Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Best Vitamins, Supplements and Lifestyle Remedies for Anxiety

If you’re feeling stressed out, a vitamin boost or other natural therapy recommended by a health professional may be all you need to bring some relief.

Anxiety disorders are America’s most common mental illness. They affect more than 40 million adults every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Additionally, anxiety is on the rise. It’s not surprising, considering that so many people lost work, shuttered a business, and/or were forced into greater isolation due to the pandemic. 

Vitamin Toxicity 

As we’ve mentioned, it’s essential to involve a health professional before adding vitamins and supplements to your dietary regimen. In fact, if a physician asks what medications you are taking, it’s important to provide vitamins and supplements just as you would mention prescribed medications. Vitamins and supplements can interact with your medications, potentially causing dangerous side effects. Adding vitamins is not always a good thing!

For instance, vitamin K should never be combined with a blood thinner such as warfarin. Vitamin E may also cause bleeding with warfarin therapy, and may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Vitamin B6 can reduce the effectiveness of certain drugs. Vitamin A should not be taken with retinoids, commonly prescribed for acne and psoriasis. High levels of niacin can interfere with statins. Folic acid can block drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and perhaps methotrexate in cancer therapy. 

Minerals can also interfere with other medications. Calcium, magnesium, aluminum, iron and potassium have potentially serious effects. The bottom line is: include your health professional in decisions before adding vitamins and/or supplements. A health professional can ensure that any changes will have positive potential and avoid unexpected side effects.

Lifestyle Remedies

If you’re struggling with anxiety, the first thing to consider are lifestyle changes that have been proven to bring relief. Lifestyle changes include eliminating some substances while adding or boosting other substances and habits.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Alcohol is a sedative. It may make you feel better in the short run, but it is detrimental to mental health long-term and can be addictive.
  • The earlier you begin smoking, the higher your chance of developing an anxiety disorder. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can change pathways in the brain linked to anxiety.
  • Caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety and can even trigger panic attacks.
Adding or increasing these things can help reduce anxiety:
  • Increase hours of sleep by darkening your room and keeping it cool. Avoid using a computer or smartphone in bed. Try writing down your worries before attempting to sleep.
  • Meditation calms chaotic thoughts. Just 30 minutes a day can alleviate anxiety and act as an antidepressant, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Conscious deep breathing can reduce anxiety. Use deep, slow, even breaths.
  • Essential oils can relieve anxiety and help you relax, according to studies. Try bergamot, lavender, clay sage, grapefruit and ylang ylang to promote sleep and reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Chamomile tea can promote sleep and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Constructive journaling can improve mood and reduce worry. Putting your worries on paper and expressing gratitude are two methods that have been found to increase happiness.

Vitamins and Supplements

It’s important to consult a trusted health professional before adding vitamins or supplements to your diet, according to experts like neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez. They may interfere with other medications or supplements and make the situation worse instead of better. However, many have been shown to be effective at boosting moods.

Three main biological factors contribute to anxiety: serotonin deficiency, low vitamin B6 and low iron. When combined with talk therapy and lifestyle changes, the addition of vitamins and supplements recommended by your health professional can improve your mood and bring you back to equilibrium. Following are some common natural mood boosters. Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system; they are essential for cognitive function. They can be found in many fish, including salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, lake trout, mackerel and tuna. 

B vitamins are essential for stress management and mood, and are found in a wide range of foods, including carrots and green leafy vegetables. 

Magnesium produces energy and helps form neurological pathways in the brain. It can be found in greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans and whole grains.

L-theanine is an amino acid that improves focus and promotes relaxation. It is found in black tea, green tea and certain mushrooms. 

Gamma-aminobutyric acid is essential for the production of serotonin, a powerful transmitter of positive feelings. Some vitamins boost levels of GABA, or it can be consumed as a supplement.

Valerian root is commonly known as a sleep aid, but it is also effective in reducing anxiety. It’s available in capsules or as a liquid or tea.

Licorice root regulates stress hormones in the adrenal glands. But eating it in candy form won’t help; that usually contains only licorice flavor. Try purified deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) as a capsule, powder or tea.

Ashwagnadha has been used for hundreds of years to improve energy and reduce anxiety. It is derived from a plant that is available in capsule form.

Rhodiola, or golden root, is an adaptogen that promotes overall health and has a long history of use. Find it in capsules, extracts and teas.

Passionflower can promote positive mood, improve sleep and reduce nervousness, according to many studies. It is available as an extract or tablet, or can be added into teas and tinctures.

Probiotics can support not only digestion, but also brain and emotional health. Natural sources are yogurt, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut and other fermented foods.


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical decisions before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What To Do When Your Spouse Is Dying

Financial matters may be the furthest thing from your mind when a spouse is dying, but it’s crucial to review them.

COVID-19 has taken more than half a million American lives in the past year. Grief has been a national pastime, reminding all of us that we never know when our time is coming. If you should find yourself in the awful situation of having a dying spouse, or preferably, before this happens, there are steps you should take for your financial future to ensure a smoother transition. 

While it may seem callous to consider finances at such a time, your spouse will likely be comforted knowing that you will have the tools you need to manage after they are gone. The last thing you will want to do in the depths of your sorrow is to figure out how to access bank accounts or where your spouse kept the key to the safe deposit box. While comfort and care are preeminent concerns for a terminal spouse, a talk (or several talks) about finances cannot be neglected.


Paperwork regarding medical care and finances should be in one spot so it can be easily accessed. “You want to avoid the ‘treasure hunt’ after someone is incapacitated or has died, and you are running out of time with terminal illness,” says George Reilly, founder of Safe Harbor Financial Advisors. The following documents should be updated, if necessary, and readily available:
  • Will
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Advanced health care directives
  • Life insurance policy
  • Investment portfolio
  • Retirement accounts
  • Pensions

Everplans Has You Covered

According to a survey by legal services site Rocket Lawyer, 64% of Americans don’t have a will. The general lack of planning around death led to the creation of Everplans, an online site where you can store all the documents loved ones will need in the event of your death. A wealth of resources includes articles on such topics as what to wear to a funeral and state-by-state guides on estate and death taxes. 


Make sure you have names and contact information for the team of professionals who manage your finances. Who will you turn to for tax preparation, legal advice, or help deciding how to invest a portfolio of stocks and bonds? Who can help claim insurance? Who will sell off a business, or carry out a transfer to employees or other wishes?
  • Financial advisors
  • Accountants
  • Lawyers
  • Insurance agents
  • Small business professionals 

Updating Documents

There are many stories about assets accidentally left to a long-ago girlfriend or former spouse because beneficiaries were never updated. That kind of mistake cannot be corrected after death, so make sure wills and accounts are current. It is not enough to update your will, since the beneficiaries listed on an account (think bank accounts and invested assets) will supersede those listed in a will. 

Do I Need an Estate Plan?

For starters, you definitely need a will if you own a house or car, have bank assets, and/or want assets to go to people other than your direct relatives. If you don’t have a will, the state will dictate where your assets go upon death. The process could take a long time to wind through the courts, and it may cost your heirs unnecessary expense. Check if your state charges estate or inheritance taxes and if your assets are large enough to be subject to them.  An estate plan can minimize the probate process, including delays and lack of privacy. Philanthropic donations and business succession plans can be covered in an estate plan. 

Titling Accounts

Another way to avoid the pain of probate is to make sure accounts are titled properly, according to Rob Greenman, lead advisor and partner at Vista Capital Partners. Accounts with joint owners should be titled “joint owners with rights of survivorship” so survivors can continue to pay expenses. States differ as to how accounts should work.

Online Access

Many people opt out of paper statements, leaving heirs no trail to follow. It is absolutely critical to know the computer password and passwords to individual sites, such as bank, brokerage or insurance company. Mac computers store password keys, but they are useless if you can’t get in the computer itself. 

It will save multiple headaches if you have a list of all needed passwords and all accounts. Speaking of accounts, verify that you know every one your spouse has. Over the course of decades, he or she may have changed banks multiple times or added an online bank for higher interest. Money may be split between brokerages, or there could be an old 401(k) at a previous employer. 

Coming to terms emotionally with having a dying spouse is a terrible burden. But it is important to make sure that all the pieces are in place for a financially sound future for yourself. There will be many hurdles ahead: make sure that settling money matters is not one of them. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Great Groups for Retired Men

Retirement can be a hard transition for men. A pair of guys-only groups is starting to address the need for male friendship.

The probability that a man will become clinically depressed increases by almost 50% in the two years following retirement, according to national studies. Men who were previously VIPs suddenly find that no one needs their advice, and there is no routine to their days. They have become PIPs, or previously important people, overnight. 

Men’s Wisdom Works

At least, that’s how Chuck Fink, the 69-year-old founder of Men’s Wisdom Works, describes it. Fink retired at age 58 from a career in organizational development and quickly found his mood sliding downhill into depression. “I just wasn’t prepared,” he admits. His wife noticed the change and brought him to a conference at a nearby university that held classes for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  The keynote speaker happened to be then-AARP Vice President Rick Moody, who spoke about the difficulty men have in making the transition to retirement. They don’t have as many social networks as women and typically bottle up their feelings. 

It was as if a lightning bolt had struck. Fink decided then and there to begin a support group for men in retirement. Started where he lives in Asheville, North Carolina, the movement has grown to include 17 chapters in western North Carolina. A group of eight to 12 men meet twice a month for breakfast, lunch or happy hour (or on Zoom over the last year). They chat among themselves, catching up from the last time they gathered, and select a topic, such as:
  • How have you recovered meaning in your life since becoming a PIP?
  • How has your relationship with your spouse changed in retirement?
  • How have you changed and grown throughout each decade of your life?

“We have guys who were big shots in their careers who come in listless and sad,” says Fink. “We introduce ourselves, one at a time, explaining how we handled the existential crisis they’re experiencing. After a few months, the depression usually lifts.”

Women Need Activities, Too - Sisters on the Fly 

No men, no kids, be nice, have fun. This is the credo of Sisters on the Fly, the largest women’s outdoor group in the country. Started by real sisters who liked to fly fish, it has grown into a group that embraces a bevy of outdoor activities, from trailer tours to cross-country skiing. The women support each other on a “journey to become more adventurous.”

While not specifically for older adults, this is a diverse group that welcomes one and all (females) into their culture, with no upper age limit. Take Bernice Ende, an author and equestrian who ventures out on rides that may cover 10 to 30 miles in a day. She never knows where she’ll be sleeping each night. For that reason, she had “always been a solo traveler” until she discovered SOTF. “But now I am very excited about all the possibilities, meeting Sisters at my talks, but also that Sisters are inviting me to join “events” when my travels meet up with them,” says Ende. “One of the reasons I ride is to encourage women leadership. I love independent women!”

Seize the moment, or actually a whole year, of sisterly bonding for only $70. 

Men's Sheds

On an international level, Men’s Sheds are workspaces where guys can gather to learn new skills while collaborating on community projects such as building park benches or fixing appliances. Founding member Mark Winston, 61, says, “We want to break the cycle of social isolation. When men retire, they lose their work identity, which is important for us guys. When they participate in a shed, they reconstitute their personalities, which helps a great deal on the path to staying active, feeling good about yourself and not falling into pits of depression.”

Originating in Australia in the 1990s, there are now thousands of Men’s Sheds around the globe. America is behind, with only 14 Sheds in the U.S. and Hawaii, and another nine in development. Adoption can happen quickly though; Men’s Sheds came to Ireland in 2009, and the country now boasts more than 500.

“Men don’t talk face-to-face, they talk shoulder-to-shoulder whilst working on a project,” says Barry Golding, author of The Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men. “Lulls in the natural cadence of those conversations is where one might mention a medical issue he’s dealing with, leading to a potentially important conversation.”

Shed members are there for each other in the good times and the bad. “A member’s wife died two years ago, and then his daughter died suddenly a few weeks ago,” relates Victor Maltby, president of the Hackberry Shed near Ottawa, Canada. “We all showed up at the wake, and he burst into tears. His sister said, ‘You guys are from the Shed?!?! He talks about you all the time!’”

David Helmers, executive officer of the Australian Men’s Shed Association, summed it up nicely when he said, “You work your whole life, save up and plan to retire from work one day. But we should be retiring to something, not being retired from something.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Best Tech for Grandparents and Grandchildren

Long-distance grandparents can benefit from innovative solutions to help stay connected to grandchildren.

The pandemic reminded us how much connecting with grandchildren means to us. Technology came to the rescue with both established and novel apps and methods to help us catch a child’s first steps, share photos or read a book together. Long-distance grandparents can use these apps as a means to “see” grandchildren and their parents between visits. 

Easy Computer for Older Adults

Using technology built for youngsters can present daunting obstacles for older users. The Wow computer can be set up in five minutes and offers features for reduced eyesight and arthritic hands. It’s easy to learn for someone with little or no computer experience. Users unfamiliar with a keyboard never have to use one; they can take advantage of Wow’s touch screen with large icons for navigation. 

One touch can enlarge text or navigate to chat, email and a calendar. Programs are updated automatically, so there’s no need to buy more software. Anti-virus tech and malware protection come with the computer at no extra charge. Popular games such as solitaire and mahjong are built into the device. Cost: $1,099.00

Video Conferencing

If you own a smartphone or a computer with a camera, seeing the grandkids while you’re talking to them adds a lot to a “visit.” You can virtually attend a wedding, birth or other event, or watch a child who has just learned to ride a bike pedal down the driveway while flashing a proud smile. 
  • FaceTime. It’s as easy as pushing a button during a phone call, and grandkids love being able to hold the phone and have a personal call with Grandma or Grandpa. They can show you what’s blooming in the garden, take you to a fort or have a heart-to-heart in the privacy of their room. 
  • Skype. Using the Skype app is free. Just set up an account for video chats.

Social Media

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok are part of many youngsters’ daily vocabulary and places where they can post photos and videos and share aspects of their lives. Grandparents can comment back or create their own accounts. Find out which one(s) are most used by your grandchild. Use these handy links to tutorials on how to use these social media programs.

Apps for Grandparents

There are a host of apps you have probably never heard of that are fun to use with your grandchildren. Consider adding some of the following for more time with little ones through teenagers. 

  • Keepy. Share drawings and paintings, school projects, photos and more. After all, your fridge can only hold so much!
  • Kindoma. Draw, play or read together.
  • Kodable. For ages 6 and up, learn to code with your grandchild. Don’t worry; there’s a curriculum section where you can study up.
  • Lifecake. Have a family member set up this app to privately share family photos.
  • ooVoo. Along with Rounds and Voxer, this trio of apps allows you to share video and photos while you talk and text. 
  • Photofunia. Get silly and creative with photos by making changes. A mustache for the baby? Giant teeth for a 6-year-old? Ears that fly for the teen? 
  • Redeo. Enjoy reading books together with your grandchildren while you turn the pages online. 
  • Rounds. Like ooVoo and Voxer, this app lets you share photos and videos while you talk and text.
  • Tiny Beans. Along with Lifecake, this app allows you to share family photos privately and profusely.
  • Voxer. Similar to ooVoo and Rounds, you can talk and text in real time while sharing photos and video.
  • Wheel of Fortune. Who needs Vanna and Pat? You can play the popular game with grandchildren by using this app.
  • Words With Friends. Play this word game, similar to Scrabble, by arranging words horizontally and vertically. Enjoy the added benefit of being able to live chat with other players by typing messages as you play.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Be Grateful to Be Happy

Gratitude sparks happiness and it’s one of the easiest things we can do to be more cheerful inside and out. 

Being grateful has been shown to improve mood, sleep and attitude. It doesn’t cost a thing, and anyone can learn to be more grateful in thought and deed. Even if you’re experiencing troubles, there are things you can be grateful for — and in so doing, your situation will seem more hopeful. You can express gratitude silently for something as simple as your morning cup of coffee, the bird outside your window or a comfy bed to sleep in. 

Random Acts of Kindness

Doing something nice for others without expecting anything in return can foster good feelings. Start by gifting smiles. Smiling makes us feel good, even if we have to think about doing it. Look for other opportunities. Stopping to help someone in need, buying groceries for the person ahead of you in line, creating a scholarship anonymously, sending a check to your local food bank, volunteering your time for a new cause, baking cinnamon rolls and delivering them to the neighbors: There are an endless number of small acts you can do to brighten someone else’s day. 

Small changes count. If you normally curtly dismiss the sales people who come to your door, try giving them a smile, a “No, thank you” and wishes for good luck instead. What have you lost? What have you gained? 

Anyone seeking a thoughtful page on ways to be kind would do well to check out this one.  Although written as part of the Jewish faith, it is non-denominational in its advice and a friendly roadmap for anyone seeking to be a better human.
Think about how a thoughtful comment or deed can change your whole day. A neighbor shovels your sidewalk; a stranger tells you that the top you’re wearing looks great on you; or a friend surprises you with a treat delivered to your door. These acts of kindness are powerful for the giver and receiver, and we can all learn how to do more of them. 

Daily Gratitude

There are two elements to gratitude, according to Robert Emmons, psychology professor and gratitude researcher at the University of California, Davis. 

  1. We affirm the good things we’ve received.
  2. We acknowledge the role other people play in providing our lives with goodness.

Simple, right? But it’s easy to forget to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves every day. A few simple practices can remind us to be thankful, and even give us the words to do so. By the way, guys, gratitude is not just for females. It has been shown to increase productivity and job satisfaction, and can help men with the social element many of them struggle with by forming and/or cementing attachments. Pick one or more of the following to exercise your gratitude muscle.

  • Keep a journal of gratefulness. Choose a time each day, perhaps in the morning or at bedtime, to write down all the gifts, grace and benefits you enjoy. Think of people you value, ordinary events and personal attributes that make you happy.
  • Ask yourself these questions. Thinking about your relationships with parents, friends, siblings and children, consider these questions:
    1. What have I received from ____________?
    2. What have I given to ____________?
    3. What troubles/difficulties have I caused ____________?
  • Share your gratitude with the people around you. Whether it’s your spouse, a co-worker or a friend, sharing thankfulness is proven to strengthen relationships.
  • Pledge to be more thankful. Research says that if you make a vow to do something, it’s more likely you will follow through. Write down your vow, such as “I will count my blessings every day,” and post it somewhere you will see it.
  • Expand your gratefulness vocabulary. Gratitude is about focusing on what others have done on our behalf, and what we can do for others. Grateful people use words such as blessings, fortune, gifts, blessed, fortunate, abundance and giving. 
  • Work at being grateful. By going through the motions of gratitude, you will make it a habit and become more grateful. Smile, express thanks and write emails or letters of gratitude often. 
Gratitude and kindness give meaning to life. The two go hand-in-hand. Try being more grateful for a week and see how you feel. Our bet is that you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Famous and 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 4 - David Kelley, writer and producer

You may never have heard of David Kelley, but you know the shows this prolific writer has created: Doogie Howser, M.D., Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal, Harry’s Law, Big Little Lies, Mr. Mercedes and Big Sky. His shows have been on all four major networks, earning the screenwriter a slew of Emmys. He is also the longtime husband of actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

Born and raised near Boston, Mass. where many of his shows are set, Kelley’s father Jack is a member of the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and coached the Boston Whalers. David went on to captain the men’s team at Princeton, where he graduated with a political science degree. He then earned a law degree from Boston University School of Law, where he penned skits for the Legal Follies, a sketch comedy group.

Shortly afterward, while working for a Boston firm, Kelley wrote a screenplay for fun. The legal thriller turned into the film From the Hip in 1987. Although not a very successful movie, the script earned Kelley a writing job for L.A. Law and he quickly ascended through the ranks to become executive producer while creating other shows. The rest, as they say, is history.

Kelly met Michelle Pfeiffer on a blind date in January of 1993, and they were married in November. Pfeiffer was in the process of adopting a newborn girl when they met, and the two christened her the day they were wed. The couple have a son who was born in August of 1994.

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 4 - William Burns, diplomat and CIA director

Described as “the secret diplomatic weapon” aimed at “some of the thorniest foreign policy challenges of the U.S.” by international diplomat Nicholas Kralev, William Burns topped a long career as a diplomat and ambassador with his confirmation as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in March this year. 

Born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Burns grew up steeped in military tradition. His father was a U.S. Army Major General with an impressive resumé of high-level positions including director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under Ronald Reagan. Burns earned a degree in history, and then a pair of philosophy degrees from St. John’s College, Oxford where he was a Marshall Scholar. 

His career in the Foreign Service is both varied and distinguished. Burns has held positions as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Executive Secretary of the State Department, and Special Assistant to two Secretaries of State. President George W. Bush nominated Burns for the rank of Career Ambassador (the equivalent to a four-star general in the U.S. Armed Forces) in 2008, and he was confirmed by the Senate. 

President Joe Biden nominated him for his current position, which is historically apolitical. To learn more about Burns, read his book The Black Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal, published in 2019.

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 15 - Michael Cooper, basketball player and coach

No one thought Michael Cooper would become a star athlete. When he was three, a severe cut on one of his knees needed 100 sutures to close and the doctor said the boy would never be able to walk. Instead, Cooper became a star guard with the legendary Los Angeles Lakers during their Showtime years, playing with greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. 

Cooper’s play earned him the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1987, one of five years in the 80s that he was on a Lakers championship team. At 6’5” and thin as a stick, Cooper took advantage of the team’s quick style of play. Larry Bird proclaimed him the best defender he ever faced. The Lakers developed a special alley-oop play just for him, dubbed the “Coop-a-loop.” Cooper left the club in 1990, holding a spot in its all-time top 10 in nine categories. 

After a year playing ball in Italy, Cooper transitioned to roles off the court. Starting as assistant to general manager Jerry West, he joined the coaching staff under Magic Johnson and then Del  Harris. He went on to become the WNBA Coach of the Year in 2000 and led the Sparks to championships two years in a row. Cooper hopped to an assistant coaching position with the Denver Nuggets, then head coach with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He has been the boys varsity coach at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, California since 2019.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors