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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Long COVID: Do You Have It?

Long COVID has so many possible symptoms that you – and your healthcare provider – may miss it entirely.

Long COVID, symptoms that linger or show up at least four weeks after infection with the COVID-19 virus, can include a wide range of health problems. People can have just one of them, a couple, or even nearly all of these symptoms. It can happen to men and women, children and adults, people who were hospitalized with COVID or those who didn’t realize they had the virus. Because of this, it can only be diagnosed after other causes are eliminated. 

Who’s at More Risk for Long COVID 

We do know that Long COVID happens more often in women (6.6% of those with COVID) than men (4%), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also occurs more frequently in people with severe COVID illness, and those with underlying health conditions. It’s also more prevalent in people who didn’t get vaccinated for COVID. 

RECOVER: Understand, Treat and Prevent Long COVID

Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) is an initiative of the National Institutes of Health that is involved in research to help people with Long COVID. The RECOVER website is an excellent resource for the latest scientific information regarding the disease. You’ll also find the results of their research, and directions on how to join research studies.  

You can also learn more about the science behind the CDC’s information on Long COVID here.
Although new research points to a marked reduction in the risk of Long COVID to those who have been vaccinated, it is currently understood that getting treated with Paxlovid does not protect against Long COVID.


Symptoms of Long COVID can last weeks, months or years after the initial infection. They may even disappear and then return at a later time. Different types and combinations of problems can emerge, disappear and reappear over time. Most patients gradually get better, but it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to make a diagnosis. 

"There are more than 200 reported symptoms associated with long COVID, writes neuroscientist and physical therapist David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at the Mount Sinai Health System, in The Lancet, “affecting virtually every organ system."

The following is not a complete list, but these are the most common symptoms of the illness:

  • Tiredness 
  • Symptoms that worsen after physical or mental effort
  • Fever

Respiratory and Heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations (fast-beating heart)

  • Difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”)
  • Headache
  • Sleep issues
  • Pins-and-needles sensation
  • Changes in smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

  • Pain in joints or muscles
  • Rash
  • Changes to menstrual cycles

You may have symptoms that are difficult to pinpoint. Blood tests, electrocardiograms and chest X-rays may come back normal. It’s easy for your healthcare provider to have difficulty with a diagnosis. Review these suggestions for how to prepare for an appointment with your healthcare provider. 

Treatment involves managing symptoms. You may require specialists in the fields of neurology, cardiology, psychiatry, immunology, pulmonology, and physical therapy, depending on your symptoms. 

Why Does Long COVID Occur?

Although researchers haven’t arrived at a comprehensive conclusion as to the cause of Long COVID, there are several theories. Some studies show that pieces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus stay in the body a long time after the initial infection. They may cause inflammation and cause some symptoms. 

Other scientists are researching Long COVID as an autoimmune disease, where the virus stimulates the body to attack its own tissues. Another study looks at the role of monocytes, immune cells that tell white blood cells when infection is present. COVID can harm the structure of these immune cells, so that their behavior is changed. There’s even evidence that COVID can awaken dormant viruses, possibly including  Epstein-Barr virus. Each of these possibilities points to a different treatment. 

The CDC estimates that three out of four people in the US have had COVID at some point. If you are experiencing symptoms that you can’t account for, it may be worth seeing your healthcare provider to determine if they may be due to Long COVID. 


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Prepare Financially for When Your Spouse Dies

In the midst of grief over a spouse’s death, the greatest comfort may be knowing the two of you planned for this and the remaining spouse will be comfortable financially. 

Nobody wants to think about what would happen if their spouse passed away, but the fact is very few couples die at the same time. In 80% of cases, the wife will outlive the husband, according to the Census Bureau, so it’s particularly important that they are confident about their ability to live comfortably in that event.

Creating a Plan

The two of you need to have important documents, including your will, powers of attorney and healthcare directives saved in one place. Mail copies to your children and your executor. Put this information, along with passwords, pins and other important papers, in a single location. It could be a safe deposit box or an encrypted drive, for example. 

Make sure both your names are on accounts, and that they’re titled appropriately. Keep beneficiaries, wills, healthcare directives and powers of attorney updated. Consolidate accounts as much as possible to simplify management. 

Prepare for the likely “survivor’s penalty” after the death of a spouse, when Social Security income is cut and tax rates often double. We talk more about these events below.

Social Security

If your Social Security was the lower payment, you’ll need to file to start receiving your spouse’s benefit. The surviving spouse will only receive a single benefit from now on, which can have a big impact on finances. If the couple was used to getting $30,000 from one benefit and $25,000 from another, for example, the remaining spouse will only receive $30,000, instead of $55,000. 


The year a spouse dies, the remaining spouse can still file taxes jointly with their deceased spouse, unless they’ve remarried. But after that, they’ll most likely be using the “single” filing status, which includes a standard deduction for only one person and tax brackets that are half that of their previous filing status. This can be quite a shock, as your taxes may double even if your income is relatively stable. 

Most often, a surviving spouse inherits their deceased spouse’s IRA, and required minimum distributions (RMDs) will stay about the same as before. But here, too, the new “single” tax brackets can heavily impact taxes due. In 2024, for example, a couple with a taxable income of $94,000 would pay up to 12% in taxes, while a single filer making that amount would be taxed at 22% marginal rate. 

One way to minimize these impacts is to do partial Roth conversions. When IRA funds are converted, taxes are paid in that year for only the amount converted. It’s important to work with a CPA or tax professional to make sure the strategy works with your overall retirement plan.

“This is often best done over a number of years to minimize the overall taxes paid for the Roth conversions,” says George Gagliardi, a CFP and founder of Coromandel Wealth Management in Lexington, Massachusetts. 

Lastly, investors need to keep their asset ownership updated, especially on highly appreciated assets. The basis of an asset is simply the original cost. When a spouse dies, the remaining spouse receives a step-up in basis, changing the basis to the value of the asset when the spouse died. This can wipe out months or years of capital gains, which would otherwise be owed when the asset was sold. 

“A missed step-up opportunity could mean higher capital gains taxes for the survivor,” says certified financial planner Edward Jastrem, chief planning officer at Heritage Financial Services in Westwood, Massachusetts.

Losing a spouse is a devastating event. Prepare your finances ahead of time so it’s one less thing the surviving spouse has to deal with when they are at their most vulnerable. Often the best way to do this is to use a trusted financial advisor or estate planner to ensure a cohesive plan.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Solo Seniors: Issues Affecting Elder Orphans

What legal documents do you need to have in place and how can you form a community around you if you’re single with no children nearby to help as you age? We’ve got answers for solo agers.   

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 27% of Americans 65 and older live alone. Many of these seniors have no children, are estranged, or have children who live far away. They are essentially on their own to figure out how to navigate life changes as they age. They’ve been dubbed “elder orphans” or “solo agers”. 

Forming Community

With no close relatives, community is often the key to support. Community can be achieved in many ways. You can get to know your neighbors, telling them that you live alone and could they please keep an eye out for you. Social networks can form through book clubs or gardening groups.

Your local senior center is a good place to establish friendships. Senior centers are connected to community services to provide opportunities to stay healthy and independent. Many offer classes, meals, health and transportation services and more to make connecting with others easy. 

Adding A Child or Friend to a Bank Account

Most of us think that an easy way to add a faraway child or friend to a bank account is to make them a joint owner. But there are many pitfalls to that method. For instance, that person would be on the hook to make any distributions desired, and they would count as gifts. That person can also withdraw funds without the original owner’s consent, among other problems.

What’s a better way? Your estate or elder law attorney may already have documents in place to allow for death or incapacity. If not, you can execute a springing or durable power of attorney, transfer ownership to your revocable or living trust, or add a payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designation to the account. For more information, visit Shakespeare Wealth Management.

Your local place of worship can provide opportunities to socialize. So can volunteering in your community. Even your mail carrier can serve as someone to check on your wellbeing via the Carrier Alert program that you can sign up for.

Housing for Single Seniors

Finding a shared housing situation can make all the difference for someone on their own. “Find a way to live with others,” says author Sara Zeff Geber, an expert in solo aging. “The Golden Girls model, that is home sharing, and I think that’s excellent.”

You may want to open up your home to a roommate who will also help defray costs. Or you can consider moving to a 55 and over community, where residents frequently interact. The Villages in Florida is a prime example. Another option is the Village to Village Network that helps seniors age in place with support from each other and community services. 

“Explore creative living arrangements as you age, and make plans early,” says Justin Pritchard, a certified financial planner at Approach Financial in Montrose, Colorado. “That might include looking at traditional facilities and exploring creative ideas with friends and loved ones. But even with communal living, it’s smart to have a backup plan.”

Get Your Affairs in Order

Paying an elder law or estate attorney to get your paperwork in order is a wise choice to avoid problems down the road. Part of the trick to getting it right is ensuring that you’re filling out forms that conform to the laws in your state of residence.

“It’s critical to plan for incapacity as a single person. Without a spouse or partner who might automatically step in and manage your household and financial affairs, you need to get proactive,” says Pritchard. “Draft documents with an estate planning attorney to prepare for the unexpected. In particular, exploring power of attorney (POA), and creating medical directives is smart.”

Every older adult needs to have a springing POA granting someone else the authority to handle their financial and personal affairs in the future when and if they cannot. Otherwise, you could be in the position of having a guardian appointed for you by the court, which is expensive and difficult. 

Consider a revocable trust for asset management and protection. This also avoids probate and ensures that even if you become physically or mentally disabled, someone will be able to serve as successor trustee. Check with your attorney to see if this would be a valuable option for you. 

Designating a healthcare proxy ensures that someone you trust will be able to make decisions regarding your health if you become unable to do so. For instance, do you want to be left on a ventilator when you’re in a coma? Would you prefer palliative care, or do you want EMTs to go to any length to try and save you? These decisions may change with time.

Make out a valid will that is accepted in your state. Many people don’t realize that if you’ve moved, it can be as important to make sure you are not still recognized as a resident of a state you lived in previously as to establish residency in your new state.

Preplan your funeral, and let someone you trust know about specific wishes such as burial or cremation. You can fill out a burial remains form for your state regarding your preferences. This is also a good time to donate your organs for scientific research, although it’s a good idea to notify the organization(s) you would like to benefit.

Professional Advisors

A team of professional advisors can ease your mind that everything will go smoothly no matter what happens. A financial advisor can oversee investments and tax strategy. Your elder law attorney will ensure that documents are in order and ready to execute. You may also want a tax professional to handle returns or an estate attorney to manage extensive or complicated assets.

Being a solo ager becomes much easier if you have someone you can count on to make decisions for you if you’re not able to. For many, this can mean reaching out to make new friends. Solo agers need to have paperwork in order so that they can rest easy, knowing everything will be taken care of no matter what the future brings. 

Monday, July 8, 2024

How to Break With Cable

Know you’re paying way too much for cable TV but not sure what to do about it? Read on.

Cable TV is an option, not a necessity, nowadays. Yes, it’s easy to have everything in one service, but there are plenty of ways to put together a system that offers the same programs. With streaming so popular, it may be more cost effective to cut cable and stream only what you want to watch, saving money in the process. How much money? It depends on what you watch.


You’ll still need a good home internet connection and the apps that are either already built into your smart TV or that come with a streamer like Roku or Amazon Fire stick. They’ll allow you to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, HBO Max, Hulu and others, plus free TV streaming options. Your TV is likely already equipped if you bought it in the last couple of years. To verify what your smart TV already has installed, go to the brand and model on the internet to check.

New Internet Product and Prices Mandatory Label

A new Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rule requires internet providers to label products with “Broadband Facts”. Similar to nutrition labeling on packaged foods, the new labels will list price and service information. They are required to be displayed both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Look for these Broadband Facts labels on every internet service offered to compare prices, length of contract (if any), speed, and data.

“Transparency is important because if you and I are putting out our hard-earned money, we deserve to know what we’re buying, what we’re paying for, and it’s not OK for companies to lure you in with one price and then change it on you halfway through the transaction—or worse, after the transaction,” says  Teresa Murray, director of the consumer watchdog office at U.S. PIRG, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Live Streaming

What about sports and local news stations? Check out Sling TV, Philo and YouTube TV live streaming services. For about $25 a month, you can stream most of the live channels available on your cable box, but without signing any contracts. That includes every live NFL game with no cable box and no contract. You can start, cancel and restart any time you want. 

Do you record a lot with the DVR on your cable box? Live TV streaming services offer their own cloud DVR, but you may not need to use it. Netflix, Hulu and so many other services offer streaming on demand. 

Install an Antenna

If you want an easy way to cut costs and still have access to local networks, use an HD antenna. You can watch networks like ABC, NBC and Fox as long as the reception is good where you live. You should be able to get a decent antenna for around $40. Here are some of the best-rated TV antennas along with a guide for getting the best reception

Use your Laptop

The ultimate in simplicity? Just plug your laptop (or nearby desktop) computer into your TV via HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA or DVI cable depending on the port. That will get you hooked into nearly every streaming music and video service available.


You’re still going to need a robust internet connection for streaming. It’s best to get one with unlimited data and don’t skimp on speed. If you’re currently under contract, you’ll have to wait until the contract ends, get hit with the early-termination fee, or negotiate a new contract with your provider. 

Do a Dry Run

Before you cut cable for good, you can try out your substitutions. Hook up whatever hardware and software you’ve decided to use. It’s going to take a little getting used to, but practice makes perfect. Use it for a week or so, enough time to feel assured that you’ve made the right choice. Contact your cable company and tell them you’re ready to unbundle. Enjoy your savings!


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Healthy Summer Recipes to Enjoy this July

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, vibrant, and healthy foods. With an abundance of seasonal produce and warm weather encouraging lighter meals, it's easy to create dishes that are both nutritious and delicious. Here are some healthy summer recipes that will keep you refreshed and energized all season long.

1. Watermelon and Feta Salad

This refreshing salad combines sweet and savory flavors, making it a perfect dish for hot summer days.


  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed

  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, feta cheese, and mint leaves.

  2. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  3. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Toss gently and serve immediately.

2. Grilled Chicken and Veggie Skewers

Grilled skewers are a summer staple, and this version is packed with protein and colorful vegetables.


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks

  • 1 zucchini, sliced into rounds

  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

  2. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.

  3. Add chicken and vegetables to the bowl, tossing to coat evenly.

  4. Thread chicken and vegetables onto skewers.

  5. Grill skewers for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

  6. Serve with a side of quinoa or a green salad.

3. Quinoa Tabbouleh

This light and flavorful salad is a great alternative to traditional tabbouleh, using quinoa instead of bulgur wheat for added protein.


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cucumber, diced

  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

  3. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let it cool.

  4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parsley, mint, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion.

  5. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

  6. Pour dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss to combine.

  7. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

4. Chilled Avocado Soup

This creamy and refreshing soup is perfect for cooling down on a hot day.


  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. In a blender, combine avocados, vegetable broth, Greek yogurt, cucumber, lime juice, and garlic.

  2. Blend until smooth.

  3. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

  5. Serve cold, garnished with fresh cilantro.

5. Berry Yogurt Parfait

This simple and healthy dessert is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth without the guilt.


  • 2 cups Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

  • 1/4 cup granola

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish


  1. In a bowl, mix Greek yogurt and honey.

  2. In serving glasses, layer yogurt, berries, and granola.

  3. Repeat layers until glasses are filled.

  4. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

  5. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

These healthy summer recipes are easy to prepare and perfect for enjoying the season's fresh produce. Whether you're planning a picnic, a barbecue, or just a light meal at home, these dishes will help you stay cool, nourished, and satisfied. Enjoy the flavors of summer while keeping your meals nutritious and delicious!

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

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Retirement Communities Linked to Colleges, Universities

Looking for intellectual stimulation in an intergenerational environment? You don’t have to be an alumnus to enjoy living in a retirement community affiliated with an institute of higher learning.

University-based retirement communities are springing up all over the country. They’re at Stanford, Iowa State, Penn State, Duke and the University of Florida, among more than 100 continuing-care retirement communities (CCRC) in 30 states. Often, they offer free or reduced-price access to classes, music and theater production, athletic events and sometimes even research projects at the partner campus. 

“People need to have purpose in their lives,” says Amber Henninger, an 88 year old resident of Vi at Palo Alto, affiliated with Stanford. She goes to home basketball and football games, serves as an usher at university events and goes to most of the six lectures per month provided in Vi’s auditorium. “Retirement was going to be the next phase of life. It wasn’t going to be the end of life. And to connect with a university gives you so many options.”


Many of these campus communities have a mixture of independent living units, assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing care facilities. The pricing model is a hefty entry fee and monthly payments. How much? The entry fee for a one-bedroom at Vi at Palo Alto will set you back a little more than $1 million, with monthly payments of about $5,770. 

Certified University Retirement Communities

The first certification program for university retirement communities is already here, proposed by senior university retirement community expert Andrew Carle. It looks at a five-criteria model, including:

  1. Close proximity to the host academic institution.
  2. A full continuum of independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing services.
  3. Formalized programming between the community and the academic institution.
  4. A formal business relationship between the community and the academic institution.
  5. A resident population that includes at least 10% alumni, retired faculty or staff in the mix.

For more information about Certified University Retirement Communities, go here. For a listing of the same, go here.

“What it’s about is who you want to spend the rest of your life talking to,” says Linda Cork, a retired Stanford professor who also chose Vi at Palo Alto. Her fellow residents “want to be active mentally. It doesn’t mean we don’t have bridge groups and canasta and mah-jongg, but they are also very interested in the life of the mind.”

Schools Benefit

As enrollment of traditional-age college students has dropped by 4 million over the last decade, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, seniors 65 and over are the fastest growing group in the US. 

"Universities need to diversify, and if they're largely tuition-driven, you need to find other revenue sources,” says Tom Meuser, director of the Center for Excellence in Aging and Health at the University of New England.

Many colleges and universities have an abundance of real estate, and they usually get a cut of retirement housing profits through lease arrangements with developers or they own the facilities outright. They may also benefit from fundraising.

Some CCRC contracts reimburse a portion of entry fees to a resident’s estate upon death. With so many being alumni or retired faculty, there is the possibility for generous bequests from those refunds. 

“This is a strategy to help enhance alumni loyalty and expand the ways alumni can connect to their alma mater, and there are also development opportunities for the universities,” says Brian Carpenter, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who studies the psychology of aging.

The communities can double as living laboratories for schools to study aging and offer work experience to university students enrolled in fields serving and supporting the large senior population. 

"The synergy is here,” Meuser says.

Find a list of CCRCs here. And be sure to contact colleges or universities you may be interested in to see if they’re planning such a community in the near future, as they’re becoming more and more popular.