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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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Introducing the New CSA Journal . . .

We’re excited to announce a brand new focus and look to the CSA Journal -- SCSA’s flagship publication that’s produced exclusively for CSAs as a member benefit.

The New CSA Journal offers:

• The latest insights, strategies and tips to help you serve your senior clients even more effectively.
• A new Case in Point section with a senior client handout and an option to earn 5 CSA CE credits.
• Tons of extra resources including new share icons so you can easily pass the content along to your senior clients.
• and so much more

Experts Write for CSAs
Today’s new CSA Journal focuses on senior-related topics from the CSA’s perspective (while our monthly e-newsletter, Senior Spirit, focuses on topics from a senior’s perspective). You’ll find interesting, informative and educational articles written by experts to help CSAs provide the highest value to their senior clients and to contribute to CSAs’ continuing education and professaional development. These CSA-focused articles show a practical, real world understanding and respect for the aging-related issues seniors are facing and will help you open lines of communication with seniors and suggest ways to support your senior clients when they make important decisions about their lives. In addition, the new CSA Journal will help CSAs gain a bigger picture of the social and scientific breakthroughs that are affecting seniors and will keep pace with new developments and understandings about aging and issues that are important to the majority of seniors.

Client Handout & CSA CE Credits
Be sure to check out a new section in the CSA Journal called Case in Point - CSA CE that includes a feature article and case study on a significant senior-related issue, plus a handout for your senior clients (in this issue, Case in Point covers advance directives). After you read the Case in Point section, you have the option to go online to answer a set of discussion questions and pass a short multiple choice quiz for 5 CSA CE credits.

Extra Resources & Ways to Share with Others
You’ll also notice links to Other Resources throughout the new Journal that expand on various topics and icons for email, LinkedIn and Facebook so it’s easy for you to share any article in the Journal with your colleagues, clients and others. And remember, you can also post CSA Journal articles and the Journal link on your website and/or blog.

Click here to access the CSA Member Portal. Once logged in, you will find the new CSA Journal under SCSA Publications. Don’t know your login information? No worries, contact us at and we’ll send it to you.

If you have comments or suggestions for articles or ideas for tailoring the new CSA Journal to CSAs’ interests and needs, please email them to

Friday, July 22, 2011

World's First-Ever Senior Citizen LipDub!

An absolutely charming video performed by the folks at Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

We hope it brightens your day, as it did all of ours at SCSA!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guiding Clients in Finding Care for Aging Parents

A challenge many clients face is caring for parents. For some, they add the responsibility into their daily routine. For others, life demands means finding the most suitable person who will assist with the care and comfort of the loved one. And for another group, it is finding a nursing home for the parent

A. Finding the Right Candidate:

One of the questions I am frequently asked is: “How do I find a suitable person to care for my parent?” Here are steps that will help:

Step 1: Advertise. A simple ad could read “Female needed part-time for personal care and housekeeping for older disabled woman. Flexible hours. Call 555-555-1234 after 7:00 pm.”

Step 2: Screen candidates. Before arranging an interview, create a job description listing basic duties and schedule. This will provide insight into the prospective employee’s experience and training.

Step 3: Interview candidates. Use the following questions as a guide:

• Tell me about yourself, your interests and hobbies.
• How do you feel about working with an elderly or disable person?
• Where have you worked before?
• Do you know about ________________? (ask about relevant illness or condition.
• Do you have any health or physical problems that might hinder you on the job? (ask about lifting, bending, ability to drive, etc.)
• What other obligations do you have (i.e. school, part-time job) that will affect your schedule?
• Do you have your own car? Would you be able to transport someone in a wheel chair?
• Is there anything in the job description that you would not do?
• Do you have any questions about the job duties, schedule or salary?
• Is there anything else you would like to add?
• Please give me two work-related references and one personal reference.

Step 4: Evaluate the candidate. After interviewing the candidate, take time to note impressions, concerns and gut feelings.

Step 5: Check references. Once having narrowed the choices, be sure to check the background of each candidate.

Step 6: Select the candidate and offer the position. Hiring a home care worker requires patience, trust and gut instincts. The time invested in screening candidates and checking references will greatly improve the chances of finding someone whose qualifications meet the care giving needs.

B. Nursing Home Care

Another situation sometimes facing a client is finding a nursing home for a parent who is no longer able to live on his/her own. Here are some tips to assist with the review of homes:

• Note the type and location of nursing home alternatives
• Are private and semi-private accommodations available?
• Do they have long-term care?
• What facilities are offered? (i.e. recreation, lounge, dining room)
• Check the staffing levels including Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants
• What equipment is available? (i.e. adjustable beds and chairs)
• Check quality measures and standards
• What are the visiting privileges?
• Are safety plans including fire evacuation procedures adequate?
• Is a doctor available day and night?
• Does the nursing home offer moving assistance?

Prior to deciding on a nursing home, check the home ownership. Is it run by an independent non-profit organization or a private company? Non-profits may offer more one-on-one care than private operations. Talk to the home administrator about quality standards, inspections and turnover of top-level staff members. Visit each home several times at different hours including day and night. Is there a discernable difference at various times?

As a caring advisor, you can guide clients in finding a suitable care worker or nursing home. It is my experience people facing these situations are very appreciative of direction. Your client will remember your generous assistance for a long time!

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, July 14, 2011

Assisted Living State Regulatory Review 2011

The National Center for Assisted Living has released its 2011 report that offers a state-by-state summary of assisted living regulations. The report, which was released in March 2011, covers 21 different categories and includes contact information for state agencies that oversee assisted living facilities.

Download this report now!

This blog posting has been provided courtesy of The National Center for Assisted Living, all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

SCSA Certification Council Seeking Candidates in the Financial Field

If you’re a CSA in one of the financial professions, here’s an opportunity to make a difference that may be of interest to you: the SCSA Certification Council is seeking CSAs who are financial professionals to be candidates for two positions on the Council. Council members serve a two-year term and the positions are volunteer (the SCSA membership renewal fee is waived for CSAs during their term of service).

The SCSA Certification Council is an independent and separately functioning body of Society for Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA) that oversees and directs the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® certification program, which is accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies. The Certification Council establishes and upholds high standards of competence for CSAs that help assure the best interests and safety of the senior population are protected through the use of the CSA credential.

The SCSA Certification Council is composed of 5 members: 4 CSAs representing health, social and financial practice areas and one public representative.

The Council’s objectives are to:

> Establish, evaluate and implement requirements for certification and recertification for those who hold the CSA certification.

> Establish, evaluate and publish standards and policies and procedures for the development, maintenance, administration, and scoring of the CSA certification program.

> Uphold the mission of the CSA certification to address the health, social, and financial issues of aging.

> Refer any complaints it receives that may concern CSA conduct that is harmful to the public or inappropriate to the discipline (for example, incompetence, unethical behavior or physical/cognitive impairment affecting performance) to the CSA Board of Standards, the independent, nonprofit entity charged with enforcing the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility.

> Oversee the administration of the certification program to include oversight of certification program personnel, policy implementation and administrative procedures.

> Acquire, develop, disseminate, and preserve data and other valuable information relative to the functions and accomplishments of the Certification Council.

The Certification Council’s Nominating Committee will prepare a slate of candidates and a ballot will be sent to all CSAs in good standing for vote during 2011. (The 2012 elections will include a call for CSA candidates in the health and social professions.)

If you are interested in being a candidate for the two open financial positions on the Council, or you know of other CSAs who would be excellent candidates, please complete the survey at

Please feel free to forward this nomination form to any CSAs that may be interested in serving on the Council. Self-nominations are encouraged.

Nominations must be submitted by August 10, 2011.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where Will Your Clients Live in Retirement?

Most retirees decide their current home meets their retirement needs. They like the neighborhood and want to stay close to friends, children and grandchildren. In their residence, they are comfortable and near medical facilities and it is where they feel safe and secure.

However, some of your clients may be contemplating a warmer climate while others may want to be nearer to family and friends.

With any major change in life, we need to make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Your clients need to give themselves the opportunity to review all factors of the move before making the leap.

To help your clients with their moving decision, have them consider the following questions:

1. Will the new climate enhance their life and living?
2. Is the new climate less demanding with less chance of illness?
3. From a cost point of view, will the new location reduce their utility bill?
4. Are the available properties in the area within their means to buy or rent?
5. Does the geographical area fit their way of life? If your client is used to the changing seasons, will the area provide that pleasure?
6. Will your client fit in with the local social scene?
7. Will it be easy to meet and make new friends?
8. What would it cost to move there?
9. What is the tax structure like? Provincial, state and local taxes?
10. Are your client’s favourite leisure activities easily accessible? How do the costs relate to what they are used to paying/able to afford?
11. Are medical facilities easily accessible? Are they able to treat your client’s specific health problems?
12. Are physicians available and taking new patients?
13. Is adequate public transportation available?
14. Are family and friends close by?
15. Will your client be happy in the new location 5, 10, 15 years from now?
16. Do both partners really want to move?

Raymond and his wife Helen moved to Florida shortly after Raymond retired. The decision to move was influenced by some friends who continually spoke of the sand, sea and casual way of life in the ‘Sunny South’.

Several weeks after selling their house and moving, Raymond and Helen were surprised how they missed ‘dropping by to see the grandkids’ and the amenities of their old neighborhood. A longing for family and their old home took the bloom off the move to Florida.

In retrospect, Raymond and Helen agree they should have investigated their move in more detail and not let their Florida friends influence their decision making.

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 1, 2011

Educational Webinar: Understanding Veterans Benefits

SCSA is excited to announce July's educational webinar, Understanding Veterans Benefits: What the VA doesn’t tell you. This webinar is being presented by Carlotta Katra, President of Indiana Continuity of Care Association and Founder of Carlotta will take you in depth on this crucial topic covering Veterans Benefits and the Aid and Attendance Pension. You will learn how this very important benefit can help your clients stay out of a nursing home as well as these key steps:

• How to qualify for the pension
• What the VA doesn’t tell applicants
• How to get your clients approved quickly.
• And much more

Carlotta Katra is an expert in dealing with senior care issues. While working as a Director of Admissions for a local nursing home and assisted living for a decade, she helped families make difficult decisions. In 2008, she created to guide families through the journey of senior care. offers a wealth of information on all areas of senior care from Aging in Place, Senior Care and Housing Options, How to Pay for Care to Preparing Legally. Carlotta is a licensed insurance agent and assists her clients with obtaining the best Medicare Supplement for their money as well as assistance with VA and Medicare planning. Carlotta is President of Indiana Continuity of Care Association and is a member of the Hendricks County Council on Aging, National Family Caregivers Association, National Care Planning and United Senior Action.

Don’t miss out on this exceptional presentation covering the significant aspects of VA Benefits - Register today

Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Time: 12 Noon MST
Price: Free to all CSAs, $49 for non-CSAs