Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meet CSA Spotlight, Bert Schwartz


I became a CSA in 2012. My initial study was through the online portal, but after several attempts to clear my schedule in order to devote the full attention needed to review the course materials, I found the disruptions too overwhelming and re-scheduled the week long course in Northern Virginia. Taking the class in Virginia created an environment that allowed great camaraderie with fellow students and feedback in discussions from others with diverse backgrounds. This created interesting perceptions and points-of-view which added to the enrichment of the materials being presented. To say that the leaders of the CSA course were exceptional does not go far enough! The enthusiasm, the warmth and obvious desire to enlighten the class with their knowledge and experience was phenomenal. Although I have earned advanced degrees, the CSA course was without question the most enjoyable and invigorating educational experience that I ever had. The difference is probably due to the compassion that others have in their hearts to be there for others, but whatever the motivation, it is certainly worth the time and the effort. I have to say that I believe the entire class soaked up all of the information like a sponge. Finally, upon taking the exam, I left feeling that I had done well; and in fact, I did pass and earned the right to represent myself as a CSA.

My first career path was in manufacturing apparel and I followed that road for 21 years until the viability of producing apparel in the United States was not profitable. As I traveled to continue my work in the apparel industry, severe degenerative disc disease forced me to curtail traveling, and ultimately working at all. As I was now bent over 90 degrees from the waist and the breathing and moving period became increasingly difficult. I was fortunate to have a very talented orthopedic surgeon at The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who was able to ultimately perform a risky, but life changing procedure. On March 1, 2006 at 7:00 a.m., I was in surgery. After about a week or so I was able to stand up straight and look forward for the first time in almost 17 years! I had been sleeping in a recliner for three years prior to surgery but now that too could change. At some point during my surgery, or post-op in ICU, I had a vision of seeing myself healthy, physically fit and active, and leading a productive life - and that became my mission. When I was released to begin physical rehabilitation, I went after it like a mad man!

After 6 months of physical rehabilitation I was RWA (Ready, Willing & Able) to get back to work in the manufacturing business. For 18 months, I emailed resumes to companies in the industry and received responses like: “Thanks! We’ll be in touch.” I came to realize that this meant, “You’re too old and too expensive…and you have gray hair!” Ageism had never been in my vocabulary before but it finally hit me in the face. I was feeling too good at this point and was not about to let the world put me down as useless! I had some terrific post-operative care and some, well, not so well. This led me to reflect on my history of surgeries and recoveries.

The “Boomer” population is huge, we are turning age 65 at the rate of 10,000 people per day. It has become a topic in every media source. I decided to open my own business to help other people and knew that at my age starting from scratch would be very risky, capital intensive etc., so I looked to franchising and ultimately purchased a HOME HELPERS® and DIRECT LINK® franchise.

My mother had been living in Florida for the last 30 years and we were not able to see her as often as we would have liked. She had a full knee replacement at the age of 88 and a hip replacement at age 91! To say that she was a trooper is an understatement. She, like so many seniors, did not want to give up her independence. She persisted in attempting to perform ADL’s that were not safe for her condition. So, at the age of 92, she broke her other hip while trying to pick up a piece of Kleenex. She had been living with my brother since she was 90 years old and I asked for her to come to Pittsburgh to stay with me and my family after her recovery. My poor brother and his wife needed respite!

The experience that I had with my mother for the last months of her life was wonderful; beyond words to describe but also a confirmation that I had made a great decision to become involved in a business that helps other people and particularly, seniors. They have so much to share and to pass on to the younger generations

The second hip surgery was difficult for her and her recovery was not progressing as well as the first one. She had difficulty with walking, very little stamina and only of short durations. Incontinence became an issue of great embarrassment to her. I just tried to make light of it by reminding her that she used to change my diapers when I was little, and it was now my turn to return the favor! She didn’t really buy that, but she needed the assistance and so it was until she passed on January 26, 2013.

I had the confirming experience that caregivers need their time to mourn when a client/patient passes away. The care and attachment grows quickly and deep for the non-family caregiver just as the love for our own family member never fades. As a business owner, employing people to give care and compassion to our clients/patients is just as important to give that same care and compassion to our caregivers. That to me fulfills the mission!

Bert Schwartz, CSA
 
 
Bert was featured in the June 2014 Senior Spirit newsletter.
 
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Managing Digital Assets:A New Issue in Estate Planning

 Digital assets are online accounts containing credit, financial, and personal information stored on our computers and electronic devices. Adding them to estate planning is becoming more and more important.


Digital asset is a term that didn't exist ten years ago. It has grown over the last decade as consumers have flocked to the Internet for communicating, professional and job-related work, catching up with old friends, shopping, financial activity, and countless others. But as our online lives grow, it’s becoming increasingly important that our digital assets become a part of our estate plans. Without proper estate planning, they may not be transferred to your fiduciaries or loved ones when it becomes necessary. If no one knows your account names, passwords, or usernames, they may be lost.

The Internet offered us simplicity but as it has matured, it has become obvious that the simplicity and efficiencies it creates have birthed their own challenges.One of the biggest challenges is the development, and eventual management, of the digital asset. It has become clear that each account a user creates, whether it serves a lasting or fleeting purpose, becomes a digital asset that needs to be documented and managed.

What is a digital asset? Does it have tangible value or just sentimental value? Is it transferable? How do our heirs inherit it? These are all good questions and the answers are still elusive, especially as the federal and state legislation surrounding these assets is still very much in flux.

An asset must be owned or controlled to produce true value.Years ago, we stored letters and pictures in the hall closet. Nowadays, seeing the actual physical asset is much less common. We store emails electronically, photos are stored online, and family histories are locked up in the cloud somewhere. But that doesn’t mean we don’t own them. Each account has its own unique username and password. We control that account for as long as we live. We dictate what goes in and out. We own it, or as we will learn later, we mostly own it.

What Constitutes Value Online?

There are seven types of digital assets:

1. Sentimental. The sentimental favorite is likely Facebook, but there are others, like photo management services Flickr and Snapfish.

2. Valuable. Airline miles, credit card rewards, hotel points, and rental car rewards all have monetary value to the user. Bitcoins, though still an emerging currency, is also a digital asset with value.

3. Organizational. The online bill pay feature through your bank and credit-card accounts certainly qualify in this area. So does Evernote and many of the other note-taking websites.

4. Work and volunteer. Many volunteer websites like Rotary, ask members to create an online account to interact with charities and other volunteers. In addition, work-based websites like association forums and client relationship management (CRM) qualify.

5. Entertainment. Periodical subscriptions, online forums, gaming communities, and other sites dedicated to entertaining users.

6. Communication. Email is the way we communicate these days. Twitter may fit here or it may be developing its own category, but any site dedicated to communicating with others through an online account fits here.

7. Miscellaneous. This includes sites that are hard to categorize like Twitter. Is it communication, entertainment, work, or sentimental?

Organizing and Managing Digital Assets

A Microsoft study highlighted that consumers have on average twenty-six online accounts (Florencio and Herley 2007). While the number has likely increased over the last seven years, it’s unlikely it has doubled.

Most people are able to organize and manage their digital assets without much difficulty. However, with the number of online accounts each person has growing annually, it’s becoming as important to document your online accounts for yourself as it is for your heirs. Knowing where to turn and what’s there is a big benefit to those who will manage the estate and serves as a good annual reminder of your numerous accounts. Documenting the accounts is necessary but it is just as important for the account holder to have some way of passing the details of their digital assets to their executor or heirs. After all, documented assets are not beneficial if no one knows where to find the list.

The first step in organizing digital assets is to create an inventory or a list of what is currently ‘owned,’ or where the user has accounts.

Once a list of sites has been documented, it is important to write down or store the user names and passwords to those sites for the potential future use of the executor or power of attorney. This is the most difficult part because passwords change so often, and many websites are now doing a two-step verification process that either requires users to enter their usernames and passwords and then sends a six-digit verification number to their cell phone via a text message or asks the user a series of pre-determined key questions. If the cell phone owner is incapacitated or deceased, it’s wise to keep the cell phone active for a few months to insure access under these conditions. LinkedIn’s verification process is documented on their website: http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/aid/531/related/1.

An additional step that isn’t necessary for a user but could be very helpful to the users’ heirs is documenting the email address associated with the account, if an email address is not the username. In the all too common instance where the password is no longer active, it is good to be able to know how to reset the password. In most instances, resetting the password requires knowing the associated email account and some personal questions about the user, as websites seek to validate the account hasn’t been hacked by asking a series of personal questions that only the user can answer.

Finally, it is essential for the user to state the reasons why the website is important so heirs can determine when the website needs to be accessed. For instance, if a bank account is being listed for online bill pay, then it’s a good idea to explain the details of each bill. Or if listing an online forum where the user communicates with others, then highlighting the user names of key individuals within that forum could help heirs gather needed information or communicate with friends of the decedent. Each account has a purpose and the goal is to document the purpose so heirs can easily determine which accounts are important and which ones can wait. 

This last step is important—at least until there are reasonable legislative advancements. Users need to understand that, in most states, there are no laws on the books that govern how digital assets are treated after the user passes away. This allows websites to follow the strict privacy concerns in existing Federal legislation. 

If a user’s family can’t access an account during an emergency, then the website provider does NOT have to provide access—and oftentimes they will not unless legally challenged in court. This means that important information could be lost. 

Many providers like Facebook and iTunes allow you to download your account in a .zip file, which can be useful to back up important pictures, music, movies and more that the user has purchased or uploaded to the service. For that reason, downloading information or writing down what important information is stored online may seem like a redundant process, but it’s simply backing up your files, just in case. Or equally important if necessary, families may want to quickly get into accounts and download or backup all the important files in case the website provider locks the account.

What happens if the Asset Owner is Incapacitated? 

Users must agree to a list of Terms and Conditions and a Privacy Policy when they create an online account. They are typically included as separate check boxes indicating that the user agrees (“I Agree”). If the user chooses not to agree when attempting to create an account then an account is rarely created. The terms and conditions typically define the parties to the agreement and set the parameters for the business relationship.

Most websites explicitly state that users are not authorized to share their account details. Many go further by stating that the contract is not transferable to another user. In the event the user becomes incapacitated and not able to access his or her account, families will not be able to login to the user’s accounts. Further, neither a power of attorney nor an executor are typically given the login credentials if they contact a website to report the user is not able to login on their own. 

Furthermore, if the user has passed away and the executor starts to contact website providers asking for the username and password, the website provider will typically lock the account. This means whatever information is stored with the provider is out of reach without a legal challenge.

Federal and State Laws Regulating Digital Assets

Federal legislation. The prevailing federal laws that govern digital assets:—the Stored Communications Act of 1986 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 have both been amended on occasion over the last thirty years, but their frameworks are outdated because they use computer terminology based on how computers were used at that time. 

For example, The Stored Communications Act “regulates two types of providers: providers of electronic communication service (ECS) and providers of remote computing service (Kerr 2004).

According to the Legal Information Institute (2004), “Electronic communications service (ECS) is any service that provides to users the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications. Electronic storage means any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof and any storage of such communications,” and “any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for purposes of backup protection of such communication. 

Meanwhile, “remote computing service (RCS) means the provision to the public of computer storage or processing services by means of an electronic communication system.” And an “electronic communications system means any wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo optical or photo electronic facilities for the transmission of electronic equipment for the electrical storage of such communications (LLI 2004). You can quickly see that cloud computing could be seen as an electronic communications service or a remote computing service. Is there a need for differentiation anymore when it relates to personal assets?

State laws. Seven states have passed legislation regulating digital assets, including: Connecticut (2005), Indiana (2007), Rhode Island (2007), Oklahom (2010), Idaho (2011), Virginia (2013), Nevada (2013). 

This is great news, but it is complicated by the fact that each state has passed different legislation. Connecticut and Rhode Island passed very similar bills that only govern email accounts. Virginia passed legislation that only covers minors. The other four states have passed more comprehensive legislation, but they all have variations in the language they use. This poses a problem as consumers in the U.S. tend to move around a little and what prevails in one state may not prevail in another state.

Uniform Law Commission. In 2012, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) formed a group to work on the issue, and model legislation should be ready this summer for each state’s consideration. Unfortunately, the legislation is state-based, meaning that all fifty states will need to pass it—and preferably with little to no changes. 

The working group is being challenged on many different fronts, but it has developed a strong piece of legislation with some key features—for example, Fiduciary Access and Authority (2014), which states: 

“…any provision in a terms-of-service agreement that limits a fiduciary’s access to the digital assets of the account holder under this [act] is void as against the strong public policy of this state, unless the limitations of that provision are signed by the account holder separately from the other provisions of the terms of service agreement.” 

In essence, the committee has drafted language that will require website providers to allow access to a user’s fiduciary unless that access is explicitly denied outside of the terms and conditions. This means that users would have to opt out of providing their future fiduciaries access rather than automatically preventing them from having access simply by creating an account. It’s not a perfect solution; however, it’s a very good solution given the current framework. 

How Can Professionals Help Clients Prepare for the Impact of Their Digital Assets?

The current professional landscape has grown up as a result of baby boomers. Financial planning is a clear example of this. In the 1980s when income taxes were high, life insurance as an investment and tax shelters were important topics of conversation. In the 1990s, financial planners talked about 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, and 529 Plans as older adults started to focus more on retirement and college savings. In the 2000s, advisors now discuss long-term care and estate documents as many clients face caring for their parents. Today, digital assets are significant planning topics that need to be discussed. There is far too much important information out there to be left untouched. Many consumers don’t understand the significance of the issue nor do they understand the outdated legal landscape. 

Those of us old enough to remember life without computers know that very little is the same. Technology has moved with incredible speed to change the way we do things inventory and documenting what is important. Prepare them to share the details of the digital shoebox in order that they can be protected. Otherwise, a generation of memories and knowledge will go untold, and critical personal and financial information may be lost. •CSA


William Bissett, CFP®, is a wealth manager with Pinnacle Advisory Group in Columbia, Maryland,and the founder of Principled Heart (www.principledheart.com), an online tool for organizing your estate. He can be contacted at wbissett@pinnacleadvisory.com.

Managing Digital Assets: A New Issue in Estate Planning was recently published in the Spring 2014 edition of the CSA Journal.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors 
www.csa.us

Friday, July 18, 2014

Encore Careers: The New Paradigm of Work for Older Adults

Retirement today isn’t what it used to be. More and more older adults, including boomers, are choosing to work longer because they enjoy it, or are creating new careers and businesses during retirement.


Retirement as we know it is changing. Gone are the days when individuals worked for one organization for forty years until they were sixty-five years old, received a pension and a gold watch, had a retirement party, and then went off to the golf course. With the increased numbers of educated and experienced professionals retiring, both male and female, we are looking for new ways to use our skills and talents. Sarah’s scenario is just one example of how the working world is shifting to a new paradigm.

There was a time when Sarah Fields thought she would stop working after turning sixty-five. Having spent her career in the corporate world, she envisioned herself in retirement getting closer to her grandchildren, spending more time with her husband, and giving back to the community through civic involvement. Now that she is retired, Sarah has found the need to continue to use her skills and build her knowledge. She misses the feeling of accomplishment that came with her job and wants to find ways to challenge herself without spending forty to eighty hours a week working as she did during her climb up the corporate ladder. Sarah wants balance in her life and a connection with “meaningful work.” Is this possible for someone her age?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17.4 percent of people sixty-five and older were in the labor force in 2010, up from 12.9 percent in 2000. By 2020, the agency predicts, 22.6 percent of Americans over sixty-five will be working. Every day, ten thousand baby boomers turn sixty-five. As an aging industry professional, you know this statistic well! But do you know what is happening to older adults transitioning to retirement? A major shift in how they use their skills and talents is upon us.

The Paradigm Shift: What Is Happening With Work?
According to a 2010 study, “Working in Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon (Brown et al.),” working in retirement means different things to different people. Key findings from this study show aging workforce trends as follows:
  • One in five workers fifty and older has a retirement job today; 75 percent of workers aged fifty and older expect to have retirement jobs in the future.
  • People work in retirement for a variety of reasons, including the opportunity to earn more money for a comfortable retirement, and because they would be bored if they weren't working. 
  • Those working in retirement are highly satisfied and engaged in what they do.
  • Using a number of critical indicators of workplace effectiveness, those working in retirement rate their workplaces more positively than those who are not retired.
  • A significant number of employees transition to self-employment for their retirement jobs.
  • While those who are retired work fewer hours, on average, than those not yet retired, the majority of working retirees report working full time and wanting to work the same or more hours.
Although the majority of these findings may reflect traditional work, there are many retirees seeking new kinds of employment and fostering a career paradigm shift. Encore.org (formerly Civic Ventures, a respected resource for older adult career trends and methods), states as many as nine million Americans have moved into second or third acts and are inventing a new stage of work. They are moving beyond midlife careers, yet refusing to fade out or fade away. They are searching for a calling in the second half of life, crafting encore careers that combine not only continued income but the chance to do work that means something. Encore.org defines encore careers as those that combine “continued income, personal meaning, and social impact.” (http://www.encore.org/learn). Older workers are shifting their goals from maximizing their income in the for-profit world to building a strong legacy in the nonprofit world. 

“Many older adults are seeking more meaningful occupations later in life,” says career/life coach Margaret Newhouse, M.A.T., a pioneer in the field of “third-age life crafting,” and founder of the Life Planning Network. At a time when life’s traditional goals have been reached—children are grown, mortgages are paid, career duties have lessened, and the pressures of worldly accomplishment have receded—there is more flexibility for people to explore what else life has to offer, and what they can offer of themselves. “You have more freedom in an actual sense,” Newhouse adds. “But more importantly, I think, is a psychological freedom that comes with age—having a greater perspective on what’s important in life and a willingness to just be that person—without regard to what other people think. For many, there is a newfound spiritual element involved. You’re likely to be much less egoistic.” (Brown 2011).

Most encore career job opportunities seem to fall into five categories: education, health care, the environment, government, and the nonprofit world. While the job market is still very tight, there are jobs in these fields now, and new research shows that there will be millions of encore job opportunities in these fields in the near future (www.encore.org/work/top5). 

Why is this Paradigm Shift Happening?

Research suggests the decision to continue working may not be exclusively about financial need. Well-educated workers are more likely to delay retirement than less-educated workers, and labor force participation rates have risen primarily for older Americans who are college educated and in the highest income groups. While some of these people are undoubtedly working for financial reasons, for others the decision to continue seems to be voluntary.

There are many social, emotional, and psychological benefits that come from work. Although these benefits have always existed, they are more relevant to today’s senior workers. As people live longer and stay healthier, many are now able to choose when to retire. In addition, as the number of boomers living farther apart from each other in the suburbs increases, many are turning to work to find the social connection that their small, tight-knit communities previously provided. Stanford Center on Longevity Senior Research Fellow, Martha Deevy, defines the following five factors as attractive to older adults considering working longer (Deevy 2013):

1. Working helps avoid social isolation and keeps them connected to their communities. This is particularly beneficial for people who live far from their friends and families and would otherwise spend a lot of time alone.

