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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses This Black History Month

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is essential to not only reflect on the rich history and achievements of the Black community but also to actively contribute to its present and future success. One impactful way to do so is by supporting Black-owned businesses. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses and highlight some incredible ventures that deserve recognition. 

The Economic Impact of Supporting Black-Owned Businesses: 

Wealth Redistribution: Supporting Black-owned businesses helps address historical economic disparities by redistributing wealth within the Black community. This, in turn, contributes to closing the wealth gap that has persisted for generations. 

Job Creation: Black entrepreneurs often prioritize hiring individuals from their communities, fostering local economic growth and reducing unemployment rates. By supporting these businesses, you are indirectly contributing to job creation and community development. 

Entrepreneurial Spirit: Celebrating and supporting Black-owned businesses encourages an entrepreneurial spirit within the Black community. This, in turn, inspires future generations to pursue their dreams and contribute to the business landscape. 

Here are a few black-owned businesses you might consider supporting. Not only are they known for their exceptional products and services, they also are committed to prioritizing inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility: 

The Lip Bar: Founded by Melissa Butler, The Lip Bar offers a diverse range of inclusive and cruelty-free beauty products. Their mission is to challenge traditional beauty standards and make quality cosmetics accessible to everyone. 

BLK & Bold: Within the coffee industry, BLK & Bold is a Black-owned business founded by Rod Johnson and Pernell Cezar. Not only do they provide exceptional coffee blends, but they also donate 5% of their profits to initiatives aimed at improving the lives of at-risk youth. 

Talley & Twine: This Black-owned watch company, founded by Randy D. Williams, combines style and sophistication. Talley & Twine creates timepieces that celebrate individuality and cultural pride, making a statement with every tick. 

Sole Rebels: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu founded Sole Rebels with a commitment to sustainability and fair employment. This Ethiopian footwear company produces eco-friendly shoes with traditional craftsmanship, providing jobs and preserving cultural heritage. 

Essie Spice: Founded by Essie Bartels, Essie Spice offers a range of Afro-fusion gourmet sauces and spices. By infusing African flavors into everyday meals, Essie Spice not only enhances culinary experiences but also supports sustainable farming practices. 

This Black History Month, let us celebrate the achievements and resilience of the Black community by actively supporting Black-owned businesses. By doing this small act, we contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society, fostering economic empowerment and promoting diversity in the marketplace. As we reflect on the past, let us also shape a future where Black-owned businesses thrive, leaving a positive impact on the global business landscape.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Ozempic Will Change Healthcare as We Know It

The appearance on the market (finally!) of a weight-loss drug with relatively few side effects is a huge deal. It has changed peoples’ lives, the healthcare industry and has even generated repercussions in the business world, with more to come.

A number of studies have begun to highlight the broad ranging benefits offered by Ozempic and similar drugs, known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. Apart from the ability to induce weight loss and thus reduce the risk of associated ailments, the medicine seems to offer benefits to the heart, liver, and kidneys. GLP-1 receptor agonists (semaglutide) appear to help combat substance abuse and fight the neuroinflammation and oxidative stress that contribute to Alzheimer’s.

“I don’t think any of us had the vision that, 40 years later, we would be thinking about all of these different actions of GLP-1,” says Daniel Drucker, a University of Toronto professor who helped discover how the drugs work. “It took a tremendous amount of work over decades to really get us to where we are now.”

Other Uses Have Unexpected Effects

A mere six years after its introduction, Ozempic has become the top-selling prescription drug in the US. The more uses that are found for the drug while it’s still on patent, the better for maker Novo Nordisk. But it’s not a boon for all companies. When Ozempic was found to be so effective at fighting kidney disease that a trial was stopped early, the stock of dialysis providers Fresnius Medical Care AG and DaVita Inc. took a $3.6 billion hit. 

“The market has reached a point of near peak hysteria regarding the impact of GLP-1s,” wrote Matthew Taylor, an analyst who covers medical-device stocks for Jefferies LLC. “The carnage in medtech has been notable, and broad, almost indiscriminate, impacting names that seemingly have no perceived linkage to GLP-1s.”

Heart Disease

Take cardiovascular disease as one example. Americans dole out around $250 billion per year for blood pressure drugs, bypass surgery, and implantable cardiac devices like pacemakers. Recent studies have shown that semaglutide therapy improved symptoms “significantly” in participants who were obese. 

“We’re now at the precipice of this avalanche of data that really point us in the direction saying obesity is what’s causing these complications. In order for us to effectively manage these complications, we have to address obesity, we have to target obesity,” says Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod, a cardiologist, vice president of research at Saint Luke’s Health System, and lead author of the study. 

Changing Appetite

Other industries have noted changes as well. Semaglutide decreases hunger, and there are so many people using them that major food retailers are seeing changes in patterns of consumption. 

"We definitely do see a slight change compared to the total population, we do see a slight pullback in overall basket," says Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner. "Just less units, slightly less calories."

It looks like the number of people taking the drug is only going up. In a recent report, Morgan Stanley Research analysts estimate that 24 million people, or 7% of the US population, will be on the drug by 2035. 

“The food, beverage and restaurant industries could see softer demand, particularly for unhealthier foods and high-fat, sweet and salty options," notes Morgan Stanley tobacco and packaged food analyst Pamela Kaufman. “We acknowledge that the impact in the near term is likely to be limited given drug adoption will grow gradually over time, but we could see a longer-term impact as drug prevalence increases. Moreover, we expect companies to adapt to changes in consumer behavior through innovation and portfolio reshaping efforts."

Exercise Jumps

While pizza chains may become scarce, other industries could benefit. Morgan Stanley Research found that GLP-1 users exercised more than before they were taking the drug. In fact, the number who exercised on a weekly basis fully doubled. 

“Perhaps as patients lose weight, they simply feel both more physically able and more mentally motivated to exercise more to compound the benefits they are seeing from weight loss medications," writes Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Harbour.

Curbing Cravings

It’s not only food cravings that seem to be kept in check by semaglutide. People taking the drug are reporting that they’re no longer interested in alcohol, that they’ve stopped smoking, that their impulse to shop has gone away and they’re no longer biting their nails. Researchers have a trio of theories about why this may be happening.
  • A change in the sense of smell and taste
  • A change in the part of the brain linked to pleasure and reward
  • An increased avoidance of certain chemicals such as those found in alcohol and cigarettes

To date, not much research has been done on the subject. And scientists theorize that the effect may dissipate and disappear when someone quits taking the drug. 

“Unless the emotional issues are addressed, removing the substance will do little more than create a dry drunk,” says Laura Lee Wright, a sober living coach. “It’s dangerous to suggest there is a magic pill that can make an addict well.” She recommends group therapy, mental and emotional counseling, and residential rehab to treat addiction. 

Perhaps semaglutide will be used in future to kickstart a more traditional program of drug therapy. And if a significant portion of the population is on it, will liquor stores feel the pinch? Will the opioid crisis finally die out? Will shopping as a whole go down? 

The answers to these questions, like so many with the new weight-loss drugs, are yet to be seen. But there is reason for optimism on many fronts.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Seniors, Earn Pocket Money From Home

It’s always nice to have a little extra money to pad your budget or pay an unexpected bill. What kind of little jobs can you get paid to do without leaving home?

Welcome to retirement … and fixed income. The meaning of that really sinks in when you have to say no to a dinner invitation or the car suddenly has a heart condition. Maybe you need money for a vacation or to get your dream car. Whatever – you want some income but you’re loath to start driving for Lyft or Doordash, and the thought of retail is far too committed. Senior Spirit has scoured the internet (and our friends!) and we’ve come up with some options that you might find interesting. 

Research Opportunities

Campos pays people to be on their research panels. Click on the “Participate in paid research” button at the bottom right of the page to sign up. You may find yourself doing a survey, joining focus groups, or testing new products and giving your feedback. You can find out more about their research projects,  which are varied and may require some background knowledge. 

Taxes for the Gig Worker

Uncle Sam still has his hand out for a piece of your financial pie, retirement or no retirement. If you’re earning a significant amount of money (more than a few hundred dollars) in the gig economy, make sure you’re considering the tax bite. You may also want to make estimated quarterly payments, which the IRS recommends for anyone expected to owe $1,000 or more. If you’re unsure what to put aside or how to pay, contact your tax professional. 
Located in Pittsburgh, the company pays well for your time. If you refer a friend who signs up to do research for Campos, you’ll even be entered in a monthly drawing for $100. 

Other companies that are looking for research participants are:

Some of these are looking specifically for caregivers and people with disabilities as well as many others. Check them out online to see what people are saying about them and what they pay. All of these come with recommendations, but you’ll want to find out exactly what each job entails and how much it pays. 

AI Model Training

We all know that artificial intelligence (AI) is the new buzzword in tech, but were you aware that it needs to be trained? Turns out, there’s something called data annotation that involves labeling content with relevant tags to help computers make sense of and interpret it. The data being labeled can be images, text, audio, or video. Some of this work pays in the $20 to $25 an hour range. 

These companies are looking for people with a high level of accuracy. Some companies that hire data annotators:

Other Work-From-Home Opportunities

If you’re still looking for ideas, we’ve got a few more to consider. Seniors with strong writing skills or specific job knowledge can bid on projects at Freelancer. You’ll find a wide array of writing jobs that vary in length and expertise required. 

If you want to make a little money on purchases you’ve already made, try cash-back
apps Fetch and Ibotta. You take a photo of your receipts, then redeem them for gift cards and other offers. Not a big money-maker, but it could help save on shopping. 

Everybody needs or wants a little extra pocket money sooner or later. Maybe you’d just like to be involved in a survey or research project. Whatever the case, one or more of these ideas should help you achieve your goal.

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

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Solo Seniors: What to Travel With

Singleton seniors have money to spend and they’re traveling both near and far. Tips on how to do it safely while still having a blast, whether you’re a timid traveler or ready to backpack across Mongolia.

Nearly a third of all seniors live alone, according to stats from the US Census Bureau, and many of them are taking off on solo adventures. Many more choose to travel alone due to a spouse’s disinterest or inability to explore. For many, the beauty of traveling alone is doing exactly what you want, when you want, where you want. Go to Rome and skip the museums, or island-hop through the Caribbean. Explore the Nordic countries … just for the exotic restaurants. Bike through Vietnam at your own pace. 

Newbie Senior Solo Travelers

If you’re new to solo travel, you might want to start by checking out a nearby city or tourist town. You’ll have cell coverage and a hotel or Airbnb base, Google maps can guide your way, and you can easily research where you want to explore. Maybe you’ll go to Santa Fe for the art and amazing food, or drive to Saint Louis to explore the crazy but wonderful city museum.

What to Carry to Stay Safe

  1. Sling pack. The Travelon Anti-Theft Sling Bag works well. It can be worn on your chest or your back and keeps valuables close. 
  2. RFID blocking wallet or card. This will ensure that your contactless credit cards are not compromised. 
  3. Tag for keeping track of your luggage, wallet and you. Try Apple AirTag or Tile.
  4. Portable phone charger. 
  5. Mini flashlight so you don’t have to run down your phone battery.
  6. Personal alarm. The birdie is simple and works well. This one is essential for all women, but guys, it’s a good idea for you to have one, too. 

You can also choose to travel only to countries where the native language is English, at least to start with. You’ll feel more comfortable, but there are many countries in the world (such as Costa Rica and most of Western Europe) where it’s fairly easy to find English speakers.

Another way to dip your toe into the world of traveling alone is to have a ready-made group around you. Solo Traveler World specializes in those of us traveling by ourselves, whether men or women, young or old. Here, you’ll find organized trips just for single travelers, with the opportunity to meet other like-minded people online. There’s a mountain of articles on where to go and what to do, with helpful comments from a community who has been there and done that. 

Solo Traveler World searches out trips where the dreaded “supplement” - a surcharge for a single person booking a room or cabin that can hold two - is 20% or less, and very often zero. Some recent topics from their library of articles include: Why women should travel alone, how to enjoy Sydney on a budget, and how to book a trip at the last minute. 

It may be true that there is nothing new under the sun, and Solo World Traveler has the resources to guide your wanderlusting footsteps with the expertise of many who have gone there (wherever it is you want to go!) before. If you prefer safety in numbers, you may want to try one of their recommended cruises, including ones that are for singles. 

They also have a Facebook group so you can chat away with your new buddies, find others who are going where you are, you name it. Oh, and did we say they have a group for older adults?

Hosted Stays for Seniors

Another way to find your people is to enroll in the Freebird Club, an organization for people over 50. They’ll connect you with other members who live where you want to go so you can chat about the best pub in Dublin, what areas to avoid, or where you can catch a local bus. 

Plus, many members offer homestays all across the globe that have a social element. Your host will take you out on a nearby footpath, tell you local legend or introduce you to a few friends at their favorite hangout. Or maybe they’ll just sit with you over a glass of wine and tell you their favorite things to do in the area. The “pay what you think is fair” fee to join the Freebird Club is a wonderful way for the service to be affordable to all. 

Travel Tips for Older Adults

There are a few ideas to keep in mind before you embark on your next trip. Number one is packing. Everything you need will fit in a small overhead-size suitcase, no matter where you’re going. You want to be able to manage your luggage on your own, without straining. Keep it small and light. A backpack may work even better for outdoor trips. REI is a great place to find outdoor gear, with clerks who can make recommendations based on experience. 

Don’t be hesitant to stay at a hostel. There are often older people and families there, and even the younger crowd will get a kick out of talking to you about your journey. Find a hostel at Hostelworld.  Stay away from those that talk about a party atmosphere, unless that’s what you want. Book directly with the hostel to ensure there are no misunderstandings. 

Use WhatsApp for free international calls and texting. Download it before you leave. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Download maps for any foreign countries you’ll be traveling to while you’re in the US. You’ll still be able to use Google Maps for navigation, even when you’re offline. 

Go out and have fun! Be aware of your physical limitations, but otherwise the sky’s the limit. Train travel is generally excellent in other countries. People are almost universally kind and helpful, especially since you’ve got a few silver hairs. Get cozy with Google Translate and you can talk to anyone. Try to memorize a few key phrases in the native language of your destination, and people will appreciate it. Be a kind traveler, and you’ll find you’re treated very well.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, February 8, 2024

$1000 Test Can Detect Cancer in People Over 50

A new kind of cancer test uses a blood sample to check for more than 50 types of cancer. It may help find cancer, even some types for which there is currently no test, earlier. This could save lives.

Technology is enabling astounding advances in health care, and this month Senior Spirit is sharing news about a groundbreaking way to test for cancer. Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests work with a single sample of blood. The test searches for specific pieces of DNA or proteins shed by cancer cells. 

There is currently one such test, Galleri by GRAIL, that is available now with a doctor’s prescription. The company recommends the test for those who are at higher risk of cancer, such as folks over the age of 50.

Currently in the US, we have screening tests for five cancers:
  • Mammograms check for breast cancer.
  • HPV and PAP tests are used to screen for cervical cancer.
  • Colonoscopies check for colorectal cancer.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests check for prostate cancer. 
  • Low-dose CT scans check for signs of lung cancer.

But what about other cancers, such as pancreatic or ovarian? 

“Currently, we don’t detect the majority of cancers, including highly lethal ones, such as pancreatic or ovarian cancer, until symptoms are present,” says Dr. Klein, Emeritus Chair of the Glickman Urological Kidney Institute. “But Galleri can find those cancers at a time when they’re in an earlier stage and before symptoms appear.”

Galleri also checks for certain rare cancers for which there is currently no test. These include ampullary cancer and certain kinds of soft tissue sarcoma. Galleri also tests for: 
  • Anal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Oral cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancer

Using Next Generation DNA Sequencing and machine learning, MCED tests can use a biological process known as methylation to look for patterns in your DNA to both identify likely cancer and find where it originates. 

“It’s like fingerprints and how fingerprints tell the difference between two people,” explains Dr. Klein. “The methylation patterns are fingerprints that are characteristic of each kind of cancer. They look one way for lung cancer and different for colon cancer.”

Galleri Test Accuracy

A 2021 validation study reported that the Galleri test had a false positive rate of 0.5% (versus 10% to 40% for traditional screening) indicating extremely high accuracy for finding when someone does not show signs of cancer. In other words, a false positive is very unlikely. It correctly identified greater than half of people with cancer-related signals in their blood.

“Twelve cancers, including anal, bladder, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, liver/bile-duct, lung, lymphoma, ovary, pancreatic, plasma-cell neoplasm and stomach cancer, account for about two-thirds of all cancer deaths in the US,” says Dr. Klein. “For these 12, Galleri finds about 40% of stage I cancers, 67% of stage II cancers, 80% of stage III cancers and 95% of stage IV cancers.”

As you can see, the ability of the Galleri test to detect cancer became greater as the cancer advanced. Overall, the Galleri test was 88.7% accurate in detecting the site of the cancer in those people with a positive test result who had cancer. 

Should Everyone Use an MCED Test?
At this time, the Galleri test is intended to be used in addition to traditional screening, not as a replacement. A large clinical trial of 140,000 people is currently underway in the United Kingdom. The National Cancer Institute has a pilot study on the horizon. Researchers want to find definitive answers to these questions:
  • How good are MCED tests at detecting cancer?
  • If MCED tests are accurate at finding specific cancer, how much earlier can they find it compared to when it would be found after symptoms start?
  • If MCED tests find cancers earlier, do people have better outcomes compared to people whose cancers were found after symptoms developed? In particular, does this test save lives, and, if so, by how much?
  • What about false-positive results from MCED tests? 
  • What about false-negative results from MCED tests? 
  • Who should be tested? 
  • How often should the test be done?

The good news is, your doctor can order a Galleri test for you right now. Check with him or her to see if that may be a good idea for you. On the downside, most insurance, including Medicare, does not cover the nearly $1,000 test. However, select individual employers may pay for all or a portion of the cost.

One day, we may look for all cancers by using a blood sample alone. In the meantime, it’s important to keep abreast of new developments.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Living Legend William Shatner

Actor, director, singer and author William Shatner will be 93 next month, and he’s hardly slowed down. What’s his secret?

William “Bill” Shatner will turn 93 on March 22. He’s had an amazing life, from playing Captain Kirk on Star Trek and winning a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards to becoming the oldest person to rocket into space at age 90. He’s also been broke at times, and spent a year living in a camper with his dog. How does Shatner stay engaged and relevant after nine decades?

His own advice on how to have a long life is simple. “Don’t die. That’s it; that’s the secret” he says, tongue-in-cheek, in his book, “Live Long and ….” “Simply keep living and try not to slow down.” But there’s a lot more to it than that, from exercise to stem cell treatments. First, let’s review his work history.

Star Trek and Much More

Shatner was born in Canada and got his big break when he was cast as Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise. Although the television show only ran from 1966 to 1969, it eventually catapulted the actor into stardom. But in the near term, Shatner got typecast and struggled to find work, losing his home and finally living in a truck-bed camper. At the time, people in California’s San Fernando valley could hire him to make an appearance at their small party. 

To make ends meet, he appeared in a multitude of quiz shows and commercials. Then, in the late 70s, Paramount noticed that Trekkies were becoming a thing, and began producing Star Trek movies using the original actors. And like that, Shatner was in high demand at Comic Cons, late-night shows and much more for the next many decades.

In 1982 he also snagged the title role of veteran police sergeant T.J. Hooker in a series that ran for five seasons. Toward the end of the series, Shatner tried his hand at directing while still hawking products like the VIC-20 home computer. 

But that wasn’t all. Shatner co-wrote or had a ghostwriter generate 47 books ranging in subject from Star Trek novels to nonfiction. And he has maintained a sort of singing career, creating eight albums that feature him reading lyrics from popular songs such as Elton John’s “Rocket Man”. Additionally, he is a breeder of champion Saddlebreds and reining Quarterhorses and rode one to an amateur World Champion title at the age of 89.

Keeping Active

Phew! Almost anyone would be envious of those accomplishments, or just the ability to keep on creating for so many years. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Shatner hews to a lifestyle that is heavy on healthy living. 

"I wake up every morning thinking, I've got to keep myself in shape to ride horses," Shatner says. "If I am not sitting on a horse at least once or twice a week, it feels detrimental to my heart."

He also hops in a pool for half an hour every day, running in place and exercising his arms. He has kept strong throughout his eighties and nineties. Before he went into space, he had to run up seven flights of stairs in under a minute and a half to qualify for the flight.


He found a new passion in his mid-eighties when he bought an electric bike. 

"The e-bike got me outside and got me fitter," he told the LA Times. "Going up the hills is not a problem. I've got an arthritic back from all the horseback riding, my muscles are tender, yet I go back to my car when the bike ride's over and I feel perfect."

As an added bonus, Shatner’s extended family goes on regular rides with him.  "A family that was always somewhat tight became a hugely cohesive group," he says. 

Shatner is well aware that socializing and keeping active is a big part of staying healthy.  "Say yes to the opportunities life is offering. Say yes to life, yes to dinner, yes to going out, and yes to something new,” he says. “Because time is too short to lose one opportunity to sacrifice another."

He also watches what he eats and is largely vegetarian. "I try to adhere to a more plant-based diet these days, with occasional exceptions, and if I am to fish, it must only be for food,” he says. “Never for sport."

Stem Cell Therapy

Shatner said yes to an intravenous infusion of stem cells before taking his historic space flight. Although the therapy hasn’t been approved by the FDA, it’s being tested on auto-immune disorders, metabolic diseases, and aging. 

Although it only lasted 10 minutes and 17 seconds, the space flight was demanding. The rocket ship hurtled through space at over 2,000 mph, exerting 5.5 Gs of force on its passengers, making it hard to move or even breathe. 

Shatner came through the physical aspect just fine, but he wasn’t prepared for how emotional the experience would be. "Going into space made me so aware of how fragile our lives are here on Earth, how we need each other, and need to continue to strengthen bonds that connect us to each other,” he says. “Because out there, there is no life. There is no us." 

Boldly Go

That’s not to say that Shatner will quit exploring his limits. He has a mantra for living:
"If you allow yourself to be awed by life, to keep drinking in its limitless knowledge, to keep striving for answers, to enjoy the beauty around us at every moment, to never stagnate … well, then you might find yourself living for a very long time, and, ideally, prospering," says Shatner. "Or, in the absence of the longevity and self-defined prosperity you seek, you might well find meaning, or even better, happiness."

If you’d like to know more about Shatner, check out his homepage for links to his Facebook group, future appearances, blog, store, and fan club.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

February 16 - John McEnroe, tennis player  

Known for his skill at shot-making, volleying, and yelling at umpires and tennis authorities, John McEnroe captivated the tennis world for a few brief years in the 1980s. A rival of Björn Borg and Jimmy Connors, he remains the sole male player to simultaneously hold the No. 1 rankings in singles and doubles titles since the ATP rankings were first generated in 1973. He still holds the record for best singles win record (82-3 in 1984) in the Open Era, besides holding the most combined singles (77) and doubles (78) titles in the Open Era.

As if that weren’t enough, McEnroe is the only man to win over 70 titles in combined singles and doubles, including four at the US Open and three at Wimbledon, nine men’s doubles titles, and a Grand slam mixed doubles title. He also contributed to five Davis Cup wins for the US at a time when Connors had dismissed the event. 

If you want your grandchild to walk in his footsteps, start him or her in lessons at age eight, then enroll the child in the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association the following year. By the age of 12, your grandchild should rank seventh in their age group. Easy peasy. Evidently, a similar formula worked well for McEnroe’s brother Patrick, who was also a pro tennis player.

These days, McEnroe is a seasoned sports commentator. He has made cameo appearances on television and written two autobiographical books. He remains married to rock singer Patty Smyth, with whom he has two children. He founded the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York. McEnroe remains active and fit.

Image Source: Wikipedia

February 17 - Rowdy Gaines, swimmer

Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines didn’t find the sport of competitive swimming until he was a junior in high school, but he was a quick study. He got a scholarship and was a five-time NCAA champion at Auburn University.

Gaines set 10 world records during his peak years, specializing in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle sprints. Although he won three gold medals for the 100-meter freestyle and a pair of relays at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, he always regretted the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics. It came when he felt he was at his peak and could have achieved more. Gaines has shared of that time that he had “some real trouble post-Olympics, and...some big struggles, especially the year after.”

Gaines is a familiar face offering commentary at Olympic swim events, and he keeps in shape entering Masters swim competitions, where he has set some age group records after age 50. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

February 19  Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

The son of New York Senator Charles Goodell, Roger Goodell was a standout athlete in high school. He captained his school’s football, basketball, and baseball teams as a senior, when he was named athlete of the year. But an injury kept him out of college athletics. He earned an economics degree and found another way to spend his life in sports.

After an intensive letter-writing campaign, Goodell became an intern at the New York office for League Commissioner Pete Rozelle before moving to public relations. This would prove to be good experience for the challenges he faced later. As he moved up the office ladder, his business acumen rose, and he became COO. He succeeded Tagliabue as commissioner in the summer of 2006. 

Goodell has handled a multitude of public relations challenges during his tenure. Many were unpopular with players, coaches, the public or all three at one time or another. They include:
  • In 2007 he announced a new Personal Conduct Policy after a series of scandals involving player behavior off the gridiron. 
  • Fines for player conduct on the field, including for controversial hits. 
  • A 2007 incident involving New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick in “Spygate”, where the team illegally tried to record opponents’ defensive signals. 
  • The 2011 lockout, where Goodell not only negotiated between the NFLPA for players and team owners, but also discussed the collective bargaining agreement with the object of keeping season ticket holders.
  • “Bountygate” in March 2011 when players and coaches of the New Orleans Saints were caught in a scheme where players were given bonuses for knocking opponents out of a game. 
  • The 2012 referee lockout, where the NFL Referees Association and owners failed to come to an agreement, and refs were temporarily replaced with low-level college and high school officials.
  • Brain damage lawsuits brought by former players over head injuries sustained in the game.
  • Tom Brady and “Deflategate”, where the New England Patriots quarterback was accused of using a ball he knew had been partially deflated. 
  • Handling of players kneeling during the US national anthem, before and after the murder of George Floyd.

For a guy who has a lot on his hands at work, his family life has been steady. Goodell has been married since 1997 to former Fox anchor Jane Skinner, with whom he has twin daughters.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Crafting the Marriage Journey in Later Life: A Manual for Older Adults

Guest Blog by Nicole Rubin

Tying the knot later in life has its unique challenges and blessings. This guide offers a well-rounded approach to maneuvering the various aspects of senior marriage, from fostering emotional intimacy to making well-informed choices in finance and healthcare. In this article, we focus on building a gratifying and secure life together, embracing this new phase with both wisdom and joy.

Foster Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience forms the cornerstone of any lasting relationship, more so when the couple is in their golden years. Compassion and acceptance are virtues that become even more meaningful with age. For example, managing expectations. Acknowledge that both of you bring a wealth of experiences, and sometimes, emotional baggage into the relationship. Maturity can be your ally here, helping you navigate conflicts and differences with grace.

Prioritize Shared Experiences

It becomes increasingly important to invest in activities that you both enjoy. Perhaps it's as simple as reading a book together or as engaging as traveling to a place neither of you has been before. Whatever the activity, it serves as a way to deepen your relationship. For instance, joining a community club through sites like Meetup can not only be fulfilling but also opens doors to socialize as a couple. Another example could be learning a new skill together, like cooking or dancing, which not only enriches your lives but also strengthens your emotional connection.

Evaluate Housing Options

When it comes to choosing where to live, researching home prices or rentals in your target area is a step that you can’t afford to skip. For example, if you’re interested in finding a rental to live closer to family, research housing prices in their vicinity. If you’re both avid travelers, you might want to consider downsizing to a smaller home, which could free up funds for your adventures.

Navigate Financial Conversations

Understanding the financial landscape is crucial when entering a late-life marriage. Money discussions should not be taboo. For many, this may involve blending assets or discussing retirement plans. Take time to consult with a financial advisor to ensure both of you are on the same page. For example, if one partner has more assets than the other, it’s important to discuss how to handle these in a manner that is fair and agreeable to both.

Organize Digital Records

Next, there's the often-overlooked aspect of managing your digital life. Thanks to mobile scanning apps, you can scan a document quickly, thereby making record-keeping easier than ever. An example of this is storing your medical records digitally, so they're always easily accessible.

Optimize Health Coverage

Your health is an invaluable asset. Therefore, reviewing your existing health coverage options should be on your priority list. Whether you're switching to a joint health insurance policy or maintaining individual ones, ensure that you're adequately covered. For example, if one partner has specific medical needs, make sure those are accounted for in whichever policy you choose.

Engage in Legal Planning

Legal matters, particularly concerning your estate and healthcare decisions, should not be overlooked. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney to make sure all your bases are covered. For instance, drafting a living will can help ensure your healthcare wishes are respected. Similarly, making your spouse the executor of your estate can help prevent potential legal tussles among family members.

Start a Business Together

Embarking on a business venture as a senior couple can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, turning years of experience into a profitable enterprise. It's a chance to work together, leverage your accumulated wisdom, and create a legacy that embodies your shared values and passions. Forming an LLC offers several benefits including limited personal liability, less administrative paperwork, and tax advantages. You can form a limited liability company through ZenBusiness or hire an attorney.

Establish Life Milestones

Setting shared life goals can give you both something to strive for in this new chapter. Whether it’s a goal to travel to new places or to spend more time with family, having a shared vision can add a layer of cohesion and purpose to your relationship. These goals can serve as a roadmap, guiding you and your partner through the adventure that your later years will surely be.

Navigating marriage as a senior couple offers a unique blend of challenges and opportunities. It requires an integrated approach that melds emotional resilience with practical wisdom. By harmoniously blending these elements, senior couples can face this new chapter fortified with a sense of purpose and well-being.

About the Author

Nicole Rubin worked in the health insurance industry for years, spending the majority of her time fielding questions from people concerning their coverage and medical bills. She created Insureabilities to provide up-to-date information on the state of health insurance in the U.S.

Guest Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, January 18, 2024

5 Ways to Stick to Your New Year's Resolution

The quest to fulfill New Year's resolutions is an admirable endeavor, but the path to success often has its challenges. In this blog, we will dive into essential strategies to help you enhance your resolution journey.

  1. Surround yourself with the right people

Surrounding yourself with individuals who genuinely support and encourage your goals can make a huge difference in your journey towards achievement. A strong support network serves as a source of motivation during challenging times, offering both emotional and practical assistance. Whether it's friends, family, or like-minded individuals sharing similar aspirations, having a community that understands your vision provides a sense of accountability and camaraderie. These allies not only celebrate your victories but can also offer guidance and empathy when faced with setbacks.

  1. Embrace progress, not perfection

Embracing progress over perfection is a powerful mindset that fosters sustainable growth and self-compassion. Striving for perfection can often lead to discouragement and a sense of failure, making your journey to success more difficult. Celebrating small victories creates a positive atmosphere, motivating you to persist in your resolution journey. Embracing progress acknowledges setbacks as a natural part of growth, promoting a realistic and sustainable approach. This mindset values the journey, making the resolution experience not only achievable but also fulfilling.

  1. Journal your progress

Journaling is a great tool to use when aiming to achieve New Year's resolutions. It provides a tangible record of your journey, offering insights into successes and challenges. By documenting experiences and achievements, you gain a clearer understanding of your goals. Journaling fosters self-reflection, helping you identify patterns and celebrate milestones. Revisiting your journal during setbacks serves as motivation, showcasing progress and reinforcing your commitment. Whether digital or traditional, the practice becomes a valuable companion, guiding you with mindfulness and purpose.

  1. Break down big resolutions into smaller steps

Breaking down big resolutions into small, manageable steps is a game-changer in achieving New Year's goals. This approach transforms overwhelming aspirations into bite-sized tasks, making the journey more attainable. Setting realistic milestones and tracking progress step by step fosters a sense of achievement and motivation. This incremental strategy not only propels individuals forward but also instills confidence, turning larger objectives into a series of achievable victories.

5. Embrace setbacks

In the pursuit of New Year's resolutions, the ability to learn from setbacks and turn challenges into comebacks is a transformative skill. Setbacks are not roadblocks but rather opportunities for growth. By approaching obstacles with a mindset of learning and adaptation, individuals can learn valuable lessons from each experience. Understanding the root causes of setbacks allows for strategic adjustments and enhances problem-solving skills. Moreover, turning challenges into comebacks instills a sense of determination and perseverance. It's not about avoiding difficulties but navigating through them with a new and fresh perspective. 

Remember, resolutions are not just about end results but the transformative process that unfolds along the way. Embrace the journey with a mindset that values progress over perfection, and you'll discover the resilience and determination needed to achieve your aspirations. Whether building a support system, recording your progress, or navigating setbacks with grace, these strategies collectively guide you towards a successful New Year's resolution. Here's to a year of growth, resilience, and the successful realization of your goals!

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Improve Your Health — Without Hitting the Gym

Going to the gym for an hour can’t compensate for sitting the rest of the day. What you do (or don’t do) throughout your waking time has a big impact on health.

We’ve been led to believe that if we hit the gym a few days a week, we can rest assured we’re doing okay on the exercise front. Not so, according to new research. The low-effort movements that you do throughout the day (think shopping for groceries, taking the stairs, tapping a foot to music, etc.) provide big benefits. 

These activities burn calories, a concept known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. Every physical activity outside of eating, sleeping, or sports-like exercise counts. 

The body burns calories in three major ways:
  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is how much energy you expend in a comfortable temperature after fasting 12 hours. In non-athletes, it accounts for 60 to 70% of energy expenditure. It’s how much your body needs to circulate blood, breathe, and maintain other vital functions.
  • Diet-induced thermogenesis is the energy needed to digest, absorb, and store food in the body. It makes up 10-12% of the energy expended in a non-athlete.
  • Physical activity is everything your body does to move, maintain posture, and contract muscles. It accounts for 6 to 10% of energy expenditure and can be further broken down into deliberate exercise and NEAT.

How to Add NEAT to Your Routine

  • Take the stairs
  • Park farther away than you need to
  • Walk or cycle to your destination
  • Do household chores
  • Do yard work
  • Stand up more than you sit
  • Take walking breaks
  • Dance to a video
  • Stand up and sit down 10 times

Don’t be fooled into thinking that such a small fraction of energy use must have a correspondingly small impact on your well-being. People in Blue Zones, where longevity is at its peak, have been found to do a lot of NEAT activity and almost no gym exercise or sports. In fact, NEAT has been linked most strongly with longevity and body weight management. There is a strong link between the overall time spent sitting down and the risk of dying early.

“Metabolic syndrome, poor blood sugar management, and type 2 diabetes are all related to large amounts of seated time, independent of how much someone exercises,” says Kelsey Graham, a professor in the Exercise Science Department of San Diego Mesa College and owner/founder of KBG Wellness.

The average adult spends nine to 10 hours per day seated, according to the National Institutes of Health. Alarmingly, scientists have found higher levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, and C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, in the blood of people who are very sedentary. 

“It's those heart health markers that are really concerning for people who are studying this,” says Sabrena Jo, director of science and research content for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). It doesn’t take long for the damage to start. After merely a single day of inactivity, HDL or good cholesterol begins to dip.

But don’t your gym visits counteract these effects? “Thirty- or 60-minute workouts can't make up for the long unbroken periods of sedentary activities in terms of cardiometabolic health,” says Jo, while acknowledging that it will be “quite a mental shift" for Americans to accept that sweating it out for an hour isn’t enough. 

“Regular light movement is just as important for health as regimented exercise,” says Kelsey Graham, a professor in the Exercise Science Department of San Diego Mesa College and owner/founder of KBG Wellness.

NEAT Burns Calories

Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist who pioneered research on NEAT while at the Mayo Clinic and now heads the nonprofit Foundation Ipsen, has been studying how NEAT movement affects our energy use, or how many calories we burn. 

Levine notes that sitting at a computer uses 5 to 7% more calories than lying down, but if he gets up to fold and iron clothes, that number goes up to 15%. “It all changes the moment I start to walk,” he says. Casually walking at the speed you might take while shopping can double your metabolic rate. Even chewing gum will burn about 20 calories an hour. 

While there are no guidelines yet on how much NEAT exercise is optimal, experts suggest standing or walking every 30 minutes for five minutes or more will bring positive benefits. You don’t have to do jumping jacks (although that will work); more modest exercise, like going to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, will do. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Your 2023 Taxes

Tax season is here. We’ve got the numbers seniors need to know for 2023 limits and deductions. 

January signals a new start … and a fresh tax season. Bah humbug! But you can prepare by going through the 2023 tax brackets, where income bumped up significantly due to inflation. You may also be able to find deductions in the SECURE 2.0 Act and Inflation Reduction Act.

Income Tax Brackets

Let’s start with the basics. Tax brackets for earned income stayed the same while qualifying income got higher to keep in line with the inflation we saw, particularly at the beginning of last year. Those married filing separately share brackets with single filers.

Tax Rate Single Filers Married Filing Jointly Heads of Household
10% Less than $11,000 Less than $22,000 Less than $15,700
12% $11,000 - $44,725 $22,000 - $89,450 $15,700 - $59,850
22% $44,726 - $95,375 $89,451 - $190,750 $59,851 - $95,350
24% $95,376 - $182,100 $190,751 - $364,200 $95,351 - $182,100
32% $182,100 - $231,250 $364,200 - $462,500 $182,100 - $231,250
35% $231,251 - $578,125 $462,501 - $693,750 $231,251 - $578,100
37% $578,126 and up $693,751 and up $578,101 and up
                     Source: Internal Revenue Service

Long-term capital gains (on assets you own longer than a year) tax brackets stayed the same, while income to qualify for each went up. Married people filing individually have the same rate as singles.

Tax Rate Single Filers Married Filing Jointly Heads of Household
0% Less than $44,625 Less than $89,250 Less than $59,750
15% $44,626 – $492,300 $89,251 – $553,850 $59,751 – $523,050
20% Over $492,300 Over $553,850 Over $523,050
                     Source: Internal Revenue Service

Changes Coming in 2026

Several estate and income tax provisions will sunset after 2025 unless Congress moves to extend them. Keep these in mind as you do your tax planning for the next few years. The lifetime estate and gift tax exemption will be cut approximately in half for estates (affecting high net-worth people), while it’s not clear what will happen to the gift tax exemption. 

Income tax brackets are expected to change for nearly all levels except the bottom two. What is now 22% will become 25%, 24% will become 28%, 32% will change to 33%, 35% will stay the same and 37% will become 39%.

Standard deductions will revert back to lower levels, encouraging more tax filers to itemize. 
The mortgage interest deduction limit will bump back up to $1 million. Read a full list of projected changes and talk over possible changes to your portfolio with your financial advisor and/or tax professional. 

The standard deduction amount went up across all categories. Singles may claim $13,850, married couples filing jointly get $27,700, and heads of households qualify for $20,800. Add $1,850 if you’re at least 65 or blind, and $3,700 if both of those apply to you. 

Online Sellers

Many older adults get extra income by online or small-scale selling, and they can breathe a sigh of relief. The IRS decided not to implement new rules this year requiring third-party settlement networks such as PayPal, Venmo, and Square Stubhub to send out Form 1099-K to clients who were paid more than $600 for goods and services. The reporting limit remains $20,000 for 2023. 

Retirement Savings Rules

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) now start at age 73 for those who turned 72 in 2022. Your broker can help you determine the correct amount to withdraw from traditional IRAs, 401(k)s and other workplace plans. Seniors who turned 73 in 2023 must take a withdrawal by April 1, although if you are still working you can usually put off taking the withdrawal from the retirement plan at your current employer. 

The government lowered the penalty for folks who fail to take their RMD, although it’s still significant. The tax for such a lapse is now 25% (down from 50%) of the missing amount. Fix your mistake promptly and they’ll lower that to 10%.

Still saving for retirement? The amounts you can tuck away have gone up. New limits on contributions for traditional IRAs and Roth accounts are $6,500, with an additional $1,000 added for people 50 and older. Roth IRA income limits are less than $153,000 for single filers and under $228,000 for people married, filing jointly. Check here for details.

Alternative Minimum Tax

If you may wind up paying the alternative minimum tax, you’ll be happy to know income limits have gone up for 2023. Single filers and heads of household must make at least $81,300, and married couples filing jointly start at $126,500. For specifics, check here.

Other changes from 2023 include residential clean energy credit, energy-efficient home improvement credit, and a clean vehicle credit. Additionally, older adults who are still working can take advantage of bumps in amounts they can add to retirement savings

That’s a lot of good news that should translate to more and bigger tax refunds when you file. 


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