Friday, September 15, 2023

Book Review: "The 60-Something Crisis - How to Live an Extraordinary Life in Retirement"


Link to: "The 60-Something Crisis"
If you are a Baby-Boomer who is retired or near retirement, you may be wondering, "What's next?"  You have probably done what you can to assure your financial security, and made decisions about when to collect your Social Security, what type of Medicare plan you intend to use, and how to begin using withdrawals from your retirement savings.  However, what you may not have considered is what to do with the decades of life you may have left.

Most healthy, active Baby Boomers are not content to sit at home, putter in their gardens, watch soap operas on TV, or crochet doilies for their sofa arms ... activities which once occupied the time of our elderly grandparents.  We want to pursue lives which engage us, and make us feel as if we are getting the most out of the final decades of our life.  But, how do we do that?

One way to find the guidance you need to navigate the final quarter of your life is to read the inspiring book, "The 60-Something Crisis - How to Live an Extraordinary Life in Retirement." It will help you to realize that reaching retirement is not the end of the useful part of your life.  Indeed, it may be the very beginning of a period of time during which you could be your most productive and/or create the most amazing memories. 

The author, Barbara Pagano, points out very early in the book that the vast majority of people today feel healthy and energetic when they reach their 60's.  People our age still get exercise, wear Fitbits and Apple watches, go dancing, play golf or tennis and, best of all, many of us still look pretty good.  Many of us are also health conscious, watching our weight and what we eat. 

However, once we reach our mid-70s, research shows that our happiness often begins to drop off.  The incidence of suicide and loneliness increases at this age.  We may have regrets, especially regrets about not having achieved our dreams and aspirations.

Is there a way to re-write this script and change the outcome of this final period of life?  Yes!

"The 60-Something Crisis" is a Different Kind of Retirement Book

As you read this book, you will begin to evaluate your retirement years in a different light ... a much healthier, happier approach.  First, you will redefine what it means to work in retirement.  The author points out in the first section that retirement is a major disrupter in your life.  It can be a time of disappointment and frustration, unless we change our current path, and choose a better one.

The second section of the book discusses how you can find a future that is truly your own.  Here are the important topics discussed in this section:

Geography of Place - What place makes you happy?  This could be the time in your life when you should move there, wherever that may be. Some couples even pull up roots and embrace a nomadic lifestyle together. This is the time to enjoy the places and lifestyle which make you happy, now that you are no longer tied to living out your remaining years in the same place you have always lived.

Yield - While there are many definitions of yield, in this context it is described as "our beacon of triumph leading us to meaning and well-intentioned living."  Whatever work you choose to do in your remaining years, it must offer a "yield" or return in value.  This would include getting "fair pay for your value, control of your time, and a chance for creativity." We all want to feel that there is a value to the way we are spending our time during this part of our lives.

Freedom - Barbara Pagano describes this as "fiercely owning your life."  This is your opportunity to pursue activities which you consider important.  If doing this makes your life feel new, she emphasizes that "to feel the newness of life after 50 or 60 years of living is extraordinary."

Kinship - Ms. Pagano asks in this chapter, "Are friends and family more important than eating kale?"  The answer is a resounding "yes."  It is very important that you do not become socially isolated as you age.  While a huge number of people in their 80s and 90s live alone, it is more important than ever to find ways to lead active social lives, even if you prefer to live alone.

What's Next in Your Retirement?

The last part of the book emphasizes how important it is NOT to squander your last decades of life.  If you want to know how to get the most out of your final 25 years, reading this book is a good place to start.  It will open your eyes to all the possibilities you still have left in your life!

As I read this book, I analyzed how I might apply it to my life, since I am now in my mid-70s and certainly do NOT feel depressed or dissatisfied. Why is that?

Details about this: Framed Surfer Photo
Applying this Book to My Life

It would not be fair to recommend this book to others, if I was unwilling to share how I have applied these principals myself.

Personally, reviewing this book has also made me happy that I have been writing this blog since I was in my early 60s, and have now added an Etsy store to my online activities, which is another way for me to be creative, earn extra money, and have the freedom to work when and where I want.  I have learned that there is no reason to allow myself to be bored during the final decades of my life.  I want to embrace my life, my family, and my friendships as much as possible!  

I have used my life experiences to create a line of jewelry engraved with a variety of inspirational words and slogans. I also spend hours nearly every week at our local Southern California beaches and similar locations, and have used some of the photos I have taken to create unique products on my Etsy store, DeborahDianGifts. What fun I have taking photos and arranging to have them printed on framed posters, t-shirts, coffee mugs and a host of other items.  I'm living in a part of the country which makes me happy, doing things I enjoy.

I am benefiting in all the ways the book recommends, including enjoying the geography of a place I love, getting a yield from it, having freedom, and even finding kinship with the people who walk with me and work with me on my different pursuits.  As Barbara Pagano suggests, I feel like I'm living "an extraordinary life!"  

I encourage you to read this book and begin to examine your life and improve the quality of your retirement years.  If I can do it, you can, too!

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

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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Know Stroke Symptoms and Causes - Save Lives and Prevent Disabilities

During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Gerald Ford began to show the signs of having a stroke on national television. While people around the world watched in horror, his face began to droop and he was obviously having difficulty.  He was 87 at the time.  However, even people who are much younger can unexpectedly suffer from a stroke.  In 2012, the ABC - Los Angeles weather forecaster Bri Winkler woke up feeling numb on the entire right side of her body.  She didn't know it at the time, but she was having a stroke.  She was only 24 years old.

Everyone, regardless of age, should know the signs, symptoms and causes of strokes.  This is especially true if you are over the age of 65, or have someone in that age group in your family.  Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability among seniors, and preventing strokes in this population is crucial for maintaining their health and independence. There are several risk factors for stroke that are more common in seniors, including hypertension, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation. By understanding these risk factors and taking steps to manage them, seniors can reduce their risk of stroke and improve their overall health.

Risk Factors for Strokes

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for stroke. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 75% of strokes are caused by hypertension. Seniors are particularly at risk for hypertension, as the risk of developing this condition increases with age. To prevent hypertension and the risk of stroke, seniors should have their blood pressure checked regularly and take steps to manage it, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and taking medications as prescribed.  However, as the examples above show, everyone should monitor their blood pressure periodically and make sure they are staying within healthy guidelines according to their doctor. 

Diabetes is another risk factor for stroke in seniors. People with diabetes are more likely to develop hypertension and heart disease, which increases their risk of stroke. Additionally, diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke. To prevent diabetes and the risk of stroke, seniors should maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, and get regular exercise. If they have diabetes, they should also closely manage their blood sugar levels and take medications as prescribed.

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is another major risk factor for stroke in seniors. AFib is a type of irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of blood clots forming in the heart. These clots can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke. According to the American College of Cardiology, seniors with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than those without AFib. To prevent AFib and the risk of stroke, seniors should have regular check-ups with their healthcare provider, manage other risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes, and take medications as prescribed.

How to Lower Your Stroke Risk

In addition to managing these risk factors, seniors can also take steps to prevent stroke by making lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking can all reduce the risk of stroke. According to the American Heart Association, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can reduce the risk of stroke. Additionally, getting regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.

Signs of a Stroke

Finally, seniors should be aware of the signs of a stroke and know what to do if they or someone they know is experiencing symptoms. The acronym FAST can help people remember the signs of a stroke:

F - Face drooping: Is one side of the face drooping or numb? 
A - Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? 
S - Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or hard to understand? 
T - Time to call 911: If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately. 

It is important to get treatment quickly.  If you do, there is a good chance that the effects of a stroke can be minimized and the person will be able to get back on their feet much more quickly.

Stroke is a serious health condition that can have a significant impact on seniors' lives, but by understanding the risk factors and taking steps to prevent stroke, seniors can improve their overall health and reduce their risk of experiencing a stroke. Managing hypertension, diabetes, and AFib, making lifestyle changes, and being aware of the signs of a stroke are all important steps in preventing stroke in seniors.

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Learn to Take It Easy

You may also find that you can help reduce your blood pressure and learn to relax if you occasionally decide to take it easy!  Take a walk in the outdoors.  Spend time looking at nature.  Breath deeply.

Read for entertainment.  Spend some time in the sun, although not so much that you increase your risk of skin cancer!

You may also find that it helps you to spend time near a large body of water ... the ocean, a lake, or fishing on a river.

In other word, focus on your serenity and peace of mind.  You can find simple items, such as jewelry shown here, to help you remember the importance of learning to take it easy by checking out 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 aging from the June 2022 AARP Bulletin.

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

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References:American Heart Association. (2021). High Blood Pressure. Retrieved from

American College of Cardiology. (2021). Atrial Fibrillation. Retrieved from

American Heart Association. (2021). Stroke Prevention

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Best Age to Claim Your Social Security - A Few Things to Consider

During the Covid pandemic, many people were forced into retirement earlier than they had planned.  The same situation often happens to people at other time, such as when they become seriously ill, or they need to retire to care for a family member or deal with other problems.  Unfortunately, when people take their Social Security benefits early, this decision will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives. However, in a crisis such as an international pandemic, a job loss, or a medical crisis, most of us have to do whatever we can to survive.

Fortunately, most people are able to wait and collect their Social Security benefits when they think they are financially prepared for retirement. Since people can begin to collect their Social Security retirement at any time between ages 62 and 70, what is the best age? Below are a few issues to consider.

Should You Collect Before Your Full Retirement Age?

As mentioned before, in a crisis you should claim your benefits if it is truly a matter of being able to pay your rent, buy groceries and survive. In addition, if you have a terminal illness and do not expect to live more than a few more years, then collecting early makes sense.  In these situations, many people claim their benefits as early as age 62, or may claim them just a couple of years early, such as at age 64.

However, if you claim your benefits before your full retirement age of about 66 or 67, your income will be reduced by as much as 30% every month for the remainder of your life, especially if you begin collecting benefits at age 62!  If you are able to postpone claiming your benefits for a couple of years, it could benefit you substantially in the future.

If you want to estimate the exact amount you will lose by collecting early, here is an explanation from - the website for the Social Security Administration:

"In the case of early retirement, a benefit is reduced 5/9 of one percent for each month before normal retirement age, up to 36 months. If the number of months exceeds 36, then the benefit is further reduced 5/12 of one percent per month.

For example, if the number of reduction months is 60 (the maximum number for retirement at 62 when normal retirement age is 67), then the benefit is reduced by 30 percent. This maximum reduction is calculated as 36 months times 5/9 of 1 percent plus 24 months times 5/12 of 1 percent."

As a result of this substantial reduction in your retirement benefits, you need to think carefully if you are considering collecting your benefits before your full retirement age. 

Should You Collect Social Security at Your Full Retirement Age?

In general, most people should wait AT LEAST until their full retirement age of 66 or 67. By age 65, you will be eligible for Medicare, which reduces the cost of medical insurance for many people. 

The government estimates that if you expect to live until age 82 years and 6 months or less, you are better off starting to collect your Social Security benefits at your full retirement age.

Should You Wait Until Age 70 to Collect Your Social Security Benefits?

Many retirees will be better off if they can postpone their retirement until after their full retirement age, up to age 70. This is because about one-quarter of men and one-third of women will live until they are 90 years old or older

If you believe you will live longer than age 82 1/2, then you are better off waiting to collect until age 70, because your benefits will increase by 8% a year for each year after 66 or 67 that you defer collecting your benefits. If you are healthy in your late 60s and have a family history of long-lived relatives, you will probably be better off waiting to collect your Social Security benefits until you are 70.

How Does Your Decision Affect a Dependent Spouse?

The longer you wait to collect your Social Security, the better off a dependent spouse will be, as well. This is because they can collect an amount equal to 50% of your benefits when they reach their own full retirement age and, if you die before they do, they can get their benefits increased to an amount equal to your full benefits, as long as they wait until their full retirement age before they begin to collect. 

If your spouse had low earnings during their lifetime, this could make a significant difference in their later years. As a result, waiting until age 70 will not only benefit you financially, but also your dependent spouse. Therefore, even if you do not expect to live past 82 1/2, but you believe your spouse will, it may still be a thoughtful decision to postpone collecting your Social Security benefits as long as possible.

Here's an example of how this would work.

Let's say you would receive $2,000 a month if you collect at age 67, but would collect around $2,500 a month if you wait and collect your benefits at age 70.

Your dependent spouse who waits to claim their benefits at age 67 would be able to collect $1,000 a month if you start collecting at age 67, but they would be able to collect around $1,250 if you wait to collect at age 70.

If you collect your benefits at age 67, your benefits as a couple would be around $3,000 a month.  If you collect at age 70, and your spouse waits until at least age 67, your benefits as a couple would be around $3,750.  If you die before your spouse, they would be able to collect $2,500 a month rather than $2,000.  

These are round numbers, because your actual amount would be based on your lifetime earnings plus the annual cost-of-living increases.  However, you can see from that example that waiting as long as possible before you retire could make a substantial difference in your quality of life as you age.

Speak to a Financial Planner

Before you make a final decision about when to collect your Social Security benefits, discuss your options with your financial planner. They can help you decide if you would be better off financially by living off your retirement savings for a couple of years, if necessary, in order to postpone collecting your Social Security. Many financial planners have computer programs which will calculate your various options, help you predict your longevity, and assist you in planning your long-term financial situation regardless of how long you live.  You want to be well informed before you make a final decision.

While people who have a traditional retirement IRA will be required to take a RMD, or Required Minimum Distribution, in their 70s, they are NOT required to spend that money.  You can remove the money from your IRA and reinvest it for as long as possible, so that you continue to build your assets until you absolutely need to use them.

You Might Need a Side-Gig

Many retirees are picking up small part-time jobs or side-gigs to help them get through their retirement years, while minimizing how much money they need to draw from their retirement savings. Doing something like this can bring you peace-of-mind so you worry less about running out of money when you are near the end of your life.  

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As many of the readers of this blog know, I have set up an Etsy store as a fun way to help others and supplement my own retirement income.  One example is the lovely anniversary necklace you can see shown here.

You can even have the message on the card inside the gift box personalized with whatever message you would like to share with a loved one.

 You can check it out at:

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

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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Writing a Eulogy for a Loved One: What to Say and How to Say it

Last year, my father died of Covid, approximately three years after my mother had died from Alzheimer's Disease. They were both cremated and interred together at a Veteran's Cemetery. My sister asked me to write a eulogy for my father, but also wanted me to mention our mother, even though we held a separate memorial service for her when she died.  Since our parents had been married for 70 years and were virtually inseparable during their lives, it felt natural to talk about them both in my father's eulogy. 

I had never written a eulogy, so I turned first to Google, which provided a few general tips. Then I asked my friends for help.  They were a gold mine!  One thing I discovered was that a great many people have had to write a eulogy for a friend or family member.  The tips they gave me were very helpful and saved me a lot of frustration and confusion.  After finishing the eulogy for my Dad, it became obvious that many other people would appreciate a little guidance in the process, too.

How to Write a Eulogy

Ask various family members for stories to include.  Everyone has different memories of the person who passed away, so it will be helpful to collect a variety of stories to share. Include the memories of some of the younger members of the family, especially if they had a special connection to a grandparent or a favorite aunt or uncle. Their parents may be able to help with that.  Do not forget to jot down your own memories, too. Remember that you represent the family, so you want to share as many of their memories as possible, as well as your own.

Organize the memories into some type of pattern. You may want to write it in chronological order, or it could be separated into categories, such as the memories of the children, then grandchildren, then various friends or co-workers.  You may be able to get some ideas on what to say about the person by reading "The Book of Eulogies." (Ad) It contains famous eulogies which might inspire you. 

Avoid Negative Statements.  Over the years, I have attended a few funerals where some pretty surprising statements were made.  At one, the daughter of the woman who died said, "There's not much I can say about my mother, except she did keep us fed and clothed when we were children."  At another funeral, the wife of the deceased man said, "My husband was not that easy to live with."  Although I certainly remember those funerals, perhaps it would have been better for the speakers to say those things privately, not at not at a public ceremony! 

Introduce yourself. Start the eulogy with a positive comment about the deceased.  Then, introduce yourself and thank the people who came to the funeral. Here is how I began the eulogy for my father:

"If a man's wealth can be measured by the number of people who loved him and enjoyed being around him, then our father was a very wealthy man. I am his daughter, Deborah, and my sister Pamela and I really appreciate all of you who came here today to honor the memory of our father."

You could also start with a quote or a quick memory about your father, and then follow with your introduction.  Some people who knew the deceased may be strangers to the person giving the eulogy, and would like to know how you are connected.

Keep it positive and somewhat light-hearted. Fill the remainder of the eulogy with as many positive, happy stories about the deceased as you have time to share. Make sure you include a variety of memories from everyone who shared a story with you, so no one feels as if they were left out. Below are a few clips from the eulogy I wrote for my father:

"My parents loved to dance and enjoyed getting dressed up to go to a party.  I even gave Mom a pink poodle skirt that belonged to my daughters for her to wear to a 50's party."

"Dad helped his grandchildren search for 'gold' on the beach, but only told them later that he had given them Fool's Gold." 

"On another occasion, he removed his dentures that held his two front teeth and told his grandchildren that a fish had grabbed them. Later, when he put his dentures back in, he told his grandchildren that he had caught the fish and got his teeth back."

"Dad was a great storyteller. He loved to tell us about the time Mom was learning to drive, and drove a friend's car right through the front window of a bakery!"

I'm sure that everyone in your family will have some funny stories or quotes about each deceased member of your family, too!

If the deceased was in the military, had a career which was important to them, or they were active in a religious, charitable, or community organization, mention these connections.  In my father's eulogy, I spoke about his years of service in the military, as well as the decades he spent working for the Veteran's Administration.  I also shared how proud he was of his contributions to the military and the VA, as well as some of the humorous stories he had told us about his experiences.

End with a fond memory of the deceased.  Because my parents loved to dance, I ended by saying, "I will forever think of them as dancing together in the afterlife."  However, everyone should end their eulogy with a statement that is in keeping with their religious beliefs, as well as something important which describes the person who has passed away.  

If you are still struggling with how to arrange the eulogy, or what to write, you may find it helpful to get the "Eulogy Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Write an Unforgettable Eulogy."  (Ad)

Once you have written your first draft, share it with the family. Have several family members read the eulogy to make sure you have captured the stories and memories in the way they intended.  Do not be surprised if they suggest changes to help the stories fit their memories.

Ask for editing help.  No matter how well you think you write, it can be very helpful to have someone else check your grammar, punctuation, and the way your stories are written.  This person should not know the deceased, so they can focus on how you wrote the eulogy, not on what you wrote.  It is easy to miss mistakes in our own writing, so having a friend edit it can be very helpful.

Make a printed copy of the eulogy. You can print it on one sheet of pretty paper, or create a bi-fold brochure, similar to a church bulletin.  You might even choose to add a picture of the deceased. Do it yourself on your home computer, or ask a friend to help you. 

Your finished eulogy may be longer than you have time to share at the funeral or memorial service.  Decide whether you are going to be the main speaker at a church service, or if you are giving the eulogy to a minister or another person to read aloud. That will affect how you word the eulogy. 

On the other hand, you might use the eulogy as the basis for a brief statement you make at a graveside service.  In that case, you can give the full, typed eulogy to the guests, and just share some of the highlights verbally, to cut the length of time people need to stand outside.  Everyone can still enjoy reading the full eulogy in their own time.  Later, you can also mail copies of the eulogy to family members and close friends who were unable to attend the funeral. 

Although this can be a very stressful time for you and the family of the deceased, try to leave them with a feeling of comfort and warmth.  They may not remember everything you say that day, but will appreciate having a written copy to read and re-read in the months to come.

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You may also wish to purchase an appropriate item of religious jewelry to wear at the funeral or memorial service for your loved one.  You can find such items at my Etsy store, including the pendant shown here.

If you wish to give an item of jewelry as a gift, you can also have the message inside the box personalized to fit the situation.

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

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

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

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

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Photo credits: Google images and my Etsy Store