GOOD MORNING

IT'S SUNDAY

FEBRUARY 23RD 2020











8 min.

You might remember the old joke where a man, having been in an accident, is being loaded into the ambulance and the attendant asks, “Are you comfortable?”. In reply the man says, “I make a living.” He didn’t say he was rich, but his reply signifies that he’s doing okay because he has everything he needs. For him, being wealthy was to be comfortable. For me, and many other older Americans, to say we are “comfortable” is equivalent to being wealthy. 

If you were to have a look at my bank account, you would think I was incredibly poor. And, statistically, you would be correct. As of 2017(The latest figures available) the threshold for poverty under the official measure was $11,756 for an individual age 65 or older*. The federal poverty level for all single individuals is about $29,000 per year. Therefore, my income, which comes solely from Social Security, puts me about $13,000 below that level. And yet, I feel I am far from being poor. Not because I have an anonymous benefactor or a secret bank account in the Caymans, but because, in my later years, I have learned to live with less. I find it odd that I am in this position because it was not always this way.

What seems like a lifetime ago, but in reality is only 10 years, I was like our accident victim in the opening joke. I wasn’t rich, but I was doing okay. I had a nice (overly priced) apartment. A late model heavily insured car. All the high-end electronics I could ever want and enough money left over to allow me to eat at a decent restaurant a few times a month. My wardrobe, though not fancy, was stocked with clothes of good quality. And, because I was working full time, I had a very good, affordable health care plan. I had all that, and then I didn’t.

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish adage meaning, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.” Despite our most careful planning, the Road of Life is unpredictable. At age 62 I lost my job. At 64, I became ill, and, at age 65, I found myself in a nursing home, crippled, broke, and for all practical purposes, homeless.

As I have recounted this story, many times I will not bore you with the details other than to say I was fortunate enough to have the help of a great social worker who guided me through the vagaries of the “system” and found a place for me post-nursing home, where I could live in virtual safety and security while having all of my basic needs taken care of. Naturally, all of this did not come cheap. I had to divest myself of practically everything and completely change, not only my lifestyle, but my priorities too.

America is a funny country. Often they reward you for being poor while they disproportionately tax those who have a little money and those with a lot of money, not as much as they should. Because I had depleted most of my assets and was now poor, I became eligible for Medicaid. And, because I had stayed alive long enough, they automatically put me on the Medicare roles. In addition my disability was enough to have the bulk of my rent here at the ALF, subsidized. 

I say “most” because all (100%) of my Social Security benefits pay the rest. This means I have little in the way of spending cash. What they call “discretionary income.” The state gives all residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities about $20 a month which is held in a resident’s account by the facility. That, along with SSP (a form of SSI but from the state and not the federal government) of about $180 gives me just about enough money to buy essentials like toothpaste, underwear, shaving cream and an occasional takeout pizza. The only things of any value I own are a flat screen TV, a small refrigerator and my lifeline to the world, the laptop I’m using now.

I imagine, for those of you who are living in your own home, surrounded by all of things you have collected over the years and are fortunate enough to have a decent positive cash flow, you shudder at the thought of having to leave that all behind. I suppose too; you abhor the thought of having to become a virtual ward of the state and dependent on them for the roof over your head and the food in your stomach. As someone who worked all of his life and accepted nothing from anybody, I commiserate with you. And for those who say they will never let that happen to them, I say “good luck.” I sincerely mean that. But chances are you will find yourself in a financial crisis where the only way out is to swallow your pride and accept reality. As we age, our ability to bounce back from such a devastating situation becomes more difficult. There just is not enough time to relearn skills or to reinvent yourself. Both internal and external forces often prevent you from doing that. Who will lend a 75-year-old money to start a business or learn a trade? And, if you think you will continue to work to help supplement your income, employers are not knocking down the doors of seniors either.

What I’m saying is that it’s time to become realistic about your future. The way things are now, because of advancements in medicine and living healthier lifestyles, we are outlasting our money. The way you are living now may not exist ten years from now. It would be a smart thing to downsize your life so you’ll be able to ease into minimalism rather than being thrown into it unprepared. One place to get information on this is… https://www.mymove.com/moving/senior-guide-downsizing/. Whether you are approaching retirement or are deep in the throes of a financial setback, it wouldn’t hurt to be ready for what may come……...............................................

*Over 25 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($29,425 per year for a single person). These older adults struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss.


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Managing the Costs of Assisted Living


As people age, various circumstances have to be reassessed. A current living situation might not be meeting the needs of a senior who might be having difficulty caring properly for himself or herself.

Families often consider senior residences to provide welcoming and safe environments for their loved ones during the golden years of their lives. These facilities range from independent living homes offering minimal care to nursing homes that provide more intensive care when needed. Somewhere in the middle are assisted living homes, which blend the independence of personal residences with other amenities, such as housekeeping, medication reminders or meal services.

Assisted living can be a viable option when a person can no longer live alone, but such facilities come with a price. In the 2015 Cost of Care Survey conducted by Genworth Financial, the national median monthly rate for assisted living was $3,600 - and it’s expected to grow. Locally, $5,000 per month is common depending on the level of care needed. Affording these homes and apartments can be challenging for those on fixed incomes, but there are strategies that can help.




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Drinking and Healthy Aging: Know Your Limits
By Paul Sacco, PhD MSW

Alcohol use is common among seniors. Nearly half of older adults aged 65 and older report having consumed alcohol in the past year. They may have a drink at a social event or party, to enhance their mood, or as a means of coping with a difficult symptom such as insomnia. Some older adults even drink alcohol for perceived positive health effects.

Although drinking and alcohol problems are less common in older adults than younger people, alcohol use in older adulthood brings specific risks for seniors. As we age, changes to our body composition and ability to metabolize alcohol mean that alcohol affects older adults more profoundly when they drink. Some evidence even suggests that older drinkers are less aware of these effects, even as they are experiencing them. Unhealthy drinking can lead to other problems over time, such as increased risk of falls, dangerous medication interactions, increased risk of cancer, and, in more severe cases, liver disease and early mortality.

To avoid risk to your overall health, limit their alcohol use. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has created specific guidelines for those aged 65 and older. Those who do not take medication and are in good health should limit their total alcohol consumption to no more than seven drinks per week. Additionally, those 65+ should consume no more than three drinks on any given day. Those with certain medical conditions such as Major Depression, or those taking certain medications (e.g. pain medications) should consume less alcohol or abstain completely.



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Seniors Choose to Endure Discomfort Instead
of Asking Their Children for Assistance

Aeroflow Healthcare Inc. recently published results of a survey whose aim was to shed light on the lack of communication that exists regarding health problems between aging senior citizens and their family or closest friends. The survey was designed and administered by a third-party provider and included polling of 1000 seniors over the age of 60. Participants were sourced from all over North America to participate in the three-day survey.

The survey produced some interesting results as detailed below:

- 64% of participants (seniors) find assisted living preferential to receiving care from family or friends.

- 46% of participants voiced concerns of becoming a burden to their loved ones.

- 54% of participants stressed they would be embarrassed about discussing their incontinence problems with family or friends.

- 52% of participants stated they would rather hide their incontinence issues instead of asking for assistance.




Financial experts warn senior citizens
to not rely solely on Social Security

By: Jon Shainman

Many people move to Florida to retire and relax. But more often, senior citizens are finding they don't have enough green to fully enjoy their golden years.

When Alice Wydra moved to Vero Beach, she felt she had enough to retire on.

"But nothing’s ever enough, you know that," Wydra said, chuckling.

Wydra is not relying solely on Social Security.

"In the past five or six years, my Social Security has gone up $200. That’s not a lot of money," said Wydra.

So to earn a little more, the 80-year-old sells fair tickets in the summer in Massachusetts.

"So I come back with Christmas money and all kinds of extra funds," said Wydra.

According to Yahoo Finance, the average annual Social Security benefit in Florida is just over $18,000, which financial experts said is not enough to get by here.




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NEXT BLOG MONDAY FEB. 24TH 2020


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FEB. 17TH 2020



I’m Okay. You’re Okay, for now.
6-7 min.




An article came across my desk the other day saying long-term care facilities (nursing homes and assisted living facilities) are reporting an increase in cases of EOD, or Early Onset Dementia. Apparently younger people (40, 50- and 60-year-olds) are being admitted to those places with symptoms of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. And, unlike their older counterparts, these early sufferers have no family history of the disease. In addition, the condition presents itself differently than in older patients. It’s more than just forgetting things or not recognizing people. It appears to go to the heart of how they perceive what they see. Their eyes see a dog. They recognize the shape, but they can’t connect what they see with what a dog is. It’s strange and very sad, and we need to learn more about it. So, how does this affect me? It doesn’t, except that I’m glad I don’t have it and never will. Not because I’m some super human, impervious to all defects, illnesses or syndromes, but because I’m just too old for it to effect me. I’m not, however, too old to contract anything and everything else that comes along. That is why, when somebody asks “how are you’’? I always answer, “Okay, for now.’’ You see, at my age, it’s not fortuitous to be too optimistic about the future. It’s not caution or prudence that makes me wary. It’s experience.

Amazingly, I have reached that time of my life where I have already experienced many of the disorders that come with the aging process. In the last ten years, since my 65th birthday, I know firsthand what it feels like to be sick, in pain, delirious, in shock, septic, contagious, infested and hallucinogenic. They have probed me, intubated me, xrayed me, and CAT scanned me. I’ve been sonogram'd, transfused and dialyzed. Not to mention surgically repaired.
 
They have had to haul me out of bed with a Hoya lift and plopped into a wheelchair where I remained for nearly two years. I have endured physical and occupational therapy where I had to re-learn many of the mobility skills most of us take for granted. And I know firsthand what it feels like to get around using a walker a Rollator and a cane. And, I know that just because I have already gone through all of that, does not mean that I won’t have to do it again.I am not alone in this thought.

Most old folks, if not anything else, are realists. We know that after our threescore and ten* we are living on borrowed time. And that even the slightest twinge, twitch, lump, discoloration, wheeze, cough or sneeze could be our last. A simple slip and fall could mean surgery and months of therapy complicated by pneumonia or worse. We also know that we could go at any minute, from something they never diagnosed or even suspected. How many times, when you have inquired about the health of another have heard them say, “He died suddenly in his sleep last week.” They usually follow that by saying, “At least he didn’t suffer” as if it was a reward for not complaining all those years.


"The average lifespan of men in the U.S. dipped to 76.1 years in 2017 (the latest data available), amounting to a four-month decline in life expectancy since 2017 with the National Center for Health Statistics citing an increase in so-called "deaths of despair," such as the rise in drug overdose deaths."

 The truth is, old folks never really feel great. There’s always something that’s making us feel un-well. Seriously, when’s the last time you woke up and something wasn’t hurting you?…. I’ll wait….. I knew it. Never. I came close the other day.
 
I sat up on the edge of my bed expecting my usual lower back twinge of pain. But it never came. I then waited for that little whisper of nausea that usually happens anytime I attempt verticality. Nothing. Not even a belch. It perplexed me. Could it be? One of those rare days when you get up feeling good. I was optimistically cautious. But the big test was yet to come. Standing up.
 
As any old person knows, arising from a sitting position presents a whole new set of problems. Almost every muscle, tendon, bone and joint is put to the test. I ask body parts that have remained virtually dormant all night are to suddenly “get up and go to work.” I braced myself for the agony to come. I stood up slowly at first, expecting my knee to pop or my leg to cramp. But it did not happen. I stood, motionless, for a full 15 or twenty seconds surprised at my good fortune. And then it happened.
 
It started slowly. So slowly a lesser person would not have noticed. But being an individual (as all old people are) so in tune with my body, I became immediately aware something was amiss. Ah! There it was. I had almost forgotten. I stubbed my toe on the bathroom door yesterday (don’t ask me how that happened), and after doing the dance of shame, I thought the pain had gone away. I was wrong. As I took my first step of the new day, it reminded me I don’t heal as quickly as I used to and that I could expect this new pain to be around for the next few days. Finally, a signal I was still alive.  
 
I guess I should be thankful that my chances of dying from a drug overdose are nil, considering I’m not allowed to take any medication an aid doesn’t hand to me. And, since I’m taking anti-depression drugs, my outlook on life is anything but desperate. Also, If genetics plays any role in longevity, I figure I have at least another ten years to contract an illness that will eventually lead to my demise. But maybe, if the air gets cleaner and chemicals in the food doesn’t get me, or I don’t get hit by a bus, I might just beat the odds and become the senile old coot I always wanted to be. But for now, I’m doing okay……………………


*Editor’s note: Three score (years) and ten means 70; a score is an old term for 20. It’s supposed to be the lifespan of a man, as per Psalms 90.




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10 Facts About Senior Living That Will Surprise You
By Kimberley Fowler


Seniors today are facing a different reality when it comes to housing and healthcare than those of past generations.10 Facts About Senior Living That Will Surprise You

Fact #1: “80 is the new 65.”

American Senior Communities reports that with innovations in healthcare and a focus on prevention, seniors today are living “longer, more active and healthier lives.” In fact, by the year 2040, the population of older seniors – people aged 85 years and above – is expected to triple from the 5.7 million there were in 2011 to 14.1 million.

The gender gap in life expectancy is also narrowing – traditionally women have outlived men by approximately seven years. However, the Population Reference Bureau reported that in 2013, the gap had narrowed to less than five years, with the average man living to the age of 76.4 years and the average woman to 81.2 years.

Fact #2: The need for diverse eldercare is skyrocketing.

The PRB reports that with the massive population of aging baby boomers, there could be an “increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care” by up to 75% – from 1.3 million (2010 estimate) to 2.3 million in the year 2030. The increased number of seniors requiring care, in addition to the longer lifespan of Americans, has resulted in a greater need for diverse and patient-centered eldercare, that can adapt and modify with a person’s changing needs as they age.





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Elderly parents don’t always want help — or advice —
from their adult children. This can cause conflict.
By Judith Graham


David Solie’s 89-year-old mother, Carol, was unyielding. “No, I will not move,” she told her son every time he suggested that she leave her home and relocate to a senior living residence.

And it didn’t stop there. Although Carol suffered from coronary artery disease, severe osteoporosis, spinal compression fractures and unsteady balance, she didn’t want assistance. When Solie brought in aides to help after a bad fall and subsequent surgery, his mother soon fired them.

“In her mind, she considered it a disgrace to have anybody in her home,” Solie said. “This was her domain for over 50 years, a place where she did everything by herself and in her own way.”

Conflicts of this sort often threaten relationships between aging parents and their adult children just when understanding and support are needed the most. Instead of working together to solve problems, families find themselves feuding and riven by feelings of resentment and distress.



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Malnutrition is on the rise in older adults –
how to spot the signs
By Taibat Ibitoye


While the obesity crisis is still considered the foremost public health epidemic in the west, one often overlooked condition is quickly becoming a growing concern. Malnutrition, sometimes referred to as under-nutrition, affects an estimated 3 million people in the UK alone. Globally, around 462 million adults are malnourished.

Malnutrition is a condition where a person is deficient in nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals, or not getting enough calories. This has many effects on health and body function, including increased frailty, delayed wound healing, and higher mortality.

Not only that, malnutrition will cost UK health services £13 billion this year alone – and is predicted to cost £15 billion in ten years. Reports also show that it’s also two to three times more expensive to treat someone who is malnourished, compared with someone who is well-nourished. This is because they need more resources to treat them, and a range of health conditions may develop as a result of malnutrition.



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Older Adults and the 2020 Census
By Rosemary Rodriguez

The decennial census is critically important to our democracy for a number of reasons: it determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives; it is used to distribute billions in federal funds for essential programs to local communities, including programs that assist older adults; and it is the baseline for accurate data about our population. Mandated by the Constitution, the next census will begin the second week of March of 2020 and continue through the end of December.

An accurate count of older adults will ensure that the programs that many older adults rely upon are fairly funded. For example, programs like Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, Older American Adult Title grants, Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Low Income Energy Assistance and many others all rely on an accurate census.

A new challenge to counting seniors

Because of the critical need to ensure an accurate count of older adults in Colorado, we at Together We Count are including older adults in our work with hard-to-count populations to ensure that they receive outreach and educational materials to prepare for full participation. Historically, because seniors have been considered a civically engaged population, they have not been considered difficult to count; however, this time the census may seem different to households that have participated in the past. For the first time in history, the primary way to respond to the census will be through the internet. Although there is still the option for a paper response and a phone method has been added for 2020, many seniors may be confused by the changes and many may not respond to phone calls, because of the proliferation of phone scams directed at them. Additionally, research has shown that seniors are much more likely than younger adults to say they never go online. The share of non-internet users ages 65 and older is decreasing, but 27% still do not use the internet, compared with fewer than 10% of adults under the age of 65 .



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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY FEB. 20TH 2020


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FEB 13TH 2020




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2021: No Budget For Old Folks

9 min


Did you see or listen to the state of the union address delivered to congress by the president the other day? The one where the president “forgot” to shake Nancy Pelosi’s hand and at the end, Ms. Pelosi tore up her copy of the address. Yes, that one. For many, those incidents were the highlights of the evening. However, if you had the stomach for it, you might have listened to what he said between the opening and closing remarks. While much of the speech amounted to nothing more than the president patting himself on the back, he said something of special interest for older Americans.
 
Standing before Congress, the justices of the Supreme Court and other distinguished guests and the American people (and, I suppose, God) the president said…
 
“We will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security. Always,”
 
That was on February 4th. Nine days later, on February 10th, the White House delivered its proposed budget for 2021. In that budget there are many increases in federal spending, like $740 plus billion on the military and one trillion dollars (over 10 years) on infrastructure. Conversely, and here’s the part that should interest every American and seniors in particular, the budget proposes “$700 billion… taken… out of Medicaid over 10 years… cuts to food stamps, farm subsides, and student loan programs, and nibbles at Social Security disability benefits and Medicare provider payments.”*

Remember, they wrote that budget day’s if not weeks prior to when he gave the State of the union address (meaning he presumably knew about the content of that budget). Therefore, it appears our president stood there and told a big fat lie.




What Seniors Need To Know About Trump’s 2021 Federal Budget**


Trump's proposed budget reduces Medicare spending by 7% over the next ten years.

“Seniors should think of the proposed budget as President Trump’s “wish list”: not all of his proposals will take effect. Most, but not all, of his proposals would require the cooperation of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate.”

Here are the line items from Trump’s 2021 budget that
would have the greatest impact on seniors.

“The Budget Would Reduce Medicare Spending"

President Trump’s budget would reduce Medicare spending by a total of $756 billion between 2021 and 2030, a decrease of 7%.

Part of this reduction in spending comes from initiatives that the White House says are intended to reduce Medicare fraud. For example, they’ve proposed requiring patients and doctors to ask for prior authorization from Medicare before certain procedures could be performed. And the budget hopes to lower Medicare spending through changes that would encourage more seniors to see nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants as their primary care providers.

Other proposals would cut down on reimbursement rates to healthcare providers, reducing how much doctors, hospitals, and hospices are paid for providing healthcare. Cutting Medicare reimbursement rates is a controversial strategy; in the past, it’s received both support and criticism from Democrats and Republican alike. Some say cutting reimbursement rates saves taxpayers money by cutting into medical industry profits. And the Trump administration’s budgets highlights specific instances where they believe reimbursement rates for doctors are excessive: for example, they cite the fact that doctor’s offices owned by hospitals are often paid more for performing the same procedures than independent physicians.

But cutting reimbursement rates also means that some seniors could lose access to their favorite doctors. Dan Adcock, director of government relations at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said of the cuts to Medicare, he was most worried about the lower reimbursement rates. When reimbursement rates decrease, "you start to affect access, because doctors decide they can't make a decent living," said Adcock.” 

“Trump’s budget calls for a $75 billion decrease to spending on the two federal disability programs, SSDI and SSI, over the next ten years. $10 billion of this reduction comes from reducing the amount of retroactive benefits someone can receive after they’ve been found to be disabled.”

Here’s the proposal that hits me where I live…

Less Money May Be Available for Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care,
and Other Senior Health Costs Covered by Medicaid

“The budget reduces Medicaid spending over the next ten years by 16%. It calls for “Medicaid reform [that] will restore balance, flexibility, integrity, and accountability to the State-Federal partnership.” Although the budget lacks some specifics with respect to Medicaid spending, this language appears to be alluding to Trump’s previous proposals that would transform Medicaid from an “entitlement” program to a “block grant” program. Today, states have the ability to set the eligibility criteria for Medicaid, within certain limits, and the federal government reimburses the states for a percentage of their spending, subject to various rules. Under a block grant proposal, states would receive less funding, but state governments would have more choice on what to spend it on. But “flexibility” sometimes just means it’s up to states to decide what’s on the chopping block: states could raise copays, reduce program eligibility, or make other changes, including making cuts to long-term care coverage.”

Cuts to Meals on Wheels, Utilities Assistance,
Senior Jobs Programs, and Attorneys for Seniors


“The budget would also eliminate funding for the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps seniors who can’t afford to live on Social Security alone find part-time work.

And like previous Trump budgets, the 2021 proposal would eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation. Legal Services funding is used to provide attorneys for low-income seniors facing civil legal issues, including foreclosure, eviction, elder abuse, and estate planning. Other than private donations, LSC funding is the main source of civil legal assistance for seniors.”

Broken Promises to Protect Seniors

“Kevin Prindiville, the executive director of Justice in Aging said, “This budget demonstrates the lack of commitment to the safety, security and needs of older adults in our community.”

“Instead of prioritizing senior issues, the proposed budget recommends shelling out serious cash on new space expeditions to Mars, increases to military spending, and maintaining expensive tax breaks for corporations.”

While there is much to ponder here, the one thing that is clear is Trump has taken direct aim at seniors and low income seniors in particular. This is an outrage and should be condemned by every member of Congress no matter what their political affiliation or who their constituents are. At a time when America, like the rest of the world, is getting grayer (the Silver Tsunami)*** we should be looking for ways to make the lives of seniors better………………………………….


*Source: https://theweek.com/speedreads/894813/trumps-48-trillion-budget-cut-domestic-safety-net-hike-military-spending
** source:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/elenabotella/2020/02/10/what-seniors-need-to-know-about-trumps-2021-federal-budget/#6b3da4263842
*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silver_Tsunami




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4 changes that could affect Social Security in 2020

If you’re one of almost 69 million Americans who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you’ll notice a small change in your monthly check this year.

More than 63 million beneficiaries will receive a 1.6% cost-of-living adjustment this month. The 8 million SSI beneficiaries received their COLA on Dec. 31.

Put another way: The average monthly benefit for all retired workers will rise from $1,479 to $1,503 this month. And the average monthly benefit for couples who both receive benefits will rise from $2,491 to $2,531.

That’s one of many changes beneficiaries and would-be beneficiaries can expect in 2020.

Here are some others:


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Enjoy geezerhood for all it’s worth!
By Nancy Katz


For me, getting older is a pleasure. Age has become a huge part of every discussion today. Books are written about how to cope personally with becoming a senior. They always start with a title involving a path with a picture usually leading into a forest, as if there is an assisted-living tree growing there. And even politics has entered the fray, questioning a candidate’s last bonehead statement; this may also accompany a bone-density scan.

Geezerhood is vastly underrated. I hear so many people lamenting the fact that they are getting on in years, when in fact, they should be celebrating all the advantages of being a golden oldie.

And I’m not talking about getting a senior discount on purchases, or leaving that left-hand turn signal on until you trade in the car. No, the real joy of getting older is that you can act crotchety and mean, complaining and displaying an attitude of sour grapes with few repercussions. Younger people accept the fact that it comes with the territory and are usually very forgiving. After all, just look at the tight-lipped smile on the photographs of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sitting for their class picture. Good luck arguing that case!



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What the 2020s have in store for aging boomers

Within 10 years, all of the nation's 74 million baby boomers will be 65 or older. The most senior among them will be on the cusp of 85.

Even sooner, by 2025, the number of seniors (65 million) is expected to surpass that of children age 13 and under (58 million) for the first time, according to Census Bureau projections.

"In the history of the human species, there's never been a time like [this]," said Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, referring to the changing balance between young people and old.

What lies ahead in the 2020s, as society copes with this unprecedented demographic shift?



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Evicted from a nursing home?
It happens more than you might think

By Beth Baker

Moving a loved one into a nursing home can be difficult. Getting settled in a new environment, surrounded by strangers, is a challenge for anyone, often made harder if the person has cognitive impairment. Once the transition is made, family members hope it will be a long-term solution. But Laurice Redhead, of Washington, D.C., learned the hard way that nursing homes can force a person to leave.

Redhead’s late mother, Rosa Diggs, ended up in a nursing home after a bout of pneumonia and a hospital stay in 2009 ended up with doctors inserting a tracheotomy to help her breathe. The tracheotomy tube, which she had for the rest of her life, prevented Diggs from speaking.

With additional diagnoses of osteoporosis, arthritis and some cognitive impairment — all requiring complex care — Diggs spent the last couple of years of her life in multiple nursing homes.


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MONDAY FEB. 10TH 2020

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7-8 min’s

There’s been a lot of talk about Socialism, and Democratic Socialism in particular, the last few months. A few of the Democratic presidential hopefuls have expounded the virtues of at least some form of socialism as part of their fix for America. Therefore, a brief discussion on what Democratic Socialism is and what it means for our country and older Americans in particular, might be of some value.
 
If you agree with Winston Churchill who said of Socialism that it’s “A philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”  Or, that America does not already have Socialist-type programs in place that have worked well for many years, then you might as well stop here and go back to posting pictures of your cat.


As old-timers we have many misconceptions about socialism, especially when we compare it with Communism, a dirty word in our lexicon. Many of us watched Senator Joseph McCarthy, who presided of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s, ruin the lives of people who he dubbed as having “communist leanings” without really having a shred of evidence on any of them. Merely mentioning the word Communism to a friend or a group could get you in a lot of trouble. The cold war was in full swing and our enemy, the Soviet Union, was a Communist state. Therefore, anything that had to do with, or sound like Communism was the same as being anti-American and dangerous to the way of life we enjoyed.

An organization known as the Democratic Socialists of America (dsausa.org) define Democratic Socialism as follows.

They believe…

“….working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives. In addition, the United States—like every other country with an advanced economy, such as the U.K., Germany, France, and Japan—is already a partly socialist country, with a mixed economy and many government programs that serve the public good. By this definition, Social Security is a “socialist” program: it’s a government-run pension system that cuts out private money managers. Medicare—a single-payer, government-run health insurance program for those over 65–is too. Medicare-For-All would extend this to the rest of the population. 

The minimum wage, maximum hour, and child labor laws that go back over a century are likewise “socialist” programs, in that the government intervenes in the capitalist market to require employers to meet minimum standards that might not be met in a pure, unregulated “free” market. Agricultural and energy subsidies are likewise socialist programs. I could go on and on.

Stripped of the Red-baiting and name-calling, the real debate isn’t between capitalism vs. socialism, but about the appropriate balance between the two.” **

While Democratic Socialism has much that appeals to younger voters, older Americans remain sceptical. They remember the old Soviet Union or Communist China or even North Korea and how miserable were the lives of those who lived under that system and are afraid that’s the direction it will head us towards. Unfortunately, what they don’t remember (or aren’t old enough to have lived through), the great depression of the 1930s and how two very socialist programs started by a Democratic president, pulled us through one of the darkest times in US history. I’m talking about the NRA (National Recovery Act), which brought about the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), and the WPA (Workers Progress Administration) that put millions of unemployed people back to work and to, once again, become contributing members of society.

The Bottom Line:

America will never become a Communist country, nor will it become a country where the government will control or own all our means of production, education and healthcare. We are too rooted in Capitalism for that to happen. They founded this nation on that system and it has worked well for us for many years. But the capitalism that many of us grew up on has changed over the years. We have become greedier. The divide between the rich and poor has widened and the middle-class (the backbone of our society) is disappearing as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

As capitalists, we should have no problem with people getting rich through hard work, some smarts and a little luck. What we should have doubts about is why should a CEO earn fifty or one hundred times that of the average worker under him, or why they fire inept CEO’s and then given millions of dollars of what amounts to a going away present for doing such a poor job. In addition, we should be very concerned why those CEO’s don’t pay their fair share of taxes or why the corporations they work for pay little or no tax. This needs to be fixed.

Finally, it is important for us, as seniors, to be aware of the attacks upon our Social Security, Disability, Medicare and Medicaid programs which Conservatives say they won’t touch while instituting legislation (or not voting on pending legislation) which does just the opposite. In my opinion, Socialism just wants to “even the score” for all of us. …………………
 
*Source: https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/what-is-democratic-socialism/
**Source: https://ourfuture.org/20190207/sorry-donald-america-already-is-a-socialist-country
***Source: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/dems-should-campaign-on-socialism-for-seniors-in-2020.html


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1 in 7 Older Americans Feel They'll Never Be Ready for Retirement
Here are some important steps to take if you feel the same way.

By Maurie Backman

Retirement is an exciting milestone for many Americans, but a scary one for others. After all, it's hard to go from earning a steady paycheck to suddenly throwing caution to the wind and hoping your savings and Social Security benefits will be enough to sustain you for what could easily be a 30-year period of life or longer. And while you can do your best to plan for your golden years, increases in living costs and other surprises can still render you cash-strapped down the line.

It's not surprising, then, to see that roughly 14% of Americans aged 50 and over are convinced they'll never really be ready for retirement, according to Nationwide. If that's how you feel, here are a few ways to improve your outlook.

1. Know your costs

Though you can't predict what every single expense you incur in retirement will look like over time, you can do your best to estimate your living expenses by mapping out a budget for your golden years in advance. Decide where you want to live, whether you'll rent or own a home, and what sort of lifestyle you're hoping to maintain (traveling and joining a country club will cost a lot more than spending time in your neighborhood and starting a book or gardening club). By having a solid idea of what retirement will cost you, you'll be able to better prepare for it.




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When Does Someone Become ‘Old’?
By Joe Pinsker

It’s surprisingly hard to find a good term for people in late life.

Once people are past middle age, they’re old. That’s how life progresses: You’re young, you’re middle-aged, then you’re old.

Of course, calling someone old is generally not considered polite, because the word, accurate though it might be, is frequently considered pejorative. It’s a label that people tend to shy away from: In 2016, the Marist Poll asked American adults if they thought a 65-year-old qualified as old. Sixty percent of the youngest respondents—those between 18 and 29—said yes, but that percentage declined the older respondents were; only 16 percent of adults 60 or older made the same judgment. It seems that the closer people get to old age themselves, the later they think it starts.

Overall, two-thirds of the Marist Poll respondents considered 65 to be “middle-aged” or even “young.” These classifications are a bit perplexing, given that, well, old age has to start sometime. “I wouldn’t say [65] is old,” says Susan Jacoby, the author of Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age, “but I know it’s not middle age—how many 130-year-olds do you see wandering around?”


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What not to wear over 60.
 The ranteuse returns.

By Kay Scorah.

It has come to my attention that there are internexperts out there keen to help me to save myself from the utter humiliation of dressing in a manner inappropriate to my advanced years.

According to one of these, “Your main aims are to create stylish, smooth, lines using contemporary clothing styles that flatter your body shape and coloring..”

Strange as it may seem, dear, my main aim is NOT to “create stylish smooth lines using contemporary clothing styles that flatter my body shape and coloring”. Rather, my main aims, in no particular order are a) to smash patriarchy, b) to help develop an alternative to corporate capitalism that enables peace and equality and c) to have witty and charming people enjoy good food and conversation around my dinner table. And, by the way, I believe that the word you were looking for is “colouring”.

Let’s move on to this gem: “Looking at a full-length mirror after 60 is like running a gauntlet filled with emotional traps, irrational comparisons and destructive media messages.”




Most of Your Stuff Is Worthless
3 Things You Should Be Doing NOW to Reduce What You Own

By Siobhan Kratovil


My husband and I have walked into my late mother-in-law’s house for the last time.

We are in the process of settling her estate, including the sale of her house and disposition of everything in it.

From a hutch filled with china and crystal goblets to overflowing jewelry boxes and coin collections. And everything in between.

A lot in between.

Her clothes. The Notre Dame sweaters my late father-in-law was so fond of wearing. Her furniture. Furniture inherited from her mother-in-law, still in the same place in the garage where it was originally placed 30 some-odd years ago. My husband’s Cub Scout uniform. Christmas decorations. Lots and lots of Christmas decorations.



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7min

I am told that a man of my advanced years can expect to encounter a certain amount of memory loss.

“Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don't remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems, like Alzheimer's disease.”*

But, the truth be told, except for the occasional forgetting of a name or what someone said at a recent meeting, I have experienced little of that. Something, for which, I am grateful. And, if genetics** has anything to do with cognitive ability, I should be able to maintain that state for years to come. So, while my body may deteriorate over the years, my mind will be around to remember it all. Something to look forward to, huh?

Let’s say you are exhibiting signs of memory loss? How much is too much?

First, you are not alone. According to government stats…

 “About 40% of people aged 65 or older have age associated memory impairment—in the United States, about 16 million people.”***

What memory problems are an expected part of normal aging?****

“Simple forgetfulness (the “missing keys”) and delay or slowing in recalling names, dates, and events can be part of the normal process of aging. There are multiple memory processes, including learning new information, recalling information, and recognizing familiar information. Each of these processes can get disrupted, leading to the experience of forgetting. There are also different types of memory, each of which can be affected differently by normal aging as shown below.”

Preserved memory functions
  • “Remote memory (ability to remember events from years ago)”
  • “Procedural memory (performing tasks)”
  • “Semantic recall (general knowledge)”

Declining memory functions
 “Learning new information”

Well, that’s good to know. But when have things gone too far? At what point should we worry that simple forgetfulness may be a sign of something worse?

According to experts, they consider memory problems that interfere with everyday living problematic. While it’s okay to occasionally forget where you put your car keys, it’s not okay to forget what the car keys are for or what we use cars for.
By now you are probably thinking, “My gosh, if I live long enough my brain will to turn into mush?” But that’s not true. The way things stand now, we don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s or any advanced cognitive decline or what we can do to prevent it. 

Unfortunately, while much is being done in the way of research, the information gleaned from that research is not conclusive. The best data shows “certain lifestyle choices, such as physical activity and diet, may help support brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s.” Notably, “many of these lifestyle changes have been shown to lower the risk of other diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s. With few drawbacks and plenty of known benefits, healthy lifestyle choices can improve your health and possibly protect your brain.”§

As a resident of an assisted living facility you will encounter people who exhibit a full range of cognitive ability. Unless the facility where you live is an “Enhanced Facility”, the cases of cognitive decline you will confront will be mild. This can be anything from forgetting a doctor’s appointment or when to eat lunch to not remembering where the office is or even where their room is. Most times, the increasing frequency with which those incidents occur is the exact reason they are here. People with mild cognitive problems rarely have any problem co-existing with other residents and do well with the help of a trained staff who know how to deal with those folks. The real problems occur when a lack of memory or mild confusion transitions to hostility or belligerence or actual physical encounters between residents. Usually, after consultation, they remove those residents to a facility≠ set up to handle such cases.

They encourage residents of assisted living facilities to handle such encounters with restraint. We are told not to get into a one-on-one confrontation with people in an agitated state and to report such incidents to a supervisor. They usually give first-time offenders some counseling and told that repeated incidents will cause eviction. In the nearly 6 years I have been an ALF resident, I have only witnessed three such removals. 

The bottom line is we all know we can expect to have physical decline as we age. And, as much as this may frighten us, nothing causes us more concern than the prospects of loosing one’s mind. For many of us, that’s all we really have left to keep us wanting to continue living. Any disengagement with reality is tantamount to a change in personality. If our mind goes, are we really who we are? And will others still love us?………………………….

 
*https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/do-memory-problems-always-mean-alzheimers-disease
**Both my mother and father were sound of mind well into their eighties
***Only about 1% of them will progress to dementia each year.
****https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11826-memory-problems-what-is-normal-aging-and-what-is-not
§ HTTP://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/prevention

≠Editor’s note: Enhanced facilities are those that have a separate department to handle those with advanced cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s. This consists of a separate wing or floor. Separate dining facility and well as specialized recreational activities. Contact with the general population of ALF residents is limited or non-existant.


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Avoid obstacles to long-term-care claims


Buying long-term-care insurance is usually a smart way to protect your finances and your family from the potentially massive cost of care.

But after paying premiums for years, you don’t want the insurance company to hassle you — or your children — when you submit a claim.

In many cases, 20 years or more have passed between buying the policy and using the benefits, and in that time the types of care and rules for new policies might have changed. Even if the insurance company ultimately pays out, the claims process can be slow and complicated.

Here are tips to help the process go smoothly:




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CMS proposal would be ‘major financial burden’
for CCRCs, residents

A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regulation effectively proposing new Medicaid taxes could “lead to a major financial burden” for continuing care retirement communities and residents — and even the closure of skilled nursing units within CCRCs — in 18 states, according to the heads of LeadingAge and the National Continuing Care Residents Association, who sent a letter this week to members of Congress in the potentially affected states.

The Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation would disallow longstanding provider tax exemptions and discounts for some CCRCs, also known as life plan communities, despite the fact that the “vast majority” of residents pay for care in CCRCs out-of-pocket, not using Medicare or Medicaid funds, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan and NaCCRA President Jim Haynes said.

LeadingAge has identified 18 states that currently exempt CCRCs from the tax program or levy a discounted tax on the communities. ....


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America is Aging. And Seniors Will Suffer Disproportionately
From a World Built Around Driving.

American culture may treat driving as a universal activity, but think for a minute about the people in your life who never or rarely drive.

Our world is isolating and disempowering for the 32% of Americans who do not even have a driver's license.  This includes children, those without access to a car, those with a disablility that precludes driving. Even among those who are licensed drivers, there are many more who drive rarely or never. And this is especially true of a rapidly growing number of senior citizens for whom driving has become more difficult or taxing.

In the early days of the automobile, it was a luxury, great for weekend picnics or sightseeing rides through the countryside. Gradually we've built a world where the car is instead, as Jeff Speck says, a "prosthetic device." We need it to function with any sort of convenience or dignity, and as we've denuded, flattened and spread out our cities, we've made it so things exist not only at too great distances to walk, but even to drive at slow speeds.

And older Americans—who will number 77 million by the year 2034—are one group who suffer disproportionately from this world we've built.



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Are you prepared for 8,000 days of retirement?
By Ken Morris

My financial journals are always packed with the most recent tax law changes, innovative financial strategies and, of course, new planning ideas and suggestions.

I recently came across a study that I actually found quite refreshing. Conducted by Hartford Funds, the study segmented life into four 8,000-day phases. The first 8,000 days of life are considered the Learning Phase, which begins at birth and lasts through the college years.

Growing, the second 8,000-day phase, includes launching your career, becoming a homeowner, getting married and having children. The prime of your career dominates Maturing, the third phase. These 8,000 days may consist of a larger home, better vacations and perhaps even grandchildren.

I’m most interested in the fourth and final phase, which Hartford calls Exploring. The reason for my interest is that most of us refer to that segment by another name. Retirement.


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NEXT BLOG MONDAY FEB. 10TH 2020


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FEB. 3 2020





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Editor’s Note: Because this post was written before the actual outcome of the Super Bowl or the final vote in the impeachment trial was known, I left out certain specifics. However, I think it’s safe to say that there will be a winner of the the Super Bowl. And, barring a miracle, the likelihood of Trump being found guilty is slim to none.

They decided two critical contests since our last blog. One was clear, distinct and definitive. The other, not so much.

They fought one contest between two teams of well trained, brave, dedicated men whose only aim was to prove who was the best at what they do. The other, by a group of sniveling cowards who, when put to the test, turned and ran from their duties.
 
Whether or not your team won the Superbowl, at least they treated you to a contest where both sides played by the rules that, was enforced by officials whose only interest in the game was to make sure the rules applied equally to everybody on the field. Yes, I know some players try to get away with breaking some of those rules and may even succeed but they mostly follow them. Not for benefit of any one team or for any one player, but for the good of the game.
 

Okay, maybe the analogy isn’t perfect, but you have to admit, at least we can come away from watching the game knowing they didn’t damage any of the game’s fundamentals and we can count that they will maintain that integrity for next season and for many seasons to come. Unfortunately, what we gained from the fiasco in Washington this past week left us wondering just how much damage they did to our nation, our Constitution and the very bedrock on which they founded this country.

I am not usually a politically minded person. The truth be told; I have always found politics (and governing process) boring. I will even go as far to say many other Americans felt the same. And, in some small way, that’s how they meant it to be. I believe our founding fathers devised a plan so that the average citizen could go through life confident in the fact our government would run itself. And that the “rules” were so well constructed as to make it nearly impossible to screw up.
 
The gentlemen who drew up our Constitution, knowing how bad things could get if one man could make all the critical decisions* devised an almost foolproof scheme of checks and balances to prevent such a thing from happening. I said “almost foolproof.” As we witnessed last week, we now know even our forefathers weren’t perfect. They made two very critical mistakes which, as history will show, has come back to haunt them.

The first mistake the writers of our Constitution made was this thing called “executive privilege.” While it may be okay for the presidents to have the final say in matters of policy, to use that privilege as a shield to smugly hide behind puts the president in a position where he becomes better than the people he was elected to govern. Clearly, Hamilton and the others did not want the chief executive of our nation to have monarch-like power. In their defense, I’m sure they never thought there would be an elected president who feels so comfortable in using that privilege every time things get a little tough. But then, they didn’t think we would elect a man who is so clearly unfit to hold office. However, that loophole is minor compared to the real big goof our founders made.

The “big goof” I’m talking about is allowing the president to have almost complete control over who becomes a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, The one governing body that REALLY has the last say over the constitutionality of the very laws that control the way we live, the way we treat others and they way we are governed. There is congressional approval involved in the decision, but when most of that congress has become so mesmerized, bamboozled or “in the side pocket” of the man who proposed the candidate in the first place as to not see the dangers in “stacking” the court, then the system of checks and balances has failed us. And, there isn’t much we can do about it outside of changing the constitution. And we are presently way too divided as a nation for anything like that to happen.

I cannot end this little rant without giving my opinion of this whole impeachment thing and the subsequent “trial” that followed. And, my thoughts on the matter may surprise you. Reluctantly, I will agree with the Republicans on some of what they believe. Especially the part about high crimes and misdemeanors. To my dismay, the Democratically lead House did not prove without a doubt that the President committed an impeachable crime. Was it dirty politics? Yes. Did Trump do it to advance his own career? Most likely. Have presidents done it before? Sure, why not? But, the way our self-centered, “what’s-in-it-for-me” society in which we live, what POTUS did becomes just another “tell me something I didn’t know” moment.
 
The only reason they quitted the President is because you cannot remove a man from office for being a schmuck. If we could, we would be waving bye-bye to Trump and his cohorts. As Pete Buttigieg said, the real jurors will be the American public come November. Let’s hope we never make the mistake of electing a snake oil salesman again……...............................................
 
 
*48 of the 56 signers were born in America. Two were born in England (Button Gwinnett, Robert Morris), two in Ireland (George Taylor, Matthew Thornton), two in Scotland (James Wilson, John Witherspoon), one in Northern Ireland (James Smith), and one in Wales (Francis Lewis). Therefor, many of them knew how omnipotent a king could be and didn’t want any part of that in the U.S.
Source: https://declaration.fas.harvard.edu/faq/how-many-signers-were-born-american-colonies

 

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How to Decide Where to Retire
By Rachel Hartman

One of the freedoms of retirement is getting to choose where to live. Rather than being tied to a specific city due to work or school commitments, the entire world suddenly becomes a potential place to retire. Before leaping to a new town, state or country, it’s worth exploring the impact the choice could have on your lifestyle, family commitments and well-being.


Use these criteria to select a retirement spot:

  •     Think about the cost of living.
  •     Consider the quality of life.
  •     Evaluate the tax environment.
  •     Look at the climate.
  •     Factor in travel plans.
  •     Start with a trial run.

Here is how to find the ideal place to spend your retirement....



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Start getting paperwork together for taxes
By NICK GOSNELL

It's time to start getting your paperwork together for your 2019 tax return.

"Especially if you go see a tax professional, they don't really want you to come in before you have all your documents, because then you'll have to come back," IRS spokesperson Michael Devine said. "They can't do it accurately. If you're doing it yourself using tax software, one of the things the IRS recommends is using Free File. Go to IRS.gov, click on the link to Free File."

You can file for free if your AGI was $69,000 or less and you were between the ages of 17 and 51 or you were active-duty military or you qualify for the Earned Income Credit. There are also simpler forms for older taxpayers, regardless of income.



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There are at least 4 different ways of aging, scientists say.
What's yours?
By Erika Edwards

Anyone who has attended a class reunion has seen firsthand that people age in different ways. Some former classmates appear to have aged a century within just a few decades, while others look just as they did fresh from 11th grade English class.

Now, a study published Monday in Nature Medicine takes a deeper look at what’s going on at a molecular level, offering a possible explanation for why we age differently, and raising the tantalizing possibility that we could one day have an impact on our personal aging process through targeted medication or lifestyle changes.

Still, the research — on what a group of Stanford University scientists are calling "ageotypes" — is still in its infancy. But outside experts heralded the study as an important step toward learning more about aging.



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Bridging the Retirement Gap: Crack the
Nest Egg Before Taking Social Security


Hiding in plain sight is a simple, low-cost, and effective tool to meaningfully increase retirement income: newbie retirees should live off their 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA), or other savings and delay taking Social Security, ideally until age 70.

Each year a person postpones Social Security from age 62 until 70, his or her benefit increases by roughly 8 percent. As an added bonus, those lifetime Social Security benefits, including the 8-percent bump, will be increased annually for inflation. In effect, the retiree is buying an annuity from Social Security.

An October 2019 paper from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College confirms that this Social Security delaying tactic can have significant advantages for retirees. Employers should educate, and perhaps encourage, near retirees to consider this approach.

Here’s how it could work. ...



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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY FEB. 6TH 2020


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POSTED JAN. 30TH 2020

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To the untrained eye, the dining room of a senior center, senior residence or assisted living facility may appear to be just a place where old folks sit and quietly eat a nutritious, if not appetizing meal, complain the soup was cold, or they didn’t cook the rice properly and, admonish the servers for their haphazard service and hate everything put in front of them. But, in actuality, it is much more than that. Every day, three times a day, me and my fellow residents here at the Asylum come out of our little nests, crib’s and warrens, hobble, wheel, or roll down a corridor and head straight for the one place where we engage in conversation and exchange information as well as eat. And that conversation spans the gamut of every conceivable, and inconceivable topic, known to man. The dining experience takes us away from the often abject boredom of being in an unnatural setting surrounded by people who may not be in the best of health or whose minds are in a place of dreams and remembrances.

Besides eating, meal times is a way of getting people to socialize whether or not they want to. Residents, especially new residents or those people who feel someone forced them to come here, often become reclusive and withdraw within themselves. But the one thing they have to do every day is getting themselves to the dining room and sit with other people and hopefully engage in conversation. The saddest thing to watch is a resident who sits by himself, doesn’t attend any meetings or activities and is reluctant to interact with others. And, while some of their behavior may be because of a medical or emotional problem, often it's just a matter of someone introducing themselves and welcoming them to the community. As a member of the resident’s council here at the Center, I try my best to make them feel comfortable. It doesn’t always work, but at least I tried.

Even outside of an institutional or group setting, food provides more than just a way of filling one’s stomach. It is a way of connecting to the past and a forum for imparting one’s “wisdom” (or at the very least, their view on life) to past, present and future generations. Who among us has not found it fascinating or amusing listening to stories told to us by our grandparents. And who hasn’t been happy when told a certain favorite uncle or aunt or family friend is coming to dinner? It’s not the food that brings you to the table but the surrounding people. Not that the food should be secondary. What we consume should be as interesting as the people who partake in it. A point missed by the people who prepare the food we seniors eat. Interesting conversation cannot ensue if that conversation centers on how bad the food is.

Barring any dietary restrictions, older folks can and will eat everything anybody else likes to eat. Including fast food, pizza, Chinese takeout and yes, even sushi. And, just because our tastebuds may not be what they used to be, does not mean we still don’t know what ingredients go with what foods and in what quantities. If your grandmother tells you the sauce needs more garlic, believe me, it does. And just because we may not see as we used to does not license the preparer to feed us burnt, overcooked, or undercooked food and think it’s okay.
Unfortunately, today, meals involving the whole family are rare. And meals where the extended family are present are even more uncommon. My favorite dinners as a kid, and then as an adult were those where different family members got together. Thanksgiving, and later, Christmas day dinner with my wife’s family still fill my memory with warm, happy thoughts. And, while we are discussing marriage, how many life-long friendships began over a meal (not to mention marriage proposals and breakups too). 

Food is important, for the mind and the body. Sorry for the cliche, but it’s true. We need food to keep us alive and to fulfill our status as social creatures. How sad a place the world would be if we all ate our meals in solitary silence. If facilities that cater to seniors really want to a place feel like home, spend more resources on dinnertime and a little less on Bingo. ………...............
 

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Senior Nutrition - Healthy Eating Tips & Resources

Healthy eating begins with you! Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent. You’ll also spend less time and money at the doctor. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.

The definition of healthy eating does change a little as you age. For example, as you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.

Explore the materials below to get tips on how to find the best foods for your body and your budget.
Our Healthy Eating Videos

Watch our Next Steps to Better Nutrition videos to get practical shopping and cooking tips. Feel free to share them with older adults in your community!

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Making healthy food choices

Easy Comfort Foods with a Twist

Tips for Picking Healthy Food as You Get Older

Here are 6 tips to help you find the best foods for your body and your budget.....




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Elderly Nutrition 101: 10 Foods To Keep You Healthy

Proper diet and a healthy life go hand in hand, especially for older adults over the age of 65. According to reports by World Health Organization (WHO), a majority of the diseases that older people suffer are as a result of lack of proper diet.

For instance, fat in food is linked cancer of the prostate, colon, and pancreas. Degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis and diabetes are also diet-related, more specifically with micronutrients.

Micronutrients deficiency is shared among the elderly due to factors such as reduced food intake and lack of variety in their diet.

Age-Related Challenges

Age-Related Challenges that Hinder Proper Nutrition:

Decreased Sensitivity

As you advance in age, your senses become numbed down; it takes more energy and time to trigger a stimulus. Your sense of smell and taste decreases reducing your appetite.

In some cases, you may even have trouble differentiating fresh food from stale since your senses are compromised. This, without any doubt, would be detrimental to your health.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications cause nausea, reduced appetite, and change ....




Why Seniors Have Different Nutritional Needs
By : Dana Larsen

Dr. Lindsay Jones-Born is a naturopathic physician who provides a breadth of expertise about how nutritional needs change as we age.Why Seniors Have Different Nutritional Needs

Eating well is important for good nutrition at any age, but it is even more necessary for older adults because nutritional needs change. Adequate nutrition is necessary for health, quality of life and vitality. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many seniors do not eat as well as they should. This can lead to poor nutrition or malnutrition. Reducing calorie intake can also easily get mistaken as a disease or illness.

How Our Bodies Change As We Age

There are many reasons our bodies change as we get older, including perceptual, physiological and general age-related conditions. These changes all influence the performance of each person’s body as a whole, which in turn influences our eating, nutritional intake, and overall health.




10 Tips On Cooking For ONE

I hear plenty of lamenting out there about this topic from so many single people who feel like cooking for one is depressing, or not “worth” the effort, or more expensive than eating out, etc.  And hey, I’ll be the first to admit that at times any of those things can sometimes be true.  But over the years, I have actually grown to completely love and value the experience of cooking for one.  Even more, I actually look forward to it!

Because let’s be real, there are some total perks to cooking for one.  You get to cook exactly what you want, whenever you want.  You don’t have to worry about catering (literally) to someone else’s cravings or preferences or special diets.  You can have an epic dance party to Taylor Swift, in your pajamas, glass of red wine in hand, cooking up egg drop soup for the third night in a row without a care in the world of anyone else watching (or, um, judging).  You can experiment and try new dishes and ingredients and put in the time to learn some new skills.  And hey, if the meal goes down in flames (hopefully not literally) as an epic flop, you don’t have to worry about having ruined anyone else’s dinner!

Bottom line — it is what you make it.  And if given the option, I’ll choose the fun and empowering and delicious approach to cooking for one any day.



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NEXT BLOG MONDAY FEB. 3RD 2020


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8 min.


Unlike many of my contemporaries (I.e. Old codgers) I am not stuck in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. I am a person of the moment. I enjoy the “new stuff.” I like current technology and believe that it helps us live better. And, while I think the cars of my youth were more fun than what we have today, they were not better made, safer or easier to drive. And no, TV was not better back then. It was silly, naive, and pretentious. The only thing it was, was new. However, my lack of passion for the past does not mean that, every once in a while, I don’t wax nostalgic about some things we had and did “ way back when.” Some of that revolves around how much simpler things were and how even the smallest of things could make us happy.

While I don’t think of the “good old days” often, it doesn’t take much for something to bring back memories. One of those “triggers” happened the other day.
 
I was scrolling through posts on my Facebook page when an add popped up for, of all things, a Parker T-Ball Jotter ballpoint pen. Why they directed this ad toward me or why the advertiser thought I would be interested in buying a pen, I do not know. But there it was, in all of its slender, black and brushed aluminum glory. A true item from my past. And, an item most young people, if presented one today, would look at, say thanks, and put it in a drawer, unused. Not that kids today don’t write, they just do it a different way. Usually with a word processor or smart phone. If they use a pen at all, it’s a disposable one. Who, today, would even think of buying a pen that costs more than $10 (and needs to be refilled) when you can buy a box of 60 throw-away pens for five bucks?

Bic pens have been in the US since 1958, but it was not my pen of choice. The problem with disposable p
ens is you have to put the cap back on before you put it back in your shirt pocket or risk the chance of being the proud owner of a permanent ink stain. Something your mom was not happy about. And, since using a pocket protector made you look like a nerd and considered ’’de rigueur " the retractable pen was the way to go. It was fast and, more important, clean. In addition, the “clicking” sound made by 30 or 40 of your classmates pens was the signal it was time to start class. And, blessedly, it was the sound that signaled the end of the class forty minutes later.

To a school kid
, the pen was as important as a baseball players mitt or a surgeon's scalpel. Therefore, having a decent pen with which to write could mean the difference between a tolerable school day and a crappy one. Back then, the pen of choice among those of us who took writing copious notes seriously or just liked to draw on the cover of his green canvas loose-leaf book, was the Parker T-ball Jotter. Blue medium point.

It not only looked good and wrote well, it felt good in the hand. The retracting mechanism had a solid well-made feel to it. And, in an era when planned obsolescence was already rearing its ugly head (most late 1950s so called “durable goods” like refrigerators, washing machines and even cars were made or designed to last only a few short years) the solid Parker pen was the one affordable thing you could count on to be around for a while. Longevity, even back then, was important to a kid.
 
The pop-up pen ad got me thinking about other things I like about the past. One of those things was my bike. Especially my first 26 inch model. I remember the day I got it as if it were yesterday. After years of riding a child’s 24 inch bike, I was ready to move up. My father knew it was time too. So, one Saturday morning, my dad and I walked over to Buddy’s bicycle shop to pick out a new, grown-up bike. It was a great feeling. A feeling that I would not have for many years when I walked into the Honda showroom to buy my first car.

Bicycle stores have a distinct odor. It’s a mixture of rubber, plastic and grease. And Buddy’s was no different. Buddy's was a Schwinn dealer. Probably the best-known American bicycle of the time. And, to own one was, to a kid, tantamount to owning a Caddy.

After a brief chat with my dad (probably over how much he wanted to spend), Buddy brought out a bike that was to be my sole source of transportation for the next 5 years and a secondary one for years after that. It was a beautiful, shiny, blue Schwinn Hornet with white-wall tires. It wasn’t fancy (it had standard handlebars and a big seat and regular brakes), but to me it meant freedom. With a 26 inch bike you could really go places. As I sat down on the seat, I was already thinking about where I could go. I was in Junior High then and riding my bike to an from school had been my dream for a while. I couldn’t wait to see the look on my friends faces when I showed up Monday morning riding my new Schwinn.
 
“If you’re going to ride that to school, you better get a chain and a lock,”, said my father. I grudgingly agreed.
 
And so, with a new bike under me and a chain and lock wrapped around the bottom of the seat, I rode off into the afternoon sun feeling the same pride of ownership a driver would feel taking his new El Dorado for a spin. I’ve owned other bikes since then and driven many cars. But I never felt as good about any of them as I felt that Saturday morning.

Since that pen ad popped up on my screen I’ve thought about some other things from my past I liked. Things like my manual Royal typewriter. My Bulova transistor radio and my first adult watch. It was a Timex with a leather band that I switched out for a Speidel twist-o-flex watchband. I miss all of those things. Not so much because they were anything special but because they represented a time when the family was all around me and I was in a safe place in a country where the middle class ruled and a kid had very little to worry about. Watching the news last week makes me feel we may have lost that forever……………



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Buying Long Term Care Insurance
Avoid obstacles to claims


Buying long-term-care insurance is usually a smart way to protect your finances and your family from the potentially massive cost of care.

But after paying premiums for years, you don’t want the insurance company to hassle you — or your children — when you submit a claim.

In many cases, 20 years or more have passed between buying the policy and using the benefits, and in that time the types of care and rules for new policies might have changed. Even if the insurance company ultimately pays out, the claims process can be slow and complicated.

Here are tips to help the process go smoothly:…




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Drug Pricing: What Happened in 2019 and What to Watch in 2020

Have you heard that drug prices are too high? If not, you have not been listening to President Donald Trump, Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Alex Azar, or almost any member of Congress. In the past year, a dizzying array of drug pricing actions and proposals have come out of the White House and Congress, as well as the governor’s offices and legislative halls in most states.

Despite the unprecedented attention, drug makers increased prices an average of 5.1% to start 2020, compared to average increases of 5.2% in January 2019 and 8.0% in January 2018. While the Trump administration likely will claim that its policies deserve credit for this modest reduction in the rate of increase, there appear to be no signs of any price decreases. Moreover, apart from a doomed provision for direct government negotiation of prices in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill, and (perhaps) a not-yet proposed rule for international reference pricing for Medicare Part B (discussed below), there are not even any current proposals that would limit the launch price of a new drug. Indeed, this year saw the largest list price for a new drug in American history: $2.1 million for the gene therapy Zolgensma. Drug makers’ arguments—that the ability to set their own prices is essential to continue the notable medical triumphs that have resulted from their research and development efforts in the past half century—largely have continued to carry the day.


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Arthritis Pain Leads to Mental Distress, Depression

Researchers say 19 percent of adults with arthritis report having frequent mental distress and 32 percent have a history of depression.

They say the percentages are higher in states such as Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Experts say the pain associated with arthritis can lead to mental health issues.

Researchers say they have found a link between arthritis and depression.

In fact, the researchers say, an estimated 19 percent of adults with arthritis experience “frequent mental distress” and 32 percent have a history of depression.

That compares with about 8 percent of the overall population that report having depression.

The analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to “estimate state-specific prevalence of frequent mental distress and history of depression among adults with arthritis.”


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Five Fitness Tips for Seniors to Stay Healthy in the New Year
By Petra Shaw

Melissa Sullivan brings her expertise in senior fitness to her role at Lantern Hill, the senior living community in New Providence, New Jersey, developed and managed by Erickson Living.

As the community's fitness coordinator, she has developed Lantern Hill's on-site fitness center program from little participation to 30 classes with an average of 20 people per class. Sixty percent of the residents at Lantern Hill come to the programs offered at the Fitness Center. Residents are staying fit and having fun by working out in the state-of-the-art fitness centers on campus, participating in group exercises classes, swimming laps in the indoor pool, and walking the community's scenic walking trails.

Here are Sullivan's five tips for seniors to stay healthy in the New Year.




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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY JAN. 30TH 2020


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Why We Need Better PR
Myth VS. Fact About Seniors

(8 min.)

Before I began doing research for this topic, I expected to find only a handful of misconceptions regarding older Americans. What I found surprised me. There were so many untruth’s, myths and misinformation about old people that it got me to thinking what the elderly need is a good, positive public relations campaign.
 
In the brief span of about 30 seconds I amassed an amazing amount of negative information about how people regard the elderly and aging. Here is just some of what I found:*
 
  • People lose their memory as they age.
  •  Genetic health conditions can’t be avoided as people age.
  •  Elderly people are less adventurous.
  •  People become less productive as they age.
  •  People are less creative as they age.
  •  Old people are crabby or depressed.
  •  Elderly people are lonely.
  •  Old people are incompetent.
  •  Aging Dulls Wits
 Aging Erases Your Libido
  •  Aging Makes You More Religious
  •  Aging Makes You Unable to Adapt to New Situations
  •  Exercise isn’t safe for older adults.
  •  You won’t have sex anymore.
  •  Older adults need much less sleep.
  •  Arthritis is inevitable in seniors.
  •  You’ll gain weight because your metabolism slows down as you age.
  •  Most older adults live in nursing homes and cannot get around by themselves
  • Older adults do little more than sit around, watch television, and sleep
  •  People over 65 have diseases and disorders that limits their freedom to do what they want
  • Older adults are obsessed with death and dying.
  • All older adults lose their teeth:
  • Getting older inevitably leads to weakness, frailty and dependent.

 

While I will not say that all or some of the above statements are not true about, I must add that much of what they list could apply to any group, of any age and, would be racist if directed at a particular ethnicity. However, when people stereotype or enforce myths about the elderly, it’s perfectly okay. In other words, substitute “Blacks”, or “Jews”, or “Asians” for “Old” or “Elderly” and see how fast society will pounce all over you. But, when you say these things about old folks it’s, “Don’t worry, they can’t hear what you’re saying anyway.”

How did all of this negativity come about anyway? I suppose we could go way back to when humans lived in caves.

Coming back from a hard day chasing Sabre toothed tigers and dragging females around by their hair, Gronk found his elderly father (probably in his late 30s) asleep in front of the fire with a half-eaten Dodo bird in one hand and a clam shell in the other. Thinking how many times he has seen his father that way, he came to the conclusion that all old men must be that way. And besides, it’s fun to make fun of the elderly.
 
While, we can excuse Gronk and his Neanderthal brothers for their ignorance it’s hard to do the same with people who should know better. However, we can’t blame people’s insensitivity and lack of knowledge solely on their personal experience. Much of the negativity and ageist thinking comes directly from the media. Shows that present seniors in demeaning roles or portray them as less than physically and mentally fit add falsely to what older folks are really about.

Here are some amazing stats about how they portray seniors in the media:**
 
“The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism researchers evaluated two groups of TV series airing from June 2016 through May 2017. They looked at the 50 most popular series among viewers 18 to 49, and the 50 most popular for viewers 65 and older. Twenty-eight series overlapped, making it onto both lists.
 
Adults 60 and older represented less than 10 percent of speaking characters on these shows. Seniors accounted for slightly more than 8 percent of regular characters in a series. Older men were more likely than older women to be series regulars.
 
Of the 39 series with main senior characters, 41 percent included at least one ageist comment. Overall, demeaning language was common, both in younger characters’ comments and in self-deprecating remarks by older characters. Dialogue included wisecracks about wrinkled skin and references to failing memories.
 
Although the offending shows weren’t named in the study, several examples of ageist language were included. “You like the color? It’s called ‘ancient ivory’, like you,” “Things just sound creepier when you’re older,” “I need to write down all these precious moments before I forget them” and “wrinkled old bastard” were all samples of dialogue quoted from popular shows.”
 
 
And with TV commercials, it gets even worse...
 
“... Commercials routinely push products to make people think they should feel or look younger. In addition, seniors are deluged with...”decline-based" ads for assistive devices like braces or canes, as well as a wide variety of medications.
 
Older viewers might feel that if they’re not extremely physically fit or highly sexually active, or don’t otherwise match super-senior stereotypes, then they risk becoming irrelevant,... “That can lead to all kinds of negative things, even social isolation, which leads to negative health outcomes.”
 
 
As a way of countering this negativity,…

 “…seniors are encouraged to speak up when ageism crops up on screen. Viewers can reach out to studios distributing offending content, as well as guilds representing TV directors and writers. "They can vote with what they watch, "They can vote with what they stream. And they can also vote by posting on social media, emailing and calling and saying 'These [shows] do not reflect the world in which I live.' And they need to do better."

Although, we should take those suggestions seriously they are, in my mind, rather passive. Seniors have to fight fire with fire, so to speak, by devising and presenting media campaigns of their own. Groups such as the AARP, The Alliance for Retired Americans, The Alzheimer’s Association and the American Society on Aging (ASA), to name just a few, should mount paid, slick advertising and PR programs portraying older Americans in a more positive light. And, they should target those campaigns directly at those who view seniors as a burden on society rather than a resource they can tap. Seniors are getting a bad rap and it will get worse. Already we see daily attacks on our health insurance, medications, housing and long-term care. We, as a group, must deal with this aggressively and with as much fervor as those who would put us down………………………………………………………………………….
 
*Sources:
https://www.fellowshipsquareseniorliving.org/fellowship-square-blog/posts/2017/10/9/10-myths-about-aging/
https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/14-18-4-aging-myths-dispelled/
https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/truth-behind-age-old-myths
https://seniorplanet.org/2013/08/07/7-myths-about-old-people/
https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/blog/detail/hitting-the-headlines/2017/02/17/5-aging-myths-debunked

** https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-10-18/ageism-in-top-tv-shows-may-affect-seniors-well-being





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1 in 7 Older Americans Feel They'll Never Be Ready for Retirement
Here are some important steps to take if you feel the same way.

By Maurie Backman

Retirement is an exciting milestone for many Americans, but a scary one for others. After all, it's hard to go from earning a steady paycheck to suddenly throwing caution to the wind and hoping your savings and Social Security benefits will be enough to sustain you for what could easily be a 30-year period of life or longer. And while you can do your best to plan for your golden years, increases in living costs and other surprises can still render you cash-strapped down the line.

It's not surprising, then, to see that roughly 14% of Americans aged 50 and over are convinced they'll never really be ready for retirement, according to Nationwide. If that's how you feel, here are a few ways to improve your outlook.

1. Know your costs

Though you can't predict what every single expense you incur in retirement will look like over time, you can do your best to estimate your living expenses by mapping out a budget for your golden years in advance. Decide where you want to live, whether you'll rent or own a home, and what sort of lifestyle you're hoping to maintain (traveling and joining a country club will cost a lot more than spending time in your neighborhood and starting a book or gardening club). By having a solid idea of what retirement will cost you, you'll be able to better prepare for it.



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Don't Let These Hidden Costs Destroy Your Retirement
By Maurie Backman

Certain expenses have a tendency to sneak up on seniors. Here are three to watch out for.

Many people work all their lives in the hopes of enjoying retirement. If you're nearing your golden years, you no doubt have lots to look forward to. But if you're not careful, a few sneaky expenses could wreak havoc on your retirement budget. Here are a few hidden costs to be aware of.

1. Taxes

Many seniors are shocked to learn that much of their income is, in fact, taxable. If you have a traditional retirement savings plan, whether it's an IRA or a 401(k), the withdrawals you take from that account will be taxed. The same holds true much of the time for pension payments (though there are some exceptions).

Furthermore, unless Social Security is your sole source of retirement income, there's a good chance you'll pay taxes on a portion of your benefits at the federal level. And if you live in one the 13 states that taxes benefits, you'll need to worry about losing a chunk of that income, too.



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How should you decide where to live in retirement?
Here are a few factors to consider


Retirement is a time of major life changes. For some retirees, relocation is one of them.

If you were tied to your town because of your job or were staying in your home until the kids left, the end of your working life may be a prime opportunity to find a new city better suited to you.

However, when you're considering where to set up your home base during your golden years, there's a lot to think about beyond just where you think it might be fun to live. In fact, there are five key things to consider when you choose where to locate yourself for the next phase of your life.



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Dental Health is Key to Our Elders Health,
But Rarely Covered By Insurance.

By Debra Hallisey

“You are not burying me with a $5,000 crown in my mouth.”

Have you heard this statement from an aging loved one? I have. Dental health is so important to physical health and nutrition, why is it neglected by so many of our elders? (Jump to Lessons Learned)

Dr. John Raziano of John F. Raziano DMD PA, a family and cosmetically oriented dental practice, outlined the three big issues that contribute to poor dental health in our elderly and why they resist going to the dentist.

Medical:

In our aging population, the number one impact on dental health is the effects of medicine. Medications that deplete salivary flow result in dry mouth leaving plaque in the mouth longer. Plaque results in a spike in bacteria. Bacteria travels through the bloodstream looking for areas of low blood flow, so it is a real medical risk for people who had a joint replaced or have an artificial heart valve.




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Facebook is trying to make it easier to get in touch with people over Messenger, so it's rolling out a number of new ways to start chatting. As with all Facebook accounts, all Messenger accounts will now have dedicated links that people can visit to start a chat — they'll all be located at m.me/[username]. Facebook is also rolling out what it calls Messenger Codes, which are Messenger's equivalent to Snapchat's snapcodes. They look pretty neat: Messenger Codes are just a series of dots and dashes circling around your profile photo. When someone scans one with their camera, it'll presumably add that person as a contact.

read more >> https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/7/11383958/facebook-messenger-codes-announced-900m-mau


By accessing our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/theseniorlog/ ) you can access the latest news specifically related to Older Americans. These will usually be stories that broke too late to be included in our regular weekly blog. Additionally, the Facebook page will be a way for you to comment on those stories, start your own thread or comment on anything you have read here on this blog.