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Friday, December 30, 2011

December 31

Despite the fact that my grandmother had numerous grandchildren, she spent a great deal of time with our family and me, in particular. We had a special connection; I was the fortunate recipient of what she had gleaned over the course of her life concerning her extensive travels, long-time relationships, and eclectic experiences. It was a blessing that she introduced me to everything beautiful—art, literature, theater, ballet, fashion…

Nana and I had a holiday tradition which took the form of meeting on the last day of the year to review the last 365 days we had both completed. It was sheer fun for me, having no idea that she was teaching me something valuable about reflecting on decisions, actions, and goals. She showed me how to renew my vows to myself.

On December 31 we always spent the day in Manhattan. Dressed to the nines, we lunched at some chic little restaurant, always one of Nana’s favorites. Armed with our calendars and Shirley Temples (although I’m pretty sure that Nana’s was a “Dirty Shirley”) we began the ritual of evaluation.

Reviewing the year, many things became clear because it was all there in black and white in our detailed calendars—the satisfying successes, the dismal disappointments, and all the things that fell in between. It was clear to me that failures offered the most insight.

These days, I appreciate Nana’s teaching the value of reflection more than ever. I am hoping to continue this tradition with a grandchild I may have some day.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a writer specializing in social and health concerns of seniors. She lives in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Caring Across the Miles this Holiday Season

If you are a caregiver for an aging parent, the holiday season may offer a chance to spend additional time with your family. But for some who live a far away from aging parents, this time of year might be a troublesome reminder of the distance between you and the family member who may need some level of care or assistance.

While this might seem challenging, it’s a very common circumstance. According to AARP, * “One-quarter of people caring for elderly relatives do so at a distance.” I’m sure this number continues to grow with more and more families living in different parts of the country!

Most, if not all, caregivers have experienced the ever-expanding pressures and expectations that come with caring for an elder parent. One suggestion is to build a long-distance team to help lighten your caregiving load.

The Caring for your Parents: The Complete AARP Guide suggests, “Even an only child – or an only responsible child – can’t and shouldn’t try to take care of a parent by herself. She should build a caregiving team with close family members, good friends of her parents, caring neighbors, doctors, clergy, and paid caregivers.”

Another option can be enlisting the help of a Geriatric Care Manager - a counselor, social worker, nurse, gerontologist or other specialist - who can coordinate a wide range of elder care. You can learn more about Geriatric Care Managers through the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at

A friend and colleague of mine created a wonderful book entitled, **50 Ways to Love Your Mother, which offers lots of simple and fun gift ideas for aging parents. Her tips include the general cost and also if the gift is easy to send if local or long distance. Sometimes just the simple things, like sending a special card or practical gift, can offer a lot to an elder family member who may be living miles away.

*Caring for your Parents: The Complete AARP Guide, AARP, 2006
** 50 Ways to Love Your Mother, Jane Monachelli, M.A., L.P.C., 2006
Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for a retirement community and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TAX TIME for SENIORS - educational webinar

Registration is now open for January's educational webinar, TAX TIME for SENIORS, presented by Beanna Whitlock of Whitlock Tax Service, LLC. Tax season is just around the corner and Beanna will present on the problematic areas of tax filing for Seniors, including:

• How to discover the magic of "bunching" deductions to save your Seniors tax dollars.
• Be mindful of not leaving Senior tax dollars on the table and discover an effective IRA planning strategy.
• Learn how to insure that your Senior taxpayers pay the lowest legal amount of tax.
• And more

Beanna Whitlock is an Enrolled Agent in private practice as Whitlock Tax Service, LLC located in San Antonio, TX.

A tax law instructor for more than 30 years with emphasis on Limited Liability Company and Ethics and Professional Conduct presentations. Beanna has taught tax professionals across the country and is an adjunct professor for Auburn University. She is a faculty member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors, CSA and the National Center for Professional Education. She is the Executive Director of the ncpefellowship, a web based organization providing educational resources and practice management tools at

She has testified before Congress, Treasury and the IRS Oversight Board. She has served on the IRS Information Reporting Program Advisory Council as well as the IRS Commissioner’s Advisory Committee (CAG). She served as the IRS Director of National Public Liaison for Commissioner Mark Everson and is a recipient of the Commissioner’s Award for Excellence of Service.

She has been honored by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential in Accounting for an unprecedented 7 years.

Known for her fierce defense of the tax professional community, Beanna is frequently consulted by accounting and tax publications regarding issues concerning the tax professional community.

Register Now!

Date: January 19th, 2012

Time: 11:00am (PST); 12:00 (MST); 1:00 (CST); 2:00 (EST)

Cost: Free for CSAs; $49 public Register Now!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Don’t Call Us Guys

Please call us gentlepeople. Or just say hello.

Here are the ground rules for my argument: according to Unabridged, which is based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary 2011, the word gentleperson is the singular pronoun referring to a form of address for a lady or gentleman. Gentlepeople is the plural pronoun that can be used when speaking to a group of people.

Either word will do nicely, thanks. Folks or a simple greeting will work, too. As a senior, I think I am not alone in my lack of appreciation for being greeted as guys. When I am in a shop or restaurant with one or two friends I would prefer that you call us folks or anything except the ubiquitous you guys. I understand that this is considered standard English usage in the twenty-first century, but it is not accurate. One key aspect of effective language is clarity. At best, calling us you guys is ambiguous, and as a devotee of language, I always prefer to avoid ambiguity if possible. The informality can be confusing--at worst rude.

Distinctions in both formal and informal language exist for a reason. Many of us still care deeply about the use of English and its pragmatics. We care about its variations, rich with nuances; we love that it is a living, breathing mode of expression.

Still, it boils down to the fact that we women are not guys when we’re out alone; nor are we guys when we’re out with our men. We are gentleladies or gentlepeople. Or hello works.

~Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a writer specializing in social and health concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts. Lhjablon@gma

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laughter: The Best Medicine

Laughing is a delightful distraction and mood booster, especially when we are ailing or feeling blue. Then there’s the old adage about its being the best medicine, and many of us have wondered about its true impact on our wellbeing. In the interest of finding this out, health professionals have been studying its medicinal effects for years.

There is a growing body of research indicating that a good giggle may improve immune function, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress and depression. Despite the fact that there are relatively few long-term studies, the findings are compelling.

According to Michael Miller, Cardiologist and professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, the clinical evidence is extremely positive. “There is a potential upside, in terms of vascular benefits and overall health,” he explains. “These findings certainly support laughter as a reasonable prescription for heart health, and health in general, especially since there is no downside.”

There is also prior research that strongly suggests that people who laugh need less pain medication post-surgery. Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary anthropologist claims, “If laughter triggers endorphin activation, then it may have direct health benefits because there is a possibility that endorphins help to ‘tune’ the immune system.” Think: cool tune-up for our bodies.

Perhaps the major benefits of laughter stem from our playful interactions with our friends, family, and lovers--good, old-fashioned, fun that benefits all of us.

You may want to read the October 24, 2011 article in The Washington Post by Carolyn Butler, “Laughing May Help Ease Blood Pressure, Boost Mood and Enrich Health in Other Ways.”

~Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a writer specializing in social and health concerns of seniors. She is based in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Best Time of Year to Retire

Have you ever been asked, “When is the best time of year to retire?” A simple question but one which has a number of factors to be considered. Not only are there financial implications to think about but also consideration should be given to the season at the time of retirement. Talk to your clients about the following:

A. Cost of Living

Some employer benefit programs state an employee must be retired on or before July 1st (meaning the last working day would be June 30) to receive any cost-of-living increase on a pension granted for July 1st. This means an on-going pension will actually be less if your client retires in July or August compared with retiring on or before July 1st.

B. Vacation Payoff

The first week of January may be appealing to begin retirement especially if your client is carrying more than the maximum accrual for vacation. The client could get paid for the total as long as he/she retires before the end of the first pay period in January. Retiring in January also gives the person the entire year to absorb any lump-sum payoff.

C. Tax Considerations

Tax considerations and the best time to retire are different for each individual. It’s worthwhile for your client to estimate taxes based on different dates throughout the year and I strongly recommend getting advice from a tax advisor a year or two before a client plans to retire.

D. Season

Regardless of when a client chooses to retire, it is important to plan activities or events to counter or coincide with the season. For example, if a client retires in January, he/she may want to start with a trip to the sunny south or take a ski holiday. However, if he/she chooses to retire in the winter months (January – March), and happens to live in one of the Northern States or Canada, your client may face many grey, cold, snowy days that can give the inaugural weeks of retirement a bleak feeling.

Retiring in the spring (April – June) and the prospect of gardening and being outdoors may be appealing. Or perhaps your client prefers the summer (July – September) and spending additional time at the cottage to officially launch their new life. The fall months (October – December) may be ideal as this is a time of completion, celebration and planning for the New Year.

When planning for retirement, speak to your client about the time of year best suited for he or she and their spouse from a financial, seasonal and goal perspective. This ‘value added’ conversation is additional evidence you are a caring advisor who wants to help with your client’s retirement planning.

Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don’t Just Retire – Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Andy Rooney: Curmugeon

Prickly and witty.

Many of us will miss Andy Rooney’s weekly segment on “60 Minutes” in which he addresses mostly mundane subjects with varying degrees of befuddlement, vexation, and on a rare occasion, pleasure. He was one of the most popular broadcast figures in the country—and truly a curmudgeon.

A little history: after his discharge from the army following World War II, Rooney worked as a freelance writer, churning out material for entertainers such as Arthur Godfrey, Victor Borge, Herb Shriner, Sam Levenson, and Gary Moore. He wrote entertaining, clever essays that made creative writing look so easy, like fluid fun. Later on, he wrote his weekly piece for “60 Minutes” that made him the homespun philosopher who entered our homes every Sunday for so many years. There were 1,097 segments in all; quite a legacy.

Rooney loved Christmas, football, tennis, among a few other things. Very few. He was much better known for the things he found objectionable, which was almost everything: he complained about wash and wear shirts that you can wash, but not wear; about any music he could not hum. He hated waiting on lines for any reason, and New Year’s Eve--he loathed it.

Beauty parlors were not filled with beauties, he observed, and he was outspoken on the subject of higher education. He believed that most college catalogs “rank among the great works of fiction of all time,” and that anyone who can come up with the money to attend college would find it “almost impossible to flunk out.” He was also blunt about his feelings for CBS, his long-time employer, and he made no secret of his dislike for Laurence A. Tisch, the network’s chief executive from 1986 to 1995.

While millions of followers delighted in his “60 Minutes” presentations, there were also a lot of people who took issue with his off-handed comments concerning serious subjects about which they felt deeply. Sometimes he made insensitive comments about suicides and minorities—definitely not good. At these times he was viewed as offensive, sarcastic, or outrageous. A complex man, Rooney’s area of expertise encompassed the smaller, lighter pieces about which he wrote. I used to hope that he would adhere to them.

On occasion, Rooney’s outspoken opinions got him into trouble with CBS News. In 1990, he found himself suspended for three months without pay in response to comments he had made about black and gay people. He later apologized for the statements that got him into hot water, but managed to offend the same groups again--in addition to women and Latin Americans. Ugh.

A few years ago, I passed him on the street in Manhattan. There was no mistaking him, with his bushy eyebrows, jowls, and scowling countenance. Wanting to respect his privacy, and avoid being insulted for interrupting his solitude, I did not tell him that I was a fan of his work. I kept walking; he would have preferred that and even thanked me for doing so.

~ Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Meet our November 2011 CSA Spotlight - Bruce Nemovitz, CSA

Bruce Nemovitz, CSA is a Senior Real Estate Specialist, as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. He has sold residential homes in the four county Milwaukee-Metro areas for 33 years. Bruce focused his real estate practice on the senior market 17 years ago when a marketing director at a senior community asked him to speak about the challenges that seniors (75-90) must face when moving from their long time home into a senior apartment or community. The rest is history. Bruce speaks throughout the 4 county Milwaukee-Metro area at senior communities. His talks focus on educating seniors to the services available for older adults when faced with downsizing and moving. Bruce works with his wife Jeanne, who is also a licensed realtor, at Realty Executives Integrity. Together, they have formed a team of professionals that provide all of the services necessary to a successful move. Since the ‘great recession in 2008’, Bruce’s business has also focused on the children of seniors (mostly baby boomers) who are helping their parents through the process of transitioning their parents to a senior apartment or community.

Bruce has recently received the 2010 “Realtor of the Year” award from the 3,800 membership of the GMAR (Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors). He has been listed in Milwaukee Magazine’s 5-Star Agents list for three years in a row. As such, he’s one of only a handful of realtors who are continually included in the top 7% in client satisfaction in the Milwaukee Metro area. He is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and was a finalist for Concordia College’s Ethical Business Leadership Award. Bruce has published a book called “Moving in the Right Direction: A Senior’s Guide to Moving and Downsizing. (

Here is what Bruce has to say about being a Certified Senior Advisor:
“I have been a Certified Senior Advisor for several years, and I have used the knowledge and expertise given to me through my CSA education to better relate to my senior clients and their families. The CSA designation has proved to be a great asset when a client is assessing my credentials before choosing me as their agent and advisor. Seniors and their children present many complex issues when it is time to move from their long time home, and the CSA information available is critical to achieving a successful outcome for older adults and their children”.

Contact Bruce today:
phone: 262-242-6177

Visit Bruce’s website where you can view various senior-related articles and resources on moving and downsizing. Here’s just a few for you to download:

I Can't Sell My House

Optimism and Real Estate: Medicine We Can All Use

Retirement Can Be Re-Inspirement!

Don't Sell Mom and Dad's Home

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Retirement Plan 2012 Inflation Adjustments - Part 2

Although most seniors are no longer setting aside money for retirement, those who work with seniors are. And, each year the amount that we can set aside is adjusted for inflation. The IRS recently announced the 2012 inflation adjustments. Here are some of the highlights that might affect Certified Senior Advisors:

Contribution limits are the same as for 2011 ($5,000 plus $1,000 catch-up amount if over age 50).

Deductible amount for Traditional IRA if an active participant in an employer-sponsored plan:

Contribution limitations for Roth IRA if an active participant in an employer-sponsored plan:

Employer-sponsored plans

The contribution limit for employees participating in 401(k), 403(b), etc. is increased to $17,000 (from $16,500 in 2011). Employees over age 50 may contribute an additional $5.500 in 2012 (unchanged from 2011).

Information provided by Frank Vidin, CFP, CSA, financial and non-profit consultant and CSA faculty member.

Click here for a printable PDF copy of this document!


1. IR-2011-103, Oct 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dark Chocolate, My New BF

As if chocolate lovers needed research studies to justify the consumption of the dark, delicious stuff…

Still, there is additional good news about chocolate. It comes in the form of a Harvard study that was recently announced in Atlanta at the American Heart Association’s science session on cardiovascular disease. This study found that one square of chocolate a day can help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, as well as increase insulin sensitivity which aids in lowering the risk of diabetes.
And the news gets better. The Harvard researchers also found evidence that dark chocolate affects cholesterol. A small decrease in LDL (bad) and a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol were noted. Further, the researchers sited “rather strong evidence” that dark chocolate improves several important cardiovascular risk factors and “likely reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

So, aside from the promising medical implication that chocolate is beneficial to our hearts, I must admit that it always did my heart good to read the message inside the Dove chocolate foil. I take it personally when I read, “Your smile lights up the room” or “You’re exactly where you should be.” This chocolate is not only delicious, but the people who make it seem to know things about us. That, too, is comforting in these impersonal times; just another reason to indulge in it.

So far, my best relationship has been with chocolate, and the Harvard study simply confirms what I already knew.

Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living to Give: What it Takes to Be a Cancer Caregiver

Register now for our November educational webinar, Living to Give: What it Takes to be a Cancer Caregiver. This event is being held, Thursday November 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM Mountain Standard Time (other times shown below.)

Being a cancer caregiver is one of the most exhausting, yet critical, roles a person can play. In this seminar, Aldrich will explain what it takes to be an effective cancer caregiver. She’ll cover everything from how to handle day-to-day issues such as warding off germs and getting your patient to eat to the rollercoaster of emotions you will experience. Aldrich will also discuss these important items:

• Your Caregiver Toolbox
• Paperwork Organization
• Defining Your Resources (ahead of time.)
• ‘Asking for Help’
• Special Needs of Cancer Patients

Register Now!

Date: Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Time: 2:00 PM (EST)
1:00 PM (CST)
12:00 PM (MST)
11:00 AM (PST)

Cost: Free for CSAs; $49 Public

Register Now!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tax Planning for 2012

Although many of us don’t start thinking about next year’s taxes until after we pay this year’s, for many taxpayers — both seniors and those of us who work with seniors —it is often helpful to look ahead. This is especially true if we have income that we aren’t sure whether to take this year or defer into next year.

In late October, the IRS released 2012 inflation-adjusted tax numbers, taking into account the 3.6% inflation rate between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011.

In addition to the income tax changes noted below, 2012 will see the first inflation adjustment to the exclusion amount for estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer taxes, which will increase from $5,000,000 to $5,120,000.

Some of the 2012 income tax adjustments include:

Standard Deduction
Married filing joint.....................$11,900
Head of Household........................$8,700
Unmarried or Married filing Separately...$5,950

Additional Standard Deduction for Aged and/or Blind
Married (per person).....................$1,150

Personal Exemption
All taxpayers (for each dependent).......$3,800

2012 Tax Bracket Breakpoints

Information provided by Frank Vidin, CFP, CSA, financial and non-profit consultant and CSA faculty member.

1. Rev. Proc. 2011-52 (October 20, 2011).
2. The tax bracket breakpoint is the point where the next dollar of taxable income will be taxed at a higher bracket.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Courting in Cyberspace

Love is the prize.

It is the trophy that is dangled before the eyes of those who go to internet sites in search of a mate or a date. One thing is clear: internet dating websites are flourishing. In fact, it has been documented that one 1 out of 5 couples meets on a website, and many seniors are finding these sites exhilarating, alluring, and promising.

College was an excellent place to meet people. Many of us met our husbands and wives on campus; it was like one huge, ongoing, fabulous mixer offering a grand pool of potential dates. Students had everything in common—studies, classes, meals, sports, activities...

But time passed and life got complicated. Spouses died or departed; some never found anyone to love. Currently, the search for a relationship on a website can be an appealing option for boomers and their parents who are looking for an emotional connection, or simple daily communication. Many still work 9-5 jobs which leave little time or energy for meeting eligible people in the course of their day—assuming that single people live in their immediate neighborhoods and are in the same establishments at the same times on the same days.

Make no mistake, on-line dating can be like the Wild, Wild West: there is no telling what you will find out there in cyberspace. But the millions of notes flying through the airwaves offer the possibility of finding a date, friend, lover, mate, or all of the above. You just never know.

This blog is posted by Laraine Jablon, a hopeful romantic.

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social and health concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Library, a Safe Harbor

Comfort. This is my memory of the library.

As a small girl, the library held all the questions and answers; all the mysteries of the universe. It housed history and hope, and it was all there for the asking. When immersed in the stacks, I was surrounded by thousands of dear old bound friends--I loved the feel of them, the smell of them, starting them, finishing them.

The library was my world. It was the place where I was introduced to everything interesting, remarkable, and exhilarating. I learned about countries I would visit in the future, sports I played as a child and would later compete in, activities I would take part in, fields of study I would enter. Most importantly, it began my love affair with the written word.

As young children, my two best friends and I rode our bikes to the Bryant Library, named after William Cullen Bryant, the famous poet and journalist. Dating back to 1878, this was the oldest library in Nassau County. Located in the old Village of Roslyn, Long Island, it overlooked the Roslyn Duck Pond. We preferred its old Reading Room, along with the letter Bryant wrote explaining that he laid the foundation for this Reading Room because “the people have no places to meet in the evening, save the bar rooms.”

We loved the rich history of our library, and held “study dates” there after school two or three days a week. For us, the library was inexorably linked to freedom and fun. We curled up in the big, old, armchairs in front of the fireplace in the Reading Room in late afternoons and evenings. We did our homework, played word games, whispered, and secretly snacked on pretzels, muffling our crunching so that the librarians wouldn’t shush us.

Years later, we drove our folks’ cars to the library. When we got our driver’s licenses, our moms couldn’t refuse us these noble excursions. It was cool to study there and prep each other for the English Regents and the SAT’s. It was all free and it still is: the library continues to offer books, along with a tremendous diversity of services, including free internet access, courses, classes, audiobooks, CD’s, DVD’s, etcetera. A visit to the library still holds the promise of exciting new and old ideas; it is still a place to curl up on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

The future of the library is of great concern to many of us baby boomers who grew up with it. To be sure, information retrieval can take many forms; diversity and choices add another dimension to our lives. But one thing is clear: a book cannot be replaced by text and images on a screen any more than a mere photograph of a Picasso can substitute for the experience of standing before the real thing in a museum. Many of us still want to savor the genuine article.

May libraries continue to inspire children and adults.

Blog posting provided by Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Accompanying Letter as Part of a Will

You might be surprised how many people die each year without a Will. There are numerous reasons for this major oversight including; those who cannot or will not think about death, those who believe talking about and creating a Will may cause problems with their partner or family members, and those who don’t want to spend money on lawyers.

Having a proper Will goes a long way to prevent family arguments. The guesswork is eliminated and the family is clear on the deceased’s intention. Furthermore, a Will may actually save money because without one, the provincial/state authorities are in control and that could mean unnecessary delays and extra costs.

Just as a Will brings a feeling of peace and comfort, so does an accompanying letter listing items usually not included in the Will. Here are several suggestions you should encourage your clients to include in their accompanying letter:

1. People to be notified at the time of death. Certain people and institutions need to be notified at time of death including the client’s lawyer, executor, trustee and accountant along with Federal pension authorities. Relatives and special friends will want to know as soon as possible so providing the names, addresses and telephone numbers will make it easier for the person assuming this responsibility.

At the time of my father Jack’s death, my mother and family did not know who Jack was close to when working. As a result, an ex-workmate called after the funeral saying he would have appreciated attending. This oversight, which could have been prevented with a listing of people to be notified, caused much anguish for both the family and ex-workmate.

2. Listing advanced funeral arrangements. Be sure your client communicates his/her funeral arrangements and last wishes (i.e. body burial, type of casket, cremation, and hymn requests).

3. Location of personal papers. List the exact location of personal documents including birth and marriage certificates, diplomas, military papers, etc.

4. List of bank accounts and bank locations. List all bank accounts by name of institution, branch address and type of account. Also give the location of cancelled checks and bank statements with the number and location of the safety deposit box and key.

5. Listing of credit cards. List by issuer and card number.

6. Location of deed and mortgage papers. Indicate where the documents are located, the date for renewal and the holding institution.

7. Listing of insurance policies. List life, auto, home, veterans’, medical and other insurance policies together with the agent(s) name and location of these documents.

8. Listing of vehicles including registration and other papers. Provide the location of all keys and operating instructions.

9. Income and property taxes paid and owing. Provide the location of income tax returns for the past three years. Record of property tax amounts and due dates.

10. Investments including mutual funds, stocks and bonds. List all stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and other investments. Indicate the location of the investments and the name and address of the financial advisor(s). If owning any gold or silver coins or bars, provide the location and details.

11. Listing and location of valuables. List all jewelry and other valuables including the names of those to whom the articles are to be given.

12. Trusts, loans, money owed to you. List any trusts and provide the name and address of the trustee. Record all loans and other accounts payable.

13. Special survivor benefits. List all possible sources of benefits not named in the Will – government pension, veteran’s pension, employee pension, fraternal associations, etc.

With a current Will and accompanying letter of assets, document location and burial wishes, your client will feel more at ease that their final plans will be fulfilled. Encourage your client to let one or two family members know where his/her Will and accompanying letter are stored and the name and address of their lawyer. Better yet, suggest your client give a copy of the accompanying letter to his/her spouse, a trusted friend and/or family member so when your client does pass away, they can begin the process of notifying family and friends and fulfilling your client’s wishes.

Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don’t Just Retire – Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Factors Affect Longevity: Lifestyle or Genetics?

Have you ever wondered why we age? There are many theories about biological aging and scientists continue to try and answer this complex question. One thing we do know is that changes we see in the normal aging process - decreased muscle strength, changes in our sense of sight, smell, taste and hearing to name a few – are not the same as disease or sickness.

While looking into this topic, I found it interesting to see the wide range of scientific opinion about whether genes or lifestyle play more of a role in our longevity. In our CSA coursework, we learned genetics may become less important as we age and lifestyle choices become more important for successful and healthy aging.

Interestingly, one article about a study on whether genes are key to longevity stated, *"We're making progress in understanding how really long-lived people differ and don't differ from the general population. But it is extremely complex. We don't understand what it is that is contributing to longevity. It could be something genetic interacting with something else genetic. It could be genetic and lifestyle factors interacting. It probably is a little bit of all of that."

The MacArthur Research Program on Successful Aging studied identical and fraternal twins who were raised apart. This study found that **“…only about 30 percent of physiological aging was attributable to genetics.“ And when they “studied Swedish twins who were older than 80, they found that only about half the changes in mental functioning were related to genetics.”

So, what is your vote: lifestyle or genetics as the key to your longevity? Maybe it’s a bit of both? Before you decide, I invite you to read about the world’s oldest twins who turned 101 earlier this month! Maybe they know the secret formula to a long, healthy life?

*Genes Key To Longevity, Not Behavior: Study

**Working With Seniors: Health, Financial, And Social Issues, Society of Certified Senior Advisors Textbook®(2009)

Christie Munson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for Beatitudes Campus (a Continuing Care Retirement Community) and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hoarding in Seniors: Identifying the Five Levels of a Hoarder

Register now for our October educational webinar, Hoarding in Seniors: Identifying the Five Levels of a Hoarder. This event is being held tomorrow, Thursday October 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM Mountain Standard Time. Certified Senior Advisor, Marilyn Ellis will take professionals in-depth on this very critical topic by helping them to identify the five levels of hoarding as well as:

• Understanding why hoarding affects so many seniors
• The 2 most common mental disorders surrounding hoarding
• Define the limits of what is possible when working with a hoarder
• Learn how to stay personally safe when working in a hoarder’s home

Register Now!

Date: Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Time: 2:00 PM (EST)
1:00 PM (CST)
12:00 PM (MST)
11:00 AM (PST)

Cost: Free for CSAs; $49 Public

Register Now!

Monday, October 24, 2011

2012 Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments

On October 19, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released the 2012 inflation adjustments. Seniors will receive a 3.6% cost of living increase (part of which will be reduced by Medicare Part B premium increases not allowed during 2010 and 2011). Currently employed individuals will pay Social Security taxes on the first $110,100 of earnings (up from $106,800). Workers under full retirement age drawing Social Security benefits can earn up to $14,640 per month without losing benefits (up from $14,160). Individuals receiving disability benefits must be unable to earn $1,010 per month (up $10 from $1,000.)

All of the inflation adjustments, including estimated average benefits in 2012, can be found by visiting the Social Security Fact Sheet.

Information provided by Frank Vidin, CFP, CSA, financial and non-profit consultant and CSA faculty member.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Peter Pan Complex

Trotta is not old. He has no intention of growing old. Nor does he consider himself a senior. In fact, until recently, he was too young to even participate in his own 50 Plus Senior News Golf Tournament.

For the last 21 years, Trotta has been publishing 50 Plus Senior News, the only monthly newspaper marketed to LI and the five borrows of New York that is devoted exclusively to the senior crowd. He was hardly more than a boy when he landed his first job with the Suffolk County Office of Aging, shortly after graduating from college. He served as mayor of his hometown of Bellport; organized Prime Time Travel Club’s cruises and vacations; published The Fire Island News; and presided over the 50 Plus Senior News. This publication had been a thin monthly with a small circulation that grew into a two-section newspaper with a circulation of over 100,000. Its emphasis is on active older lifestyles.

According to Trotta, “Most of us think of ourselves as a lot younger than what we really are. Certainly 50’s is not senior. We are busy doing exciting things. We’re off to the gym, we’re working, we’re rock-climbing, we’re taking part in all kinds of exciting adventures.”

Trotta’s newspaper has an strong anti-aging bias. He wants it known that, “We don’t use the word elderly because no one wants to be pigeonholed in an age category.”

Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She lives in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meet Our October CSA Spotlights - Bayada Nurses

Bayada has formed a partnership with the Society of Certified Senior Advisors® (SCSA) and completed the first class of 26 participants at the NC Learning Center in Charlotte. SCSA, developed in 1997, is the world’s largest membership organization educating and certifying professionals who serve seniors. Its Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) ® Designation ...course was developed with experts in the aging field and provides knowledge about to how best to meet seniors’ needs and improve their lives. The mission is consistent with The Bayada Way of helping people to have a safe home life with comfort, independence and dignity.

The intensive curriculum places a focus on developing an understanding of the health, social and financial factors which impact the majority of seniors. The CSA designation is earned after successful completion of the certification requirements, including passing the exam and attestation to adhere to the standards of professional conduct contained in the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility.

Bayada’s next class is scheduled for Oct 10 – 13 at the NJ Learning Center. A special note of gratitude is extended to Maryanne Prudhomme and Ramona Phillips, our first CSAs, who forged the way and promoted the idea and benefits of a partnership. Another thank you to Tom Minowicz for helping organize the class at our Charlotte training facility. For more information on SCSA, visit their website below at

What are they saying about the CSA class?

“What resonated most with me was how closely aligned the CSA curriculum is to the Bayada Way. The message and its delivery were filled with compassion and sensitivity. It reiterated that "our clients come first" isn't just a saying, it's a promise we make every day. It's a way of life.” ~Courtney Hodges, Associate Director (EDE)

“The CSA course has made me think about the way that we interact with seniors in a different way. I feel like the course has helped close some gaps in the way in which we approach our jobs in respect to how we can best serve the senior population.” ~Shannon McCarson, Division Director (DAF)

“The CSA course has really helped me to further my knowledge, understanding, and overall compassion in all areas of senior care. I feel it has prepared me to provide better guidance not only to our Bayada clients, but to all seniors. Giving us the opportunity to take this class reminded me again how our company lives the Bayada Way in everything we do.” ~Tammie Craddock, Client Services Manager (CHA)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mom’s Ongoing Financial Dilemma

My mother is a widow. In addition to her loneliness, she is feeling a bit lost financially. My parents never had much money. As a result, mom doesn’t have much except her house.

Mom wants to sell her house and move closer to her children. Unfortunately, no one wants to buy it at anywhere near the modest listing price. She needs the money from the home sale in order to remain financially independent.

Given the current economic environment, things are unlikely to be resolved to anybody’s satisfaction. Steps to address the problem might have been taken before potential became reality. Now, we’re stuck with limited options and partial solutions.

Here’s what you can do to produce a more satisfactory result. First, know that you absolutely must save money. It may negatively impact your current lifestyle, but it will help your future standard of living. Next, invest wisely. Seek the help of trusted advisors. A well-diversified and allocated portfolio – no matter how small – will serve you well.

Finally, plan for the difficult times. You know they will come. Think about your insurance portfolio in terms of how well you have covered your personal financial risks. Consult a trusted advisor in this area, too.

The more you do ahead of time, the more likely the future will be a bit less frustrating. It may not be much fun to save and plan for the future, but it’s mandatory if you want to avoid the kind of financial distress impacting mom.


Blog posting provided by:

Michael Snowdon, CFP ®

Michael is president of WealthRidge, a wealth management and financial planning firm, and is a professor emeritus of the College of Financial Planning. His focus in financial planning is to coach people in the process of meeting their goals and achieving their dreams.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday: Cheap Airline Tickets Are Available

Good news for travelers! Allow me to introduce you to This travel website offers invaluable travel advice for savvy shoppers who want the best deal on domestic airline tickets. The site recently did a comprehensive study of its database of current and historical airfares. Through the meticulous gathering of its statistics, it discovered an interesting and useful pattern, which allows you, the traveler, to reap the rewards.

According to FareCompare, typically, airfare sales are filed late Monday evening, so you can begin shopping for your domestic tickets sometime between Tuesday morning and 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. At about 3:00 p.m. all the matching discounted seat prices hit the reservation systems for domestic travel. This is the maximum number of cheap seats that are available to customers looking for a bargain.

This is the way their system works: you have a window of approximately three days for the duration of the ticket sale. So, you have up until Thursday to purchase the cheapest domestic tickets. Keep in mind that you can save even more money by booking your flight about two months before you plan to travel.

FareCompare wants its followers to be the smug travelers who know that they got the best deals on their domestic airline tickets.
Mark Tuesday on your calendar for purchasing your domestic airline tickets, and visit for more cool travel information.

-Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Friday, October 7, 2011

About Baby Boomers: Assume Nothing and You'll Be Correct

We watched Howdy Doody and Star Trek. We played with Hula Hoops, and went to Woodstock.

As the leading-edge generation, we baby boomers have reinvented what it is like to grow older in the United States. And if we have one defining characteristic—it is how little we all have in common.

This opinion is echoed by Matt Thornhill, the president and founder of a market research and consulting firm called The Boomer Project, located in Richmond, VA. This group is composed of a team of marketers who are experts at helping organizations understand the generation that continues to be the major driving force of the United States economy.

Thornhill has co-authored an acclaimed book entitled Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America’s Largest, Wealthiest, and Most Important Demographic Group. He also writes The Boomer Project’s column, Viva the Vita! He is devoted to this generation’s needs, spending habits, activities, as well as their goals. To be sure, his hand is on the pulse of this diverse group.

According to Thornhill, “Unlike the GI generation that preceded them, most boomers do not lead linear lives.” (A linear life would be one in which a person progresses methodically and predictably from school to marriage, to child-rearing or lifetime employment and finally, to retirement.)

These days, boomers are all over the map. Many have gone to school, gotten married, divorced, remarried, worked, returned to school, or started a new business at any age. When asked how they define “over the hill,” they have no idea which hill you’re referring to. In short, they have places to go, people to see, and things to do.

While many marketers would like to believe that boomers are all alike, that is simply not the case: a person born at the start of the population boom in 1946 is extremely different from someone born in 1964, in terms of values and experiences. We boomers born at the early end of the spectrum were in our early 20’s by 1970. We were deeply impressed by the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Then there was the Vietnam War, numerous protests, and the Watergate Scandal; these were truly dramatic events.

On the other end of the spectrum, the boomers born after 1959 have no real recollection of, and no personal reference to, these occurrences. This younger group was never subjected to the military draft, and many were far more likely to use illegal drugs than their older fellow-boomers. Their taste in music was remarkably different, reminding us that all boomers cannot be lumped together.

One size does not fit all when it comes to baby boomers.

For additional information, you may visit

This blog was written by Laraine Jablon, a one-time member of the Peanut Gallery.

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She lives in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pets in Retirement

Pets are lovable sources of companionship at any age. For many of your clients, their pets truly are a part of the family and in some cases, these furry friends may have a higher ranking than other family members.

As clients enter into retirement, their pet may be getting older with a life expectancy much shorter than the owners. A common mistake made by retirees is immediately replacing “Muffin”, “Mittens” or “Buster” without carefully evaluating the impact of the decision on their retirement plan. Consider a client who plans to travel, volunteer and have hobbies outside of the home. They now have a new pet – possibly a kitten or puppy – and are limited to out-of-home activities because of the need to care for the animal. As the pet grows, there may be a difficulty in leaving it for weeks at a time, especially when traveling or going on vacation.

More often than not, family and friends are reluctant to look after your client’s pet especially for long periods of time. The costs of kennelling can be high, not to mention the emotional aspects of leaving the pet in a strange place. If a client plans on taking their pet with them when traveling, he or she may experience many hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts that do not allow them.

Part of Miranda and Nelson’s retirement plan was to take a major trip once a year. Spice, their Irish Setter, was considered an importance part of their family. When they traveled, their neighbor kindly took care of Spice.

Just prior to Miranda and Nelson’s retirement, Spice passed away from old age. Devastated and struggling to cope with their loss, Miranda and Nelson rushed out and bought a new dog – an Australian Sheep dog named Tucker. For the next three months, Miranda and Nelson were housebound caring for their new pet.

Comfortable with Tucker’s development and training, Miranda and Nelson planned a trip to Greece. In the planning they assumed their neighbor would care for Tucker. After finalizing plans and booking their tickets, they approached the neighbor and were told regrettably ‘no’ as they had plans of their own.

Prior to leaving for Greece, Tucker was placed in a kennel. Though they knew he would receive good care, Miranda and Nelson worried so much about Tucker’s stay in a strange place that a lot of the enjoyment of Greece was lost and they regretted their decision to get another animal.

If a client currently owns a pet, there will come a time when your client will face its passing. Prior to this happening, encourage your client to take time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining another pet. Have your client discuss their future retirement plans and whether pet ownership is part of them. It is important to seriously consider the ramifications and commitment of owning another pet.

On the flip side, what happens to the pet if your client is incapacitated or hospitalized. As a pet owner, encourage your client to have a plan for the care of their pet. This may include arranging for short-term care by a friend or relative or short-term care at a shelter or charitable organization.

As with all aspects of retirement, the ownership and care of pets requires a lot of discussion and planning. Clients shouldn’t rush into anything. Try to have your clients remove emotion from the decision process and think about the impact, both positive and negative, a pet will have on their retirement.


Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don’t Just Retire – Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Educational Webinar: Hoarding in Seniors - Identifying the Five Levels of a Hoarder

Register now for our October educational webinar, Hoarding in Seniors: Identifying the Five Levels of a Hoarder. This event is being held tomorrow, Thursday October 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM Mountain Standard Time. Certified Senior Advisor, Marilyn Ellis will take professionals in-depth on this very critical topic by helping them to identify the five levels of hoarding as well as:

• Understanding why hoarding affects so many seniors
• The 2 most common mental disorders surrounding hoarding
• Define the limits of what is possible when working with a hoarder
• Learn how to stay personally safe when working in a hoarder’s home

Register Now!

Date: Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Time: 2:00 PM (EST)
1:00 PM (CST)
12:00 PM (MST)
11:00 AM (PST)

Cost: Free for CSAs; $49 Public

Register Now!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rx: Help Others

I recently was introduced to a gem of a book by Dr. Stephen Post. In the book, Dr. Post relates an experience he had with his family of being forced to move from their home to another place. While this was as physically dislocating as you would guess, it was emotionally and spiritually damaging as well.

I think many of us are living in an environment where dislocation – due to things such as loss of a job, our health, our money – is an ever-present possibility. These have the power to turn our lives upside down, and create an environment where we may become physically, emotionally, and spiritually unhealthy.

When faced with such an experience, how can we move back into health? Here is an excerpt from the book that may answer that question:

Rx: help others. This little prescription has the side effect of benefiting the helper, so long as one does not become overwhelmed. Science supports this assertion: giving help to others measurably reduces the giver’s stress; improves health and well-being in surprising and powerful ways; renews our optimism about what is possible; helps us connect to family, friends, place, and lots of amazing people; allows the deep, profound joy of our humanity to flow through us and out into the world; and improves our sense of self-worth. - Post, Stephen G. (2011-01-14). The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times. Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.

I recommend reading the book, but whether or not you do, if your life, or that of someone you know, is in a state of dislocation, consider reaching out to provide some help. Doing so will benefit the other person, and may be just the thing the doctor ordered to encourage your own wellness.


Blog posting provided by:

Michael Snowdon, CFP ®

Michael is president of WealthRidge, a wealth management and financial planning firm, and is a professor emeritus of the College of Financial Planning. His focus in financial planning is to coach people in the process of meeting their goals and achieving their dreams.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Today is Alzheimer's Action Day!

Join the Alzheimer's Association by honoring the heroes that fight against this heartless disease every day. You can help raise awareness by taking the following actions:

1. Wear PURPLE today, September 21st (Alzheimer's Action Day.)

2. Turn your FACEBOOK PURPLE by changing your profile picture to the "End Alz" Icon.

3. Purchase a PURPLE item when you shop.

Here are some important resources on Alzheimer's Disease:

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

If You Have Alzheimer's, What You Should Know, What You Should Do

Alzheimer's Facts and Figures

Help Support Alzheimer's Research, Care and Programs. Donate Today!


Blog posting provided by SCSA, courtesy of The Alzheimer's Association

Friday, September 16, 2011

The SeniorNet Learning Center Will Come to You. Who Knew?!

SeniorNet is an international volunteer organization that was founded in 1986 by seniors 50 and over who teach a broad spectrum of computer skills to senior adults. The Huntington, NY location is recognized as one of the leading computer learning centers in the country with over 100 volunteers who teach, coach, do technical support, write PR and marketing materials, and serve on numerous committees.

One unique program offered by SeniorNet is the Mobile Learning Center which actually comes to your home at your convenience. As the host, you supply the room, table, chairs, and the broadband connection to the internet. SeniorNet provides the computers and course handouts, and does the rest. The program consists of ten classes, each approximately 2 ½ hours long, designed to introduce seniors to basic computer applications. The topics covered are:

1. email
2. Internet: doing research
3. eBay
4. websites of interest: shopping, travel, genealogy, technical updates, product reviews, free downloads
5. music: downloads, LP to CD conversions, music players
6. social networking: Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging
7. security: virus protection, backing up, phishing, spam, scams
8. file management
9. movie making: slide shows, videos
10. digital photography: uploading photos from camera to computer, enhancing photos, making albums, digitizing prints and slides, exploring photo-sharing sites

SeniorNet would be pleased to teach you how to surf…the web.

For more info about the Mobile Learning Center call (631) 427-3700 x 268 or 235, or visit

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box: Alternative Healthcare Options

$34 billion is a lot of money.

It is the amount that Americans spend each year on alternative medicine for pain management and proactive health benefits, according to a survey conducted three years ago by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics (CDC/NCHS).

Seniors represent a considerable portion of the group of people interested in alternative health therapies. In fact, 41% of older adults reported their use of complementary and alternative medicines in a study published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. And this number is steadily increasing.

What is “alternative care”? What is the attraction to it? The term is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that is outside the scope of mainstream medicine. Alternative modalities encompass a wide variety of popular disciplines—including meditation, massage, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, chiropractic, dietary approaches, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies--among others.

For seniors who worry about the cost or side effects of prescription medication, alternative solutions are becoming increasingly appealing. For example, people who experience acupuncture and chiropractic frequently report relief from their back or joint pain. In addition, many seniors who do yoga and tai chi swear by the effects of improved balance and increased flexibility.

It is always a good thing to consider options; alternative therapies may offer us viable choices.

Additional information is available at

Be healthy,
Laraine Jablon

(Excerpt from her CSA Journal article, Healthy Complements: The Role of Alternate Healthcare Options, December 2009.)

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Longevity the New Normal?

Reading an article this week, on longevity and healthy aging, not only inspired me but also caused me to wonder, “Is longevity the new normal?” It is true that as a society, we are living longer. In 1900, life expectancy was 47 and in 2010 it was 78.3 years.

According to the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) coursework, I learned the fastest growing segment of the American senior population is what we call the “Oldest Old” or the 85 plus. In 2006, there were 5.3 million who were 85 or more years in age and by 2050, it is projected there will be 19.3 million who are 85 or older – wow!

We may be living longer but another question we may ask ourselves might be “When I’m 85what level of health, type of lifestyle and what interests will I have?” Check out this article to see what some of our “Oldest Old” are up to. I think they are saying yes to longevity and living life to the fullest!

Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for Beatitudes Campus (a Continuing Care Retirement Community) and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Retirement Success – the Importance of Journaling

We live in a fast-paced world with tremendous convenience and we love to get things done quickly. We rush around, moving from one project to the next with little or no time to think about what we have done and how we did it.

However, if your clients are to be successful in their retirement life, they need to take time to reflect on their actions to see what worked, what could have been done differently and plan for the next challenges. Journaling, the simple act of writing, is a way to slow down and help assess where they’ve been and where they are going.

Successful retirees all stress the importance of having some sort of written record; including documentation of the retirement plan, actions taken, thoughts, perspectives and observations.

Writing can also be an effective way to manage stress and enhance personal growth. It is easy to do and provides an opportunity to express dreams, purpose in life, memories and feelings.

Whether your client writes lists or keeps a journal – or both, encourage them to:

• Write out their retirement vision as it progresses.
• Write out their retirement plan, including goals, milestones and actions.
• Write about what worked or is working, and about what didn’t work.
• Write about successes and the challenges yet to come.
• Record reflections and ideas, thoughts and feelings on how their retirement is unfolding.

Writing is certainly a way to manage the details of a successful retirement – a tool to create the best retirement possible. But more than that, writing is a way to document a journey into a new way of living.

An example of a journal entry may be:

Currently, I am searching for a mentor to help finalize my retirement thinking. John and Robert are two people I know who I respect and are making a success of retirement. I can learn from both. This week I will contact John and Robert to explore their interest in becoming my retirement mentors.

Some of the things I need to address in the coming days and weeks are to evaluate my circle of friends and how I can enlarge my social circle. I need to make an appointment with my financial advisor to review my financial plan in relationship with my retirement vision.

I am feeling physically and emotionally well and am very much looking forward to the coming challenges and adventures retirement presents.

One area for improvement is to create an exercise regime. Next week I will be meeting with a physical trainer. Though I walk regularly, I believe a physical assessment and resulting exercise program will give me additional initiative to keep physically fit.

Besides encouraging clients to keep a journal, suggest that they review their entries. Have them note the progress or lack of progress they are making. Have them mark areas of success and the reasons for it as well as areas they may have missed and actions required.

Many clients who keep journals bring their journals when meeting with their financial advisor. It’s amazing how often conversations move off of money matters into broader retirement concerns. A client may wish to share parts of his or her writing with you – this information can add greatly to your understanding of the client’s retirement thinking and may highlight areas in which you can help.

As one successful financial advisor recently said to me, “By sharing their journal entries with me I get a good grasp of a client’s retirement progress including issues and questions they are facing. In many instances I can offer ideas and resources including suggesting actions others have tried and found useful.”

Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don’t Just Retire – Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RLTV: Making Medicare Work for You

Blog posting provided via Retirement Living TV special.

Even judges have trouble understanding Medicare. This video explains what resources are available to help older adults make informed decisions about their health care coverage. The show features Hilary Dalin, director of policy and programs for NCOA's National Center for Benefits Outreach & Enrollment.

For more information on Medicare, download our powerful educational webinar, More About Medicare and Changes in 2011. Download now!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Five Lessons for CSAs from Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era

Join us for September's Educational Webinar, Five Lessons for CSAs from Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era, presented by Economist Dr. Laurie Bassi. Good Companies – those that are good to their employees, their customers, their communities, and the environment – make more money than their less worthy competitors. Yep – it’s true. Come hear Dr. Laurie Bassi share the hard-nosed evidence that she and her co-authors unveil in their just-released book (Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era); describe the convergence of forces that are behind these findings and discuss what this means for CSAs.

The main topics covered include:

•The convergence of forces – economic, social and political – that is changing the competitive landscape for good
•The Good Company Index™
•Hard-nosed evidence on the benefits of being a “good company”
•Lessons from Good Company for CSAs

Laurie Bassi is the CEO of McBassi & Company, a leader in the emerging decision-science of human capital management. Since she founded McBassi in 2001, she has been working with clients to help them unleash human capability within their organizations. In the earlier years of her career, Laurie served as vice president for research at ASTD, the director of several U.S. government commissions, and a tenured professor of economics and public policy at Georgetown University. She is also Chair of the Board at Bassi Investments, Inc.—an investment firm that invests in firms with superior human capital management capabilities. Laurie is a prolific author, with over 80 published papers and books. Her current books are Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era (Berrett-Koehler, 2011) and HR Analytics: A Summary of the State of Knowledge (Reed Business, 2010). She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and a M.S. in Industrial Relations from Cornell University.

You’ll leave armed with a fresh perspective and concrete tips you can use to help take your business to the next level.

Date: September 15, 2011

Time: 12:00 Noon (MST)

Cost: Free for CSAs; $49 public

Register Now!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Home Exchange: You Live in My House and I Will Live in Yours

You have thousands of choices. Literally. You can luxuriate on a beach in Biarritz, tour the gardens of Tivoli, explore the dynamic city of Hong Kong, ski the mighty Alps of Kitzbuhl…in fact, there are over 40,000 listings of homes all over the world that are available for vacations.

Home ExchangeTM is a web-based company that was formed in 1992 in order to offer comfortable, creative, and satisfying travel alternatives to high-priced hotels and typical tourists’ vacations. Swapping homes provides remarkable rewards including greater flexibility and privacy. It allows people to experience an area like natives, meet the neighbors, and enjoy their neighborhoods. It can also make it easier to travel with children. In any case, the house, villa, condominium, or apartment is free.

Home exchangers come from all walks of life. They are retirees, professors, business owners, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Most are well-educated, reliable, and curious about the world and its many cultures. They happily swap their homes at mutually-convenient times—often including their cars in the deal—for the love of adventure and travel at the right price.

There are more than 250,000 successful home exchanges every year, each unique and exciting. You can make a list of your desired locations, write down some dates, and log onto to see what is available. Have fun exploring the website and keep your options open.

Bon voyage,
Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social and health concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Much Money Can I Withdraw From My Retirement Plan?

Here are some factors to consider when thinking about retirement fund withdrawals.

▪ How long you are planning to live in retirement. A conservative longevity assumption for someone retiring at age 65 is 25 years or so.
▪ How your funds are allocated. More money in equities may allow for a higher withdrawal rate. However, it also increases risk and volatility, so consider your comfort level with investment risk, along with your specific life situation.
▪ The rate of inflation. Many planning scenarios are based on an historical 2.5 – 4% inflation rate. However, if the inflation rate increases significantly, even a few percentage point difference can have a big impact.
▪ Insurance coverage and medical expenses. Insurance premiums and coverage can make a big difference. Likewise, most retirees will experience failing health at some point, which will mean increased expenses.
▪ Emergency situations may arise. A good emergency reserve can help keep long-term finances stable in emergencies.

This, of course, is by no means an exhaustive list. It pays to begin on a more conservative basis, and adjust as you see how things are going. (Remember, once the money is gone, it’s gone.)

Finally, regular financial check-ups make good sense. Great planning done 20 years ago that has never been revisited, is probably not great planning today. Life changes. It’s a very good idea to address those changes in your planning and keep retirement as financially secure as possible.

Blog posting provided by:

Michael Snowdon, CFP ®

Michael is president of WealthRidge, a wealth management and financial planning firm, and is a professor emeritus of the College of Financial Planning. His focus in financial planning is to coach people in the process of meeting their goals and achieving their dreams.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Hidden Cost of Working Caregivers

Blog posting written by Stephen P. Rudolph MHCA, FACHE, CSA, NHA

If you are caring for an aging relative and holding down a job at the same time, you are not alone.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 30 percent of the workforce is caring for an aging parent or relative. These working caregivers are paying a heavy price as they struggle to balance their personal and work responsibilities.

Each year, it’s estimated 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65. DOL statistics show that 85 percent of people 65 and over will require some form of caregiving assistance within their lifetime.

Eldercare is an evolving challenge for employees and organizations alike. For most employees, it's not a question of if they will receive a call about mom being diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dad breaking a hip. It's really a question of when the call will come.

MetLife has conducted studies on the impact of family caregiving on work, and the most recent looked at the cost to employers of absenteeism, workplace disruptions and reduced work status of working family caregivers. The study, “Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs,” found that American business loses between $17.1 and $33.6 billion per year.

The MetLife study shows that once caregiving has started, 62 percent of caregivers say they make some sort of workplace accommodation, such as going in late, leaving early, taking a leave of absence or dropping back to part-time.

Three percent chose early retirement and 6 percent gave up work entirely to care for an impaired or frail older relative. Thus, the relationship of caregiving and work may operate in both directions: Being employed reduces the likelihood of being a caregiver and being a caregiver reduces the likelihood of being employed.

MetLife also studied how much caregiving affects the health of caregivers for the elderly and the costs to employers. It asked questions about the health care cost differential for working caregivers and what policies employers can put in place to promote healthier lifestyles and lower health care costs for caregivers.

The findings indicate that caregiving employers cost health care plans 8 percent more, potentially costing U.S. employers an extra estimated $13.4 billion per year. Those are conservative estimates, since the employees in the study are caring for the elderly and didn’t include those caring for a spouse or a younger family member.

A greater number of employees of all ages will assume the role of family caregiver with an increasingly older population. The results demonstrate a clear impact of eldercare burdens on the health issues facing employees ages 18 to 39, as much as those ages 50 and older.

One reason is employed caregivers find it more difficult than non-caregivers to take care of their own health or participate in preventive health screenings. For example, women caregivers were less likely to report annual mammograms than non-caregivers. Employed caregivers of all ages and gender defer preventive health screenings, as well.

Increased medical care costs associated with caregiving are consistent across job type and age, and partly consistent across gender. Caregiving is associated with the greatest increase in medical care costs among male, blue-collar, and younger employees.

The results of the study indicate that caregiving for an older relative is an important factor in the health, medical care expense, and productivity of employees across all age groups, and therefore in the health costs for employers.

As a result, the MetLife study claimed, employers can serve their employees as well as those of their corporation by anticipating and responding to the challenges of eldercare for their employees. In combination, eldercare benefits and wellness programs can provide not only the needed support to working caregivers, but also a vehicle to directly reduce employee health care costs, with resulting bottom-line benefits to the employer.

MetLife researchers have determined that caregivers providing 14 hours or fewer of care per week (considered a low level) can do that with little impact on their ability to stay on the job. However, providing 20 hours or more per week often results in major work adjustments, such as cutting back on hours or stopping work altogether, as well as the decline in annual income that goes with that work adjustment.

Since most businesses not only pay at least some employee health insurance, but support preventive health programs for employees, they have a clear interest in addressing risk factors for acute and chronic disease associated with caregiving for older relatives.

One way is having an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) that offers referral to a caregiving agency. The agency would provide the care to the elder family member for the employed caregiver so they may function more effectively at work. Sometimes the employer contributes to the cost of the service or agency and sometimes it does not.

Clearly elder caregiving is an additional cost to the company, the worker, and the health care system in general. And the percentage of family caregivers in the workplace will only rise over time.

All employers need to recognize that supporting working caregivers can improve their health and productivity, not just in their personal lives but in their corporate lives as well.

This is not unique to any one state, ethnic group culture or geographic region. It covers all businesses, large or small, public and private. We need to recognize the growing demands of caregiving, especially in the workplace.

Most employers and employees either do not recognize the needs, underestimate the demands or deny the growing negative impact of family caregiving.

As employers, employees, managers, workers, and citizens, we need to stand up and respond in an efficient and effective way so the employees who are also caregivers may continue to serve their loved ones.

Stephen P. Rudolph has a Masters Degree in Health Care Administration and is the owner of Comfort Keeper of South Central Wisconsin, a leading non-medical, in-home service offering care on an hourly, daily, weekly or live in basis. Comfort Keepers provides personal cares and other non-medical services for aging adults, people with disabilities and others needing assistance to allow them to continue living safely and in the privacy of their own, Comfort Keepers is a member of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin (A+ rating), the National Private Duty Association (NPDA)and is Home Care Pulse Certified. . Rudolph is Board Certified in Health Care Management, a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives (FACHE), is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. He lives in Verona, WI.

Study findings
Employees providing eldercare services were more likely to report fair or poor health in general. Among female employees ages 50 and older, 17 percent of caregivers reported fair or poor health, compared with 9 percent of non-caregivers.

Employees providing eldercare were significantly more likely to report depression, diabetes, hypertension, or pulmonary disease, regardless of age, gender and work type.

Female employees with eldercare responsibilities reported more stress at home than non-caregivers in every age group.

Employees with eldercare responsibilities were more likely to report missed days of work, particularly those ages 18 to 39.

Excess employee medical care costs associated with eldercare were highest among younger employees, males and blue-collar workers.

Younger caregivers (ages 18 to 39) demonstrated significantly higher rates of cholesterol, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, kidney disease, and heart disease in comparison to non-caregivers of the same age.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Veterans Benefit Webinar Part 2: Q & A Session

Our August Educational Webinar is quickly approaching. The second part in this powerful series, Understanding Veterans Benefits - What the VA doesn't tell you, is being held on Thursday, August 11th at 12:00 (Noon) MST.

Did you miss out on Part 1 of this webinar series? No worries - the recorded version is now available. Download it here before Part 2 takes place.

Veterans Benefit Webinar Part 2: Q & A Session

Date: Thursday, August 11, 2011

Time: 12:00 Noon (MST)

Register Now!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Retirement Mentoring – A Hidden Secret!

Many of your clients may be retired for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or more years. That’s a long period of time!

As we matured, we worked, raised a family, and had many mentors along the way – our parents, family members, teachers, friends, coaches, business associates, supervisors and managers. They all showed us the way, pointing out the pitfalls in life and helped to steer us around the traps. They encouraged and praised us and they helped guide our actions.

Now your clients are entering one of the most challenging yet exciting times of their life. Retirement is filled with adventure, change and the unknown. Faced with this new part of life, your clients can choose to jump into retirement with both feet, without any planning or discussion, or they can enter retirement fully prepared.

In a recent survey I conducted, it was found 84% of respondents reported they do not have a retirement mentor – someone who has successfully transitioned from work to life after work. In other words, many people are trying to figure out retirement without help from others.

You can help clients find and use one or more retirement mentors.

1. First, get your client to acknowledge it is hard to have a great retirement without help. Point out that one or more mentors can assist in developing the client’s retirement vision and plan. The mentor can play the ‘devil’s advocate’ to help hone the client’s thinking. The mentor can also provide ideas and options designed to achieve your client’s retirement goals.

2. Ask your client if there are one or two people he/she knows who can serve as a mentor. It may be a family member, work colleague or friend, someone who already has created a successful retirement plan or who is already an admired retiree.

3. Discuss with your client what would make them an attractive mentee – someone the potential mentor would like to work with. Have your client consider the following questions:

a. Do I have the desire and ability to accept advice and guidance from this person?
b. Do I possess a positive attitude towards retirement?
c. Would I be appreciative of assistance and willing to risk trying ideas and approaches suggested by this person?
d. Can I feel comfortable and free to disclose personal stories and feelings with this person?
e. Would we be able to share interests and understandings as part of the relationship building process?

4. Once your client has identified one or more potential mentors, encourage the client meet with them individually to discuss the potential of establishing a mentor/mentee relationship. It may be as simple as meeting once every month or two to generally discuss the client’s retirement progress or it may be complex as scheduling weekly or bi-weekly critiques of the retirement plan and actions.

The secret of a good mentor/mentee relationship is for both parties to work towards building an effective and satisfying closeness. Mentoring is similar to other important relationships in life: it must be nurtured to reach its full potential.

Remind your client not to enter into mentoring relationships lightly. They require a commitment of time and energy by both the mentor and mentee if valued, worthwhile results are to be produced. With the proper mix of dedication and caution, mentoring can immensely enrich your client’s retirement and his/her life.

As an advisor, seriously consider being a mentor to your older clients. If you decide to become a mentor, it could be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have. Some reasons for considering becoming a mentor include:

• Gaining gratification in seeing clients succeed and grow
• Acquiring new knowledge and insights of your clients
• Enjoying a feeling of pride
• Deriving satisfaction from positively influencing someone
• Increasing your client’s respect of you as a caring advisor

Well-functioning mentor-mentee relationships are rewarding for both people. It is an opportunity to share insights and experience and for the mentee (client) to flourish by exploring different approaches remaining in control of his/her retirement.

When Donnie was approaching retirement, he knew he would benefit from having a mentor. He asked Ryan, a friend he respected and who had retired 5 years earlier. Donnie and Ryan met regularly. Ryan provided Donnie with insight and observations on all aspects of retirement including how to build a dynamic health and wellness strategy, how to reinforce Donnie’s relationship with family and friends, the importance of a balanced leisure life as well as many other related topics. Ryan asked questions, provided feedback, listened and gave advice that helped Donnie create a solid retirement plan that was both balanced and rewarding.
Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don’t Just Retire – Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Five Myths of Aging

As part of our Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) coursework, we were asked to approach working with seniors in new ways and have the ability to move beyond common myths of aging. As a general society, I believe we still have work to do to overcome stigmas, stereotypes and old ways of thinking when interacting with the elders around us.

As a friendly reminder to those who work with seniors, have aging parents or for those who want to learn more about the aging population, I thought I’d share the Five Myths of Aging:

Myth 1: To Be Old is to Be Sick -Although health concerns and some level of disability can be common for seniors, it does not mean he or she is sick. Many older adults live healthy and productive lives into their advanced years by having the ability to cope and adapt to a new set of limitations. One example is the use of assistive devices like electric scooters or hearing aids.

Myth 2: You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks -
Much research has been done about the functionality of the brain in the past few years and * “…neurobiology has shown that the human brain actually retains a high degree of neuroplasticity, the ability to learn new things, even into advanced age.” One example includes our Computer Club members, who continue to expand their knowledge about their laptops, the Internet and social media!

Myth 3: The Secret to Successful Aging is to Choose your Parents Wisely -
It’s interesting to note some researchers believe the role of genetics becomes less critical as we get older. For example, the MacArthur Research Program on Successful Aging studied identical and fraternal twins raised apart and determined that *“…only about 30 percent of physiological aging was attributable to genetics.” They also discovered that * “…the likelihood of being fat, having hypertension, having high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and having decreased lung function was largely not inherited but instead was due to lifestyle and environmental factors.”

Myth 4: The Horse is Out of the Barn -As we age it’s easy to think “it’s too late” to go back to school, travel the world, change careers, or learn a new skill. But since people are living longer overall, older adults are turning this myth on its head! It’s great to see the mature generation starting new businesses, travelling to new places, getting married, and taking on new adventures (one of our residents skydiving on her 80th birthday comes to mind!)

Myth 5: The Elderly Don’t Pull their Own Weight -
This statement is also untrue, as we are experiencing more seniors in the workplace, going to the poles to vote, volunteering, and passing their skills and expertise on to the next generation. Curtis Gans, Director of the nonpartisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington said, ** “Seniors vote at a rate of about 60 percent more than young people and about 10 percentage points higher than the national average.” Gans added, ** “Seniors are the only group in America that has been increasing its rate of voter turnout, especially in the 75-and-older range where modern medicine is keeping people alive longer.”

*Text book, Working with Seniors: Health, Financial, and Social Issues, Society of Certified Senior Advisors (2009)

** Archive (2008) Link:

Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for Beatitudes Campus (a Continuing Care Retirement Community) and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stocks Versus Annuities for Retirement Portfolios

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how retirees should reduce stock exposure to 5-25%, putting more in annuities. True statement? Maybe.

If stocks do well, our retirement portfolios smile. Poor results, and we start worrying about running out of money. The question is – over the next 10 years, will stocks do well or poorly? Consensus is that stocks may not do as well as we would like over the next decade (but nobody knows for sure).

How about annuities? Annuities promise guaranteed income. The trouble is not the guarantee, it’s the income. Current interest rates are, let’s be gracious, terrible! In order to get a decent amount of income, you need to invest lots of money in annuities. At a 5% interest rate, every $100,000 provides about $8,000 annual income (over a 20-year period, with nothing left at the end).

Unfortunately, the annuity payments mentioned above, won’t increase (unless you pay for an inflation rider). So you’re in danger of losing your ability to keep up with the cost of living . . . which brings us back to stocks.

Retirees have to balance between guarantees and risk. Risk, in moderation, is what can help a portfolio keep up with cost of living increases. We all prefer absolute safety of retirement income. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to almost everything. Safety’s downside is low income. Stocks can help increase that income.

This is another example of the need to wisely evaluate your specific situation and make choices based on that evaluation. Take a look at your needs and goals, and make portfolio adjustments based on that evaluation . . . not because a report or reported said you should.

Blog posting provided by:

Michael Snowdon, CFP ®

Michael is president of WealthRidge, a wealth management and financial planning firm, and is a professor emeritus of the College of Financial Planning. His focus in financial planning is to coach people in the process of meeting their goals and achieving their dreams.