Friday, April 30, 2021

Caregiving Tips Can Reduce Stress on Caregivers

Millions of Baby-Boomers, as well as younger adults, are not only trying to take care of their own lives while staying involved with their children, their jobs, and other responsibilities, but they are also caregivers for a spouse, parent, relative, or a friend who has a serious chronic health condition.  Some of the people who are providing this help may not even think of themselves as caregivers. However, you are a caregiver if you drive someone to dialysis, chemo sessions, physical therapy or medical appointments, help an ill relative or friend with their grocery shopping, or care for someone who has dementia, COPD, or is recovering from a stroke, heart attack or surgery.  

When the situation arises, most of us are willing to care for a loved one, even though it can require a huge amount of our time and effort as we strive to meet their physical needs, shop for them, dispense their medicine and, when they do not live with us, visit them and care for them in a separate home. Whether the patient lives with you or lives in their own home, providing this aid can be exhausting, time consuming and, in some cases, even fatal for the caregivers who may die of stress related illnesses. In addition, have you thought about the financial cost of being a caregiver?  While you may not be able to completely relieve yourself of everything involved in caregiving, are you aware of some of the ways you can reduce your stress?

Although you may feel it is your responsibility to "suck it up" and do whatever is necessary to take care of a relative, you may actually be doing more than necessary and putting your own health and financial security at risk. If you are a Baby Boomer caregiver, you are in your 60s and 70s and may have physical or health limitations of your own.  The added stress of caring for another person can feel overwhelming.  

It is important that every caregiver assess the emotional, physical and financial impact of caregiving on themselves and other members of their family.  They also need to come up with a practical plan that will relieve some of the burden, while making sure their relative is not neglected.  It is usually possible to do both.

Common Financial Costs of Being a Caregiver

According to an article in the AARP Bulletin in November 2019, being a caregiver could cost you financially in several ways.  As you read this list, you may begin to realize how important it is to use some of the suggestions listed later in this article.

*  About 78% of caregivers spend an average of $7,000 a year out-of-pocket for the care of a loved one.  This can include money spent on things like adult diapers, over-the-counter medications, special food, and extra gasoline for their car. 

*  The cost can rise to as much as $12,000 a year if the patient or family member you are helping lives at least an hour away.

*  This financial cost often reduces the caregiver's retirement savings by as much as 25%, because this becomes money which does not go into their own retirement savings account and does not grow, as it would have if it had been invested or deposited into a bank or investment account.

*  The caregiver's financial situation may be worsened even more dramatically, because about 23% of caregivers take on additional debt in order to cover their out-of-pocket expenses.  Sometimes they do not even notice their rising credit card bills or other borrowed money until the situation gets out-of-hand.

*  Caregivers often lose out financially in other ways, too, by causing them to earn a lower income as a result of their responsibilities.  On average, they tend to work at paid jobs about 80 minutes less each day. This not only reduces their income, but it also makes them less likely to get promotions, which in turn lessens the amount of future pensions and Social Security benefits they will receive.  In essence, they are sacrificing their own future retirement in order to care for a beloved family member who may be retired.

*  Nearly one-third of caregivers have left a job or reduced their hours because of the stress of their caregiving responsibilities.  The repercussions of this not only means less income, but often the loss of employer-provided benefits such as health insurance or a 401(k) plan with matching contributions.  If they retire early, that can also reduce their retirement benefits. 

However, the financial sacrifices are not the only reason why caregivers need to learn ways to reduce the burden on themselves and their family.

Caregivers Often Ignore Their Own Needs

In addition to devoting so much of their time and money to the care of another person, caregivers often risk their own health and well-being, and that of their immediate family.   Here are some typical sacrifices caregivers sometimes make.  Most caregivers have cut more than one of the items listed below.

*  About 37 percent say they have reduced their spending on household maintenance.

*  Approximately 11 percent admit they have been forced to spend less on their children's education, which may force their children to take out larger college loans in the future.  This passes the financial burden on to another generation.

*  About 25 percent have had to reduce their spending on groceries for their family.

*  Unsurprisingly, 30 percent say they have spent less than normal on clothing and personal items.

*  Roughly 12 percent have cut back on the money they would normally spend on utilities, including heat and electricity, which could also endanger their own health or that of other family members, if the cuts become too extreme.

*  Caregivers also report sleeping less at night and about one-third admit they have reduced their own dental care, and cut down on routine visits to the doctor, as well as getting medical care when they are sick or injured  Many have neglected to fill a needed prescription for themselves, or get a recommended test or treatment. 

Caregiver Stress Can be Fatal

As a result of the above-mentioned cuts in personal care, a 1999 study found that caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than non-caregivers, and according to Stanford University, 40 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers die from stress-related disorders before the Alzheimer's patient dies.

We all know that stress can kill us.  In addition to worrying about the health and care of another person, many caregivers become the object of the patient's anger, moodiness, and irritability. While the caregiver may spend hours a day driving, running errands, shopping and helping the patient in many ways, they may feel that their efforts are not only unappreciated, but may cause them to be subjected to continual complaints and hostility. Some caregivers report feeling that, no matter how much they do, it never seems to satisfy the patient.

While we may not be able to change our loved one's health situation, or even their attitude, there are actions nearly any caregiver can take to lessen the burden and help them protect their own health and finances.  

Try Not to Handle the Caregiver Burden Alone

Although many caregivers do not reach out for help, there are a number of resources available to reduce the financial and physical burden on the primary caregiver.  While this assistance may not solve all the problems, any help at all could make a big difference both for the caregiver and their family.  In addition, taking advantage of the help which is available in your community might even improve the quality of care for the patient.  Simple steps such as ordering groceries online, arranging medical transportation so you do not have to do all the driving, asking for assistance with the patient at airports or in medical facilities, and taking time out for yourself can make a big difference.

You may find it helpful to read one of these books on caregiving, to give you fresh ideas and moral support. (Ad)  Some simple changes could improve the situation for both the caregiver and the patient. 

Practical Ways for Caregivers to Get Relief 

Talk to your loved one and ask how much help they actually want and need.  They may be able to do more than you realize.  If they do not live with you, it may be easier for them to be independent if you make a few modifications to their home and help them out once a week by shopping for them, filling their pill containers, paying their bills and handling other issues which may be difficult for them.  In fact, as long as they are mentally competent, the patient may not even want you hovering over them all the time.  Make sure you have a clear understanding of the kind of help they actually want and need.  If they live in your home, they may even be willing and able to perform necessary chores such as dusting, watering the lawn, handling the laundry, helping with meal preparation, or doing the dishes.  This will make them feel needed and reduce the amount of work the caregiver is trying to do every day.  Appreciate whatever they are able to do, and allow them this way of helping to reduce your stress.

Get a personal home alarm system for someone with a serious chronic condition, so they can quickly and easily contact you or someone else if they fall, become acutely ill, or need emergency help.  You will worry much less, and they will be safer. You can find a variety of home alert systems (Ad) available here, including some that have wearable devices included. 

They come in a wide variety of brands, with different services available. In general, the person wearing the device only needs to push a button in order to be connected to a trained operator. The operator asks them if they need an ambulance, or if they just want the alert service to call a friend, neighbor or relative to assist them.  Some of the devices have fall indicators.  If the device detects that the person has fallen, and the patient does not respond when called, the operator can automatically call a caregiver or the paramedics.  This removes much of the worry felt by caregivers who are not with the patient 24 hours a day.  These systems are very helpful whether the patient lives in the same home as the caregiver or in a separate home.  It frees the caregiver to go to work, run errands, shop, visit friends, and comfortably spend time away from the patient, and will also lower caregiver stress.  

Install a home camera, such as a Nest Camera, (Ad) which is connected to an app on your cell phone, so you can virtually check on your loved one throughout the day.  This can give you even more peace of mind. One of our daughters even uses her camera to check on her cats!  You can reassure yourself that your loved one is eating, resting, and staying safe, without the need for you to be physically present.  A camera like this has made more than one caregiver feel more comfortable, and they double as security cameras!  You can install one in your own home, if the patient lives with you, or put in in the home of a fragile relative, wherever they may live. 

