Monday, September 12, 2022

Electrical Brain Stimulation for Memory Improvement in Seniors - tDCS Machines and Our Brains

"Cheerleader Brain" - Mascot of the UCI Memory Lab

One of the things we may want to do when we are retired is to take some risks which we may not have tried when we were younger, still working, and raising a family.  In May, 2022, I volunteered to participate in an electrical brain stimulation program at the Working Memory and Plasticity Laboratory at the University of California in Irvine.  I admit I was nervous about having electricity shot through my brain, but I also wanted to see if it could help me avoid dementia.  Only time will tell if that will be the eventual effect, but I have seen some measurable short-term improvement in my memory, so I already feel that the risk was worth the benefit to me.

The brain stimulation program began with an MRI and a variety of memory tests, which set a baseline for me.  The following week, I went to the Memory Lab for five days of additional memory tests.  While performing some of the tests, my head was covered with electrodes which were hooked up to a tDCS machine which sent a mild current of electricity through my brain. I did not feel anything and even wondered if the machine was actually working. The following week, I had a second MRI.  During this follow-up MRI, they flashed words on a screen and I used a hand-held device to indicate which words I had been asked to memorize during the preceding week.  

After this single week of electrical brain stimulation, I subjectively noticed that my memory seemed to be a little better and quicker.  However, being a skeptic, I wasn't sure if I was just imagining the improvement.

Three months later, in August, 2022, I had a third MRI and another battery of memory tests to see if the improvement in my memory had continued to last.  Similar to what the researchers did in the second MRI, during the third MRI they flashed words on a screen and I used a hand-held device to indicate which words I had been asked to memorize three months before.  I was surprised at how many I still clearly remembered!  Then, I took a fresh battery of memory tests and reached a higher level of short-time memory than I had in the past. In other words, my memory was measurably better!

International Interest in the Effects of Electric Brain Stimulation on Memory

The research being done at the Working Memory and Plasticity Lab at UCI is being conducted by Dr. Susanne Jaeggi and has been financed by a variety of organizations including the NIH National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense.  

The research collaborators include other American universities such as Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in the U.S., and research facilities around the world including collaborators at the University of Granada in Spain, Universities of Geneva and Bern in Switzerland, and many other international universities. 

Some of the Results of the Electrical Brain Stimulation Studies

While a variety of other researchers have been publishing the results from their studies, here are some of the general effects which have been found by the researchers at the University of California in Irvine:

Improvements in:

Working Memory

Long-term Memory

Visuospatial (reasoning) skills

Scholastic skills (math and reading)

They also learned that the results they found at the end of just one week of training have continued for at least several months after the training was completed, which suggests that the benefits could be long-term.  This could be a game changer in reversing mild cognitive decline and might even help postpone dementia!

The researchers also noted that the more effort people put into the training while undergoing brain stimulation, the more they improved.  They believe that cognitive strength, like physical strength, must be "exercised" in order to prevent decline.  

It was also important that the test subjects be fully engaged during the training.  It was not enough to just lay back and have a machine send an electrical current through the brain. The test subjects had to be working to improve their memory.  The people who did not improve their memory scores during the week of training had smaller benefits than those who tried hard to improve during the week.

My Personal Experience with Electrical Brain Stimulation

Fortunately, I did not experience any pain or discomfort during the sessions, other than the awkwardness of having electrodes attached to various spots on my skull with the use of a helmet ... and the terrible mess it made of my hair!

In doing the memory tests to the best of my ability, I sometimes experienced feelings of stress, especially when I failed to remember something I thought I should know, or when I felt a moment of confusion during some of the more complex memory games.  In pushing the test subject to perform to their maximum, I would assume that some people developed headaches during or after their sessions.  However, I felt fine afterwards. 

Being subjected to three MRIs in such a short period of time, especially when doing a memory activity during the last two MRIs, was a bit exhausting.  Each MRI took approximately an hour, during which time I was in a narrow tube with my head fixated into one position.  This procedure was certainly not something I would recommend to anyone with claustrophobia!

Slides of my actual brain from final MRI at UCI

It was all worthwhile in the end, because the researchers did see a measurable improvement in my memory compared to when I started the training.  My increased memory was also still measurable three months later.  Subjectively, I continue to feel as if my thinking has been a bit clearer and quicker since participating in the program.  Perhaps there is some placebo effect, but there is no question that the researchers were also able to measure that I had an increased memory after completing the training. 

After the final MRI, the researchers also gave me a CD showing slides of my actual brain.  They also told me that my brain was symmetrical, and had no obvious evidence of trauma, a medical problem, signs of a stroke, or a tumor. They also told me that some of the other test subjects had brain issues which resulted in them being referred to their personal physicians.  However, they said that visually my brain looked fine.  That was very reassuring!

How You Can Protect Your Brain

The UCI Working Memory and Plasticity Lab also gave me a brochure which suggested that I continue to take care of my brain by getting enough sleep, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet and being socially engaged.  They also recommended continued cognitive engagement which includes taking classes, or learning a new skill such as a foreign language, playing bridge or learning to play a musical instrument.

Personally, I believe that doing research on a wide variety of topics, like the ones I cover in this retirement blog,, as well as using my creativity to design products for my Etsy store have both been healthy ways to continue to practice the types of cognitive engagement they recommend. I am constantly required to learn new skills in order to effectively manage these websites. I also continue to practice a variety of word and memory games.  All these activities give me hope that I might be able to avoid dementia in the future.

How to learn more 

If you are interested in following this research or learning more about what has been discovered by cognitive researchers from around the world, you can go to the website of the UCI Working Memory & Plasticity Lab at:

The website contains a wealth of fascinating information, including links to articles which have been published by different researchers, as well as a very interesting video you can watch on the home page.  It shows examples of some of the memory games participants were asked to perform.  If I receive additional information about the results of this project, I will write future posts about it in this blog.

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 retirement, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as we age, 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.

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Photo credit: UCI Memory Lab, Etsy

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Stiff, Achy Joints? Soothe the Pain and Increase Your Mobility

Nearly every adult eventually reaches the point where they are going to experience some morning stiffness, or other aches and pains, especially in their joints.  It may start as an occasional sensation and eventually slip into chronic pain.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the pain and increase your mobility, so you can continue to lead a healthy, active livestyle.

Why Do Joints Get Stiff?

It is very normal to experience some pain and stiffness as you age, because your cartilage, a spongy material at the end of your bones, gradually begins to dry out and get stiff.   In addition, our bodies make less of a substance called synovial fluid, which is the lubricant which keeps our joints moving smoothly.  As a result, it is perfectly natural for us not to be able to move in the same way we did when we were in our teens.

Although you cannot turn back time, you can slow down the aging of your joints by continuing to move as much as possible.  The synovial fluid you have needs you to keep moving as much as you can in order to keep your joints lubricated.  That is why you are likely to feel particularly stiff in the morning, because you were probably moving very little while you slept.

You may also experience joint pain when the weather and barometric pressure in the air changes. It can feel especially severe just before a storm.

Health Conditions Which Cause Joint Problems

In additional to the natural stiffness we may experience from simple aging, we may also develop serious health problems which can make the pain and inflammation worse.  Examples are:

Learn more about knee braces here

Osteoarthritis (OA)
- This occurs when the cartilage begins to wear away, either because of aging or an injury to the joint.  Without the cartilage, the bones rub together and can cause tiny pieces of the bones to break off.  This can make the joint swell, as well as be stiff or painful.  Personally, I have found that it helps my knees when I wear a knee brace if I am going to be doing much walking.  Pictured here is one that I particularly like.  However, I have included a link to the entire Amazon page (Ad) for these braces, because they come in a wide variety of colors, style, brands and prices.  Check with your doctor to make sure these would be appropriate for your condition.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - This is an autoimmune disease which can cause your body to attack the lining (or synovium) of your joints.  It can show up anywhere in the body, but most often in the wrist or finger joints.  You may have seen people with oddly bent fingers, which are a common result of this disease.  It may cause constant pain, or only flare up occasionally.

Ankylosing spondylitis - This can affect your immune system, and cause pain in the spine, hips, hands or feet.

Gout - A build-up of uric acid in your body can result in intense pain, usually in your big toe.

Infectious arthritis - Sometimes called septic arthritis, this form of arthritis can start with an infection which spreads to a large joint, such as your hip.

Psoriatic Arthritis - This is a combination of the skin condition, psoriasis, and joint inflammation. In addition to stiff or throbbing joints in your hands, fingers, feet, knees and other joints, you may also have swollen fingers and severely pitted fingernails.  You might have it on one side of your body, or on both. 

Fibromyalgia - This health condition does not damage your joints the way arthritis does, but it can cause joint and muscle pain, as well as other problems.  It often starts after an illness, surgery or a period of severe stress, and causes people to feel pain more intensely.

Bursitis - This is an injury to the bursae, or fluid-filled sacs that are cushions between your bones.  Overuse or damage to the joint can cause pain in the bursae.

Tendinitis - This is when the tendons that attach muscles to your bones are injured from overuse, and can cause intense pain.

How to Relieve Pain in Your Joints

Regardless of the cause of your stiff, achy joints, there are treatments which can soothe the joints and ease your pain.  You will, of course, want to get a diagnosis from your physician.  You need to know exactly which condition is causing your pain, so it can be treated appropriately. Your physician will also put you on a treatment plan.  However, here are some common treatments which you can expect to receive.

The link to Arthritis Cure
Treating Osteoarthritis - With your doctor's permission, you may want to try over-the-counter pain medications.  In addition, your doctor may try some injections to help reduce the inflammation.  Physical therapy and weight loss can be useful, too.

You may also want to read the very helpful book, "The Arthritis Cure: The Medical Miracle That Can Halt, Reverse, and May Even Cure Osteoarthritis."  (Ad) It is a helpful guide to overcoming this common disease. 

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatment for this may begin with special medications from your doctor which can slow or stop the disease from continuing to damage the joints.  These medications are called DMARDs, which stands for Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs.  These drugs will attempt to reduce the inflammation in your body.  You can help the process by taking care of yourself. It is important that you eat healthy foods, get adequate rest, and continue to move as much as you can.

Treating Psoriatic Arthritis - These treatments will be similar to those for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it may be advisable to be treated by a specialist, because not all doctors are accustomed to treating psoriatic arthritis.  You could receive medications which may be administered by mouth, injections or infusions.  The goal is to reduce the swelling and inflammation in your joints.

Treating Fibromyalgia - Because this disease is poorly understood, there is no cure.  Over-the-counter pain medications may help with the pain, but your doctor may try other medications, depending on your range of symptoms.  Relaxation techniques or gentle stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi may also be useful. 

Home Treatments for Joint Pain

After seeing your physician, and finding out the exact cause of your arthritis or joint pain, you may also want to begin a personal regimen to improve your health and reduce your joint pain.  Here are some of the things you may want to try:

Exercise and Physical Therapy - In most cases, moving the joints will reduce the stiffness in your joints.  It will also help keep your bones strong, improve your balance and help you control your weight.  However, if you are not sure what exercises will be best for your particular type of joint pain, start by having a few sessions with a physical therapist. They can help you work the joint correctly.

Heat Therapy - This can be as simple as taking a hot shower or bath in the morning. The hot water will get blood flowing to your joints, and loosen them.  You can also try using a hot tub, purchasing a moist heating pad, (Ad) or warming a damp washcloth in the microwave for one minute and, when it is cool enough to handle, wrap it in a towel and cover the sore joint for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cold Therapy - You may want to alternate your heat therapy with cold therapy.  Purchase a cold pack (Ad) or even use a bag of frozen vegetables.  Wrap it in a towel to protect your skin, and don't leave it on for more than 20 minutes.  This does the opposite of the heat therapy.  It will slow the blood flow to the area and reduce the swelling.  

Talk to a Nutritionist - Some types of arthritis may benefit from weight loss, because you will be putting less stress and weight on the joint.  Other types of joint pain, such as gout, may be affected specifically what you eat, because certain foods will elevate your uric acid.  Once you are given dietary instructions for treating your joint pain, it will be up to you to make sure you follow it.

Try Alternative Therapies - Talk to your physician about seeing some alternative medical professionals such as an acupuncturist or a chiropractor.  They may be able to help reduce the inflammation in your joints.

When to See Your Doctor or Go to the Emergency Room

Most of the conditions mentioned above are chronic conditions which tend to develop slowly and are treated over a long period of time.  However, there may be urgent situations which require you to go to the emergency room or see a doctor immediately. Contact your doctor if:

You are in extreme pain;

Your pain is the result of an injury;

The joint looks deformed;

You cannot use your joint or it becomes especially hard to move;

The skin is red or warm to the touch;

The affected area of the body suddenly becomes swollen;

You are in severe discomfort for more than three days, and nothing you do seems to help.

Remember, the first place to start is with your personal physician.  You need to know the cause of your pain before it can be properly and effectively treated.  Different types of joint pain require different medications and treatment plans. Once you have a diagnosis, then you should work with your doctor to find ways to reduce your pain and inflammation.

You can find gifts for members of 12 Step groups, retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

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

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

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

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Photo credits: The Weather Channel, Amazon, and my Etsy Shop

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Alcohol and Your Aging Body - What to Watch Out For

Enjoy retirement, but don't overdo the drinking!
One side effect of the Covid pandemic has been changes in the amount of alcohol being consumed by senior citizens.  According to a study by the University of Michigan, about 14 percent of older Americans self-reported that they were drinking more, and about 27 percent said they were drinking less.  

In addition, the average person between the ages of 50 and 80 reported that they sometimes drink at least three or more drinks at one time.  This far exceeds the recommended limit of one small drink for women and two small drinks for men in a single day. For those people who have increased their alcohol consumption, or who admit they are drinking more than the recommended limit, what effect could this have on their health?

Senior Citizens Do Not Process Alcohol Well

Do you feel like you are more prone to hangovers today than in the past?  That is not surprising, because the older we are, the less we are able to process alcohol, and doctors estimate that the biological change begins at around age 50.

Your body has less muscle as you age, and because muscle stores more water than fat, you have less water in your body.  As a result, the alcohol you drink is not diluted as much as when you were in your twenties or thirties.  This means that if you are given a blood alcohol test by a police officer, you are more likely to have a high blood alcohol level.  

The reduced muscle in your body is not the only cause of a high blood alcohol level, however.  As you age, your stomach and liver do not produce as much of an alcohol-digesting enzyme called ADH.  Since women have less ADH than men to start with, they have an even harder time eliminating the alcohol from their system as they age.

We Have a Difficult Time Judging the Effect of Alcohol on Us

We may think that the alcohol we are drinking is not affecting us.  After all, we may not be drinking as much as we did 20 years ago, so there shouldn't be a problem.  Right?  And, we may tell ourselves that we feel just fine.  However, our self-assessment could be completely wrong.  Our perceptions are failing, along with our balance, our reflexes, our eyesight and our hearing.  

Because of our inability to judge our own sobriety, we may believe it is safe for us to drive, even when we are not really capable of safely handling a car.  (By the way, the same is true when we take certain medications.  We may believe our faculties and reflexes are not impaired, when they actually are.)

Alcohol Dehydrates Us, and We are Probably Already Dehydrated

Many older people already fail to consume enough water during the day, leaving them slightly dehydrated.  Try pinching the skin on the back of your hand for a couple of seconds, and then let go. The longer it takes to fall back into place, the more dehydrated you are.  This is a problem for senior citizens, even when we are sober.

Alcohol intensifies the dehydration in our body.  Even though we may think that the beer or cocktail we are consuming would help hydrate us, it really does the opposite.  The alcohol we drink is actually pulling water from our system, which is why you may experience that dry cottonmouth feeling in the morning.  

Notice how much more you urinate when you are drinking alcoholic beverages?  That urine is the water you are losing from your body. 

Too Much Alcohol May Speed Up Brain Aging

As long as you stick to one drink for women and two for men (and we're talking normal drink sizes, not supersize ones), then you are probably safe.  However, if you go beyond that amount, researchers have discovered there is a significant loss in the volume of the frontal cortex of the brain in heavy drinkers.  

What does the frontal cortex do?  It helps us control our impulsiveness and compulsive behavior.  So, the more we drink, the more our frontal cortex shrinks.  This makes it harder to control our impulsiveness and compulsive behavior, which causes us to drink more.  Our brain ages even faster.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

Too Much Alcohol Can Worsen Up to 200 Medical Conditions

We all know that alcohol can cause liver disease.  However, it can also worsen cancer, especially oral cancers.  It can raise your blood pressure (and you thought it would help you "relax.")  It increases your stroke risk, worsens diabetes, and is unhealthy for anyone dealing with an immune system disorder.

Excessive drinking can also make it harder to get good quality sleep.  You may initially fall asleep, but then wake up just a few hours later, disrupting your rest for the remainder of the night.  

Try Cutting Back on Your Drinking

While a small amount of alcohol probably will not harm most people, and a little beer or wine may even help your heart, it is important not to push the limits.  Try abstaining from alcohol for a while. If you feel better after a few weeks without alcohol, then this should tell you all you need to know.  

If you discover that it is almost impossible for you to cut back, and you definitely cannot abstain on your own, find a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.  There are thousands of men and women who have gone through the same thing, and they will be happy to help you.

Support Others When They Cut Back

One type of behavior that is common in problem drinkers is the tendency to push others to drink excessively.  How often have we all heard people push us to drink "One more for the road?" (Are they kidding?  On the road is the last place you should be if you have been drinking!)

Instead, it is far more thoughtful and considerate to encourage people who are trying to cut back, or totally eliminate alcohol, and to do what we can to help them stick with their program.  If they belong to a 12 Step Recovery Group, like Alcoholics Anonymous, they need to be encouraged to stay with it.  

Whether you belong to AA, or Alanon (an organization for the friends and families of problem drinkers) or you just want to encourage someone else, you may wish to send them a positive note or a gift to support their efforts. 

My husband has been in AA and I have been in Alanon for over 40 years, and we have made many friends there.  Those friends have encouraged us and helped us both through some rough times. When I started an Etsy store, one of the things I wanted to include in my shop was a selection of jewelry, gifts and notecards for our AA and Alanon friends.

You can find notecards and gifts for people in 12 Step Recovery groups. See my collection of AA & Alanon jewelryand gifts. 

The notecard shown here, with the photo of the surfer (which I took in Laguna Beach), has the message on the outside that says "Let Go and Let God."  Inside, the card is blank so you can write your own encouraging message.

Another way to encourage a member who is trying to stay sober or stick with their Alanon program is by celebrating things like their sobriety birthdays or Alanon anniversaries.  You can give members of AA program chips in honor of their years of sobriety, or women in a 12 Step recovery program might appreciate a t-shirt or tote bag.  You can find a variety of items on my Etsy store with other slogans such as "Just for Today," "Let Go and Let God" or "Serenity," all of which are thoughtful ways to encourage people in 12 Step programs.

The important thing to remember is that we all benefit when we encourage and support our friends and loved ones as they try to to stick with a 12 Step program, and any way you can do that is beneficial. 

You can shop for these and other items at my Etsy store at 

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

If you are interested in learning more about saving money, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Source:  Facts about alcohol and aging from the March 2022 AARP Bulletin.

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

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Photo credit:  My Etsy Store:

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Financial Considerations for Unretirement - Working After Retirement


Millions of retirees have decided to return to work within just a few years after retiring.  There are many reasons for this, including the high cost of living, inflation, and sometimes simple boredom.  They may return to the job they did before, or try something new.  They may go to work for someone else, or try their hand at self-employment.  Whatever they decide to do, there are some important financial considerations you need to think about anytime you increase your income during retirement.

According to a 2022 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 500,000 people over the age of 55 have re-entered the workforce in  the previous six months.  This represents a significant increase over similar periods of time in the past. A 2018 survey by the Rand Corporation revealed that about 40 percent of American workers over the age of 65, who were still employed, had previously retired at least once in the past!  Returning to work after retirement is a trend which has been increasing for some time.

The decision to return to work late in life can have an impact on your Social Security benefits, pension and tax-deferred retirement accounts and, possibly, your Medicare coverage.  What do you need to consider?

Benefits of Returning to Work after Retirement

There are, of course, a number of benefits to returning to work in your 60s and 70s.  The most obvious one is the increase in income, which can also help you stretch your retirement savings and make them last years longer.  In acknowledgement of this benefit, Congress passed the SECURE Act in 2019 which allowed seniors to push back the age when they must begin taking mandatory withdrawals from their tax deferred 401(k) and IRA plans.  Prior to the SECURE Act, retirees had to begin the required withdrawals at age 70 1/2.  Now they do not have to make the withdrawals until age 72.  This allows their savings to grow a little longer.

Working after retirement also has mental and emotional benefits.  Seniors who work later in life report that they feel a sense of purpose and are more socially connected.  There is also some evidence that working may also help improve their cognitive health.

If you are wondering what types of jobs work best for retirement, you may want to read "What Jobs To Do After Retirement."  (Ad) It is full of great suggestions to help you find the best retirement job for you. 

Cost of Starting Your Own Business 

As I discuss later in this post, you may also want to start your own business. Depending on your background, you might do some tutoring, become a bookkeeper for a local business, write a book, or get paid to coach a local children's soccer team. 

If you are creative, you might also want to sell your products online, including opening your own shop on a site like Etsy.  It will take some effort and computer skills but, if you are patient and willing to put in the time and initial investment in your products, it could be worthwhile for some retirees.  You will have some expenses if you decide to start a business, and you will have to be good at keeping tract of all your expenses, because many of them will be tax deductible. However, if you have some money to get started, and you are good at keeping records, this could be a good option for you. 

If you want to see an example of an Etsy store and get more ideas of what you could sell, check out my Etsy store at:

There are many ways you can earn money after retirement, either through paid employment, or by starting your own business. If you do, though, how could it affect you financially?

A Retirement Job Can Affect your Social Security Benefits

Depending on the age when you return to work, and the amount you earn, your post-retirement job could either increase or decrease the amount you receive in Social Security benefits.  

If your job enables you to postpone collecting your Social Security benefits for a few years, your benefits will be higher when you do begin to collect them.

On the other hand, if you are already receiving benefits when you go back to work and you are younger than your full retirement age of about 67, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over 18,960. The year you reach your full retirement age, the government will deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn over $50,520.  These limits are increased regularly, so the actual limit you have could be a little higher.  

Fortunately, once you reach your full retirement age, your earnings will not reduce your benefits, and you can earn as much as you want.  This issue only affects people who begin to collect Social Security in the years before they are eligible for full Social Security.  If you plan to keep working after retirement, this is a good reason NOT to collect your Social Security too soon.

Working Can Affect your Medicare Benefits

If your new job provides health coverage which is approved as your primary healthcare coverage, you can drop your Medicare plan and re-enroll at a future date without a penalty.  However, if you drop your Medicare plan and do not have acceptable employer coverage, you will have a financial penalty when you re-enroll in Medicare, and that penalty will last the rest of your life.  Make sure your new company plan is approved as an alternative to Medicare. Talk to the HR office at your firm, or discuss your situation with a Medicare broker.

In addition, if you drop your current Medigap supplemental insurance plan and later develop a preexisting condition, you may find it difficult to find an affordable Medigap plan later in life.  As a result, some people keep their Medicare plan, even when they are covered under an employer plan.  As I mentioned, it is advisable to speak with a licensed Medicare broker before you make any changes, so you protect yourself now and in the future.

A Retirement Job Can Affect your Pensions and 401(k) Plans

If you are collecting a pension from a former employer and go to work for a different employer, you can usually continue to collect your pension. However, if you receive a pension from a former employer and go back to work for the same employer, there could be some restrictions on working and receiving a pension at the same time.  You could have a waiting period, or might only be allowed to return to your former job part-time, if you want to continue to collect a pension while working. The employer may also suspend your pension temporarily while you work for them. You need to check these concerns out before making a decision to return to your old job. 

Despite these issues, the benefit of returning to work with a former employer is that you may be able to continue to add more contributions to your IRA or 401(k) plan, which will eventually increase what you receive in payments when you finally stop working for good.  

Ultimately, the decision to return to work is up to you.  There are definite benefits to working later in life, both mentally and socially, although you do have to be careful to avoid the pitfalls.  Discuss them with your financial advisors and make sure you take all the necessary precautions before making a final decision about returning to work.  

You may also want to get some ideas from the book "Working After Retirement: 69 Post-retirement Jobs That Can Change Your Life."  (Ad) You may discover some jobs you never even considered before, which could enable you to improve your retirement both financially and socially. 

Examples of Ways to Start Your Own Business

As many of you know, if you follow this Baby-Boomer-Retirement, I have written this blog as a "side-gig" since before I retired nine years ago, and I continue to earn a small income from the advertisements you see here.

However, I have also added a newer business which nearly anyone could do to enhance their income.  I have started an Etsy store, called DeborahDianGifts, with products I personally design, but have professionally manufactured and drop shipped to people who make a purchase. 

If you like to make or design things, whether it is jewelry or wooden cutting boards, you could also list you own creations for sale on Etsy.  

If making or designing products is not for you, some people prefer to resell items from their homes or local thrift stores on Ebay or Shopify. Others provide various services on Fiver, by offering to do things like create a webpage or design logos for you.  Having your own business comes with some responsibilities, but it also has the advantage of allowing you to work your own hours, while still supplementing your retirement income.

Details on this lovely Dolphin Tote Bag

This is an example of just one of well over 100 items I sell on my Etsy store. It is a tote bag I designed using an underwater photo of a mother dolphin with her baby.  There are many ways that people are earning money online but, as mentioned above, you have to run it like a business and keep track of your expenses and tax deductions.

You may discover that opening your own little shop is something you can do, too.  Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck in finding a retirement job or starting your own business. Just make sure you check out the financial impact as you embark on this new adventure. 

You can find more examples of tote bags, t-shirts, jewelry, framed photos, coffee mugs, gifts for retirees, LGBTQ clothing, and other products on my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts. 

Check it out at:

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Photo credits: Pixabay and Amazon book covers and DeborahDianGifts on Etsy