Search our Blog

Search our Blog

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.