If you are a caregiver with a paid job, before you quit or cut back on your hours, see if there are any employee benefits designed to help caregivers.  In many places, you could be entitled to family leave or other assistance.  This can be particularly helpful if your loved one becomes particularly ill or needs to be hospitalized.  It would allow you to periodically to take off for a few day when necessary, without losing your job.

Go to the Family Caregiver Alliance at and print out a personal care agreement so that you have a clear agreement with the person who is receiving the care.  In some cases, they may be able to pay you for your caregiving services and a personal care agreement can spell out specifically what you will be doing for them.  If they are on Medicaid, for example, relatives or friends who are caregivers can sometimes be paid through that program, under certain circumstances.  This can also lessen the financial burden on the caregiver.  I know of at least one man who has been able to use this program to hire a young person to drive him to doctor appointments and the grocery store.  This has been very helpful, since driving has become very difficult for him. 

Ask family and friends if they can help with some of the responsibilities.  For example, even if you are doing the grocery shopping and filling their weekly pill containers, ask if there are relatives who can take some of the burden off of you by checking on the patient certain days of the week, preparing their meals, helping them shower or dress, etc.  Even getting help from others a couple of days a week can make it easier for you to remain at your paid job, feel less stressed, and enjoy time with your own family. 

See if there are any state or local services to help you.  Get all the help you can afford or that may be available in your community at little or no cost to you.  Here are some ideas:

*  You may be able to find paid housekeepers or caregivers who can help you a few days of the week;
*  You may be able to locate an adult daycare facility
*  Your loved one may be eligible for Meals on Wheels, which will reduce your responsibility for preparing all their meals.  This will be especially helpful if they do not live with you.
*  If there is a Senior Center in your area, they may be able to put you in touch with meal services and other resources to help you. Some even provide low cost lunches in a group setting.
*  If you need to go out of town, or wish to take a vacation with your family, you may also discover that local assisted living facilities in your area can provide affordable respite care for a loved one for a week or two.

Seek out whatever help is available in order to reduce your burden.  Some of it will be free or very low cost.  Certain local services, such as adult daycare or local senior centers, will give your loved one an opportunity to make friends and socialize with other people their own age.  Many senior centers have fun events such as Bingo, art programs, yoga for seniors, memory classes, health fairs, community lunches and more, which will keep them busy and give them something to do.  Often these programs are free or cost very little.

*  Websites which provide helpful information for caregivers are:

Essentially, it is important to realize that you do not need to take on the full responsibility for caring for another person.  You do not need to sacrifice your own life, health and financial security.  There are programs available to help you, while making sure your loved one receives the care they need, and enabling them to get the most enjoyment possible out of their lives.  Make sure you explore all your options and take advantage of every resource you can find.  

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.  Send your email address to the link, and you will receive a weekly email with the most current post.

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

Friday, April 23, 2021

Risks of Retiring in Mexico and other Countries

Retiring in another country can be an exciting adventure, but it can also present some unique challenges.  Americans have been retiring in other countries for decades, and hundreds of thousands of Social Security checks are currently deposited monthly in foreign bank accounts.  Millions of  Americans live in foreign countries for a few months of the year, while keeping their money and accounts in the United States.  There are numerous reasons people live all or part of the year outside the United States. They might do it for the novelty, for the opportunity to experience new things, as part of a charitable organization, to teach, or in order to save money, especially if they are retiring on a tight budget.  

While the cost of living may be lower in other countries, and the idea of living in a tropical climate sounds appealing, there are risks which everyone needs to consider.  Of course, you will want to investigate the healthcare system, the cost of obtaining medical care in a foreign country, and the actual cost of living, especially if you want to live the equivalent of an American lifestyle in another country.  You also need to take into consideration expenses such as traveling back to the United States to visit or get specialized medical care.  

If there are certain products you feel are necessities, you may discover that they are more expensive than you expect, and it may be difficult to get your favorite foods or brand name items.  For example, planning a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie may be next to impossible in some countries. You will need to adapt and eat at least some of the local cuisine. 

However, if you are the adventurous type, all these issues will probably be minor problems which you are happy to deal with.  In fact, they may not be a problem at all if you choose a location which is conveniently located near a major international airport or near the U.S. border, so you can quickly hop back to the U.S. whenever you want.  You could also discover that shopping in local markets and eating locally grown foods is part of the fun and adventure!  

You may be able to find solutions to many minor problems by researching your move before you go. Try reading a book such as "Retirement Without Borders," (Ad) which I highly recommend. It has practical advice for retiring to a number of different countries including Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica and several others. It could help you decide which country might be a good choice for you!

One thing which may turn your dream retirement into a nightmare could be your lack of legal standing in another country. Take, for example, an issue which a number of Americans are facing in the lovely American enclave of Cantamar along the coast of Baja, Mexico.

Locked Out of Their Retirement Village

In early 2021, a number of residents of the beachside community of Cantamar, Mexico, located about 15 miles south of Rosarito Beach, have had to climb over a barbed wire fence in order to get in and out of their community.  Their property manager has blocked the entrance, cut off the residents' water and gas, and refused to allow guests and maintenance workers to enter the community.  

Many of the residents of this community are U.S. citizens who originally moved to Cantamar from Arizona, California, and other states. Most of these Americans have invested a substantial part of their life savings into their homes in Mexico, and they looked forward to spending the last few decades of their lives living in this affordable beachfront community.

What went wrong in Cantamar?

The problem stems from the property ownership laws in Mexico.  Foreign residents cannot officially own Mexican land which is located within 65 miles of the U.S. border, or within 35 miles of the Mexican coastline. However, foreigners are allowed to lease the land and build a home on it.  They can legally own the home for up to 10 years.

Foreign nationals can also purchase land through a Mexican bank trust, called a fideicomiso.  In this case, the bank is the trustee and holds the title, and the foreign buyer is the beneficiary of the trust and is able to buy, sell, and build on the property.

Because of these loopholes, approximately 1.5 million Americans have moved to Mexico, and tens of thousands of them are in Baja, California.  This makes it easy for them to cross the border and shop or obtain medical care the the U.S.   Many of them have seen this arrangement as the best of both worlds ... an affordable beach home for retirement, with relatively easy access to American goods and services.   Cantamar is a prime example of this lifestyle.  It is a gated community just 35 miles from the U.S. border, with home lots near the ocean ranging in price from $40,000 to $300,000, significantly more affordable than similar properties in San Diego County, across the border.

The current landowner of Cantamar is Ivonne Cortez Avendano.  It was awarded to her in the Mexican courts after her husband died without a will in 2007.  However, some of the residents of the community are legal, naturalized Mexican citizens, who are entitled to own property in Mexico, and they believe their homes were awarded to Ivonne Cortez Avendano illegally.

Since the entire community has become the property of Ivonne Cortez Avendano, she and her property manager, Zarella Garcia, have made it increasingly difficult for the residents to enjoy their former lives in the community. One of the current residents told a writer for the San Diego Tribune that they have not had running water for years and, when they leave home, they are not sure they will be allowed to re-enter. 

The dispute is over a new maintenance fee of $130 month which the owner wishes to collect retroactively for every month residents have been there since 2007. This is a substantial expense for many retirees who have already invested nearly all their life savings in order to afford their homes.  Other retirees believe that it is simply unfair for the new owner to force this new charge on them.

The current residents point out that the current owner's deceased husband did not require a maintenance fee, it is not mentioned in their property titles, nor was there a separate contract requiring this fee when they originally committed to leasing the property and building their homes on it. 

What Legal Rights do Americans Have in Mexico?

Unfortunately, Americans are limited in what they can do to protest their treatment, no matter how unfair it may seem.  The U.S. government says they are powerless to intervene in property disputes in Mexico.  The chances of an American winning a dispute in the Mexican legal system are slim, and the legal battle could take decades. 

In 2000, after a 27 year legal fight over their retirement homes in Punta Banda, Mexico, 200 Americans were evicted and told that the group which sold the land to them was not the true owner.  These types of land disputes could happen again in the future.  Americans living in Mexico have little legal recourse when it does, and Mexico is not the only place where Americans could find themselves legally vulnerable.

What can Retirees Learn from these Stories?

Retirees should be very careful before putting their life savings into a home in a foreign country.  During the recession in 2009, some British retirees who had settled in Spain were alarmed to discover that the value of the British pound had dropped in value to the point where their "affordable" retirement was no longer a financial reality.  The same thing could happen when retirees from any country settle in another country.  Monetary values fluctuate, and the change is not always in favor of retirees who are living on a very tight pension.

There are also strict rules regarding retiring in other countries, including desirable places such as Italy, Monte Carlo, and Switzerland.  You may be required to prove you have enough assets and income to live there. You may have difficulty buying property, or may not be allowed to work, if that was your intent.  There may be complications regarding becoming part of their national healthcare system.  Laws regarding all these issues and more vary from country to country.  

Doing your research can prevent some of the problems involved in living overseas.  After all, millions of Americans are doing it right now without a problem.  Another book which will help you make realistic, smart plans is "How to Retire Overseas." (Ad) The more you study your choices in advance, the more likely you will be to make the best decisions for your retirement.

Before moving to another country, it is very important that Americans check on the U.S. State Department website for travel advisories and warnings.  They should also discuss the immigration and property laws with an attorney in the country where they are considering retiring, and meet with an attorney in the U.S. who specializes in international law.  Speak with as many experts as possible, including tax accountants, realtors, bankers, and others.  

Finally, they should take a serious look at their own financial picture and their risk tolerance.  What would happen if they lose all of the property and money they have invested in another country?  Would they be able to survive financially?  Would they be able to comfortably relocate or return to the United States?  If they are not sure, it might be wise not to make the move.  At the very least, retirees looking for an adventure in another country may consider renting a home there, and keeping the bulk of their assets in the United States.

Read more about the Cantamar case at:

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 financial planning for retirement, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues after retirement and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the to of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful retirement 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 of Mexican beach:

Friday, April 16, 2021

Drugs that Induce Dementia - Are Your Meds Causing You to Lose Your Mind?

Most cases of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's dementia, vascular dementia and others, are caused by various health problems which affect the brain.  One cause of dementia symptoms which is frequently overlooked could be the medications you are taking.  If you begin to think you are "losing you mind," becoming forgetful or confused, and having difficulty dealing with the complexities of life, you should immediately ask your doctor to review your medications.

Anticholinergic Medications are a Serious Risk

Millions of people take anticholinergic medications for a variety of health problems.  However, researchers have discovered that people over the age of 55 who have taken them for three or more years have a 50 percent greater chance of developing dementia.*  That is a high price to pay for what could otherwise be a helpful medication.

These drugs treat a wide variety of health problems including COPD, bladder conditions, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders and the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

When taken for a short period of time, they can cause confusion and memory loss.  When used for a longer time, many of these drugs seem to increase your risk of developing more serious symptoms of dementia, which may or may not be reversible when the drug is discontinued.

According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine* researchers found that there were "increased risks of dementia for anticholinergic drugs overall and specifically for the anticholinergic antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-parkinsons drugs, bladder drugs and epilepsy drugs after accounting for other risk factors for dementia.  No increased risks were found for the other types of anticholinergic drug studied such as antihistamines (like Benadryl) and gastrointestinal drugs."

The researchers determined that about 10 percent of dementia cases could be attributed to these drugs.  

List of Anticholinergic Medications You May Want Your Doctor to Review

Common anticholinergic drugs which may be risky for older people include antihistamines, sleeping pills, tricyclic antidepressants, and the drugs which you may be prescribed to treat an overactive bladder. Some of these drugs may be prescribed by your doctor.  Others are available over-the-counter and you may be administering them to yourself, without your doctor's knowledge.  This is especially risky if, for example, you are using over-the-counter Benadryl in combination with one of the other drugs.  The Benadryl, by itself, may not be a problem when taken as an antihistamine for a short period of time.  However, when taken daily for years and combined with one or more of the other drugs, it could make your dementia symptoms worse.

Examples of these drugs are:

Desyrel (trazodone)
Ditropan (oxybutynin)

Enablex (darifenacin)
Paxil (paroxetine)
Remeron (mirtazapine)
Sinequan (doxepin)

Toviaz (fesoterodine)
Urispas (flavoxate)

What to do if You are Taking one of These Drugs

If you have been taking these drugs, pay attention to your thinking and mental clarity. Ask your family if they have noticed any differences.  You will also want to discuss your dosage and the length of time you have been on the drugs with your doctor. Ask if there are alternatives which might treat your condition just as well, or if you can take a lower dosage for a shorter period of time.

In addition, be aware if a change in any medication causes you to feel as if your thinking is "foggier" or you have reduced mental clarity.  Although the anticholinergic drugs seem to be the ones most commonly associated with bringing on dementia-like symptoms, you should speak to your physician if any drug makes you feel as if you are having trouble functioning properly. 

Take Care of Your Brain

There are a wealth of other articles on this blog to help you take care of your brain and reduce your risk of dementia.  You can find them by clicking on Medical Concerns here, or by using the tab or pull-down menu at the top of the page.  Learn how lifestyle changes such as exercise, a healthy diet, reduced alcohol use and eliminating tobacco can also reduce your dementia risk. 

In addition, you may want to check out  "The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook: Recipes and Lifestyle Guidelines to Help Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia."  (Ad)

It is an excellent book and will help you make the best lifestyle choices to protect your brain.

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 common health problems as we age, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, financial planning or more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional 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 credit:


Friday, April 9, 2021

Working After Retirement - Should You Consider It?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of people between the ages of 65 and 69 are still in the work force and this is expected to rise to about 36 percent over the next five years.  Many of these people will continue to work well into their 70s.  This is a dramatic change from twenty years ago when a much smaller percentage of people continued to work after their full retirement age of 65.

Among the retirees I know, many of them have continued to work, either full or part-time, well into their 70s as financial advisors, doctors, lawyers, accountants, tutors, bloggers, or bagging groceries at our neighborhood store. Our retirement community also hires residents to work at the entrance gates, or help in a variety of offices. 

Seeing this number of senior citizens still in the workforce may cause you to wonder why they are still working so long.  It appears that a lot of people are looking at their financial situation and deciding that going back to work, or keeping their current job as long as possible, may be the best financial decision for them.  Of course, there are other reasons people choose to keep working, too.

Sometimes retirees decide they need or want to keep working, but they would prefer to try a new career. This is often called an Encore Career.  If this is something you think might interest you, you can get a wealth of job ideas by reading "The Encore Career Handbook."(Ad)

Financial Benefits

According to a survey of seniors aged 65 and older, completed by a senior living community called Provision Living, money is the primary reason why 62 percent of those who are still working have made that decision.  They simply cannot afford to retire.  Social Security benefits only cover about 40 to 50 percent of the typical living expenses for most people. If they do not have a substantial retirement savings account, most people cannot cut their expenses drastically enough to live on Social Security alone.

Not All Retirees are Happy About Working so Long

While there are many benefits to working longer, approximately 47 percent of the older workers admit that they wish they were financially capable of retiring. From this, however, we can assume that over half of working senior citizens are happy with their decision to stay employed well past the traditional retirement age. About 20 percent of those surveyed said they do not mind working, but wish they were able to cut back their hours..  

What are some of the benefits of working past the normal retirement age?

You Could Increase Your Social Security Benefits

By postponing your retirement until at least age 70, and not collecting Social Security until then, you could substantially increase the size of the monthly benefit you will receive when you do finally start to collect.  This alone is an excellent reason to stay in the work force until you turn 70, or at least for a few extra years after your full retirement age, especially if Social Security will be your primary or only source of retirement income.  In addition, your Social Security benefits are based on your 35 highest paying years.  If you did not earn very much during your early working years, the extra income in your later years could provide an additional increase in your retirement benefits.

More Time to Improve Your Financial Outlook

Some people use these extra working years as an opportunity to add more money to their retirement savings, so they can give themselves additional financial security when they finally do stop working.  They may also improve their financial situation in other ways, such as paying off their mortgage and/or other debts. 

Health Reasons for Working Longer

Statistically, people who work longer also are healthier and tend to live longer.  Of course, this could also be because people with serious illnesses are simply unable to keep working, even if they want to.  However, if you are physically capable of working past the age of 65 and you want to, you should give it a try.  It could help you stay physically active and maintain your good health.

Mental Health Reasons for Working Longer

Some of the biggest dangers we face after retirement are loneliness and boredom.  If you continue to work, you will see other people regularly, keep up with new technologies and other changes in the outside world, and be intellectually stimulated on a daily basis.  Having a job will also give you a reason to get up in the morning and feel as though other people are depending on you.  All these advantages are bound to help improve your mental health and give you a better outlook on life than you might have if you sat at home every day watching television.

The bottom line is that you may want to consider working past your full retirement age, whether it is for financial reasons, your health or your happiness.

Don't forget that if you are considering changing careers at this time of your life, you may want to consider reading "The Encore Career Handbook."  (Ad) It has some great ideas and very useful information which could help you achieve your retirement goals, while simultaneously providing you with financial help, job satisfaction, and improved mental health. 

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 financial planning for retirement, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues after retirement and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the to of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful retirement 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 credit:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Financial Planning Tips for Retirement - What the Experts Recommend

How much thought have you given to your financial planning?  Do you know how much money you will have available to you in retirement?  Have you calculated whether or not your savings will last the rest of your life? Have you considered the impact of inflation on your financial planning?  Annual expenses usually rise faster than increases in your Social Security benefits.  Have you allowed for that in your financial planning?  Are you also prepared for periodic downturns in the stock market?  Are you ready for unexpected emergencies?  

While no one can be 100 percent sure they have planned for every eventuality, it is smart to be as prepared as possible when you enter retirement.  If you are already retired, it is shrewd to periodically review your plans and be certain you are still on track to maintain your current standard of living for the rest of your life.  Reading a book such as "Retirement Heaven or Hell: Which Will You Choose?" can help you make sure you are well prepared for all aspects of retirement, and that you are staying on track.  

What are some of the specific tips financial experts have for retirees?

Protect Your Financial Security in Retirement

Keep six to twelve months of living expenses available - While you will want to invest most of your retirement savings, it is also smart to set aside six to twelve months of living expenses in an easy-to-access account which pays you some interest.  This money does not need to cover all your living expenses, since presumably a portion of what you live on will be covered by your Social Security benefits and/or any fixed pension you may have.  However, if you need additional funds each month in order to live, you want to set enough aside money so you will not need to sell stocks or bonds when the prices are low.  Having this money set aside will also give you peace of mind as you go through the ups and downs of your later years. It is important to remember that this money is specifically earmarked for living expenses.  You don't want to start spending it on travel or other expenses you may have.

Set additional money aside for planned expenses - Many financial advisors recommend that you set aside 1 to 2 percent of the value of your home every year to pay for future maintenance and repairs.  If there are other expenses you expect in the years after retirement, such as buying a new car, travel, or a potential homeowner's association assessment, you may want to set that money aside at the start of your retirement, too, so you are not caught by surprise.

Create a realistic retirement budget - How much money will you need to meet your basic expenses during retirement?  Make sure you do not forget to budget for the taxes you may have to pay on IRA withdrawals.  Then, determine whether you have saved enough money to cover those expenses for 25 to 30 years after you stop working.  If your savings will not last at your current level of spending, cut your expenses immediately at the start of your retirement.  Do not wait until you are in a desperate situation and then try to cut back.  

Most financial planners recommend that you start your retirement withdrawals by taking no more than 3 percent a year out of your savings to add to your Social Security benefits in order to cover your living expenses.  You can gradually increase this amount, but only by about 3 percent a year. In other words, 3 percent the first year, 3.09 percent the second year, 3.18 percent the third year, etc.  In this way, your savings should last 33 years or more after you retire, since presumably you will also be adding interest and/or dividends to the principle amount over the years.  If your savings will not generate enough income to meet your needs, in addition to your Social Security, you need to make changes to your lifestyle as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could run out of money in your 80s or 90s.

Meet with your insurance broker - Do you have enough life insurance to cover your funeral expenses and make up for the loss of family income in the event you die before your spouse?  Should you get long-term-care insurance to pay for assisted living or a nursing home for the last few years of your life?  You do not want to over-insure your life during retirement, since you are probably not supporting children. However, a small amount of life insurance could help provide financial security to you and your spouse.   

In addition to life insurance, ask your agent if you are carrying enough homeowner's insurance, including insurance to cover disasters such as floods or earthquakes.  An insurance broker can help you decide how much insurance you need and what size premiums will fit into your budget.  .

Choose the best Medicare plan to meet your needs - Once you reach age 65, you have two different choices you can make for your Medicare coverage.  

1.  You can choose a Medicare Advantage plan, which covers virtually all your medical needs.  You may little or no premiums over the cost of original Medicare, but you will have an annual deductible and co-pays.   For most people, this is the least expensive option, but you will be limited to only using doctors in your network, except in an emergency.  Ask your current doctor if there is a Medicare Advantage plan which they accept.  Then, you can use this less expensive option, while keeping your current physician.

2.  Or, if you want more freedom in choosing which doctors you will use, you can choose to stick with original Medicare, which covers 80% of most medical expenses, and then you can buy a Medicare Supplement and drug plan, which will cover most of the additional 20% which doctors charge.  However, the supplement and drug plan will require you to pay premiums in addition to your Medicare premiums, and those premiums usually make this the more expensive option.  Depending on the supplement you choose, you may or may not have a deductible and co-pays.  

It is highly advised that you choose the plan which will help you stay within your budget and meet your medical needs.  In addition, I also recommend that you read "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make."  It contains very useful information and is written by a Medicare broker who is licensed in nearly every state.  

Meet with a financial planner to decide how your savings should be invested - How much of your money should be in stocks and how much in bonds?  How will you diversify?  Will you follow Warren Buffet's advice to retirees and put your savings in a variety of index funds?  Once your money is invested, do not simply forget about it and assume everything will stay the same.  Meet with your financial planner at least annually and evaluate each holding you have to determine if it is still generating the growth and/or income you expect.  Re-balance your portfolio periodically.  Strive to live within your means and follow the general financial plan you set up when you first retired.

Do not become a victim of a scam - Sadly, many senior citizens fall for scams in their attempts to get an unusually high return on their money.  Often, this causes them to lose all or most of the money they have saved over a lifetime.  Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Stick with reputable companies and well-known investments.  

In addition, do not "loan" money to people, especially those who contact you through the internet or on dating sites.  It is very unlikely you will ever get back any of the money you loan others.  If you cannot afford to give your money away, do not loan it. Finally, ignore unsolicited phone calls and emails.  If you want to make a purchase, initiate the contact yourself, not because someone contacted you.  A very high percentage of unsolicited phone calls and emails are cleverly disguised scams.  

Read up on retirement planning - It is always a good idea to study different retirement planning programs and choose the one which you think will work best for you.  For example, you may want to occasionally read popular books on financial planning for retirement. 

If you follow these suggestions, you may not be able to avoid every possible financial disaster, but you will have substantially lowered your risk of running out of money during your lifetime.  In fact, you may even have some money and other assets left over to leave your loved ones.  You will also be able to sleep better and be more relaxed when you know you have planned your retirement well.

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 financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical problems and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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 credit: