How to Help Avoid Struggling with Caregiver Burnout

Serving as a caregiver for a loved one can be a wonderful thing. It often allows ill or disabled individuals to remain in their own home, surrounded by familiar surroundings. However, it can often take a toll on the person providing care, and can sometimes lead to the caregiver feeling depleted or exhausted. This feeling is commonly known as caregiver burnout.1

The National Alliance for Caregiving reported an estimated 43.5 million adults provided care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged loved one in 2014.The organization also reported the average caregiver spends nearly 25 hours per week providing assistance, the equivalent of a part-time job.2

While being a caregiver can be rewarding, it can also be emotionally, physically and mentally taxing. Burnout tends to happen when the caregiver neglects his or her own needs — often without realizing it’s happening.

If you are providing care for an ill or disabled loved one, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of burnout in the early stages. The ALS Association reports some of these patterns as signs of burnout for caregivers:3

  • Irritability and impatience
  • Overreacting to small things or comments made by others
  • Problems sleeping
  • Abuse of food, tobacco, drugs or alcohol
  • Feelings of isolation, alienation or resentment
  • Increasing levels of stress

The time and money dedicated to helping someone else can also be a drain on the caregiver. While retirees in particular may feel they have the time available to take care of a friend in need, it’s important they consider how that kind of time commitment could affect their own energy levels and financial resources.

How do you avoid caregiver burnout? Here are five suggestions from the Caregiver Action Network:4 

  1. Seek support. Providing care can be isolating. Reach out to family and friends, and tell them exactly what you need. Many of them want to help, but they aren’t sure how. Also explore online options. The AARP provides a list of resources for caregivers,5 including online communities where people can share experiences.
  2. Take breaks. Letting someone else provide care can be difficult, since others don’t do things quite the same way and it might be challenging for the person receiving care to adjust to someone new. Taking a break, however, is important for both mental and physical respite.
  3. Don’t neglect your own health. It might take some creativity, but find ways to work in activity, even if it’s taking a 15-minute walk. Pay attention to your own nutrition. Try not to let go of all the things that bolster your mental health; it can be easy to neglect your own hobbies and interests.
  4. Get the paperwork in order. Organize medical records, legal paperwork and other items so they’re easy to find. Introduce yourself to your loved one’s lawyer, accountant, financial professional and other service providers. Provide them with a copy of a power of attorney so you can have access to records if needed. If you have questions about how taking the time to care for someone else could affect you financially, don’t hesitate to reach out to your financial professional.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Caregiving is a tough job. Recognizing that you also have physical, mental and emotional needs will help you avoid burnout and continue to provide the best care to your loved one.

 

Content prepared by Amy Ragland.

1 Senior Helpers. “Caregiver Burnout.” http://www.seniorhelpers.com/resources/family-caregiver-burnout.  Accessed May 21, 2017.

2 National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP. June 2015. Pages 6 and 33. “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.” http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Final-Report-June-4_WEB.pdf. Accessed May 21, 2017.

3 ALS Association. “Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout.” http://www.alsa.org/als-care/caregivers/caregivers-month/symptoms-of-caregiver-burnout.html. Accessed May 21, 2017.

4 Caregiver Action Network. “10 Tips for Family Caregivers.” http://caregiveraction.org/resources/10-tips-family-caregivers. Accessed May 21, 2017.

5 AARP. “Resources Caregivers Should Know About.” http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-08-2012/important-resources-for-caregivers.html. Accessed May 21, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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Tips for Bargain Hunters

For many of us, retirement means living on a fixed income, and that often means making a budget and watching expenses. One way to help stay on budget is to shop for the best prices on items that fall within our discretionary income budget.

According to Consumer Reports, even though consumers can now buy just about anything they want online at any time of the year, deep discounts for many products still tend to be seasonal.1 For example, the best time to buy summer clothes is halfway through the summer, when stores cut prices to move inventory and make room for the next season’s stock.2

The following list from Consumer Reports details the best months for buying certain consumer items.3

  • January — bathroom scales, ellipticals, linens and sheets, treadmills, TVs, winter sports gear and clothing
  • February — humidifiers, mattresses, winter sports gear and coats
  • March — boxed chocolates, digital cameras, ellipticals, humidifiers and treadmills 
  • April — carpet, desktop and laptop computers and digital cameras
  • May — baby high chairs, desktop and laptop computers, interior and exterior paints, mattresses, strollers and wood stains
  • June — camcorders, ellipticals, indoor furniture, summer sports gear and treadmills
  • July — camcorders, decking, exterior and interior paint, siding, summer clothing and wood stains
  • August — air conditioners, backpacks and back-to-school goods, dehumidifiers, outdoor furniture and snow blowers
  • September — desktop and laptop computers, digital cameras, interior and exterior paint, lawn mowers and tractors, printers and snow blowers
  • October — desktop computers, digital cameras, gas grills, lawn mowers and tractors
  • November — camcorders, gas grills, GPS and TVs  
  • December —  Blu-Ray players, camcorders, e-book readers, gas grills, GPS, headphones, kitchen cookware, major appliances and TVs 

According to US News & World Report, the best time to buy a car is not when you see all those ads on TV for Presidents Day, etc. Rather, the best months to shop for good deals are May, October, November and December. The best days to shop are Mondays, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.4

When it comes to holiday gift giving, some of the spoils go to those who procrastinate. If your gift list doesn’t include popular items that will sell out, waiting until the last 10 days before Christmas frequently can net the highest savings. Looking for holiday lights and decorations? The best time to shop is just after the big day, when you can stock up for next year at clearance prices.5

If you’re in the market to buy or sell a house, note that the best time for sellers to list a home is in May, when the supply of houses is tight, thus commanding the highest prices. The best time to buy is at summer’s end, when sellers are cutting house prices that have been on the market for several months.6

As for where to find the best bargains, you’re probably already familiar with local discount stores and volume warehouses. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, be on the lookout for “Prime Day” each year when the online retailer drastically reduces prices on select items for 24 hours for Prime members. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, “Prime Day” is the time to join because the annual membership fee is usually reduced as well.7

Of course, one of the best ways to stay on budget during retirement is to help ensure your income is ongoing and reliable, which is something we can help with. Give us a call so we can talk about how we can help you create strategies using a variety of insurance products to help you work toward your retirement income goals.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Consumer Reports. “Best Time to Buy Things.” http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/best-time-to-buy-things/index.htm. Accessed June 22, 2017.

2 Nikki Willhite. All Things Frugal. “Shopping the Seasonal Sales.” http://www.allthingsfrugal.com/s_sale.htm. Accessed June 22, 2017.

3 Consumer Reports. “Best Time to Buy Things.” http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/best-time-to-buy-things/index.htm. Accessed June 22, 2017.

4 Eric C. Evarts. US News & World Report. March 31, 2017. “6 Best Times to Buy a Car.” https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/6-best-times-to-buy-a-car. Accessed June 22, 2017.

5 Denise Groene. The Wichita Eagle. June 16, 2017. “When is the best time to buy a grill, and other stuff.” http://www.kansas.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/article156570289.html. Accessed June 22, 2017.

6 Susie Gharib. Fortune. June 21, 2017. “Do’s and Don’ts for Buying and Selling a House.” http://fortune.com/2017/06/21/zillow-tips-for-buying-and-selling-a-house/. Accessed June 22, 2017.

7 Matt Swider. TechRadar. June 28, 2017. “Amazon Prime Day deals 2017 in the US: Find the best sales for July 11.” http://www.techradar.com/news/amazon-prime-day-2017-usa-when-is-it-and-how-can-you-find-the-best-deals. Accessed June 30, 2017.

 

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Expenses That Come With Caring

We spend our lives caring for others — at least if we’re lucky. One of the greatest treasures in life is having people, causes and pets to care for. Unfortunately, caring for others can have its challenges, including additional stress and financial burdens.

Sometimes we get so caught up in making money that we don’t pay attention to how much we spend. Some of the money we spend may not really register because we use it to take care of others’ needs; what we may deem to be a necessary expense certainly doesn’t feel like discretionary spending.

But spending is spending, and we all need to take a careful look at how much of our money we use on caring for others, or “care management.” These expenses could include the money we spend raising our children, or helping them out when they’re older and nearly independent, but still need extra cash now and then.

We also should consider the amount of money we spend on elder care, whether for ourselves or loved ones. One recent study found that it costs families more to care for a frail older adult than to raise a child in the first 17 years of life.1 Many families are taking care of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at home for as long as possible, given the increasing price tag of providing full-time care.2  Some insurance products, such as life insurance and annuities, provide various options you may want to considerto help cover the potential costs of some of these care needs. If you’d like to find out more, please give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss options based on your unique situation.

Charitable donations are also a care management item, and going forward, there may be a greater call for private donations if the government cuts the budget in areas like the cultural arts. There is also concern that reduced funding on the environment could have long-ranging impacts on care issues. For example, scientists note climate change can impact the spread of infectious diseases carried by animals and insects, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, Zika and dengue. Further, compromised water systems can lead to waterborne infections like cholera and other gastrointestinal conditions.3

To end on a brighter note, here’s a heartwarming story related to caring and making someone’s day. Students of White Bear Lake Area High School in Minnesota have an annual tradition of staging a runway march through a local senior center in their fancy dress on the way to prom night.4 Just imagine the post-march chats among seniors about their high school days! It’s an engaging idea that demonstrates it doesn’t take a lot of money to stage a caring moment between generations.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Howard Gleckman. Forbes. Jan. 18, 2017. “Families Spend More to Care for Their Aging Parents Than To Raise Their Kids.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2017/01/18/families-spend-more-to-care-for-their-aging-parents-than-to-raise-their-kids/#924f7e6f4a50. Accessed May 12, 2017.

2 Bruce Jaspen. Forbes. March 7, 2017. “Alzheimer’s Staggering $259B Cost Could Break Medicare.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2017/03/07/u-s-cost-of-alzheimers-eclipses-250-billion/#294c3f5471e5. Accessed May 12, 2017.

3 Peter Grinspoon. Harvard Medical School. March 29, 2017. “Our planet, ourselves: Climate change and health.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/planet-climate-change-health-2017032911481. Accessed May 12, 2017.
4 White Bear Press. May 10, 2017. “Students take a prom march through Cerenity Senior Care Center.”
http://www.presspubs.com/white_bear/article_67400d02-35a8-11e7-b749-731700102e0f.html. Accessed May 12, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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Retirement: Loneliness Can Sneak Up on You

Even people who have spent a lot of time planning for retirement may encounter unexpected challenges once they’re in those golden years. They focus on retirement income planning, which is, of course, important and appropriate — and we can help you there. They also focus on things they want to do while they’re still in good health, such as traveling or playing pickleball. They look forward to spending more time with their spouse and good friends.

It can be quite joyful, but the less joyful realization often sets in when a spouse or a close friend passes away. That’s when many retirees truly understand they are facing the reality of their mortality. Apart from that, they’ve also lost a best friend and companion.1

Sometimes the pain of loss causes us to want to avoid that pain altogether, which can lead to an even unwitting desire to isolate ourselves. Unfortunately, this can be particularly problematic during retirement, when people are less likely to have scheduled daily interaction with others outside the household.

Studies in the U.S. and Britain show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranges from 10 percent to 46 percent.2 Additionally, people with low levels of social interaction can experience brain changes that cause them to see other human faces as threatening and, therefore, are less likely to seek social ties.3 It’s all kind of ironic, isn’t it? With so many people experiencing the same malady, you would hope we could find each other, since companionship would certainly help.

One social scientist — Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford — summed it up with this observation: “It has become apparent in the last 10 years that the most important factor influencing your health, well-being, risk of falling ill, even your risk of dying and divorce is actually the size of your friend network.” His research shows bonding is strongest when endorphins are released, so he recommends that one way to strengthen friendships is by singing, dancing and working out with others.4

Retirement isolation is being studied from a number of different perspectives, particularly in housing. Although many retirees are reluctant to move to an assisted living facility, the longer they live, the more they will need help. Some have taken to moving into co-housing apartment buildings in which the tenants plan activities and support each other without all the rules and restrictions of a retirement home.5

We’re always happy to get together and chat with you about any retirement income planning questions you might have. Give us a call if we can be of assistance  and be sure to spend time with friends and family doing the activities you enjoy. 

 Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 National Institute on Aging. July 2016. “Mourning the Death of a Spouse.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/mourning-death-spouse. Accessed May 28, 2017.

 

2 Katie Hafner. The New York Times. Sept. 5, 2016. “Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness.” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/06/health/lonliness-aging-health-effects.html?_r=2. Accessed June 13, 2017.

3 Olga Khazan. The Atlantic. April 6, 2017. “How Loneliness Begets Loneliness.” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/how-loneliness-begets-loneliness/521841/.

4 Aylin Woodward. Scientific American. May 1, 2017. “With a Little Help from My Friends.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/?WT.mc_id=SA_TW_MB_NEWS. Accessed May 28, 2017.

5 Idil Mussa. CBC News. May 2, 2017. “Seniors in Ottawa look to co-housing to avoid isolation.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/seniors-in-ottawa-look-to-co-housing-to-avoid-isolation-as-they-age-1.4094267. Accessed May 28, 2017.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.


The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

 

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Considerations for Retiring Couples

Retirement is another chapter in your life; one that requires not only planning but day-to-day maintenance once you get there. And if you have a partner in life, it’s important to remember that your retirement, like a tandem bike, is built for two.

 

Planning for your own retirement is complicated enough, but doing so at the same time as your spouse can be daunting, with additional details to consider.

 

For starters, you and your spouse may have two completely different sets of needs in retirement.1 One may have health problems requiring expensive medications and frequent visits to the doctor. The other may live 20 years or more after the first spouse dies. Two people. Two different income needs.

 

When most people plan for retirement, they figure out how much household income they need. Their income sources may include two Social Security checks, a pension or other employer-sponsored plan, and withdrawals from personal savings accounts. But have you thought about how much income would be lost when one spouse passes away?

 

In some cases, the household income may go down to one Social Security check, less pension income and reduced personal savings once lingering medical bills and funeral expenses have been paid. In this situation, it’s helpful to know that a surviving spouse may be eligible for a lump sum death payment of $255 from Social Security to help pay for funeral or burial costs.2

 

Married couples frequently enjoy savings from shared costs by living in one house with one set of utility and cable bills. However, when one spouse passes away, those costs usually remain static; it’s not as if they’re reduced by half because only one spouse lives there going forward.

 

Consider this situation and ask yourself — will the surviving spouse need less money to maintain the household? In many cases, that person will likely need more money to hire someone to do some of the chores previously handled by the deceased spouse. Will the survivor have lower medical bills? Not likely if he or she lives into their 90s or beyond. What about housing? Will there be enough money should the survivor need living assistance or full-time nursing care down the road?

 

With all these questions to consider, it may be worth exploring various ways to help protect a surviving spouse’s financial situation, such as buying life insurance3 and/or working with a qualified attorney to establish a trust.Please keep us in mind if you and your spouse could use some help planning for retirement income. As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

 

1 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. May 17, 2017. “Investing Advice for May-December Marriages.” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2017-05-17/investing-advice-for-may-december-marriages. Accessed May 26, 2017.

2 Wesley E. Wright, Molly Dear Abshire. Laredo Morning Times. May 18, 2017. “Elder law: Social Security – Many fail to apply for death benefit.” http://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/Elder-law-Social-Security-Many-fail-to-apply-11156931.php. Accessed May 26, 2017.

3 Jamie Hopkins. Forbes. April 27, 2017. “Why Life Insurance Is Essential for Retirement Planning.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2017/04/27/why-life-insurance-is-essential-for-retirement-planning/#4b15989b31cd. Accessed May 26, 2017.

 

Life insurance policies are contracts between you and an insurance company. Life insurance product guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency.


The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 


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The Influence of Work

Work offers a confluence of possibilities, ranging from satisfaction to frustration to, many days, a little of both. If you work during retirement, here’s an interesting revelation: Social Security taxes are deducted from your work paycheck even if you’re already drawing benefits. For a lot of retirees, wages from some type of job represent a significant portion of their retirement income.1

This is a scenario in which you may be able to increase your Social Security benefits even if you started taking them early. If the annual income you earn in retirement is higher than the lowest inflation-adjusted year of earnings factored into your current benefit, a new benefit will be calculated for a higher amount.2

The decision to work or not during retirement is a personal one, based on both financial and lifestyle factors. Please contact us to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals.

When you’re making the decision about whether to retire, remember you may have more options than you think. Some people may want to work longer either because they could stand to save more or want to keep their brains engaged — or both. However, if they’ve grown tired of their job, they figure they might as well retire. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Many people go job hunting because they’re frustrated with their boss or company and no longer feel they get the respect they deserve.3 You can do that too, even if you’re older. If you aren’t ready to retire, consider looking for another job.

If that doesn’t appear to be a feasible option, there are other ways to cope with a job that has you down. People often talk about developing hobbies during retirement to occupy their time, keep their minds engaged and nurture a social network. There’s no reason to wait until retirement. Studies show people experience long-term fulfillment when they commit to an activity for the sake of the activity itself.4 This gives you something to look forward to doing outside work, so that the day-to-day grind is more tolerable. A secondary benefit is that once you do retire, the activity could be waiting for your full-time attention.

Then again, you might be considering quitting your job and working for yourself. To get started, human resources professional Liz Ryan offers the following questions to ask yourself:5

·         What services can I sell?

·         What kinds of problems or challenges can I solve for clients?

·         What is the going rate for my services?

·         How can I explore the possibilities as a new consultant while continuing to work at my job?

·         How can I market my new business?

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Tom Margenau. Arizona Daily Star. March 23, 2017. “Social Security and you: Working seniors pay taxes and may see benefit increase.” http://tucson.com/business/social-security-and-you-working-seniors-pay-taxes-and-may/article_d12b59db-5376-549c-a628-e7c569db772c.html. Accessed May 19, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Liz Ryan. Forbes. March 31, 2017. “The Real Reason Good Employees Quit.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/03/31/the-real-reason-good-employees-quit/#4390ea844b4e. Accessed May 19, 2017.

4 Brad Stulberg. New York. March 27, 2017. “Your Job Can’t Be the Only Meaningful Thing in Your Life.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/article/how-to-find-meaning-outside-of-work.html?mid=twitter_scienceofus. Accessed May 19, 2017.

5 Liz Ryan. Forbes. April 2, 2017. “Full-Time Employment Is Great For Employers – Not So Great For You.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/04/02/full-time-employment-is-great-for-employers-not-so-great-for-you/print/. Accessed May 19, 2017.

 

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 


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Retirement: Loneliness Can Sneak Up on You

Even people who have spent a lot of time planning for retirement may encounter unexpected challenges once they’re in those golden years. They focus on retirement income planning, which is, of course, important and appropriate — and we can help you there. They also focus on things they want to do while they’re still in good health, such as traveling or playing pickleball. They look forward to spending more time with their spouse and good friends.

It can be quite joyful, but the less joyful realization often sets in when a spouse or a close friend passes away. That’s when many retirees truly understand they are facing the reality of their mortality. Apart from that, they’ve also lost a best friend and companion.1

Sometimes the pain of loss causes us to want to avoid that pain altogether, which can lead to an even unwitting desire to isolate ourselves. Unfortunately, this can be particularly problematic during retirement, when people are less likely to have scheduled daily interaction with others outside the household.

Studies in the U.S. and Britain show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranges from 10 percent to 46 percent.2 Additionally, people with low levels of social interaction can experience brain changes that cause them to see other human faces as threatening and, therefore, are less likely to seek social ties.3 It’s all kind of ironic, isn’t it? With so many people experiencing the same malady, you would hope we could find each other, since companionship would certainly help.

One social scientist — Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford — summed it up with this observation: “It has become apparent in the last 10 years that the most important factor influencing your health, well-being, risk of falling ill, even your risk of dying and divorce is actually the size of your friend network.” His research shows bonding is strongest when endorphins are released, so he recommends that one way to strengthen friendships is by singing, dancing and working out with others.4

Retirement isolation is being studied from a number of different perspectives, particularly in housing. Although many retirees are reluctant to move to an assisted living facility, the longer they live, the more they will need help. Some have taken to moving into co-housing apartment buildings in which the tenants plan activities and support each other without all the rules and restrictions of a retirement home.5

We’re always happy to get together and chat with you about any retirement income planning questions you might have. Give us a call if we can be of assistance  and be sure to spend time with friends and family doing the activities you enjoy. 

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 National Institute on Aging. July 2016. “Mourning the Death of a Spouse.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/mourning-death-spouse. Accessed May 28, 2017.

2 Katie Hafner. The New York Times. Sept. 5, 2016. “Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness.” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/06/health/lonliness-aging-health-effects.html?_r=2. Accessed June 13, 2017.

3 Olga Khazan. The Atlantic. April 6, 2017. “How Loneliness Begets Loneliness.” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/how-loneliness-begets-loneliness/521841/.

4 Aylin Woodward. Scientific American. May 1, 2017. “With a Little Help from My Friends.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/?WT.mc_id=SA_TW_MB_NEWS. Accessed May 28, 2017.

5 Idil Mussa. CBC News. May 2, 2017. “Seniors in Ottawa look to co-housing to avoid isolation.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/seniors-in-ottawa-look-to-co-housing-to-avoid-isolation-as-they-age-1.4094267. Accessed May 28, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Checking Up on Health Care Expenses

If there’s one thing every adult demographic in America values, it’s maintaining good health. 

People with medical conditions may be interested in topics like new medical technology, pharmacology or national changes to health care insurance. Meanwhile, those without serious medical issues want to know how they can stay that way, through nutrition, exercise, weight loss and preventive screenings. It’s a national conversation, and not one that’s likely to diminish any time soon. 

The 6.5 percent growth rate in medical expenses has plateaued recently, according to business consulting firm PwC, but the company’s researchers see signs the rate will increase again in the near future.1 

This isn’t just a reflection of the cost of health care insurance, but also the prices charged by facilities, physicians and specialists for the drugs and therapies necessary to treat medical conditions. Escalating health care usage and prices contribute to the increase of insurance premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.2 

Whether you’re working or retired, the issues of finances and health care are inextricably interwoven. You can’t really think or plan about one without considering the other. This is true whether you’re covered under employer-sponsored insurance, a plan from the individual market or a government-sponsored plan. As financial professionals, we work with clients in each of these situations to help ensure their retirement income plan takes into consideration current and potential medical expenses in the future. If you need help assessing your retirement income needs, please contact us for help. 

Ultimately, the message the health care industry is promoting is that people need to take better care of themselves. They need to research and understand their health care options, and also work on improving their overall health now to prevent problems — and related expenses — in the future. 

When it comes to individuals taking responsibility for their own health, there’s no need to wait for the government to step in and pass legislation. There’s plenty of knowledge available at our fingertips to help maintain health, from advice on healthy eating away from home3 to using diet to manage indigestion problems like acid reflux.4 

For older Americans, taking on new fitness activities may be worrisome since they can increase the likelihood of injury. On the other hand, when done correctly, moderately and consistently, exercise can also help decrease the likelihood of injury. 

Plus, it may be easier than you think to catch up on today’s fitness trends. Many are simply rejuvenated from the workouts of yesteryear.5 Like today’s trendy Pilates exercises, which were quite popular in the 1950s and 60s,6 one thing that will never go out of style is taking strides to maintain health. 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications 

1 PwC. 2017. “Medical Cost Trend.” https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/health-research-institute/behind-the-numbers.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.
2 NBC News. Nov. 4, 2016. “Why Health Care Eats More Of Your Paycheck Every Year.” http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/why-health-care-eats-more-your-paycheck-every-year-n678051. Accessed May 5, 2017.
3 Harvard Medical School. 2017. “Tips for healthy eating away from home.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tips-for-healthy-eating-away-from-home. Accessed May 5, 2017.
4 Jane E. Brody. The New York Times. Mar. 20, 2017. “Pop a Pill for Heartburn? Try Diet and Exercise Instead.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/well/pop-a-pill-for-heartburn-try-diet-and-exercise-instead.html?_r=0. Accessed May 5, 2017.
5 Jessica Smith. Shape.com. 2017. “Then & Now: 7 Retro Workouts That Still Get Results.” http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/then-now-7-retro-workouts-still-get-results. Accessed May 5, 2017.
6 Balanced Bodies. 2017. “Pilates Origins.” http://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/pilates/origins-of-pilates.html. Accessed May 5, 2017. 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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All Things Pharmaceutical

The White House recently launched a task force aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid addiction crisis, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.1 According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the majority of drug overdose deaths that occur today involve an opioid.2

Prescription drugs are a nuanced example of how positive innovations can have negative consequences. Certainly new medications developed over the past three decades have contributed to healthier people and longer lifespans. But they are not without drawbacks.

The number of reported drug side effects has increased by five times since 2004. The proliferation of drugs prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes are among those with the most challenging side effects.3

It’s worth observing that many things come with possible drawbacks, even those that may be entirely appropriate for you — like diabetes medication. The same holds true when it comes to decisions related to finances. While many financial vehicles, including insurance products, feature benefits to help enhance your situation, it’s important to understand the possible downsides as well. If you’re considering purchasing insurance now or in the future, please allow us to help you fully understand both the advantages and disadvantages that may be associated with the purchase.

Perhaps even more disconcerting than negative side effects to medications is that many people aren’t taking full advantage of today’s pharmaceutical wonders. A recent study found that up to three out of 10 prescribed medications are never filled and about half of those filled for the treatment of chronic diseases are not taken the way they’re supposed to be. While those patients may think that’s not a big deal, collectively speaking, this lack of adherence causes around 125,000 deaths a year and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations. If you’re concerned about rising medical costs, consider this: Poor medication compliance costs the American health care system between $100 billion and $289 billion annually.4

Speaking of expenses, the country anxiously awaits to see if the new presidential administration and Congress will be able to slow the rising cost of medications. It appears there will be a loosening of regulations associated with streamlining approvals of new drugs, and many insiders are in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate volume pricing with drug manufacturers. However, there are still instances of medications that have been on the market for quite some time, having more than recouped their research and development costs, making substantial price hikes for the sake of increasing profits.5

Of course, a price reduction could actually increase the problem of opioid addiction, making these drugs more affordable. One of the controversial mandates of the Affordable Care Act is coverage for 10 essential benefits — one of which is for substance abuse services.6 Ironically, the combination of reducing the cost of prescription drugs and repealing the Affordable Care Act could worsen the epidemic of opioid addiction. It just goes to show nothing is simple. For every positive action, there could be negative consequences, so all ramifications should be considered. And so it goes for financial decisions as well.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Jill Colvin. U.S. News & World Report. March 29, 2017. “Trump, Christie Pledge to Combat Nation’s Opioid Addiction.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/washington-dc/articles/2017-03-29/christie-trump-to-launch-drug-addiction-task-force. Accessed April 30, 2017.

2 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. June 2016. “The Opioid Epidemic: By the Numbers.” https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/Factsheet-opioids-061516.pdf. Accessed April 30, 2017.

3 Matthew Wynn and John Fauber. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 17, 2017. “Analysis: Reports of drug side effects increase fivefold in 12 years.” http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/investigations/2017/03/17/analysis-reports-drug-side-effects-see-major-increase/99211376/. Accessed April 30, 2017.

4 Jane E. Brody. The New York Times. April 17, 2017. “The Cost of Not Taking Your Medicine.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/well/the-cost-of-not-taking-your-medicine.html?_r=0. Accessed April 30, 2017.

5 Knowledge@Wharton. March 10, 2017. “How Will Big Pharma Fare Under Trump?” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/deciphering-trumps-prescription-big-pharma/. Accessed April 30, 2017.

6 NBC News. Feb. 22, 2017. “Opioid Addicts Worry About Losing Obamacare.” http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/opioid-addicts-worry-about-losing-obamacare-n724101. Accessed April 30, 2017.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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The Psychological Impact of a Divisive Election

Before 2016, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America surveys showed money, work and the economy were the biggest sources of stress in people’s lives.1 During the 2016 presidential campaign season, however, doctors began reporting patients were increasingly anxious due to issues candidates highlighted in speeches and interviews. 2

The APA’s most recent survey discovered top stressors now include personal safety and the threat of terrorism. The survey also found more than half of Americans reported the presidential election itself was a significant source of stress.3

This is hardly welcome news, considering all the other things we have to be concerned about in life, such as health care, career and finances — and often, those three are intertwined. Many people choose their jobs based on benefits like health insurance, and salary and personal financial confidence are almost always correlated.

The link between health and finances can be challenging during retirement. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to plan for retirement income, including the possibility of increased health care expenses — just give us a call. Some insurance products, such as life insurance and annuities, provide various options you may want to consider. We would be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.

Last year’s election even put pressure on some relationships and marriages, particularly when one spouse supported Donald Trump and the other didn’t.4 These types of rifts also were evident on social media sites, with lifelong buddies “unfriending” each other on Facebook when learning the other’s political viewpoints.5 Interestingly, it turns out that getting annoyed and stressed about political posts on social media is a bipartisan issue, equally shared by both Democrats and Republicans.6

One way to stay up to date on current events without the associated political stress is to spend time with people who are disinterested about who lives in the White House. To help retirees figure out where those types of people reside, Bankrate.com conducted an analysis of the most appealing places to live in the U.S. if you’re tired of hearing about politics. The most politics-free states lie in the Great Plains region, ranging from Kansas (lowest cost of living among choices) to North Dakota (lowest per-capita contributions to political campaigns).7

Bankrate.com’s No. 1 pick for a politics-free retirement was Wyoming. In addition to boasting a high degree of overall well-being, the state carries only three electoral votes in presidential elections. That means residents are spared the usual campaign ad blitz that battleground states face.8


Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 American Psychological Association. Feb. 15, 2017. “Stress in America 2017 Snapshot:
Coping with Change.” http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April. 26, 2017.
2 Carey Goldberg. WBUR. Nov. 18, 2016. “Mass. Doctors Are Seeing the Effects of the Election in the Exam Room.” http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2016/11/18/mass-doctors-election-effects. Accessed May 17, 2017.
3 American Psychological Association. Feb. 15, 2017. “Stress in America 2017 Snapshot:
Coping with Change.” http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April. 26, 2017.
4 Sridhar Pappu. New York Times. Aug. 13, 2016. “He Likes Trump. She Doesn’t. Can This Marriage Be Saved?” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/fashion/marriage-politics-donald-trump-hillary-clinton.html. Accessed April 26, 2017.
5 Matt Lindner. Chicago Tribune. Nov. 9, 2016. “Block. Mute. Unfriend. Tensions rise on Facebook After Election Results.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-facebook-election-reaction-family-1109-20161109-story.html. Accessed April 26, 2017.
6 Maeve Duggan and Aaron Smith. Pew Research Center. Oct. 25, 2016. “The Political Environment on Social Media.” http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/25/the-political-environment-on-social-media/. Accessed April 26, 2017.
7 Jill Cornfield. March 20, 2017. “10 Best States to Retire in if You’re Sick of Politics.” http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/10-best-states-to-retire-in-if-youre-sick-of-politics/#slide=1. Accessed April 26, 2017.
8 Ibid.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.


The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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