they may decide they do not need to get any insurance in addition to what is provided by the association.  This can be a serious mistake, primarily because of their liability risk if they accidentally cause damage to other condos.

It is also important to have a good condo insurance policy if you buy a condo as a rental property for retirement income, and you plan to lease it out.  You want to make sure repairs to your condo and all your liability coverage is in place before you allow strangers to reside there. It is a good idea to expect your tenants to also purchase a renter's policy, because your HO-6 policy is unlikely to cover their personal property.  Proof of insurance should be a condition of the lease.

Make sure you discuss all your insurance options with a trusted insurance broker before you move into your new home or allow renters to move into a property you own.  Unexpected things can happen, and it is always wise to be prepared!

You may also want to read "Condo Buying Mistakes: 46 Costly Mistakes Condominium Buyers Make and How to Steer Clear of Them." (Ad)  It could make your home purchase much more pleasant. 

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

f 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.

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Friday, January 8, 2021

Retirement Reset - How to Recover from Financial Disaster

A simpler life might salvage your retirement.
 Millions of Americans have experienced catastrophic financial losses during 2020 and early 2021. Others have managed to survive, but faced many setbacks.  They may have had to take a lower paying job, or they may have had to empty their savings and retirement accounts in order to get through the year.  Others have been weighed down by heavy debts and may be behind in their mortgage or rent payments.  If you are among those who wonder how you can get back on the path to financial recovery and reset your retirement plans, this article contains some practical solutions.  

If you need to drastically revamp your lifestyle, you may also want to read the book, "Minimalist Budget: Simple and Practical Budgeting Strategies to Save Money, Avoid Compulsive Spending, Pay Off Debt, and Simplify Your Life."  (Ad)  This book can be helpful for people of all ages who want to get out of a downward financial spiral. 

The November 2020 AARP Bulletin also offered their own recommendations to help people get back on track.  They divided their recommendations into several areas including cash flow, housing, and retirement savings. Below is a summary of what they suggest.

How to Fix Your Cash Flow Problems

If you are behind in your monthly bills and you have no idea how you are going to pay off your credit cards, you know you are in trouble.  Correcting a cash flow problem means you may have to cut back on your spending and, if possible, increase your income.

Start with a budget.  Write down everything you spend in a month, and decide which items you can live without, either permanently or until you can get your finances back under control.  Small expenses add up.  See how long you can do without cable, perhaps with the help of one or two streaming services.  Shop for the lowest price internet and Wifi.  Turn your thermostat down a few degrees in winter and up a few degrees in summer.  Plan your meals so you only buy what you need at the grocery store.  Look for other ways to economize.

If this project seems overwhelming to you, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( and the Financial Counseling Association of America ( can both help you with budgeting, debt negotiation and loan consolidation.  It could be beneficial for you to talk to them to see if there are ways you can negotiate with your credit card companies and other creditors, such as healthcare providers, and reduce your interest rate and/or the balance you owe.  You may also be able to consolidate your debts, so you have a manageable monthly payment.  In a worst case scenario, you may qualify for bankruptcy, which would give you a chance to start over.

Take aggressive steps to get your debt under control.  There are also other steps you can take to manage overwhelming debt, in addition to debt consolidation or bankruptcy. You may be able to transfer your credit card debt to a zero interest card, or take out a lower interest personal loan to pay it off.  Once you do, pay off the amount you owe as quickly as possible, and do not add to your debt until your current debt has been paid off.  This may mean going a year or longer without purchasing new clothes, traveling, or making unnecessary purchases.  Once you have the debt paid off, however, it will be worth it, because you will have your life back on track again.  

Earn extra income.  You may be able to speed up paying off your debts by increasing your income in your spare time.  There are many ways you can do this.  Try Upwork or Fiverr to get freelance gig jobs., Etsy to sell your handmade crafts, dog walking, giving lessons in a skill you have, or signing up to work for a food delivery service.  Apply all the money you earn towards paying off your debts.  You can also raise extra money by selling things you do not need on eBay or Craigslist.  

See if you qualify for any benefits.  Many people qualify for government aid or other local assistance, but do not realize it.  If you are in a dire situation, see if you qualify for SNAP (food stamps), Meals on Wheels, or have a local food bank where you can get a weekly box of food.  Talk to your county Social Services office or check out local government websites to see if you qualify for any kind of assistance. If you are a small business owner, find out if your state or local government is offering grants to help small businesses survive.  Apply for everything you can find.  AARP also has more information about local benefits at

How to Fix Your Housing Problems

For most people, their largest monthly bill is housing.  If this is your situation, and you are having trouble covering all your expenses, you have several options for getting this expense under control.

Should you downsize?  You might be able to decrease the size of your mortgage payments by refinancing.  If this is not an option, the most obvious solution is to move somewhere less expensive. 

If you rent, that could mean finding a cheaper, smaller apartment, even if it requires a couple to live in a one-room studio apartment; or, a larger family might move into a one-bedroom place with the children sleeping in the living room for a year or two.  We all have to do whatever we can to keep a roof over our heads, if at all possible.  You might also contact Social Services to see if your family is eligible for low-income housing or a rent voucher, at least temporarily, to prevent you from becoming homeless.

If you own a home, but can no longer afford it, you may be able to improve your finances by selling your current home and buying one which is much less expensive, with lower payments, taxes and utilities.  You might even consider moving into a condominium.  If you are a senior citizen whose children have grown and left home, downsizing is a particularly good idea, since you may no longer need all the space you have.  In fact, downsizing is quite common at this stage of life and, since you are no longer commuting to a job, you may be able to move to a lower-cost area, such as a rural community or small town.

Can your current home earn money for you?  Another option is to take in a roommate, rent out part of your home (especially if you have a separate living area with its own entrance), or rent out space in your house for storage, such as the basement or garage.  Any arrangement you make should be carefully thought out, with a written agreement regarding the rights and expectations for each person, especially if you will be allowing someone to live with you. Make sure you have a clear understanding regarding visitors, utilities, meals, pets, laundry, cleaning, yard work, and other chores. 

Fixing Retirement Problems

If you have lost your job and used your retirement funds to survive, you may wonder how you will ever recover financially so you can retire someday.  The above recommendations will help you get your living expenses in balance.  However, will they still be in balance when you retire?  Will you be able to live on your projected Social Security benefits, along with whatever is left of your retirement savings?  If not, you may need to take even more drastic measures to increase your secondary income and lower your housing costs.  Making the hard decisions now can make life easier as you age. In addition, do the following:

Add to your retirement savings.  Even if you can only add $25 a month, try your best to rebuild your retirement savings.  Invest it wisely so that it begins to grow.  As you pay off your debt, add at least half of what you are saving in debt payments and add the money to your retirement account.  Time is on your side.  The longer you have, the more your retirement accounts can recover. 

Wait as long as possible to collect Social Security.  If possible, wait until you are 70 to begin to collect your Social Security benefits. If you cannot wait that long, wait as long as you can.  Every month you wait will slightly increase your benefits.  Your benefits will be much higher at age 70 than if you take them early, and they might be enough for you to live on, even without much retirement savings.  According to, "If you claim Social Security at age 62, rather than wait until your full retirement age (FRA), you can expect up to a 30% reduction in monthly benefits. For every year you delay claiming Social Security past your FRA up to age 70, you get an 8% increase in your benefit."  As you can see, waiting as long as you can will give you a significant financial advantage and could almost double your benefits.

You may also be able to earn a little extra money from one of the side jobs mentioned above. Earning a few hundred extra dollars a month from a hobby or part-time job can be the equivalent of the income you would earn off of $50,000 to $100,000 in savings.  (If $100,000 earns 3% or $3,000 a year, that equals $250 a month, which you may be able to earn working a few hours a month on a side gig, thereby replacing the retirement savings you lost.)

Learn how to stretch your wealth to the maximum. A helpful resource is "Ed Slott's Retirement Decision Guide" - the most recent edition edition. (Ad) This inexpensive book is loaded with ideas for getting the most out of whatever assets you have.

One way or another, most people will be able to make the necessary changes to survive financially during retirement. If you are still having difficulty, seek professional advice and financial assistance. The earlier you make the necessary changes, the easier things will be for you in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about 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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Friday, January 1, 2021

Improving Your Life, Health and Happiness - Tips for Senior Citizens

This month we have a wonderful guest post from Jennifer Scott on how to have the best possible quality of life as we age. Whether you make New Year resolutions or not, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to set realistic goals for ourselves. Since 2020 was a particularly stressful year for most people, it seems that most of us are hopeful that 2021 will be much better. This guest post has some great ideas for starting things off right.

Hopefully, many readers will return to this article as the year goes by, to review the ideas presented here and find even more ideas for getting the most out of life as we age.  For people who want to go deeper, they may want to read  "Healthy Aging" by Andrew Weil, M.D.  (Ad)  Below is the article by Jennifer Scott.

4 Simple Ways Seniors Can Take More Control of Their Life, Health, and Happiness

You are only as old as you feel, but what steps can you take to help you feel younger? If you are an adult over the age of 65, you may be asking yourself this question on a regular basis. Well, the answers really are not as complicated as you may think. As it turns out, the simplest of changes for your physical and mental health can equate to the most significant increases in your quality of life. Here are a few of those simple changes for you to try. 

Make Your Home Safer to Help You Age in Place

Right now, you probably feel fairly safe in your home. But as you age, maintaining that safety becomes slightly more challenging, which is why many seniors opt to modify their homes for safety, accessibility, and convenience. In terms of safety, the changes you need to make are ones which will prevent you from falling in your home. A minor fall may not seem like a big deal, but falls for seniors can result in serious injuries. Falls can even shorten your lifespan or hasten dementia.

With this in mind, you may want to start with modifications which will reduce fall risks, such as installing a walk-in shower or opting for non-slip flooring. Smart home technology can provide safety for older adults, as well, but adding these gadgets can also make your home more convenient for you to age in place comfortably.

Another way to stay safe in your home is by investing in a service for home maintenance. Depending on your mobility, attempting strenuous housework on your own can be harmful. Such tasks may include mowing the lawn, landscaping, and cleaning the house. If you need assistance, hire a professional who is located in your area and is within your budget. 

Choose Wisely When It Comes to Medicare Coverage

You also do not want to fall short on your healthcare coverage. Medicare can definitely help you on this front, but you need to know a few facts to get the most benefits out of your plan. That typically involves supplemental coverage, by adding a Medicare supplement to your basic Medicare, OR converting from basic Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan. Before you make those changes, use an online Medicare guide to go through state-by-state plans and coverage. You may also want to do some research around Medicare coverage restrictions. Many Medicare newcomers are surprised to discover that they need to sign up for a separate Medicare Part D plan to cover prescription drugs, particularly if they are on basic Medicare plus a supplement. A drug plan is usually included in most Medicare advantage plans, but you want to be certain. That kind of information is vital, because in most cases you can only make changes to your plan once a year. 

You can get a great deal more information about Medicare by reading, "Medicare for Dummies," (Ad), "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make," (Ad) or a similar book before you make your final selection.  It could save you from making a costly mistake in your Medicare coverage.

Use Your Diet to Improve Your Overall Well-Being

Medical care is essential for seniors; however, did you know that proper nutrition and a healthy diet can help prevent many chronic health problems for older adults? Nutrition is always important, but as you get older, your dietary needs tend to change. You may need more fiber to prevent diabetes, less salt to lower your blood pressure, and more whole foods to preserve your overall health. Getting whole foods into your diet can be tricky, however, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. So, if shopping for healthy foods is an obstacle, you may want to try a meal delivery service. (Ad) There are so many options to choose from and you can even customize kits to fit special dietary needs, including vegan, low-carb, and paleo. Many meals from various services are available for under $10.

Commit to Regular Exercise in Your Golden Years

Healthy eating is a good step to improve your health, but for seniors looking to really boost their overall physical health, there’s no better option than regular exercise. For older adults, that involves more than just a regular exercise plan. While exercise is important for your physical health, being active in your senior years requires that you always put safety first. Your physical abilities change as you age, so any form of exercise you engage in needs to be something that you feel completely comfortable with. A good way for seniors to engage in safe and low impact exercise is Pilates. It helps improve flexibility, balance, and strength, and reduces the risk of falls. Pilates studios have professional instructors who can help you modify moves and poses to your abilities, and you’ll get a chance to socialize. There are other low-impact forms of exercise you can try, too, such as swimming, yoga and even walking.  Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly. 

Searching for Happiness? Your Start-up Business May Help

Part-time or full-time retirement is rarely a good thing for us to do. In fact, many seniors make the choice to kick start their careers during retirement age. Over 25 percent of start-ups are established by older adults. That's up from 15 percent two decades ago.

Why are more senior adults choosing to start a business? For the majority, it comes down to what makes them feel fulfilled. Not surprisingly, three-quarters of senior entrepreneurs give their lives a satisfaction rating of 8+ out of 10 after starting a business. They enjoy the challenge and activity that entrepreneurship provides them.

So, if you’re feeling a bit stagnant and idle, then think about which parts of your jobs you loved and what you would want to do going forward. It is completely reasonable to build a career that revolves mostly around the things you love to do. Once you have determined which direction you want to go, it is time to choose a business structure that works for you (for example, many people choose to register as an LLC) and get started! 

If you have no idea how to set up a business (most of us are unsure of what to do), then you could begin by reading a book like "How to Start A Business in 30 Days."  (Ad) You might also take a class from a local community college. If you have a great idea, there are ways to turn it into a viable business.

The secret to thriving in your golden years is really no secret at all. Making healthier choices — for your mind, body, and spirit — will always lead to more quality in your life. That goes for seniors and anyone looking to live life to the fullest. Your happiness and health are up to you! 

Don't forget to also check out the book  "Healthy Aging" by Andrew Weil, M.D.  (Ad)  It will give you even more information about how to improve your life, health and happiness as you age.

For more great resources for your golden years, including retirement information for the US and overseas, check out the articles at Baby Boomer Retirement

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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