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Monday, June 27, 2022

Are Probiotics Worth the Money for Older Adults?

Seniors can benefit from a healthier gut microbiome, but it remains to be seen if probiotic pills beat out yogurt with a side of sauerkraut. 

Bacteria can have a wide range of health benefits for adults over 60. That’s right, bacteria. After all, some bacteria produce vitamins, assist with food digestion and attack cells that cause disease. Studies show that these “good” bacteria, or probiotics, are often significantly reduced in elderly people. It may be helpful to take probiotics to help reverse this trend.

The use of probiotics by adult Americans increased four-fold between 2007 and 2012. Most of these were taken in the form of over-the-counter pills, powders, and liquids. However, since many of these are sold as dietary supplements, they do not need FDA approval before they are sold. In addition, the label can contain claims about how the product affects the structure or function of the body without getting FDA approval. If you choose to take probiotics by pill, research the company offering them.

Common Issues of Over 60s Helped by Probiotics

No one knows why older adults have a reduced diversity and balance of microbiota compared to younger people and other adults. It may be a result of increased medication use, malnutrition, or a general decline in health. However, studies have shown that probiotics can shorten the length of cold and flu and may result in fewer instances of such illness. In addition, they can reduce the frequency and duration of both antibiotic-induced diarrhea and constipation. 

Probiotics May Relieve Stress, Anxiety

Stress upsets the balance of intestinal microbiota. Recent studies demonstrate that the right probiotics can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression in adults when compared to placebos. Which probiotics do the trick? Special microorganisms known as psychobiotics confer mental health benefits via interactions with gut bacteria. In particular, Bifidobacterium (B.) and Lactobacillus (L.) have proven effective. However, the way they work to affect the gut-brain axis is still being studied. 

But there are many more conditions that are helped by the ingestion of probiotics. Research shows, for example, that certain probiotics improve the immune system. Bloating and flatulance may also be due to an imbalance in the gut bacteria of seniors. There is even evidence that dementia may be related to poor gut health that leads to neuroinflammation.

Specific Strains Remedy Different Problems

Although the science of which strain and how much of it can help remedy what issue is still obscure, researchers agree that various strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most helpful. For a complete list of strains and what they are used for, go to Web MD.

For example, you will find that L. plantarum stimulates vitamin production and your digestive system. If you have a weakened immune system or upper respiratory infections, then you’ll want to stock up on L. fermentum. Need a boost for your digestive and immune systems? Some B. bifidum may be in order. 

Food Containing Probiotics

Plenty of foods contain beneficial probiotics. The list is long, but some of the most common are: 
  • Yogurt, as long as it contains active (live) cultures.
  • Kefir, a dairy drink.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Pickles that don’t contain vinegar.
  • Kombucha, a fermented black or green tea.

Plain Greek yogurt is a good choice for Bifidobacteria. It can be a good choice for people with lactose intolerance, because the bacteria it contains convert some of the lactose into lactic acid. It also doesn’t contain sugar, which is often the case with flavored yogurts.

Interestingly, a host of non-fermented foods also provide probiotics. Try dried beans, garlic, asparagus, onions, leeks, green bananas, and wheat for a boost to your immune system.

Who Should Avoid Probiotics?

Everyone considering taking a supplement should consult their physician. People with severe acute pancreatitis should avoid probiotics, according to Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a gastroenterologist and gut health expert. He also recommends that some people with severe brain fog, gas, and bloating are not good candidates. However, he is more concerned about the blow to pocketbooks.

"This may sound scary but consider the millions of people taking a probiotic on a daily basis for decades now, and that these possibilities are at the most extremely rare. To me, the main question with probiotics is not their safety,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says. “The main question is whether the benefit of the probiotic is worth the cost, which frequently runs $40 to $60 per month.”
He adds: "The bottom line is that you want and should expect results from your probiotic. Unfortunately, many do not get results and are left confused and frustrated that they spent so much money. To increase the odds of success with a probiotic, you should opt for the strain and quantity that has been proven in study to work for whatever medical condition you are trying to address.”

Saturday, June 25, 2022

How to Reduce Your Medicare Bills

Seniors with original Medicare need to ask two questions before receiving healthcare that could save them a lot of money.  

Eight in 10 Americans are more worried about running out of money than dying, according to a recent study. Yet many older adults aren’t aware of two Medicare provisions that could have a big impact on how much they pay for healthcare. 

New Out-of-Network Bill Protection

In January, patients with individual or employer-sponsored health plans using an in-network emergency facility finally got federal protection from out-of-network billing. The No Surprises Act prevents out-of-network providers from billing patients for ancillary care, including care provided by an anesthesiologist or assistant surgeon. It also prevents surprise billing for air ambulance services, although ground ambulance service is exempt. 

“This new law will make sure that you won't get a bill that looks any different than the one you would have gotten if you were using an in-network provider,” says Jack Hoadley, research professor emeritus at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
Now, even people who get routine care at in-network facilities cannot be billed out-of-network rates by providers who were involved in their care without their knowledge. For example, someone at an ambulatory surgical center cannot be billed more than the in-network rate by someone who put them to sleep or read their X-rays. If you suspect you are being billed incorrectly, read this article or call the No Surprises Helpdesk at 800-985-3059.

Paying Off Medical Debt

Hospital costs can add up in spite of our best efforts. If you get hit with a big bill, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact. First, check to make sure all the charges are accurate. Second, try to negotiate the bill with the hospital. See this article for more tips on reducing medical debt.

New Law Bars Medical Debt on Credit Score

Changes are coming that will soon lessen the impact of medical debt on credit scores. Two-thirds of such debts are the result of a one-time or short-term acute medical need. Together, the changes will wipe out more than $60 billion of medical collection debt from existing reports at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting agencies.
  • As of July 1, 2022, all medical debt that has been paid will not be included in credit reports.
  • People will have 12 months, increased from six, to settle their medical bills before the unpaid debt will show up on credit reports.
  • As of the first half of 2023, medical collection debt less than $500 will not appear on credit reports.

Medicare Assignment

Once you have opted for original Medicare, you may think that all doctors who accept it are created equal as far as how much you will pay for their services. After all, only 3% of doctors don’t take Medicare at all. But you’d be mistaken. There are doctors who accept Medicare, and then there are doctors who accept Medicare assignment. What’s the difference?

A doctor who accepts Medicare assignment has agreed to take the government-approved amount as payment for covered services provided to his or her Medicare patients. This doctor sends the bill to Medicare, which then pays 80% of the cost that it has determined is appropriate. The patient is responsible for paying the remaining 20% or the patient’s Medicare supplement will cover the 20%.

A doctor who does not accept Medicare assignment but still accepts Medicare can charge the patient up to an additional 15% over the Medicare-approved amount for services provided. The patient owes the additional charge.

The lowdown: Ask every doctor if he or she accepts Medicare assignment, and only go to those who do for the lowest cost.

Outpatient (Under Observation) vs. Inpatient (Admitted)

You may be surprised to learn that you can spend the night in the hospital and yet be considered an outpatient. Of course it is not that simple. The types of procedures and tests you undergo can overlap between inpatient and outpatient status.

Outpatient status applies when you’re getting tests and services (even for urgent care) and the doctor has not written an order to admit you to the hospital. If you are “under observation” then you are an outpatient.

Inpatient status starts when your doctor writes a formal order to admit you to the hospital.

Why should you care which status you are? Money. 

As an inpatient, you are covered under Medicare Part A, where you pay a deductible of $1,556 in 2022 for the first 60 days of covered care.

As an outpatient, you are covered under Medicare Part B, where you will pay your annual deductible (if you haven’t already) plus a copayment or coinsurance for every covered service and 20% coinsurance for doctor services.

The difference can be substantial, especially if you go on to enter a skilled nursing facility (which includes rehab) within 30 days of discharge. If you have had a “qualifying stay” of at least three consecutive midnights, then Medicare will cover the cost. Your time as an outpatient, even if you were in the same hospital for the same problem, does not count. If you did not have a qualifying stay, nursing facility daily coinsurance through Medicare runs $194.50 per day in 2022.

The lowdown: Ask your doctor to which status you are assigned and consider how that will affect costs. Your doctor must formally request inpatient status. Head to for more information on how cost is affected between inpatient and outpatient status.


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice from a qualified financial advisor. 

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

How to Choose an Electric Bike for Seniors

Older adults are increasingly picking an electric bicycle when they buy a new bike. The only question is: Which one?  

Electric bicycles, commonly known as ebikes, are the bikes of choice for many boomers and beyond. Although they all still rely on pedaling, the battery gives an extra power boost for getting up hills or just cruising along. Grandparents love them for keeping up with kids on regular bicycles, riding with a group, or just enjoying a longer ride. Older adults who had become intimidated by hilly country can tackle it again, and weaker riders can keep up with stronger cyclists. Bike shop owners say their ebike customers are usually already bike riders, not newbies, and there are plenty of older riders among them.


But even veteran riders need to learn a few ebike basics. For instance, there are three classes of ebikes. Class 1 bikes feature a motor that kicks in only when you pedal, and it stops assisting when you reach 20 mph. Class 2 has pedal-assist to 20 mph just like Class 1, but it adds a throttle-powered mode. Class 3 is pedal-assist only like Class 1, but it will keep assisting until you reach 28 mph. Most riders start with a Class 1 bike. They are not only the most economical, but they are allowed on city streets and most bike paths. 

Ebike Battery and Motor Basics

Bike batteries trade off performance for riding range. A stronger motor is going to give you more speed for keeping up and more torque to climb hills or haul cargo, be it your shopping bags or the grandkids. But keep in mind that a stronger motor will run down the battery faster and reduce your riding range. 

Comfort is Key

No matter what you want your ebike to do, comfort must be a key consideration. One factor you want to consider is whether you want a hybrid bike or a comfort bike. (We assume that road bike fanatics and mountain bikers are choosing their bike for performance). Your riding position is a little different on each.

So-called “comfort” bikes may induce back or knee pain after a ride on a rough trail. But the more forward position of a hybrid bike may cause lower back pain to flare. Be sure to try out both styles, consult your retailer, and read this evaluation of hybrid vs. comfort bikes

Battery capacity is listed in watt hours (Wh), or the number of hours a battery can put out a sustained watt of power before dying. So, a 250-watt motor paired with a 500 Wh battery (often found in Class 1 ebikes) drains power more slowly than a 500-watt motor paired with a 500 Wh battery (common in Class 3 setups).

Check out Bosch’s Ebike Range Assistant tool to see the interplay among an array of factors that affect riding range. REI’s Intro to Ebikes offers tips on how to extend your riding range.

Most bicycle batteries will charge in three to five hours, although you can buy quick chargers. Some ebikes come with two batteries you can use at the same time to allow for a longer ride. Batteries will either be integrated into the frame (allowing for a bottle cage) or mounted externally (making changes/replacements easier).

The motor is usually placed mid-drive where you pedal or in the hub of the rear wheel. Mid-drive motors lend a more natural feel to pedal assistance and give a balanced, stable ride with the motor centered and low on the bike. Hub-drive motors concentrate power on the rear wheel, making it feel as though someone is pushing the bike from behind. They can make it tricky to change a flat.

What Is Torque?

If you need to climb hills or want to carry loads with your new bike, then you need to pay attention to torque. It will help your bike power up inclines and haul heavy loads. Torque is measured in newton meters (N m). Check on the listed maximum range while understanding that actual torque will change depending on your pedal-assist settings. 

Ebike Cost

While an electric bicycle can extend your riding career for many years or decades, the machines don’t come cheap. Decent models start at about $1,500 and work their way up to $10,000 or more depending on the frame material, battery and motor, and component parts. 
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. 

Throttle-operated bikes and bikes with a cadence sensor will set you back in the lower range of $1,500 and up. For $2,500 or more, you can get a model with a torque sensor. But buying a quality bike pays for itself in satisfaction dividends. 

Where To Go

Start out at a reliable local bike dealer who is enthusiastic about ebikes. How will you know? They will have many models to choose from, prominently displayed in the store. They will ask you lots of questions about what you want to use the bike for, where you like to ride, what features are the most important to you, if you have a favorite brand, etc. In other words, if you enter the shop and find there are two ebikes stored in the back and no one can answer your questions, turn around and walk out. 

You are not just looking for a reliable retailer for your electric bike purchase. You want someone who will be there for the next ten or fifteen years to service your bike, and someone who will take care to set up and tune your bike correctly. Find a local, independent dealer who has an interest in taking good care of you and your investment for many years to come.

How Long Will a New Ebike Last?

The life of your new bike is partly determined by its genetics: the way it was built, the materials it is within it, the quality of its construction. But the other part of this equation is the care it receives: cleaning and oiling, regular maintenance and service. A lithium-ion battery ought to last about 600 to 800 full charge cycles, so the timeline will vary depending on how often you use your bike.

Be smart and get a bike with a warranty. A two-year warranty on parts, motor, and battery (without any exclusions for normal wear and tear) is a reasonable expectation on ebikes costing $2,000 and up.

Know Your Priorities

There are as many electric bike styles out there as there are regular bikes, so knowing what you will be using it for is essential before you start shopping. If you are a long-distance rider (or will be with a power boost), then look for a battery with 400 watt-hours or more. If you just want comfort, make sure you get a step-through frame. If hill climbing will figure into a lot of your rides, then make sure you get a middle motor system or high torque hub motor. Your dealer should patiently help you through these decisions.

No matter what kind of bike you want, test ride several models. Love the first one you try? Test ride at least three more anyway. Electric bikes can handle differently depending on where the motor is placed and what it’s designed to do. You need to know the specs and research, but you also need to ask yourself if you love the bike when you ride it. If you do, double-check if it can do the job you need it for, if it fits you, and if it has the quality you’re looking for. Do not be swayed into an impulse purchase. Come back the next day and see if you love it every bit as much. 

Your bike should be a joy to ride. You ought to have high expectations of your new transportation. Not every ebike is made to stand the test of time or give you great performance. Ask your retailer if the brand has been around a long time and if they expect it to be around many more. And don’t hesitate to check reviews of the bike before you fall in love with it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Is It Time for Home Solar Panels?

Federal and state subsidies, plus new products and utility incentives, make this an excellent time for seniors to consider getting solar panels installed on their home’s roof.  

The cost of home solar systems is going down year after year as the technology improves. The federal government offers tax credits for putting in a new system, and many states have their own programs to promote solar energy. Your utility company may buy back extra credit you produce, although the rate varies according to where you live. Finally, the largest American roofing company has just begun production on flexible solar shingles that nail onto your roof just like regular asphalt shingles.

Rooftop solar uses a technology called photovoltaics, or PV. These panels collect photons from sunlight to create an electric field. They are made to work in a wide variety of climates, but not every roof may be suitable. For example, trees may excessively shade a roof, or the roof may be angled too much to the north. Usually, solar panels are optimal on south-facing roofs with a 15 to 40 degree slope, but other configurations are often suitable, too.

Solar Shingles Are Here

Timberline Solar roofing systems are installed just like asphalt roofing tiles. The flexible shingles, less than a quarter of an inch thick, received a Best of Innovation Award for Smart Cities at CES 2022. 

“No one has ever specifically tried to make a solar product that a roofer can install,” says Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy. “And we’ve done it, and our product goes on with just a nail gun. It goes on twice as fast as typical solar.”

Since installation is typically the greatest cost for residential solar, that is no small claim. GAF says that its new roof costs about half as much as the Tesla Solar Roof, and it has the added benefit of being offered by the company that makes one out of every four new roofs in the US, installed with the help of its national contractor network. Learn more about Timberline Solar shingles here.

According to a 2016 analysis, there are more than 8 million square meters of rooftop in the US where solar panels could be installed. To find out if your roof has potential for PV, and to check out the solar rooftop potential, check these three tools that estimate potential energy savings for any building’s rooftop.

Benefits of Solar

But why bother with solar energy in the first place? Apart from increasing your home’s value, solar has many environmental benefits. Using power from the sun instead of conventional energy forms cuts down on the amount of carbon and other pollutants that are released into the environment. This, in turn, contributes to cleaner air and water.

A recent study found that homeowner-owned solar panels are usually seen as upgrades, to the tune of about an additional $15,000 per home. Evidence also suggests that homes with solar panels sell faster than those without, a plus in a higher interest rate market. If you are buying or selling a home with a solar roof array, the PV Value® tool can help calculate the energy production value for the system.

Federal, State and Utility Subsidies for Solar

In alignment with federal goals for cleaner energy production, the US government offers a tax credit for new solar energy systems on residential homes. A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax you owe on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The credit is 26% for systems installed in 2022, and 22% for those installed in 2023. These credits expire in 2024 unless they are renewed by Congress. Even better, if your taxes owed are less than your credit, the credit can be carried forward. For a complete guide to the federal solar photovoltaics credit, go here.

Most states offer tax credits and/or rebates for installing solar. These credits will not reduce your federal tax credits for putting in a new system. Check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to check on your state’s program.

Finally, be sure to check with your local electrical utility to find out if it offers subsidies to install a solar PV system and/or payments for excess energy produced, and at what rate. While many state’s utilities pay for power at the same, or near the same, rate at which it is sold, others like Mississippi pay next to nothing. A total of 39 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories have mandatory net metering rules. Check your state’s net metering policy.

Add Solar When Replacing Your Roof

The optimal time to put a PV system in place is when you, like millions of other Americans annually, are putting on a new roof. The average cost to replace a roof runs about $10,000, and the average cost of a rooftop solar array is in the neighborhood of $19,000. But you can reduce this combined cost from nearly $30,000 to about $25,000 by saving on labor and doing them together. 

Solar panels last 25 to 30 years —the same number of years as an average roof. When you install them both at the same time, you will ensure they need replacing at the same time, saving money down the road. For more on saving money by installing solar when you get a new roof, go here.

Getting solar panels can be a quality investment in the environment and your home. With incentives like tax credits and rebates more plentiful than ever before, it makes sense to consider whether adding solar panels could be the right move for you. There is a plethora of statistics and information available to help you make the right decision. Make sure to use a reliable company after running the numbers. You may be one of many who can have the satisfaction of watching your electric meter run backward!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Social Security’s Trust Fund Woefully Underperforms

Every cent of your Social Security trust fund is invested in low-yielding government bonds. Is this fair?  

Back in 1935 when Social Security was enacted, America was in the throes of the Great Depression. The country had no appetite for stocks. Franklin Roosevelt was desperate to find a way out, and his New Deal needed financing. Killing two birds with one stone, policymakers voted to invest workers’ retirement funds exclusively in safe government securities. 

The program was financed on a pay-as-you-go system until 1977, when legislation called for the accumulation of large reserves. These reserves totaled $741 billion by the end of 1998 and continued to increase until recently. This massive sum was still bound by law to be invested entirely in low-yielding special Treasury issues. The fund pays out about 22% of current Social Security checks, and it is projected to run dry by around 2033. 

Investment Performance

How much are all those FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes you paid earning? In April, they were invested in notes that earned 2.5% interest. You might have heard that inflation is running a hot 8.5% this year, which means that all that money is losing 6% per year. In 2021, consumer prices rose 7%. How much interest did Social Security dollars earn that year? Get ready … 1.4%. It is not hard to see why the fund is in a meltdown.

Population Demographics Tip the Scales

America’s population is getting older. People 65 and over comprised 16.5% of the total in 2021, and that number is projected to grow. That means less youngsters paying into Social Security, and more folks relying on it for a check. Why is that changing?

Back when Social Security was created, families had more children than they do these days. Kids were considered assets who would help the family and take care of Mom and Dad in their old age, and modern birth control was not available. People are living longer now, too. In 1930, the average lifespan was 58 for men and 62 for women. In 2020, those numbers had zoomed up to 75.1 and 80.5, respectively. Retirement age has not changed much at all over those 90 years; the expected norm is still at age 65.

Immigrants and Social Security

Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants cannot claim benefits under the Social Security program, even though they and their employers often pay taxes into the system. Documented immigrants must qualify for the program, either by having 40 US work credits just like any American citizen or by coming from a country that has a totalization agreement with the US. More than 25 nations have such agreements, allowing workers to combine credits earned in their home country with credits earned in the US. 
Does it have to be invested in Treasuries, you may wonder? Every other pension fund in America (and internationally, by the way) has diverse holdings. More than 6,000 state and local public pension funds manage $4.5 trillion, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. That makes them one-and-a-half times the size of the whole Social Security trust fund, and more than 80% of their money is working in assets other than bonds: stocks, private equity, real estate, commodities and more. 

Oh, and what was their average return last year? Take a guess … 29%. But 2021 was an exceptional year in the market, you might argue. How have they done on a longer basis? Over three decades, the average return of these funds was 8.8%, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. Social Security has not earned 8.8% once in those 30 years. The average return for Social Security funds from 2000 to 2021 was a measly 3.2%. Anyone who understands compounding will be horrified by those numbers. 

Possible Solutions

The gap between what Social Security is paying out and what it needs to remain solvent widened another $3 trillion last year alone. What can be done? 

  • Obviously, lawmakers could change the rules and invest Social Security funds in a broader assortment of assets that typically produce higher yields. 
  • Taxes for Social Security could go up on all workers and employers.
  • The tax cap for Social Security, set at $147,000 for 2022, could be pushed upward. This is the annual dollar amount of wages subject to taxation for FICA.

Only the first option is pain-free for workers, but it may be the least likely to become reality. Politicians enjoy having your money in the budget to spend. It is doubtful that anything at all will happen until we are faced with a budget cliff, because no one wants to be known as the person who voted for higher taxes. (Interestingly, when the Reagan administration wanted to tax Social Security earnings for the first time in 1983, he had bipartisan support and the amendment passed). 

While the solution may not be clear, it is a pressing matter for those of us who depend, or who will soon depend, on Social Security checks for part of our retirement income. It is worth discussing with your representatives to hear what they propose. Older Americans have a huge stake in the outcome.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, June 3, 2022

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

June 1 - Jeffrey Hawkins, PalmPilot inventor

Remember the PalmPilot? One of its inventors, Jeffrey Hawkins, founded Palm Inc. back in 1992. The device earned him enough respect from fellow engineers to get him elected into the National Academy of Engineering “for the creation of the hand-held computing paradigm and the creation of the first commercially successful example of a hand-held computing device.”

Hawkins has turned his considerable talents to neuroscience, and founded the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience in 2002, followed by Numenta in 2005. His efforts there include heading up a team to reverse-engineer the neocortex, something which has interested him since his days at the University of California, Berkeley, back in the late 80s where he was enrolled in the biophysics program. His current work aims to improve machine intelligence technology.

Hawkins is also an author, having written On Intelligence in 2004, and more recently A Thousand Brains in 2021. The latter book discusses intelligence and how the brain views the world. It proposes a theory of what is missing in artificial intelligence. Hawkins holds a degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University.


Image Source: Wikipedia

June 13 - Roy Cooper, governor of North Carolina

Taking the time-tested path from attorney to politician, Roy Cooper defeated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in 2016, the first time a challenger beat a sitting governor in the history of North Carolina. However, the state legislature is dominated by Republicans, who passed bills to reduce the power of the governor before Cooper took office and have since overridden many of his legislative vetoes. All the same, Cooper was reelected in 2020.

Cooper’s family has deep roots in the state. His father farmed tobacco and worked in a family law firm while his mother taught school. Cooper worked in the same firm before being elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, and then the State Senate, while still practicing law as a partner at Fields & Cooper.

However, it may be his work as attorney general that distinguished him with voters. Elected in 2000, he helped uncover several cases of corruption and ethics violations. He acted quickly after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, establishing a Campus Safety Task Force two days later to make policy recommendations, which he later used to create a bill that became law to require court clerks to record involuntary commitments in a national gun permit database.

Image Source: Wikipedia

June 23 - Frances McDormand, actress

With film and television credits galore, actress and producer Frances McDormand is one of only a handful of actors to win the famed “Triple Crown”: she has four Academy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and one Tony Award. She can also claim to be only the second woman to garner a Best Actress Academy Award three times, on one occasion winning Best Picture for producing a film, Nomadland, in which she also won the top acting award.

One of McDormand’s most iconic roles was as pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo, for which she won not only an Academy Award but also the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. Known for appearing in a plethora of independent films, catch her performances in such gems as Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Burn After Reading, Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country.

McDormand is one of three children adopted by her parents, who had no biological offspring. The actor attended both Bethany College and Yale University. She has been married to director Joel Coen, one of the famous Coen brothers, since 1984. They adopted a son from Paraguay in 1995 and have no other children.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors