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Friday, May 28, 2021

9 Steps To Drastically Improve Heart Health

Hearts can be kept healthy at every age by adopting a few simple habits.

Try More Than One Kind of Workout Every Month

People who did at least two different types of exercise in a month are more likely to achieve their workout goals, according to a study from the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Adults should get 150-300 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75-150 minutes per week of intense physical activity. 

“Since a greater variety of activities was associated with meeting exercise guidelines, mixing up your workouts to vary the type of exercise could be beneficial,” according to Susan Malone, study author and assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.  Popular study workouts included walking, bicycling, dance, treadmill walking and running and weightlifting.

One easy way to start adding variety in your workout routine is finding new exercises on YouTube.  Just enter “healthy heart exercises” for thousands of videos. You can add a time limit, such as 30 minutes, to meet a goal, or specify “beginner” or “legs” to find a level and focus body area. YouTube is also a great spot to learn meditation. Just type in “beginner meditation for seniors” and you’ll have plenty to choose from. 

Did you know that the majority of deaths (84%) of people age 65 and above are from heart dis-ease? Most of those are due to coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition responsible for heart attacks, heart failure, chest pain and irregular heartbeat (also known as arrhythmia). The risk of heart disease gets higher with age, but it’s not an inevitable fact of later years. In fact, there’s plenty you can do to keep your heart healthy.

You may have to change some habits, but it’s worth it to protect your heart muscle. And you don’t have to turn into a paragon of virtue; keeping good habits most of the time (slipping back once in a while) will do wonders for your heart health. 

  1. Eat foods that are good to your heart. Consuming lots of vegetables and whole fruits (not juices) are a great start. Eat lean protein, such as nuts, chicken, fish, tofu or whole grains. A Mediterranean diet that incorporates olive oil is a good choice.
  2. No smoking. Quitting smoking not only improves heart health but decreases the risk of stroke, cancer and lung disease. It’s hard, and many people are not successful on their first attempt. Don’t feel discouraged; try these proven methods to help kick the habit
  3. Rest up. A lack of sleep increases your chance for heart disease. Take a nap, or make sure you get a good nights’ rest. You may need to modify when you go to bed or the room you sleep in. Try these tricks for getting more sleep.   
  4. Relax. It’s easier said than done, but curbing anxiety can provide a host of benefits. Make time for relaxation: set aside 15 or 20 minutes for meditating, reading, doing a crossword, woodworking or any activity that takes you away from the news, emails and texts. Learn how to meditate for many benefits, including heart health.  
  5. Move. Your body wasn’t made to sit in a chair all day long, and your heart health reflects that. Get at least 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, taking the stairs, yoga, golf, dance or cycling. One tip is to find a parking spot far away from the store to incorporate more walking into your day. 
  6. Have a healthy weight. Most of us struggle with this one. After all, a juicy cheeseburger costs less than a salad at many places. But if you make better choices most of the time, that’s enough to drastically improve your health. And if you think you can walk off a milkshake, think again. The biggest effect on your weight is what you eat, not how much you work out (unless, of course, you’re training for a triathlon or the Senior Olympics!). The good news is that even a small loss of 5 lbs. has big benefits.
  7. Know your numbers. “People should know their numbers,” says Jorge Plutzky, director of preventive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston. “That means knowing your blood pressure, knowing your cholesterol, especially your bad cholesterol level, and knowing your glucose levels.” The LDL, or bad cholesterol, number is the most predictive of heart attack and stroke. It should be less than 100, or less than 70 if you’ve had a previous cardiovascular issue. 
  8. Cut back on alcohol. Drinking excessively can increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, arrhythmia and high cholesterol, all of which contribute to heart disease. Some studies suggest it’s okay for women to have one drink a day, while men can have two. But new research suggests lower or no alcohol consumption may be best.
  9. Take your medicine. Nobody likes to take pills, but if your health care professional has prescribed drugs (such as medicine to lower cholesterol and blood pressure) for you, it’s important to take them regularly. 


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical decisions before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, May 24, 2021

Powers of Attorney, Explained

Most of us don’t know what powers of attorney are until we need them. But we should all have at least one so decisions don’t need to be made on the fly — or by the courts.

When my father died, I suddenly needed to get power of attorney to handle my mother’s affairs. Dad had always handled the finances, and Mom didn’t know much beyond where they kept the key to the safe deposit box. This occurred when I was taking time off work to sort, wrap and move a lifetime of belongings from my parents’ large home in Texas to my smaller house many hundreds of miles away. Luckily, my mother’s dementia was in its early stages and she was of sound enough mind to sign the document, both in Texas before we left (I needed it to make some financial moves for her) and again in the state where I reside. 

How to Protect Yourself

The following advice for protecting yourself against POA abuse comes from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • Trust, but verify. Only appoint someone you really trust and make sure they know your wishes and preferences. You can require in your POA that your agent regularly report to another person on the financial transactions he or she makes on your behalf.
  • Tell other friends, family members and financial advisers about your POA so they can look out for you.
  • Remember that POA designations are not written in stone — you can change them. If you decide that your agent isn’t the best person to handle your finances, you can revoke (cancel) your POA.
  • Beware of someone who wants to help you out by handling your finances and be your new “best friend.” If an offer of help seems too good to be true, it probably is.

When selecting a POA, you should carefully weigh the benefit of choosing a family member, friend, or a third-party agent (such as an attorney or financial professional).

Conservator or Guardian?

If you fail to have a POA (and in other circumstances) and become unable to handle your own financial affairs, the court can appoint a steward for you. This is most often known as conservatorship, while guardianship usually (but not always) refers to the steward for a child. A conservator may be responsible for the individual, their property or both. However, the terms for these duties vary substantially by state, and some states only use one term. What doesn’t vary is the expense, which can be substantial. Also, what the steward decides, goes, regardless of what the person he or she is acting for may want. 

I was also fortunate to have supportive siblings who did not question my every move. When someone can no longer make decisions, it can get messy quickly if there are disagreements over who should have power of attorney, or what actions that person is taking. Worse, is if someone becomes incapacitated without a financial power of attorney, the courts may appoint a conservator to make decisions. This is a lengthy and expensive legal proceeding over which your family will have no control. Everyone, even a healthy 18-year-old, should have a durable financial power of attorney in effect.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a document that gives an agent the right to act on behalf of someone else. Five different types grant varying levels of authority. It’s important to note that the POA is by state. If you have POA for your uncle in North Carolina and he moves to Florida, the POA is invalid. Some states require annual recertification. Also, POAs die with the person. If you have POA for Aunt Caroline and she passes away, you no longer have any legal right to handle her financial or other affairs, unless granted in a will. Finally, Social Security is a federal, not a state, program. As such, it does not recognize POAs. You must become a representative payee to handle Social Security on behalf of someone else.

The five types of POA offer different types of protection.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) vs. Non-Durable Power of Attorney.  Unless stated otherwise, a POA becomes effective immediately after it is signed (and notarized). If it is durable, the agent will continue to have authority to make decisions even if you become incapacitated, such as by having dementia or going into a coma. If it is a non-durable POA, it simply means that the agent loses authority if you become incapacitated. As we said above, all POAs end with the person’s death. The person can also rescind a POA with a revocation form, as long as he or she is competent. Most of the POAs listed below can be made durable.
  2. Medical Power of Attorney.  Also known as an advance directive, a medical power of attorney allows an agent to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. These include surgical procedures, organ donation, choice of health care facilities and a broad range of medical treatment. Your agent will also make sure health providers carry out wishes you have specified in your do not resuscitate (DNR) form or living will.
  3. General Power of Attorney.  A general POA grants broad powers. The agent can make decisions for you regarding business, financial, legal matters and real estate. Your agent will be able to pay bills, enter into contracts, buy or sell property and manage banking. Because it is so extensive in nature, it is usually used for a short period, such as when you will be traveling extensively where you cannot be reached.
  4. Limited, or Special, Power of Attorney.  This gives an agent the power to act on your behalf just like a general POA, but it its limited to specific purposes. You may elect to grant someone the power to cash checks for you, for example, but not access or otherwise manage your finances. It’s possible to create any number of limited POAs for different agents. They will expire once a specific task is done, or at the time specified on the document.
  5. Springing, or Conditional, Power of Attorney.  This type of POA only goes into effect in the event of a medical condition (usually incapacitation) or other trigger specified in the POA. A soldier might create a springing power of attorney that is only in effect when he or she is deployed overseas. It can end when the person becomes incapacitated or at a specified date. As with every type of POA, it will also end upon death.

When drawing up a POA, it’s important to be very careful and specific about the agent’s activities and duties. Financial institutions and brokers will look for specific language, and if it’s not there, it can cause some big headaches. One financial agent listed on a client’s POA was unable to access her CDs because the bank had erroneously listed them as being in a trust. If a trust is involved, the trustee or successor trustee must be the one to make financial changes. These sorts of issues can get thorny and require trips in front of a judge when the person is incapacitated.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Where Are Americans Moving? Are These Good Spots for Retirees?

The migration pattern overall is trending toward states that are meccas for older Americans. But are these really the best places to retire?

Americans were on the move in 2020, according to a recent report from U-Haul on one-way rentals of its vans and trucks. For the first time, Tennessee claimed the top spot, followed by Texas, a favorite for five straight years. California ranked last, with most people moving out of the Golden State. Perhaps that’s no surprise considering the high cost of living and rampant wildfires that have plagued the state in recent years.

AARP’s Livability Index

Check AARP’s livability index for the services and amenities that are most important for older adults. Enter your own zip code, then check around to find out how your neighborhood compares with communities across the country. See how each area ranks in terms of housing, environment, transportation, health care, neighborhood, community engagement and opportunity.

Retirement is about the time that many older adults, about 1% annually, choose to move out of state. Sometimes it’s to be near adult children, to enjoy a warmer climate or to find a place where expenses won’t be so high once that fixed income kicks in. Interestingly, seniors and millennials are often looking for some of the same amenities and gravitate toward the same areas. 

“There is a great deal of overlap in the types of things that older adults and millennials want,” says Rodney Harrell, director of AARP’s Livable Communities program. Things like walkable neighborhoods with easy access — by car or public transportation — to jobs, nearby leisure and recreational activities, and health care. 

That can be problematic when an influx of younger adults and retirees drive up housing prices, such as has happened in Denver. The city is awash in microbreweries, and has a network of bike paths as well as a glut of entertainment and restaurant options, plus proximity to mountain parks. But the average cost of a house in the Mile High City last December was a mind-blowing $606,000.

In fact, every community offers a mix of amenities balanced against some downfalls. One may have great weather and no state taxes but a high crime rate. WalletHub has attempted to rate the states according to some features that retirees look for, namely affordability, quality of life and access to good health care. See the results, below.

Best & Worst States to Retire

Overall Rank State Total Score Affordability Quality of Life Health Care
1 Florida 61.09 4 6 28
2 Colorado 60.94 13 16 5
3 Delaware 58.69 5 29 22
4 Virginia 58.61 11 7 23
5 North Dakota 57.49 24 18 6
6 Montana 57.35 12 22 15
7 Idaho 57.28 16 11 25
8 Utah 57.11 21 4 26
9 Minnesota 56.33 37 3 2
10 New Hampshire 56.29 30 1 9
11 Wyoming 56.19 14 13 29
12 Missouri 54.64 20 36 12
13 South Dakota 54.04 22 26 18
14 South Carolina 53.18 3 37 41
15 North Carolina 53.14 19 24 34
16 Iowa 52.68 34 8 8
17 Arizona 52.49 15 28 35
18 Hawaii 52.40 38 30 1
19 Wisconsin 52.24 32 15 16
20 Vermont 51.39 48 5 3
21 Michigan 51.33 31 21 17
22 Ohio 51.10 25 23 31
23 Nebraska 50.55 36 19 10
24 Nevada50.44 7 39 40
25 Alaska 49.49 39 33 4
26 Georgia 49.33 9 42 42
27 Alabama49.20 1 45 48
28 California 48.98 29 31 30
29 Massachusetts 48.86 44 2 19
30 Indiana48.85 26 34
31 Washington 48.75 43 10 7
32 Pennsylvania 48.64 35 12 32
33 Maryland 48.37 41 9 14
34 Louisiana48.27 8 46 43
35 Tennessee 48.16 2 49 47
36 Kansas 47.84 27 32 39
37 Maine 47.71 46 14 11
38 Arkansas 47.54 6 48 45
39 Oregon 47.02 42 20 13
40 Oklahoma 46.47 17 44 44
41 Illinois 45.88 40 27 21
42 Texas 45.85 28 40 38
43 Connecticut 44.35 47 25 20
44 West Virginia 44.12 18 41 50
45 Kentucky 43.78 23 43 46
46 Rhode Island 42.85 45 38 24
47 New Mexico 42.68 33 47 36
48 Mississippi 41.88 10 50 49
49 New York41.86 49 17 27
50 New Jersey 37.41 50 35 33

Chart courtesy of WalletHub

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Forbes offers some tempting retirement options from across the country that include cities located in colder climes and others, like Philadelphia, that simply aren’t at the top of most retirees’ lists. The company’s No. 1 pick is Asheville, North Carolina, a town nestled in the Appalachians that’s home to a university, a thriving arts district, a handful of health food stores and the iconic Biltmore hotel. Read the whole Forbes list to find other unexpected gems. 

No matter where you consider moving, it’s a good idea to visit the area repeatedly, at different times of year. You don’t want to be surprised by winter snow, or a summer monsoon season or tourist crowds. A town you thought was ho-hum could turn out to charm you with a show of autumn color and a fall music festival, or the splendor of spring bulbs in bloom along with a plethora of art fairs. Maybe you’ve always wanted an Alaskan adventure, or the kids moved to Montana with their children and there’s no question you’ll follow to be a part of their lives. 

“The softer issues are generally the more important ones when it comes to relocating,” said Evan Beach, a certified financial planner with Campbell Wealth Management. “Money is only part of the equation.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Training For Older Adults

Many older adults still don’t know how to use a computer or smartphone. Classes just for them can open up a social life many had given up on.

Older adults enjoy using social technology such as email and Facebook, according to a recent Michigan State University study. The research also found that the use of such online social networks were predictive of better self-assessed health, less depression and less chronic illness, according to study lead William Chopik. Of the 591 participants whose average age was 68, more than 95% reported being “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with technology. 

Some Seniors Opt Out on Purpose

Eighty-six-year-old Richard Devitt still uses a flip phone, and he doesn’t have email. But it’s not because he’s intimidated by technology. “I honestly don’t need or want them,” he says. Like a subset of older adults, he makes intentional decisions about his limited use of technology. Although seniors who have embraced the internet are the fasted growing online demographic, many holdouts abstain by choice.

Devitt is retired from the restaurant business. He would watch people fill tables to celebrate events with family and friends, but “as soon as they sat down, their phones came out.” He doesn’t want to become glued to a phone, and he is particularly resistant to the pressure to respond instantly, multiple times daily. 

Others, like 91-year-old Lawrence Stephens, don’t post to social media (although he accesses it to follow family members). “Once you get on, you forget you’re talking to millions of other people. Anybody can tune in.”

“Older adults think the benefits of social technology greatly outweigh the costs and challenges of technology,” said Chopik, assistant professor of psychology. “And the use of this technology could benefit their mental and physical health over time.”

“Despite the attention that the digital divide has garnered in recent years, a large proportion of older adults use technology to maintain their social networks and make their lives easier,” Chopik said. “In fact, there may be portions of the older population that use technology as often as younger adults.”

However, nearly a third of adults nationally who are 65 and over report never having used the internet according to the Pew Research Center, and half don’t have access at home. Local libraries are a free source of computer access for many older adults. But what is being done about computer literacy among seniors?

Training for Older Adults

OATS: A New York City-based nonprofit called Older Adults Technology Services, or OATS, has been educating seniors, whose average age is 74, since 2004. "In 14 years, I have not been able to identify a single person that has not learned the technology," says Tom Kamber, founder and executive director of OATS.

Cindy Riley, 70, had a lot of hesitation around the classes. "I had a fear that if I touched a button it would mess up another button," she says. But just a few years later she is engaged with a wide social circle via computer and cellphone. Robert O’Neill is another student who retired after 40 years in the financial services industry. "I had no computer skills," he admits. But now "I am learning basic technology and looking at aging in a more enlightening and positive attitude.”

AARP TEK: AARP trains more than 30,000 older adults across the U.S. via its TEK (technology, education, knowledge) classes. The most basic level introduces searching the internet, taking and sharing photos and downloading apps. Students can continue to the next level to learn everything from voice dictation to photo editing.

"We eliminate the fear of the device," says AARP tech trainer Janae Jaco. "They learn they can’t break it.” She recalls one student who "was practically in tears that she can now watch her grandkids grow up.” Another participant felt empowered to use the computer for research on a medication she was prescribed.

"I hear over and over again how it opened up a relationship with kids and grandkids," Jaco says. "It’s so rewarding. It’s excellent to know you are giving someone a skill that can change their life.”

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly: provides low-cost internet, tablets and digital training through its Tech Allies program. A recent group of participants ranged in age from 62 to 98. One woman who lacked internet access and tech savvy remarked, “I’m just not part of this world anymore. In certain facets of society, I just can’t join. … Some [things] just are not possible if you are not in the flow of the internet.” Tech Allies partners with existing community-based organizations. 

Other class sources may include your local library, senior center or community college.

Benefits Are Extensive

Many argue that having training and access to technology should be greatly expanded in light of the $8 billion invested last year in digital health companies. Telehealth is now covered by Medicare, and it’s a boon for older adults who are homebound or whose conditions make getting out to an appointment difficult. As the pandemic has shown us, it also reduces exposure to harmful pathogens. 

The ability to access technology will only become more important in future years. As new products are put on the market, older adults who can benefit from the technology will need training and support. Tech companies seeking access to a large market of older adults may begin offering classes geared to this demographic. As one older adult learning how to use an iPad put it, “It’s time to catch up, you know, and join the world.”

Friday, May 7, 2021

5 Tips to Keep Your Brain and Body Young

We share five secrets to keep your mind and body functioning at the level of someone decades younger.

Superagers are older adults who are as sharp and fit as people many years their junior. While heredity likely plays a role, there are several things any of us can do to extend our mental and physical health. These things are not easy, but that’s why they work. They challenge us to get out of our comfort zone and push our bodies and minds to accomplish more. 

Cognitive Superagers

Research shows that cognitive superagers embrace new mental challenges. In one study, 40 adults aged 60 to 80 and 41 others aged 18 to 35 were read a list of 16 nouns six times. Twenty minutes went by, and they were asked to remember as many of the nouns as they could. More than half of the older group could only remember nine or fewer nouns, but 17 seniors recalled 14 or more of the words, a score similar to the younger cohort. 

Afterward, the participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. The seniors with normal memory showed thinning of some areas of the brain, indicating cell loss. But in the 17 participants who scored as well as the younger group, brain thickness was undiminished. Both sets of seniors had similar IQs and education. Research suggested that what made the difference was their approach to problem-solving. 

Dr. Bradford Dickerson, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, theorizes the better-performing group “may approach these tasks as a challenge they can succeed at, in contrast to typical older adults who may give up.” Dickerson’s fellow researcher, Dr. Lisa Barrett, suggests that superagers may be more willing to endure discomfort to get better at a new skill, such as learning to play a musical instrument or speak a new language. 

Physical Superagers

Those who rival younger counterparts on a physical plane have high aerobic capacity, which is the amount of oxygen a person can take in and distribute to tissues in one minute, or VO2 max. Normally, people lose about a tenth of this capacity every decade after age 30. "Some studies have indicated that people in their 80s who exercised at high intensity for 20 to 45 minutes a day have an aerobic capacity of people 30 years younger," says Dr. J. Andrew Taylor, director of the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

People who elevate the intensity, duration and frequency of their workouts improve VO2 max. The 14th National Senior Games had 4,200 participants who had qualified in regional trials. Their average chronological age was 68, but when they used a calculator to estimate their biological age, it came up with 43 — more than two decades younger!

If you’d like to push yourself to become a superager, or just more mentally and physically fit, here are five things you can do:

  1. Stay positive. From the time we are young, we are learning stereotypes about aging. As we become seniors these are having a negative effect on our health, according to Elissa Epel of the Aging, Metabolism and Emotions Center at the University of California San Francisco. Stress accompanied by a negative mindset can cause cell damage that accelerates the aging process. 
  2. Make and keep friends. Friendships keep loneliness and isolation at bay, whether you enjoy a wide array of acquaintances or just a few close relationships. “Individuals who are free of dementia, free of cognitive problems, and really thriving in their community as well” have “stronger positive relationships with others,” according to Emily Rogalski of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
  3. Take your exercise up a notch. Unless you are in phenomenal shape, you can benefit by ratcheting up the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. What workouts, you say? Start with a walk around the block and build up from there. Everyone is starting from a different point; the goal is to eventually sweat and breathe heavily for 20 to 40 minutes, several days a week. Something is always better than nothing. Research by Money Talks News shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training improve brain function regardless of how often you do them, and obesity has the opposite outcome.
  4. Meditate. Telomeres, the caps of chromosomes, shorten as we age. When this shortening happens in midlife, it’s predictive of dementia, some cancers, early-onset heart disease, and other age-related diseases. Epel and her fellow researchers conducted research on more than two dozen people who they sent to a month-long intensive meditation retreat. The study showed that, “At the end of the retreat, the participants’ telomere length had increased significantly, and participants with the highest initial levels of anxiety and depression showed the most dramatic changes over the course of the study.”
  5. Learn a new skill. Commit to a new hobby, learn a new language or take an online class, the more difficult the better. In fact, try your hand at computer gaming; research shows it’s good for you! Reading and writing are associated with memory preservation, and so are solving word and number puzzles. If you normally go for word puzzles, try sudoku. The reverse is true, too. Push yourself to go out of your comfort zone.

“As we get older, when we see declines in memory and other skills, people tend to think that’s part of normal aging,” says a researcher in the UCSF blog post. “It’s not. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Monday, May 3, 2021

Famous and 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 3 - Akioo Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Company

How do you get to be head of one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world? In Toyoda’s case, you’re born into it. He is the great-grandson of the founder of Toyoda Automatic Loomworks, and grandson of the founder of Toyota Motor Corporation in a family that has a history of promoting upper management from within its ranks. 

However, Toyoda is no slouch. After getting an undergraduate degree in his native Japan, he crossed the Atlantic to earn a Master’s in Finance at Babson College in Massachusetts. He also worked his way up the company ladder starting in 1984, succeeding at a variety of positions before earning a spot on the board in 2000. Toyoda had to handle the company’s quality control crisis only months into his tenure as president, testifying before Congress and saving Toyota’s reputation after a massive recall of 8.5 million cars.

In his time outside of the c-suite, Toyoda indulges in a passion that mixes business and pleasure. A dedicated fan of car racing and a driver himself, Toyoda has used the company’s Lexus line in races such as 24 Hours Nürburgring, where he competed under the pseudonym Morizo Kinoshita.  He managed to finish fourth in his class in 2009, piloting an LF-A Prototype No. 14.

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 12 - Homer Simpson, star of cartoon hit The Simpsons

“A dog trapped in a man’s body” is one description of the iconic fictional cartoon character who has been entertaining Americans since 1987. Creator Matt Groening dreamed up the bumbling father while he was waiting in the lobby to pitch shorts based on his cartoon series Life In Hell, but decided to create a novel group of characters. 

In the series, Homer is married to Marge, and they have three children: rebellious Bart, brilliant Lisa, and youngest Maggie.  Although Homer is usually depicted as a safety inspector at the local nuclear plant, he worked 188 different jobs in the first 400 episodes of the show. His age has varied, but in the fourth season his drivers license appears with a May 12, 1956 birthday. Homer was named for Groening’s own father, who had none of his namesake’s attributes apart from a love of doughnuts. Partly to show that the name is inconsequential, Groening later named his own son “Homer.” 

The show has won a slew of awards over the years, and Homer is considered by many to be the best cartoon character of all time. While he is unthinking and impulsive, he is never vicious, and he is prone to selfless acts of kindness. Perhaps the reason Americans love him so much is for his good heart, which sometimes shines through his flaws.

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 17 - Sugar Ray Leonard, boxer

Born Ray Charles Leonard (named after his mother’s favorite crooner), Leonard was a shy, quiet child who never gave his parents any trouble. His brother started up a boxing club at the local rec center and showed off his trophies to his younger sibling, enticing him into the sport in 1969 at age 13. Leonard was fighting at the National AAU Tournament when as assistant Olympics coach remarked, “That kid you got is sweet as sugar.” Inevitably, he was nicknamed “Sugar” Ray, echoing the moniker of who some believe to be boxing’s greatest fighter ever, Sugar Ray Robinson.

Leonard made the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 1976, along with Leon and Michael Spinks, Howard Davis Jr., Leo Randolph, Charles Mooney, and John Tate. Leonard won his weight class with a 5-0 decision and earned an Olympic Gold Medal. His amateur record stood at 165-5 and 75 knock-outs. In an interview after the bout, he announced, "I'm finished...I've fought my last fight. My journey has ended, my dream is fulfilled. Now I want to go to school." But fate had other plans.

His high school sweetheart, Juanita Wilkinson, had become pregnant three years earlier, and had their son in 1974.   Leonard had a picture of taped to his sock during his Olympic bout, but the two had decided not to marry until after the Games. However, Wilkinson had applied for welfare shortly before the Olympics without telling Leonard. Afterward, the press found out and broke the story of him failing to support his son, and hoped-for commercial endorsements went out the window. Then his father landed in the hospital with meningitis and Leonard’s mother suffered a heart attack. He had no choice; he would continue fighting to support both families.

An astounding number of fights, retirements, and re-emergences in the ring over two decades followed. From 1977 to 1997, Leonard earned a record of 36-3-1 with 25 KOs, beating greats such as DurÃ¥n, Lalonde and Norris to cement his place in boxing history. But he didn’t stop there. The handsome guy with the big smile has gone on to appear in TV and films and start his own business ventures. He and his present wife founded the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation to support juvenile diabetes research and accessible housing, healthcare services and job training in communities across the U.S.

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 19- Steven Ford, actor & son of President Gerald Ford

Steven Ford grew up in Michigan, then studied forestry with his brother Jack at Utah State University and equine studies at Cal Poly, Pomona. In 1981, he became a regular on The Young and the Restless soap opera playing private investigator Andy Richards. He continues in the role until 1987, briefly reprising it for a year in 2002. Ford has also appeared in minor parts for a variety of TV shows and films, including When Harry Met Sally

A self-described moderate Republican and fiscal conservative, Ford spends the bulk of his time raising money for philanthropic organizations. He also gives speeches to student groups on alcoholism, a malady he fell victim to in the late 1980s but has since overcome. 


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Best Vitamins, Supplements and Lifestyle Remedies for Anxiety

If you’re feeling stressed out, a vitamin boost or other natural therapy recommended by a health professional may be all you need to bring some relief.

Anxiety disorders are America’s most common mental illness. They affect more than 40 million adults every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Additionally, anxiety is on the rise. It’s not surprising, considering that so many people lost work, shuttered a business, and/or were forced into greater isolation due to the pandemic. 

Vitamin Toxicity 

As we’ve mentioned, it’s essential to involve a health professional before adding vitamins and supplements to your dietary regimen. In fact, if a physician asks what medications you are taking, it’s important to provide vitamins and supplements just as you would mention prescribed medications. Vitamins and supplements can interact with your medications, potentially causing dangerous side effects. Adding vitamins is not always a good thing!

For instance, vitamin K should never be combined with a blood thinner such as warfarin. Vitamin E may also cause bleeding with warfarin therapy, and may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Vitamin B6 can reduce the effectiveness of certain drugs. Vitamin A should not be taken with retinoids, commonly prescribed for acne and psoriasis. High levels of niacin can interfere with statins. Folic acid can block drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and perhaps methotrexate in cancer therapy. 

Minerals can also interfere with other medications. Calcium, magnesium, aluminum, iron and potassium have potentially serious effects. The bottom line is: include your health professional in decisions before adding vitamins and/or supplements. A health professional can ensure that any changes will have positive potential and avoid unexpected side effects.

Lifestyle Remedies

If you’re struggling with anxiety, the first thing to consider are lifestyle changes that have been proven to bring relief. Lifestyle changes include eliminating some substances while adding or boosting other substances and habits.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Alcohol is a sedative. It may make you feel better in the short run, but it is detrimental to mental health long-term and can be addictive.
  • The earlier you begin smoking, the higher your chance of developing an anxiety disorder. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can change pathways in the brain linked to anxiety.
  • Caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety and can even trigger panic attacks.
Adding or increasing these things can help reduce anxiety:
  • Increase hours of sleep by darkening your room and keeping it cool. Avoid using a computer or smartphone in bed. Try writing down your worries before attempting to sleep.
  • Meditation calms chaotic thoughts. Just 30 minutes a day can alleviate anxiety and act as an antidepressant, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Conscious deep breathing can reduce anxiety. Use deep, slow, even breaths.
  • Essential oils can relieve anxiety and help you relax, according to studies. Try bergamot, lavender, clay sage, grapefruit and ylang ylang to promote sleep and reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Chamomile tea can promote sleep and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Constructive journaling can improve mood and reduce worry. Putting your worries on paper and expressing gratitude are two methods that have been found to increase happiness.

Vitamins and Supplements

It’s important to consult a trusted health professional before adding vitamins or supplements to your diet, according to experts like neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez. They may interfere with other medications or supplements and make the situation worse instead of better. However, many have been shown to be effective at boosting moods.

Three main biological factors contribute to anxiety: serotonin deficiency, low vitamin B6 and low iron. When combined with talk therapy and lifestyle changes, the addition of vitamins and supplements recommended by your health professional can improve your mood and bring you back to equilibrium. Following are some common natural mood boosters. Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system; they are essential for cognitive function. They can be found in many fish, including salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, lake trout, mackerel and tuna. 

B vitamins are essential for stress management and mood, and are found in a wide range of foods, including carrots and green leafy vegetables. 

Magnesium produces energy and helps form neurological pathways in the brain. It can be found in greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans and whole grains.

L-theanine is an amino acid that improves focus and promotes relaxation. It is found in black tea, green tea and certain mushrooms. 

Gamma-aminobutyric acid is essential for the production of serotonin, a powerful transmitter of positive feelings. Some vitamins boost levels of GABA, or it can be consumed as a supplement.

Valerian root is commonly known as a sleep aid, but it is also effective in reducing anxiety. It’s available in capsules or as a liquid or tea.

Licorice root regulates stress hormones in the adrenal glands. But eating it in candy form won’t help; that usually contains only licorice flavor. Try purified deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) as a capsule, powder or tea.

Ashwagnadha has been used for hundreds of years to improve energy and reduce anxiety. It is derived from a plant that is available in capsule form.

Rhodiola, or golden root, is an adaptogen that promotes overall health and has a long history of use. Find it in capsules, extracts and teas.

Passionflower can promote positive mood, improve sleep and reduce nervousness, according to many studies. It is available as an extract or tablet, or can be added into teas and tinctures.

Probiotics can support not only digestion, but also brain and emotional health. Natural sources are yogurt, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut and other fermented foods.


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical decisions before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What To Do When Your Spouse Is Dying

Financial matters may be the furthest thing from your mind when a spouse is dying, but it’s crucial to review them.

COVID-19 has taken more than half a million American lives in the past year. Grief has been a national pastime, reminding all of us that we never know when our time is coming. If you should find yourself in the awful situation of having a dying spouse, or preferably, before this happens, there are steps you should take for your financial future to ensure a smoother transition. 

While it may seem callous to consider finances at such a time, your spouse will likely be comforted knowing that you will have the tools you need to manage after they are gone. The last thing you will want to do in the depths of your sorrow is to figure out how to access bank accounts or where your spouse kept the key to the safe deposit box. While comfort and care are preeminent concerns for a terminal spouse, a talk (or several talks) about finances cannot be neglected.


Paperwork regarding medical care and finances should be in one spot so it can be easily accessed. “You want to avoid the ‘treasure hunt’ after someone is incapacitated or has died, and you are running out of time with terminal illness,” says George Reilly, founder of Safe Harbor Financial Advisors. The following documents should be updated, if necessary, and readily available:
  • Will
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Advanced health care directives
  • Life insurance policy
  • Investment portfolio
  • Retirement accounts
  • Pensions

Everplans Has You Covered

According to a survey by legal services site Rocket Lawyer, 64% of Americans don’t have a will. The general lack of planning around death led to the creation of Everplans, an online site where you can store all the documents loved ones will need in the event of your death. A wealth of resources includes articles on such topics as what to wear to a funeral and state-by-state guides on estate and death taxes. 


Make sure you have names and contact information for the team of professionals who manage your finances. Who will you turn to for tax preparation, legal advice, or help deciding how to invest a portfolio of stocks and bonds? Who can help claim insurance? Who will sell off a business, or carry out a transfer to employees or other wishes?
  • Financial advisors
  • Accountants
  • Lawyers
  • Insurance agents
  • Small business professionals 

Updating Documents

There are many stories about assets accidentally left to a long-ago girlfriend or former spouse because beneficiaries were never updated. That kind of mistake cannot be corrected after death, so make sure wills and accounts are current. It is not enough to update your will, since the beneficiaries listed on an account (think bank accounts and invested assets) will supersede those listed in a will. 

Do I Need an Estate Plan?

For starters, you definitely need a will if you own a house or car, have bank assets, and/or want assets to go to people other than your direct relatives. If you don’t have a will, the state will dictate where your assets go upon death. The process could take a long time to wind through the courts, and it may cost your heirs unnecessary expense. Check if your state charges estate or inheritance taxes and if your assets are large enough to be subject to them.  An estate plan can minimize the probate process, including delays and lack of privacy. Philanthropic donations and business succession plans can be covered in an estate plan. 

Titling Accounts

Another way to avoid the pain of probate is to make sure accounts are titled properly, according to Rob Greenman, lead advisor and partner at Vista Capital Partners. Accounts with joint owners should be titled “joint owners with rights of survivorship” so survivors can continue to pay expenses. States differ as to how accounts should work.

Online Access

Many people opt out of paper statements, leaving heirs no trail to follow. It is absolutely critical to know the computer password and passwords to individual sites, such as bank, brokerage or insurance company. Mac computers store password keys, but they are useless if you can’t get in the computer itself. 

It will save multiple headaches if you have a list of all needed passwords and all accounts. Speaking of accounts, verify that you know every one your spouse has. Over the course of decades, he or she may have changed banks multiple times or added an online bank for higher interest. Money may be split between brokerages, or there could be an old 401(k) at a previous employer. 

Coming to terms emotionally with having a dying spouse is a terrible burden. But it is important to make sure that all the pieces are in place for a financially sound future for yourself. There will be many hurdles ahead: make sure that settling money matters is not one of them. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Great Groups for Retired Men

Retirement can be a hard transition for men. A pair of guys-only groups is starting to address the need for male friendship.

The probability that a man will become clinically depressed increases by almost 50% in the two years following retirement, according to national studies. Men who were previously VIPs suddenly find that no one needs their advice, and there is no routine to their days. They have become PIPs, or previously important people, overnight. 

Men’s Wisdom Works

At least, that’s how Chuck Fink, the 69-year-old founder of Men’s Wisdom Works, describes it. Fink retired at age 58 from a career in organizational development and quickly found his mood sliding downhill into depression. “I just wasn’t prepared,” he admits. His wife noticed the change and brought him to a conference at a nearby university that held classes for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  The keynote speaker happened to be then-AARP Vice President Rick Moody, who spoke about the difficulty men have in making the transition to retirement. They don’t have as many social networks as women and typically bottle up their feelings. 

It was as if a lightning bolt had struck. Fink decided then and there to begin a support group for men in retirement. Started where he lives in Asheville, North Carolina, the movement has grown to include 17 chapters in western North Carolina. A group of eight to 12 men meet twice a month for breakfast, lunch or happy hour (or on Zoom over the last year). They chat among themselves, catching up from the last time they gathered, and select a topic, such as:
  • How have you recovered meaning in your life since becoming a PIP?
  • How has your relationship with your spouse changed in retirement?
  • How have you changed and grown throughout each decade of your life?

“We have guys who were big shots in their careers who come in listless and sad,” says Fink. “We introduce ourselves, one at a time, explaining how we handled the existential crisis they’re experiencing. After a few months, the depression usually lifts.”

Women Need Activities, Too - Sisters on the Fly 

No men, no kids, be nice, have fun. This is the credo of Sisters on the Fly, the largest women’s outdoor group in the country. Started by real sisters who liked to fly fish, it has grown into a group that embraces a bevy of outdoor activities, from trailer tours to cross-country skiing. The women support each other on a “journey to become more adventurous.”

While not specifically for older adults, this is a diverse group that welcomes one and all (females) into their culture, with no upper age limit. Take Bernice Ende, an author and equestrian who ventures out on rides that may cover 10 to 30 miles in a day. She never knows where she’ll be sleeping each night. For that reason, she had “always been a solo traveler” until she discovered SOTF. “But now I am very excited about all the possibilities, meeting Sisters at my talks, but also that Sisters are inviting me to join “events” when my travels meet up with them,” says Ende. “One of the reasons I ride is to encourage women leadership. I love independent women!”

Seize the moment, or actually a whole year, of sisterly bonding for only $70. 

Men's Sheds

On an international level, Men’s Sheds are workspaces where guys can gather to learn new skills while collaborating on community projects such as building park benches or fixing appliances. Founding member Mark Winston, 61, says, “We want to break the cycle of social isolation. When men retire, they lose their work identity, which is important for us guys. When they participate in a shed, they reconstitute their personalities, which helps a great deal on the path to staying active, feeling good about yourself and not falling into pits of depression.”

Originating in Australia in the 1990s, there are now thousands of Men’s Sheds around the globe. America is behind, with only 14 Sheds in the U.S. and Hawaii, and another nine in development. Adoption can happen quickly though; Men’s Sheds came to Ireland in 2009, and the country now boasts more than 500.

“Men don’t talk face-to-face, they talk shoulder-to-shoulder whilst working on a project,” says Barry Golding, author of The Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men. “Lulls in the natural cadence of those conversations is where one might mention a medical issue he’s dealing with, leading to a potentially important conversation.”

Shed members are there for each other in the good times and the bad. “A member’s wife died two years ago, and then his daughter died suddenly a few weeks ago,” relates Victor Maltby, president of the Hackberry Shed near Ottawa, Canada. “We all showed up at the wake, and he burst into tears. His sister said, ‘You guys are from the Shed?!?! He talks about you all the time!’”

David Helmers, executive officer of the Australian Men’s Shed Association, summed it up nicely when he said, “You work your whole life, save up and plan to retire from work one day. But we should be retiring to something, not being retired from something.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Best Tech for Grandparents and Grandchildren

Long-distance grandparents can benefit from innovative solutions to help stay connected to grandchildren.

The pandemic reminded us how much connecting with grandchildren means to us. Technology came to the rescue with both established and novel apps and methods to help us catch a child’s first steps, share photos or read a book together. Long-distance grandparents can use these apps as a means to “see” grandchildren and their parents between visits. 

Easy Computer for Older Adults

Using technology built for youngsters can present daunting obstacles for older users. The Wow computer can be set up in five minutes and offers features for reduced eyesight and arthritic hands. It’s easy to learn for someone with little or no computer experience. Users unfamiliar with a keyboard never have to use one; they can take advantage of Wow’s touch screen with large icons for navigation. 

One touch can enlarge text or navigate to chat, email and a calendar. Programs are updated automatically, so there’s no need to buy more software. Anti-virus tech and malware protection come with the computer at no extra charge. Popular games such as solitaire and mahjong are built into the device. Cost: $1,099.00

Video Conferencing

If you own a smartphone or a computer with a camera, seeing the grandkids while you’re talking to them adds a lot to a “visit.” You can virtually attend a wedding, birth or other event, or watch a child who has just learned to ride a bike pedal down the driveway while flashing a proud smile. 
  • FaceTime. It’s as easy as pushing a button during a phone call, and grandkids love being able to hold the phone and have a personal call with Grandma or Grandpa. They can show you what’s blooming in the garden, take you to a fort or have a heart-to-heart in the privacy of their room. 
  • Skype. Using the Skype app is free. Just set up an account for video chats.

Social Media

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok are part of many youngsters’ daily vocabulary and places where they can post photos and videos and share aspects of their lives. Grandparents can comment back or create their own accounts. Find out which one(s) are most used by your grandchild. Use these handy links to tutorials on how to use these social media programs.

Apps for Grandparents

There are a host of apps you have probably never heard of that are fun to use with your grandchildren. Consider adding some of the following for more time with little ones through teenagers. 

  • Keepy. Share drawings and paintings, school projects, photos and more. After all, your fridge can only hold so much!
  • Kindoma. Draw, play or read together.
  • Kodable. For ages 6 and up, learn to code with your grandchild. Don’t worry; there’s a curriculum section where you can study up.
  • Lifecake. Have a family member set up this app to privately share family photos.
  • ooVoo. Along with Rounds and Voxer, this trio of apps allows you to share video and photos while you talk and text. 
  • Photofunia. Get silly and creative with photos by making changes. A mustache for the baby? Giant teeth for a 6-year-old? Ears that fly for the teen? 
  • Quality Time Lab. Play games, draw, sing nursery rhymes and read together. 
  • Redeo. Enjoy reading books together with your grandchildren while you turn the pages online. 
  • Rounds. Like ooVoo and Voxer, this app lets you share photos and videos while you talk and text.
  • Tiny Beans. Along with Lifecake, this app allows you to share family photos privately and profusely.
  • Voxer. Similar to ooVoo and Rounds, you can talk and text in real time while sharing photos and video.
  • Wheel of Fortune. Who needs Vanna and Pat? You can play the popular game with grandchildren by using this app.
  • Words With Friends. Play this word game, similar to Scrabble, by arranging words horizontally and vertically. Enjoy the added benefit of being able to live chat with other players by typing messages as you play.