2. Working gives meaning to their lives. Staying employed gives seniors the opportunity to make and achieve goals, receive recognition for their efforts, and work as part of a team. 

3. Working allows them to use their knowledge and experience. Many older people have spent years developing their talents and honing their skills, making them well-positioned to meet the needs of employers. 

4. Working helps older people stay physically and mentally healthy. Although it’s true that healthy people are more likely to work longer, working longer also can lead to better health. A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (www.crr.bc.edu) found that working longer actually reduces a person’s chances of reporting fair or poor health. This may be because working gives older people a reason to take care of themselves.

5. Working is a source of pleasure. One recent study noted that 89 percent of older workers said they enjoyed their jobs. Understandably, they do not want to give up this source of contentment. 

Finding Meaningful Work: Methods and Resources

If you were Sarah, how would you go about finding meaningful work at this time in your life? The first line of action in looking for work often includes going to the unemployment office, interviewing with an employment agency, or perhaps building a network of professionals to help explore opportunities. 

However, before heading out to find new opportunities, individuals should start with some self-analysis. Marc Freedman, author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life (2007), tells people like Sarah to first ask themselves some basic questions:
  • How would you like to spend the next five, ten, or twenty years? 
  • What community, national, or global problems motivate you to act? 
  • How much income do you need to earn? 
  • Do you want to stay in the same field or explore something new? 
  • Do you want to start your own organization or work for an existing one?
  • Are you willing and able to go back to school or get other training?
Freedman continues by guiding older adults through the process of identifying themselves as either a Career Recycler, where they build on their expertise, a Career Changer, where they thrive on the uncertainty and excitement of trying something fresh, or a Career Maker, where they take a lifelong interest and parlay it into a job that helps others. Further self-analysis may include thinking about their own motivation and what makes them happy or what experience they have that makes them an asset. 

Rather than committing to a new career, older adults should consider part-time work or internships as they explore this new world. Often one of the advantages of finding a new career is having more time and financial freedom to explore. To get started, they should speak with people in their target field, and volunteer for a place they admire before they make the leap. Marc Freedman states, “Experimenting in your fifties prepares you psychologically for a new chapter rather than being blindsided if your career ends suddenly or you’re too consumed to think about it.” 

There are many national models supporting the transition of older adults into new careers. Encore fellowship programs can now be found in fifteen states and the District of Columbia. Last year, for example, Intel began underwriting a $25,000 stipend for its soon-to-retire employees who wanted to transition into social service. Some cities are gaining encore-friendly reputations. San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis, and Boston have partnered with local businesses and organizations to explore how to employ retiring boomers (www.encore.org).

Should training be necessary to enter a new career as an older adult, communities, universities, and community colleges are providing training and retraining for paid and volunteer work. Eighty-eight schools that are part of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative offer six-month to two-year certificates and degree programs for older students. One successful community model defined in the Plus 50 Initiative, “Boomers Leading Change in Health” (BLCIH), in the Denver area, helps those age fifty-plus test drive the health care field. Since the program launched in 2010, more than four hundred boomers have taken some training (http://blcih.org). 

Additional resources include examples such as Life Reimagined, a new AARP initiative designed to help people explore what’s next in their lives. Created in collaboration with experts in personal development, aging and social change, the program features resources, tools, coaching services and ways to connect with like-minded people. In addition, Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, offers more than fifty different career pointers for the semi-retired worker who might want to become anything from an adult education instructor to an executive recruiter to a mediator to a franchisee (Collamer 2013). 

Older Entrepreneurs Growing in Numbers 

As adult professionals seek new work opportunities, many are finding a desire to become entrepreneurs. The tough employment market is facilitating this direction for millions of Americans in their forties, fifties, and sixties. 

A study funded by MetLife Foundation and conducted in collaboration with Civic Ventures, finds the Although the majority of these findings may reflect traditional work, there are many retirees seeking new kinds of employment and fostering a career paradigm shift. following results from a telephone survey conducted with one thousand Americans ages forty-four to seventy, and a follow-up online survey of four hundred potential entrepreneurs (Berland 2011).
  • Approximately twenty-five million people—one in four Americans forty-four to seventy—are interested in starting businesses or nonprofit ventures in the next five to ten years. 
  • More than twelve million of these aspiring entrepreneurs (48 percent) want to be encore entrepreneurs, making a positive social impact as well as a living. 
  • Most potential encore entrepreneurs (72 percent) expect to create local, small organizations employing up to ten people. 
  • Research shows that potential encore entrepreneurs are daunted by the economic risk in starting ventures now, but half are still eager to move forward. 
  • Nearly six in ten (58 percent) say the current economic crisis makes them more likely to start their own businesses or nonprofit ventures. 
  • More than half (54 percent) say they are “very likely” to start their ventures within the next five to ten years. 
  • Just under half (47 percent) of encore entrepreneurs believe they would not be able to obtain adequate financing. The same percentage (47 percent) expect to tap their personal savings to launch their ventures. 
  • About half (52 percent) say they have delayed launching their ventures because they do not feel secure enough financially right now. 
The findings reinforce consistent research from the Kauffman Foundation (www.kauffman.org), which shows that for eleven of the fifteen years between 1996 and 2010, Americans between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-four had the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity of any age group. 

What makes these older entrepreneurs unique in comparison with their younger counterparts? There appears to be multiple contributing factors. One factor is defined by University of Chicago economist, David Galenson, Ph.D. Galenson recently conducted a quantitative study of artistic greatness. His findings appear in his Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity, where the results show that genius clusters into two categories. Conceptual geniuses tend to do their best work while
young, producing breakthrough ideas early in their careers. However, experimental geniuses need a long period of time to reach their peak, moving forward by trial and error, slowly accumulating the elements that will be integrated into their fully realized work. Thus, experimental geniuses blossom much older (Galenson 2007). 

Another factor, previously discussed, focuses on the older adult’s desire to give back. Later entrepreneurship often crosses paths with the later-life trend. Research shows that half of those who want to become midlife entrepreneurs—more than twelve million people ages forty-four to seventy—also want to meet community needs or solve a critical social problem at the same time (Freedman 2012). 

Barbara Sadick, on Senior Planet: Aging with Attitude, an online information and resource center developed in New York City, defines the following list of resources for older adult entrepreneurs (Sadick 2012).
  • 50+ Entrepreneurs: Launched in spring 2012, this AARP-SBA partnership offers a host of resources and tools for people considering starting a business including a self-evaluation test and courses such as “Introduction to Starting Your Own Business.” 
  • Entrepreneurship Works: The nonprofit organization’s site is designed to help people fifty and up build sustainable businesses. 
  • Take Command: This nonprofit’s financial advice is for anyone who’s thinking about starting a new business specifically for older workers— including an article on the risks involved in second-career startups. 
  • Second Act Entrepreneur: This site for older workers has a section devoted to entrepreneurship. Articles include topics such as some of the newer models for starting a business, including crowdfunding. 
  • “Senior Entrepreneurship: How to Tap a Lifetime of Experience into Business Success.” (Sadick 2012). This Small Business Administration article discusses five things you should consider as you start a business later in life. 
  • The Older Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success: Entrepreneur.com has four big tips for success in this article.
New Expectations

As a result of this shift to the new “meaningful work” paradigm, those who are transitioning in the workforce have a variety of exciting directions to choose from for their next career. They should start by doing a self-evaluation to determine what motivates them, how much they need to earn, and are they willing and able to start their own business or go back to school for additional training. Once completed, they should seek out resources to help them explore further. If they get the “entrepreneurial bug,” they have a variety of guides and sources to help them move forward. 

In addition, as a society we have a tremendous opportunity to tap into these professionals looking to give back to our communities. Consider the benefits if we would mine the mountains of expertise found in our older population, as business owners, contractors, volunteers, or advocates for their peers! There are a growing number of programs across the country facilitating methods to utilize the tremendous expertise of retirees in order to strengthen communities as well as address resource limits and societal challenges. The
new expectation of older adults is in its infancy. Helping these individuals find meaningful work is a valuable first step. •CSA

Erika T. Walker, MBA, MSeD, CSA, is owner and CEO of SAGE WAVE Consulting, LLC, in Gainesville, Georgia. She conducts strategic planning with businesses and communities across the country, helping them to prepare for the growing aging population. With over twenty-five years of experience, she has served as Director of the SAGE Institute and Director of Geriatrics at Greenville Hospital System. She may be contacted at 678-971-4778, etwalker2@charter.net, or at www.sagewave.net.

Encore Careers: The New Paradigm of Work for Older Adults was recently published in the Spring 2014 edition of the CSA Journal.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors 
www.csa.us

Monday, July 14, 2014

Understanding Vision Problems: Types, Treatments, and Prevention


Protecting and caring for our eyes is critical to our health and well-being. Poor vision affects everything we do, and can be a serious detriment to the healthy lifestyle
of older adults.
  
Baby boomers are more physically active than any previous generation, and a key component to maintaining a physical lifestyle is vision care. Untreated vision loss can affect independence in that it can inhibit activities like driving a car and the ability to perform activities of daily living. Poor vision in older adults has been linked to isolation, depression, and social withdrawal (Pelletier, Thomas, and Shaw 2009). In fact, vision loss is among the top ten causes of disability among adults, even beating out stroke as a cause (Centers for Disease Control 2011). Eye problems can strike at any age, but the occurrence of certain eye conditions increases with age. Although 3 percent of the U.S. population are visually impaired or blind, about 14 percent of those who are sixty-five and older and 23 percent of those who are eighty-five and older report vision problems (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics 2012). The most common eye problems among older adults are presbyopia, cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

Presbyopia

The first eye issue that people in their early forties tend to notice is difficulty reading up close. Even if individuals have never had vision problems before, they are still susceptible to presbyopia. Among those forty-one to sixty-five, for example, presbyopia or difficulty in seeing up close, is the most common vision problem that affects almost everyone (American Optometric Association 2013). Presbyopia is part of a natural aging process that is caused by hardening of the lenses of the eyes. When the lenses become inflexible, the eyes have a hard time focusing on objects, thus creating the need for corrective lenses. Symptoms include the inability to focus up close, holding reading materials farther away than usual, eye strain or fatigue, and headaches. (Mayo Clinic 2011; U.S. National Library of Medicine 2012). Treatment for presbyopia typically involves either non-prescription glasses or prescription glasses or contacts. Many patients will either elect for or need corrective surgery (Mayo Clinic 2011).

Cataracts

Another common eye problem associated with age is cataracts. It is so common that over half of people over eighty either have cataracts or have had surgery to remove them (National Eye Institute 2009). Over time, proteins may build up under the lens of the eye as part of the natural aging process. When this happens, problems such as cloudiness in areas of the field of vision, reduced ability to see color contrast, and/or sensitivity to glare may occur (American Academy of Ophthalmology 2014; Mayo Clinic 2013). Cataracts may even make it appear as though there is a halo around bright lights or headlamps (National Eye Institute 2009). Cataracts may form in one or both eyes and some people may have no symptoms at all. Eventually, cataracts have to be treated with surgery if vision is affected to the point of disrupting enjoyable activities or independence. This is the most common surgery performed in the U.S. and it’s a relatively easy out-patient procedure with a good prognosis (approximately 90 percent of patients report better vision following the surgery) and fast recovery (American Optometric Association 2014; Mayo Clinic 2013). Others who do not require surgery may be able to correct some of the symptoms with prescription glasses, sunglasses that reduce glare, or using brighter lights when reading or working (National Eye Institute 2009). The risks of surgery as well as the benefits should be discussed with an eye care professional.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when there is damage to the nerve that is responsible for sending visual information from the eye to the brain. This damage occurs when the normal process of regulating eye pressure through fluid creation and drainage becomes irregular (American Academy of Ophthalmology 2014). When the fluid fails to properly drain, pressure builds up in the eye, causing vision problems that include blindness. Although glaucoma tends to be age-related (those sixty and older are more susceptible), it affects certain groups more than others. For example, Mexican Americans and African Americans who are over the age of forty are more likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma (National Eye Institute 2014). Those who have had trauma to the eye or inflammation of the eye, have used certain types of steroids for a long period of time, have had a tumor, or who have diabetes are at risk of developing “secondary glaucoma,” which is distinguished from other types only by its cause (American Academy of Ophthalmology 2014). Glaucoma is sometimes referred to as the “silent thief ” because there are often no warning signs until permanent damage to the eye has already been done. When symptoms do appear, they may include things like severe brow pain, headache, blurred vision, nausea, or spots in peripheral vision (American Academy of Ophthalmology 2014). Eye drops that reduce the pressure in the eye is the most common treatment for glaucoma, although surgery is sometimes needed.

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that causes a breakdown of the retina, which leads to a decline in central vision and the ability to see fine detail. The disease is the most common eye problem for those fifty-five and older (Foundation Fighting Blindness 2012). Age-related macular degeneration has two types—dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration occurs when fat and protein deposits accumulate in the retina. Dry is the most common form of macular degeneration affecting approximately 90 percent of those with the disease. Wet is less common and progresses rapidly due to abnormal blood vessels that leak and damage the retina (Foundation Fighting Blindness 2012). Symptoms of both may include seeing a curvy or distorted line when looking at a straight line or blurriness in the central line of focus.

Diabetes and Vision Problems

People with diabetes are more likely than other groups to develop eye problems, with 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts and 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma. Age and how long a person has had diabetes increases these risks. Diabetics are also at risk for diabetic retinopathy, a group of conditions that affect the retina and vision. People with this disorder are unlikely to notice any symptoms until their vision is permanently affected. Treatment involves laser surgery and when caught early, has a good prognosis (American Diabetes Association 2013).

Preventing Vision Loss 

The vision problems described increase with age. However, that does not mean that they have to lead to vision loss and thus, a change in lifestyle or independence. Many are either preventable or treatable. Below are some recommendations that professionals who work with older adults can give their older clients.

Comprehensive Exams

The key to avoiding vision loss is annual, comprehensive eye exams by a qualified eye care professional (American Optometric Association 2014; Centers for Disease Control 2012). Eye care professionals vary by their level of education and training and by the services that they provide.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (M.D.) or osteopathic doctors (D.O.) who have specialized  training in eye and vision care. They are trained to diagnose and treat all eye diseases and conditions, prescribe medications, and perform eye surgery. They also perform comprehensive eye exams, and prescribe glasses or contact lenses.


Optometrists have earned a Doctorate in Optometry (O.D.) They perform comprehensive eye exams, diagnose and treat eyes for both vision an health problems, and prescribe corrective lenses. The scope of care they can provide is determined by state law.

Opticians are technicians who are trained to design and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, and contact lenses, using prescriptions from opthalmologists or optometrists. Opticians have at least a high school diploma (or the equivalent).

Although comprehensive exams can be performed either by an optometrist or by an ophthalmologist, the American Optometric Association (2011) recommends seeing an ophthalmologist by the age of forty to detect vision problems. Although Medicare does not cover comprehensive eye exams, Medicare Part B does cover some preventive and diagnostic services such as a yearly eye exam, and glaucoma and macular degeneration tests (http://www.medicare.gov/coverage/eye-exams.html). (Medicare 2014.)

During the visit, patients should discuss their family history of eye problems because certain conditions are hereditary.

Lifestyle and Diet

Other vision-saving tips include lifestyle and diet changes. When outdoors or playing sports, wear protective eyewear such as ultraviolet ray blocking sunglasses and sports goggles to avoid eye injuries and vision loss. Including more fruits and vegetables (especially green, leafy vegetables) in a healthy diet and managing weight and blood sugar can help reduce the risk of eye disease. Finally, do not smoke. Smoking is related to macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye disease (American Optometric Association 2014; Centers for Disease Control 2012).

Knowing the different types of eye problems, their symptoms, and above all—prevention—can help maintain healthy aging. And seeing the right eye care professional at the right time is critical. CSAs are in prime position to help their clients identify possible eye problems and to recommend professional and preventative care. •CSA

 


Lori Moore, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at Florida State University’s Claude Pepper Center. Her research interests include healthy aging and long-term care settings. She has published in peerreviewed journals and presented her research at several academic conferences. She can be reached at ldmoore@fsu.edu.

Understanding Vision Problems: Types, Treatments, and Prevention was recently published in the Spring 2014 edition of the CSA Journal.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors 
www.csa.us

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Booming Dynamics of Aging: Meeting the Challenge of the Emerging Senior Majority

The U.S. population is aging rapidly, led by baby boomers who will hit fifty this year. By 2056, for the first time in history, the United States’ population sixty-five and older will outnumber those eighteen and under. The ramifications will be significant.


Very soon seventy-eight million baby boomers will become the new “Senior Majority.” This demographic phenomenon presents significant challenges for our nation. It also represents tremendous opportunities for Certified Senior Advisors (CSAs).

A Global and National Phenomenon
Each day, ten thousand people turn sixty-five. These celebrations will continue daily for the next twenty years. By 2056, for the first time in history, the United States’ population sixty-five and older will outnumberthose eighteen and under.

Our older population is aging. The oldest-old (eighty years and older) is the fastest growing segment of our population. The eighty-five years and older population is expected to increase to 14.1 million in 2040, and by 2050, nineteen million. Is our country ready for this? In a word, no, and we are not alone.

This demographic phenomenon is not happening only in the United States. By mid-century, approximately 25 percent of the world’s population will be sixty and older. By 2050, nearly 17 percent of the global population will be sixty-five and older, twice what we have today.

Boomers: The Emerging Senior Majority
Born between 1946 and 1964, the first wave of American boomers began turning sixty-five in 2011. The youngest of this group will start turning fifty this year. By 2030, all of the boomers will have moved into the ranks of the older population. By 2060, the youngest baby boomers will be ninety-six years old.

Just as they have throughout their lives, boomers have a range of expectations that are having a dramatic effect on every aspect of life in America—from health care to long-term care to housing, finances, employment, business development, technology, communications, retirement and relaxation, and more.

What Does All This Mean for CSAs?
CSAs are in the right place at the right time to help the new senior majority.” With some strategic planning, CSAs can, and should, become the “go-to” experts in their communities for people looking for help and advice as they plan for their own or their loved ones’ later years.

 The role of CSAs is broad and includes: 
  • an understanding of future challenges created by a demographic shift never before experienced;
  • consideration of thoughtful, creative, and cost-effective solutions at the individual and business levels; 
  • uniquely defining and marketing skills to understand and best serve clients and community.
The issues that concern today and tomorrow’s older adults and their families are numerous and multifaceted. The challenges are not going to disappear. They will multiply and become more complex as boomers age. The work that CSAs do is vital and critical to the well-being of older adults. The boomer cohort and all the challenges that accompany them are opportunities for CSAs to use their skills. The services CSAs provide are extremely important, especially now.


How Do We Address Future Challenges? 
It has been nearly ten years since the White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) of 2005. At that decennial event, policymakers and delegates addressed key issues on which our nation needed to focus for the next ten years, in order to be better prepared for a dynamic, new aging population. A key message from the WHCoA, “Don’t get caught off guard,” still applies today. For better or worse, many of the issues that were discussed then continue to be with us, some becoming more critical and time sensitive.

The challenges our country faces require tough decision making and innovative solutions. Take, for example, the convergence of aging baby boomers with the state of our economy: They have begun to draw on their savings, their pensions, their Social Security, and Medicare. Many have also continued to remain in the workforce. Entitlement programs will continue to be under great pressure. Our country is not ready for this.

Who will pay for our major federal entitlement programs? Medicare and Medicaid, long-term care, and Social Security will expand exponentially in the future.

By 2025, Medicare is projected to include more than seventy-three million beneficiaries (50 percent greater than today). Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are more than $38 trillion over the next seventy-five years.That translates to an amount over $325,000 owed by every household in the United States. Some believe that is a low estimate.

The 2013 Medicare Trustees report acknowledged that slower growth in health care cost has improved Medicare’s financial outlook, extending the trust fund to last until 2026, two years later than forecast in 2012. But the long-range projections do not support a positive outlook for seniors and taxpayers.

Today, more than sixty-one million people receive some form of Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to soar to ninety million, with an accompanying shortfall of $134 trillion over the next seventy-five years. If no changes are made in the Social Security retirement program, benefits will be about 30 percent less in 2033.


Federal entitlement programs were never meant to be the sole sources of financial security in retirement. Boomers have been called the largest, healthiest, and most affluent generation of all time. More than three-fourths of the nation’s wealth is currently owned by people fifty and older. Yet, they are not saving enough for their longer lives. For example: 
  • Twenty-five percent of boomers have no retirement savings; 
  • Half of American workers have less than $10,000 for retirement; 
  • Total savings and investments for 60 percent of American workers are less than $25,000.

Long-Term Care 
Most of us are unprepared for long-term care. At any given moment, any one of us—or a family member, friend, or neighbor—could need long-term care. The demand is expected to increase almost two fold by 2020.

Medicaid is a means-tested Federal/State program, and the primary provider of long-term care services for older adults. Costs continue to rise, and States are reviewing their programs to determine the best approaches for the future.

Many boomers are shocked to learn that the median cost of a private room in a nursing home in 2012 was $81,030, according to the 2012 Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey. The median monthly cost of assisted living in 2012 was $3,300. These are staggering figures to many, especially those who have not planned ahead or saved enough to finance their own long-term care needs as they age.

Our present delivery system is fragmented and frustrating. If we were to take inventory of all the federal programs that are currently being used for any form of long-term care, whether institutional, homebased or community care, our list would look like amaze.

How do we get boomers to buy into the reality that they need to be more focused on their long-term care needs in the future? How do we ensure they are not “caught off guard?”

Aging in Place
Eighty percent of boomers say they want to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible as they age.

We must develop a well-coordinated system to ensure that people who want and are able to age in place can do so successfully. If you develop a chronic health condition, like diabetes, arthritis, or Alzheimer’s disease, aging in place means more than just staying put. You need a place to live that fits your needs and abilities. If driving becomes more difficult, you may need to access a range of paid services, including caregivers, or use extra funds for home modifications that can extend the time you can live at home.

Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place.

Caregiving
For most of our history, the family has been the major provider of care. In many cases, this support has allowed seniors to remain at home longer. One in four families (13 percent of the population) is involved in caregiving of family, neighbor, or friend, with some boomers caring for both children and parents. Most become caregivers because of a crisis, and the great majority of those caregivers are not prepared for what that entails.

About forty-two million Americans were unpaid caregivers who provided $450 billion worth of care to adult relatives and friends in 2009. This is care for which we as a nation would otherwise have had to pay. Caregivers need our support. At any point in time, anyone could become a caregiver. Would you be ready for this? Would you be able to advise your client about caregiving?

CSAs Leading the Way
CSAs should be considering how best to develop solutions and incorporate additional knowledge into their own business plans. CSAs should be ready for the senior majority to help them to not “get caught off guard” for challenges that may lie ahead. The questions CSAs should ask themselves are:
  • How can you become that go-to person in your community?
  • How do you earn—and keep—your clients’ faithand trust?
  • What sets you apart from other individuals who advise older adults?
How will seniors access information about services? Who will coordinate the needs of future “seasoned citizens?” CSAs might consider thinking of their business as a “hub” working with all the spokes. Consider your business becoming the go-to place, a fully integrated service that presents information and potential solutions for your clients and your communities.

Our challenges as a nation and as individuals need to be addressed sooner rather than later. All of us hope to remain active members of our families and communities as we age. With the proper tools and knowledge, CSAs can help build a positive future as leaders of the emerging “Senior Majority.” Don’t get caught off guard! After all, the future is us. •CSA
 


Dorcas R. Hardy, former Commissioner of Social Security, is the Principal of DRHardy & Associates, a government relations and public policy firm serving a diverse portfolio of clients in the health services, disability insurance, financial and association industries. She serves on the board of the new Home Care Standards Bureau and chairs the National Advisory Board of Early Bird Alert, Inc., a healthcare communications technology firm. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of Wright Investors Service Mutual Funds, and is appointed by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Social Security Advisory Board, and by the Governor of Virginia to the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington. Contact her at 540-972-1552.

The Booming Dynamics of Aging: Meeting the Challenge of the Emerging Senior Majority was recently published in the Spring 2014 edition of the CSA Journal.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors 
www.csa.us

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bone Up on Facts about Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis can lead to debilitating fractures, chronic pain and the inability to perform everyday activities, including walking, maintaining your household and even dressing and bathing. Fortunately, with the right diet, exercise, supplements or medication, you can either prevent osteoporosis or lessen the effects.


Osteoporosis is more than deteriorating and weak bones. It can lead to debilitating fractures, chronic pain and the inability to perform everyday actions, including walking, maintaining your household and even dressing and bathing. Those who suffer from it can testify:

“I have had three vertabrae fractures in the last two years. I’m still in considerable pain and cannot do the simplest of tasks. Vacuuming, window cleaning or anything to do with lifting, even a casserole dish, brings on severe pain. I went a whole year in severe pain, could not do much, struggled at work. . . . I could not open heavy doors, open filing cabinets, open car doors, etc., but tried to continue working. I’m part time, so on days off, I just collapsed and rested. It totally changes your life, and I don't think people really understand it. . . . I’m only 58 but feel like a very very old lady” (from the community forums of the National Osteoporosis Foundation).

Osteoporosis causes bones to gradually thin and weaken, leaving them susceptible to fractures. In the United States, the condition causes about 2 million fractures each year (figures from the National Osteoporosis Foundation). Although the condition affects all bones, those in the spine, hip and wrist are most vulnerable. Many osteoporosis fractures—about 300,000 every year—are hip fractures, which, in the elderly, can be particularly dangerous because immobility during the healing process can lead to blood clots or pneumonia, both of which can be fatal. 

In addition, 1 in 4 hip-fracture patients over 50 die within a year after the fracture, often from related complications such as a pulmonary embolism or pneumonia. Plus, 1 in 5 of those who could care for themselves prior to the broken bone requires nursing home care afterward. Only one-third of patients with hip fractures return to their previous levels of functioning. 

Mostly Women Affected 

Women are more susceptible than men. Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about 8 million are women. Approximately 1 in 2 women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. A woman's risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

Women are more vulnerable to osteoporosis because they have smaller, thinner bones than men and because the estrogen hormone decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. 

Women who are at higher risk for developing bone loss are thin or have a small frame, smoke, drink more than moderately, live a sedentary lifestyle, have a family history of hip fracture, have had their ovaries removed and are Caucasian or Asian. 

Although women are more susceptible, men are not immune to the condition. Up to 1 in 4 men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. In fact, men older than 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer. Each year, roughly 80,000 men will break a hip. As a result of problems related to the break, men are more likely than women to die within a year after breaking a hip. 

Many of the factors that put women at risk for osteoporosis apply to men, as well as low testosterone levels. 

Causes of Osteoporosis 

Although the exact cause of osteoporosis is unknown, the process starts early in life when bone is continuously replaced. Bone loss—where bone breaks down faster than it builds up—usually begins somewhere in your mid-30s. When bones begin to lose calcium—the mineral that makes them hard—faster than they can replace it, the bones begin to thin. 

For women, bone density loss speeds up during the first five to seven years after menopause, caused by a sharp decline in the body's production of estrogen, which scientists believe helps keep calcium in the bones. 

The good news is that the right diet, exercise, supplements or medication can help prevent osteoporosis or lessen its effects. If you haven’t yet been diagnosed with osteoporosis, have your doctor order a bone density test, which shows the amount of bone in the hip, spine or other bones. Doctors routinely recommend this test for men age 50 and older and postmenopausal women. 

Eating the Right Foods 

The two most important nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D (National Osteoporosis Foundation). Each day, we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces, but our bodies cannot produce new calcium. When we don’t get enough calcium for our body’s needs, our bones must provide it, leading to low bone density and even broken bones. 

Experts recommend a well-balanced diet with plenty of dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables. The foods with the most calcium are:
  • Dairy products such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Canned sardines and salmon (with bones)
  • Green vegetables, including collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens and broccoli
For seniors who are lactose-intolerant, many plant-based whole foods contain calcium. They include tofu, tapioca, collard greens figs, white beans, spinach, almonds and sesame seeds.

To maintain healthy bones, experts recommend limiting the intake of sodium and alcohol, or avoiding them all together. 

The best foods for vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Calcium and vitamin D are sometimes added to juices, breakfast foods, soy milk, rice milk, cereals, snacks and breads. If you’re not getting enough calcium and vitamin D from food, you can take supplements. In particular, it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D without using supplements (see sidebar). 

Exercise for Bone Health

 Exercise not only prevents osteoporosis by strengthening bones but can also help maintain bone mass if you already have osteoporosis. Through exercise, you build and maintain your bones’ thickness (bone mass density). Before beginning any exercise program, talk to your doctor. This is especially important if you know you have bone loss or osteoporosis. 

WebMD recommends three types of exercise for osteoporosis: 

Weight-bearing: Exercises that support your body’s weight include walking, hiking, dancing and stair climbing. Walking as little as three to five miles a week can help build bone health. 

Resistance: Working against the weight of another object strengthens muscle and builds bone. This type of exercise includes free weights or weight machines, resistance tubing and water exercises. For best results, do resistance exercises two or three times a week. You can make the exercise more challenging by gradually adding weight or repetitions. Work different muscle groups, including arms, chest, shoulders, legs, stomach, and back, but allow for recovery by avoiding resistance training on the same muscle group two days in a row. 

Flexibility: Having flexible joints helps prevent injury. To flex joints and elongate muscles, stretch regularly or do t'ai chi or yoga. 

Drug Therapies 

Although estrogen was once considered the standard osteoporosis treatment for postmenopausal women, new options are now available for men and women who are wary of estrogen's risks, such as breast cancer. Most osteoporosis medications slow down the rate at which the body reabsorbs bone, and one drug can help the body make new bone (from University of Maryland Medical Center). Your doctor can advise you about which of the following medications may be right for you.
  • Bisphosphonates, including alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel) and zoledronic acid (Reclast), are a class of drugs that has been shown to boost bone density, slow or stop bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. Patients must take medications first thing in the morning before eating and stand upright for at least 30 minutes. The exception is Reclast, which patients receive intravenously (IV) once a year.
  • Raloxifene (Evista) has estrogen-like effects on bone (prevents bone loss) but does not increase the risk for breast cancer.
  • Calcitonin (Miacalcin) does not improve bone density as well as the bisphosphonates do, but it does slow bone loss, reduce spinal fractures and ease pain associated with bone fractures. This option is an alternative for women who cannot take estrogen or bisphosphonates.
  • Parathyroid hormone (Forteo), an injectable medication, can increase bone production when used in low doses.
Sources“Learn about Osteoporosis,” National Osteoporosis Foundation“Osteoporosis,” University of Maryland Medical Center“Understanding Osteoporosis — the Basics,” WebMd.


Bone Up on Facts about Osteoporosis was featured in the  June 2014 Senior Spirit newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors