Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Treat Chronic Pain

While people of any age can experience pain, as we grow older we are even more likely to experience chronic pain.  It may be back pain, migraine headaches, neck and shoulder pain, or overall pain.  The pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, including overly aggressive exercise and health problems. 

Often we simply reach for the nearest over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Aleve, and hope that these pain relief pills will help us to feel better in the morning. 

Dr. Oz Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain

If you develop chronic pain and you do not want to take pills every day for it, you may want to try some of these alternative treatments that recently were mentioned on The Doctor Oz Show.  For more information about them, you can get detailed information at

The first of the pain solutions that Dr. Oz mentions on his website is called Gua Sha.  This treatment for back pain is provided by a licensed acupuncturist and involves scraping the skin's surface with a special instrument.

Although Dr. Oz did not mention in this article the advantages of getting a traditional acupuncture treatment using needles, I personally used this ancient treatment when I developed a stiff neck a few years ago.  It worked surprisingly well, and the beneficial effect has remained, despite the fact that it has been over four years since I last saw the acupuncturist.

The second pain management technique suggested by Doctor Oz was botox for migraines.  Botox is a powerful muscle relaxant and can be effective at relieving tension in the forehead and neck.  Many women who have had botox to reduce their wrinkles have also experienced the pleasant side effect of fewer migraine headaches.

The third pain reliever mentioned by Doctor Oz was HVLA.  This is similar to chiropractic manipulation, but it is performed by an osteopathic doctor.  Again, although Dr. Oz did not mention seeing a chiropractor, members of my family have been very happy with the pain relief they have received from chiropractic manipulation.

The next method of pain management that he mentions on his website is called Radiofrequency Ablation, which uses a radio wave to treat pain anywhere in the body, including the back, neck and even your feet!  If you suffer from overall pain, and you cannot get relief any other way, you might ask your family doctor to recommend someone who is trained to do Radiofrequency Ablation.

Dr. Oz also recommended some cheap treatments for chronic pain that cost less than $10.  His list included:

Helichrysum Oil - available from health food stores
Hot and Cold Packs
Medicated herbal plasters

He also suggested that people use a telephone headset, rather than cradling a phone on their shoulders, which is apparently a common cause of neck and shoulder pain.

Since so many of us suffer from chronic pain, it is important to stay up-to-date with alternative treatments, especially any new treatments or unusual ones.  There is no reason to suffer unnecessarily.  If we can relieve our chronic pain, even a little, it will improve our quality of life, and keep us much more active after retirement.  It is not much fun to quit working, only to discover that pain keeps us from doing many of things that we had anticipated being able to do after retirement.

If you are interested in learning more about medical issues that can affect us as we age, financial planning, where to retire, or changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles. 

You may also be interested in reading:

How to Prevent Bone Loss from Osteoporosis
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To read more about Dr. Oz's recommendations for pain relief, the link to his article is:

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Watch 'Hope Springs' for Baby Boomer Couples

The movie "Hope Springs" is a thought-provoking film for Baby Boomers who are either married or in a long term relationship.  My husband and I viewed this movie with two other couples who have also been married over 40 years.  When we discussed it afterwards, we agreed that we had all enjoyed it, and we acknowledged that it had brought up some interesting issues in our own relationships.

Plot Summary of "Hope Springs"

The movie is about a couple, Kay and Arnold, who have been married 31 years.  They now sleep in separate bedrooms, and have very little intimacy left in their relationship.  Kay arranges for the two of them to spend a week in intensive marriage therapy in the town of Great Hope Springs, Maine.

Kay is played by Meryl Streep, her husband Arnold is played by Tommy Lee Jones, and their therapist is played by Steve Carell.  With this cast, the movie could have easily slipped into being a silly, light-hearted situation comedy, but all of the actors play their parts with sincerity and honesty.  The topics that are discussed in the movie are subjects that are difficult for most couples to discuss, and the actors are able to portray that discomfort convincingly.

This Movie Could Enhance Your Own Relationship

This movie is designed for a narrow audience, primarily people over the age of 50 who are in committed relationships and, because of this, it will surely never be considered a blockbuster movie for any of these actors.  Performing in this film almost certainly was a labor of love.  However, for those who are open to seeing it, just viewing this movie could bring life back into a marriage that has slipped into boredom and repetition.

What better gift can we give each other, as we prepare for retirement, than to bring enthusiasm and romance back into our lives?

If you are interested in reading more about changing family relationships after retirement, where to retire, financial planning, medical issues and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other helpful articles.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Retirement Postponed by Parent Student Loans

When our youngest daughter graduated from college eight years ago, the father of one of her roommates made the comment that he would probably be paying off student loans for his children for the rest of his life.  Sadly, he died six years later, still carrying the burden of those loans.  Unfortunately, his situation is not uncommon.  Many parents in their 50's who take out student loans to pay for their children's college education will not live long enough to pay off those student loans.  As a result, an unknown number of senior citizens have to postpone their own retirement because of the debt they took on in order to get their children through college.

Retirement Destroyed by Student Loans

An article I recently read startled me.  The title was "Baby Boomers Beware: Many Paralyzed by Burden of Student Debt; Parents Sacrifice Financial Stability in Down Economy to Support Children Pursuing Degrees."  (That is one exhaustively long title, by the way!)

The article was distributed by PRWeb, and bemoaned the fact that many parents sacrifice their own financial security in order to pay for their children to attend college.  According to, the student loan debt carried by parents amounts to approximately 10% of outstanding total student loan debt.  Often parents will continue to pay these loans for 15 to 20 years after their last child has graduated from college.  This means that many Baby Boomer parents will be paying for their childrens' educations well into their 70's!  Although some have petitioned the government to consider a program of student loan forgiveness under certain circumstances, to date this movement has been unsuccessful.

Since the focus of this blog is geared towards helping Baby Boomers have the type of retirement they desire, the burden of these parent student loans can be crippling and may even prevent many of them from ever being able to retire at all!

High College Tuition Contributes to this Problem

The problem of student loan debt has become even more serious since the cost of tuition at the average university has quadrupled over the past 30 years.  In addition, a little over a decade ago the U.S. federal bankruptcy laws were changed so that even a bankruptcy does not make it possible for either parents or students to rid themselves of student debt.  It almost seems like a joke that student loans are considered financial aid, since they frequently to not provide aid but rather a burden to students after they graduate!

How to Reduce Student Loan Debt for Both Parents and Students

If you want your student to attend college, and you cannot afford to easily pay for it, what options do you have?  Your first step will be to try to reduce the amount of debt you have to take on, since it is nearly impossible to get rid of the debt, once you have incurred it.

The same article mentioned above made these suggestions:

* Students should live at home and attend a community college for their first two years of general education courses.  If there is a state college within driving distance of your home, students should consider living at home for all four years of college.

* Students should apply for every possible grant or scholarship.

* More than ever before, students should consider whether their choice of major will support their potential loan balance. (Ironically, this may mean that many students should not attend expensive, prestigious colleges if they intend to teach school, become a minister or go into public service.)

* Students (and their parents) should avoid all consumer debt, especially credit card debt, in order to avoid being crushed by their entire debt load.

* Students should be willing to work part-time during college in order to keep student loans to a minimum.

These choices may not be what your student had in mind when they envisioned going to college.  However, when your child graduates and sees their friends making student loan payments of $400 - $600 (or more), while you and your child are paying little or nothing, your entire family will be grateful that you followed these suggestions.

In addition, the Baby Boomer parents who encourage their children to follow these recommendations are much more likely to have a happy, comfortable retirement without carrying the burden of student loans for the remainder of their lives!

If you are interested in additional information about retirement financial planning, where to retire, medical issues and changing family relationships, 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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Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where to Keep a Will

You've done the right thing and created a will so your family will know how you want your estate handled upon your death.  You've spent hours making sure every detail is covered.  Now, you need to decide where to keep your will so that the executor of your estate can find it easily after your death.  One thing is certain; you do not want to file a will in the same easily accessible drawer or box where you keep old tax returns and bank statements.  When experts at tell their clients how to store a will, they want to make certain you understand the advantages and disadvantages of all the various choices.

Where Should I Keep My Will?

Below is a list of places where you might want to keep your will, along with some things to consider before you make a final decision.  All of these choices have advantages.  Once you make a decision, you will want to be sure to let the executor of your state know where to find both your will and other important documents ... such as insurance policies, receipt for a burial plot, list of people you want contacted upon your death, etc. 

Where are some of the places where you can keep your will and other documents are:

Keep Your Will in a Safe Deposit Box at a Bank

A safe deposit box is the first choice for many people.  Your will will be safe from fires, floods, theft and similar catastrophes.  However, depending on the state where you live, your executor may need a court order to get the bank to open the safe deposit box so the executor can look for the will.  If you decide to keep your will in a safe deposit box, let your executor and beneficiaries know where your safe deposit box is located, and give the executor the legal authority to take possession of the will after your death.

Store Your Will with Your Attorney

If you have no plans to change your attorney, you may want to simply leave the original copy of your will at your attorney's office.  They will charge little or nothing to store it for you.  Once again, you need to make sure your executor and heirs know the name of your attorney and how to get in touch with him.

As for other documents you want your executor to have, such as your insurance policies and list of contacts, you can give them copies at the time you name them the executor.  This way, they will quickly be able to have access to all the information they need.

Keep Your Will in Your Home Safe

Another option is to store your will in a heavy, waterproof and fireproof safe in your home.  You want the safe to be heavy enough that you are unlikely to have thieves easily remove the entire safe from your home.  As mentioned before, you do not want to simply file the original will in a home filing cabinet or in a plastic bag in the freezer.  In either case it would be far too easy for it to be stolen or altered without your knowledge.  If you do keep your will in a home safe, be sure your executor knows where the safe is located, and how to get into it.

File a Will with the County Clerk

In some parts of the country, you can file your will with the local county clerk's office.  This is a good solution if you have no plans to move out of the area, and if you make sure everyone knows that they need to contact the county clerk's office when you are gone.

If you make this choice, you will want to be sure to give other documents directly to your executor when you decide who that person will be.  Another option is to put these items in safe storage at your home, and let your executor know where to find them.

Whatever decision you make about where to keep your will, you will want to be certain that both your executor and your heirs have been informed.  They will need the original will in order to efficiently handle the disposition of your estate.  The simpler you can keep things for them, the less confusion there will be after your death.

If you are interested in additional information about funeral planning, financial planning, medical issues that can arise in your later years, where to retire, travel and changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of helpful articles for retirees.

You may also be interested in reading these blog posts:

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Prevent Bone Loss from Osteoporosis

One of the biggest dangers to our health that we face as we age is bone loss due to osteoporosis.  This skeletal disease was once referred to as brittle bone disease, which seems like an apt description. 

The mother of a friend of mine in college left a lasting impression on me because of the way her brittle bones virtually destroyed her life.  She was an active woman who had played tennis and gardened when she was younger, until she fell and broke her leg one day.  When she tried to get around with the use of crutches, several of her ribs cracked.  Afterwards, she was confined to a wheelchair.  I never saw this friend, or his mother, after I graduated from college in 1970, so I don't know if she was able to survive this debilitating skeletal disease.  However, I remember how frail she seemed the last time I saw her.  She was only in her 50's!

Modern Treatments for Osteoporosis Help Protect Our Bones

Today, doctors have a much better understanding of osteoporosis and its causes.  Although there are no real cures, they now have better ideas about how to prevent osteoporosis, as well as several methods for treating the condition.  In order to diagnose osteoporosis, your doctor will probably order a bone density test at age 65 if you are a woman, or at age 70 if you are a man.  Left untreated, a person can easily end up with a fracture of the hip or spine.  Spinal fractures frequently lead to premature death; hip fractures often mean the person is no longer able to live independently.  Learning more about prevention and treatment is important to anyone who hopes to have a long, healthy and independent life after retirement.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

There are four steps we must all take if we plan to prevent bone loss.  According to, these steps are:

* Continue to engage in daily weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, dancing and tennis;
* Maintain you core muscle strength, especially your abs, as a way to keep your balance;
* Consume 1,200 mg. of calcium in foods such as milk, yogurt, broccoli, plus a small amount in a supplement;
* Get Vitamin D by spending 20 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen, consuming foods such as salmon and sardines, or taking a supplement containing 600 - 800 IUs of Vitamin D a day.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

There are several risk factors that makes you more likely to develop osteoporosis.  Some of these are:

Low body weight, especially if you weigh less that 127 pounds;
Beginning menopause prior to age 47;
Certain medications, such as antidepressants, corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors, anti-seizure medications and some cancer treatments

Osteoporosis Guidelines for Treatment

If your physician determines that you need to be treated for Osteoporosis, they have several options.

First, try lifestyle changes such as the ones listed above.  You can improve your bone density when you make changes early.  If lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may recommend one of these types of medications:

Bisphosphonates to slow down how fast the bone is broken down.  These medications can be taken as tablets, a nasal spray or as a quarterly or annual injection.  Tablets can upset your stomach.

Teriparatide increases the bone-building cells by using a hormone to encourage new bone growth.  It is taken as an injection under the skin.  Long-term effects are unknown, so it is usually only used for two years.

Raloxifene is a selective estrogen-receptor modulator which acts like estrogen to slow bone loss.  It can cause hot flashes and an increased risk of stroke.

Estrogen therapy is also used, although it has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and endometrial cancer.

Obviously, before opting for one of the treatments, your first choice should be lifestyle changes that will prevent the disease.  The earlier you begin these lifestyle changes, the longer you can postpone or prevent developing osteoporosis.

If you are interested in learning more about health issues that can affect you after retirement, financial planning, where to retire, or changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of helpful, informative articles.

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