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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

How Drinking Alcohol Affects Lifespan

Can moderate consumption lengthen life, or does drinking alcohol mean you won’t live as long?

We all know that drinking too much alcohol can be bad for our health. But what is “too much,” and is it only liver disease we have to watch out for? A major study done for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides some answers.

The study suggests that light to moderate drinking may have benefits, although heavy drinking definitely leads to poor outcomes. Data was examined from 333,247 U.S. adults who self-reported how much they drank over the 12-year period starting in 1997 and ending in 2009.

They were grouped into one of six categories:

  • Lifetime abstainers
  • Lifetime infrequent drinkers
  • Former drinkers
  • Current light drinkers (fewer than three drinks per week)
  • Moderate drinkers (between three and 14 drinks per week for men, and seven or fewer drinks per week for women)
  • Heavy drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week for men, and more than seven drinks per week for women)

Over the study period, 34,754 participants died. Of these, 8,427 were the result of cancer., 6,944 were due to heart disease, and another 2,003 were attributed to cerebral events. Men who were heavy drinkers had a 25% increased risk of death overall. However, women who qualified as heavy drinkers didn’t exhibit a higher mortality risk, although the reason for this disparity was unknown.

The study reinforced what other research had found: Drinking too much alcohol at once or over a long period of time can result in heart problems, liver disease and even cancer. Alcohol-related deaths total about 88,000 annually in the U.S., making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death.

Binge Drinking Up in Older Adults

A 2019 study found that approximately one older American in 10 binge drinks. Those 65 and older are putting down five or more drinks at a time for men and four for women at home, in bars, in restaurants and in senior living centers.

"When we think about binge drinking, the image we usually think about is younger adults or college students, but this is in fact a growing trend in older Americans," said Dr. Tara Narula on "CBS This Morning" on July 31, 2019. "It's been under-reported in both the scientific literature and in the media, but the problem is that the alcohol has a very strong effect on people who are older. They're more vulnerable to the health problems than even a younger population.

"Currently, around 10.6% of older Americans are binge drinkers. In the previous decade, it was anywhere from 7% to 9%. So, that number is growing. Also growing: just a general increase in alcohol use and any sort of harmful alcohol use.”

Dr. Narula notes that binge drinking can be more dangerous for older adults than their younger counterparts. Older adults are more sensitive to alcohol and can get impaired more easily. They may also have chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease that could be aggravated by drinking heavily at one time. It can also spur new problems, such as gastritis or certain cancers.

"Really no American who is older should be drinking more than three drinks a day,” says Dr. Narula. “If you have some sort of chronic disease or are on prescription meds, you should speak to your doctor, and they may recommend something even lower. Low-risk drinking is less than two drinks a day for a man, or one drink a day for a woman.

"It's really important that doctors screen for this and also educate about it. A lot of these people may be at home drinking alone. Nobody really knows what's going on. The problems may be attributed to, 'Oh, they're getting older, that's why they're confused and falling.' It can be a little silent unless we actually look for it.”

Protective Effects

On the flip side, moderate drinkers (both men and women) were found to have a decreased risk of mortality. They were 13% to 25% less likely to die from all causes, and 21% to 34% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Men and women who were light drinkers also exhibited a decreased risk of dying.

“Our research shows that light to moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking can lead to death,” says lead author Dr. Bo Xi from the Shandong University School of Public Health in China. “A delicate balance exists between the beneficial and detrimental effects of alcohol consumption."

Researchers found a J-shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality. That is, complete abstainers were more likely to die from certain causes than light or moderate drinkers, but much less likely to die than heavy alcohol users. This is even after statistical approaches addressed common faults found in previous studies, such as lumping those who no longer drink due to poor health with those who simply choose to abstain.

“We have taken rigorous statistical approaches to address issues reported in earlier studies,” says co-author Dr. Sreenivas Veeranki from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Heart Problems Reduced

A 2015 study found that drinking up to seven alcoholic drinks (4.4 ounces of wine, about 11 oz. of beer or just under a shot of liquor) a week could protect against heart failure. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, analyzed 15,000 participants. Men who had up to seven drinks weekly reduced their risk of heart failure by 20%, while women who drank up to the same amount had a 16% lower risk of heart failure.

In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health confirms that over 100 prospective studies link moderate alcohol use with protection against stroke, heart attack, heart disease, sudden cardiovascular death and other cardiovascular conditions. How is this possible?

Wine, and possibly other alcoholic beverages, may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.

"The grape skin provides flavonoids and other antioxidant substances that protect the heart and vessels from the damaging effects of free oxygen radicals produced by our body,” explains Prakash Deedwania, chief of the cardiology division at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine. "The strongest evidence is in favor of wine, but some evidence recently showed beer and other types of alcohol may provide the same benefits related to increasing good cholesterol.”

The Harvard School of Public Health posits that the formation of small blood clots that can block arteries in the heart, neck and brain may be prevented by moderate alcohol consumption.

Diabetes Risk Lowered

While heavy drinking is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, it’s possible moderate alcohol intake could lower the chances of getting the condition. A 2005 study found moderate drinkers were 30% less likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes compared to both nondrinkers and heavy drinkers. A 2010 study from the Netherlands confirmed the finding.

It’s possible that moderate drinking increases insulin sensitivity, since it encourages levels of adiponectin, a protein that helps regulate glucose levels.

Better Memory

A June 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found a link between moderate alcohol consumption and improved memory and thinking skills. Women who were 70 and above made the most gains. Another study that year found older people who were moderate drinkers displayed a higher episodic memory (the ability to recall events) than their peers, and had a larger hippocampus, a region of the brain involved with memory.

"For most older persons, the overall benefits of light drinking, especially the reduced cardiovascular disease risk, clearly outweigh possible cancer risk,” according to Giovanni de Gaetano, director of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in Italy.


But before you pop the cork on that bottle of Cabernet, make sure you’re not at risk for alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder, such as binge drinking. You’ll lose any benefits that light to moderate consumption might bestow.

Another research team found that health benefits related to alcohol consumption may even be “overestimated.” Among 18,000 participants, mortality benefits were limited to men aged 50 to 64 and women 65 and over who were moderate or light drinkers.

Researchers hypothesized that other studies made inappropriate selections in their participants. “The effect of such biases should therefore be borne in mind when evaluating findings from alcohol health studies, particularly when seeking to extrapolate results to the population level,” they warned.

Click below for the other articles in the October 2019 Senior Spirit

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Reverse Mortgage: Should You Get One?

New regulations are changing who might benefit from a reverse mortgage.

Aging TV stars hawk them. Financial gurus disdain them. Marketing specialists extoll their virtues. Who’s right about reverse mortgages? As with most things in life, it depends. However, recent regulatory changes protect the consumer more than in the past and make certain older adults viable candidates. And as the industry responds to the new rules, products are emerging that may appeal to a higher net-worth customer than before.

Reverse mortgages are exactly what they sound like: mortgage products that allow people with enough home equity to draw it back out (to take payments instead of making them) of their residence while aging in place. Reverse mortgages can give older adults enough added income to thrive instead of just barely get by.

There are three main types of reverse mortgages:

  • The most common variant is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). It was created in 1998 to assist older Americans who wanted to age in place but needed more income than what they got from other sources. These loans are controlled by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an offshoot of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), whose main function is insuring mortgages against borrower default. As such, loans max out at $726,525, and all borrowers must pay insurance premiums of .5% (for loans of 60% or less of appraised value) to 2.5% (the cost if the loan is more than 60% of value). You can take the proceeds as fixed monthly payments, a lump sum, a line of credit or a combination of these.
  • Many states allow proprietary (private) reverse mortgages that aren’t federally regulated. As such, homeowners don’t have to pay mortgage insurance premiums. The catch is that they may carry higher interest rates. However, these loans may cover higher-value homes or allow buyers to access a higher percentage of their equity.
  • Often offered by government agencies at the state and local level or nonprofit organizations, single-use reverse mortgages carry restrictions on how they may be used. They may be slated to pay off property taxes, catch up on homeowner association (HOA) fees or complete needed repairs. The lender must approve how the loan will be spent before it’s approved. These loans don’t require mortgage insurance and are typically for smaller amounts limited to what is needed to achieve their specific purpose.

Who Can Get a Reverse Mortgage?

To qualify for an HECM reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years old and have significant equity in your primary residence. You must be able to continue paying property taxes, HOA fees, maintenance, insurance and other costs of homeownership. You also can’t owe any federal debts, such as taxes.

The dwelling must meet a few requirements, too. It can be a single family residence, a condominium approved by HUD, or a multi-unit dwelling with up to four units, as long as you live at least six months of the year in one of them.


Just like when you take out a mortgage or refinance your home, there are upfront costs for any reverse mortgage product. For an HECM, that starts with an origination fee to cover the lender’s operating expenses. Lenders can charge $2,500 or 2% of the first $200,000 of your home’s worth plus 1% of the amount over $200,000. Lenders may waive or reduce origination fees.

You’ll pay 2% of the home’s appraised value upfront for the mortgage insurance premium, but it doesn’t stop there. You’ll be charged .5% of the outstanding loan balance annually, but this charge doesn’t get taken out of your available loan proceeds. Rather, it accrues over time and is paid when the loan is called due and payable.

An appraisal fee is charged depending upon the region, type and value of your home, but it averages $450. You generally have to pay it in cash before the loan is signed. The appraiser has to certify that your home is structurally sound and complies with home safety and building codes.

You can pay for closing costs with loan proceeds, but they need to figure into your decision of whether or not a reverse mortgage makes sense for you. Fees listed below are averages and may be more or less.

  • Credit report fee: $20 to $50
  • Flood certification fee: $20
  • Escrow, settlement or closing fee: $150 to $800
  • Document preparation fee: $75 to $150
  • Recording fee: $50 to $500
  • Courier fee: $50 or less
  • Title insurance varies, but rises with the size of the loan
  • Pest inspection: under $100
  • Survey: under $250

Servicing fees are monthly costs the lender charges for loan administration. They may be fixed or calculated into the interest rate of the loan. Federal regulations cap the fee at $35 per month, which will normally amount to several thousand dollars over the anticipated life of the loan, depending on the borrower’s age and life expectancy.

Use a reverse mortgage calculator to get an idea of what total costs might be.

Who Is a Poor Candidate for a Reverse Mortgage?

There are some instances where a reverse mortgage won’t be able to meet your goals and needs. If you have high medical bills and may not be able to continue living in your home, seek out a different solution. The loan will become due in full when you no longer live at your primary residence, so moving to a treatment facility or assisted living for more than 12 months will trigger repayment.

You may be moving soon. No matter what the reason, if you’re thinking about changing residences in a few years, then the costs of a reverse mortgage generally outweigh the benefits. You’re not prohibited from moving, but if a homeowner voluntarily vacates the property, he or she will have six months to repay the loan in full.

The upfront costs are more than you can afford to pay. If you can’t cover property taxes, homeowners insurance premiums and home maintenance costs, you won’t qualify for a reverse mortgage. In that situation, you might want to check into property tax deferral programs for older adults or a program to help low-income homeowners with repair expenses.

You need to think about the consequences if you live with someone who is not your spouse. If you die, sell your home or choose to move out for more than a year, the loan becomes due. Friends, relatives and/or roommates could be forced to move out. You can list boarders on loan paperwork, but if they’re younger than 62, they can’t be borrowers.

If you want heirs to keep the home. When a borrower dies, the loan must be repaid or the house will be sold to generate the cash. Your home can be passed down to heirs, but it will carry a mortgage balance. In many cases, heirs don’t have the funds to pay off the home, and they may not qualify for a mortgage.

When a Reverse Mortgage May Be the Right Answer

Many protections have been put in place since 2014 to correct problems giving reverse mortgages a bad name. While it’s always vital to evaluate any financial product thoroughly, there are circumstances that may make a reverse mortgage the right answer for you.

You’re not planning to move anytime soon. Nothing prohibits you from moving if you have a reverse mortgage, but the numbers don’t add up. Just like when you refinance your home, it only makes sense if you’ll be staying there a while. And if you move, you’ll have to repay the mortgage.

Your spouse is 62 or older. You can still get a reverse mortgage if your spouse is younger, but he or she can’t be a borrower. New laws protect a non-borrowing spouse in the event of your death, but that person won’t be able to continue to receive loan proceeds. It’s not a problem if there’s plenty of money to last until the spouse dies, but it can create a hardship to someone dependent on the monthly income stream or line of credit a reverse mortgage can provide.

You can afford the ongoing costs. If you fall behind on property taxes, homeowners insurance or home maintenance, your lender can call the loan due. County authorities supersede lenders, and they’ll step in if your property taxes aren’t paid for a long enough time. They can place a lien on the residence, take possession and sell it to recoup taxes.

You need a solution to long-term financial problems. Just to get your foot in the door, you must own your home outright or have substantial equity. Hopefully that means you’ll use funds wisely and make them last.

You have no plans to bequeath your home. Sure, you can still put it in a will, reverse mortgage or not. But your heirs will have to pay off the mortgage, and they may choose to let the house go, or simply may not have the needed funds or the ability to qualify for a mortgage.

New Products Entice Different Crowd

Lenders are taking aim at homeowners with property values above $700,000 as they roll out reverse mortgage products with fewer restrictions, lower initial costs and more money available to draw down. These jumbo proprietary loans have lofty highs of $2.25 million, but like their little HECM brothers, borrowers will never owe more than the value of the home.

“If using the equity in your house will enable you to travel or live where you want to live and not spend the whole retirement stressing about running out of money, it’s really a wise use of the equity,” says Jeremy Kisner, senior wealth adviser at Jeremy Kisner Wealth Management in Phoenix.

Another use for the high-end products is to create an income stream so homeowners can avoid digging into their stocks when the market goes down. With the bull long in the tooth, many investors are looking for protection, and this is one way to do it. Several lenders are developing products with variations to appeal to different clients.


No matter your situation, perhaps the most important thing is to make sure you understand exactly how a reverse mortgage will work in your situation. If you’re interested in a HECM, start educating yourself at the HUD websiteReverse mortgage interest rates closely mirror those of conventional mortgages, but just as with a conventional loan, be sure to check out a number of lenders and compare rates and total costs. If they can’t or won’t answer your questions so that you understand the terms, go somewhere else. And be sure to check out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or refinancing against the reverse mortgage to see which will work best for you.

Click below for the other articles in the October 2019 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

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Monday, October 28, 2019

Five Lifestyle Changes For Low Budgets

When you convert to a fixed income, you may suddenly need some lifestyle changes to stay in your budget.

Money that you thought would last can get eaten up in retirement, or your nest egg may not hatch the dollars you need to get you by. Many retirees live on Social Security alone, and often find it doesn’t stretch very far. But instead of worrying over how you’ll get by, check out these five proven methods to make your money go a lot further.

1. Volunteer more of your time. 

This sounds counter-intuitive because you won’t get paid, but it works. Most people fill up free time with hobbies. But gardening (fertilizer, plants, potting soil, containers, gardening tools), golfing (greens fees, outfits, shoes, clubs, lunch at the course) and other pursuits can wreck your budget. Even cheap entertainment, such as early-bird specials, can cut into your financial plan. Volunteering, on the other hand, takes up your time without cost to you and can offer added benefits. You’ll make new friends, learn skills and get the kind of satisfaction that only comes from giving.

Visit VolunteerMatch to find opportunities in your community. You can also try Volunteers of America to help those in need, or check with your local animal shelter. It’s easy to feel isolated and deprived on a tight budget; volunteering is a great way to get some perspective.

Rent Out a Room

What if your house is too big for you, but you can’t bear (or just don’t want) to move? Having a housemate (or two!) is a movement that’s sweeping the country as the cost of renting continues to rise. Older adults may be especially glad to have someone else living with them for added security and to make the house a bit livelier.

You can put up a free ad on your local Craigslist under “Housing — rooms and shares,” but you don’t always know exactly what you’re getting. It can be hard to find just the right rental agreement, and what do you do if the tenant doesn’t pay on time?

Enter Silvernest, a company that manages all the tricky bits for you. Silvernest will match you with potential housemates that have been background checked, and they’ll handle the home share agreement as well. Or you can fill out a profile to become a renter in the home of another adult. Adults of all ages may host or rent to older adults, so if you prefer the energy of a young family, great, and if you’d rather be around one quiet older adult, the folks at Silvernest can make that happen, too. The site says the average renter will save $9,000 a year, and the average host will bring in $10,000.

Switch Homes for Vacation

You may have decided that vacations are a thing of the past as you adjust to a new budget, but not so fast. Your biggest expense is usually lodging, and you can avoid it entirely by swapping homes with someone else. You may think that’s way too risky, but you probably haven’t checked out sites such as Home Exchange where interested parties sign up and are verified. You can take a virtual tour of homes that interest you, or even plan a non-reciprocal exchange. Even renters can check out this service.

Still a bit dubious? Check out travel blogger Rick Steves’ article on house-swapping tips aimed at a European stay, but applicable anywhere. He guides you to several sites and offers invaluable information borne of experience.

2. Sell your extra car.

Many couples, in particular, have two cars out of habit, not necessity. At an average $6,814 a year, transportation is typically a retiree’s second-largest expense. Sell (or donate) one of the cars, and watch your gas bill and insurance costs plummet. You may talk with your spouse more as you drive each other to events, or download the Uber app so you’ll always have a ride. Heck, you may even decide to give driving for a ride-share service a try!

If you’re already down to one car, consider giving it up. Check out public transportation (bus, light rail, train), or walk and bike to more destinations. You’ll be surprised how much you can save.

3. Downsize your home. 

Since housing is the biggest expense for most retirees, it’s a good place to look when you need to pare down costs. You can lower mortgage or rent payments, or get a chunk of change back out of a home that is paid off. And with a smaller space to heat, cool and maintain, utilities should drop as well. That’s why 42% of Americans are planning to downsize in retirement, according to brokerage TD Ameritrade. It’s easy to get a preview of what’s available in your neighborhood by searching a real estate site such as Zillow or

You might also decide to stay where you are but take out a reverse mortgage. Check out the Reverse Mortgage article for more information.

4. Relocate where living expenses are cheaper. 

Before deciding to move, investigate state taxes on retirement income, sales tax, the cost of a home or rental, and whether or not you like the lifestyle your new area would offer. Make sure you know what you’re getting into, as costs vary considerably. Some states have no income tax, but their property tax can be hefty. Check out some of the best states to retire in to get started. You can also find state income tax rates that run from nothing to almost 13%. And remember to calculate the cost of moving into the equation.

5. Get a job.

You may have to go back to work in spite of taking other measures to help bolster your budget. Be sure to keep an open mind about what you want to do and for how long. You may find work totally unrelated to your career that keeps you happy and brings in some extra income. Perhaps you’ll enjoy selling tools at a home improvement store, teaching classes at a quilt shop or working in an office environment. It can be refreshing to have coworkers, help customers get what they need and feel a sense of importance and responsibility.

On the other hand, you may choose to start your own business, such as selling on eBay or turning your craft habit into an Etsy store.

You may decide to make one, none or all of the changes above to put more money in your pocket for retirement. Talk it over with a trusted professional if you need a second opinion about which direction to take, because it can be difficult to make some of these decisions on your own. Remember, you can try out giving up a car by taking public transportation for a month before you sell the old Toyota, or spend some time camping or at an Airbnb in a new state before you commit to moving. Who knows? You may end up liking your new life better than the old one as you make new friends and develop skills you never knew you had.

Click below for the other articles in the October 2019 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Top Dating Sites for Older Adults

Baby boomers have more choices than ever for finding romance or just making a new friend.

Dating can be a real pain at any age. Trying to find a romantic partner in your social group can be hit or miss at best. It can be even more difficult for baby boomers who may not get out as much as a younger crowd, or who have a fixed social circle without potential matches.
Technology has an answer.

Dating app developers have taken note of the legions of older adults who want to date, and they’ve responded with sites that are just for those of a certain age. After all, older adults often have a clearer view of who they are and what they want, whether it be marriage, casual romance or a friend to share dinner with now and then. The spark of a new love interest can be just as bright at 70 as 17, and older adults are willing to use technology to help kindle the fire.

Romance Scams Aimed at Older Adults

Scammers are everywhere, and older adults seeking romance may become easy prey if they’re not savvy. Women in particular need to be aware that the picture of the handsome older man in the profile photo may be a total fake, and the profile itself was invented to lure in women. Guys, this can happen to you, too, so read on.

Scammers may be overseas or in the U.S., but they all want access to your money. You may be thinking that you’re WAY too smart to fall for that baloney, but don’t be so sure. Some extremely intelligent people have been ashamed to admit that they got conned. The scammers are highly skilled at pulling at your heartstrings, making you feel loved before you’ve met. (And you never will meet). Never, ever give out bank account information or send money to ANYONE you meet online, especially that incredibly sensitive, romantic person who only wants to be with you. Following are some clues about who may be a scammer:

First, check out the profile photo. Is the person good-looking and fit? Holding a beer or glass of wine, wearing sunglasses? Scammers use stock photos of models to hook their mark. Consider limiting emails to five or so before setting up a meeting. Someone overseas doesn’t want you to know it’s impossible to meet face-to-face. And beware of someone who won’t speak at all over the phone; it could be because their English will tip you off that they didn’t grow up in the U.S. A phone conversation should serve to set up a meeting, not as an end in itself. Scammers use these talks to pry information out of you about family members, where you live, financial information and vulnerabilities.

Finally, get a last name and phone number for anyone you’ll be meeting in person and give that information to someone you trust. Check in with that person after your date to acknowledge that all is well. For more online dating tips, go to for advice from professional dating coach Lisa Copeland.

In fact, there are so many dating apps for the baby boomer generation out there that it can be overwhelming trying to decide which one is right for you. Should you be on more than one app at a time to increase your chances? Is paying for more service the way to go, or is it just as good to use the freebie version? Is there really one site for people interested in marriage? All the questions can prevent you from joining at all. But if you don’t dive in, you’ll never find a pearl! As with most things in life, you’ll learn as you go. But just in case you’d like a few pointers, we’ve gathered information about some popular sites to get you started on your journey. They’re in no particular order, so browse sites that interest you to get a feel for them.

  • OurTime. A dating site for people over 50, OurTime caters to those just dipping their toe in the water by making matches for pen pals, travel buddies or other companions in addition to romantic relationships. The company has a free app where you can send emails and flirts, view profiles with photos, and see just who’s been checking your profile. For more capability, try their paid service. One month is $29.96, six months runs $15 per month.
  • SilverSingles. The site promotes “a fresh take on 50+ dating” with no swiping or emailing required. You’ll start by taking a one-time, extensive personality test to start your dating profile. Based on your input, SilverSingles sends you three to seven potential matches every day. You can start online chatting and set up that first date right away. There is a free version, but doling out for more options is a bit pricey at $57.95 per month for three months, $44.95 per month for a six-month commitment, and $31.95 per month for year.
  • eHarmony.  Although not for an older crowd specifically, eHarmony has the reputation of being the premier site for people whose end goal is a ring on their finger. At eHarmony, you’ll answer some basic questions first, then complete compatibility questions that reveal your personality. They’ll send you matches, and you can check out those profiles for free, but you’ll have to pony up some cash to communicate. Three months costs $54.95 per month, while a six month commitment runs $36.95 per month and a year goes down to $18.95 per month.
  • EliteSingles. Aimed at an “educated” crowd (finishing junior high doesn’t count), EliteSingles boasts that 80% of members have a university degree. It’s fast-growing, with about 381,000 new members every month. They bill “serious online dating” based on a like-minded match to find lasting love, with an international platform in 25 countries. There is a free version, but otherwise, we’ll hope that education got you a decent salary, because it’s not cheap. You’ll pay $62.95 per month for three months, $44.95/month for a six month commitment, and $31.95 per month for a year.
  • Zoosk.  What if the idea of marriage is a big question in your mind? Maybe your life partner passed away and you just want companionship, or the sting of your divorce made you gun-shy around white dresses and boutonnieres. At Zoosk, you can start off with a casual relationship and keep it there or progress to something more serious. More than 35 million members of all ages are using the site’s “behavioural matchmaking” technology to find someone. Part of the reason may be the affordable price: $29.95 for a month, $19.98 per month for three months, and $12.49 per month for a year. 
  • SeniorMatch. “You don’t have to be alone.” The experts at have built a site just for the over-50 crowd, and they’ve done a nice job. Right on the homepage they make it clear that whether you’re looking for a travel buddy, activity partner, companionship, or a dating relationship, they’ve got you covered. It also claims to be the largest dating site for baby boomers and other older adults. There’s a free version, and a paid subscription won’t cost an arm and a leg: $29.95 for a month, $19.95 for three months, $15.95 for half a year or $11.95 per month for a full year. 

Volunteering for Love

Leave it to folks in progressive Austin, TX, to come up with the first dating experiment to combine philanthropy with romance. Swoovy founders Brooke Waupsh and Jeff McMahon reached out to local nonprofits to assess interest in the app. Potential partners included animal rescues, community gardens, food banks and more. They figured that people who share a common interest in doing good might have a better chance of hitting it off. It can also be easier to chat when you’re engaged in a common task than if you’re facing each other over a cup of coffee. And if the date didn’t go like you’d hoped, well, you still put in some time at community service. Everybody wins. Right now, the app is only available in Austin, but watch for it to roll out to other parts of the country.

Tips for Your First Meeting

The vast majority of dating from an online introduction goes very well. However, it’s smart to take a few precautions just in case. OurTime offers the following tips for your first dates:

  • Always meet in public. Meet for the first time in a populated, public location — never in a private or remote location.
  • Tell a friend. Inform a friend or family member of your plans, including when and where you're going. If you own a mobile phone, make sure you have it with you.
  • Stay sober. Do not do anything that would impair your judgment and cause you to make a decision you could regret.
  • Drive yourself to and from the first meeting. Just in case things don't work out, you need to be in control of your own ride — even if that means taking a taxi or Uber.

Click below for the other articles in the October 2019 Senior Spirit

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Lifetime Arts

Arts education benefits older adults. Here’s where to start your own program that embraces a wide variety of disciplines.

Most of us are aware of the many ways art enrichment benefits older adults. Even for those who can no longer speak or whose cognition has eroded, the arts provide a means of expression and social involvement. Dancing, playing music, sculpting, drawing and painting are   means to connect with others that are universal in their appeal across time, age and geography. The trick is how to find programs or teachers in your community.

Enter a company that links together the many pieces needed to get an arts program in place. Lifetime Arts “connects the people, funding, ideas and strategies necessary to increase the number and quality of professional arts programs for older adults.” No matter the size of your organization, Lifetime Arts offers customized consulting and programming services to meet your both your budget and your needs. Aging industry professionals in any field might look to their marketing models and community engagement techniques, or consider networking with the group.

Best Practices

A pair of free videos are offered to inform and assist visitors to the home page of the website. The first covers how the arts foster social community among older adults. It features a retired college professor who got “addicted” to a creative aging workshop series he attended in Tennessee. The video goes on to promote a model of program planning that ensures curricula promotes social sharing among participants.

The second video centers on the power of creative aging programs to give older adults “a renewed sense of purpose, improved wellbeing and connection.” Grants from Aroha, a funding and advocacy organization, have started arts programs in 50 states since 2016, and Aroha’s partnership with Lifetime Arts has resulted in training and technical assistance delivered to grantees.

Free Training Event

Lifetime Arts has put together training events, such as the spring 2019 gathering in New York City for the area’s Creative Aging initiative. Free events included a discussion led by one of their master teaching artists about social engagement and marketing ideas, as well as exploring ways to develop and strengthen partnerships with senior centers and older adult participants.

A networking salon offered strategies for teaching artists, as well as senior center and arts organization staff, to connect to the local community while increasing visibility. Artists in residence shared experiences while guided by a moderator who is also a teaching artist.

Lifetime Arts also features a blog, available on the home page. Recent offerings included the musings of a lifetime theater enthusiast mulling over where to move in retirement, and how the decision will affect his long career as a local playwright and performer. Another entry discusses the decision of when to retire, and how it’s vital to create your own roadmap independent of what others are doing, or risk feeling somehow inadequate. Yet another piece explores the way music benefits the aging mind, and includes an embedded video on humans and rhythm.

Whether or not you utilize the arts in your own work with older adults, you’ll come away from the site with a better idea of current trends and thinking, and possibilities about how you or your clients might access programs that are on the forefront of best practices. 

Click below for the other articles in the October 2019 Senior Spirit

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Famous and 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

October 3 - Al Sharpton, minister and civil rights activist

Sharpton preached his first sermon when he was four years old and living in Brooklyn. When his father left, Sharpton’s mother took a job as a maid and the family fell from middle class to living in public housing. But Sharpton seemed destined for fame: In 1972 he was youth director for Afri-can-American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s presidential campaign, then went on to serve as James Brown’s tour manager from 1973-80.

Even earlier, in 1969, Jesse Jackson appointed Sharpton to serve as youth director of the New York City branch of a group that fought for new and better jobs for African Americans, and in 1971 he founded the National Youth Movement to get funding for poor youth.

Sharpton’s fame as a civil rights activist began with the Bernhard Goetz subway shooting in 1984. Goetz was cleared of all charges after claiming a group of four African American men approached him with alleged intent to commit robbery, and he shot them with an unlicensed firearm. Sharpton noted the weak prosecution of the case and led a handful of marches in protest.

Perhaps Sharpton’s signature accomplishment is the National Action Network he founded in 1991 to increase voter awareness, provide services to the poor and support local businesses. Sharpton also ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president in 2004. He is host of his own talk show, Keepin’ It Real, and often makes guest appearances on cable news shows. In 2011, He became the host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation, a talk show.

Sharpton, as with any public figure, is not without controversy. Supporters have dubbed him “a man who is willing to tell it like it is” and former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, no ally of Sharpton’s, admits that he deserves respect: “He is willing to go to jail for (the disenfranchised), and he is there when they need him.” Foes claim he is “a political radical who is to blame, in part, for the deterioration of race relations.” Sharpton sees all the criticism as a sign that people are paying attention to his work: “An activist’s job is to make public civil rights issues until there can be a climate for change.”

October 10 - David Lee Roth, rocker for Van Halen

Roth was born with a silver spoon, as ophthalmologist father Nathan Roth was a famed eye sur-geon with a big-bucks medical practice and real estate holdings to match (he was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in 1984). The younger Roth “bounced around” schools and went to a psychiatrist for several years, finally going to a ranch for troubled teens where caring for a horse imbued him with a sense of responsibility.

Fate was calling when he went to Pasadena City College and met the Van Halen brothers. He’d been singing solo since his late teens, as well as with a group. Roth played with hard rock group Van Halen from 1974 to 1985 and again from 2006 onward. In 1976, Gene Simmons “discovered” the group while they were playing at a club and tried to recruit the older brother for his band, KISS. However, the band got national attention the next year when they were signed to a con-tract.

Roth is both a guitarist and harmonica player who was featured in nearly every acoustic interlude of the group’s songs. Their first album, Van Halen, was released in 1978 and eventually sold more than 12 million copies. As lead singer and principal lyricist, Roth was integral to the band’s suc-cess. He also promoted the “nonstop booze-and-babes party train” image of the band while they made five more successful albums in seven years.

But all good things must end, and creative tension led to Roth parting ways with his bandmates. Roth preferred lighthearted lyrics with a strictly hard rock sound, while Eddie Van Halen sought more depth and mass appeal. Roth wound up with a successful solo career. He also trained as an emergency medical technician in New York City, going on over 200 calls. Roth wrote a memoir in 1997, Crazy From the Heat, which was a New York Times bestseller.

Eventually, Roth returned to Van Halen (after a tumultuous stint replacing Howard Stern on his radio show when the personality left for Sirius Satellite Radio that wound up with Roth being fired and filing a lawsuit). While the band tours from time to time, Roth has his hand in other ventures, including a radio show and skincare line for the tattooed. He lives in Tokyo and keeps homes in New York City and Pasadena, CA.

Click below for the other articles in the October 2019 Senior Spirit