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Thursday, March 31, 2022

What You Need to Know About Mesothelioma and Asbestos

The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure 


The only proven cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that insulates material from fire, sound, water, and chemicals. It is composed of millions of fibers, which bind together to create a light yet incredibly durable material.

Asbestos was used in many products from the 1930s to the early 1980s. The mineral was used to build homes, buildings, construction materials, helicopters, planes, ships, vehicles, and more.

The negative health effects of asbestos were not well-known until millions had already been exposed. Manufacturers of products that contained asbestos knew the health risks but hid the facts so they could continue making a profit.

What is Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the mesothelium, or the protective membrane that lines various organs. According to the American Cancer Society, around 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

There are four types of mesothelioma: 
  • Pleural mesothelioma: affects the linings of the lungs (pleura)
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: affects the linings of the abdomen (peritoneum)
  • Pericardial mesothelioma: affects the linings of the heart (pericardium)
  • Testicular mesothelioma: affects the linings of the testes (tunica vaginalis)

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for 75–80% of all cases. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the lungs, chronic cough, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness.

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the stomach lining, and common symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.

Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma are incredibly rare and often go undetected until after death.

Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed because it is rare and because it mimics more common illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Many doctors are unlikely to suspect this form of cancer unless the patient worked in a high-risk occupation that increased the risk of asbestos exposure. 

Seeing a mesothelioma specialist is the best way to ensure a thorough examination and accurate diagnosis.

To make a mesothelioma diagnosis, doctors will often first monitor initial symptoms such as dry cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, and more. Once the doctor determines that more common conditions are not causing symptoms, they may test for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is diagnosed through a series of tests, including imagining tests, blood tests, and biopsies. A biopsy is the examination of a fluid or tissue sample from the affected area to test for cancer cells. This process is the only way to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.

The only type of mesothelioma with its own formal staging system is pleural mesothelioma, which has four stages. Stages 1 to 2 are considered the early stages of disease, and patients can access more curative treatment, whereas stages 3 and 4 are considered late-stage disease with limited curative options.

If you believe you are showing any signs of mesothelioma, it is important for the sake of life extension and overall wellbeing to receive a prompt diagnosis and begin treatment.

How Do You Treat Mesothelioma?

There are several treatment options for mesothelioma depending on how far the mesothelioma has spread.

The two categories for malignant mesothelioma treatment include curative and palliative treatment.

Curative treatments are provided to help extend a patient’s lifespan, whereas palliative treatments manage symptoms and reduce discomfort. Doctors generally use the same mesothelioma treatments to achieve curative or palliative goals.

The three most common types of mesothelioma treatment include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Common surgery options for pleural mesothelioma include an extrapleural pneumonectomy (removal of the lung and diseased chest cavity tissue) or a pleurectomy with decortication (a procedure that spares the lungs by removing tumors and diseased tissue).

Cytoreductive surgery is the only surgery known to effectively treat peritoneal mesothelioma. It involves an invasive procedure to remove abdominal tumors. World-renowned oncologist Dr. Paul Sugarbaker developed the idea to combine cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to decrease the mortality rate in his patients.

Mesothelioma specialists will often prescribe multimodal therapy, which is a combination of multiple types of mesothelioma treatment. Customized treatment plans are designed to help you live for as long as possible.

Doctors will take multiple factors into consideration before they recommend how to treat mesothelioma. These factors can influence your mesothelioma prognosis and treatment plan.

Factors that may impact mesothelioma treatment include:
  • Cancer stage
  • How fast the cancer is spreading
  • Mesothelioma cell type
  • Mesothelioma type
  • Overall health

Mesothelioma is a rare and complex disease. Treating it requires expert knowledge from experienced doctors who can develop the most effective possible treatment strategy. Patients should choose a mesothelioma specialist based on the doctor’s experience with their diagnosis, location of their mesothelioma, and cell type.

Who is At-Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?

Anyone exposed to asbestos decades ago is now at risk of health problems since it takes 20 to 50 years for these diseases to develop and cause noticeable symptoms. Those who were constantly exposed to asbestos materials over long periods of time are more likely to develop diseases related to asbestos exposure.

However, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Some have even developed related diseases after one instance of asbestos exposure.

U.S. veterans are at an especially high risk of mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. Every branch of the military relied on asbestos for decades because the mineral was cheap and is resistant to fire and heat. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 1 out of 3 mesothelioma patients are U.S. veterans. 

The military was unaware of the dangers of asbestos because manufacturers withheld this information from the government, private industries, and the public.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Mesothelioma?

If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and are exhibiting any signs resembling those associated with mesothelioma, it is important to consult with a doctor right away.

Many patients brush symptoms off as common conditions like colds. Always visit a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms out of the ordinary.

Early detection can help you get an early diagnosis, which presents the best odds for life extension. Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive disease, receiving prompt treatment could potentially increase your life expectancy.

It is very important to stay hopeful during your journey fighting mesothelioma. Staying positive and maintaining morale can help you navigate through this difficult time. Thankfully, there are many treatment options available for mesothelioma patients, and researchers are tirelessly searching for a cure to this disease. 

Guest article submitted by: The Mesothelioma Hope Team

Mesothelioma Hope strives to give the most accurate and helpful directions for addressing mesothelioma symptoms, treatments, and resources. Mesothelioma Hope is dedicated to getting patients and their families the help they need.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Your Refrigerator Holds the Key to Inflammation


Healthy eating can begin to reduce inflammation overnight. Here is what you need to know.    

Healthy inflammation is the result of an active immune system defending the body against an invading enemy, such as a microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. However, many of us suffer from chronic inflammation, which is linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Instead of running to your doctor to get a pill to fight off inflammation, a better solution likely lies in your kitchen pantry and fridge.

"Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

By choosing anti-inflammatory foods, you may be able to greatly reduce your risk of many health conditions. "Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation," Dr. Hu says. "It's not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”

Another factor to consider is that inflammatory foods contribute to weight gain, which is also linked to inflammation. But even after obesity is taken into account, many studies show that the link between poor food choices and inflammation persists. "Some of the food components or ingredients may have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake," Dr. Hu says.

Worst Foods for Inflammation

You guessed it: some of the foods that appeal to our taste buds most are actually the worst for us. But if you kick them off the menu, your body will thank you for it.
  • Breads, pastries, and other refined carbohydrates.
  • Fried foods including perennial favorite french fries.
  • Sugary sodas and other sweetened beverages.
  • Red meat and processed meat. Good-bye, hamburgers and salami.
  • Margarine, shortening, and lard. No, “vegetable” shortening is not good for you.

Now that you know what not to eat, we should explore ways to lessen inflammation in a matter of hours. Yes, you can reduce inflammation in just a single day. Start making small changes in your diet and other lifestyle practices to steadily reap health benefits. Here are some food tips to help reduce inflammation:

Eat a salad every day. Leafy greens contain antioxidants and bioactive compounds that tamp down inflammation and reduce potentially dangerous free radicals. Kale, arugula, spinach, lettuce are great options that will do the trick. Aim to eat a cupful every day.

Best Foods to Fight Inflammation

These antioxidant-rich foods can reduce your risk of illness:

Dark Chocolate
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Green Leafy Vegetables
Fatty Fish
Green Tea

Skip the quick snack. It is so tempting to grab a pack of chips and a Coke at snack time, but it is best not to. It is so much better for your body to pack apple slices and peanut butter, raw veggies and hummus, or some nuts and cheese cubes. Eating these healthy snacks keeps your blood sugar at an even level and inflammation down.

Add some spice. Studies suggest that adding spices and herbs to meals decreases inflammation. These include garlic, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, fenugreek, and turmeric.

Temporarily eliminate certain foods. You may be sensitive to alcohol, dairy, or gluten. Try cutting these foods out of your diet for a few weeks while you stabilize. Gradually add them back one at a time to see if they cause irritation.
Monitor ingredients. Be picky about what the products you eat contain, since dyes, additives, preservatives, and other ingredients may trigger inflammation. If an ingredient is listed that you do not recognize, either do some research or opt for a substitute.

Go beyond your diet. Eating better is key to reducing inflammation, but there are other factors to examine and address. Dealing with stress is one. Try yoga, meditation, or going for a walk for some relief. Exercise is important for overall health, and that is true of reducing inflammation as well. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

How to Avoid the Risk of Inflation

Consumer prices jumped a whopping 7.5% in January, the fastest increase since 1982. While stock prices have so far fallen this year, investors wonder how to protect their retirement funds.  

Your 401(k) or IRA has likely taken a hit in 2022 as the market adjusts to rising inflation. When companies have to pay bigger salaries and spend more on goods, they cannot earn as much and profits drop. That is scary for investors who see their nest egg get smaller. The hurt increased for those 72 and older whose required minimum distribution (RMD) is based on December 31 last year, when the market was near a record high. 

What is an investor to do? Several asset classes can help you preserve your wealth during inflationary times. We have offered a list for your review. Consult your financial advisor before making any changes to see if any of them are right for your portfolio and risk tolerance. 

Farmland. Bill Gates, the guy who started a little company called Microsoft, is the largest private owner of farmland in the country. No matter what happens with the economy, people still have to eat, and farmland returned an average of 11% annually from 1992 to 2020, while stocks returned 8%. And no, you do not have to buy a farm or become a farmer to profit.

You can own a real estate investment trust (REIT) such as Farmland Partners or Gladstone Land Corporation, Remember that REITs are usually best held in a retirement account to avoid taxable income.

Is the 60/40 Portfolio Dying?

For decades, retirees were taught that a 60/40 ratio of stocks to bonds in their portfolio was optimal for keeping money in the account until the end. But interest rates are historically low, stock prices may be inflated, and the two often move together. Is the 60/40 portfolio a dinosaur? Some wealth advisors think so.

With longer life expectancies and poor bond returns, many advisors are trimming bond allocations. They believe that bonds, traditionally considered a “safe” investment, bring greater risk to a portfolio in times of low interest rates. Some firms are now 85/15, with stocks held in firms with wide economic moats, top balance sheets, and abundant reinvestment opportunity. Others are investing in non-correlated asset classes such as cellphone towers and data centers (real estate). 

Commodities. This broad range of investments includes grain, precious metals such as gold and silver, oil, meat, and natural gas, as well as foreign currency and other financial instruments. When inflation goes up, material things tend to increase in value. But beware: commodities can move up or down quickly based on geopolitical tension or conflicts, among other factors. 

One way to diversify an investment in commodities is through an Exchange-Traded Fund, or ETF, such as GSG, the iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust. ETFs hold a variety of stocks and can be traded throughout the day, just like a single stock.

Bitcoin. Unlike fiat currency, which can be printed at will, the number of bitcoins is capped at 21 million. Some people see that, along with other factors, as reason to bet on its rise. If you decide to buy bitcoin, pay attention to what you are charged for the privilege. Many exchanges offering direct purchase charge up to 4% in fees, although some investment apps like Robinhood do not charge any fee. You can also get exposure to the currency via Proshares Bitcoin Strategy ETF or a company that has tied itself to Bitcoin, such as MicroStrategy or electric vehicle maker Tesla. Or invest in Coinbase, which runs the largest crypto exchange in the country.

I Bonds. You can earn 7.12% interest on up to $10,000 through April by purchasing an I Bond. I Bonds earn a combination of a fixed rate of income and a variable amount pegged to the inflation rate and adjusted twice annually. They earn interest for 30 years, but you can cash them any time after five years. Cash them before five years and lose the last three months of interest. You cannot cash them at all during the first year. 

A downside of I Bonds is that you cannot buy them through your broker. You will likely require an account through Treasury Direct, which does not send out statements or 1099-Int forms. Make sure to notify your heirs about this account so that it can be located upon your death. 

TIPS. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, increase with inflation and decrease with deflation. They pay interest two times annually at a fixed rate. In contrast to I Bonds, you may buy up to $5 million in TIPS per auction. To further compare TIPS to I Bonds, read this article

Preferred Stock. Investors can get a combination of the benefits of stocks and bonds by owning preferred stock. Preferred stock owners get fixed dividends that often pay considerably more than bonds in the current environment. However, they are subject to the same risks as bonds in that yields may continue to rise with inflation, making the stock you bought worth less in comparison with current offerings. To find out more about preferred stock, check here.

Art. Fine art is an investment you may never have considered. Did you know that contemporary artwork has outperformed the S&P by 174% over the last 25 years? And it has very little correlation to the stock market, precious metals, or other inflation hedges. If you do not have millions in your wallet or the knowledge to buy at auction, take a look at investing platform Masterworks.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Life Care Management Services

When Mom lives far away, when Dad needs help managing his finances, when there is no one to make medical decisions for an incapacitated older adult, advocacy firms can provide a surprisingly wide range of services.

Life care management services offer support for older adults that encompasses almost everything except physical caregiving, such as the care that home aides provide. Take the following case, for example:

“Susan” is a diabetic older adult with no family members living nearby. She can no longer drive, and her eyesight is failing. Fortunately, she found a firm that specializes in life care for seniors. This firm provides a financial expert, social worker, nurses, and a mental health expert on staff. The company, IKOR of Western Pennsylvania, not only manages her finances, but also accompanies her to the grocery store for wise food choices, schedules and accompanies her to doctor appointments, and follows up on needed services. In effect, they do everything a son or daughter might do if Susan had a child who lived close by and had the time, energy, and knowledge to manage her affairs.

Broad Services

Life care management services can be tailored to fit the specific needs of an individual client, whether it is an older adult or someone with special needs. They encompass everything from helping make major decisions, such as deciding whether the client should move into a senior living facility or age in place with extra care, to the little details. Would the client benefit from a home delivery service for meals? Does she need transportation to the senior center or a religious institution? Would he like a daily phone call to check in?

How to Choose Management Service Providers

Pick these services providers just like you would any other professional. 
  • Seek out recommendations.
  • Make sure they are fiduciaries, who act only in their clients’ best interest.
  • Ask if they accept referral fees. A fiduciary will not.
  • Check professional certifications. Those with higher qualifications will charge more but should be better able to assist with more complicated financial or health matters.
  • Ask if they operate as a recognized business entity.
  • Ask if they work with other professionals to provide comprehensive care.

How to Find Management Services

If you type “senior advocacy services” into a search bar hoping to find a management firm, you’ll be disappointed. You need special language to modify your search to be more selective, whether you want the complete spectrum of available services or just a particular slice. For better results, try the following terms instead:
  • Elder Advocate
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Financial Advocate
  • Daily Money Management
  • Life Care Management Services
  • Life Enhancement
  • Lifecare for Seniors
  • Geriatric Case Management

You can also contact the Aging Life Care Association. With more than 2,000 members, this certifying body can direct you to a provider near you or your loved one. Another option is to reach the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare Locator, which has numerous online resources or call 1-800-677-1116 for information.

What Will It Cost?

Payment is often based on a billable hour rate structure. The cost varies by service and complexity, but roughly falls into the $90 to $200 per hour range. In areas with higher living costs like New York City and Los Angeles, the hourly rate can be over $250 per hour. Although insurance will not cover these services, some long-term care policies will pay for an initial consultation. 

It is important to note that life care management services do not include direct assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Whereas a firm may hire such help for a client, they do not provide it. Rather, they concentrate on instrumental daily living (IDL) assistance to sustain and enhance the life of their clients. This can include going shopping with clients, accompanying them to a movie, or any activities that establish a social bond.

Many individuals offer their services in one specialty, such as help with errands and appointments. That may be all an older adult needs at the start. However, it is common for more services to be added as time goes on. Make sure that the professional or professionals whom you work with are connected with other companies that provide complete services for when they are needed.

“Life is multi-faceted for older adults, and long-term care choices and dignity have financial and legal components,” says Patricia Hanson, owner and managing director at IKOR. “Most aging life-care professionals don’t address the financial areas of their client’s life.” 

Firms like IKOR offer comprehensive services including medical, psychosocial, environmental, and routine financial services like bill payment and daily money management. They can even step in to serve as medical or financial power of attorney, or in the role of guardian, executor, or trustee. The firm partners with outside financial and wealth management professionals, as well as elder law and estate planning attorneys, to fill in the gaps. 

“In my experience, working as a team to understand how medical, care, financial and legal aspects of life can intersect usually creates the best outcomes,” says Hanson.


An older adult who experiences a health crisis may need management professionals to step in on a temporary or permanent basis. This person can attend doctor visits and keep track of what was said, then coordinate with therapists and pharmacists regarding treatment. A health management professional can also coordinate care from hospitals to rehabilitation facilities or homes while advocating for the patient. He or she can make visits in a variety of settings to ensure continuity of care.


Someone who specializes in daily money management can do everything from paying bills, making deposits, reconciling bank statements, and sorting the mail. This service may include budgeting, filing tax returns, or creating income and expense reports. If necessary, a money manager can even monitor medical bills and insurance claims, find missing accounts and documents, and assist with the sale of real estate and personal property. Finally, this professional can help protect an older adult from financial fraud and abuse by overseeing the big picture of investments, including trusts and beneficiaries.

Concierge Services

Many life care management firms provide concierge services such as making and scheduling reminders for non-medical appointments, making travel arrangements, taking care of automobile service, and running errands. They can also help out at the grocery store by making healthy food selections on the client’s behalf. 

Concierge assistants can oversee home services such as lawn care, routine maintenance, and repairs. They may keep track of birthdays, wrap gifts, and decorate for the holidays. They can also manage pet care, including walking Fido or taking her to the veterinarian and groomer. 

These versatile professionals may also help with home organization, including waiting for deliveries or maintenance people. They can stand in line for tickets and even attend the event with a client who may not have many social contacts or may just prefer a companion who can assist with transportation, locating seats, and so on. 

Services Continue in Senior Living Facilities 

Life care management services continue when older adults move to senior living. Even with certified nursing assistants, onsite dining, and round-the-clock care, many gaps still exist. Money management is one of these, including navigating a long-term care policy that includes requesting benefits, tracking benefits for tax purposes, submitting monthly requests for payment, and keeping an eye on retirement funds. Additionally, doctor, dental, hearing, and vision appointments must be scheduled and attended. A fall can trigger a chain of health needs, leaving an older adult in a compromised state; who will decide which rehab facility to take them to or how to get there, and keep track of follow-up care and payments? 

On a smaller scale, but just as important to the client, management service personnel may order briefs and wipes, buy towels and clothing, or evaluate the need for a voice assistant as an older adult’s hearing diminishes. 

Some clients will develop varying degrees of dementia. A health advocate can help decide when a client needs to move from independent living to assisted living or memory care. When the time comes, he or she can also assist with the decision to call in hospice services. 

Evaluating Service Providers

"All aging life care professionals are not created equal,” says Hanson. “Most aging life care professionals are self-employed individuals working from their homes. So, making sure that the aging life care professional you are working with has established a business entity and carries liability insurance is essential.”

Hanson emphasizes the importance of insurance when the service provider works in a legal or financial capacity. IKOR provides comprehensive services; the firm carries fiduciary insurance, liability insurance, and an umbrella liability policy. Furthermore, IKOR can be bonded if the limit of their insurance policies is not enough.

Today’s families often live hundreds, or even thousands, of miles apart from one another. Sometimes an older adult only has children and children-in-law who must work full time. In many cases, there are either no children, or none available, to help older adults navigate their later years. In these instances, life care management services can act in the best interests of the senior. The client and family members both benefit from transferring responsibilities to a reliable third party.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Sunday, March 13, 2022

What is the Metaverse?

It used to be that futuristic tech talk centered on artificial intelligence, but recently, all the buzz is around the “metaverse.”

When monolith Facebook rebranded itself “Meta” and later revealed it spent $10 billion on the concept in the 2021 fiscal year alone, the concept of this virtual reality moved to the front and center. Obviously, it is a lot more than using virtual reality headsets to tour museums. But many of us do not know what the metaverse encompasses, or how businesses are moving to incorporate it.

According to Harvard Business Review journalist Janet Balis, the metaverse “includes any digital experience on the internet that is persistent, immersive, three-dimensional (3-D) and virtual.” If that does not clarify anything for you, it may be because the metaverse is in its infancy. It is like trying to predict exactly what the internet is now, 20 years ago; everyone had an idea of what it would become, but no one knew exactly how it would evolve. 

Venture capitalist and expert Matthew Ball writes that the metaverse is the fourth wave of computers, following mainframe computing, personal computing, and mobile computing. “It’s moving into what people call ambient computing,” he says. “It’s about being within the computer rather than accessing the computer. It’s about being always online rather than always having access to an online world.”

The metaverse combines virtual reality and a digital “second life” inhabited by your avatar. You wear a headset that functions as a computing platform and immerses you in a 3-D environment by means of motion-sensing controllers that you hold in your hands. 

Companies Gearing Up Technology

Games like World of Warcraft, in which players inhabit a virtual world where they can buy and sell goods, are involved in developing the emerging metaverse. Fortnite also offers virtual experiences; strap an Oculus headset over your eyes, and you can travel to your virtual home or even attend a virtual concert. While Fortnite creator Epic Games has successfully built a virtual world where you can socialize, buy goods, learn, and play games, there is still so much to the metaverse. 

Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, and yes, Meta, are working furiously on the concept, poaching engineers from each other and fighting to lead the way into this new space. Others, such as chip developer Nvidia, 3-D content creator Unity, and Roblox (where you can create your own virtual game to share with other players), are building the infrastructure for the metaverse. Developers need motion-tracking tools that can sense where a person is looking and where their hands and fingers are. 

Faster internet connections, more powerful virtual-reality headsets, and a massive gaming audience are fueling technological advances. “It’s only in the last few years that a critical mass of working pieces has come together,” Ball says.

Business Applications

This new technology will be useful for a lot more than gaming, however; surgeons will be able to train using virtual, 3-D patients. Product demos can be released to retail employees simultaneously in 3-D. Manufacturing and logistics applications will reduce waste and accelerate improved solutions for businesses. The hybrid home and office work structure makes training and interactions that happen in the metaverse even more relevant.

Companies like Nike are already placing bets on this new reality. Nike recently purchased a company called RTFKT that makes virtual sneakers and other collectibles that are only available in the metaverse. And what about the trend toward social commerce, where virtual immersive experiences will drive buying habits? It was a $36 billion market in 2021. 

Auction house Sotheby’s recently announced that it would curate virtual art in its own metaverse gallery. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), singular artistic creations traded and secured via a blockchain (a digital record of transactions), will continue to gain relevance. As people change how they interact, communicate, and transact, companies will have to keep a close eye on trends and the competition.

Older Adults in the Metaverse

Blogger and technology expert Karen Etkin writes in The Gerontechnologist that several “age tech” companies are already using existing metaverse technology. She anticipates that future applications for older adults may include telehealth, in which a doctor located anywhere with an internet connection could “see” your virtual 3-D body. And how about companies that memorialize older adults? There is nothing like leaving behind a hologram that talks and walks like you for future generations to interact with. Etkin theorizes that the biggest impact of the coming metaverse for older adults may lie in its ability to relieve social isolation and loneliness. 

Only time will tell what the metaverse will become, and the only certainty is that it will not be exactly what any one of us envisions. But this technology is already changing the world, and future generations will be very familiar with its constructs. It is worth the challenge to keep up with what will become possible in the future, in terms of both connecting with others and living our best, most healthy lives.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Let’s Travel!

As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, older adults are looking for places to go and things to do. 

At long last, travel appears to be opening, and seniors are among those eager to take advantage of this renewed freedom. We are ready to put on our walking shoes and get the heck out of Dodge! While there are many forms of travel, it is nice to have a group to go with, and just plain wonderful for someone else to handle all the planning and preparation. With that in mind, here are 10 travel companies (in no particular order) that either specialize in planning trips for older adults or offer trips that will accommodate their needs.

  1. Firebird Tours Specializing in assisting clients aged 50 and up, Firebird Tours takes small groups to tour places in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South Africa, Morocco, and North America. Themes range from local cuisine, opera, history, architecture, theater, and much more in between. They will even arrange a tour just for you and your family to focus on individual preferences. 
  2. Backroads This company specializes in active vacations, such as biking, walking, and hiking. They accept clients of all ages, but most are over 50, so you will have plenty of company. You can choose one of the “Dolce Tempo” tours for "relaxed pace, stylish comfort, authentic experiences, and unique access.” These include a winery tour in California via e-bike and a leisurely tour in Norway. 
  3. Senior Cycling If you love traveling by bicycle, check out these small tours (a maximum of 13 participants) for ages 50 and above. Tours vary in difficulty from easy, to moderate and longer, to more challenging, advanced treks, which cover up to 50 miles per day with some hills and traffic. They can even design a custom package just for your family or group of friends. 
  4. Road Scholar If you love lifelong learning, this is the outfit for you. Filled with lectures, tours, field trips, and a variety of educational experiences, this company has been in business since 1975. Check out trips to national parks, historic destinations, and cities worldwide. You can also try out their Grandparent Adventures, or even a cruise. Trips are sortable based on duration, activity level, location, price and much more. 
  5. Walking the World This company is a great choice for those who enjoy truly immersing themselves in a destination. Walking the World offers walking and hiking adventures for multi-day trips in both local and worldwide destinations. One option is an eight day excursion in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and another package offers an 11-day trip to Ireland. All trips provide full details regarding mileage and difficulty, and most participants are 50 and up.
  6. ElderTreks Geared toward those 50 and older, ElderTreks concentrates on taking small groups on unique adventures, such as wildlife safaris and cultural journeys. Their tours are rated from one to five, from easy to challenging. For instance, clients at level one should be able to walk a mile and hike for an hour or two.
  7. Overseas Adventure Travel Trips to every continent entice mature travelers with their flexibility and personalized itineraries. Another plus: there are getaways intended just for solo travelers, regardless of whether you are an experienced globetrotter or are just starting out. Additionally, they offer exclusive, women-only getaways, which is something that will appeal to many female adventurers.
  8. Kensington Tours For the traveler with deep pockets, Kensington specializes in personalized tours for older clients who appreciate ease and luxury. Say hello to private guides, your own vehicles, and curated cuisine while you immerse yourself in the history of a beautiful location. 
  9. YMT Vacations These all-inclusive, affordable trips are fully guided and catered to convenience, meaning you will not have to do much walking. Packages cover hotels, sightseeing, baggage handling, drivers, and tour directors. Choose from destination trips to California, Hawaii, Alaska, Australia, and beyond for exciting local events such as the Rose Parade and Oberammergau, an event in Germany that occurs only once every 10 years.
  10. Country Walkers While these treks are always on foot, you get to choose the level of involvement with a guide. Your trek can be fully guided, partially guided, or totally independent. Select a trip from one of five levels starting at “easy walking,” consisting of two to four miles daily, to “challenging walking” that covers six to 14 miles from dawn to dusk. Guests of all ages are welcome on adventures, which encompass five continents.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

March 12 - Marlon Jackson, singer, entertainer

The sixth Jackson child, Marlon was part of the original The Jackson 5 and quite close to younger brother Michael, who was born less than 18 months later. Marlon’s twin brother, Brandon, died shortly after their birth and Marlon always felt Michael filled that void. At the final eulogy for Michael, Marlon, in tears, said his brother had been the soul of the family and “I would like you (Michael) to give Brandon, my twin brother, a big hug for me.”

Marlon was just 10 years old when the family got was signed to a major record label and released their first single, “Big Boy.” In 1983, he performed in the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, and also rejoined his brothers for a Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration special in 2001. Marlon had a brief solo career with the 1987 release of the R&B album Baby Tonight. The album reached No. 22 on the charts in the US. 

Marlon met his future wife, Carol Ann Parker, while on tour in New Orleans and married her at the age of 18. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Image Source: Wikipedia

March 15 - David Silverman, animator, director

Although he had a degree in film animation from UCLA, Silverman was on the verge of changing careers when he got was hired on The Tracey Ullman Show and began animating the original shorts for a little cartoon series called The Simpsons. He went on to serve as director of animation for the series and also for The Simpsons Movie.

Silverman created the “rules” for drawing the Simpson characters: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and the rest. He was responsible for deciding how to draw Homer, starting in Season 2, for key scenes where he was ranting, freaking out, or having a heart attack. His drawing is characterized by its high energy, perfect timing, and exaggerated poses. 

Silverman departed The Simpsons for an opportunity to help draw for DreamWorks Animation. He has also contributed for Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar, including work on Monsters Inc. In 2012, he directed the theatrical short The Longest Daycare starring Maggie Simpson. It was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Animated Short Film.


Image Source: Wikipedia

March 20 - Spike Lee, director, actor, producer, professor

Shelton “Spike” Lee is one of the greatest film directors of all time, often exploring race relations, urban crime and poverty, issues in the black community, the role of the media, and related political themes. He owns and runs a production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, that is responsible for over 35 films. 

Lee’s work has won countless awards, including a Cannes Grand Prix, two Emmys, and two Peabodys. Four of his films, She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Malcom X, and 4 Little Girls, were selected for preservation in the National Film Registry for their cultural, social, or aesthetic significance. 

A tenured professor at New York University, Lee earned a Master of Fine Arts in film and television at NYU’s Tisch School of Fine Arts. This is also where he premiered his first short film, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads as his master’s degree thesis. His father composed the score, a pair of classmates served as assistant director and cinematographer, and the piece garnered a Student Academy Award. 

Filmed in black and white in 1986, Lee’s first professional work was She’s Gotta Have It, about a woman dating three different men. Lee wrote, directed, produced, starred in, and edited the film on a $175,000 budget, with the film returning $7 million at the box office. The work “ushered in the American independent film movement of the 1980s,” according to film critic A. O. Scott. “It was also a groundbreaking film for African-American filmmakers and a welcome change in the representation of blacks in American cinema, depicting men and women of color not as pimps and whores, but as intelligent, upscale urbanites.”

Most recently, Lee’s film about a group of aging Vietnam War veterans returning to the site of the conflict in search of their fallen squad leader and a hidden treasure, Da 5 Bloods, was released on Netflix. It has received widespread acclaim , and scored 92 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

March 20 - David Foster, woodchopper

How much wood could a woodchuck chop if a woodchuck could chop wood? Not near as much, nor anywhere near as fast, as Australian world champion David Foster. (Find video of his exploits on YouTube.) He is not only Australia’s most successful athlete, but quite possibly the only one anywhere in the world with more than 1,000 titles to their credit. He held the World Woodchopping Championship title for an incredible 21 years straight.

Foster’s astonishing career began in 1978 when his father, George, paired with him to win the World 600 mm Double-handed Sawing Championship eleven years running. George then retired, leaving David’s brother, Peter, to partner with him in the event and win the title for the next 10 years. Losing in 2000, the pair won back the title in 2001 when at which point Peter retired and David began competing with his son, Stephen. 

David Foster has competed in other wood chopping events, enabling him to win Australian Axeman of the Year nine times in a row. The big man also has a big heart and often helps charitable organizations fundraise, including having his mustache shaved off for a donation. He is the author of a book titled The Power of Two.


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