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Thursday, May 9, 2024

Who Will Care for Us as We Age?

A shortage of doctors, particularly those specializing in care of older adults, tops a laundry list of worries surrounding senior care in the coming years.

Today, the US has a little over 7,400 geriatricians who are trained to work with older adults. In the year 2000, there were 10,270. The population of Americans aged 65 and older has grown more than 60% in the intervening years. 

That’s concerning Jerry Gurwitz, 67 and chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. “I understood the demographic imperative and the issues facing older patients” when he chose the specialty, says Gurwitz. “I felt this field presented tremendous opportunities.”

Cohousing for Older Adults Solves Many Problems 

Seniors living with seniors, or senior cohousing, is growing. These communities for people age 55 and up are designed for maximum accessibility and a ready group of neighbors who look after each other. Social engagement is easier with the many common areas and shared meals. Everything from finding three more people for a card game to gathering a group to hit a local hiking trail (and taking the community van) becomes easier in a cohousing community. For more information, check the nonprofit cohousing group.
Nowadays, medical schools are under no obligation to teach students about geriatrics, and only half do. Nearly a third of 411 geriatric fellowships were unfilled in 2022-23. “Sadly, our health system and its workforce are wholly unprepared to deal with an imminent surge of multimorbidity, functional impairment, dementia and frailty,” Gurwitz says in his recent JAMA piece.

Modern Changes for the Better

However, it’s not all bad news. Experts in senior health care have worked toward a standard of care that is in the patient’s best interest, including:

  • The priorities of the older adult should inform plans for their care.
  • Doctors must keep in mind how prescribed treatments might affect the patient’s independence and functioning. 
  • Interdisciplinary teams are needed to meet the medical, social, and emotional needs of senior patients. 
  • Frailty affects the response of senior patients to illness and therapies. 
  • Medications need to be evaluated at regular intervals, and sometimes removed. 
  • Walking after an illness is vital to preserve mobility.
  • Non-medical assistance, such as training family caregivers or getting help in the home, can be as or more critical than medical care. 
  • Physical and social wellbeing of the patient must be considered in a holistic way.

“What we’re really trying to do is broaden the tent and train a health care workforce where everybody has some degree of geriatrics expertise,” said Michael Harper, board chair of the American Geriatrics Society and a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

Geriatrics Focus

Medical facilities are responding, although progress can be slow. On the bright side, more than 3,400 hospitals, urgent-care facilities, and nursing homes have adopted a focus on an age-friendly protocol known as the “4Ms”. It prioritizes mentation (brain health), managing medications, preserving or improving mobility, and focusing on what matters most to the older adult.

Changes have also come to many emergency departments, which have made efforts to dampen noise, dim bright lights and calm the harried atmosphere for older patients seeking emergency care. More than 400 emergency departments have been accredited as geriatric-friendly by the American College of Emergency Physicians. 

Other Resources

What can you do if you need more help? For healthcare, nurse navigators or personal advocates can assist patients of any age to navigate the system, going to appointments, explaining plans and procedures, addressing emotional needs as well as physical, and following up as needed. These trained professionals often specialize in working with patients who have received a cancer diagnosis.

If you’re looking for someone to help manage an overall care plan from the doctor’s office to following through at home, a life care management team may be the answer. Their professional organization is the Aging Life Care Association, a non-profit with more than 2,000 members across the country. 

They specialize in holistic elder care, not necessarily health care per se, and the best ones can monitor medications and equipment, and work hand-in-glove with doctors and psychiatrists to help ensure patient compliance – such as keeping on a diet. They can also help out with quitting smoking, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and even lack of socialization. Doctors can advise and prescribe, but life care managers can ensure there’s someone to help actually implement protocols. Their emphasis is on promoting independence, safety, and wellness.

To be clear, life care managers are often the ones who will find clients a home aide for showers and giving pills, but they don’t do that work themselves. However, they can provide a central point of contact for managing medical and non-medical needs. 

A life care management team may include registered nurse advocates, client care specialists and other professionals such as a daily money manager who can do routine money tasks such as help pay bills, open mail, file for insurance and prepare for tax filing while a patient is undergoing treatment, and beyond. For patients without a partner or friend physically and emotionally able to complete these tasks, life care managers can fill the void. 

Due to doctor shortages, many of us will never be able to have a geriatric specialist. But as health care facilities prepare for a deluge of senior clients and individuals and teams trained in geriatric standards of care fill in the gaps, the health care landscape for seniors is looking better. 

Should You be Building Roth Assets?

How much you give to Uncle Sam plays a big role in retirement. Find out if you could benefit by adding to a ROTH account that grows free of tax.  

It’s tempting to contribute to a traditional 401(k) or IRA every year to get the nice tax benefit that comes with it. It’s like you never made the money, and your deposit grows tax-free. But the government will want its share when you pull the money out, and you will have to start removing it at age 73 (or 75 for those born in 1960 or later) to satisfy the required minimum distribution (RMD).

One option is to fund a ROTH account. Although you won’t get a tax break upfront, your contribution and all of the money it generates, (assuming the gains have aged five years, or you are at least 59.5 years old,) will be tax-free as long as you live. If your spouse is your beneficiary, it’s tax free for him or her, too. Non-spouse heirs won’t have to pay tax, although they generally will have to take the money out of the ROTH by 10 years after your death

How to Fund a ROTH

The government has recently made it easier to fatten up your ROTH account. Small business owners can now contribute to a ROTH through a SIMPLE or SEP IRA. Workplace plans can allow employer contributions to go to a ROTH. Catch-up contributions for those making more than $145,000 must now go into a ROTH account. You can contribute up to $7,000 in 2024 ($8,000 if you are 50 or above) to a ROTH, as long as your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $146,000 for singles or between $230,000 and $240,000 if you are married and filing jointly. 

ROTH Conversion Calculator

It’s a helpful exercise to run some numbers on your own to get some ballpark figures on how a ROTH conversion might affect your portfolio. Here’s a free conversion calculator that allows you to input several variables, including assumed interest and tax rates.

Convert 529 to Roth up to $35,000

Grandparents might not have heard of a big change that is now in place for 529 education savings plans. You may now be able to use leftover funds to help a child or grandchild get an early start on funding their retirement. Beginning this year, you can roll unused assets with a lifetime maximum of $35,000 into the beneficiary’s ROTH IRA without penalty. This is a brand new provision that you can read about in detail here.
Another way to move money out of a traditional IRA and into a ROTH IRA is by doing a conversion. There are no income limits, so big earners can take advantage of this method, coming in through the “back door” and inspiring the moniker “backdoor ROTH conversion”. You merely deposit money into your IRA and then move it to a ROTH account. You’ll have to pay taxes on the money, but you can convert as much, or as little, as you like. Finally, if your 401(k) plan permits automatic ROTH conversions, you can make after-tax contributions and have them automatically convert to Roth.

Who May Benefit from ROTH Funding

When you contribute or convert to a ROTH, you must pay taxes on the money that year. It could be to your advantage:
  • You want to leave money to your heirs. If you have plenty of assets outside the ROTH for retirement and want to leave more for your heirs, leaving them ROTH funds rather than assets in a traditional IRA will alleviate their tax burden.
  • You have a lot of money in tax-deferred accounts. Diversifying your accounts by tax treatment will potentially enable you to optimize tax bracket management during retirement. For instance, if you need money one year for a new car, you could take it out of your ROTH account while still drawing your normal IRA distribution without affecting taxable income. 
  • You have a year when earnings drop. If earnings have sunk due to business costs, the loss of a bonus, or some other reason, you may be able to convert money in a relatively low tax bracket.
  • You expect to be in a higher tax bracket in the future. You may prefer to pay today’s rate if you think you’ll be in a higher one in the future.

Who Might Not Benefit from a ROTH Conversion

In spite of the many benefits available from a ROTH, there are situations where conversion (and the resultant income bump) may not be in your best interest:

  • If your income is low enough, you may be better off realizing long-term capital gains
  • If you qualify for the Affordable Care Act health subsidies and are on a marketplace plan, a ROTH conversion will bump your income and potentially cause you to lose or reduce those subsidies.
  • If you are 63 or older, the income jump from a conversion may affect the cost of Medicare premiums in the future by putting you over IRMAA limits.
  • If you’re collecting Social Security with a low income, a conversion could put you over income limits and make more of your benefit taxable.
  • If you just opened a ROTH and need not only the contribution but the gains within five years, you may run afoul of ROTH requirements.
  • You plan to use a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to distribute excess assets from your IRA and lower your RMDs.
  • You must pay the conversion tax with IRA funds, possibly negating the benefit of the conversion. A better scenario is to pay the tax with cash on hand.
  • You’re in retirement or very close and need your IRA to cover living expenses. If the money won’t have long to grow after conversion, then it likely won’t benefit you to put it in a ROTH.
  • You will be moving to a state with no income tax. It could be wise to hold off making conversions until they can be made free of state tax.

You don’t have to make an all-or-nothing commitment to ROTH conversions. In fact, you can do many small conversions over a number of years to spread out the tax consequences. As always, it’s important to talk to your tax advisor and financial consultant to understand the implications before instituting ROTH conversions.

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

Do Hair Growth Treatments Work for Older Adults?

Hair loss can arise from a variety of factors, including getting older. There are a number of treatments on the market that may work for you.

You may be familiar with that sinking feeling of suddenly finding more hair than usual on your clothes, in the bathroom sink and on your brush. Fifty-five percent of women, and 85% of men, experience hair loss. Hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies and even stress may be the cause, among others. Or it may happen because we are getting older.

“Hair gets thinner and loses volume as we age because hair follicles get senescent (old) and simply stop producing hair,” says dermatologist Kemunto Mokaya. “The follicles that produce hair make finer, thinner strands, and this contributes to hair thinning and loss of volume. Hair also grows more slowly as we age.”

Start With These Tips

Before we get into other remedies, it’s a good idea to check if you’re doing what you can on your own to keep your hair. Do you wear a hat or scarf as sun protection for your hair? Sunlight can damage your hair, leaving strands vulnerable to split ends and breakage. Make sure your scalp is clean and free of conditioner and product buildup that can block pores. 

Best Hair Loss Treatment Online

Telemedicine is a great way to get customized, prescription treatments without the hassle of going to the doctor’s office. And it doesn’t matter what part of the country you live in. Better yet, your hair loss treatment will arrive in discreet packaging. Following are some companies that Forbes rated tops for online help:

As with anything related to your health, it’s a good idea to check reviews, cost, and products available before committing to a course of treatment. 

Whole-body health is important for your hair. Several vitamins and minerals are essential to hair growth. 

“Vitamins are essential for healthy hair growth and may help in preventing hair shedding and thinning,” says Michele Green, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York. “The best vitamins for hair growth include B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, biotin and iron.”

They won’t help if you already get enough of them, but if you choose to supplement, make sure the product you’re getting has been independently tested. One way is to look for the USP Verified mark on the container. 

Stress can play a role in hair loss. Try to find time to meditate, journal, or exercise. Oddly enough, trimming hair regularly can help aging hair look better and reduce breakage. Use shampoo that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals like sulfates and parabens by checking the label. Avoid bleach and hair dye. And treat your tresses gently by not brushing vigorously when they’re wet. Finally, try not to wash your hair every day. Overexposure to moisture causes stretched, weakened locks and it robs your hair of natural oils that are already in short supply as we age. 

Medications for Male and Female Balding and Hair Thinning

Before you dive into treatment, you should know why you’re losing hair. Hair loss (alopecia) can be temporary or permanent, related to your gender or not. It may also be due to a disease or skin condition. Check here for most causes of hair thinning. 

There are several hair loss medications that may work for you. Most common is minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, which is available without a prescription. It treats a variety of hair loss causes, including male and female pattern hair loss. It’s available in a 2% and 5% concentration and is applied on the scalp. Like many of these treatments, it may take four months to a year to show results with diligent use. Treatment can continue as long as you like and side effects are rare but may include the growth of facial hair. 

Oral finasteride is available by prescription for male pattern hair loss. It works by inhibiting the body’s production of a hormone that destroys hair follicles and is most effective for slowing or stopping hair loss. Taken orally, it may be months before significant new growth is evident. Side effects can include erectile dysfunction and depression. Natural hormone blockers include caffeine, rosemary oil and pumpkin seed oil. 

Women may also experience hair loss due to sex hormones that damage follicles. They may benefit from antiandrogens, including spironolactone and oral contraceptives that contain estrogen. You’ll begin to notice a difference at about four months. Side effects include sleepiness and irregular periods in menstruating women. Pregnant women should avoid these medications.

If your hair loss is the result of an autoimmune disease, your doctor may suggest using a corticosteroid. They’re available as topical cream or injections. Your physician will advise you on the best one for your situation. 

Laser or Red Light Therapy

Many studies of red light therapy have shown that it may be effective to promote hair growth, especially in concert with minoxidil or finasteride. It’s painless and lacks damaging UV rays. While the reason for its effectiveness is debated, there are some theories. The predominant one involves the light stimulating an enzyme found in cell mitochondria, stimulating activity that leads to the release of nitric oxide and production of adenosine triphosphate (ADP). The ADP helps transport energy to tissues, helping the hair follicles to stay in a productive stage for longer. 

Dermatologists may recommend 20 to 30 sessions of half an hour apiece as a full course of treatment. Because of the number of treatments involved and the many uses of red light (including to improve skin appearance, manage pain and reduce inflammation), some people choose to buy a device for home treatment. These can differ significantly in effectiveness. 

To get the best result: 
  • Choose a device with a wider wavelength than the usual 630 to 750 nanometers.
  • Make sure the light intensity is high power for faster and more efficient results.
  • Pick a device with maximum LEDs for more power.
  • Using a helmet-size device to treat hair loss is fine, but if you want to use red light therapy for other purposes and/or areas, choose a larger option.
  • Look for a clear, visible interface with features such as programmable timers and adjustable settings. 
  • Look closely at customer reviews to avoid buying an inferior or useless product. 

If your hair loss is due to scarring, red light therapy is not likely an option since it can’t regenerate hair follicles that have been destroyed. As with any treatment, consult your doctor before starting red light therapy. For more information, go here

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

How to Erase Yourself (and the Seniors You Love) From the Internet

Identity theft, scamming, personal data exposure: a lot of information about you is online and can be used against you. Here’s how to best protect yourself and the ones you love.

Your online activity can be used against you. Whether a data breach revealed your social security number and birthday, or a social media site has the names and ages of your children and grandchildren, unscrupulous people can find out a lot about you by looking online. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to phishing and scams that use personal information to steal money. But no one is immune. This financial columnist got scammed for $50,000. It can happen to anyone.

There’s even a name for companies that collect your information and sell it: data brokers. While you can’t fully remove yourself from every corner of the web, there’s plenty you can do to make you hard enough to find that a scammer or thief will go elsewhere to ply their “trade”. While you’re at it, you might want to help Mom or Dad do the same.

Removing Online Information by Yourself

If you have lots of time on your hands and a deep desire to go to hundreds (likely) of sites to request information be deleted, it can be done. There are several steps to take, such as cleaning websites that host your information, closing websites you own and wiping your information from forums. Then you’ll need to run your information through various search engines and opt out of data brokers. You can find detailed instructions here.
Before you begin, make sure that your social media sites are set to “private”. This will prevent a continual leak of information.

Start With Google 

The first test is to google yourself and see where information is coming up. Check for your address, driver’s license number or any other information you don’t want available. Then add a phone number or your address to your name and do another search. The good news? Google just put out a form so that you can request certain information be removed, including fake photos, medical records, financial information, and your address. 

The bad news? To truly remove the information, you have to go beyond Google, which is merely an aggregator, to the source sites and ask that they erase your information. And you need to contact the main data brokers, to request they no longer share or keep your information there, too. Find a list at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit that can also help stem the flow of spam and junk mail.

It’s a lot of work. “You can do it yourself, it’s just a very time-consuming exercise because you have to go to individual websites and follow the rules about how to remove yourself from the websites,” said Rahul Telang, professor of information systems at Carnegie Mellon University.

Use a Third-Party Service

If you’re starting to realize that this could be a monumental task you’d rather not dig into yourself, never fear. There are services that specialize in cleaning up your online presence. Although not even they can remove every bit of information about you online, they will likely be faster and more adept than you are at finding and eliminating the things you want erased. Like most things in life, you just have to be ready to pay the price. Here are several popular options:

  • DeleteMe charges $129 per year for one person. DeleteMe says an average of 2,389 pieces of information are found about every client.
  • Kanary offers a free version, and charges $105 annually for a single person, and $150 for a family plan for up to three people. The company claims a removal success rate of over 70% for users.
  • OneRep will take care of one person for $99.96 per year, or up to six people for $180. The company boasts 5 million deleted records in 2021 alone. 

Before you sign up for a service, read the terms to see exactly what you’ll be getting. You’ll want to know the price, what’s included, and how often the company keeps you apprised of what they’ve found and how it’s been dealt with. Check if a free trial is available. Another tip: If you use a credit monitoring service, check to see if it includes a data removal service.

As artificial intelligence allows scammers to become ever more sophisticated, removing your data from the internet can put one more barrier in their way. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Walking Backwards Can Get You Ahead

Retro walking benefits knees, lower back, balance, cognition and so much more for seniors.

Have you ever seen anyone walking backwards on your gym track, or pedaling an elliptical bike in reverse? Did you wonder why they would want to? Turns out there are a host of good reasons to put your legs in reverse. 

“I think it’s amazing to add in some backwards motion to your day,” said Grayson Wickham, a physical therapist at Lux Physical Therapy and Functional Medicine in New York City. “People are sitting way too much today, plus they lack varied movement.”

Multiple Benefits of Moving in Reverse

People with knee osteoarthritis and chronic back pain can benefit from the backward motion.  “When you’re propelling yourself forward, that’s a hamstring-dominant movement,” says Landry Estes, a certified strength and conditioning specialist in College Station, Texas. “If you’re walking backwards, it’s a role reversal, where your quads are firing and you’re doing knee extensions.” Seniors with sore knees may find walking backward is less painful: one study found backward running reduced anterior knee pain. 

8 Benefits of Walking Backwards

  1. Increases flexibility.
  2. Burns calories.
  3. Improves balance.
  4. Builds muscle strength.
  5. Increases cardiorespiratory fitness.
  6. Challenges your brain.
  7. Reduces knee pain.
In addition, you’ll improve your gait, balance, and cognition. Because the body and brain are not used to going backward, your brain has to stay more engaged. Older adults may benefit the most from this type of exercise. A 2021 study that followed stroke patients found walking backward on a treadmill improved their balance, walking speed and cardiopulmonary fitness. Walking backward has also been found to prevent falls downstairs. 

“The body adapts to the positions and movements and postures you do most often,” says Estes. “That can lead to tight muscles and joints, which leads to joint compensation, which leads to joint wear and tear, then pain and injury. The more we can add varied movement into our day-to-day activities or in the gym, it’s so much more beneficial for the body.”

Brain Benefits

Retro walking may even sharpen your mind and help you become more aware, as your brain needs to be more alert when moving in this novel fashion. For this reason, plus the fact that backward motion helps with balance, older adults may especially benefit from incorporating some backward strolls into their routine, as the 2021 study of patients with chronic stroke indicates. 

Backward walkers will experience sharper senses, including vision and enhanced cognitive control. It can also help with body awareness and coordination. As with any exercise, retro walking will boost your mood and help with sleep. 

Getting Started

Take it slowly when you’re beginning to put backward movement into your routine. You can do five-minute stints around the house, or add them into a forward-facing walking routine on a track or a treadmill. Just remember to bring down the speed and concentrate on each step. Your pace can increase as you get used to the movement. 

If you’re walking on a track or outside, it can help to have a partner walk forward beside you to watch for obstacles and other people. You might want to try an indoor or outdoor track. Many high schools have tracks that are available for public use on the weekend or in the evening. A swimming pool can also offer a safe environment for trying out retro walking. 

You might even choose to enter a backward-facing contest. Loren Zitomersky ran the Boston Marathon backward in 2018 to raise money for epilepsy research. American Plennie L. Wingo walked backward for 8,000 miles from Santa Monica to Istanbul in the Great Depression, using a pair of reverse-looking mirrored glasses and setting the Guiness Record for reverse pedestrianism in the process. 

Backward walking can add a new element to your routine and offer a fresh take on exercise. Your muscles and mind will be tested as they adapt to new movement. Retro walking for older adults can perk up your workout routine while improving your strength and balance. 

Mental Health Awareness Month: 6 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

As May begins to unfold, it serves as a gentle yet powerful reminder of the significance of mental health. Throughout this month, Mental Health Awareness urges us to reflect on the state of our psychological well-being and encourages us to take proactive steps to nurture it. Prioritizing our mental health is not just important but essential for our overall happiness. Read more as we talk about some practical strategies and activities that can help us foster self-awareness, and promote mental well-being not only in May but throughout the year.

Embrace Mindfulness: 

Mindfulness is a great tool for grounding ourselves in the present moment, alleviating stress, and enhancing our overall sense of well-being. It involves practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply being fully present in whatever we are doing. By incorporating mindfulness into our daily routines, we can cultivate a sense of calm and clarity, even amidst life's uncertainties and challenges. Learn more about practicing mindfulness: Mayo Clinic Q and A: Mindfulness and mental health - Mayo Clinic News Network

Prioritize Self-Care: 

Self-care is often misconstrued as a luxury, but in reality, it's a fundamental necessity for maintaining our mental, emotional, and physical health. Each day, set aside time to engage in activities that bring you joy. Whether it's reading a good book, taking a leisurely walk in nature, or enjoying your favorite hobby, prioritize activities that are relaxing and rejuvenate your mind.

Cultivate Meaningful Connections: 

Human connection lies at the heart of our well-being, yet in today's fast-paced digital age, genuine connections can sometimes feel difficult to come by. Take the time to nurture relationships with loved ones, friends, and community members. Engage in heartfelt conversations, share experiences, and perform acts of kindness. These meaningful connections can serve as a vital source of support, understanding, and belonging. Learn more about how to build meaningful relationships: Build Meaningful Relationships: Strategies for Connection - DHW Blog (

Move Your Body: 

Physical activity isn't just beneficial for our bodies; it's also essential for our mental health. Regular exercise, whether it's a walk, a yoga session, or a dance workout, releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, and promotes relaxation. Engaging in physical activity can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression while boosting our overall mood and well-being.

Set Boundaries Around Screen Time: 

In today's digital world, excessive screen time can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. Set boundaries around your screen usage by limiting social media scrolling, turning off notifications, or designating tech-free zones in your home. Instead, allocate time for activities that foster genuine connections with the people and places around you. Learn more tips on how to reduce screen time: Tips to Curb Screen Time for Adults - Scripps Health

Seek Professional Support When Needed:

If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, remember that seeking professional support is a courageous and proactive step towards healing. Whether it's through therapy, counseling, or psychiatric care, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. You don't have to navigate your mental health journey alone, and there's no shame in asking for support when you need it.

In addition to Mental Health Awareness Month, May also honors Older Americans Month, celebrating the invaluable contributions and experiences of older generations. As we focus on prioritizing mental health, let's not forget the unique challenges and needs of older adults. Reach out to older family members, neighbors, or community members, and engage in conversations that foster understanding, empathy, and connection. By honoring and respecting the wisdom and resilience of older adults, we enrich our communities.

As Mental Health Awareness Month unfolds, let's embrace the opportunity to prioritize our mental well-being. By incorporating mindfulness, self-care, meaningful connections, physical activity, and healthy screen habits into our lives, we can nurture our mental health and lay the foundation for long-term well-being. Your mental health matters, and investing in it is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself!

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

Friday, May 3, 2024

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 4 - Randy Travis, country and gospel singer, actor  

Born Randy Traywick, Travis changed his name for the music industry. The singer won a slew of awards over his career, recording more than 20 studio albums, with 16 singles that got to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. The star won seven Grammy Awards, eleven ACM Awards, eight Dove Awards for gospel songs and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. 

You may remember some of his hits, including “On the Other Hand”, “Forever and Ever, Amen”, “I Told You So”, “Digging Up Bones” and “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart”. His style, dubbed neotraditional, harkened back to traditional country greats like Merle Haggard rather than adopting to the then-popular country pop crossover. His baritone voice was roundly praised throughout his career. "He generally remains tried and true to his roots dishing out ballads with his usual great vocal phrasing” noted reviewer Jeffrey B. Remz regarding the You and You Alone album. “Travis doesn't rush through the songs, delivering them in a passionate, understated singing style.”

Travis dropped out of school in the ninth grade and proceeded to amass a rap sheet that included reckless driving, driving under the influence, stealing knives and watches, and breaking into a local church in order to have a party. However, he had solid bona fides throughout his career and apparently kept clean until several public intoxication incidents in the early 2010s. Then, in July of 2013, he was hospitalized for a heart condition. During treatment the singer suffered a stroke and he was given a 1% chance of survival. While he largely lost his ability to sing or even speak, he survived and relearned how to walk short distances. 

In 2019 Travis announced a return to touring, featuring James Dupré as lead vocalist with Travis’ band and Travis himself in attendance. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 8 - Ronnie Lott, NFL player, businessman

Ronnie Lott played 14 seasons in the NFL over the 80s and 90s after starring on the University of Southern California (USC) team. He was very athletic in childhood and played football, baseball and basketball for his high school, as well as being on the wrestling team. In college, he was on a Dream Team that featured All-American quarterback Paul McDonald, Heisman winner Charles White, future Heisman winner Marcus Allen, and four future NFL first-round picks in the offensive line. Lott himself went All-American his senior year while topping the nation in return yards and interceptions (8). 

Lott was good enough to get drafted in the first round in 1981 by the San Francisco 49ers to play left cornerback. He became a starter and helped the team to victory in Super Bowl XVI, finishing second to Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor for rookie of the year honors. In 1985, he switched to playing safety and led the league with 77 tackles, three forced fumbles, two quarterback sacks, and 10 interceptions the next year. In his decade with the Giants, Lott was there to help them win four Super Bowls and eight division titles. 

He signed as a free agent with the Raiders in 1991, the Jets in 1993 and the Chiefs in 1995, suffering more injuries as he aged. He attempted a comeback with the 49ers in 1995 but retired due to injury before the season started. He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, his first year of eligibility. 

Lott is known for his prowess in the business world and advises young NFL players on their post-NFL careers. He is a founder and managing partner at HRJ Capital and owns a string of car dealerships. You can read his autobiography, “Total Impact”, and check out winners of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, bestowed on college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year since 2004. Lott participates in numerous other philanthropic endeavors. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

May 16 - Mare Winningham, actor and singer-songwriter

Wouldn’t it be cool if your high school boyfriend was Val Kilmer, you could play guitar and drums, and you graduated co-valedictorian of your class with Kevin Spacey? That’s the real life of actor and singer Mare Winningham, the winner of two primetime Emmys, and nominee for an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and a pair of Tonys. 

She’s played in a host of memorable TV and film roles, including on “The Thornbirds”, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “Amber Waves” and “American Horror Story”. Believe it or not, her big break came after singing “Here, There and Everywhere” on “The Gong Show”. She wasn’t hired to sing, but she was signed for Hollywood and began appearing in TV shows. She’s combined singing and acting in several of her films, including a trio of songs in the film “Georgia”, and has recorded four albums. 

Winningham is married to her fourth husband, actor Anthony Edwards. She has five children from a previous marriage to TV producer William Maple. She converted to Judaism in her forties. 


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors