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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Easy On, Easy Off: Clothing for Older Adults



Whether it’s surgery, arthritis, dementia, or the aches and pains of aging, many seniors and caregivers appreciate the simplicity and ease of adaptive clothing.  


Many older adults and caregivers struggle to dress themselves or their clients, not realizing that there are a variety of better options available. Adaptive clothing is easy to find these days, whether it’s to ease toileting for those using wheelchairs, make getting dressed an easier task for someone with arthritis, or allow caregivers an easier way to dress patients with limited dexterity. 

Who Needs Adaptive Clothing?

Many of us may find adaptive clothing useful to have in our own closets. Those who have arthritis flare-ups or weakened hands and limbs will appreciate styles that use hook and loop (such as Velcro brand) closures. Styles that traditionally feature buttons, such as men’s dress shirts, can retain that look with closures tucked away underneath a button front and cuffs. The same goes for pant styles that appear to close with a snap and zipper but feature magnetic or hook and loop closures.
 

Where to Purchase Adaptive Clothing


Many companies offer adaptive clothing as their only product or as an adjunct to traditional styles. This list serves as a jumping-off point, but there are a multitude of other fine providers that can be found with a specialized search. 

Buck and Buck features adaptive clothing and footwear geared to older adults.
IZ Adaptive has fashionable clothes for men and women in the latest styles.
Joe and Bella is geared toward older adults and offers a nice range of adaptive clothing and other items for seniors. 
Ovidis was started by four women who couldn’t find adaptive wear they liked for their parents who needed care. 
Silverts offers adaptive sleepwear and intimates for both men and women.
Tommy Adaptive is an arm of fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger. It offers the same style with easy closures for men, women, and children.
Zappos Adaptive has single and different-sized shoes, wide shoes, and adaptive intimates and accessories as well as clothing.

Caregivers and their clients benefit enormously when adaptive clothing is used. Side snaps and zips can make putting on pants a much easier task. Shirts that close in the back allow wearers to avoid the painful motion of forcing shoulders back into sleeves. Jumpsuits with zip or hook and loop back closures are the answer for Alzheimer’s patients who may have a tendency to undress in public. 

People in wheelchairs can also benefit from adaptive pants with flaps in back that open easily, or a dress with the fabric in back cut out to allow for easier and quicker toileting. They may also like pants with a comfy elastic waist that is cut higher in back to accommodate a seated posture. All styles offer full coverage in a seated position, with some made to also be discreet while standing. 

Mental Health Benefits

While adaptive clothing serves many practical needs, saving time and energy and reducing pain, the positive effects don’t stop there. Most older adults don’t want to be seen in a hospital gown every day, even when pain and diminished ability with tasks like buttoning make that option the most practical one. Adaptive clothing allows them to maintain a sense of style and independence. Confidence increases when people feel good in what they’re wearing. And caregivers have a greater sense of capability and control when dressing their clients is easier.

Adaptations

There are a wide variety of ways that clothing may be adapted to fit the needs of older adults. For instance, cuffs can be left with a traditional button closure while the underarm seam is held together with hook and latch or magnetic tabs. Alternatively, some people may be fine with a sewn seam but hook and loop under the faux button closure. The needs of the person who will wear the clothing need to be evaluated before purchasing. Does that person have trouble lifting his arms? Putting his shoulders back to put on sleeves? Would he prefer a traditional look to his shirts, with closures hidden in side seams? Or would he be fine with a caregiver putting clothes on and taking them off, and back closures? 

Another consideration is style. It is possible to have almost any item modified by a tailor to turn it into adaptive wear. Some people would prefer to have favorite pieces altered for continued use. For others, it may be simpler to buy a wardrobe of adaptive clothing available online (see sidebar). 

Shoes are also available in adaptive styles. People with swollen limbs, bunions, and/or trouble bending over may appreciate the slip-on styling and simple hook and loop closures of this footwear. 

Finally, adaptive sleepwear and undergarments can also be purchased online in a variety of styles. Often, bras are one of the first things that become too difficult for a woman to manage. This problem can be solved with styles that close in the front or eliminate closures altogether for slip-on, slip-off ease. Need we say that they are wire-free for added comfort? 

No matter what the need, adaptive clothing can fill the gap where traditional styles fall short. Simple solutions using alternate closures can make life a lot easier for older adults and caregivers while maintaining dignity and a sense of personal style. There’s no need to struggle with buttons, traditional sleeves or pants that are nearly impossible to get on when adaptive clothing is easy to find.




Sunday, January 16, 2022

What is a VPN and Do I Need One?



You’ve probably heard of virtual private networks (VPNs). We explain what they are and why you should probably be using one.    


The internet is a wonderful thing. But there are hazards to using it, especially for older adults who may not be aware of, say, the difference between being at the doctor’s office or being at home while checking their stock portfolio or email. There is a way to keep safer, more secure, and more private while browsing online, and it’s by using a virtual private network, or VPN.

Every computer has an IP (internet protocol) address, which makes it identifiable on the internet or a local network. It’s sort of like the address for your house showing everyone where you live. You might not want others to see your IP address when you’re browsing. Businesses can see what you’re buying and researching. Even worse, when you’re on a public network hackers can break in to your connection to steal passwords or view your information.

How a VPN Works

A VPN is able to disguise your address by redirecting it via a remote server that becomes the source of your data. In this way, your internet service provider (ISP) and any other third parties can’t know which websites you visit or what data you send and receive while you’re online. In fact, the VPN turns all your data into unusable gibberish, so even if other parties could see your data, they wouldn’t be able to decipher or use it.
 

Caveats and Best VPNs to Use

There are loads of VPN providers to choose from, and it pays to find one you can trust. Beware of free VPN services and even some paid ones that may sell your information to third parties. Your ISP can’t see your data, but your VPN provider can. And if a VPN is compromised, so is your data. For this reason, you’ll want to go with a company that has been vetted. The easiest way to do this is to use a VPN recommended by a trusted source. We used PC Magazine to find some of their top picks for VPN services. Here are companies that made the top grade:
NordVPN (Editors’ Choice)
Surfshark (Editors’ Choice)
Proton (Editors’ Choice)
Express (Editors’ Choice)
IVPN (Editors’ Choice)
Mullvad (Editors’ Choice)

Another way to think of a VPN is like a secret, secure tunnel between you and the internet that your ISP and other third parties cannot see. The VPN changes your IP address to a different one provided by the server, protecting all of your data.

It is important to realize that a VPN is not the same as anti-virus software, which protects your devices against outside intrusion. For instance, a VPN cannot detect malware that may be sent via email. You still need comprehensive anti-virus software on your devices, and you should still follow safe practices such as never opening email from a sender you don’t recognize.

What Does a VPN Actually Provide?

  • Enhanced security. A VPN connection is hack-proof, and it encodes all of your activity to make it unreadable.
  • More privacy. Your connections are no longer linked to your computer. Your ISP doesn’t know, and can’t record, which websites you’ve visited. 
  • Better website access. Some information and streaming is limited geographically. With a VPN, there is no censorship or blocking based on your IP address.
  • Greater anonymity. Since you never use your own IP address, you are hidden. It often looks like you’re in a different part of the world than where you are.
Reading through these services, you may suspect that VPNs can be used for nefarious purposes. That is true. Many people use VPNs to access content that is only available in a localized area, such as when Netflix releases films in specific geographic areas. However, Netflix and related companies are increasingly able to stop that activity. 

Another common use is of VPNs is by people who live in countries where the government censors available internet information. Using a VPN enables them to access information from other sources to get a better idea of what is happening and to find other viewpoints. 

One big reason for older adults in the U.S. to use a VPN is to stay safe on the internet while using public networks. You may feel perfectly safe using the Internet at your local library or in the doctor’s office, but you are not. You may not even realize your computer or phone is using a public network, since most of us use a setting to find public networks and remember passwords. After all, we want to be frugal and save on data usage! But that could backfire in a big way if someone accesses your information.

Are VPNs Hard to Use?

Many of us are loathe to add yet another tech service to our devices that we don’t completely understand. The good news is that adding a VPN is super easy. You don’t need to buy any new equipment or change service providers. You don’t need to hire the Geek Squad to hook anything up. You can just go online and walk through the simple steps your VPN provider gives you.

Turning the VPN on is as simple as moving a toggle in your settings from “off” to “on.” And if you just want to keep it on all the time, that’s okay. The only downside might be slightly slower internet speeds. If that’s important to you, select a VPN provider that is highly rated in that area.

Using a VPN allows you to use your computer, smartphone, or tablet any way you want to, no matter where you are. Make stock trades or email your accountant, knowing your financial information is secure. Shop to your heart’s content without getting a thousand related advertisements. VPNs are an easy way to secure your privacy and evade hackers.




Sunday, January 9, 2022

Thrifting: The New Cool




Save money, help the environment and get a fresh look all at the same time by shopping the Gen Z way: at thrift stores.


Buying gently used clothing has become trendy, thanks to young adults and the pandemic. A culture has built up around finding your wardrobe at Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, flea markets, and a host of other brick-and-mortar second-hand stores, or online sites dedicated to recycled clothing. It is a way to add pieces to perk up your basics without spending an arm and a leg. You can get expensive items, like a wool or down coat, for a fraction of the retail price. And then there’s that added element: the thrill of the hunt.

According to a recent study commissioned by online resale platform ThredUp, it’s a $36 billion market in the U.S. today, and expected to reach $77 billion in five years, eclipsing the growth in the broader retail sector 11 times over. One in five Americans shops at a thrift store in a given year — about the same number as those who go to a major department store. 

Green Machine

“Having a young family where the kids are constantly outgrowing their clothes, thrift stores are a blessing,” says mom Beth Jarvie. “There is also now the awareness of conservation of resources, keeping your environmental footprint small, and upcycling durable goods.” According to the ThredUp study, younger shoppers are far more concerned with the environmental impact of clothing than their grandparents. 

Maybe that is because younger shoppers are more aware of clothing’s impact. The apparel and footwear industry accounts for about 10% of climate impact, which is more than the combined effect of every international flight and all maritime shipping, combined. 

“I’ve kind of stopped buying clothes from traditional stores,” says college student Grace Snelling. “People almost respect you if what you’re wearing is thrifted, and it looks good because you’ve managed to pull off a cool outfit, and it’s sustainable.”

What’s In It for Older Adults

Thrift stores are a goldmine of clothing for grandchildren, and it’s priced right for people on a fixed income. You can get your granddaughter a gorgeous dress for around $5, or a down sleeping bag for $5 or $10. Jeans for your grandson are available for $5. You may find a pair of $135 Boggs boots with a $12.95 price tag. Bikes, toys, crafts — they can all be thrifted.

Switching to a fake Christmas tree? Shop your local thrift store and get it for a quarter of the retail price. Need some new dinnerware or kitchen tools? How about an edger for the lawn? Halloween costume? The nice thing about thrift stores vs. garage sales is that the thrift store will have a huge array of items in one stop. Most also have a senior day once a week when items are marked down for adults over a certain age. All wares usually go half price after a month without being sold. 

Another fun find is books, which seldom cost more than a dollar or two. How fun to bring over a basket of books for little grandkids or choose a few interesting reads for yourself. Invite a friend to accompany you for more fun and to get a second opinion on whether or not you should buy the jeans with the giant sparkle pockets. 

Online Thrifting

Have you ever bought a used item on the internet? Hundreds of thousands of items are all available at any one time, from a vintage wool Norwegian sweater to a leather Harley Davidson jacket. Sites like eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark and the RealReal offer buyers the chance to find bargains galore. You can pay the stated price, make an offer to the seller, or bid in auctions where gorgeous clothing sometimes gets sold for a ridiculously low price. By the way, don’t forget to look for jewelry and shoes or boots. How about a fun pair of cowboy boots for $20 instead of $200, or getting some Frye or UGG boots at comparable discounts. You don’t have to give up your favorite brands to thrift; they’re not this season’s goods, but they’re a whole lot cheaper! 

Be prepared to model your latest finds for older grandchildren, who will applaud your style and your savvy. They may even ask to go on your next thrifting trip! 


Monday, January 3, 2022

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!


Image Source: Wikipedia

January 2 - Lynne Cox, open water swimmer, speaker, author


American Lynne Cox has a slew of swimming records to her credit, but she was never in the Olympics. That’s due to her adventuring spirit and specialty: open water swimming. This sport exposes swimmers to lengthy times in the water, frigid temperatures, and, in Cox’s case, international fame. 

Her most famous swim was between the United States and the Soviet Union, as the first person to swim across the Bering Strait in 1987. For this feat, she was lauded by both President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, as the two worked to warm relations during the Cold War. But Cox has many more accomplishments to her credit.

She began her aquatic exploits with a record crossing of the Catalina Island Channel in California. She held the speed record for crossing the English Channel twice, with her personal best keeping her in the water for 9 hours and 36 minutes. She was also the first person to swim across the Chilean Straits of Magellan and swim around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. 

If that were not amazing enough, she swam the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca in Peru, which also featured “biting animals” in the water. Oh, and she swam more than a mile in the unimaginably cold, icy water off Antarctica. But Cox enthuses about the joys of such far-flung swims in wild places, where dolphins, penguins, and other creatures surround her. To learn more, read this article from Wisconsin Public Radio.





Image Source: Wikipedia

January 6 - Nancy Lopez, golfer

The only woman to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy all in the same season (1978), Nancy Lopez is an icon of professional golf. She began her long winning streak early, garnering the New Mexico Women’s Amateur at the tender age of 12 in 1969 and following it up by dominating the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in 1972 and 1974. 

As a college freshman, Lopez was named All-American and Female Athlete of the Year, as well as winning the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women golf championship. Her success led her to leave college after her sophomore year to turn pro in 1977, when she was the runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open event for the second time.

With a total of 48 LPGA tour wins, including three major championships, to her credit, Lopez dominated the sport of women’s golf from the late 70s to the late 80s. She was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in July of 1978 during her first full season on the LPGA tour. During her career, she took time off to have three daughters. 





Image Source: Wikipedia

January 7 - Katie Couric, journalist and author


It might be easier to list shows Katie Couric hasn’t hosted than those she has, with so many appearances to her credits, including programs on all of the Big Three U.S. networks. She has also starred in a syndicated daytime talk show and is the founder of Katie Couric Media. 

Some of her weightiest presenting jobs have been as co-host of Today, anchor of the CBS Evening News, and correspondent for 60 Minutes. In 2011 she authored a book, The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives, which became a New York Times bestseller, as did her most recent book Going There

She has filled in for and worked with such luminaries as Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams and Bob Costas, winning multiple television awards throughout her storied career. Couric has interviewed a vast array of famous people in diverse arenas, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, author J.K. Rowling, presidential spouse Laura Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Couric is also known for her work fighting cancer after the death of her first husband in 1998 at the age of 42 to colorectal cancer. She remarried in 2014, and she and her husband starred in the Sur La Table online cooking show Full Plate with Katie and John.





Image Source: Wikipedia

January 17 - Steve Harvey, actor and radio/TV personality

A fixture on Family Feud, Steve Harvey also hosts the Miss Universe competition and The Steve Harvey Morning Show. He also founded Steve Harvey Global in 2017 as an umbrella company over production and various other ventures. Harvey has won six Daytime Emmy Awards, a pair of Marconi Awards, and 14 NAACP Image Awards. 

Success didn’t come his way easily. He had to overcome a stutter and work his way up through jobs as a boxer, autoworker, insurance salesman, carpet cleaner, and mailman before finding fame. In fact, Harvey spent three years sleeping in his car, often showering at gas stations or swimming pools. 

His break came in 1990 as a comedian. Harvey reached the finals in the Second Annual Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search, which led to hosting It’s Showtime at the Apollo. In 2009, Harvey released his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, which spent 23 weeks at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. 







Sources:

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Epigenetics: Beyond DNA



Do life experiences modify our genetic inheritance to circumvent our genetic “fate”? 


“Epigenetics is the cellular equivalent of how to locate and place bookmarks.” — Ross L. Levine, physician and scientist


Everyone seems to be talking about epigenetics. That can be embarrassing when you may not be quite sure what it means or how it affects us. So, here’s a primer that can get you cocktail-party ready since we are finally gathering again for social functions.

The word “epigenetic” is literally translated to “above the genes.” It is changes that occur to genes outside of the DNA sequence. Epigenetics can account for what happens to us environmentally, such as after toxic exposure or resulting from nutritional differences. It can also account for differences that are impossible to explain otherwise, such as when one identical twin loves the outdoors and the other is a couch potato. Some epigenetic changes occur when we are developing in the womb.

Giving Away Genetic Information

Genetic testing company 23andme has biological information from millions of customers gathered over the past 14 years. In 2018 the company announced a deal with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline to use the data (aggregated and anonymized) to develop pharmaceutical drugs. But what else is at stake? Ethical, privacy and security questions remain. Listen here for a rundown of the questions facing genetic testing companies.

“You had all these cases where things were clearly identical, genetically, but behaving differently,” says Mary Goll, a developmental biologist who studies epigenetics in zebrafish. “This suggested that there had to be something chromosomal and not related to the DNA sequence that was mediating that behavior.” Epigenetics has now been linked to conditions as disparate as autism and cancer.

How Do Changes Happen?

DNA is spooled around proteins and touched by other chemicals. This packaging, called chromatin, can influence whether genes are turned on or off. Three systems can interact to silence, or turn off, genes: DNA methylation, histone modifications, and RNA-associated silencing. That’s as deep as we’ll get here. The important thing to understand is that the way DNA is expressed is affected by factors that turn portions of it on or off.


                                                                                                                             Source: genome.gov 


Epigenetic changes are a part of normal development. For example, all of our cells have the same DNA, but there are a wide variety of cells with different functions: liver cells, neurons, inflammatory cells, and many more. Cells, tissue, and organs are different because certain sets of genes within them are expressed, or turned on, and others are silenced, or turned off. Your epigenetic state is different throughout your life, as DNA methylation increases with age. 

Some epigenetic changes are permanent, while others are not. An example is DNA methylation in smokers. Portions of the AHRR gene are less methylated in smokers than non-smokers, with the greatest difference being in heavy, long-term smokers. But DNA methylation increases in former smokers and can, over time, reach levels associated with non-smokers. 

Health

Germs can weaken your immune system via epigenetic changes, helping them to survive. An example of this is the tuberculosis bacterium, which can induce changes in histones to turn off the IL-12B gene.

Some epigenetic changes increase the risk of cancer, such as increased DNA methylation that results in a decreased BRCA1 expression, upping the risk of breast and other cancers. Methylation patterns can be used to identify certain cancers and find hard-to-detect cancers at an earlier stage. 

Nutrition during pregnancy can affect fetal health via epigenetics. Mothers who were pregnant during the Dutch hunger winter famine of 1944-45 gave birth to babies who were more prone to heart disease, schizophrenia, and type 2 diabetes compared to their siblings. Sixty years after the famine, researchers could still identify areas of increased and decreased methylation in the famine subjects that was in contrast to their brothers and sisters.

Finding Your People 

There are plenty of sites where you can submit a saliva test and some greenbacks in order to discover lost and distant relatives, and perhaps delve into family biology: 

23andme.com is a major player in the space, but see cautions in the sidebar.

Geneticgenie.org allows you to analyze your genome.

Livewello.com can process reports based on analysis of raw genetic files generated by 23andme, AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA, or it can gather its own data to generate variance and health reports using single nucleotide polymorphisms.

MTHFR.net includes resources for the MTHFR gene, the mutation of which is believed to be the source of many health problems.

Hopefully now you’re at least able to pop in with an intelligent comment at the next Zoom call or water cooler gathering when someone brings up epigenetics. Check out the sources below if you want to dig in further or seek out a continued learning class on the subject. Healthcare is transforming rapidly, and this is one field that’s sure to have a major impact.




Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Tax Strategies for Retirement



Taxes can take a big bite out of your retirement income. Keep more of your money with these tips.   


Financial advisors boost client returns by investing and taking out retirement funds in a manner that minimizes tax consequences, according to a recent analysis by Morningstar researchers. In fact, they discovered that doing so can increase retirement income more than 4%, which is the same amount considered to be a safe withdrawal rate by many money managers. In other words, ensuring your funds are invested and withdrawn to minimize taxes can give you a return equal to the amount you’ll withdraw. The strategy literally pays for itself, and gains may be even larger for those holding Roth accounts.

Roth Option

Roth accounts hold money you’ve already paid tax on, so you can withdraw it completely tax-free in retirement. What’s the catch? You give up the earnings that tax money would have made for however many years the investment lasts. Compare the two here to see which is right for you. Most people will benefit from using a Roth, either in a 401(k) or IRA.

How Is Investment Income Taxed?


Understanding how income is taxed is an important factor in tax planning. Withdrawals from Roth accounts are tax-free. Withdrawals from traditional IRA and 401(k) accounts will be taxed as ordinary income. Money held in taxable accounts is taxed according to its source:
  • Interest income, such as from certificates of deposit (CDs), savings or checking accounts and most bonds, is taxed at your ordinary rate.
  • Capital gains are income that is made by selling an investment for more than the price at which it was bought. If the investment was owned for at least a year and a day, it’s considered long-term and qualifies for the favorable capital gains rate. Less than that, and it is short-term and taxed as ordinary income. 
  • Dividends usually benefit from preferential rates, as long as they are paid by a US corporation or qualified foreign corporation and don’t fall into an excluded category. The corporation that pays the dividend also must be owned for at least a year and a day. And if the dividend isn’t considered “qualified,” it will be taxed at ordinary rates.

 
Roth accounts are a way to avoid future tax consequences for those who will be in a higher tax bracket in retirement. This includes retirees whose income will shoot up at age 72 when they must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional retirement accounts. The Roth option is also valuable for early retirees, who must wait to begin taking withdrawals from 401(k) or traditional IRA accounts until age 59.5 or pay a 10% penalty.

Another reason to choose a Roth account now? No one can predict the future, but tax rates are at historical lows. It is wise to assume that they will rise in the future, especially since the SECURE Act tax cuts expire after 2025. Finally, the Roth investment vehicle itself may be on the chopping block in the future as the government seeks ways to cover spending.

Some retirees may benefit from funding Roth accounts with rollover contributions after they have quit working (and income is lower) but before they reach age 72 (when RMDs start). It’s also a way for high-income individuals to avoid income limitations on Roth contributions. To explore a Roth rollover, check here.

Asset Allocation

Most people have a variety of accounts: taxable, traditional 401(k) or IRA, and a Roth 401(k) or IRA. Maximize your tax savings by holding the right investments in each type of account. 

Taxable accounts are great for tax efficient investments. This includes stocks and stock funds, which produce capital gains. Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income, or sometimes not at all. Municipal bonds are also a good choice for taxable accounts, since they are not taxed. 

Other bonds and bond funds may be best in traditional retirement accounts. Most of their returns, which are in the form of dividends, are taxed as ordinary income. 

Withdrawals

Generally speaking, you should take money out of taxable accounts first, then draw down 401(k)s and IRAs, and save Roth accounts for last. “That’s a pretty good rule for the vast majority of people out there,” says David Blanchett, a co-author of the Morningstar study and head of retirement research at the financial services company. 

But some investors may want to strategize further. For instance, if an investor has withdrawn funds to the limit of a certain tax bracket, it may be wise to take any additional monies from a Roth account to avoid getting hit with a higher rate. It’s a plan that can also be used to avoid hitting income levels for annual Medicare premiums and taxes on Social Security benefits. 

Best Practices

To sum it up, there are a handful of ways to minimize taxes in retirement. Invest in Roths, make strategic withdrawals, choose tax-efficient investments, and invest for the long term. Find a fiduciary financial advisor to assist you with these complex decisions and you’ll be well on your way to the best financial outcome for your retirement nest egg.



Sunday, December 12, 2021

How Climate Change May Affect Your Retirement



Extreme weather events will likely cause expenses to rise across the country while presenting particular danger to older adults.  


“Most people want to escape the winters of the Northeast or the high taxes of certain states, but [climate change] may make them pause and do a little bit more research,” says Certified Financial Planner James Ciprich. “Proximity to health care and low taxes are always attractive options, but now, especially for seniors, you almost need to be thinking in terms of what is my contingency plan in the event of a weather disaster.”

According to NASA, climate change is impacting weather events across the country. Recent years have brought devastating hurricanes to the Eastern Seaboard, flooding in the Midwest and South, and wildfires in the West. It appears we can expect more of the same in the future, with rising sea levels and continued warming. How will this affect older adults?

It’s likely the result will be seen in three areas:
  1. Older adults are most likely to die in extreme weather events.
  2. They may have to rethink where they will retire.
  3. Seniors will face increased costs of living and likely lower returns on investments.

Mortality Factor

When hurricanes, floods, and fires roar through populated areas, older adults are more likely to be left in place, hospitalized, or killed. Hurricane Katrina took the lives of 1,833 people, and 70% of them were older adults. When the Paris heat wave hit, half of those who perished were seniors.
 

States at Risk


If you’re considering several states for retirement, or want to check on climate risk in your own state, you’ll want to take a look at States at Risk. Just click on a state to find which risks related to climate change it carries. This is a great tool for a first look at what to consider, although we recommend researching individual geographic areas within a state before making any decisions about where to live. Another tip is to rent in an area you’re considering for retirement before making a decision to purchase.
A portion of these grim statistics is due to the relative immobility of the older population, and in part to their more fragile overall health. Regardless of the cause, older adults are more at risk during extreme weather events.

Where To Retire

It seems there is nowhere that is completely free of the impact of climate change. Portland, Oregon, known for fog and rain, saw temperatures break 115 degrees last summer. Massive floods have hit Iowa and Nebraska. The entire state of Texas lost power during the winter of 2021 when winter storms swept through. California is consumed by fire on a regular basis. The subways of New York City had to be closed due to hurricane-induced flooding this past year. 

Florida has been a Mecca for older adults. The inviting combination of warm weather and no state tax has drawn seniors for decades. While that is still true, many soon-to-be retirees are rethinking their options. One couple, David and Rachel, had planned their retirement for years. They had purchased the condo of their dreams on the Florida coast and looked forward to seaside living in a community with thriving shops and restaurants. “We loved it there, we would visit regularly,” Rachel says. 

Then they started seeing sandbags stacked along the local roads. “It wasn’t hurricane season, there wasn’t even a recent storm, and water on the road was there every day,” says David. “We couldn’t stay there, rumors and news reports suggested that climate change was only going to make the flooding worse over time — we were imagining not being able to get in or out of our condo depending on the water level.” Rachel says she began wondering what she’d do if a hurricane came, and how high the water would get. What would she do if they needed to get to a doctor? Regretfully, the pair sold their dream home.

And it’s not just Florida. The National Weather Service reported that last June was the warmest ever on record for Phoenix, Arizona. The high was 118 degrees. And even if carbon emissions were to cease immediately, the Earth is going to get 1.5 degrees warmer over the next 30 years, according to a United Nations report. 

Financial Impacts

Many experts are recommending that all of us plan for higher costs in the future due to climate change. The potential impacts are daunting: 
  • Crop failures
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Infrastructure damage

Goods will likely become more expensive to produce and transport, and everyone will pay the price as roads and bridges buckle from heat or are washed out by flooding. On a personal level, seniors may find themselves spending more on utility bills, safeguarding their homes against weather events, home repairs, and increased insurance cost and coverage. Those living in the West may be air conditioning their home year ‘round, while others may be dealing with unexpected mold mitigation or water damage.

Even now, many older adults are surprised at the cost of home insurance. Ciprich’s clients, who often leave the New York metropolitan area to head south for states that are lower cost, often are surprised to find they spend just as much. What’s saved in property taxes is often spent on homeowners insurance. 

And they usually haven’t factored in the expense of nails, plywood, and sandbags that are necessary whenever a storm threatens, not just when one hits. Home power generators can set them back up to $7,750, hurricane shutters are $2,000 to $5,750, and retrofitting against earthquake damage is $3,000 and up. 

Returns

Most retirees are invested in the stock market and expect average historic annual returns in the range of 10%. But can that last? Higher inflation driven by climate change is a real possibility, and it will erode real returns. Many companies that have benefitted from the fossil fuel economy will incur large expenses as they transfer to cleaner energy. And high-growth companies may find money is more expensive to borrow, lowering returns.

With all this bad news, what can older adults do to protect themselves? Build climate change into plans for the future. This includes planning for higher costs, lower returns, and upping insurance. Surprisingly, many of those living in coastal areas do not carry flood insurance. Retirement, when most people are on a tight income, is not the time to skimp on insuring against geographic risks, whether that’s floods, fire, earthquakes or some other risk.

Additionally, older adults can consider climate change when looking where to retire. Seek out areas with adequate, but not extreme, rainfall, moderate temperatures, and no threat from rising sea levels. Be realistic about considering the entire cost of living in a certain area, not just taxes or insurance. Nothing in life is certain but embracing planning can help make the future brighter.
 



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Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors



Thursday, December 9, 2021

Can You Trust Wristband Health Readings?



Rapid advances in healthcare technology allow many older adults to monitor their vital signs with a glance at their wrist. But is the technology accurate?   


You’ve probably seen or heard of the multitude of health monitors you can strap on your wrist. And you might assume that they have passed testing to show that they are accurate and reliable. Well, think again.

Most wrist-worn health monitoring products that come on the market are not approved by the FDA. For example, Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple devices all detect blood oxygen levels. However, none of them tie those readings to any medical conditions, so they did not need clearance from the agency before they were made available to consumers. 
 

The Rumors Aren’t True


Recently, the rumor mill churned out a story that the next Apple Watch would be able to measure blood glucose and alcohol. It arose after the tech giant began questioning users how they monitored both of these levels. Then there was news that one of Apple’s suppliers had come up with a “wrist clinic” that could measure those two biometrics and core body temperature, blood pressure and hydration. That would be progress indeed. However, nothing substantial has come of the gossip and tech junkies are doubtful that such a big jump has been made.
 
A recent study compared smartwatch and portable health device readings to standard instruments for heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Only heart rate measurements performed in accordance with guidelines for both devices: the Everlast smartwatch and BodiMetrics Performance Monitor. The study concluded that “continued sale of consumer physiological monitors without prior validation and approval procedures is a public health concern.”

FDA Approved

There is one outlier. The Withings ScanWatch,  which scans for abnormal heart rhythms via an EKG feature and also warns about breathing issues during sleep with a blood oxygen sensor, is the first unit to garner FDA approval on both features. The ScanWatch monitors blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and movement to flag breathing problems that could indicate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or sleep apnea, according to a company spokesman.

A study of the pulse oxygen feature was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and found that readings from the smartwatch and a standard pulse oximeter were virtually the same. An ongoing trial is evaluating whether or not the ScanWatch can accurately diagnose sleep apnea. Fitbit and Apple are working on similar products. 

Sleep experts see the smartwatch as a potential means to diagnose sleep apnea at an early stage; the condition often goes undiagnosed. However, experts are cautious since doctors normally use other measurements in combination with those indicated by the watch to make a final diagnosis.

How Do Wearables Work?

Smartwatches shine a broad-spectrum LED onto the user’s skin and evaluate changes in the light that is reflected back. Some sensors in development use several discrete laser outputs from a single chip, enabling assessments of a variety of biometric markers including those in blood, interstitial fluids, and different layers of skin.

As time goes on, you can expect wearables with a greater variety of health measurements and increased accuracy. But before you buy, make sure to do your homework and check how accurate the data is.

Hot Tip: Place your fitness tracker in a pocket near your hip for a more accurate step count. If you must wear it on an arm or hold it, use your non-dominant side. 



Sunday, December 5, 2021

Cabbies May Unlock Alzheimer’s Secret



Find out why researchers are studying London cab drivers’ brains to learn more about dementia.   


If you hop into one of London’s iconic black taxis, the driver won’t chart a course to your destination with GPS. That’s because every cabbie in this sprawling city since 1865 has had to pass a test called “the Knowledge.” It may be the most difficult piece of memorization on Earth. The region of the brain known as the hippocampus, which shrinks in Alzheimer’s patients, apparently increases in size for cab drivers the longer they are on the job.

Why London Cabbies Are Different

The cluster of exams that make up the Knowledge take three or even four years to finish. Cabbies must know how to navigate 26,000 streets encompassing a six-mile circle around Charing Cross, the heart of London, in order to earn full licensure and a coveted green badge. 

“London cabbies have remarkable brains,” says Hugo Spiers, lead author of the Taxi Brains study underway at University College London. He is building on research done more than 20 years ago by Irish neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire that demonstrated positive changes in taxi drivers’ brains resulting from learning the Knowledge. 
 

Train Your Brain


If you’ve decided you’d like to delve deeper into this method of brain training, you can! London driver Rob Lordon has written the book The Knowledge: Train Your Brain Like a Cabbie. Or you can check out his blog on the subject: View From the Mirror, A Cabbie’s London. 
 
“We don’t know much about how taxi drivers use their hippocampus during route planning,” says Spiers. “And how do they use other brain regions to solve the task of navigating 26,000 streets? Can we explain why they might be quick to plan out one route and take a while to think out another one? It’s something we need to know more about.”

Researchers hope that by taking MRIs of cabbies’ brains while they are asked to plot out 120 routes in their minds, they will find a way to detect dementia sooner and begin treatment earlier. In return, the cabbies get $40 and an MRI photo of their brain. If you think that’s scant reward for their efforts, you’d be right. Many have personal reasons for participating.

Meet A Participant

Cabbie Matt Newton’s father died of dementia a couple of years ago. “I know what a devastating disease it is for the person (who has it) and the family,” he says. “It was only a few hours of my time, so I was happy to help.” Newton, 44, has been a cabbie since 2016. In addition to route mapping, the cabbies are asked to play Sea Hero Quest, a video game requiring players to use complex spatial navigation. 

“I actually enjoyed studying the Knowledge,” says Newton, “but it was extremely difficult. Most people give up. I studied 12 hours a day, seven days a week for three and a half years.” Newton was a network analyst for two decades before changing careers. He now earns between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, depending on how many hours he puts in behind the wheel.

“I started out learning the ‘Blue Book’ — a set of 320 runs between various points in London,” he says. “I started calling up 80 of these runs every day in my head, then driving the runs on a scooter. I learned hospital runs, theater runs, football runs, and ‘no traffic light’ runs before I applied to be a taxi driver.”

After passing an initial written test, Newton progressed to the portion that would earn him the designation of “black cabbie.” He was required to pass an oral examination every 56 days, reciting the streets he’d take to cover four different routes between points in London. When he’d passed that hurdle, he was called in to the examiner’s office every 28 days, and then every 21 days, for testing.

“At each point, if you fail you go back to the previous level,” he says.

Ideal Study Subjects

London cabbies make ideal participants because there is no other professional group quite like them, especially in the field of spatial navigation,” says researcher Chris Gahnstrom. “They’re a large group of expert navigators who have all had to learn an immense amount of similar information that they are required to use on a daily basis.”

The Taxi Brains researchers are hopeful they can pinpoint the particular subregions of the hippocampus that are most altered in the brains of the 30 cabbies in the study. Results will be passed on to Alzheimer’s Research UK and preliminary findings should appear sometime in the summer of 2022. 





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Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors



Thursday, December 2, 2021

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!


Image Source: Wikipedia

December 7 - Larry Bird, basketball player, coach and executive


Larry, you only told me one lie. You said there would be another Larry Bird. There will never, ever be another Larry Bird.— Magic Johnson, at Bird’s retirement party

Larry Bird is the only person in NBA history to wear the titles of Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. Bird also was bestowed the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, one he shares with court rival and lifelong friend Magic Johnson. 

Bird was raised in French Lick, Indiana. His mom worked two jobs to support her six offspring. She divorced Bird’s father when Bird was in high school, and Larry’s dad took his own life twelve months later. Bird says that “to this day” growing up poor was a highly motivating factor for him, as he dominated the court from a young age. An introvert, Bird chose the relatively small campus of Indiana State University for college ball, leading the Sycamores to their first NCAA tournament with a 33-0 record his junior year. They lost to Michigan State for the championship, but it would mark the first time Bird squared off against the man who would become his nemesis on court and good friend off it: Magic Johnson.

The pair dominated ‘80s basketball. With Bird on the Celtics and Johnson playing for the Lakers, the rivalry whipped up fan interest and excitement. During that decade, either Boston or Los Angeles appeared in every NBA Finals. 

In 1985 Bird was shoveling asphalt to make a driveway at his mother’s house and hurt his back. The injury never fully healed despite treatments and even a surgery to remove a disc. It would eventually cause Bird to step off the court for good as a player in 1993. However, Bird went on to a successful if short coaching stint, then President of Operations for the Celtics, and today stays on as an advisor.


 


Image Source: Wikipedia

December 23 - Dave Murray, guitarist and songwriter

Heavy metal band Iron Maiden has featured Dave Murray as lead guitar since 1976; he’s second only to founder Steve Harris in time spent with the band. He formed his first band at 16 after hearing “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix on the radio when "everything changed, just like that. Getting into rock music wasn't like a gradual process for me; it was completely sort of extreme, totally black and white. I heard 'Voodoo Chile' on the radio and I thought, 'What is THAT? How do you do THAT?' And I started hanging around the rock music section of the record stores and buying albums, thinking about getting into the big time, wondering what that would be like.” 


Murray grew up poor, his family moving around London. He quickly learned to fight and spent his youth battling skinheads and having “a rowdy couple of years.” After his rock conversion he quit school and played in a couple of local bands. When he auditioned for Iron Maiden it was over the objection of the band’s two guitar players at the time, but when they laid down an ultimatum that it was Murray or them, founder and bassist Harris says there was no contest. "When the others made it plain that it was either them or Dave Murray, there was no choice. There was no way I was gonna let Dave go. Not only was he a nice bloke, he was just the best guitarist I'd ever worked with. He still is.”

Murray isn’t very involved with songwriting, preferring the instrumental aspects of songs. He’s No. 9 on Gibson’s list of the Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time. Murray has used Fender Stratocaster guitars to the near exclusion of all other brands. 

He has one daughter with his wife, Tamar, and lives on Maui when he’s not touring. What’s his favorite sport? Not surfing. Surprisingly, Murray prefers to be out on the links at least a couple of times a week.





Image Source: Wikipedia

December 26 - David Sedaris, essayist, humorist


David Sedaris is an American treasure. If you haven’t laughed out loud recently, pick up a copy of his “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls” or “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” The latter is especially illuminating for anyone who has ever struggled to learn a foreign language. Perhaps you recall when Sedaris read his essay “Santaland Diaries” on National Public Radio in 1992. It was a monster hit then and the humor, wit and even pathos is just as poignant now.

Sedaris’s works are largely autobiographical. He is one of six children; sister Amy is an actor and co-writer on three plays, written under the moniker “The Talent Family.” Sister Tiffany died in 2013, prompting Sedaris to pen “Now We Are Five.” He often deals with themes of his own gayness, and can be self-deprecating, witty and stabbingly excoriating in the same paragraph. 

Sedaris lives in West Sussex, England, with longtime partner Hugh, a set designer and painter with whom he forms “the sort of couple who wouldn’t get married.” One of his passions is strapping on a headlamp and collecting roadside litter, a hobby for which he’s been dubbed “Pig Pen” and acquired a waste vehicle of the same name. Look for him when you’re in Rackham.





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Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors