Search our Blog

Search our Blog

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.