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Monday, December 11, 2023

Senior Healthcare Providers Explained: PA, NP, MD and DO

As a shortage of general practitioner physicians escalates, other healthcare professionals are stepping up to fill in the gap. But is seeing one of them the equivalent to meeting with a doc?

It’s becoming more difficult to find a physician for treatment in the US. The Association of American Medical Colleges released a report that estimates a shortfall of somewhere between 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034. Many of these (17,800 to 48,000) will be primary care physicians. 

House Calls for Seniors

You may have thought that house visits went out with the horse and buggy, but they’ve seen a welcome revival. Many healthcare groups offer the service, often to patients who are homebound or have limited ability to travel. They may also serve older populations at senior care facilities. Sometimes they serve to check on patients recently released by hospitals to check on follow-up care and reduce readmissions. 

These professionals are often nurse practitioners, although they may be doctors or physician assistants. Some practice independently specifically to travel to where their patients are living. If you’re interested, search “healthcare house calls near me” to check on availability in your area. 

What is a D.O.?

With so many acronyms floating about in the healthcare arena, it’s no wonder you may have questions about what less-familiar ones mean. That’s often the case with doctors who have “D.O.” behind their name. Both medical doctors (MDs) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) graduate from medical school, complete a residency program and can choose to specialize in an area of treatment. 

The difference lies in their philosophy of treatment. MDs are allopathic doctors who practice mainstream medicine. DOs, on the other hand, add holistic and preventive health to conventional medicine. Some DOs include manual techniques, such as hands-on work on joints and tissues, in their practice of medicine. They may become physicians or surgeons and have full medical and surgical practicing rights in all 50 states. 

As a consequence, more general health care is being handled by nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). However, a recent survey found a reluctance among the general public to see these healthcare experts, even for minor concerns. There is a broad lack of understanding regarding what these professionals are able to do, and the extent of their medical training. 

Who’s Best for Senior Care

Seniors have more healthcare needs than other age groups. It’s particularly important that older adults can trust NPs and PAs with their care as more of these professionals are seeing patients, especially for routine care that might ordinarily be handled by a primary physician. 

Here’s a rundown of the different credentials and what they represent.

  • Physician. Medical doctors have eight years of education after high school and spend three to eight years in residency. Annual board certification maintenance is required. They need no supervision to prescribe medication, perform exams, order and interpret tests, perform surgeries, or diagnose and treat illness. 
  • Nurse Practitioner. With a Master’s Degree in Nursing, NPs spend a total of six to eight years in higher education, but none in residency. However, they are required to spend 1,000 hours in professional practice plus earn 12 continued education credits annually or opt to pass an exam every five years. Just like doctors, they can practice independently in many states, prescribe medication, perform exams, order and interpret tests, and diagnose and treat illness. They may also assist in surgeries. 
  • Physician Assistant. Every PA earns a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant studies and is physician assistant-certified. This schooling takes six to seven years to complete, with an optional one or two years in residency. PAs must complete 100 hours of additional education every two years and pass an exam every ten years. They must be supervised by a physician and can prescribe medication. Like nurse practitioners, physician assistants can perform exams, order and interpret tests, and diagnose and treat illness. They may also assist in surgeries. 

Which one is best to handle your care? The truth is, it’s the provider who you feel is responsive to your needs. Each of these professionals is qualified and able to perform routine care. Nurse practitioners can specialize in areas including gerontology, mental health, and women’s health. With a more generalized education, PAs can specialize in areas such as emergency medicine, orthopedics, and general surgery. 

The bottom line is that there’s no reason not to see a Nurse Practitioner or PA for the majority of your healthcare needs. They are highly trained professionals who are becoming more prevalent in healthcare facilities across the country. When so much of satisfaction with a provider depends on trust, it’s worth getting to know a variety of professionals to find someone who fits well with your expectations. 

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Can This Product End the Fear of Running Out of Money in Retirement?

Top of the list of retirement fears for most seniors is the worry about running out of money. Can a longevity annuity take those demons away? 

The greatest fear in retirement isn’t death, or even loss of mobility or cognition. It’s the fear of outliving your savings. Longer life expectancy is only compounding that worry. What if you found out there was a way to ensure you have adequate income throughout your last years?

Guaranteed Income via Longevity Annuities

Longevity annuities don’t start paying out until you reach a specified age, such as 70 or 80. 
They will "kick in if you're still alive at a given age to ensure that no matter what's happened in your portfolio, you have some amount of money to live," says David Blanchett, Ph.D., who heads retirement research at PGIM DC Solutions, the global investment management business of Prudential Financial Inc. 

Even people who are hugely overfunded for retirement may have a hard time spending down assets. A longevity annuity can create enough certainty around future income that they are able to enjoy the fruits of their labors without worry. 

"What annuities do, behaviorally," says Michael Finke, Ph.D., professor of wealth management at The American College of Financial Services, "is give the client a pathway to spending down the money that they've saved without the fear that they're going to run out."

How Longevity Annuities Function

The way it works is that you use a lump sum to purchase a guaranteed “retirement paycheck” designed to cover essential expenses at least 13 months and up to 40 years in the future. Older adults can buy one or several annuity contracts that earn interest while the funds are maturing. A couple can purchase a contract to cover them both, paying out as long as one of them is living. 

QLAC Pros and Cons

There are many benefits to purchasing a QLAC:
  • Guaranteed retirement income
  • Simple, understandable structure
  • Tax deferral benefits
  • Delayed required minimum distributions
  • Low risk
  • Can add second annuitant and/or death benefits

Following are some of the downsides:
  • Illiquidity
  • You get nothing if you die before payouts begin
  • No market exposure
  • Investment limits of $200,000
  • No inflation protection

The insurance company keeps the money, which earns a specified amount of interest for the purchaser of the annuity contract. When you are buying an annuity, the rating of the company you buy it from should be top of mind. You should be willing to get slightly smaller payouts from a company with a sterling reputation. 

After all, you may be waiting decades for the payout and you don’t want the company to go bankrupt in the meantime. Go here to find the top companies who rate insurers and their rating systems.

Longevity annuities, also known as deferred income annuities or delayed income annuities, are a sound product for healthy seniors who can expect to live long enough to benefit from them when they begin, which is often at age 80 or 85. They are usually purchased by well-off older adults searching for a way to get assurance that they won’t be broke in their later years. 

However, they represent only a tiny fraction of the overall annuity market. Why? Many people have a hard time with the idea that they can’t touch their money until many years down the road. And some financial planners don’t have the software to compute the total impact on a client’s portfolio.

Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (QLACs)

But if they are purchased with qualified assets, such as funds in an IRA, there are tax benefits to be reaped as well. The Secure 2.0 Act allows savers to use funds from qualified (pre-tax) retirement accounts to purchase up to $200,000 worth of qualified longevity annuity contracts (QLACs). You can even include a “return of premium” feature so a beneficiary gets the purchase amount, less any payouts, upon your death. However, this rider will reduce the guaranteed amount of your payout.

The purchase price of a QLAC is removed from the required minimum distribution (RMD) until the purchaser turns 85, when income may be lower and taxes less. Combined with Social Security income, a longevity annuity can be just the product to provide peace of mind through a long retirement. 


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

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Downsizing or Not, Increase Your Home’s Worth

Whether you’re gearing up to sell and you want to max out your price, or you just want to freshen up the appearance of your home, here are paint colors and suggestions from the pros.

Maybe you’re ready to sell and downsize, or you look around and realize your abode has grown a bit outdated, even dingy. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get your place looking its best. Here are top tips from the experts.


The first thing to do is clean the entire home from top to bottom. This includes baseboards, that space behind the toilet, and under every piece of furniture. If you’re selling, your competition is often brand new homes.  Clean the inside of appliances, cupboards and drawers. Windows, appliances, the floor under your washer and dryer should all be spic and span. 

Now, do the same on the outside. Rent a power washer to get driveways and sidewalks free of dirt and do the same on your porch. If you have a path around to the back, clean it as well. Check that gutters are empty, and that your roof isn’t covered in tree litter.


If you’re selling, remove all your personal photos and mementos. Buyers want to come in and fall in love with the romantic notion of their new home, not yours. Clear tables and counters of everything that is not essential. Toss plastic plants. A good rule of thumb is to get rid of half of the things that are out, then reappraise and consider whether you need to dispose of or put away half again. 

Which Color Should You Choose?

A recent survey by Opendoor verified that neutral colors are the most sought-out. Nearly a third (30%) of respondents picked gray as their most desirable shade, followed closely (26%) by beige. But getting the tone just right isn’t always easy just by looking at a color tag in the paint store. Here, experts in selling real estate share their favorite brands and colors. 
  • Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray (SW7029). This is a light, neutral “greige” (grayish beige) that works indoors or out. 
  • Sherwin-Williams Alabaster (SW 7008). For a soft white that’s easy on the eye, try this shade that goes with everything.
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Mist (OC-30). If you want your home to have the current “greige” color scheme, take a look at this hue to warm up interiors or provide a neutral exterior.
  • Sherwin-Williams Iron Ore (SW 7069). Use this deep, dark gray sparingly. It’s great for shutters and exterior doors and accents, or try a bit on a wall inside to highlight white cupboards.
  • Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace (OC-65). A warm, refreshing white that is favored by many stagers inside and out.
  • Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige (SW 7036). A warm gray that can cover interior walls to increase your home’s sale price.
  • Sherwin-Williams Snowbound (SW 7004). White exteriors are all the rage, and this color provides a lovely, pure surface that isn’t overly stark.

Nobody enjoys decluttering, but it’s essential for making your house look welcoming and open. Consider removing a piece or two of furniture if rooms have become over-stuffed. Your real estate agent or a friend can lend a fresh eye, or even suggest a way to rearrange what you have to fit the space better. If you’re selling, furniture in the home should be as neutral and slim as possible. 

If you’ll be moving out before the house hits the market, consider having the home staged professionally for a better price. This involves moving in (rented) furnishings that a designer will place in rooms to help buyers visualize how to use spaces. Rugs, pillows, and pictures warm up empty spaces.


Now’s the time to fix any cracks in the wall and refresh caulking around tubs and windows. Do you need to patch some drywall? Are there lights that don’t work or bulbs that are mismatched? Are shutters hanging evenly? Do any doors have to be lifted or pushed to shut? Do windows open and close easily? Have you lubricated the garage door opening machinery? Does the fireplace work? Is your house snug and tight in the winter?


Fresh paint outside and in can make a huge difference in your home’s appearance. “Paint is a relatively affordable and easy change, yet it has an outsize impact on a buyer’s perception of the home,” says Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home-trend expert. “That first impression contributes to their overall feelings about a home and, ultimately, how much they’re willing to pay for it.”

A recent survey of 4,700 prospective US homebuyers found that gray walls – in kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms – correlated with higher prices paid for homes. Gray has been the top color used in home improvement shows recently, which are often copied on social media feeds. But for good reason, since gray is the color of retreat and refuge, which our homes became during and after the Covid crisis.

However, you don’t want to do the entire house in gray. Front doors painted black pulled in more money than gray ones, and prospective buyers would offer $3,365 less for a home with gray floors, according to Zillow’s research. And even though you spent weeks finding the perfect red accent paint to match your pillows, force yourself to paint over it. Buyers want to imagine their pops of color in the room, not yours. 


Finally, consider making some inexpensive purchases to spruce up your home. A new doormat with a pot or two of flowers on the porch does wonders for curb appeal. Inside, consider buying some fat, fluffy towels in neutrals to show off the bath. LED lights replace can lights with much better illumination for a small price. And lastly, if you’re having an open house some gingersnaps fresh out of the oven send a tempting, but not overwhelming, scent through the home. 

Friday, December 8, 2023

My Smartphone Was Stolen! What Should I Do?

It’s all too easy for a thief to target your smartphone and steal your data and even your identity. But with these simple tips, you’ll know what to do and how to protect your phone from thieves — and damage — in the first place.

One out of ten smartphone owners in the US has their phone stolen, and most of them (68%) fail to get their device back. These are frightening numbers when you consider that a thief can hack your identity, steal from bank accounts, run phishing scams on your friends and family, open credit cards in your name, and more – even if you use biometric security, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition. 

These statistics are sobering indeed. Your best protection is preparing before your phone is swiped and then knowing what to do if and when you find it’s missing.

Safeguarding Your Smartphone Against Theft and Damage

The first thing you want to do is set your phone to lock automatically. For iPhones, go to Settings, Display and Brightness, then Auto-lock. Android steps vary according to the phone, so search for your maker and model to find instructions. The shorter time you select, the better. This is because a thief may steal the phone while you are using it or have set it down for a moment, and it is open.

Guard Against Phone Fraud

Scams are increasing, and your phone is not immune to delivering them to you. To guard against criminals who are after your money, follow these suggestions.
  • Mobile Phone Virus scams send false alerts saying a virus has been found on your phone. Scammers get you to download an “antivirus” app that is really malicious software. To protect yourself, never download anything that someone else tells you to online. Also, have antivirus protection on your phone.
  • Phone Vishing attacks are call scams that urge you to do something right away, such as mailing a payment to the IRS or charity, or coming to the aid of a relative. They may pose as staff from your bank or another respected institution, and they will stress the urgency of sending funds immediately. To protect yourself, never send funds during a call or immediately after. Never send funds without calling back a relative on a number you know or calling your bank on their verifiable number. Wait a few days and think it over with the help of someone you trust. Never answer a number that is not in your contacts. (You can always listen to voicemails and call back if it’s legitimate). 
  • SMS Phishing, or smishing, happens when scammers send a text containing malware, hoping that you’ll open it. They may also try to trick you into giving out personal information, buying a subscription or calling a pay-per-minute phone number. To protect yourself, never respond to suspicious texts with anything but a “delete and report as junk”.
  • One Ring scams are from thieves that call you and only let the phone ring once before they hang up. If you call back, you may be charged fees and the fraudster profits. The scammer may even leave a message, hoping to increase the chance you will call back. To protect yourself, don’t pick up the phone from a number you don’t recognize and don’t return calls if a voicemail sounds fishy or vague.

Make sure your phone’s find-it mode is turned on. This enables you to locate it using another phone or computer. But it won’t work unless the tool is turned on before the device is lost or stolen. For iPhones, tap Settings, your name, and then Find My. In order to see the location of your device when it’s offline, turn on the Find My Network. You can also elect to send Apple your last location when your battery is low. 

To help identify your phone if it gets lost, you should record its serial number and International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI. To find them, go to Settings, then General, and then About. Keep these identifiers in cloud storage or printed out so you can give them to law enforcement in case your phone is recovered.

Set your phone to back up automatically so that photos and other data won’t be lost, even if your phone is damaged in a fire or other accident. You can use iCloud for Apple or Google storage for Android. If you have to pay a few dollars a month for extra storage, it’s well worth the price. For iPhone, go to Settings, (your name), then iCloud, iCloud backup and toggle on Back Up This Phone. 

Finally, physically protect your phone with a good case. It doesn’t take much to crack the screen, as many of us have found out the hard way. Find recommendations for iPhone cases 
and cases for Androids. Also, be aware that even though many newer smartphones have some water tolerance, sealing them up with uncooked rice is no longer the preferred method to dry them out. Click to find out how to rescue a wet phone or go to the manufacturer’s website for extensive directions.

Lost, Stolen or Misplaced Smartphones

It’s an awful feeling when you can’t find your phone. Here are the steps to take to minimize loss and ensure the best outcome possible. 

If the phone may be nearby in a quiet setting, you can say “Hey Siri” to get a response from your iPhone up to several feet away. Try having a friend dial the phone so you can listen for a familiar ring. Still nothing? Begin going through the steps below.

Use the Find My app to locate your phone from another device. If the phone’s setting is enabled and it’s connected to a network, the app will display your phone on a map. Apple has  a Mark as Lost setting to remotely disable Apple Pay and lock your phone if it is in an unexpected location. You can also perform these functions with an Android phone.

If the phone appears to be stolen or permanently lost, you should inform your carrier and report it to the police along with the serial number and IMEI. You may need a police report in order to dispute fraudulent credit card charges.  

File an insurance claim if you’re covered. Change your passwords, especially for any banking institutions, and alert your financial institutions to be on the alert for activity that is out of the ordinary. 

If Your Phone is Found

Phones that are found in a safe place, such as the trusted friend you were visiting, should be fine. But if you get a call from the police that they found your phone, you never know what malicious app or spyware may have been installed while the phone was out of your hands. Make sure to erase everything (if it is backed up) or at least reset the device to factory settings. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

10 Easy Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

As the festive season approaches, our hearts are filled with warmth, and the spirit of giving becomes more prevalent than ever. The holiday season isn’t just about twinkling lights, presents, and festive decorations; it’s a time to reflect on the joy of giving and sharing with those who could use a helping hand. From spreading kindness to supporting charitable causes, let’s explore 10 easy ways to give back this holiday season: 

  1. Help an Older Adult Hang Up Christmas Lights

One delightful way to give back this holiday season is by lending a helping hand to our older neighbors. For many older adults, the task of putting up Christmas lights can be physically challenging. Offering to assist them with this task not only brings a sparkle to their living space but also creates cherished moments of connection that they might be missing. The simple act of helping an older adult put up Christmas lights is a wonderful reminder that the spirit of giving knows no age.

  1. Pay for the Person Behind You at a Coffee Shop

Another simple way to spread holiday cheer is by participating in the timeless gesture of paying it forward at your local coffee shop. This small but impactful act not only brightens someone’s day but also creates a ripple effect of positivity. In a season often characterized by bustling crowds and long to-do lists, this gesture serves as a gentle reminder that the spirit of giving can be swift and contagious. So, why not make someone’s day a little merrier by turning a routine coffee run into a heartwarming experience of unexpected kindness? 

  1. Donate to a Children’s Hospital Wish List

For those seeking a direct and impactful way to make a difference this holiday season, consider brightening the lives of children facing health challenges by donating to a children’s hospital wish list. These lists often include items that can bring comfort, joy, and a touch of magic to young patients during their hospital stay. From toys and games to books and art supplies, your contribution can play a significant role in creating moments of joy and distraction for children who may be going through difficult times. 

  1. Adopt a Military Family

Consider reaching out to those who sacrifice so much for our collective well-being–our military families. Adopting a military family is a powerful way to express gratitude and show support for those who serve our country. Many military families face unique challenges, especially during the holidays when some loved ones may be deployed or stationed far from home. Whether it’s providing gifts, essential items, or a festive meal, your generosity will ensure that these families feel a sense of community and appreciation during a time that can be particularly lonely for some. Donate online to a military family here: Online Donations - Operation Help a Hero

  1. Volunteer at a Local Soup Kitchen

For a more hands-on approach to giving back this holiday season, consider dedicating your time to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. The act of serving a warm meal to those in need extends far beyond nourishing the body-it provides a sense of dignity and connection that is vital during the colder months. Soup kitchens often see an increased demand during the holiday season, making volunteers crucial in ensuring that everyone can enjoy a hot and comforting meal. By participating in this selfless act, you not only contribute to alleviating hunger but also create a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals who may be facing challenging circumstances.

  1. Write a Handwritten Card to an Isolated Senior

In the age of technology, a heartfelt handwritten letter holds a timeless and impactful charm, especially when directed toward an older adult spending the holidays alone. A personalized letter offers a touch of companionship and hope during a challenging time. Consider reaching out to local hospitals or organizations facilitating such initiatives to connect with older adults who would appreciate receiving a thoughtful letter.


  1. Donate Items to Your Local Shelter

Amidst the festive decorations and holiday cheer, it is important to remember those who may not have a warm home to celebrate in. Donating items to your local shelter is a great way to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Many shelters welcome donations of gently used items such as coats, gloves, blankets, etc., to help those in need stay warm. This act of generosity embodies the true spirit of the season, emphasizing the importance of giving back to our community and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, feels a sense of care and compassion during the holidays.  

  1. Run a 5k for a Charitable Cause

For those who enjoy combining the spirit of giving with a dash of physical activity, running a 5K for a good cause is a fantastic way to make a positive impact this holiday season. Many charitable organizations organize holiday-themed runs, where participants can contribute to a specific cause while engaging in a healthy and festive activity. Whether it's raising funds for a local charity or supporting a global initiative, lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement becomes a powerful symbol of solidarity with those in need.  

  1. Donate to a Child in Foster Care

As we embrace the season of giving, let’s not forget the children in the foster care system who may long for a sense of stability and joy during the holidays. Donating to this often-overlooked demographic is a heartwarming way to spread cheer and make a lasting impact. Consider reaching out to local foster care agencies or organizations to learn about specific needs, such as clothing, toys, and educational materials. By offering your support, you contribute to creating moments of happiness and normalcy for these children. Donate here today: Giving Tuesday | Foster Love

  1. For Your Christmas Gift; Ask Friends/Family to Donate in Your Name

Shifting the focus from material gifts to meaningful contributions, consider a unique and impactful way to give back this holiday season by asking your friends and family to donate to a cause of your choosing as your Christmas gift. By encouraging loved ones to contribute in your name, you transform the act of gift-giving into a collective effort to create positive change.

In the spirit of holiday festivities, the true magic lies in our ability to give back and spread joy to those who need it the most. Whether it’s assisting an older neighbor, helping a child in need, or getting some exercise for a good cause, the spirit of giving takes on countless forms. 

Brought to you by Tara Schumann, Digital Media Specialist for The Society of Certified Senior Advisors.

The One Question

When someone you know is upset, here’s the question you need to ask first to help them the most. 

One fine way to ring in the new year is to make a resolution to handle sadness and anger better. This includes your own emotions as well as those of people around you. There’s plenty of research to help guide us, whether we’re dealing with a grandchild, a spouse, an adult child or a friend. 

It’s easy to assume it’s the other person’s responsibility to get it together, but how we react can make a big difference in how well the situation is resolved. In other words, we have the power to do a lot of good. 

The Question to Solve Upsets

One tried and true method is to ask a loved one who is upset a defining question: Do you want to be helped, heard or hugged? Everyone handles emotion differently and may need a different response depending on if they’re anxious (advice may be wanted) or angry. Helping them define what they need in a particular situation is empowering. 
  • Helped. This person is asking you to give advice about how to handle a situation. 
  • Heard. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen and nod.
  • Hugged. There are times when healing commences best with a quiet hug.

When in Danger, Protect Yourself

There may be times when you feel unsafe around someone who’s mad. The first thing to do is ensure your own safety. Go to a neighbor’s house, ask the other person to leave, call a friend or the police. 

If you are being abused, have a bag ready to go with a change of clothes and basic toiletries. The national domestic abuse hotline is 800-799-7233. You can also text START to 88788 to connect to someone who can help. You can visit the website which also gives directions on how to clear your browser history in case someone is monitoring your computer.

All too often, many of us jump to giving advice when all the person really wants is validation. One study found that phrases communicating empathy and understanding are especially comforting. Simple phrases such as “I understand why you feel that way” or “That must have been very hard” are powerful tools to soothe hurt and anger. 

Helping others understand that things will improve with time, known as temporal feedback, is also very useful, research  suggests. Ask the person how their feelings might change in a month, for example. “Different strategies meet different needs,” said Karen Niven, a professor of organizational psychology at the Sheffield University Management School in Britain who studies how what people say and do affects the emotions of others.

A growing body of evidence suggests that people want to talk about what’s bothering them. We’re social animals, and we care about what other people think. Just be sure to ask “Do you want to be helped, heard or hugged?” before diving into the problem, and start with validating phrases.

How to Handle Anger

Sometimes, we all have to deal with someone who is angry, whether they are mildly upset or boiling mad. Here again, we often have the power to make a bad situation better by how we react. A few tips for dealing with angry people follow:
  • Remain calm. Your first impulse is likely to get upset, but keeping calm and steady is much more helpful.
  • Listen to the other person. Many times, just allowing someone to vent can help diffuse their anger. If you’re able, use validating phrases. Don’t tell them to calm down or that they shouldn’t be upset – this can trigger more anger. 
  • Give them room. Do they need time away from you to think through the problem? You may be the one who needs to physically leave the space. This is often better than escalating a conversation into a shouting match.
  • Set boundaries. Conversations should occur ahead of time, if possible, about how someone can talk to you and behave around you. Set limits and stick to them. 

A landmark study from 2012 listened in on customer service calls to find out what responses inflamed unhappy consumers and which ones helped to calm them down. It turned out that telling them to “calm down” or “relax” just made them angrier. It’s sending the message that they’re overreacting. 

Recent research asked people what words they would find most comforting. Once again, validating phrases were preferred. Participants wanted to hear “I can imagine that was difficult” much more than “Try to see both sides of the situation”.

“When people hear you and they say they understand you, you feel trusted, you feel cared for, you feel connected,” says Razia Sahi, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies how social interactions influence people’s emotions, “and feeling connected to other people is extremely, extremely important for us.” 


Monday, December 4, 2023

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

December 1 - Charlene Tilton, American actress 

Don’t tell us that you don’t remember the hit television series “Dallas” that swept the country in the late 70s and 80s. At 17, Charlene Tilton won the role of the sly granddaughter Lucy Ewing, earning a top salary of $50,000 an episode and catapulting the actress into fame. So much so, that her face graced 500 magazine covers and her 1981 wedding on TV drew 65 million viewers. 

Although her work after Dallas was mostly limited to game shows, forgettable movies and promoting the Abdominizer, Tilton never forgot Larry Hagman, the star of “Dallas”. Tilton grew up the daughter of a mentally ill single mom; she never knew her father. Hagman became a father figure on set and continued to play a nurturing role for Tilton until his death. 

The actress has a daughter from a short marriage to country singer Johnny Lee. Cinematographer beau Cheddy Hart died from heart failure in 2009. Tilton advocates for autism awareness.

Image Source: Wikipedia

December 6 - Nick Park, British filmmaker and animator

If you’ve never heard of Wallace and Gromit, seen “Shaun the Sheep” or “Chicken Run”, nor viewed “Creature Comforts”, then you (and the grandkids!) are in for a treat. It’s all thanks to the creative genius of Nick Park, who has won a slew of BAFTAs and a couple of Oscars for his claymation masterpieces. 

It all started when Park was a kid with an avid interest in cartoons. At 13, he progressed to making films with his mother featuring cotton bobbin characters. Like his dad, he dabbled in inventions, a hobby shared by his claymation character, Wallace. 

Park’s films and shorts are fine family viewing without being maudlin or boring. Instead, they are clever pieces that entertain on many levels.  If you want to really appreciate his genius, check out this YouTube on how claymation is made.

Image Source: Wikipedia

December 25 - Rickey Hendersen, American baseball Hall of Fame outfielder

Rickey Hendersen, aka “The Man of Steal”, played an incredible 25 seasons of Major League Baseball, including four rounds with his original team, the Oakland Athletics. He may be the greatest leadoff hitter and base runner of all time, holding records that still stand for career stolen bases, runs, unintentional walks and leadoff home runs. He was a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame his first time on the ballot in 2009.

Henderson was a natural lefty, but he learned to bat right-handed. "All my friends were right-handed and swung from the right side, so I thought that's the way it was supposed to be done,” he once remarked. 

Henderson played baseball and basketball in high school, where he was also an All-American running back with a dream to play for the Oakland Raiders. He got more than a dozen scholarship offers to play football, but his mother stopped him. She noted that football players had shorter careers and wisely pointed her son away from a career on the gridiron. 

Proud of his earnings, Henderson famously framed a $1 million signing bonus for months instead of cashing it. He wouldn’t use the per diem funds that every player got on road trips, electing to put the envelopes of cash in a box. When one of his kids did well at school, he’d invite them to pick an envelope and keep the contents.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

Is long-term care insurance a good investment, or is it better to self-insure? How about a little of both?

More than half of Americans who make it to 65 are going to need long-term care at some point. Medicare will not cover the bill. Medicaid requires that the older adult meet strict financial guidelines, and the program will not pay to put you up in the Taj Mahal of nursing homes. But with an average insurance cost per couple of about $6,000 per year and the risk of premium hikes in the future, does it make sense to buy long-term care insurance (LTCI)?

Trade-Offs of LTCI vs. Self-Insuring

Consider that you may be paying premiums for decades for a policy you may never need. And if you do use your insurance, you may only need it for a short time: potentially not enough to offset all those dollars you’ve been paying into it. Your policy will usually only offer a certain amount of benefits limited by time and dollars, and most have a waiting period (often 90 days) before they go into effect. Would you be better off investing the dollars you would otherwise spend on premiums to help cover a possible stay?

Will You Qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance?

You may not qualify for LTCI if you have certain pre-existing conditions, such as certain cancers or if you already need help with one or more activities of daily living, such as bathing or dressing. Premiums rise the older a person is, so if you wait too long the insurance may be unaffordable, but if you buy it early, you will be paying more overall in premiums, which can rise over time. However, buying a policy with your spouse may be cheaper than two separate policies.

The decision comes down to what enables you to sleep well at night, according to Certified Financial Planner Roxanne Alexander. Some clients are able to self-insure; they have enough saved up that they can afford to pay for the cost of a prolonged stay if needed. Mind you, that may run about $8,000 per month, depending on which state you live in. Others want the peace of mind that comes from knowing an insurance company will shoulder a portion of the cost. After all, you have home insurance that you will probably never need, but you wouldn’t dream of dropping it. 

Many folks choose to combine a long-term care policy with savings to cover any future needs. In other words, they buy a policy they know won’t cover 100 percent of the cost for as long as they may need care, but it covers enough that they can manage the rest of the outlay when the time comes. 

LTCI Policies

Historically, the performance of LTCI policies sold in the 90s was less than stellar and they got a bad name. About half of the policies were never used because their owners couldn’t afford, or forgot to continue, making payments. Benefits didn’t get paid out to those who paid only for nursing home care, but instead wound up receiving in-home care or moved to a residence that wasn’t covered by their policy. And it still can be true that by the time LTCI benefits are paid out, they often make up only a portion of costs due to inflation.

Consumer groups urged changes in terms and conditions after the 90s that make LTCI a better investment today. For instance, a lot of policies will now cover stays in residence homes or at-home care as long as the policy holder is unable to perform a certain number of activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing and toileting. Policies may also permit the holder to reduce levels of coverage in return for lowered payments. 

Here are some areas to consider when comparing policies:
  • Does the policy cover not only nursing homes, but also assisted living facilities and at-home care?
  • Does it have any inflation protection?
  • Can the company increase the cost of the policy at will?
  • What is the length of coverage? Does it go for one year, two, three? 
  • Can you stop and restart it if needed?
  • How are benefits triggered? 
  • What is the elimination (waiting) period before benefits kick in?

Additionally, there are some other reasons long-term care insurance may be right for you. If you own a tax-qualified plan and itemize deductions, premiums may be deductible in part or in whole. This is especially important for business owners. There are also benefits if you would otherwise need to spend down your assets to qualify for Medicaid. Further, you won’t be a burden on your heirs in future years. 

Hybrid Long-Term Care Policies

It’s possible to get a policy that combines whole (permanent) life insurance with LTCI. Any monies needed for long-term care come out of your death benefit, or payout to loved ones upon your passing. But these policies are typically quite expensive, and if you don’t need life insurance, you probably don’t need a hybrid policy. 

There is definitely a place for a long-term care policy in many portfolios. The peace of mind afforded by knowing a good chunk of care will be paid for is essential to many retirees. Just make sure to look at a few different policies and take time to go over the provisions in each at your leisure before making a decision. You want to get the terms and conditions you need at a price that is among the lowest in the industry. And since you likely won’t be using the policy for a while, make sure the company whose policy you buy will be around for a long time to come. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

15 Great Gifts for Seniors

The holidays are almost here, and we’ve got super ideas for what to give the older adults in your family (and maybe treat yourself too!).

It’s always tough to come up with a unique gift for the older adults in your life, so we’ve made it easy by providing this list of unique items at a variety of price points. We tried to pick some of the best brands for you. You can hunt down less expensive options if you prefer.  Let your fingers do the walking online, and you’ll have your holiday shopping done in no time. Ho ho ho! 

Personalized Gifts for Seniors

If you’re still at a loss for just the right present, consider getting something that’s printed with people and/or places that are dear to your loved one. You can order a book of photos that you provide to Shutterfly that comes with free designer services. Cost depends on your choice of cover, binding, size, and style. This also makes a nice gift for grandchildren; you can memorialize a vacation or time at Grandpa and/or Grandma’s house.

Blankets and pillows covered in treasured photos are available at Snapfish. It can be fun to include some throwback pictures from a wedding album or high school reunion along with more recent events. 

  1. Clip-on Speaker. For quality sound that is super portable, try this nifty little speaker that delivers plenty of power. Easily attaches to a wheelchair, light fixture, backpack, or bicycle … just about anywhere! Waterproof, dustproof, with 10 hours of playtime. JBL Clip 4. About $80.
  2. Heated Lotion Dispenser. The cold is upon us, and gifts that warm us up are mighty welcome. Spread warm lotion over dry skin for a little affordable luxury that will make you think of sunny days. Heated Lotion Dispenser. About $50.
  3. Foldable Neck Fan. It’s cold now, but summers are getting hotter and there’s nothing like this powerful, lightweight neck fan to cool you down. Wear it traveling, in the kitchen, at sports events or anywhere you need a blast of cool. Lasts up to 6,000 hours. Desert West Neck Fan. About $119.
  4. Air Ionizer. Designed for large rooms, this unit will clear the air of mold, odors, smoke, allergens, and germs. Its HEPA filter will even get rid of dust and pet hair. For other quality models check out this review. Fellowes AeraMax 300. About $360.
  5. Motion-Activated Stick-On Lights. These individual lights can go anywhere you need more illumination. Put some in your closets or under kitchen cabinets, in a dark hallway or on your bed frame. AMIR Motion Sensor Lights. A pack of three about $10.
  6. Milk Frother. To make any hot or cold drink taste like it came from a coffee shop, get this lightweight milk frother. It works with dairy or plant milks, whipping them up in less than a minute. The frother also comes in a wide variety of colors and has a lifetime guarantee. Zulay Handheld Milk Frother. About $20.
  7. Electric Jar Opener. Pickle jars and other hard-to-open jars are no match for this electric opener that quickly works on almost any size jar. All you need to do is press a button and the machine does the rest. Instacan Jar Opener. About $18.
  8. Packing Cube Set. Anyone who travels will love this set of four cubes to organize suitcase packing – or even your drawers at home. Made of water-resistant nylon in a variety of colors. Quit rummaging through your suitcase to find what you need and spend more time enjoying your trip. Paravel Packing Cube Quad. About $65.
  9. Aromatherapy Dispenser and Oils. Soothing and refreshing, this ultrasonic wood-look diffuser will make any room in your home a haven. Imagine drifting off to sleep with one of ten included plant essential oils scenting your room. Or use it to get rid of kitchen or pet odors. Pure Daily Care Oil Diffuser and Oils Set. About $40.
  10. Temperature-Controlled Mug. Your coffee or tea is never going to get cold again. This mug will keep up to 14 oz. at the desired temperature between 120 and 145 degrees. Hand washable. Ember Two-Temperature Mug. About $100.  
  11. Heated Socks. Who wouldn’t want a pair of heated cotton socks? Okay, maybe not you down there in Florida, but anyone in a snowy state would love these battery-heated black socks for women and men. Use them inside or out. Tomshine Electric Heated Socks. About $15.
  12. LED Neck Reading Light. Bring light for reading or knitting wherever you need it with this portable light you hang on your neck. It features six levels of brightness and bendable arms. Glocusent Neck Light. About $22.
  13. Fleece Wrap With Big Pockets. This cozy wrap is easy on, easy off for seniors with achy joints. And the biggest benefit? The washable wrap features two large pockets that are big enough to carry a phone, reading glasses, tissues … things that you can never find when you need them! Collections Etc Wrap. About $21
  14. Weighted Blanket. Proven through research to alleviate stress and anxiety, weighted blankets are particularly good gifts for people with dementia – although you may find yourself ordering one for your own bed! Made of breathable cotton with glass beads.  Sivio Weighted Blanket. About $66. 
  15. Wheelchair Blanket. Made of washable polyester fleece in two color choices, this heavyweight blanket attaches to the wheelchair so it won’t slip off. Granny Jo Wheelchair Blanket. About $35.


Blog posting provided by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors