Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Benefits of Working Post-Retirement

The Benefits of Working Post-Retirement For Older Adults

Retirement is a time to relax, pursue hobbies, and enjoy life. Most people would not picture a part time job in their ideal retirement concept. However, working during your retirement has a number of benefits and can be a great way to spend your time. Though you may think you are tired of working and can’t wait to sit around the house, you may want to consider looking at a part-time career to see you through your golden years. Here are a few good reasons why.

Social Isolation Poses a Real Risk to Seniors

One of the biggest risks to the mental health of seniors is social isolation. Post-retirement life can seem like a breeze, but many seniors find that work was their sole source of social interaction. When work ends, they become secluded, unsure how to meet new friends and spend their newfound freedom.

A part-time career allows you to meet new people, find friends in coworkers, and get out of the house with regularity. Sure, a hobby club or educational course can have a similar effect, but work schedules tend to be more rigid with less flexibility to duck out on your down days. This can guarantee social interaction on a higher level than a crafting club.

Work is Mental Exercise

Seniors who exercise their brains with problem-solving activities are more easily able to fend off common age-related diseases such as dementia. A career in nearly any field will force the brain to keep active and social, strengthening your mental health and reducing your risk of mental disorders. If your family has a history of these types of mental illness, you may want to seriously consider a post-retirement career, even if it only means working a few hours a week.

Extra Money Never Hurts

Most places will allow seniors to work a certain number of hours while still receiving social security benefits. This means that you can make your next vacation or holiday season particularly extravagant using your additional salary. This extra money can also be hugely helpful in the event of unexpected medical bills or for the day when you can physically no longer work. You may even be able to afford an extra snazzy retirement facility with every amenity you can imagine.

Devote Time to a Cause You Care About

Your post-retirement career does not have to be for-profit. If there is a cause you care passionately about, now is the perfect time to leap into the wide world of volunteering. With your open schedule, you can become a valued member of your favorite cause while reaping the mental and social benefits of a career. Even if you only volunteer a few hours a week, you will be able to see the positive impact working makes on your life.

Though a post-retirement career seems like a contradictory phrase, working through your golden years can be hugely enjoyable and beneficial. Whether you opt to re-enter a full-time career, a part-time position, or a volunteering, you will find yourself both mentally and physically healthier. So, next time you see a “now hiring” sign in the window of your favorite shop, fill out an application. It certainly can’t hurt.

-By Jim Vogel

Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, created after they began caring for their ailing parents. Through that rewarding and sometimes difficult process they’ve learned a lot about senior care and specifically the need for more effective senior mental health and support.


"For a Healthy Retirement, Keep Working," New York Times.

"Mature Workers Facts," National Council on Aging

"Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors," Government of Canada.

"Senior Corps," Corporation for National and Community Service.

"The Senior’s Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Their Golden Years,"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Choosing a Home Health Care Agency

Choosing a Home Health Care Agency

Look at These 8 Areas to Find a Home Health Care Agency

Finding the right home health care agency for your family’s situation may be a bit challenging because today there are many agencies providing a variety of care services, from home health care to home care or personal assistance services of one kind or another.

Keep in mind that home health care agencies may provide both skilled and unskilled care. Generally, skilled care is defined as services that are licensed and regulated, such as those provided by nurses, doctors, social workers, and therapists that specialize in rehabilitation (speech, physical, respiratory, or occupational).

Home health care agencies provide care services through teams of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, homemakers, and others.

These agencies are regulated by state and federal laws and are often Medicare- and Medicaid-certified (approved), which means they receive payment from these programs for providing home health care services (ADRC 2014).

Below are questions to ask when looking for a home health care (or home care) agency (Patton, 2013):


Agency Licensing

  • Can the license be verified through a state website?


Types of Accepted Insurance

  • Which services are billable through Medicare or other insurance plans?

  • Is the agency Medicare-approved/certified (required to bill Medicare or Medicaid)?

  • How is billing handled for services that are not covered by insurance?

  • Agency references Can the agency provide verifiable contact information for physicians, hospitals, discharge planners, or previous clients who are willing to provide a reference?


Types of Provided Services

  • Do services match the needs of the older client?

  • How do supervisors monitor and evaluate the provided services or care?


Required Information

  • What information is required for the first meeting (e.g., specific services needed, contact phone numbers of agency and family members, whether the client can make decisions or who has power of attorney)?


Provider Qualifications and Credentials

  • What credentials do employees have?

  • How are employees trained?

  • Do employees participate in ongoing education?


Contacting the Agency After Hours

  • During what hours is the agency available? (If the agency is Medicare-approved, it must be available 24/7 by phone.)


Subcontractors or Employees

  • If the agency uses subcontractors, does it guarantee that the same person will make every visit (an important requirement for individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease)?

  • What are the qualification requirements for different classifications of employees?

  • Is training provided within the agency?

  • Does the agency perform background checks?

  • Are employees bonded or insured?

  • Are employees certified in basic life support and first aid?

  • Personal care plan Does the agency provide a detailed written care plan for each individual and share that plan with the family before beginning care?


Procedure for Changing Caregivers

  • Can the older adult or family interview and select the people providing the care in their home, prior to the start of service?



"What to Look for When Choosing a Home Health Care Agency," Aging and Disability Resource Center of Broward County (ADRC 2014).

Patton, C. (2013). No place like home. Heart Insight, 8–11.

Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Working with Older Adults: A Professional’s Guide to Contemporary Issues of Aging (2015).

The Working with Older Adults course offered by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors gives professionals a practical, comprehensive understanding of health, social and financial issues that are important to many older adults, including ethical issues specific to aging. For more information, or to enroll in a class, click here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Quiet Storm: Aging With Mental Illness

Aging Homeless Population With Mental Illness

Mental illness is such a pervasive epidemic sweeping throughout society’s unsheltered aging population, often times masked in the form of a hidden disability. Homeless individuals who are age 50 years old and older are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairments and depression (Culhane, Metraux, Byrne, Stino, & Bainbridge, 2013). Hidden disabilities can range from mental and emotional disorders such as, depression, anxiety, and maladaptive behaviors, as well as certain learning disabilities. Bringing awareness to how mental illness is silently stigmatized in older homeless men can help to educate society on the disparity of resources available to them.

Being homeless has its own culture that is complicated and arcane. People rarely understand the proclivities that come with being an older homeless man struggling with mental illness. It is one problem to be homeless, but an entirely different level of complexity to navigate homelessness with a mental illness. Researchers of existing literature consistently point out that mental and physical health is severely compromised in those who are homeless (Gordon, Haas, Luther, Hilton, & Goldstein, 2010; Shelton, Taylor, Bonner, & van den Bree, 2009). The hindrance for these men then becomes surviving an extremely stressful environment with a hidden disability.

Researchers found that rates of affective anxiety disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, and suicide attempt rates are elevated in homeless individuals. Irwin, LaGory, Ritchey and Fitzpatrick (2008) furthered this in signifying that between “20 percent and 30 percent of all homeless suffer from some form of severe chronic mental illness with depression often being common” (p. 1936). Others also noted that psychiatric hospitalization, schizophrenia, depressive symptomology are often present in the homeless population (Goering, Tolomiczenko, Sheldon, Boydell, & Wasylenki, 2002), as is paranoia schizophrenia, schizophrenia-affective disorder, unspecified schizophrenia, and manic depressive disorder (Nakonezny & Ojeda, 2005). Based on my experience working with older homeless individuals with mental illnesses, the criteria for receiving adequate assistance is rigorous. Often times, individuals that received the best care through outreach organizations have to already qualify for specific social service programs. Similar to homeless shelters, there is an abundance of mental health programs for homeless women and youth. Older homeless men however, are left to fend for themselves, ultimately exacerbating the situation. Older homeless men will require better resources to effectively navigate the aging process.

The economic disadvantages, lack of support, distress and living conditions of the poor place them at a severe disadvantage when dealing with mental health issues (Irwin et al., 2008). For older men, homeless organizations must be mindful of how they allocate resources, especially with programs that require individuals to receive treatment for their mental illness before they can obtain housing or other assistance.

In my community outreach work, I have witnessed the way society overlooks individuals with mental illnesses especially when the illness is hidden. On the other hand, I have observed how fear is perpetuated and attached to mental illnesses that are more apparent such as schizophrenia, psychosis, and bi-polar disorder. As a Psychologist, I believe that society must address how mental illness is extremely prevalent, yet such a taboo topic. Depending on your culture, and economic status, mental illness becomes even more stigmatized. It is imperative that we begin to normalize the shame that is attached to mental illness and ensure that we continue to extend empathy towards a misunderstood topic.

With regard to older homeless men, one study found that the inability of men to provide for their families and take care of themselves is psychologically damaging (Phillips, 2012). This statement cements how mental illness can be undiagnosed for longer periods of time. Initial symptoms are often ignored or dismissed, allowing for the quiet storm to begin to brew. Symptoms eventually surface more frequently because the disease has progressed, and the individual can no longer hide the disorder. Furthermore, the shame attached to the illness is likely amplified because some of these men do not have mental illnesses prior to becoming homeless. Additionally, the lack of social support and assets make being homeless even more difficult. Researchers suggest that an individual’s social ties can have a positive impact on both physical and psychological well-being (Adger, 2003), but there is likely to be a greater impact on an individual’s psychological health (Irwin et al., 2008). The fewer social assets individuals have, the less positive the consequences, and the more likely it is the individual will endure mental distress. Because of the extreme conditions that the homeless are up against, strong social ties are needed to overcome their adversities. They are likely to “rely on street-based social networks and their own personal strengths for survival” (Petrovich & Croneley, 2015, p. 1). With all these considerations, homeless individuals have to rely heavily on all of their faculties to survive.

Based on research I have conducted, some recommendations to assist older homeless men with mental illnesses are:

  • Minimize criteria for receiving mental health assistance in conjunction with other resources

  • Reassure those that are diagnosed with a mental illness that there is hope

  • Extend compassion and empathy

  • Do your research

  • Volunteer at organizations that specialize in mental health issues

  • Cross dialogue about mental health in your community

  • Understand that all homeless individuals have unique experiences

  • Be an ally for aging homeless with mental illness

Most individuals cannot imagine being homeless with a mental illness. However, thousands of individuals are navigating this situation every day. Just like every other taboo in our society, one of the best things we can do is to build our own awareness, provide a helping hand, and educate our families and friends on the issue of mental health.

Author - Dr. Ikeranda C. Smith

- Dr. Ikeranda C. Smith

More information on Dr. Ikeranda C. Smith's research can be found here.


Adger, W. N. (2003). Social capital, collective action, and adaptation to climate change. Economic Geography, 79(4), 327-345. doi:10.1007/978-3-531-92258-4_19

Culhane, D. P., Metraux, S., Byrne, T., Stino, M., & Bainbridge, J. (2013). The age structure of contemporary homelessness: evidence and implications for public policy. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 13(1), 228-244.

Goering, P., Tolomiczenko, G., Sheldon, T., Boydell, K., & Wasylenki, D. (2002). Characteristics of persons who are homeless for the first time. Psychiatric Services, 53(11), 1472-1474.

Gordon, A. J., Haas, G. L., Luther, J. F., Hilton, M. T., & Goldstein, G. (2010). Personal, medical, and healthcare utilization among homeless veterans served by metropolitan and nonmetropolitan veteran facilities. Psychological Services, 7(2), 65.

Irwin, J., LaGory, M., Ritchey, F., & Fitzpatrick, K. (2008). Social assets and mental distress among the homeless: Exploring the roles of social support and other forms of social capital on depression. Social Science & Medicine, 67(12), 1935-1943. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.09.008

Nakonezny, P. A., & Ojeda, M. (2005). Health services utilization between older and younger homeless adults. The Gerontologist, 45(2), 249-254. doi: 10.1093/geront/45.2.249

Petrovich, J. C., & Cronley, C. C. (2015). Deep in the Heart of Texas: A phenomenological exploration of unsheltered homelessness. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Advance online publication.

Philipps, K. (2012). "Homelessness: Causes, Culture and Community Development as a Solution" (2012).Pell Scholars and Senior Theses.

Shelton, K., Taylor, P., Bonner, A., & van den Bree, M. (2009). Risk factors for homelessness: Evidence from a population-based study. Psychiatric Services, 60(4), 465-472. doi: 10.1176/

Friday, October 21, 2016

Successful Aging - Helping Your Clients Be All They Can Be

Reshape your conception of what it means to grow old and equip yourself with the tools your clients need to lead a long, healthy, happy life.

Learn the history and latest research on successful aging and how to translate the research into action in the day-to-day. Gain an understanding of Masterpiece Living, how it works, it’s exciting outcomes to date, and how everyone can be a part of the movement. Learn how to quickly identify ageism and how to respond as well as provide immediately applicable tools to inspire clients to age more successfully.

Over a decade ago, a landmark ten-year study by the MacArthur Foundation shattered the stereotypes of aging as a process of slow, genetically determined decline. Researchers found that 70 percent of physical aging, and about 50 percent of mental aging, is determined by lifestyle, the choices we make every day. That means that if we optimize our lifestyles, we can live longer and "die shorter" - compressing the decline period into the very end of a fulfilling, active old age.

Successful Aging Chart Graphic


Teresa Beshwate:

A Master of Public Health with experience in the fitness, acute care and the aging field, Teresa has a passion for helping older adults engage in lifestyles of active, successful aging. Certified in personal fitness training and lifestyle and weight management coaching, Teresa formerly owned and operated an older adult-oriented personal training studio. As an outcomes analyst in the acute care industry, she was responsible for data analysis, outcomes reporting and quality improvement initiatives. A seasoned presenter, former health and fitness newspaper columnist and author of several articles, Teresa has particular interest in data-driven decision making and sharing best practices.

As a Director of Operations, Teresa oversees the daily interactions that actualize the mission of Masterpiece Living. She also serves as the main point of contact for primarily west coast partners, is a member of the Masterpiece Analytics Team and is responsible for Masterpiece Living`s first ever partnership with Affordable Senior Housing communities. This rewarding role allows her the opportunity to collaborate with talented professionals to inspire lifestyles of successful aging and ultimately help to make our country a better place to age. Teresa`s own successful aging pursuits include training in Krav Maga, learning to speak Portuguese, and spending time on horseback.

Lisa Federico:

A Certified Senior Advisor and member of the Ethics and Disciplinary Council, Lisa is the Vice President of the Vision Recovery Center in Las Vegas, a non-profit organization providing financially challenged children and adults with visual aids, therapy, new technology and other services – enabling independence, confidence and hope.

A lean management trained executive and Six Sigma Black Belt with a BFA in Communications supported by Minors in Public Speaking and Creative Writing, Lisa is a longtime advocate of healthy living and successful aging. She dedicates 4 hours weekly to volunteering and is a staunch believer in the impact animals have on older adults. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Southern Nevada Parrot Education, Rescue and Rehoming Society, is owned by two birds, and has been foster mom to five others. Lisa is also a long time member of K9 Therapists of Las Vegas and Therapy Dogs Inc. She is owned by one adorable pooch who has logged over 1000 hours of visits to hospitals, hospice and senior communities.

Lisa’s successful aging pursuits including reading, gardening, sewing, making jewelry, and pedaling around rural areas on her 3-wheel bike with her therapy dog happily sitting in a basket enjoying the ride!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tax Deductions for Medical Care in Health Care Residences

Tax Deductions for Medical Care in Health Care Residences

Tax Deductions for Medical Care in Health Care Residences

Many older adults (90 percent) prefer to live in their own home (AARP 2013). Even if they need daily assistance or health care, most of them (82 percent) say they would still prefer to receive that care in their homes (AARP 2013).

Some older adults choose a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) as their home – one that offers progressive levels of health care from active, independent living to long-term care. Other older adults stay in their own homes, often with long-term services and supports, until the time comes when a move to assisted living or a long-term care residence is the right thing to do.

The cost of medical care received in continuing care retirement communities, assisted living and long-term care residences (nursing homes) is generally tax deductible. People who pay for these costs should consult with a tax expert to ensure they take and maximize all available deductions – for example, the time of year a person enters an assisted living facility might increase the amount of his or her tax deduction.

In all cases, expenses that are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and other insurance or programs are not tax deductible.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

The portions of continuing care retirement community (CCRC) entry fees and monthly fees that cover prepaid health care and medical expenses are generally tax deductible.

The different types and complexity of CCRC contracts make expert tax and financial advice essential when choosing a CCRC. According to senior housing legal expert Paul Gordon (2012), it can sometimes be difficult to clearly identify which medical expenses are deductible:

The very definition of “medical” expense is malleable, and the middle ground, inhabited by most senior living communities, that lies between traditional, deductible, “institutional” health care and nondeductible residential services and accommodations, is sometimes difficult to categorize. The increasing complexity of resident fee structures and refund arrangements casts further doubt on when a payment should be characterized as an expense, and what fees are attributable to medical care.

Assisted Living

Generally, the cost of direct and substantial medical care (for example, for dementia or special needs) received in an assisted living facility qualifies as a medical deduction if a licensed health care professional certifies the care receiver needs ongoing help to perform at least two activities of daily living or requires supervision because of cognitive impairment, and prescribes a plan of care for the care recipient.

Long-Term Care Residences

The entire cost of nursing home care, including meals and lodging, is a deductible medical expense if a person, or his or her spouse or dependent, is there primarily to receive medical care. A person who is in a nursing home mainly for personal reasons can deduct expenses for medical care but not meals and lodging.

Taxpayers under age 65 who claim a person living in a nursing home as a dependent must reduce the total medical expenses by 10 percent of their AGI. See “Whose Medical Expenses Can You Include” in IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

Many resources are available online for more information about deductible medical expenses in long-term care residences. In addition to the IRS website, see “Medical Expense Tax Deductions: A Guide for Senior Living Providers and Residents (Gordon, 2012) in the “References” below.


"Livable Community Indicators for Sustainable Aging in Place," AARP (2013).

Gordon, Paul. "Special Issue Brief. Medical Expense Tax Deductions: A Guide for Senior Living Providers and Residents," The American Seniors Housing Association (Summer 2012).

Internal Revenue Service.

Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Working with Older Adults: A Professional’s Guide to Contemporary Issues of Aging (2015).

"Tax Aide Program," AARP.

"Proposed New Requirements for Tax Return Preparers," Tax Information for Tax Professionals (2010).

TaxBook 1040 Edition (2012). 2012 Tax Year. Minnetonka, MN: Tax Materials Inc.

The Working with Older Adults course offered by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors gives professionals a practical, comprehensive understanding of health, social and financial issues that are important to many older adults, including ethical issues specific to aging. For more information, or to enroll in a class, click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Consumer Dependence on Professionals: Trusted, Qualified Helping Hands Needed

Finding trusted professionals for your clients

I like to think of aging as starting with birth, transitioning into the life-long learning stage, then adding the earning stage, and when we are ready we evolve into the stage of wisdom (hopefully) and influence for societal good until we breathe our last breath. The trajectory can be upward and positive throughout life and assistance from the right professionals can make life easier.

If your existing clients or new clients are approaching or at the end of their earning stage; the demand for high quality resources is ever present in the thinking of these consumers of today, as well as, their families and caregivers. They are tech savvy and Google has turned us all into researchers, but the information can be overwhelming for the consumer.

Let’s take a look at the financial sector’s past to demonstrate the current need for professional advice. Since I do not have a financial background, I am going to make a huge assumption here based on personal experience and a little research. After the 401k was established in 1978 and through the 80’s and 90’s as pensions started to disappear the 3 legged retirement stool went from a pension, social security and 401k and turned into a 2 legged stool of social security and 401k. Once this happened it put more of the burden for retirement saving on the individual. The individual found that saving in a bank or investing in CDs was not going to cut it. The money needed to grow faster. The middle class in America knew nothing about investing or finding and dealing with professionals who supposedly did know how to make money grow.

While all this is taking place the complexity of life in the U.S. is greatly increasing. Taxes, investing, insurance, estate planning, medical bills, home ownership, auto payments, insurance, registration, upkeep, and more filled our simple lives with the “job” of life management which is on top of our regular day jobs.

This is the point in American history where average middle class citizens began hiring professionals in the fields of accounting, tax preparation, law, and financial planning. Prior to this time, the wealthy were the majority users of professional services. Life was simple enough that individuals and families were able to take care of their own affairs and did not need to pay a professional to assist them.

I remember the point in time when we changed our own oil, tuned up our own cars, replaced the carburetor and it was simple. Now we open the hood of a car and would not even know where to start. Professional services are now part of the fabric of life in the U.S. for many, not only the top 1%.

As professionals became more and more in demand and their businesses grew, they may not have felt the need to expand their professional network of resources. I have spoken to several professionals in finance, insurance, and law and I asked what professions comprised their network. The answer was finance, insurance, and law. They are not alone; many professions have operated in silos limiting their network of resources.

These industries are finally starting to realize that keeping a narrow focus on resources for their clients is starting to hurt business. Law firms are starting to hire case managers. Certain financial institutions are losing up to 66% of their business as clients pass away because the financial institution did not have an intergenerational program in place. Insurance companies selling annuities are experiencing effects of negative press due to claims of financial exploitation targeted at older adults.

Older adults and their families or agents need help. They are looking for help beyond the particular area of expertise of the professional they have come to. This does not mean that they want every professional to advise beyond their area of expertise or to be an expert in everything, it is quite the opposite. Consumers are looking for the professional they trust to provide them with highly qualified vetted resources. They just want to be steered in the right direction because they are drowning in information and they don’t know what is trustworthy and what is just good marketing.

How do professionals build a network that works extremely well for them and for their clients? How do they prevent liability issues by locating highly qualified resources? How do they vet these resources to ensure the best outcomes?

Here are 10 steps that can make you and your professional network stand out:

  1. Know your target client and ALL the issues that this demographic faces today as well as their history. For example, in the case of senior clients, study Working with Older Adults: A Professional’s Guide to Contemporary Issues of Aging.

  2. Determine all the resources needed by you in your business and by your client in their lives.

  3. Research and locate 2 or 3 of the top individuals or resources in a particular field.

  4. In each field, determine the definition of the job, the scope of work, the credentials in the field, and how to locate one in a particular geographic area.

  5. Establish a vetting standard and vet every resource.

  6. Set up a database keeping complete notes on how they meet or exceed your vetting standard.

  7. Contact all resources, interview and get to know and understand them.

  8. Establish a drip program for those that you decide to have in your network to keep your brand in their minds.

  9. Give all referrals out with the vetting information, be transparent as to what you know about them and how you have or have not used them.

  10. Once referred, follow up with professional and client and note results.

We all need a helping hand from time to time, let's just make sure it is the most qualified.

Author -  Judy Rough, CSA

- By Judy Rough, CSA

My passion and my life's work is to change the culture of our society by elevating the status of older adults to a national treasure. The more professionals are educated about the contemporary issues of aging the closer I will get to this goal.


Your 401(k): When It Was Invented—and Why,” Learnvest.

Three-Legged Stool of Retirement,” June 21, 2016, Melissa Phipps.

The great wealth transfer is coming, putting advisers at risk” Investment News.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Financial Abuse of Older Adults: Recognizing the Red Flags

How to Recognizing Financial Abuse of Older Adults

The growing financial exploitation of seniors involves their income, assets, property, and personal possessions. It comes in the way of theft, fraud, forgery, improper use of a power of attorney, identity theft, and/or undue influence. It is often accompanied with verbal threats and physical abuse.

Financial abuse is the theft or conversion of money or other property by caregivers, relatives, friends, or others in positions of trust.

Just how big a problem is it? In 2011, a landmark study by MetLife Mature Market Institute stated that 51 percent of financial abuse was perpetrated by strangers, 34 percent by family and friends and that 60 percent of the perpetrators were males between the ages of thirty and fifty-nine.

In early 2015, the TrueLink Report on Elder Financial Abuse determined that the cost to seniors through all financial abuse was approximately $36.5 billion annually with 36.9 percent of all seniors over a five-year period having been subjected to financial exploitation—6.9 percent experienced a loss of $10,000 or more with the average being $52,300, and 1.8 percent lost their homes or other major assets. Average losses were:

  • Exploitation - $2,617

  • Identity theft - $7,633

  • Criminal fraud - $13,107

  • Con artists - $13,225

  • Caregivers - $26,879

Different studies have varying numbers about the extent of these crimes and who is committing them. Regardless, the problem is a big one. Unfortunately, there is no nationwide tracking system to determine the exact extent of financial abuse to seniors. Nonetheless, these kinds of numbers have gotten the attention of lawmakers and regulators. In 2012, Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, announced an effort to coordinate the various programs within the federal government, and asked that it be led by the department of Justice (DOJ) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Over the past few years, many states have been beefing up the laws on financial abuse of older adults. The National Association of State Securities Administrators (NASSA) in early 2016 proposed a state model bill that is slowly gaining acceptance. In 2015, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) proposed a rule that would allow broker-dealer firms to put temporary holds on accounts where there is a concern about suspicious activity. Last year, Rick Fleming, head of the SEC’s Office of Investor Advocate, asked, “More specifically, should federal law allow a financial advisor to refuse or delay a transaction—contrary to the explicit instructions of the client—when it appears that the client is being defrauded or exploited?”

The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) states that the typical victim of financial abuse is a white female between the ages of seventy and eighty-nine, who is likely frail and/or cognitively impaired and lives alone. Of the abusers, 90 percent are family members or trusted others. The Statistic Brain Research Institute estimates that there are 2.15 million cases of senior abuse each year, affecting about 1 in 10 seniors with 12.3 percent of these cases being financial abuse.

Identifying the Abusers

Just who does the abusing? It can be almost anyone, and often it is the one you would least suspect. Family members, friends, and caregivers are at the forefront. They may have financial problems, substance abuse issues, or a gambling habit. But it can also be professionals and businesses who gain the confidence of an older person and then overcharge for services or sell unnecessary or inappropriate products.

If Abuse Is Suspected

If someone is in immediate danger,
call 911.

To report elder abuse, contact the Adult Protective Services (APS) agency in the state where the victim resides. You can find the APS reporting number for each state by visiting:

Source: Administration for Community Living

A 2012 survey by Investors Protection Trust found that most financial abuse goes unreported primarily because of embarrassment on the part of the victim, but also because the children fail to identify the problem or do something about it. However, the harm is not just financial—it affects the person’s physical and mental health. Due to a lack of funds, 6.7 percent of those who are financially abused cut back on their medical care, and 954,000 are skipping meals, thus causing nutritional issues. Further, there can be a loss of a personal sense of well-being, depression, hopelessness, loss of trust in others, loss of security, and a need to rely on government safety-net programs.

Professional advisers are in a unique position to identify seniors who are being financially abused. They should look for telltale signs of changes in the person’s personal and financial behavior. Often, seniors give hints about financial abuse when they talk about giving gifts or loans to others, changing their will or estate plan, having trouble paying their bills, difficulty making financial decisions, their financial advisor not returning their calls, making large cash withdrawals, or evidence they are being physically abused.

Advisers can help older adults avoid financial exploitation before it happens in many ways. Counsel them to get multiple estimates from several reputable contractors before having work done to their property. Tell them it is important to get a second opinion before making any financial decisions. Advise them to do research on any advisors to determine their credibility and regulatory history. Having acronyms after an advisor’s name may look impressive, but unlike the CSA designation, for example, many are simply not credible.

Most financial abuse comes with intimidation and fear. Often, fraudulent and deceptive acts are accompanied with the perpetrator expressing the immediacy of action to do it now or else the offer will not be available. The abuser will often try to coax the senior to just sign the form without giving them a chance to read it, or perhaps before it’s completed. They’ll also try to get important numbers like the information on a credit or debit card, including the PIN, bank information, or ask for the Social Security or Medicare numbers. There is no end to their ingenuity.

Sometimes door-to-door salespeople are selling insurance products, so-called investments that provide higher income, as well as common items like magazines, knives, vacuum cleaners, and so on that the older adult really doesn’t need or want. High pressure tactics are employed which can border on intimidation.

What are some of the more prevalent forms of financial abuse? At the family or friend level, it often starts with simple acts such as asking for a small loan or gift. This escalates into bigger and more frequent requests for money. It is not unusual for the family ember to have a sense of entitlement to the money because they are taking care of the parent, or because they are going to inherit the assets anyway. If the senior becomes reluctant to provide them with money, then verbal or physical abuse may ensue.

Trusted professionals can also be involved in financial abuse. For example, a lawyer recommends a living trust when a simple will is all that is needed. An accountant recommends making themselves the financial guardian and then pilfers the accounts for personal use. The financial advisor sells annuities with high commissions and surrender charges, instead of an annuity that is in the best interest of the older client. These are just a few examples of so-called professionals taking advantage.

Anyone who uses the Internet can be subject to emails that make an effort to have them part with their money. It could be about winning a foreign lottery where a small processing fee and one’s Social Security number is needed to verify the winnings. The same approach is used with “winners” of phony sweepstakes.

The telephone is also used by unscrupulous predators. In a current national scam, a caller claims to be from the IRS and informs the senior that if they do not pay purported outstanding taxes immediately, they will be arrested. The IRS does not call taxpayers to collect taxes, nor do they do it through emails.

Another common approach is for the caller to claim to be from a large, well-known computer company that has been monitoring the older person’s computer, and the computer is suspected of having a virus. For a small fee they can “fix” the computer online. When the victim logs on to a bogus website, the thieves grab all sorts of information from the computer, including contact information, passwords, banking information, and so on. A more ominous approach is when the thief will load software that locks the victim’s computer and a ransom is demanded to unlock it.

The “Grandparent Scam” is also very popular. In these instances, the caller will often have information about another family member that makes the senior think it is their family member that is calling. The caller will pretend to be the family member who was just in an accident, was arrested, had their wallet stolen, or lost their passport. They need money and they need it NOW! They just need to use the senior’s credit card, or perhaps a wire transfer from the senior’s bank account.

Sometimes it’s the senior’s financial advisor who is approached by these criminals. The advisor will receive an email that speaks to the need to send money right away for a purchase that was just made, to pay some unexpected bills, to pay for a grandchild’s education, or they are traveling and need extra money. The list is endless. The email will say they have lost their cell phone so they can’t be reached, or it will give an unknown number to call to verify the request. The email may actually be the senior’s email address that has been hijacked, or it might be very close to the real email address but be off by one letter. Every financial advisor should have procedures in place to address these situations. At a minimum, they should call the client at a known telephone number to verify any request directly.

The issue of financial abuse is not going away any time soon. As baby boomers age, the mere size of this cohort will increase in magnitude of financial abuse to seniors. When working with older adults, professionals must be aware of the potential signs of financial abuse against their clients.

Author -  Ray Ferrara

- By Ray Ferrara

Ray Ferrara is Chairman and CEO of ProVise Management Group, LLC, in Clearwater, Florida, a full-service financial planning firm that is a Registered Investment Advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A Certified Financial Planner, he served on the Board of Directors for the CFP Board of Standards and was Chair of the Board in 2014.

Contact him at 727-441-9022,, or visit

This article is featured in CSA Journal 66 - Volume 2, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cruise Through Your Retirement

Retirement living on a cruise ship

A few seniors are choosing life on a cruise ship over years in a retirement community. But is it really cheaper?

Some people love cruise ships so much they are retiring on them. In 2015, 86-year-old Lee Wachtstetter sold her home after her husband died, and moved to a luxury cruise ship (USA Today). In 2008, the BBC reported that 89-year-old Beatrice Muller was residing on the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 (BBC). Other retirees opt to live in a small apartment and spend most of their year onboard.

Those who have chosen the seafaring life claim that living on a cruise ship is cheaper than a retirement home. Not only is it a better deal, they say, but you get housekeeping services, diverse entertainment and programs, meals any time you want, pools and fitness centers. Plus you’re surrounded by hundreds of happy people, and it’s easy to make friends. Frequent or permanent passengers say they get special care from the crew, with whom they may have formed friendships over time. For those with health issues, cruise ships are staffed with doctors and nurses, as well as medical equipment.

In fact, this concept is so popular that last year Crystal Cruises announced plans for "Residences at Sea"—suites that people can buy and live in while they cruise the world in comfort.

Whether life on a cruise ship is a better deal than retirement homes depends on many factors, including the price of the cruise and the cost of an apartment in your senior community. If you have serious health issues, the medical staff onboard might not be in a position to help, and an ambulance ride consists of an expensive airlift and could delay medical assistance.

"I've got full-time maid service, great dining rooms, doctors, medical center (where she volunteers), a spa, beauty salon, computer center, entertainment, cultural activities and, best of all, dancing and bridge," Muller told the BBC.

That’s definitely one way for smooth sailing through your senior years.


My Retirement Plan,” Snopes.

Ahoy matey, more folks retiring on a cruise ship,” July 27, 2016 CNBC.

Is a Cruise Ship Retirement Cheaper than Assisted Living?” Feb. 9, 2015, A Place for Mom.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to Back Up Your Computer Files

How to Backup Your Computer Files

There are many options for saving your documents, photos and videos. Just make sure they are saved to at least one of them.

Gone are the days when we stored documents in file cabinets and our photos in (real) scrapbooks or shoeboxes. Now our lives revolve around our computers, which means you could lose everything, including family photos and tax documents, if your computer crashes, either due to malware or some other cause beyond your control. Fortunately, there are many ways to back up your computer.

External Hard Drives

The most obvious backup option is external hard drives—hardware that is separate from your computer. These include external hard disks, most of which come with their own backup software, and more portable options such as DVDs, CDs, Blu-ray discs, flash, or thumb, drives. You simply copy files from your computer to the external drive. Two advantages of a local archive are that there is no monthly or annual fee, and you have immediate access to all of your files in case your computer dies.

While external hard drives are often inexpensive and easy to use, you have to remember to back up your files. Windows provides numerous backup and recovery programs, such as Backup and Restore, that you can set up to save files to your external drives. Because these drives usually reside near your computer at home, in the case of a fire or other home damage, you could lose both your computer and external backup. One problem with flash drives is that you can easily lose them because they are so small. Also, because hard drives are hardware, they are subject to wear and tear and may eventually fail.

Cloud Storage

Online programs such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, were designed to sync your files between computers and devices, backing up your data online in the process. These services are free for a limited amount of data space, and you pay a monthly or annual fee to exceed this storage amount. Google Drive, for example, offers 15 gigabytes (GB) for free; 100 GB is $1.99 a month; and the price increases incrementally from there. If you think you really need 30 terabytes (TB), you’ll pay almost $300 a month.

To use cloud storage, you upload files, such as photos, to the website, which stores them for safekeeping and syncs them with your other electronic devices. So, for example, from your smartphone, you can access a file you created on your laptop. It’s easy to share files, especially those that are too large to send over email. If you make a change to a file, the service automatically updates the file on all computers and devices using the account. Likewise, if you delete a file, it disappears from your online storage as well.

Backup Services

Similar to cloud storage services, internet backup sites such as CrashPlan, Carbonite and BackBlaze back up your files. Unlike Dropbox and the rest, however, they do it automatically. When you initially set up an account, the service backs up all specified files. After that, when you create a new file or change an existing file, the technology detects the update and automatically backs up the new or revised file. Like cloud storage services, you can access your files from any computer or device, as long as you have internet access.

Unlike cloud storage services, these backup sites are not free. They often start at a low monthly or yearly rate and then charge more for a higher storage amount. For example, CrashPlan offers unlimited online storage for $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year, which includes backup on other computers as well as on your external hard drive. Carbonite has three different plans for the amount of data you use, starting also at $59.99. Some services, such as Carbonite, offer “versioning,” in which the service will save different versions of your files, so you can restore the version you want.

If you’re worried about safety, your files are encrypted, so no one else can read them. Still, experts recommend that you back up your computer files on external hard drives as well as in the cloud or on the internet. Your data is too precious to lose.


How to back up your PC, laptop, phone and tablet for free,” March 9, 2016, PC Advisor.

The Beginner's Guide to PC Backup,” March 24, 2016, PC Mag.

The Best Way to Back Up Your Computer,” March 4, 2015, Wall Street Journal.

What’s the Best Way to Back Up My Computer?,” How-to Geek.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Looking for the Perfect Retirement Community

continuing care retirement community

Most people don’t think about finances and other details. Make sure to do your research and ask the most important questions.

When Peter and Laurie Olsen decided, in their early 80s, that it was time to give up the burden of taking care of their home and yard—shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, cleaning out gutters—they found a retirement community that seemed perfect. Their large apartment overlooked a lake, the complex had a beautiful swimming pool, the dining hall was elegant and the people were friendly.

There was just one issue that they didn’t consider: that as they got older, they would need more medical care. Beyond the two doctors that visited once a week, their perfect retirement community provided nothing in terms of long-term care options such as a nursing care unit. After Peter was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they had to move, in their late 80s, into a Continuing Care Retirement Center (CCRC). “Life plan community” is another and more recent name for this kind of care.

CCRCs are becoming increasingly popular, especially with older seniors, because they provide different levels of care at different stages of your life without having to move to a different facility. Generally, CCRCs include units for independent living, assisted living, nursing care and memory care. Newer models have one type of apartment and bring in “assisted services” as clients need different levels of care, thus allowing them to age in place. Different levels of care also help couples, because it is likely one will need more care at some point, so spouses can remain in the same community, if not under the same roof.

Planning Ahead

Many seniors can’t imagine or don’t want to plan for failing health or injuries in their later years, but experts warn that people need to be prepared. Having to uproot yourself when you’re older, after a serious diagnosis or injury, is not as easy as when you’re younger. Finding the right CCRC takes time. It’s a complicated process involving a spectrum of issues: What community is best for you (or your parents)? What kind of medical care does it provide? How financially stable is it?

Perhaps because CCRCs are designed to meet different levels of care, they can be expensive. Typically, they require an entrance fee as well as monthly charges. Entrance fees can range from $100,000 to $1 million, and monthly charges can range from $3,000 to $5,000, according to AARP, and these costs can increase as residents’ needs change. However, some CCRCs are more affordable, and many are beginning to offer rental contracts with no entrance fees. Financial experts say to prepare for yearly fee increases, at minimum of around 4 percent.

Financial Issues

Many CCRCs lure prospective clients with their expensive appearances and impressive amenities: beautiful landscaping with ponds, chandeliers in the entryway and a fireplace in the community area, for example, plus activities that include field trips, movie nights and musical entertainment. But beyond the visuals and all the activities are serious issues that need to be checked.

One major concern is the company’s financial viability. Although infrequent, CCRCs, or the companies that manage them, can have financial difficulties, or even go bankrupt, and residents may never see their entrance fees again. Experts recommend due diligence before parting with your money and signing a contract.

  • Review the company’s annual financial report and look for potential problems such as expenses greater than operating income, liabilities that exceed assets or occupancy rates below 85 percent.

  • Check the facility’s licensing survey, which indicates how state regulators assess compliance with licensing requirements and complaint investigations.

  • Ask how long the CCRC has been in business.

  • Find out the number of fee increases over the years.

  • If the CCRC is for-profit and could be sold at some point, ask how that would affect a resident's contract.

  • Determine the CCRC’s policy for refunds if you leave.

Because the skilled nursing unit is regulated by Medicare, use the website to find ratings.

Before you sign any contract, have a lawyer or financial adviser review it, and talk to your Certified Senior Advisor. For more suggested questions to ask the CCRC, see sidebar.

Different Kinds of Contracts

Once you decide on a CCRC, a big decision is the kind of payment plan. CCRCs have three basic contract and payment-plan options, although others may be available.

Additional Questions to Ask

Care Patrol, a free senior housing placement service that helps families find independent living, assisted living, memory care and in-home care options, offers its own checklist of questions to ask when assessing CCRCs. Here are a few questions from its list.

  • Does the community require an application fee? Is it refundable?

  • Does the community require a fee upon move in or move out? Is it refundable?

  • What is included in the basic monthly fee?

  • Are rates based on an all-inclusive level of care?

  • Are rates based on fee for service?

  • What are other fees for other services?

  • Are advanced payments returned if the resident leaves the residence?

  • Does the community accept Medicaid payment without additional contribution from an outside source/family member?

Life care or extended contract: The most expensive option, this gives unlimited assisted living, medical treatment and skilled nursing care without additional charges, and with little or no increase in the monthly maintenance fee.

Modified contract: For a lower fee, this contract offers a set of limited services provided for a set length of time. If you need more services, you pay a higher monthly fee that will still be below the average cost of a stay in other skilled nursing facilities in the area.

Fee-for-service contract: You pay for all healthcare costs separately, after paying either no fee or a low fee. Although initially the least expensive contract, costs can add up for those who have a lot of healthcare issues.

What About Medicaid?

No matter how good your finances are now, you may want to prepare for a time when you can no longer pay for your care and need to use government-funded Medicaid. Many people have been forced to move out of their CCRC (or move a spouse or parent) to a place that accepts Medicaid clients.

You’ll want to find out if the CCRC you’ve chosen will accept Medicaid. Many CCRCs limit the number of Medicaid clients because Medicaid pays less than most CCRCs can charge residents. Some CCRCs agree to accept Medicaid down the line if you can show you have enough funds to live in the community for a set amount of time. Also, different states have different requirements. For example, Ohio and Nevada offer Medicaid for assisted living, but Kentucky does not.

Lack of Oversight

One of the big problems when choosing a CCRC is the lack of independent information. While Medicare oversees nursing homes, states are responsible for managing CCRCs and licensing their assisted living components. Only 38 states regulate CCRCs through divisions such as insurance, financial services, aging or elder services, or social services. Twelve states have no regulation, and some only require CCRCs to submit paperwork.

To further complicate the matter, most states don’t make it easy to find the agency in charge of CCRCs, or don’t post inspection records online. To locate your state’s oversight agency, search online for “(the name of your state) CCRC licensing.” Better yet, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

One state, Washington, just passed a bill that should increase CCRCs’ transparency and oversight. The bill becomes a law on July 1, 2017.

Where to Get Help

Currently, the only independent organization that analyzes and accredits the entire operation of a CCRC, including financial management and healthcare, is the nonprofit accreditation commission CARF International. But the CCRC must initiate the process of getting CARF-CCAC accreditation and go through a lengthy process that requires renewal every five years, so not many places opt to do so. CARF also provides a consumer guide about CCRCs.

Many people turn for help to senior living placement services such as A Place for Mom or Care Patrol. These services, which generally don’t charge for their assistance in helping you find the right community, have their own inventory and grading of CCRCs.

The website MyLifeSite offers a database of information about each CCRC, including contract details. It’s free for basic information, but $35 and up for more exhaustive information.


About Continuing Care Retirement Communities,” AARP.

Retirement in a Community, but Which One?” March 6, 2015, New York Times.

How to choose a retirement community,” June 6, 2013, Market Watch.

The Smart Way to Choose a Retirement Community,” March 25, 2015, Money.

Choosing a Place to Call Home,” AARP.

Researching Aging in Place,” April 22, 2015, A Place for Mom.

Risks and Rewards of Moving to a CCRC,” Dec. 31, 2013, Kiplinger.

10 things retirement communities won’t tell you,” July 20, 2014, MarketWatch.

Choosing a retirement community? Be a snoop,” April 22, 2014, MarketWatch.

Regulation of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) Explained,” July 22, 2013, Mylifesite.

WA moves to increase oversight of CCRCs,” March 06, 2016, McKnight Senior Living.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

Oct. 2—Sting

Oct. 2—Sting

Born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, the English musician, singer-songwriter and actor was the principal songwriter, lead singer and bassist for the new wave rock band The Police from 1977 to 1984, before launching a solo career. While playing with the Phoenix Jazzmen in Northumberland, England, he adopted the stage name Sting, after his habit of wearing a striped black and yellow sweater. The bandleader thought he looked like a bee.

With The Police, Sting became one of the world's best-selling music artists, including elements of rock, jazz, reggae, classical, new age and worldbeat in his music. Solo and with The Police combined, he has sold over 100 million records. In 2006, Paste ranked him 62nd of the 100 best living songwriters. He has collaborated with other musicians, including "Rise & Fall" with Craig David, "All for Love," with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart, and "You Will Be My Ain True Love" with Alison Krauss. He also introduced the North African music genre raï to Western audiences with his international hit "Desert Rose" with Cheb Mami.

As a solo musician and a member of The Police, Sting has received 16 Grammy Awards (his first in the category of best rock instrumental in 1980, for "Reggatta de Blanc"), a Golden Globe, an Emmy and three Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Police in 2003. Most recently, Sting did a 19-date joint concert tour of North America last summer with Peter Gabriel. He is set to release a new album in November 2016, titled 57th & 9th.

A longtime human rights activist, Sting has taken part in Amnesty International's human rights concerts since 1981; written politically inspired songs such as “They Dance Alone”; cofounded the Rainforest Foundation Fund; and supported other causes, including Tibet and the Dalai Lama, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Hurricane Sandy victims. He is married to actress and film producer Trudie Styler, with whom he has four children. Sting owns several homes worldwide, including a 60-acre estate near Salisbury, Wiltshire; a cottage in the Lake District; a flat in London and an 18th-century terrace house in Highgate, all in England. He also owns a New York City flat, a beach house in Malibu and a 600-acre estate in Tuscany, Italy.

Oct. 7—John Cougar Mellencamp

Oct. 7—John Cougar Mellencamp

A musician, singer-songwriter, painter and actor, Mellencamp is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. He rose to superstardom in the 1980s with a plainspoken writing style that, starting in 1982, yielded a string of Top 10 singles, including "Hurts So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Crumblin' Down," "Pink Houses," "Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," "Paper in Fire" and "Cherry Bomb." In addition to amassing 22 Top 40 hits in the United States, he holds the record for the most tracks by a solo artist to hit No. 1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, with seven, and has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one.

Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008. In 2001, the late Billboard magazine editor-in-chief Timothy White said: “John Mellencamp is arguably the most important roots rocker of his generation. John has made fiddles, hammer dulcimers, autoharps and accordions lead rock instruments on a par with electric guitar, bass and drums, and he also brought what he calls 'a raw Appalachian' lyrical outlook to his songs....This is rock music that tells the truth on both its composer and the culture he's observing.” Johnny Cash called Mellencamp "one of the 10 best songwriters" in music.

Mellencamp is also one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an organization that began in 1985 with a concert in Champaign, Ill., to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. His most recent album was Plain Spoken, in 2014, which received widespread critical acclaim. He has five children from his three marriages.

Oct. 18—Pam Dawber

Oct. 18—Pam Dawber

The actress is best known for her lead television sitcom roles as Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy (1978–1982) and Samantha Russell in My Sister Sam (1986–1988). Initially a fashion model, she was chosen to play the foil and eventual love interest for the extraterrestrial Mork from the planet Ork, played by then unknown Robin Williams. Mork & Mindy was extremely popular in its debut season, when it averaged at No. 3 in the Nielsen ratings for the year.

From 1986 to 1988, Dawber had the title role in a TV series, playing Samantha Russell in the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam, co-starring Rebecca Schaeffer. The series was a success in its first season but suffered a massive ratings drop in its second after moving to Saturday night. In July 1989, over a year after the show's cancellation, Schaeffer was shot and killed by an obsessed fan, which devastated Dawber. She and her My Sister Sam co-stars Joel Brooks, David Naughton and Jenny O'Hara reunited to film a public service announcement about violence prevention, and Dawber herself became a gun control advocate. With the birth of her second child, she left the industry for family reasons and acted sporadically during the 1990s. She is married to actor Mark Harmon, and they have two sons. Dawber is a national spokeswoman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Oct. 30—Harry Hamlin

Oct. 30—Harry Hamlin

The film and television actor is known for his roles as Perseus in the 1981 fantasy film Clash of the Titans, and as Michael Kuzak in the legal drama series L.A. Law. Although he has appeared in several television shows since 1976, his big-screen break was a starring role in the 1981 Greek mythology fantasy epic Clash of the Titans. Afterward, his career faltered somewhat but resumed when he starred on the highly popular NBC legal drama series L.A. Law. Playing principled attorney Michael Kuzak, he remained on the series from 1986 to 1991, during which time he was voted as People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1987. Hamlin left the series at the end of the fifth season and tried to revive his movie career. However, this was unsuccessful and so far he has only starred in B movies and direct-to-video features.

Since then, he appeared in two 1992 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, starred in the television comedy Bratty Babies (2001), reprised the role of Michael Kuzak in an L.A. Law Reunion television movie (2002), reprised the role of Perseus in the 2007 video game God of War II, starred in the Hallmark movie You Lucky Dog (2010) and appeared in several episodes of season six (1968) of Mad Men as ad executive Jim Cutler.

Since 1997, Hamlin has been married to former Days of Our Lives actress and television host Lisa Rinna. They have two daughters.

Source: Wikipedia

FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the October 2016 Senior Spirit newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Helping Your Child Buy a Home

Helping Your Child Buy a Home

Make sure you don’t jeopardize your own retirement, experts warn, and be aware of all the options for gifting or loaning.

You watch as your adult child struggles to make a living. He’s paying a lot of money to rent what seems like a crummy apartment but can’t afford more because of his big student loan debt. His career is promising, but he’s still on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. When he marries, he and his wife start looking for a home in which to raise a family, but housing prices are high. You want to help, especially while mortgage rates are low, but is it a good idea, and what are your options for lending a financial hand?

Financial experts say to first consider whether you can afford to help. That is, do you have enough for your retirement, or will giving or loaning your child the down payment on a house delay your own retirement plans? While your children will have time to accrue money over their lifetimes, whether with their investments, jobs or home equity, you don’t have the luxury of time. Studies show that parents 65 and older who financially support their kids are much less likely to be retired than those who don’t.

Before making a decision, talk to your financial adviser about whether you can afford to make a sizeable gift to your children. Also, either gifting or loaning money for a house can have serious tax consequences. Your Certified Senior Advisor can also provide advice. Before you decide to help your son or daughter, make sure you are aware of all the different options for doing so.

As a Gift

The easiest way to help is to give money as a gift, usually in the form of paying for the mortgage deposit (usually 20 percent of the home price) or closing expenses. But whether this is the best route depends on several factors. Experts talk about the responsibility aspect. Has your child asked you for money every time a problem came up in their life? Or is she someone who has worked hard and taken responsibility for herself, but just needs a boost to get to the next stage of life? Giving money to someone who has been irresponsible most of their life may only contribute to that pattern and won’t help either of you in the long run.

Make Sure to Protect Yourself suggests a few basic rules for parents to follow when helping their adult children buy a home:

  • Don’t borrow against your home or retirement funds.

  • Use cash accounts. Don’t liquidate your investments.

  • Don’t establish a joint account with a child.

  • Avoid cosigning for a credit card or a loan with a child. If the child defaults, your credit score is damaged and the bank comes after you.

  • If you do end up cosigning, at least take the title to the property as well. That way you own the house if the child defaults and you can recoup the investment by selling or renting it.

  • Keep the process as businesslike as possible and set up realistic payback terms from the start. Spell out your expectations and your child’s responsibilities ahead of time to avoid ugly misunderstandings later.

Besides the emotional issues are the financial consequences. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows an annual gift tax exclusion of $14,000 per recipient per year. However, a married couple could each give $14,000 to a child and a child's spouse, for a maximum of $56,000 in four separate gift checks. Be aware that gifts of more than $14,000 per parent to one child in a given year could count against the parents' lifetime gift-tax exemption of $5.45 million, resulting in higher taxes on the eventual inheritance of large estates. On the other hand, giving the maximum or less allows parents to give away some of their estate while they are living, which can reduce estate taxes later.

A lender needs to make sure that your gift isn’t a loan, which might disqualify your child for the mortgage loan (because it would add more debt to the mortgage holder). Therefore, you need to provide a letter signed by you and your child, listing the amount and transfer date of the gift and stating that you don’t expect repayment.

An online retirement calculator (such as Bankrate) can help you estimate how a gift would affect your retirement savings.

As a Loan

Although lending your child money to buy a house might seem the best choice if you need to preserve your retirement funds, a loan can come with messy emotional costs. You’ll need to sign documents coming up with a repayment plan (for the IRS as well), which means at some point your children will need to pay you back. When that time comes, especially if your children are unwilling to pay, are you willing to take your children to court? On the other hand, parents who don’t want to give their children the money outright, because they worry that it would encourage financial irresponsibility, can provide the loan and later forgive the debt if their children are making all the payments on time. It can be a way for parents to ensure that their children are taking some responsibility. A loan, rather than a gift, can also quell any sibling resentment over unfair treatment.

One advantage of loaning money is that parents can charge a higher interest rate than they would get on a CD, but less than it would cost their child to get a mortgage. Financial experts warn that when lending your child money, consider first whether you can afford to lose that money forever, in case your child can’t pay it back.

Because IRS deems the interest payments as income, the tax agency will require you to charge a minimum interest rate, with ensuing penalties if you don’t. In any case, you should discuss the tax and financial consequences of this option with a financial adviser or lawyer before entering into a loan agreement with your child.

As a Shared Deal

A good alternative to either giving or lending the money to your child is to share the home cost. In a shared-equity deal, the parent and child jointly purchase a home and decide on splitting the title 50-50 or a different percentage, depending on each party’s needs. While both contribute to the home’s cost, upkeep and taxes, one advantage is that your son or daughter gets a bigger home than they would have qualified for on their own. Your child could rent out bedrooms in a larger home, providing you both with rental income. Another benefit of this deal is that the child doesn’t need to use all their money for the down payment, while the parent can profit when the property sells. And because a shared-equity deal is classified as a residential loan, it has a lower interest rate than a rental property.

Other Alternatives

Cosign the mortgage. While some adult children may have enough money for a deposit on a home, a bad credit history may make them ineligible for a mortgage. In this case, parents could cosign the loan, thus guaranteeing that they will make the payments if their son or daughter can’t. But many financial experts advise against this because of the danger of parents taking on a huge debt burden in or close to their retirement years. Only do this if you are confident your child will be able to make the payments.

Buy the home. If you can afford to pay for the home outright, you can either give it to your child or have them pay rent. This could be a good option if your son or daughter is not currently prepared to take on a mortgage but may be more able later down the road—after they graduate, for example, or become more established in their career. This has the advantage of locking in a good deal on a home while mortgage rates are low, especially if you believe housing prices may increase in your area. The rent you charge would likely be less than what your child is paying to their landlord.

However, because of IRS rules, you would likely need to pay the 35 percent gift tax, although there may be tax strategies to get around this. As a landlord, parents can deduct property tax payments, maintenance and repair costs, depreciation expenses and mortgage interest.


Parental Guide: Buying a Home for Your Child,”

The Cost of Perpetual Parenting of Adult Children,” March 23, 2015, AARP.

Should You Help Your Child Buy a Home?,” June 23, 2016, AARP.

Should You Help Your Child Buy a Home?,” June 15, 2014, Wall Street Journal.

Options for Parents Helping Adult Kids Buy a Home,” Nov. 3, 2015, U.S. News.

How to help your kids buy a home,”

How to Help Your Adult Kids Buy a Home,” May 2015, Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

How Parents Can Help Adult Children Buy a Home,” Nov. 25, 2015, Investopedia.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, October 3, 2016

Give Ageless Marketing a Chance

marketing to baby boomers
It seems sales and marketing professionals agree with comedian George Carlin. Life can pretty much be reduced to ‘stuff.’ It is all about getting your stuff, storing you stuff, moving your stuff, exchanging it for other stuff and eventually getting rid of your stuff. After all, isn’t marketing and advertising all about communicating the value of stuff to consumers in order to motivate them to action? About hyping features and benefits?
To reverse declining effectiveness of advertising and marketing strategies, ad agencies and research companies have been creating and pitching a variety of typologies in order to successfully segment or target consumer groups. While the age based typologies generate revenue for the creators, those embracing them cannot make the same claim as marketplace results are marginal at best. As the late David B. Wolfe advised in Serving the Ageless Market, marketers should be studying developmental life values and aspirations in order to understand three experiential life stages and motivations defined by their aspirations: Possession Experience Stage, Catered Experience Stage and Being Experience Stage.

The Possession Experience Stage

As young consumers leave home they need ‘stuff” not only for necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation. The stuff also provides a way to enhance their identity and esteem as visible evidence of who they are and what they have accomplished. This experiential stage extends from approximately age 18 to the mid to late 30s. Possessions range from mundane household goods and clothing to peak possessions such as the first new car or home. These possessions become metaphors for who we are or desire to be in our youth. Some never really leave this stage and fully mature and others may skip it with little focus on material possessions. Of course, consumers always will pursue some possessions but the motivations clearly change as consumers mature. Obviously, this is the experiential life stage which gave birth to the advertising industry.

Being Experience Stage

As adults begin to face their mortality their focus becomes more internalized as they consider their legacy. Of course, we can have “being experiences” throughout life such as falling in love, having children, a patriotic event etc. In life’s third experiential stage, consumers develop an enhanced sense of connectedness to family, friends and community with a sharpened sense of reality and life appreciation. They tend to see things in shades of grey rather than the black and white perceptions of youth. Older adults are more interested in value than price, treasure their personal autonomy and resent those that challenge it. Peak experiences in this stage might include grandchildren, volunteering, pursuing aspirations, and addressing any regrets.
As stated, marketing and advertising came of age as veterans returned from World War II and began creating the Baby Boom and thus driving incredible market demand for products…all kinds of stuff. Since the vast majority of the consuming public were in their possession experience stage for several decades, companies could treat them all the same…a mass market. In the mass market, the desired demographic were 18 to 38 years olds for about 4 decades. However, as the Baby Boomers and their parents moved into their catered and being experience years, advertising effectiveness declined dramatically. The media’s only response was increasing the targeted demo from 18 to 38 and slowly increased the upper end to 49, when the life of consumers is consider over according to the media.
Today age 50 plus consumers represent over half of adult consumers and control 70 to 80% of all discretionary money. Sought after Millennials are a huge demographic and almost all in their Possession Experience Stage, but Generation X has moved on and are now entering their Being Experience Stage. Traditional segmentation based solely on age and income are outdated and typologies are little more than a distraction served up to defend outdated marketing strategies.
It is time for a paradigm shift in marketing principles and approach. It is time to give experiential segmentation and ageless marketing a chance to revolutionize the profession of marketing. It is time to recognize that the greatest demographic shift in history is now impacting everything from products and services to workplace opportunities and HR policies.
Author -  G. Richard ‘Dick’ Ambrosius
- By G. Richard ‘Dick’ Ambrosius
Richard Ambrosius is the President of Positive Aging LLC, a national marketing consulting and training. He has been educating companies, nonprofit organizations and public agencies on how to better communicate with and serve middle age and older adults for 35 years and was among the first in the U.S. to realize the potential of the new consumer majority and specialize in older markets.
He has delivered keynote addresses and motivational workshops in 49 states and is the author of the Choices & Changes…a positive aging guide to life planning (Xlibris Publishing, 2006).

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatments Show Promise

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatments

However, using the body’s own immune system to fight the No. 2 cause of death in the United States is still in early stages.

Artificially boosting the body's immune response to cancer has been called the most exciting advance in the treatment of tumors in the past couple of years. Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the United States. While good news for everyone, immunotherapy could be even better news for seniors, who have a higher chance of getting cancer than younger people. Many cancers in adults are not genetic, but are linked to environmental factors or lifestyle-related risk factors that accumulate over time, such as smoking or being overweight or obese.

Most recently, researchers at University of St. George's in London treated patients who had pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with immunotherapy as well as chemotherapy. Patients who received both treatments lived significantly longer (years) than expected, while the overall median survival increased by 59 percent (2.6 months) (Science Daily). Normally, life expectancy following a diagnosis for pancreatic cancer is short, with median survival about six to 11 months.

In another study, scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center used immunotherapy on 32 people with otherwise untreatable non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer. After the treatment, seven people went into complete remission, while another four saw their disease progress more slowly (

How Immunotherapy Works

Although more than 100 types of cancer exist, they all work the same way. The disease starts when some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues, forming growths called tumors. This uncontrolled growth is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide. We can inherit these genetic changes, but they can also result from damage to our DNA caused by environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke, radiation exposure, UV exposure and alcohol (see sidebar, “Examining the Alcohol-Cancer Link”).

Our immune system helps us fight infection, so if we get the flu, for example, our immune system works to get rid of foreign substances, such as the bacteria or viruses that are causing the flu. Similarly, the immune system tries to eliminate cancer cells, which are damaged and abnormal cells, but it doesn’t always succeed, partly because cells can mutate over time. When cells mutate, the immune system doesn’t always recognize them as foreign, or the response might not be strong enough to eliminate the cancer.

Unlike chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells, immunotherapy artificially boosts the immune system to help it attack the cancer. For certain cancers, the combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy works best. Although still in the early stage, research is finding that immunotherapy works better for some types of cancer than for others.

Research and trials focus on three main treatments: checkpoint blockade drugs, adoptive cell transfer therapies and immunotherapeutic vaccines.

Checkpoint Blockade Drugs

The most widely used form of immunotherapy for cancer takes the so-called “brakes” off the immune system, telling it to start attacking cancer again. The body uses a mechanism, a “brake,” to keep the immune system from going overboard and attacking normal cells. In many instances, cancerous tumors tell the immune system not to destroy cancer cells. Blockade drugs, also called inhibitor drugs, block that mechanism, which frees killer T-cells to attack the tumor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved four checkpoint blockade drugs to treat advanced melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cancers of the lung, kidney and bladder.

“Generally, 20 percent to 40 percent of patients are helped by checkpoint inhibitors—although the rate can be higher among those with melanoma,” according to the New York Times. Some patients with advanced cancer have had remissions that lasted for years, but for others, the drugs don’t work at all or provide only temporarily benefits.

However, checkpoint blockades have side effects, as do other immunotherapy treatments. Removing the brakes can cause the immune system to attack healthy tissue as well as cancer, causing inflammation. Common issues include breathing trouble, diarrhea, joint and muscle pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. While such reactions can be serious, steroid medicines, such as prednisone, can often control them.

Examining the Alcohol-Cancer Link

A new review of scientific research concludes that alcohol causes seven cancers and “probably” others. The seven cancers are oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and female breast. While alcohol consumption has been causally associated with these seven cancers before, the new review from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, in Dunegin, New Zealand, strengthens and clarifies previous findings.

So should you stop drinking all together? Writing in the Harvard Health Newsletter, Dr. Steven J. Atlas takes a more balanced approach. First, alcohol may decrease risk of heart disease. Also, because alcohol isn’t a known carcinogen (unlike cigarettes), scientists aren’t sure how alcohol causes cancer.

“Instead, I will continue to categorize my patients based upon their pattern of alcohol use,” he writes. “Even if moderate alcohol use has some finite risk, there is also the question of how much of a risk it is—and how does that risk compare to other things they do or don’t do in their lives. I see this as a key role for primary care physicians. We want to frame personal choices—not enough activity, safe driving habits, unhealthy eating, and yes, alcohol use—in a way that provides perspective and hopefully motivation. My role is to advise about the things each of us can do to improve the quality and quantity of our lives. We all can do better, but I don’t think that scaring patients with the C word is the way to do it.”


“Perspective on alcohol use and cancer risk,” Aug. 12, 2016, Harvard Health Newsletter.

“No Confusion: Alcohol Causes Seven Cancers,” July 27, 2016, Medscape Medical News.

Adoptive Cell Transfer Therapies

In this therapy, immune cells are removed from a patient’s body, reengineered to attack the cancer and then re-infused into the patient’s body. Because these treatments are personalized for each patient, they are more difficult and expensive than checkpoint inhibitors. Although results have been highly promising in early clinical trials, adoptive cellular immunotherapy is not yet widely available. This therapy has been used mostly for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

Cell therapy can produce complete remissions in 25 percent to 90 percent of patients with lymphoma or leukemia, depending on the type of cancer, according to the New York Times. In some cases, the remissions can last for years, but in others, relapses occur within a year.

Side effects include severe and potentially fatal reactions, because the immune system is overstimulated to fight the cancer. Although these reactions can usually be controlled, patients may need treatment in an intensive care unit.

Immunotherapeutic Vaccines

Unlike vaccines that prevent diseases such as measles, these vaccines trigger the body’s immune system to beef up its response to cancer cells. Currently, the FDA has approved only one cancer treatment vaccine, for advanced prostate cancer patients who no longer benefit from hormone therapy. Other vaccines for various types of cancer—from bladder to breast to lung—are in trials.

Long-term View

Pharmaceutical companies have stepped up the pace of clinical trials for immunotherapy. However, few treatments are available to the general public, and insurers will pay only if the drug is approved for the patient’s type of cancer. Currently, checkpoint inhibitors are available publicly, but cell therapy is available only through clinical trials. To find out if you’re eligible for a clinical trial, go to the Cancer Research Institute website or


Cancer Immunotherapy,” American Cancer Society.

What Is Immunotherapy? The Basics on These Cancer Treatments,” New York Times.

What Causes Cancer?” American Cancer Society.

What Is Cancer?” National Cancer Institute of NIH.

Immunotherapy: Disrupting the Cancer Treatment World,” June 16, 2014, American Cancer Society.

Cancer Immunotherapy: The Cutting Edge Gets Sharper,” Oct. 1, 2015, Scientific American.

A New Cancer Immunotherapy Leads to Remissions,” Sept. 8, 2016,

New immunotherapy treatment may offer hope for many pancreatic cancer patients,” Sept. 8, 2016, Medical Net.

Scientists combine immunotherapy with chemotherapy to eliminate cancer recurrence,” Sept. 1, 2016, Medical Net.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors