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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Lessons Learned from COVID-19

Now that the Covid crisis has subsided into something we’ve learned to live with, how can we apply its lessons to future pandemics?

Unfortunately, the likelihood of another pandemic coming soon is relatively high. There are several reasons for this. Viruses and other pathogens are constantly evolving, and new strains can emerge at any time. The global population is more connected than ever before, making it easier for diseases to spread quickly across borders. Many parts of the world are facing challenges related to urbanization, deforestation, and climate change, which can create conditions that are conducive to the emergence and spread of new diseases. 

Many experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call that should prompt us to take action to prevent future pandemics. The pandemic caused a global health crisis, resulting in millions of deaths, widespread economic disruption, and significant social upheaval. What did we learn that could help us cope with a similar situation in the future?
1. The Importance of Early Detection and Rapid Response
The early detection of new infectious diseases is essential in preventing them from spreading to other parts of the world. In the case of COVID-19, early detection could have helped prevent the virus from spreading beyond China, where it was first detected. Once the virus had spread to other parts of the world, early detection and rapid response could have helped to contain its spread and reduce the number of cases.

The Next Pandemic Could Be Much Worse  

COVID-19 affected more than 160 million people worldwide, and it was most deadly in people who were older than 65 and immunocompromised. As devastating as the virus has been, it is much less lethal (less than 1%) than other infectious disease outbreaks such as Ebola, which has an infection fatality rate of close to 88%. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that 75% of infectious new diseases in humans originate in animals. Over the last three decades, several of these viruses have come to the US. It is only a matter of time until the next one emerges. Just as the country prepares for national defense, it must be proactive in guarding against these tiniest of potential invaders. 

2. The Need for Effective Public Health Messaging
Effective messaging is essential in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and ensuring that people take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of clear and consistent messaging, as well as the need for trusted sources of information.

3. The Importance of Global Collaboration
The rapid spread of the virus highlighted the interconnectedness of our world and the need for countries to work together to address common threats. Global collaboration has been essential in developing and distributing vaccines, as well as in coordinating the response to the pandemic.

4. The Need for Strong Healthcare Systems
The pandemic has shown us that healthcare systems need to be prepared to handle sudden large numbers of patients and to provide the necessary care and treatment. It has also highlighted the need for investment in healthcare infrastructure, including hospital beds, medical equipment, and trained healthcare workers.

5. The Importance of Preparedness Planning
The pandemic caught many countries off guard, and many were not adequately prepared to handle the scale of the crisis. Preparedness planning should include measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, as well as plans for responding to outbreaks.

6. The Value of Technology
Technology has been used to track the spread of the virus, develop vaccines, and facilitate remote working and learning. As technology continues to advance, it will be increasingly important in our efforts to prepare for and respond to future pandemics.

7. The Need for Resilient Supply Chains
The pandemic disrupted supply chains around the world, resulting in shortages of critical medical supplies and equipment. Resilient supply chains are essential in ensuring that essential goods and services can be delivered even in the face of a pandemic.

8. The Importance of Mental Health
The pandemic has caused widespread anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, highlighting the need for better mental health support and services. Addressing mental health issues is essential in ensuring that individuals and communities are resilient in the face of future health emergencies.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Best Credit Cards for Older Adults

The best credit cards come with attractive returns that can stretch your monthly budget for groceries, drugstore purchases, travel, and more!

Have you been using an old credit card with lousy rewards out of habit? Worse yet, are you still writing checks to make payments? It’s high time you switched to a credit card that gives you at least 2% cash back on everything you buy. Any time you pay for utilities, groceries, travel, and more, you can save money and get protection for your purchase by using a credit card.

Your Credit Score 

All of these cards require good or excellent credit, with a rating of at least 670. Your score will drop slightly when applying for a new card, but it will go back up in a few months. One tip is not to cancel your card(s) with the longest credit history. Another is to apply (you can do this online) to increase the amount of credit you can borrow from cards you’ve had awhile; if your spending stays the same, it will decrease the percentage of credit you are using. No one needs a perfect credit score of 850, but it’s important to maintain one in the excellent range of at least 780 to 800 for the best mortgage and loan rates. 

Pay It Off Monthly

Credit cards can be financially rewarding in many ways, but only if you pay them off in full every single month. Why? They all charge high, double-digit interest fees that more than cancel out their benefits. To avoid paying interest, automate your monthly credit card payment.  

It’s easy to get confused by the bewildering array of cards on the market. Here is what you need to check:

  • Welcome bonus. Spend X amount of dollars in X amount of time, and you’ll get a one-time reduction of your bill, usually in the 100s of dollars. It may be offered in the form of points that have to be redeemed, but they’re worth a certain amount. One way or another, it’s a freebie!
  • Annual fee. You’ll pay this every year for the privilege of having the card, so make sure the rewards will exceed this fee. Some cards waive the fee for the first year to entice you into signing up; others have no annual fee. 
  • Interest rate. Whatever exorbitant fee the card comes with, and they are all exorbitant, you never ever will have to pay it if you automate payment in full every month. If you can’t commit to this, don’t get a card. Period.
  • Percent off. Every card offers a certain percent off of every purchase, or rolling categories, or certain categories. Understand exactly what it is. Put a piece of white tape on your card with the categories worth spending on it if you have more than one card. (If you’re someone who is better off with a spreadsheet, more power to you.)
  • Protections and benefits. Credit cards generally protect you against fraudulent purchases made on your card if you report them promptly. Always report a stolen card. In addition, they may come with extra benefits like travel insurance or no foreign transaction fee. Read the offer carefully and keep a copy of your card’s benefits.

Now that you know what to look for, here are some credit cards that offer some attractive benefits. The first five have no annual fee.

Card Bonus and Yearly Fee Why We Like It for Seniors
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express $200 cash back after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. No annual fee. 3% cash back at US supermarkets, 3% cash back for US online retail purchases, 3% cash back at US gas stations (all up to $6,000 in annual purchases).
Citi Double Cash Card No welcome bonus. No annual fee. 1% cash back when you buy, and another 1% cash back when you pay for a total of 2% off every purchase.
AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months. No annual fee. 3% cash back at drugstores (except Target and Walmart) and gas stations.
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi No welcome bonus. No annual fee. 4% cash back at all US gas and EV charging stations (up to $7,000 annually), 3% cash back on travel and restaurants, 2% cash back on Costco purchases.
Chase Freedom Flex Card $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months. No annual fee. 5% cash back on quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in purchases) and travel booked with Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on all dining and drugstore purchases.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express $250 statement credit after $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. Annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year. 6% cash back at US grocery stores ($6,000 limit) and certain streaming services, 3% cash back on US gas stations and transit.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 60,000 points worth $750 after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. $95 annual fee. $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining, 2x points on other travel and 1x on all other purchases.
US Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card 50,000 points worth $500 after spending $2,000 in eligible purchases in the first 120 days. $95 annual fee waived the first year. 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals made through Altitude Rewards Center, 4x points on travel, gas and EV charging stations, 2x points on streaming services and grocery stores, grocery delivery and dining, and 1x point on all other eligible purchases.

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

Monday, May 22, 2023

Seniors Can Settle Down with Free eBooks

Tens of thousands of free eBooks are available on the internet with just a few clicks.

If you’ve ever wished that you had something good to read right now, consider the advantages of downloading books from the internet. You’ll never misplace a book or pay a late fine again. Ratings from other readers and authorities are right there to guide your picks. You can easily search for classics or bestsellers. And you never have to buy a book. That’s right: there is an enormous amount of free content if you know where to look.

The Best eReader  

While you can use your iPad or Android tablet for reading, a dedicated e-reader will make your experience much more enjoyable. E-readers have light that floods pages from the side for reading in dark spaces, rather than a backlit tablet. They also eliminate the distractions of email, texting, and other apps. And the best ones have access to a huge library of content. 

The Amazon Paperwhite Kindle Kids offers the best bang for your buck. Although designed for youngsters, seniors will appreciate the quality of this device paired with several extra features. It offers outstanding hardware, including an ample 6.8” screen size, USB-C port for faster, easier charging and soft-touch plastic that is lightweight and comfortable. Unlike most e-readers, it’s also waterproof for reading at the beach or in the tub, and it comes with a plastic cover. 

For about $160, the Paperwhite Kindle Kids provides crisp text with software that makes it easy to swipe or turn a page. The touch target to tap a footnote is larger than on other e-readers, and it’s simple to access Settings for adjusting brightness or changing to airplane mode by tapping the top of the screen. Stream audiobooks via Bluetooth and access the mammoth Amazon ebook catalog for reading material.

Did we mention the two year warranty or ad-free content? Although “kids” is in the name, everything about this e-reader makes it an ideal choice for older (or any) adults. But don’t be surprised if your grandchild wants to borrow it! The e-reader comes with a one-year free subscription to Amazon Kids+.

To view some other recommended ebook options, look here.
Happy reading!

  • Project Gutenberg. Featuring the world’s great literature, made available by volunteers who digitize works with expired copyrights. Find classics from Shelley’s “Frankenstein“ to Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”.
  • Open Library. Users have donated more than a million ebooks searchable by title, author, and subject. It includes famous authors such as John Grisham and Roald Dahl.
  • Free eBooks. Contains a wide variety of material from business books to mysteries. Complete with reviews and ratings.
  • Hoopla and Libby by Overdrive. Use your library card to sign up for ebooks and audiobooks, including the most recent best sellers. (Some library systems use other platforms, but these are two of the most popular.) The drawback is that libraries only offer a set number of copies at any time. You can likely increase your chances by getting a non-resident library card in another city.
  • Feedbooks. The “public domain” section of this service will allow you to access books such as “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad or Jack London’s “The Scarlet Plague”. You do have to sign up, but it’s quick and easy.
  • PDF Books World. Plays, poems, and classic literature are available on this site. Read London’s “Call of the Wild” or Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”.
  • Librivox. If you prefer to access content via audiobook, this is the place for classics and works available in the public domain. The books are read by volunteers from around the world.
  • ManyBooks. More than 20,000 titles on subjects ranging from adventure to biographies. 
  • Bookboon. If what you’re looking for is a business book or educational textbook, this is the place to look. There’s no need to register to search the catalog.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

What’s All the Talk About ChatGPT?

ChatGPT heralds a new era of artificial intelligence. What, exactly, is it, and how do we parse its promise versus inherent dangers?

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot launched in November 2022 and available free in version 3.5 from developer OpenAI, has created a firestorm of comment and speculation. Is it a force for good, spreading knowledge and increasing productivity, or bad, creating false narratives and leading to chaos and ruin? It seems capable of both, depending on where the technology goes and whom you ask. 

Built on a large language model (LLM), ChatGPT is trained to possess a large knowledge base and mimic human conversations. It is often startlingly good at this, although there are times when the information it gives is not factually accurate. That these “hallucinations” of false information are offered with confidence is one of its downfalls. 

What Can ChatGPT Do?

ChatGPT is capable of producing fairy tales, student essays, business pitches and musical compositions, including those that look like they are the work of someone famous. ChatGPT can write and debug computer programs, simulate an entire chat room and play games like tic-tac-toe. It can also write Python programming language or translate more than 100 human languages, among many other abilities. If you’re a computer geek, you will be amazed by its powers.

If you are completely new to the concept, you may feel overwhelmed by ChatGPT’s many skills. Start with a simple guide to beginning ChatGPT. Use it by inserting specific prompts in the search box, such as “Create a 1,000 word essay about coin collecting American silver dollars written at a college level.” You can ask it to pretend to be your grandmother, a pirate or Benjamin Franklin and get different responses. Play with it and have fun! It’s okay if your level of use is well below what others are generating, and by getting comfortable with the bot, you may think of other areas where it could come in handy.

According to the Bloomberg opinion editorial board: “ChatGPT is a remarkable achievement. …As the technology improves — and, crucially, grows more accurate — it seems likely to be a boon for coders, researchers, academics, policymakers, journalists and more. (Presuming that it doesn’t put them all out of work.)” However, ChatGPT-3.5 was only trained through about 2021, so its knowledge of events after that is hazy or nonexistent. 

Older Adults and AI

For seniors, ChatGPT may become an ideal artificial companion to relieve loneliness and isolation, predicts gerentechnology expert Keren Etkin, although voice applications developer Amy Stapleton sees several hurdles in the near term. AI could even power robotic carers capable of remembering information from previous conversations, able to fetch something out of the fridge and initiate phone calls.

A downside for older adults in particular is that ChatGPT is talented at writing convincing phishing emails for use in scamming. It also has perfect grammar, making the messages it produces more believable as coming from a fellow American.

Can Chatbots Replace Humans?

Indeed, one of the huge questions ChatGPT raises is what it is to be human. When a bot can write a book in the style of a certain author, does that render the author obsolete? Especially when the bot can produce a work in seconds, then another, and another – all different but appearing to be produced by the same author. ChatGPT can do the same for music and poems, and its equivalents in art, such as Midjourney and DALL-E 2, can produce digital artwork in the style of a particular artist or with features you desire in seconds. 

This ability to produce content in a similar vein, seemingly written by different people, has some worried that ChatGPT will be used to tilt elections or weigh in disproportionately on government issues seeking public comment. These problems may be resolved (at least temporarily) by a cryptographic watermark said to be coming to ChatGPT-generated content. 


ChatGPT is not alone in the space. OpenAI itself has produced ChatGPT-4, a paid service (currently costing $20 per month) that is continually updated, has a longer memory than ChatGPT, and can pull text from web page URLs shared in the prompt. MIT Technology Review deemed ChatGPT-4 “bigger and better,” but without being precisely able to say why, although one company estimates it was trained with 100 trillion parameters. DeepMind and Hugging Face are working on their own versions, while Google is using Bard to try and keep itself ahead in the search engine business.


ChatGPT can be manipulated to produce bias and hate speech, issues the developer is working on. Some see a future where, like the computer Hal 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey", AI becomes capable of destroying the human race. No less a visionary than Elon Musk, who was originally on the board at OpenAI, has signed, along with thousands of other scientists and tech experts, a letter demanding a pause in AI research, stating that generative AI systems pose profound risks to humanity. 

As people find it harder to distinguish between what is real and what is fake, and AI technology can be misused by those with nefarious intent (or unintentionally misdirected by those desiring positive outcomes), many are beginning to call for regulation of the industry around ethics and policy. 

Musk himself is holding out the possibility of creating his own AI chatbot, TruthGPT, that “seeks to understand the nature of the universe.” He continued, “I think this might be the best path to safety in the sense that an AI that cares about understanding the universe is unlikely to annihilate humans because we are an interesting part of the universe. Hopefully, they would think that.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

9 Ways to Find Meaning in Retirement

Many older adults struggle to feel fulfilled in their retirement, yet there are several concrete steps to take to discover a purpose in this time.

Retirement is a major life transition that can be both exciting and daunting. After years of working, you now have the opportunity to enjoy more leisure time, travel, and explore new hobbies and interests. However, the sudden change in lifestyle can also leave you feeling lost, wondering how to find meaning in your post-work years.

Finding meaning in retirement is a personal journey that will differ for everyone. The following are some tips and strategies to help you discover purpose and fulfillment in this new phase of life. No two people will approach retirement the same way. Go down this list and consider what a happy retirement could look like for you.

1. Reflect on your values and priorities. Take some time to consider what really matters to you. What do you value most in life? What gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment? 

Make a list of your values and consider how you can incorporate them into your retirement lifestyle. For example, if you value creativity, consider taking up a new hobby such as painting or writing. If you value social connections, consider volunteering for a local organization or joining a social club. 

Reflecting on your values can also help you identify new interests and passions you may want to pursue in retirement. It can help you prioritize what is most important to you and guide you in making decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources.

2. Set goals. Setting goals is an effective way to find purpose and meaning in retirement. Goals give you something to work towards and provide a sense of accomplishment when you achieve them. Setting goals also helps you stay motivated and focused.

When setting goals, consider what you want to accomplish during your retirement years. Do you want to learn a new language, travel to new places, or volunteer for a particular cause? Make a list of your goals, both short-term and long-term, and create a plan for how you will achieve them.

Remember that your goals can change over time, so be open to revising and updating them as you go. The key is to have something to work towards that gives you a sense of purpose and direction.

3. Stay active. Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and well-being in retirement. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. It can also improve mood, cognitive function, and overall quality of life.

Consider finding an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga, and make it a regular part of your routine. Joining a fitness class or group can also provide social connections and motivation to stay active.

In addition to physical activity, staying mentally active is also important in retirement. Engage in activities that challenge your brain, such as puzzles, games, or learning new skills.

4. Embrace new experiences. Retirement is an opportunity to try new things and explore new interests. Consider taking a class or workshop in something you've always wanted to learn, such as cooking, gardening, or photography. Traveling to new places, whether near or far, can also provide new experiences and perspectives.

Trying new things can help you stay engaged and curious in retirement. It can also help you discover new interests and passions that you may not have had time for during your working years.

5. Cultivate relationships. Spend time with loved ones, whether it's family, friends, or neighbors. Consider joining a social club or volunteering for a local organization to meet new people and make new connections.

Having strong social connections is important for overall well-being and can provide a sense of purpose and belonging. It can also help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness that can sometimes occur in retirement.

6. Give back. Giving back to your community can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment when you’re no longer working. Consider volunteering for a local organization or mentoring younger individuals. Donating time or resources to a cause you believe in can also provide a sense of satisfaction and meaning.

7. Find balance. Retirement can provide more free time, but it's important to find a balance between leisure time and productivity. Make time for hobbies and relaxation, but also set aside time for meaningful activities and goals. Finding a balance between these can provide a sense of satisfaction and purpose.

8. Focus on your health. Maintaining good physical and mental health is essential for finding meaning in retirement. Eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. Prioritizing your health can help you stay active and engaged in your retirement years.

9. Seek professional guidance. If you're struggling to find meaning in retirement, consider seeking professional guidance. A retirement coach or counselor can provide guidance and support as you navigate this new phase of life. They can help you identify your values and priorities, set goals, and find meaning and purpose in retirement.

Finding meaning in retirement is a personal journey that requires reflection, goal setting, and a willingness to explore new experiences and relationships. Whether it's pursuing a new hobby, volunteering for a cause, or spending time with loved ones, there are many ways to find purpose and fulfillment in retirement. With the right mindset and approach, retirement can be a time of growth, exploration, and meaning.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 3  Sandi Toksvig, comedian and presenter 

A Danish-born Brit, Sandi Toksvig is known to Americans largely for her stint as a presenter on mega-hit The Great British Baking Show. What you probably never knew is her slew of other achievements, including writing musicals, plays, and more than 20 fiction and nonfiction books for children and adults. 

A political activist for women’s rights, Toksvig co-founded the British Women’s Equality Party in 2015. She also hosted the BBC quiz show QI after appearing as a guest many times, and hosted The News Quiz, also on BBC, for 10 years. No intellectual slouch, the comedian attended Girton College at Cambridge where she read law, archaeology, and anthropology, receiving two esteemed prizes. 

Toksvig braved criticism and was dropped as a spokesperson for Save the Children in 1994 after she came out as gay, although the charity later apologized. She has fought against sexual harassment at the BBC and revealed that she was only being paid 40% of that of her male predecessor as host of QI, saying it was “absurd”. Toksvig continues working while living on a houseboat in England.

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 20  Ronald Prescott Reagan Jr., TV host and presidential son 

Unlike his conservative father, Ron Reagan Jr. is an outspoken liberal (although not a Democrat) who has had stints as a political commentator and broadcaster. It was clear from the time he was 12 and refused to attend church services anymore that Reagan marched to his own drummer. He was expelled from The Webb School of California because the administration “thought I was a bad influence on other kids.”

He dropped out of Yale after only one semester to pursue his dream career and joined the Joffrey II Dancers ballet troupe. Time reported in 1980 that his parents “have not managed to see a single ballet performance of their son, who is clearly very good, having been selected to the Joffrey second company, and is their son nonetheless. Ron talks of his parents with much affection. But these absences are strange and go back a ways.” When his dad finally did make it to a show in May of 1981, he recorded in his diary that Ron was “darnn good.” The younger Reagan was 22 and married when his father moved into the White House. He never lived there and dismissed his protective detail from the Secret Service after 18 months. 

Reagan hosted talk show The Ron Reagan Show, served on the Creative Coalition, and advocates for the arts, public education and first amendment rights. He supported embryonic cell research in 2004, which he believed would lead to new treatment for Alzheimer’s, the disease that killed his father. His views were echoed by his mother, Nancy Reagan. He wrote My Father at 100: A Memoir. 

Reagan’s first wife died from neuromuscular disease after 34 years of marriage. He remarried and the couple lives in Seattle.

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 23  Drew Carey, actor and comedian 

Sure, you know Drew Carey from The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but did you know that the actor served six years in the US Marine Corps as a field radio operator right after leaving Kent State University, where he was twice expelled for bad grades?

Carey began his career, like so many before and after, as a stand-up comedian after reading a book on how to tell jokes. Six years later, he was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the rest is history. Carey appeared in every episode of The Drew Carey Show, starting at $60,000 per episode and finishing at a cool $750,000. Not bad for a kid who didn’t finish college.

Carey started hosting game shows in 2007 with The Price Is Right. On replacing longtime host Bob Barker, Carey said, “You can't replace Bob Barker. I don't compare myself to anybody... It's only about what you're doing and supposed to do, and I feel like I'm supposed to be doing this.” Carey retained animal activist Barker’s closing comments about spaying and neutering pets. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 23  Mitch Albom, writer

If you haven’t read a book by Mitch Albom, you don’t know what you’re missing. An award-winning sports journalist, Albom hit it out of the park when he penned Tuesdays with Morrie, a memoir centered on conversations he had with his dying former professor. The book spent several years on The New York Times bestseller list.

It was followed with The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which was turned into the most-watched TV movie of 2004. For One More Day garnered fame as the first book sold by Starbuck’s Book Break program and was also a New York Times bestseller. Read any of these to gain insight into what is meaningful in life, something we are all too prone to pass by in our busy lives. Albom’s books (there are several more) could be a starting point for examining the last chapter of our lives, retirement, and what we want to achieve. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 29  Annette Bening, actress

Annette Bening has won two Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for a pair of Tony Awards and four Academy Awards. Not bad for a kid from Topeka, Kansas. You may remember her roles in The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right

Bening’s career began in junior high when she starred in The Sound of Music. After high school, she took a gap year as a cook on a charter boat in the Pacific. She continued acting in stage productions, starting in Colorado, then moved on to films in 1990. Bening has been married to icon Warren Beatty since March 1992. They have four children.



Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors