Clients should always have a written will expressing their intentions for inheritance. Ideally, a will should be prepared by an attorney, but some written document is essential in any case.
Always read labels on food products to determine ingredients and additives. If unsure about a specific ingredient, look up information about that ingredient on a neutral source, such as Wikipedia.
Always ask your doctor about possible side effects of any medication prescribed for you. In addition, check up through a reliable website source (e.g., U.S. government agency or major university research group) to gain additional information about interaction among different medications.
Consult the Social Security website (www.socialsecurity.gov) to get a reliable forecast of what your benefits from Social Security will be at retirement.
When facing tough decisions, try using the "Ben Franklin" method. Sit down with a piece of paper divided into two sides and then write down all the reasons for, and against, the decision on two sides of the page. Then put the paper aside and look at it again in a day or so, and, if necessary, revise it.
Never agree to be a client of an advisor or consultant without receiving clear and full disclosure from that advisor about how the advisor is compensated.
Never agree to be a client of an advisor or consultant without checking out the reputation of that person in ways that go beyond recommendation from a friend or relative. Take time to check out reputation to make sure that the advisor or consultant is right for you.
Never send money to unknown parties promising financial returns or requesting help in an "emergency." These are just a few of common scams that target seniors as victims.
Never believe claims or assertions simply because "I read it on the Internet." Examine closely the sponsorship and reputation of any website that you visit for information.
Never believe claims for any medication or intervention that promises to "slow or reverse aging." Biological science has never come up with any such intervention, despite ongoing research efforts to find such approaches. It may be that success will come some day. So far it hasn't happened. Interventions that make false promises can pose a risk to health or money or both.
Advise people planning for a serious surgical procedure get a second opinion. Advise clients contemplating a major financial move to get a second opinion.
Long-term care insurance can be a useful financial tool in planning. But whether an insurance product is right for an individual depends on specific circumstances and the policy in question.
Be cautious in following financial advice given by famous TV personalities, even if these personalities appear on familiar or well-known channels (CBS, Public Broadcasting, etc.)
If a financial opportunity or a healthcare product seems "too good to be true," then it probably is too good to be true. Look for hidden costs and risks when any offering looks "irresistible."
When making major decisions about money or medicine, give yourself a "waiting period" like 24 or 48 hours to consider factors that may have been overlooked.
When getting advice from people, friends or professionals, always find out if they've considered both sides of the question or problem at hand. Always find out if they have any vested interest in how you make your decision.
Blog posting courtesy of Dr. Harry R. Moody, Ph.D.
Director of Academic Affairs, AARP