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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Serving Older Adults

Top 5 Best Practices When Serving Older Adults

What you don't know about aging, can't can hurt you.

Today, age 50 plus consumers account for more than half of adult consumers in the United States. What's more, Baby Boomers control 70% of all discretionary money. If your business is neglecting the older adult consumer, it's time to stop. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 - a trend that will continue until 2029. Businesses that continue to ignore the changing age demographics are going to be left behind.

In order to stay relevant, businesses need an understanding of the older consumer and the adaptations in product functions, service design, marketing and ethical considerations that are necessary for success when serving older adults.

5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Serving Older Adults

Let’s examine some of the first key steps a business can take to improve product and service offerings to older adults:

  1. Not modifying their business processes.

    One of the most common mistakes business make when dealing with older consumers is the execution of a contract, policy, or legal document. Abandon the traditional method of quickly simplifying the legalese and saying sign here. You might get away with this when dealing with a younger audience, but older adults find this practice very off-putting and untrustworthy. Instead, give them the opportunity to take the contract home to read or share with a trusted advisor, caregiver, family member, or friend. Older adults are well aware of the numerous financial scams targeting seniors. Consequently, they are often more cautious when entering contracts. Additionally, businesses should be adaptable to things like hearing loss, sight loss, cognitive issues, fear of exploitation, and more when working with an older adult on a contract.

  2. Not making business communication friendly for the mature consumer.

    Are your communication efforts to older adults being ignored or misunderstood? Hearing declines with age and, typically, high frequencies are affected first. Do not use someone with a high-pitched voice for direct communication with a senior.

  3. Not adding technology to your business.

    Do not assume that all older adults are not tech savvy when contemplating adding technology to your business. Many older adults welcome the advantages technology brings. Furthermore, older adults who struggle with technology can help you identify the places where you can simplify or improve your systems. An older adult's struggle with your technology is often the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" for a sub-par user experience by everyone. For those who are not tech savvy always have alternatives available, along with a great help desk or customer service person on standby.

  4. Not growing your professional network beyond your industry silo.

    Stay on top of best practices for serving older adults by participating in an interactive and multi-disciplinary professional group where sharing information and collaborating is beneficial to everyone. If however your professional connections are heavily concentrated in your own industry, your capacity to offer solutions beyond your specific expertise is limited.

  5. Not listening.

    What is the single most important thing to do when communicating with senior clients, potential clients, their families, their caregivers, or their trusted advisor? LISTEN! Make the senior feel highly respected. Older adults want to feel like their specific needs are being heard, and they want to be involved in the decision making process. Communicating primarily with their children or caregiver will leave the senior feeling ostracized, greatly diminishing your chances of repeat or referral business.

There's an Event for That!

If you want an opportunity to explore solutions specific to your business the Society of Certified Senior Advisor’s The Business of Aging VIA Sessions will provide opportunities for attendees to interact with subject matter experts, coaches and other participants to analyze their own businesses through the lens of our changing age demographic.

Participants will be encouraged to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies needed for decision making, problem solving and imagination that are most valued in today’s successful aging enterprises. Attendees will review their own businesses, identify areas for improvement, develop specific objectives and incorporate new opportunities. Join other like-minded professionals working to improve their business practices while serving older adults during the 2017 VIA Sessions being held this November in Denver, Colorado.

When: November 3-5, 2017

Where: The Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence St, Denver, CO


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ovarian Cancer: What You Need to Know

Ovarian Cancer

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

This September marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! Teal ribbons will decorate shops and lapels. Walks and fundraisers will be held to raise money for research and to support those currently battling ovarian cancer. On top of supporting those people currently affected by this disease, it’s also important to spread information and educate women on this topic. So let’s take a moment and talk about what ovarian cancer is, who is most at risk, and why it is imperative that women understand this dangerous disease.

What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer originates in one or both of a woman’s ovaries. It can also include cancer in the fallopian tubes (connects the ovaries to the uterus) or nearby tissue known as the peritoneum, which surrounds abdominal organs. As the cancer worsens, ovarian cancer cells move to other tissues and organs around the pelvis and abdomen. In its worst stage, ovarian cancer has been known to spread as far as the lungs, the brain, and the skin. This year, over 22,000 women will be diagnosed with this life-threatening disease in the United States alone.

Who Is Most at Risk for Ovarian Cancer?

A woman fifty years or older will have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Her level of risk will continue to increase after menopause. Now, that isn’t to say that ovarian cancer hasn’t affected women in their twenties, thirties or forties, but as a woman’s age increases, so does her level of risk. 50% of women who develop ovarian cancer are over the age of sixty.

If a woman has previously been diagnosed with breast, colorectal, or cervical cancer, she will have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. The same can be said for a woman whose family medical history includes cases of breast or ovarian cancer. If you or your family has a history of these cancers, it is important to consult your doctor about genetic testing. As with breast cancer, the presence of genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2 indicate a higher risk for ovarian cancer. It is also important to note that studies have found women with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage (Jewish people from Eastern Europe) are more likely to carry these two mutated genes.

While a woman cannot change her family history, medical records, or age, there are several precautions that can be taken to reduce risk. Studies dating back to the 1970s have found a link between talcum-based baby powder and ovarian cancer. While the exact relationship between the two is still unclear, the presence of talc particles in a high number of biopsied ovarian tumors does little to sell the product. In today’s consumer market, there are several better alternatives to talc-based baby powders for women to use for personal hygiene.

Studies have also found that women who are obese with a BMI over 30 have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer and a lower survival rate. By keeping a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy diet full of vitamins A, D & E and omega-3 fatty acids, women can help reduce their chances of both ovarian cancer and a number of life-threatening cancers and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?

Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Only 15% of women are diagnosed in stage 1 of the disease; most women find out about the cancer when it has worsened considerably and is more challenging to treat. Many women believe that they are checked for ovarian cancer along with several other gynecological diseases in their annual check-up. Unfortunately, while your annual Pap smear checks for signs of cervical cancer, it does not detect ovarian cancer. Some ovarian cysts or tumors have been found during an annual check-up, but it is extremely rare occurrence and not something to rely on when facing this deadly disease.

Ovarian cancer is known as a “silent disease” because it has very subtle and sometimes confusing symptoms. Common symptoms linked with ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, fatigue, pain during sex, constipation, the need to urinate more frequently, and menstrual changes. These symptoms are also common menstrual and menopausal symptoms, and generally, women don’t associate them with anything more serious. Knowing your body and identifying these subtle changes can be the key to an early diagnosis.

As mentioned before, there is no single test to detect ovarian cancer. There are, however, multiple tests that can indicate the development of ovarian cancer. Doctors will generally combine several different tests to get a clearer picture of the situation. For example, an imaging scan like an MRI or an ultrasound can be used to find tumors. Nevertheless, the only definitive way to determine if a woman has developed ovarian cancer is to perform a biopsy of a formed tumor. If your regular gynecologist suspects ovarian cancer, it is essential to see a specialist as soon as possible to formally diagnose the cancer and proceed with treatment.

14,000 women die of ovarian cancer per year, and again this statistic reports only the numbers in the United States, not globally. If you’re aware of your own risk and listen to your body, an early diagnosis can be lifesaving in the face of ovarian cancer. And knowing these facts can save the lives of your daughters, sisters, granddaughters, and friends. It’s important to take the time to learn more about your risk and share your new found knowledge with the women closest to you. Help spread ovarian cancer awareness and fight for the health of every woman this September!

Author -  Caitlin Hoff

- By Caitlin Hoff

Health & Safety Investigator

As a Health & Safety Investigator for, Caitlin uses her background in Industrial Design and her passion for health and wellness to educate consumers. She strives to help people make smart decisions affecting their personal health and that of their families.


Do I have a Genetic Predisposition for Ovarian Cancer?” National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

Ashkenazi Jews and Cancer,” Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Stage IV,” Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance.

Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer,”

Obesity contributes to metastasis in ovarian cancer patients,” ScienceDaily.

Monday, September 11, 2017

8 Practical Tips to Make Your Home Safe

8 Practical Tips to Make Your Home Safe

Your home should be the place you feel most safe and secure. With constant threats to home safety like burglars and house fires, this isn’t always the case. It’s your responsibility to make sure you have the best home security measures in place. From installing burglar alarm systems to conducting simple home safety rules for the family, there are many ways to make your home more secure. Here are 8 practical tips on how to keep your home safe.

Install a Burglar Alarm System

If you don’t already have a burglar alarm system, it’s time to install one. Burglar alarm systems are one of the most effective ways to keep your house safe. There are many home security systems to meet your needs and budget, from professionally installed round-the clock alarms to cheap DIY systems. A small, inexpensive alarm is enough to send the burglars running.

Add Motion Detector Lighting

Lighting up the entrance to your home is a great way to protect your house from break ins. No burglar wants to be seen while trying to invade someone’s home. Sensor lighting automatically turns on when someone is in a specific area or zone, putting potential burglars in easy view.

Install Surveillance Cameras

One of the best home security tips is to install surveillance cameras near your doors and windows. When the cameras are visible to burglars, it indirectly warns them that they are being watched. If burglars think your house has a high level of home security, it might be enough to scare them away. However, it’s also smart to install cameras in hidden view to record any evidence of a burglary.

Make Sure Your Fire Alarm is Working

House fires are one of the most dangerous threats to your safety at home. It’s absolutely essential to have a properly installed fire alarm system in your home. Make sure to test your alarms regularly to make sure it’s working correctly. Alarms should be installed in every bedroom and on every floor of the house.

Conduct Safety Rules at Home

It’s important to put together a set of practical rules of home safety so that your family knows how to handle or avoid an emergency. If your children are old enough to be at home without supervision, make sure they know where the emergency numbers and home safety rules are posted. Teaching your children a few practical safety tips like the fire escape route, basic first aid skills, and the safety of food preparation will go a long way in ensuring their safety at home.

Give the Impression That Your House is Occupied

Your house is more likely to be broken into if burglars think nobody is home. If the lights are on inside, burglars will assume people are home. To deceive the burglars while you’re away, you can have your lights automatically turn off and on with automatic timers.

Reconsider Your Landscape Plan

Trees and overgrown bushes located near windows can be major flaws in your home safety plan. These can be ideal hiding places for burglars. Keep your yard clean and think carefully about how your landscape plan can prevent burglaries. You don’t want to give burglars any chance to hide.

Install a Home Safe

On the chance that burglars are successfully able to break into your home, it’s smart to keep any valuable items as protected as possible. Installing a home safe is a sure way to ensure burglars can’t gain access to important belongings. There are multiple types of home safes you can buy to suit your needs, ranging in price, size and quality of security features.

Author - Plumbing Plus Marketing Team

- By Plumbing Plus Marketing Team

Plumbing Plus is one of Australasia’s leading retailers of plumbing and bathroom supplies, offering an extensive range of products. Browse their collection in one of their stores across New Zealand, or shop online at their website.


Home Safety Tips A Comprehensive Resource,” Atlantic Training.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Smart Banking for Seniors

Smart Banking for Seniors

A few changes to your banking habits can net you more money than you think.

When was the last time you checked how your bank was treating you? It’s easy to leave your money in a bank with a local branch, use the same ATM and see the same cashiers year after year. Unfortunately, that familiar habit could mean you’re missing out on hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars of easy money.

We checked to see how much we could save a hypothetical senior with $45,000 in cash, keeping the money both accessible and safe. Watch for the underlined results, below.

Kasasa Accounts Boost Earnings

Switching to a credit union or a local bank can give your account a big boost. Use your computer to shop around for the best deals, and you may be surprised at what you find. Take the widely available Kasasa accounts, for example, that come in three basic flavors.

Free checking with Kasasa Cash offers users cash rewards each month they qualify. There are no account minimums or monthly service fees, and ATM fees are refunded nationwide. Best of all, Kasasa Cash accounts earn an interest rate that is typically much higher than traditional accounts, up to 5 percent on as much as $10,000 as of this writing. Here’s a link to current rates.

Or you might choose Kasasa Cash Back, a checking account that earns users cash back on purchases made with their debit card. There are no restrictions on the type or category of purchases, no minimum balance and no monthly service fee.

You can pair the free Kasasa Saver account can be paired with any Kasasa checking account at the same financial institution. Kasasa Saver automatically sets aside your Kasasa checking account’s earned cash rewards without any special effort required. In addition, this option provides a high interest rate on savings.

What’s the catch? Kasasa accounts limit the amount of money, typically $10,000 or $15,000, which earns the high rate. They also require online banking and e-statements, which may be a change for seniors. To qualify for Kasasa Cash, you have to make a specified number of purchases, typically 15, with a debit card each month. And there must be a monthly automatic deposit, but you can choose to cycle that deposit in and out of another high interest account (read on).

Hint: A pack of gum or can of soup qualifies as a purchase. You can buy several items at the same time with separate transactions in the self-serve line.

Interest earned on $10,000 at five percent in a year: $500.

High-Interest Savings Accounts

So you’re keeping the maximum amount you can in a Kasasa checking account and earning double what a 10-year treasury bond would pay, but you still have some cash left over and you want to stash it in a safe place. If your current bank doesn’t pay much more than your mattress, it’s time to open a high-interest savings account at an online bank.

While there are many to choose from, seniors might want to look for features such as 24/7 customer support by phone, ease of site navigation and high customer satisfaction ratings, as well as a great interest rate. Find your best deal here.

Hint: You can meet the requirement for the automatic deposit in your Kasasa checking account by setting up monthly transfers from your high interest savings account. And if you already have the maximum amount that earns rewards in your Kasasa account, simply set up an automated withdrawal a week or two later out of your Kasasa account and back into savings.

Use a Credit Card to Earn Cash

If you’re in debt, the most important thing you can do with your money is pay it down. But for debt-free seniors with the dedication to pay off a credit card balance every month, it’s time to take a look in your wallet.

According to research at, nearly one-third of seniors have been using the same credit card most often for at least 10 years, and another 20 percent have never switched from their primary card. That’s leaving money on the table. Why? Credit cards have become tools for savvy consumers to make some extra cash.

To begin, know your credit score. You have the right to request a free report annually, but most financial institutions now offer that information online as a freebie. The better your credit score, the more options you’ll have for a sweet card deal.

Next, decide if it matters to you whether it’s a Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. The first two are accepted pretty much everywhere, but if you want to use a card at your local Costco, for example, it’s got to be a Visa. The latter cards generally offer great deals for consumers, but are not as widely accepted.

Finally, it’s time to go online and compare cards. Here’s a link to one site that is user friendly and offers various search options.

Look for a card that has no annual fee, pays the maximum cash back and gives you a tidy bonus upfront. For example, the popular Quicksilver card is available to seniors with good credit and offers a $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. It pays a 1.5 percent return on every purchase. If you spend $200 a month with a similar card, you could earn $186 the first year.

Interest earned on $10,000 at 1.15 percent in a year: $115.

No Penalty Certificates of Deposit

But wait, is that the best you can do? You still have some cash that you want to stow in a secure place without tying it up. Enter the No Penalty CD. You can cash it out without penalty any time after six days, and it’s completely guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Or, leave it in place for the full 11 months and get a nice return.

How do big, conventional banks stack up? For $25,000, Bank of America will pay you a measly annual percentage yield of 0.04 percent, or PNC Bank will pop that up to 0.15 percent. Hardly worth it when your new, online savings account earns far more. But put that same $25,000 into an 11-month CD with online-only Ally Bank, for instance, and your yield becomes a tidy 1.5 percent.

Interest earned on $25,000 at 1.5 percent in a year: $375.

Avoid Fees at all Costs

Does your current bank charge a fee for your checking account? More than 2 out of 3 banks charge monthly maintenance fees for checking, according to a recent MoneyRates survey. The average monthly fee across big, medium and small banks alike was $13.22.

Cost to pay maintenance fee on checking account per year: $158.64.

Hold on, you say, I never pay the monthly service fee because I keep enough in my account to avoid it. Well, that is costing you, too. The average balance needed to qualify for that fee waiver jumped nearly 32 percent in the last six months, to $11,469.25. What if you could put that money in your savings account earning 1.15 percent interest instead?

Loss of earnings on $11,469.25 at 1.15 percent annually: $131.89.

And what if you get hit with an overdraft fee? The average penalty is now $32.34, which can add up to quite a sum if you overdraw your account multiple times.

Cost of a single overdraft fee: $32.34.

At the end of a year, our senior has earned $990 in interest, and avoided about $150 in bank fees, for a net gain of more than $1,100.


Kasasa Accounts,”

Research free Kasasa® checking accounts,” Deposits Online, LLC.

The latest update on bank fees,”

Find a credit card that's right for you,”

Research Bank & Credit Union Accounts,” Deposits Online, LLC.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Best Five Tips for Aging Alone: How Elder Orphans Can Live Well

Five Tips for Aging Alone: How Elder Orphans Can Live Well

Five ideas you need to consider for becoming a happy single retiree.

No one sets out to be isolated and alone in retirement, but it can happen to anyone. “Americans are spending less time than ever in the married state,” says Susan Brown of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. This “raises questions about who’s going to care for these people as they age and experience health declines.”

Baby boomers had fewer children than earlier generations, and significant numbers of baby boomers are childless, according to demographer Jonathan Vespa of the U.S. Census Bureau. “As people have fewer children, there are fewer people in that next generation to help take care of that older generation,” he says.

How will these elder orphans—people with no relatives to take care of them—navigate the treacherous waters of old age? Here are five tips for living your best life as a single older American:

1. Don’t wait.

Plan early for the financial consequences of aging alone. It’s never too early to save for retirement, strategize your best option for Social Security withdrawals or pay down your house. The point is to create the biggest nest egg possible to use in retirement. This is especially important for single adults who are more likely to need to pay for home care, ride services and a retirement home.

Remember that 69 percent of Americans will require long-term care, although a mere 37 percent think they will, according to a survey by That number increases for women, who tend to outlive their spouse and thus feel the effects in larger numbers than men.

2. Work at friendships.

Social connections are a vital component of aging well. A recent study found that for adults 50 years of age and older, those who felt loneliest were almost twice as likely to die within six years as those who felt least lonely, regardless of their health or social status.

Senior centers are a welcome source of friendship and social engagement in many communities. While programs vary, many local senior centers offer libraries, art classes, card and board games, and forays out for cultural events, while some supply a balanced daily meal with a chance to converse with others. Senior adults are also finding a sense of belonging in faith communities and churches, and metropolitan areas are increasingly home to secular communities as well for non-believers.

Maintaining friendships is critical for elder orphans. Depression occurs in almost 20 percent of people over the age of 64, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The more things someone does to keep the body and the mind active, the better the outcome.

Village to Village Network

Created 15 years ago, Village to Village is a system to create community in hyper-local neighborhood groups that almost anyone can initiate or join.

Village members, according to the Network site, experience reduced isolation, increased independence and enhanced life purpose.

With a nonprofit framework, the village-to-village concept employs a combination of volunteers and paid staff to coordinate access to affordable services.

A village is a group of members in a localized geographic area whose purpose is based on their community’s needs. It may provide volunteer transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, and social and educational activities. A village also offers access to vetted and discounted service providers.

For seniors, a village does anything members need to age safely and successfully in their own home. The result is reduced isolation, increased interdependence, and decreased overall cost of care because the program positively impacts individual members’ health and purpose.

Learn more:

3. Appoint a legal delegate.

Before you are incapacitated by time or a medical event, choose a proxy who can help with medical decisions as your durable power of attorney appointee. They need to know what medications you’re on, your insurance information, your social security number and anything else that might be necessary in an emergency.

Various directives can cover a financial or medical power of attorney, a living will and/or advanced directives, such as Five Wishes, which serves as a legal document in most states when signed and witnessed.

Elder orphans without a trusted friend or relative can rely on an attorney who specializes in elder care law. Get a recommendation, and check online ratings for a reliable professional.

4. Evaluate a move.

If there is no compelling reason to stay where you are, elder orphans can use their single status as a bonus and make a move without having to consult a spouse. You may downsize into a tiny house, relocate to a less expensive city with a walkable neighborhood, or benefit from a college town with free classes and a vibrant atmosphere.

Realize that options diminish the older you are. For example, while you may be able to handle moving your household to a new community in your 60s, it becomes more difficult, both physically and emotionally, in your 70s, and very few seniors in their 80s would consider such a big change.

5. Take care of your body.

Avoid cognitive decline and the isolation of a wheelchair by feeding your body well and exercising regularly. Silver Sneakers exercise programs are widely available. Research studies continue to find strong links between diet and cognitive capacity, in addition to healthy foods creating stronger bodies for better mobility and a wider range of activities.

A nutrient-rich diet can even help you avoid disease. “Although food has classically been perceived as a means to provide energy and building material to the body,” according to a recent study of the diet’s effect on neurologic function, “its ability to prevent and protect against diseases is starting to be recognized.”

For more information about aging alone, check out these previous Senior Spirit articles:

  1. States With Highest Proportion of Isolated Seniors Could Be Best Place to Age Alone

  2. Solo Aging: The Next Frontier

  3. Solo Aging: Take Steps Now to Create a Network


Young Adults Then and Now,” Jonathan Vespa. U. S. Census Bureau.

No Spouse, No Kids, No Caregiver: How to Prepare to Age Alone,” U.S. News.

The Skyrocketing U.S. Aging Population,”

Infographics & Fact Sheets,” National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Village to Village Network,” Village to Village Network.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, September 4, 2017

Busting the Top Five Medicare Myths

Top Five Medicare Myths

Avoid becoming a victim of what you think you know about Medicare.

Nearly everyone over the age of 65 depends on it, but myths and misconceptions around Medicare persist. The government-funded health insurance program for seniors will provide more cumulative lifetime benefits to average earners than Social Security by 2055, according to a study by the Urban Institute, but its complexities inspire a host of misconceptions.

Whether you will be new to Medicare or have gone through the process many times before, here’s how to navigate around unnecessary penalties, bad timing and costly stays you only thought were covered.

Myth 1: I can enroll any time I want to.

If only it were that easy. While there are large windows of opportunity, if you miss them, you’ll hit a wall.

First time enrollees have three months both before and after their 65th birthday for their initial enrollment period (IEP). The annual enrollment period (AEP) is October 15 through December 7, when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.

Participants in traditional Medicare can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan during the open enrollment period, and seniors with Medicare Advantage can return to a traditional Medicare plan or change to a different Medicare Advantage plan without getting hit with a penalty.

Retirees can also switch from one Part D prescription drug plan to another, or add Part D to their coverage (although a late enrollment penalty may apply).

What you can’t do during open enrollment is switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap (see sidebar) or switch Medigap plans without answering medical questions. You also can’t join Part B, which covers outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment, unless you have a qualifying event.

Myth 2: Medicare pays for long-term care.

Many seniors are shocked to find out that Medicare is not going to pay for their golden years in a retirement home or assisted living facility. It will cover the first 20 days in a skilled nursing facility, if and only if the need is due to a hospital stay of at least three days. (Some Medicare Advantage plans will waive this requirement under certain circumstances). As of 2017, days 21 through 100 are no longer fully paid, and require a copay of $164.50 per day.

Why are so many seniors taken by surprise, given how common long-term care has become? Experts speculate that it’s because they confuse Medicare and Medicaid, a needs-based alternative that kicks in when assets are depleted. Even then, Medicaid probably won’t cover the swanky place you’ve got your eye on; it is only available for eligible facilities.

Myth 3: Medicare covers all my health expenses.

“People usually think Medicare will cover everything, and that doesn’t work out well for clients who aren’t healthy,” says Joanne Giardini-Russell, Medicare advisor with Financial Architects Inc.

Should I Choose Medigap or Medicare Advantage?

One of the most confusing choices retirees must make is picking between supplemental Medigap and a Medicare Advantage health plan that covers Part A and B benefits.


With a Medigap policy, seniors have more physicians to choose from. All Medicare providers participate in Medigap. Out-of-pocket costs are low to none, but average premiums run about $150 to $200 a month and vary by age and health history.

Medigap policies come in 10 variations, no matter where you live. But they don’t include any coverage for Part D, so additional coverage for prescriptions is necessary. And while you’ll have to tote three cards in your purse or wallet (one for Medicare, one for Medigap and one for Part D coverage), payment is a snap. Medigap almost always cuts a check directly to providers after Medicare pays its share.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage programs require the use of plan providers only (HMO) or charge you extra for out-of-network services (PPO). Plans charge copays and carry deductibles of several thousand dollars per year. Premiums run from negligible to more than $100 per month, but all enrollees pay the same regardless of health history or age.

Most Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs, and they are rated with a five-star system. Seniors only have to carry around their Medicare Advantage card for services, but there’s the additional hassle of paying copays and deductibles to providers.

The result: Medigap usually costs less for someone with major health problems. Despite higher premiums, out-of-pocket costs are typically much lower. However, if your prescription costs are high, you should factor in the additional cost of Part D coverage before making a decision. Healthier individuals can save money with Medicare Advantage’s lower premiums.

Hint: It’s important to review your choice every year at open enrollment, October 15 to December 7. At this time, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans can change or drop coverage for certain drugs or alter pricing on the same drug. Your Medicare Advantage plan can also change their network of doctors and facilities, adjust the way they cover a medical service, and/or drop additional benefits such as hearing, vision and dental.

Medicare generally covers 80 percent of costs, and that 20 percent that isn’t covered can add up faster than you can slip on a banana peel. Consider the additional financial burden of dental, vision and hearing coverage, and it explains why so many seniors get supplemental insurance.

It’s important to realize, however, that you have a choice in additional insurance. Don’t just roll from the insurer you had at work into the Medicare Advantage plan the same insurer offers. You can choose between any Medicare Advantage plan offered, as well as Medigap. (See our guide, right) However, you can’t enroll in both.

Myth 4: Medicare is free.

Most people get hospital insurance (Part A) for free, but are surprised that medical insurance (Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) require a premium payment, which is dependent on their income. For 2017, the standard premium per month for Part B is $134, but most people with Social Security end up paying $109 a month on average, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Check if you may be eligible for the Limited Income Newly Eligible Transition (LINET) program, which is a temporary prescription drug plan for low-income Medicare beneficiaries who don’t have other prescription drug coverage. It helps get rid of gaps in coverage for those who aged into Medicare without getting a Part D plan.

The Affordable Care Act added coverage for an annual wellness exam, and covers 100 percent of most preventive services such as cancer and diabetes screens, mammograms, bone mass measurements and more. Many seniors don’t realize these services are now free.

Myth 5: I don’t need to enroll in Medicare.

Even if you have other insurance, it could be crucial to enroll – and timing matters.

If you work in a company that employs fewer than 20 workers, the employer-sponsored health plan automatically becomes secondary to Medicare at age 65, and the Part B penalty kicks in. That penalty means premiums can go up almost 10 percent for every month you are eligible for Medicare but not enrolled. In addition, you can get hit with a similar penalty for Part D that costs 1 percent of the base cost, multiplied by the number of complete months you’re not covered.

Seniors covered by COBRA have no longer than eight months to sign up for Part B without incurring a penalty, even though COBRA may provide secondary coverage for a year or more after retirement.

Likewise, small business owners and seniors who are self-employed have to enroll in Medicare during their IEP, regardless of whether or not they buy insurance privately.

If your employer has 20 or more employees, it’s usually a good idea to at least sign up for the free Medicare Part A as soon as you’re eligible. But before you do, find out whether that will trigger a change in your current coverage.


When is Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018 Coverage?”

Medicare Open Enrollment,” U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Common Medicare Myths and Misconceptions — and How to Dispel Them,” ThinkAdvisor.

Making Sense of Medicare Myths,” Raymond James Financial, Inc.

What does Medicare cover (Parts A, B, C, and D)?” Medicare Interactive.

Medicare Penalties,”

Part D late enrollment penalty,” U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Beware Medicare's Penalties for Late Enrollment,” ElderLawNet, Inc.

Part B late enrollment penalty,” U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap: Which Is the Best Choice?” The Motley Fool.

Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage,” Consumer Reports.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Take Away the Keys, Not the Mobility

Take Away the Keys, Not the Mobility

New features of rideshare services let Mom and Dad keep their independence.

The average American woman will outlive her ability to drive by 10 years, and men, six years, according to a recent study by Consumer Reports. Oftentimes, it’s a family member who must broach the wrenching topic of ending a lifetime in the driver’s seat. Many seniors report that losing their driving privileges is a bigger blow than having to go into an assisted living facility.

But is it now possible to ease some of the agony of taking away the keys with a technological alternative retirees almost anywhere can use?

Giving Seniors a Lyft

Ride-service company Lyft, which millennials widely use, has developed partnerships with CareLinx and Ascension to help older adults make it to health appointments. The collaboration with CareLinx adds a network of about 170,000 caregivers nationwide, while Ascension boasts 2,500 care facilities in the nation’s largest nonprofit health care system.

In addition, CareLinx ensures that a licensed caregiver will be along for the ride. Whether it’s to the grocery store or a doctor’s office, there is help getting in and out of the vehicle, stowing a walker, or reading labels and instructions.

“It’s really a door-through-door solution,” according to Dan Trigub, who oversees health care partnerships at Lyft.

Caregivers, Family Can Request Ride

Many seniors are uncomfortable with smartphone technology, or unable to use the devices. Anyone can access a web-based tool called Concierge on a phone or PC to request Lyft rides.

“In less than 10 seconds, a person can schedule a ride on behalf of somebody,” says Trigub. “They enter the pickup and drop-off locations and they can schedule up to a week in advance or in real time. Then they have access to our fleet of vehicles in that area.”

Jitterbug Answers the Call for Transportation

Many seniors who can’t use an iPhone or Android are already familiar with Jitterbug, a simplified smartphone developed with older folks in mind. Thanks to a partnership with GreatCall, seniors in more parts of the country have one-button access to transportation. Press “0” to hook up to GreatCall’s Personal Operator Service, and a car will arrive in minutes.

“We know, both from our customers and research by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, that transportation limitations seriously impact the independence and self-confidence of older adults,” says David Inns, CEO of GreatCall.

“While many of us are aware of and comfortable with ride-sharing apps, the technology requirements—a smart phone and an app—make it difficult for many older adults,” adds Inns. “By incorporating it as part of GreatCall’s Personal Operator Services—having requests handled 24/7 by a member of our U.S.—based customer service team— we make it easy as well as affordable and reliable.”

Uber Connects with Senior Market

Ride-share service Uber is also exploring ways to connect with older adults. Uber partnered with AARP at senior centers in Florida to teach members how to use their app. Uber also partnered with California-based 24HrHomeCare to create a service dubbed RideWith24 in response to long wait times at area hospitals for a ride home.

Seniors Who No Longer Drive

Statistics show that for seniors who no longer drive, quality of life decreases. Health care suffers as 15 percent make fewer trips to the doctor, and 59 percent reduce outings to shop or go to a restaurant. Perhaps the greatest hit to quality of life, however, is the 55 percent who take fewer trips to visit friends and family.


Recently, nonprofit health care system MedStar Health, based in Washington, D.C., reached out to Uber.

“They saw through their own research that the cost of missed appointments is ridiculously high,” explains Lindsay Elin, Uber’s Head of Community Engagement. “They were looking to drive down their own costs, and transportation was a big hurdle.”

Now, MedStar patients can ask for ride service when they make appointments, and the staff at MedStar manages the rides. They can track trips to see when patients arrive.

Uber for All

It’s now possible, through a program called UberFamily, to create multi-person profiles on the Uber app, and then schedule rides on behalf of family members. UberFamily can even keep seniors mobile who live in a different state than other family members. For example, a daughter living in Phoenix can schedule a ride next week for her father in Boston.

It’s always a tough call to tell a parent their driving days are over, but replacing the car with a ride-share service through a smartphone can keep seniors rolling.


Lyft and Uber Want To Give Old Folks a Ride,” Smithsonian Magazine.

New Solutions to Keep Seniors Moving,” Lyft Blog.

Taking Away an Older Driver’s Keys,” Next Avenue.

Taking The Car Keys Away From Older Drivers,” NPR.

Seniors: Loneliness and Social Isolation,” 2016 Community Development Halton.

GreatCall and Lyft Solve Transportation Issues for Seniors Using Personal Operators,” GreatCall.

What is UberFAMILY?” uberkit.

Distribution of Licensed Drivers - 2015 - By Sex and Percentage in each Age Group and Relation to Population,” US Department of Transportation.

How Seniors Are Driving Safer, Driving Longer,” Consumer Reports.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

September 2 - Jimmy Connors

September 2 - Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors dominated the world of tennis in the 1970’s, wowing crowds with both his unique style of play and his antics on the court. Hoisting trophies for five US Opens, two Wimbledons and one Australian Open, Connors used a flat backhand and a steel racket to decimate his opponents.

He also quite famously flaunted the traditional decorum of the sport. Fans were sometimes shocked by his on-court antics, such as his one-finger salute to linesmen for a call he disagreed with. He was even booed at Wimbledon, but he seemed to gather strength from the energy of the crowd, positive or negative, and was known for his never-say-die commitment to every match.

The bad boy of tennis grew up coached by his mother and grandmother in a suburb of St. Louis. Although at 5’10” he was shorter than most of his competitors, his competitive nature more than made up for his stature.

"[T]here's always somebody out there who's willing to push it that extra inch, or mile, and that was me,” Connors laughed. “I didn't care if it took me 30 minutes or five hours. If you beat me, you had to be the best, or the best you had that day. But that was my passion for the game. If I won, I won, and if I lost, well, I didn't take it so well."

Connors peaked in 1979, but he continued to compete against much younger men. After wrist surgery in 1990, he came back to play 14 tournaments in 1991, the year he turned 39. His last major tournament was the 1992 US Open.

The tennis star was a commentator for a few years in the early 2000’s, and tried his hand at coaching in 2006 and again in 2013, for stints of 19 months and one month. Famously engaged to fellow tennis pro Chris Evert, they split up for good in 1978. After an engagement to Miss World Marjorie Wallace also failed, Connors married Playboy model Patti McGuire.

In 2005, Connors had a hip replaced. His autobiography The Outsider won a British Sports Book Award in 2013.

September 16 – Mickey Rourke

September 16 – Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke wanted to be a boxer when he grew up. His first bout was at age 12, and it wasn’t until he was sidelined by a concussion that he took a friend up on his suggestion to try out for an acting role.

Rourke got starring roles in a variety of drama, action, and thriller films. He was popular in the U.S. and Europe during the 1980’s, when he was a leading man in Rumble Fish, 9 1/2 Weeks, Barfly, Angel Heart, and many more.

But Rourke’s personal life began to affect his career. “Working with Mickey is a nightmare,” director Alan Parker stated. “He is very dangerous on the set because you never know what he is going to do.”

In 1991, Rourke left acting because he felt that he “was self-destructing”. The 39-year-old returned to the boxing ring. Promoters gave him little chance of success due to his age, but Rourke was undefeated in eight bouts, with six wins and two draws. Although boxing helped heal some inner wounds, it left plenty of physical ones.

A broken nose, toe and ribs, a split tongue, a compressed cheekbone and short-term memory loss were all souvenirs from Rourke’s boxing days. His face would need reconstructive surgery, but the result of going to “the wrong guy” left his features “a mess”. Even so, after Rourke retired for good from boxing in 1994, he was able to get supporting roles in films such as The Rainmaker and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

But Rourke considered himself a “has-been” and began weekly meetings with a psychiatrist and sought help from a Catholic priest. He credits the two, along with his agent, for a mainstream comeback in 2005 with a lead role in action thriller Sin City, for which he won several honors and was nominated for an Academy Award. Since then, Rourke has appeared in a host of commercially successful films.

Rourke says that it’s not only the trio of professionals who helped him pull through the dark times. The actor is known as a pet lover, and has owned several Chihuahua-type dogs. Rourke told Barbara Walters at the 2009 Golden Globes, “I sort of self-destructed and everything came out about 14 years ago or so ... the wife had left, the career was over, the money was not an ounce. The dogs were there when no one else was there."

A spay/neuter advocate, Rourke has also done a public service announcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Sometimes when a man’s alone, that’s all you got is your dog,” Rourke says.

September 25 – Christopher Reeve

September 25 – Christopher Reeve

Although he excelled at athletics and academics, the famous actor found his passion at the age of nine when he performed in a student operetta. Reeve continued acting while attending Cornell College and Juilliard, where he was a theater major with comic Robin Williams, with whom he would remain close throughout his life.

In 1978, Reeve took on the part he became best known for. He decided when he read for Superman that he’d base his Clark Kent on the kinder, gentler masculinity that was becoming more accepted. He liked the challenge of the dual role, saying, “There must be some difference stylistically between Clark and Superman. Otherwise, you just have a pair of glasses standing in for a character.”

But even after he got selected, there was work to do. Reeve had handsome features, but his body was on the skinny side for a superhero, and he refused to wear a muscle suit. Instead, he trained intensely for two months, running every morning, weightlifting for two hours each afternoon and spending another 90 minutes on the trampoline. He added thirty pounds of muscle with the help of a high-protein diet, and went from 189 pounds to a muscly 219 pounds on his 6’4” frame.

In the early 80’s, Reeve flew solo across the Atlantic twice, and raced his sailplane when he wasn’t filming Superman III. He participated in mock dogfights with vintage WWI planes as an honorary member of the Tiger Club, a group of British aviators who had fought in the Battle of Britain.

Reeve continued to act in the late 80’s, but he also became even more active. He trained five or six days a week on horseback for difficult combined training events. He built The Sea Angel, a sailboat he piloted from Chesapeake to Nova Scotia. He became politically active and served on the board of the Charles Lindbergh Fund to promote environmentally safe technologies, while supporting many causes such as Amnesty International. Reeve even flew to Chile in 1987 and led a protest march to save the lives of 77 actors threatened with execution by dictator Augusto Pinochet.

But it was a tragic accident in May of 1995 that tested Reeve’s character more than ever before and showed the world what a real-life Superman is made of. Reeve fell off his horse when it refused a jump at a competition, and his spine and skull were severed. He had to use a breathing tube the rest of his life, and endured many surgeries and infections as a quadriplegic.

Battling depression early on, Reeve contemplated suicide. But it was the dedication of his wife and a visit by a strange doctor who helped pull him through. Alone, waiting for the surgery to reattach his skull and spine, a short doctor wearing yellow scrubs entered the room. He announced that he was Reeve’s proctologist, ready to do an exam. When the doctor got closer, Reeve burst into laughter for the first time since his accident: it was his old friend, Robin Williams.

Reeve lived in hope of a cure for spinal cord injury, and raised money and awareness for the cause, traveling as far as Israel to encourage research. He also continued to act, tried his hand at directing and dictated his autobiography, Still Me. But America’s Superman was proven mortal in the end.

Christopher Reeve died in 2004 from complications due to his many health issues. His wife died two years later from lung cancer. His two eldest children continue to run The Christopher Reeve Foundation.

Source: Wikipedia

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

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, September 1, 2017

92-Year-Old Grandmother Is Never Going to Act Her Age

This 92-year-old grandmother is never going to act her age. Johanna Quaas was born in 1925 in Saxony, Germany, when the country was still known as the Weimar Republic. She also happens to hold the Guiness World Record for “oldest gymnast” and Quaas still includes a headstand in her floor routine.

The indomitable Quass started out in gymnastics at the age of 9, but quit when she was needed on the farm during WWII. Later, she switched to handball and won the Eastern German championship in 1954. But after raising three children, she returned to gymnastics as an instructor and then as a competitor at age 56.

“I do gymnastics to avoid being susceptible to falls and that is a good preventive tool,” Quaas says, noting she also keeps youthful with plenty of naps and a mostly-vegetarian diet. She also enjoys hiking, swimming and dancing.

"If you are fit, it is easier to master life," Ms Quaas proclaims. This is her message to older people as she gives demonstrations and participates in competitions around the world.

In her signature green, crushed-velvet leotard, Quass wants to continue competing until she can’t.

“My face is old but my heart is young,” she says. “Maybe the day I stop doing gymnastics is the day I die.”


‘My face is old but my heart is young’: World’s oldest gymnast still has moves at 91,” Washington Post.

You're never too old to roll, says 92-year-old gymnast,” The Straits Times.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors