Self-Driving Car Technology that Can Offer Seniors Independence

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 by Warren Clarke

SeniorDriver

 

For most of us, there is a sense of independence that comes with our ability to drive ourselves from one place to the next. Teens get a feeling of euphoria and freedom when they obtain their driver's licenses and finally achieve the mobility that comes with being behind the wheel. Conversely, if you're a senior, it can be incredibly discouraging if health problems have forced you to limit or entirely curtail your driving.

Newly emerging self-driving car technology can be of value in this area. These advancements may be able to help seniors drive more safely and with greater confidence. Today’s self-driving technologies offer everything from simple assistive features to fully autonomous solutions for some of the major pain points of the driving experience.

 

Spreading Awareness

Challenges exist when it comes to public awareness and acceptance of car safety technology.  A recent study conducted by CARFAX—a company that provides vehicle history reports and other key information regarding used cars—indicated that although 82 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of car safety technology, most didn't consider these features must-haves when buying a car.

Those who are 55 and over tend to be late adopters when it comes to technology. But in the case of car tech, the CARFAX study reported that older car buyers tend to be more trusting of the newest automotive safety technology than their younger peers. In the survey, six out of 10 respondents 55 and older stated that they fully trust car safety technology. Among millennials, only four out 10 respondents expressed the same confidence.

Automotive safety technology can add convenience and lead to fewer accidents behind the wheel, and it deserves wider acceptance.

Below is a lineup of car technology that can help seniors navigate the road more safely.

 

Driver-assistive technologies

Certain features can assist senior drivers in significant ways, even though they don't offer fully autonomous functionality.

Failing vision may make it more difficult for an older driver to spot obstacles. Backup cameras—one of the most popular and trusted technologies—can assist seniors in safely reversing by providing a clear image of what’s behind them. When it comes to approaching vehicle when changing lanes, a blind-spot monitor can help. This system issues a warning if you attempt to change lanes while there's a vehicle in your blind spot.

For some older drivers, slower reflexes are a problem, and this can create a dangerous situation if an object suddenly appears in their path while driving. Forward collision mitigation with autonomous braking can be lifesaver in these instances. This feature is able to detect obstacles in a vehicle’s path, and automatically activates the brakes if the driver doesn't respond in time.

Meanwhile, cruise control can be a godsend when it comes to highway driving, helping drivers automatically maintain a consistent speed. Adaptive cruise control takes things a step further by automatically maintaining a safe distance between your car and the vehicle immediately ahead of you when you're cruising down the freeway.

 

Self-parking cars

Some seniors have a hard time with parking, and it's easy to understand why. Arthritis is a condition that's common in older adults, and it's the No. 1 cause of disability in the U.S. According to information published by the Arthritis Foundation, almost half of adults 65 or older have this condition. Arthritis can cause joint stiffness, and can severely limit mobility.

Safe parking requires a fair amount of dexterity, since you have to twist your neck and maneuver your shoulders to get a view of the surrounding area as you slide into your parking spot. This can create a great deal of stress and pain for arthritic seniors.

Self-parking cars represent a handy solution. These cars can handle even the most nerve-wracking parallel-parking maneuver with calm efficiency.

Cars with these tech features are widely available. They're currently offered by manufacturers such as Volvo, Chevrolet and Chrysler, and you can also get self-driving functionality with a Toyota Prius.

 

Self-driving cars

Self-driving cars used to exist only in the realm of science fiction, but the future has undoubtedly arrived. Today, some automakers offer cars that completely handle the task of driving in certain circumstances. Many of these models use sophisticated sensors that bounce laser beams off of objects in the vicinity to create precise 3-D maps of the surrounding area.

Plus, the latest Audi A8 offers a feature called the Traffic Jam Pilot. This feature is capable of autonomously handling all functions regarding steering, throttle and braking at speeds of up to 37 mph on freeways and highways.

And Tesla's electric vehicles are available with an autopilot function that will take over the wheel. Tesla uses eight surround cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors to achieve this feat. The company boasts that this technology is able to see through pouring rain and heavy fog, and can even identify obstacles that are ahead of the vehicle in front of you.

Numerous carmakers are developing this type of technology. In the months and years ahead, it's expected that car buyers interested in self-driving technology will have a growing array of choices to consider. In the meantime, seniors can prolong and enjoy their freedom behind the wheel with the safety technologies already available.

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Warren Clarke is a consumer advocate and automotive writer for CARFAX, an online resource for used car buying. He enjoys following the latest car technology and sharing tips to help drivers of all ages.

Tips for a Longer, Happier Life -- And How to Save for It

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 by Acts Retirement Guest Contributors

Senior couple getting financial advice

All of us want to live a long, happy life with comfortable financial stability. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

 

1. Eat Right

Diet matters a lot when it comes to your health and longevity. However, you don’t have to follow the trendiest diet-du-jour in order to be healthy and live longer. Multiple studies have shown that many of the people who live past 100 eat what would be called a Mediterranean diet, which means high in fruits, nuts, healthy fats, and vegetables, low on meat.

Case in point: many centenarians live in Mediterranean countries. This diet has also been linked to better brain health and lower risk for heart disease.

Financial Tip: Eating right can coincide with saving money. When you cook your own healthy meals, it’s far cheaper than eating out. You’re saving on medical bills in the long run, too.

Here’s another simple tip – switch soda and flavored drinks for water. Soda and other sugary drinks are expensive and can cause weight gain. Drink water to benefit your health and your wallet.

 

2. Be Mindful

We all know it’s good to practice mind-body-spirit awareness. Listen to your body, feed the soul, and so on. In fact, meditation and other forms of mindfulness are good candidates for this list. But that’s not what this tip is about. This is about being prudent and dependable.

Scientists who studied longevity over an 80-year span in The Longevity Project at Stanford University found that people who were conscientiousness tended to live longer lives.

People assume that it’s the relaxed personalities among us that live longer. That’s not necessarily true, according to the researchers. They speculate that people who are “prudent, persistent, and well-organized” tend to make better choices in life.

Financial Tip: Apply prudence, persistence, and organization to your finances. Do you have a budget, an emergency fund, and a retirement fund? These are just a few of the basic elements of good money management. If you need help in this area, a one-hour session with a financial advisor might help you get things sorted out.

 

3. Stay in School Your Whole Life

Your high school days may be far behind you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be getting an education. Scientists have linked higher education to a longer life — as much as nine years longer.

Again, the explanation has to do with decision-making. Like people who are persistent and well-organized, people who are highly educated tend to make better choices in their life when it comes to their health.

Financial Tip: How much do you know about saving for retirement? Mutual fund? IRAs? Life insurance policies? There are plenty of well-written blogs that regularly share expert information about personal finance.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, so take advantage and learn as much as you can about your own finances. Understanding money will help you make better choices about how to spend and save.

 

4. Downsize and Reduce Stress

Are you an empty nester? Do you find that your house requires more work than it used to? Your house may be causing you unnecessary stress. You may want to consider downsizing.

Decide what downsizing means to you and how it can positively impact your life. Ask yourself: do I still need this? Does this item make me happy? Questions like this will help you decide whether to downsize by removing a few items or completely relocating to a space that better suits your needs. See 8 tips on downsizing your home.

Financial Tip: There are hidden costs to home ownership. You may think you’re saving money by staying in your house, but you could be wrong. Have you considered downsizing your house and moving to a retirement community? Learn about the hidden costs of home ownership, then decide whether a retirement community is the right choice for you.

As you progress through the stages of adopting these tips, remember that none of the advice you’ve received here today is impossible to put into action. You can start today, and none of this has to cost you a dime. In fact, weaving these tips into your life should help you start saving more money while living longer and healthier.

 


 

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit continuing care retirement community organizations. Acts Retirement-Life Communities has 22 retirement communities in 8 states. The communities offer a range of apartments, villas and cottages that are a perfect fit for both your budget and your lifestyle. Acts Communities offer a variety of fitness activities and classes like art and book clubs.

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Planning Your Estate

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 by Scott Morris

senior couple estate planning

When someone dies, not only must friends and family deal with their grief, but often, they must also start untangling the estate planning laws and regulations that suddenly come into play.

Without a sound estate plan, families can be left paying thousands of dollars in extra taxes or fighting bitterly with each other.

To help you get started with this daunting process, or to double-check your existing plan, we asked some estate planning experts what are some of the most common mistakes they’ve come across.

 

1. Not having an estate plan at all

Experts point out that everyone should have some kind of estate plan: even young people or people with limited means.

“I understand that people don't enjoy pondering their own eventual death or possible incapacitation,” said Ryan McPherson of Intelligent Worth, a financial planning firm in Atlanta, Georgia. “However, having a will (and related docs) is perhaps one of the most important and responsible steps you can take to safeguard your spouse, children, and assets.”

It’s also important to come up with a plan when everyone involved is healthy and able to participate. Many experts recounted stories of families in crisis, scrambling to come up with a plan before it’s too late.

“It's so much easier on families to make these decisions while they are not in crisis, when they have capacity, when it's possible to take steps to accomplish their goals,” said Danielle Van Ess, an attorney with DGVE Law in Hingham, Massachusetts.

 

2. Not updating your will, especially after major life events

Many families may just “set it and forget it” when making an estate plan, but experts agree that this is another common mistake. Families need to be continuously revisiting their estate plan, particularly after major life events, like moving, having another child, or buying a second house.

“Laws change, but more frequently, family dynamics change,” said Gary Garland, an elder law attorney and financial planner with Garland Law Offices in Manalapan, N.J.

“Either a beneficiary has changed, a fiduciary (executor, trustee) has died or the relationship has changed, or the titling of the assets changed. Documents should ideally be reviewed every three years or when major life changes occur,” Garland said.

 

3. Ignoring state taxes

One thing in particular to watch out for, especially if you move, is whether you’ve taken state taxes into account, which will likely have different rules than federal estate taxes.

“With the federal estate tax exemption currently at $5.49 million, people may think they don’t have to worry about estate taxes when they die so they don’t plan for the issue,” said ReKeithen Miller, a financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in its Atlanta office.

“However, many states have their own estate and inheritance tax laws and their exemptions are much lower than the federal amount,” Miller said.

Exemptions in some states could be as low as $1 million. Make sure you check the laws in your state to make sure that your heirs won’t end up owing a lot more in taxes than you or they expected.

 

4. Leaving everything to your spouse

Some experts warn that leaving everything to your spouse outright and trusting them to take care of the children could be a mistake, particularly if your spouse remarries. Your spouse’s new partner could end up taking a much larger share of your assets, leaving your children with less.

Molly James, a partner with international law firm Troutman Sanders who deals with estate planning, suggests setting up a trust as a way around that problem.

“Some people have a misconception that trusts are complicated and that their very existence requires a trustee outside of the family and/or the beneficiaries,” James said. “Properly drafted trusts can have the main beneficiary as the sole trustee.”

This means your spouse could control over the trust, but you can name your children as beneficiaries in the event your spouse dies, James said. The only extra expense would be filing a separate tax return on behalf of the trust.

 

5. Assuming your family will continue to get along

Family frictions can be exacerbated by the death of a family member, and even if your family is getting along great now, that might not last. Without a clear plan, family members might start fighting for control of various assets.

Or there could be bitterness over how things were divvied up. A lack of guidance on family assets like a lake cabin could also lead to fighting.

“A parent’s nightmare is to know that bad blood between siblings is ignited by the distribution of family assets,” said Patrick Brault, a principal at Wipfli Hewins Investment Advisors in the Twin Cities area. “When crafting estate plans, parents should carefully consider the relationships between siblings and their mates when making final decisions on the distribution of their hard-earned assets.”

This could require sitting down to a family meeting for some difficult conversations.

The state of your children’s lives is another thing to take into account -- an equal distribution of assets might not be the correct course of action, particularly if one child is wealthy and the other is struggling.

You also might want to consider the bad habits of your children or their partner and again consider a trust that could prevent them from burning through it too quickly, Brault added.

 

6. Not communicating or being specific enough

Communication is key, and you should make sure you’re as specific as possible. Another source of friction can be seemingly rote decisions about organ donation, burial or memorial services that were left up to surviving family members to decide.

“Emotions are high, reasoning is impaired, these are things that loving families disagree about and cause stress or even impact relationships permanently,” said Van Ess.

There should even be instructions for your social media accounts as disagreements could crop up over privacy concerns and sentimental value. Meanwhile, there are awkward digital remnants left floating around on the Internet.

And when you choose people to be your agents and empower them to make decisions, you should make sure you talk to them in detail and that they’re comfortable taking on that responsibility, Van Ess said.

 

7. Becoming a victim of identity theft

Scammers continue to target older Americans, particularly if they start losing their capabilities. Worse, they might even try and take advantage of the death of a family member, scouring obituaries for personal details to exploit, so keep that in mind.

 


 

Scott Morris is an independent journalist whose award-winning reporting has appeared in numerous publications such as local wire service Bay City News and more recently in outlets like the East Bay Express, Hoodline and Oakland Magazine. Living in Oakland, California, he covers a wide variety of topics from policing policy and civil rights law to Bay Area sports.

 

8 Fun Activities for 2017 Grandparents Day

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 by Gina Roberts-Grey

grandmother baking with grandchild

Any day you’re able to spend time with your grandchildren is a special one. But this year, National Grandparents Day on Sept. 10, 2017, is a wonderful reason to enjoy some bonding time with grandchildren of all ages — no matter the weather or number of miles between you.

Wondering how to celebrate the day? Enjoy these creative — and fun — activities with your grandchildren.

 

1. Play home-grown trivia

Write 10 (or more) trivia questions related to your family and/or relationship with your grandchild. Then call, face-time, email or text your grandchild to ask the questions and discuss the answers.

From your favorite food or color to the first time the two of you went to the movies together, engage your grandchild while sharing fun facts about each other. For inspiration, check out these sample questions from Red Tricycle and Aegis Living.

 

2. Hunt for mementos

Enlist the help of your grandchild’s parents to hide mementos of your relationship or time together, photos of the two of you, etc., around the child’s house.

Then while the two of you are on the phone or face-timing each other, give your grandchild “hot” and “cold” clues to help them locate the hidden object in their home. When he or she makes a discovery, the two of you can relive the experiences and memories associated with the item, photo, etc.

 

3. Teach them about their ancestors

Brush up on how to spell and pronounce 5 to 10 words in the language of one of your ancestral countries. Or try your hand at learning how to say a phrase too like “I love you very much” or a phrase that’s special to your relationship with your grandchild.

Then share the words or phrases via email, text, or phone call with your grandchild on Grandparents Day to pass on the knowledge and foster an interest in their heritage. You can also begin building a family tree together with other grandchildren who are interested in learning more about previous generations of their family.

 

4. Play games together

If you’re spending the day in-person, pop some popcorn and gather your grands around the table to play classic games like Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders or newer options like Out of Order from Endless Games ($19.99) and the Family Feud 40th Anniversary edition ($24.99).

 

5. Star in your own reality show

Stream a few episodes of Cupcake Wars while you and your grandchildren bake — and then decorate — your own tasty creations. “I inspire my grandkids to get creative with flavor creations, sprinkle combinations, and the hues of frostings,” says Chris Moss of San Diego, CA. Then have your own in-home sweet contest to see whose combinations take the cake.

 

6. Have a sparks party

Stock up on Wintergreen Lifesavers. “Take your grandchild in a totally dark room or closet and have everyone bite into the Lifesaver with their front teeth,” says Silvana Clark, a speaker on family activities and author of Fun Filled Parenting: A Guide to Yelling Less and Laughing More. Sparks will fly and the kids will squeal with excitement.

 

7. Inspire wacky stories

Clark suggests giving your grandkids some blank 4" by 6" index cards, scissors, old magazines and glue sticks. “Ask them to cut out pictures of anything and glue it to the cards, to wind up with about 20 or more picture cards.”

Divide the cards evenly among the group without looking at them. Pick a person to hold up their card and start telling a story about their card using at least 5 sentences. “Then they point to another person who holds up their card and continues the story,” says Clark. You could craft a story about some toothpaste that falls on a bowl of dog food and a baby eats it.

“The cards help give kids prompts to make the story interesting,” says Clark. “Keep the cards handy and play anytime, because the stories are always different.”

 

8. Look for treasures and leave your own

Take a walk together to gather smooth rocks you take back to your house to paint or decorate them with permanent markers, stickers, beads, etc. “If time permits, take another walk at a community park and leave the rocks along the path,” says Clark. You can also schedule time with your grandchildren to leave your rocks along a path during an upcoming future visit.

“Take your grandchildren back a day or two later to see if their rock has been replaced with that of a new ‘friend,’” says Clark.


No matter how you commemorate National Grandparents Day, Clark emphasizes the importance of nurturing your relationship with your grandchild. “Any time the two of you can be together to learn about each other or just curl up and read a book together creates cherished and lifelong memories for both of you!”

10 Ways to Find Love in your Golden Years

Friday, September 1st, 2017 by Tracy Layden

senior romance

Love in your golden years may seem like something you’re “too old for.” In reality, it’s the perfect time to find your soulmate. You have more time on your hands, know what you want in life, and you’re not afraid to be you. No matter what age you are, love and compassion are important parts of living a happy life.

Whether you're widowed and ready for a new partner, or have just been out of marriage for a while—love doesn’t have an age limit.

What to Keep in Mind

Before becoming fully dedicated to finding a soulmate, know what you are getting into. Keep in mind these helpful tips.

  • Know what you’re looking for in a significant other. After learnings from a lifetime of experiences, mistakes, and lessons, you’ll know exactly what you want in a person as you settle down. Try to find someone who has the same interests or retirement plans as you so you will be compatible together.
  • Be patient. You may start to realize that finding “the one” is easier said than done, but don’t let that bring your hopes down. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t rush into things with the first person you’re interested in either. Try dating for a while so you can truly match with the right person.
  • Let your children know. You want your children to know that you are dating so you can get their support in this decision. They will likely be supportive and understand that you aren’t trying to replace their other parent. You can even ask them for advice on what and what not to do!

Ways to Meet Other Single Seniors

Do you have trouble figuring out exactly how to meet other single seniors? It’s easier than you think. You will meet other single seniors with some creative thinking.

  • Get in touch with Facebook friends. If you use Facebook then take advantage of your huge online social circle. Don’t be afraid to get back in touch with that old friend who you may have shared a connection with many years ago. Reach out to them in a friendly manner and explore the possibilities.
  • Try an online dating service. Meeting someone online is a common way all ages are finding love. Many seniors use online dating as an effective way to connect with the perfect match. Set up your profile with specific details about your interests and let the website take control to match you with compatible people.
  • Attend local senior center events. What better way to meet single seniors than by going to your local senior center? These facilities always hold many different celebrations, holidays, and activities. Senior centers make it easy to find that special someone right in your own community.
  • Go to music and dance nights at local restaurants. Meet other singles over a nice dinner while dancing to live music in the background. This is a great alternative to the typical dinner date and a fun way to create chemistry with that special someone.
  • Sign up with senior travel groups. Do you have any travel destinations to check off your bucket list? Retirement is the perfect time to travel! There are plenty of senior travel groups that make it easy to meet and find your new significant other. What better way to meet and get to know a person than on a relaxing vacation.
  • Start volunteering. If you’re looking for someone who is caring and kindhearted, try volunteering. You will have a chance to meet singles who are dedicated to giving back to the community. With common interests, you will hit it off and get along fast.

Don’t give up on love just because you’re aging. This should be a time to live happily and relax, so make it extra special with your soulmate by your side.


Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Ease Into Retirement with a Part-Time Job

Thursday, August 31st, 2017 by Amy Osmond-Cook

senior part time jobs

What’s the first thing you plan to do when you retire? Travel? Spend more time with family? Play BINGO? Well, for about half of today’s retirees, they plan on going back to work. And according to a joint study by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Age Wave, that number is set to increase in the coming years. “This study shows that 72 percent of pre-retirees over the age of 50 say their ideal retirement includes work in some capacity,” says Greg Iacurci. In fact, it’s not uncommon for retirees to proactively figure part-time work into their retirement plan.

If you are on the threshold of retirement, and you are considering throwing your seasoned hat back into the workforce ring, first, ask yourself what motivates you to find part-time work? Do you need supplemental income to make ends meet, or is the desire to work rest on boredom? Based on your answer, gaining a full understanding of how you can earn supplemental income without jeopardizing your SSI benefits is an important step.

First, let’s talk money

Many retirees work at part-time jobs, but your age and income could reduce your social security benefits in the short-term. “If you retire and begin to receive benefits before you reach what the government considers your 'full retirement age,' then your Social Security benefits will be reduced by as much as 30 percent, depending on the year you were born,” says Cheryl Winokur Munk, of CNBC. “The magic age is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954.” Delaying your full social security benefits can be a good thing because it extends those benefits to cover you for a longer period of time. Then, when you reach full retirement age, your benefits could actually increase.

But, be careful. “If you're receiving Social Security, keep in mind that your benefits are taxable based on your provisional income, which includes your wages, dividends, capital gains, retirement account distributions, and 50 percent of your Social Security benefits (among other items),” financial expert Brian Vnak writes in MarketWatch. “Having a job may mean you'll make more money, but that extra inflow may adversely affect your Social Security benefit.” It's critical to take a long-term view of your comprehensive financial plan for retirement before taking on any part-time position, but should you decide it’s time to get to work, here are some helpful and engaging ideas for possible employment opportunities.

1. Being a museum, zoo, or art gallery docent

Although Barbara, an 80-year-old retired school teacher, never mastered the brush, she has spent a lifetime admiring oil paintings. Now retired, she spends two to three hours every day preparing artwork for shows and talking with customers who visit the gallery.

Converting a hobby into a part-time job is an ideal transition for new retirees. Like Barbara, who followed through with her love of art, others can convert a love of animals into a job walking dogs at the humane society or the zoo, volunteering at the hospital can evolve into a job in the gift shop or guest services, or a love of local history can turn into a job at the local city museum or library.

2. Helping out at your local golf course

What’s better than spending the day golfing? Spending the day getting paid while golfing. It takes many hands to keep a public golf course running, and that means there are a variety of positions available. Best of all, when the last power cart has been collected, many courses allow the staff to play a round before the sun sets.

3. Sharing your knowledge at a hardware store

Many retirees enjoy the satisfaction of sharing their home building and lawn care knowledge with others, and the hardware or building supply store is the ideal place to offer that help to customers. Retailers like Home Depot and Lowes welcome experienced retirees to fill their part-time positions, especially in the spring when home improvement projects are popular.

4. Working on a cruise ship

If you fear a sedentary life will settle in upon retiring, a position on a cruise ship may be the solution. Many cruise lines offer positions ranging from hosts, childcare workers, and cashiers to photographers, tour guides, entertainment, and food service workers. And many cruise lines encourage retirees to apply because they are a great fit for the demographics of that cruise line.

5. Being a caregiver

Companies like Seniors helping Seniors, Visiting Angels, and Senior Helpers are always seeking retirees to help with residents of skilled nursing facilities. And with good reason. “Plenty of employers appreciate older workers for caregiving and companion positions because many of the clients are often more comfortable with someone who resembles a peer,” says Tory Johnson in a report for ABC News. “On the flip side, retirees have more in common with elderly clients, such as life experiences and frames of reference, which can make companionship an easier fit.” Although the duties may vary, most positions include playing games, reading to patients, taking walks, and offering friendly and caring medication reminders.

6. Consulting

After 35 years in the structural engineering business, Andre retired. But when projects come into the office that requires expertise in suspending concrete, Andre’s former employer hires him as a consultant. This arrangement is a win-win for both parties. Andre still enjoys the flexibility of retirement yet stays close to an industry that remains a big part of his identity, and his employer maintains easy access to an expert who contributes to current projects.

If you plan on finding part-time work following retirement, you are not alone. But how you move forward with those plans will make a big difference in fulfilling your long-term goals. “Whether it's the financial cushion or because you truly love working, it's in your best interest to understand how this decision will change your plans for the future,” Vnak writes in MarketWatch. By making informed decisions about your present situation and how it will affect your future, you can be sure your quality of life and financial security today will continue for many years to come.

6 Traits of the Happiest Seniors

Thursday, August 31st, 2017 by Tammy Worth

happy seniors

 

We generally tend to think that as people age, they inevitably end up with a major illness or memory loss, leaving them isolated and unhappy. But for the majority of older individuals, this isn’t the case.

“These are myths about aging,” says Norman Abeles, professor emeritus of psychology at Michigan State University. “Many older people really are different than that.”

Most people do have some sort of health or cognitive impairment as they age, but in most cases, these are easily dealt with, Abeles says. When people retire, many are able to live fulfilling, productive lives.

And a few key traits you possess – including curiosity, resilience and sociability – go a long way toward staying happy and healthy long after retirement.

 

1. Sociability: Talk to someone new everyday

One of the most important keys to happiness as you age is remaining connected to others.

Isolation can be dangerous for aging adults and it may even make you more likely to be placed in a nursing home and have worse health issues, says Lee Lindquist, MD, chief of geriatrics at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Studies have shown that aging women who keep active social networks were one-quarter less likely to have dementia than those who didn’t.

If you are a natural introvert or don’t have a wide social network, Lindquist recommends doing what one of her patients does: try and talk to one new person every day.

“It may be someone at the deli counter or in an exercise class,” she says. “You have to put yourself out there a little bit.”

When you are around people your own age, Abeles recommends using three simple topics that almost all aging individuals love to discuss: grandchildren, food and health.

“Stick with safe topics,” he says. “Stay away from politics and religion.”

 

2. Staying physically active

Physical activity is extremely important as you age. According to the World Health Organization, exercising over the age of 65 improves cardiovascular and muscular fitness, increases bone strength and reduces the risk of conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic lung disease, depression and cognitive disorders.

The WHO recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week.

If you are able to play golf, tennis or swim, those are ideal types of physical activity. But gardening or going for walks are great ways to remain active. Some senior centers and health systems even offer classes for people in wheelchairs or who have limited mobility.

 

3. Curiosity: Try a new challenge

It’s easy, especially when you are retired, to do the same things every day. Sticking with a constant routine means you are relying on the part of your brain known as the basal ganglia. This is the area responsible for performing tasks you’ve done so much they require almost no thought, like walking down the street or driving home from work.

The problem with using this part of the brain so much is it puts you on auto pilot and doesn’t challenge your brain or build new learning pathways, which is important as you age, Lindquist says. You need to shake things up now and again and expand your horizons.

And if you can, try things that really challenge you like learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument. These both help your brain work in ways it hasn’t before. Intergenerational activities are also a great way to learn new things and avoid getting in a rut, Lindquist says.

To do this, you can attend something as simple as grandparent’s day at your grandchild’s school or volunteer at a youth center. Organizations like Michigan State University host annual summer classes for alumni and their grandchildren known as Grandparent’s University.

And Pittsburgh State University offers an Intergenerational Activities Sourcebook that provides myriad ideas for engaging with youth. “Think of your brain as a muscle; if you don’t exercise it, it turns to fudge,” Lindquist says. “Watching TV 24-7 isn’t active or stimulating.”

 

4. Be purposeful

Lindquist tells people that being 65 shouldn’t be considered the end but the fourth quarter. Especially if you are retired, this should be the time you are able to find a new purpose and do the things that make you happy.

After retirement, some people make dramatic changes like starting a new career, becoming a foster parent, or doing intensive volunteer work like joining the Peace Corps. But you don’t have to move to Africa to have a purpose-filled life. You may choose to do some part-time consulting or volunteer a few days a week at a local charity.

Studies have shown that just having a purpose or feeling useful to others can help you live longer and reduce the risk of health conditions like heart disease and insomnia. And an August 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Foundation Psychiatry found that people over the age of 50 who reported having some sort of purpose in life had better physical health than those who didn’t.

Researchers found that even small increases in purpose decreased their risk of developing weak grip strength and slowed walking (both markers of physical decline) by more than 10 percent.

No matter what you do to maintain a sense of purpose in your life as you age, having a reason to get up in the morning will make your days healthier and happier.

 

5. Positivity: Embrace aging

If you’ve seen the movie Grumpy Old Men, you likely had at least one moment where you thought, “I know someone just like that!” As people age, it’s easy to become more negative and critical of things and people around you. But Lindquist says having a positive attitude at this time is crucial.

“As they age, people need to embrace the things they love about life,” Lindquist says. “It’s about finding joy with loved ones and family and friends.”

And feeling good about aging in particular can help improve your mental and physical health, according to recent research.

A 2012 Irish study looked at data from more than 4,000 individuals who answered a questionnaire on their attitudes toward aging. People with negative perceptions of aging were more likely to have decline in cognition, executive function and attention than those who had positive ideas of aging.

Another small study out of researchers in North Carolina State University found that older people who were positive about aging fared better under stress than those who didn’t.

 

6. Resilience: Adapt to adversity

No one ever said aging was easy. Though many people today are able to remain healthy and active well into their later years, life experience inevitably brings illness, loss and some mental decline.

But being resilient – learning to adapt to adversity – can help guide you through the tougher times and even come out stronger. It may seem that most older adults suffer from loneliness and isolation, but many report they are content and are less likely to suffer from major depression than the general public according to a paper from the Arizona Center on Aging.

As we age, we tend to become more resilient, argue the researchers, enabling us to recover from challenges, sustain purpose and continue to grow through turmoil, loss and illness.

According to the Arizona research, resilience can be beneficial psychologically and physically for people, helping them recover following stress and injury, reduce depression after a loss and promote immune health.

“It’s not easy getting older, so we have to be strong,” says Lindquist. “We need inner strength to overcome pain and hardship and keep persevering.”

10 Smart Tips to Find a Roommate as an Older Adult

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 by Gina Roberts-Grey

Fun by dessert

 

Whether it’s to ease an over-burdened budget, avoid loneliness or have someone around to help feed your pet and water the plants if you’re away, many older adults today are pooling resources and sharing their home with a roommate.

Home sharing—more common among women than men—is popular among best friends and strangers alike. However, experts urge doing your homework before opening your doors to a roommate or agreeing to move into someone else’s home.

These practical tips can help you make the most of having a roommate later in life.

 

1. Be picky.

You want to share your space – as well as life experiences, friendship and companionship – with your housemate, so it’s important to find someone who is compatible. Start by determining your criteria for a long-term housemate and weigh all candidates against it, says Wendi Burkhardt, CEO of Silvernest, an online roommate-matching service that pairs boomers, empty nesters and other older adults with long-term housemates.

“Be specific about what you’re looking for in your post. If you’re retired, you may want someone who works during the day and isn’t around all of the time,” she says. “Or, it may be important that they’re tidy, share similar hobbies or keep the same hours as you.”

 

2. Do a background check.

Whether someone responds to an ad you posted, or if you find someone who is looking for a roommate, it’s a great idea to do some online research to explore the person’s background. “Review their social media profiles to see what hobbies they take part in and what organizations they belong to,” says Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Director of  BeenVerified.com, the leading online background check platform. This can give help determine if the person’s hobbies, habits and other details are compatible with yours.

Also ask for references, says Burkhardt. Background checking services like BeenVerified allow you to review any potential criminal history, bankruptcy filings, whether someone is a gun owner, and more. “Housemate-matching services may also vet the person for you, including doing the background screens and identity verification,” adds Burkhardt.

 

3. Go slow.

Before agreeing to be roommates or meeting face-to-face, connect via text message, email, or phone call to let potential candidates know more about you and what kind of roommate you’re looking for. “Conversing now will take some awkwardness out of that first in-person meeting,” says Lavelle.

 

4. Meet in person.

If your background search doesn’t raise any red flags, Burkhardt suggests setting up a date for coffee or to go for a walk in a public and neutral space. “Surprisingly, walking can stimulate a more spontaneous and intimate conversation than just sitting,” she says.

During your meeting, ask personal questions that generate thoughtful answers such as, “What was the best moment and worst moment in your life?” Burkhardt says this type of dialogue will help you develop “a feel of who the potential roommate really is beyond their day-to-day habits.”

 

5. Ask for references.

Ask for the contact information of people the potential roommate has lived with recently lived, a landlord or even professional references in the event the person is downsizing and selling their own home to become a roomie, says Win Warfield, co-founder of the Homies App, a compatibility-based roommate matching app.

 

6. Make it legal.

You should always enter into a rental lease with your housemate, says Burkhardt. Free lease templates can be found online and you can customize them with your own specifications. Every state has its own general template, so be certain to select one for your state to ensure it meets all the criteria to make it acceptable under legal conditions. Consult with a lawyer to review your lease, if you have any special clauses or requirements.

“Rather than entering into a one-year lease off the bat, consider starting with a three-month trial period to get to know your housemate and determine if you’re compatible,” says Burkhardt. “If things go well, you can easily renew for a longer period.”

 

7. Protect your assets.

Burkhardt recommends asking your new roommate for a security deposit that’s equal to one month’s rent. “This way, you’re covered if your housemate causes any damages to your property,” she says.

Burkhardt also advises setting up an automatic payment system where your housemate’s rent is transferred to your account on the same day each month, if possible. “It removes the hassle of collecting rent and ensures your collect in a timely manner,” she says.

 

8. Consider a “Cordial Contract”.

In addition to formalizing the financial aspects of house sharing like rent and utilities, Lavelle recommends crafting formal guidelines that establish boundaries and expectations for common household tasks like cleaning and defining quiet time for relaxation and sleep, as well as any rules pertaining to outside guests. “Having some clarity upfront that you both agree to can prevent any misunderstandings and resentments,” he says.

Make sure to include interactions with and care of any pets, use of personal items, etc., in this contract to eliminate as many potential problems as possible before they arise.

 

9. Set realistic expectations.

Warfield cautions against expecting a new best friend to move in. Great roommates don’t necessarily make good friends and vice versa. “It’s great when that happens, but the important thing is to find someone who’ll respect your space, be responsible, and has a lifestyle complimentary to your own,” says Warfield.

 

10. Know that disagreements happen.

Ruffled feathers and hurt feelings are part of life. And if you encounter a dispute with your housemate, your first step is to refer to your lease agreement and/or cordial contract regarding how to reconcile, says Burkhardt. “In the event you need to terminate your agreement, you should both secure legal counsel and proceed according to the laws established by your agreement and your city or state,” she says.

And don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your situation.

If you determine that you and your roommate just aren’t compatible, take steps to terminate your agreement sooner rather than later. “[Terminating] shouldn’t be a problem. But it’s advisable to document the early termination in writing, have it reviewed by a legal professional, and both keep copies of the amended agreement on file,” says Burkhardt.

 

10 Senior-Friendly Health Apps You Should Know

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers

HealthApp

 

We're fortunate to live in an era where information about overall wellness - including fitness and nutrition - is more abundant and more accessible than ever. With thousands of health and fitness apps available for smart phones today, there should be a variety of options that will that fit your needs and preferences.

We’ve rounded up 10 health-related apps for seniors that provide convenience, ease of use, and strategies to boost your overall well-being.

 

1. GoodRX

GoodRXSmall

If you're looking to save money and prescriptions, then GoodRx is for you. GoodRX searches current prices and discounts to help you find the lowest cost for your prescriptions. All you have to do is type your drug's name into the search field and look for its lowest price. You also have access to coupons that will save you money and are accepted at most U.S. pharmacies. Even if you have insurance or Medicare, GoodRX may find a price less than your co-pay.

 

Get the app:

 

2. Medisafe

MedisafeSmall

Keeping track of your prescriptions can be difficult. With MediSafe, you'll get encouragement to take your next pill as well as information about each medicine you take. Meanwhile, you can connect with your physician through MediSafe and have access to helpful health data. MediSafe enables a personalized experience that saves time, frustration and money.

Get the app:

 

3. LifeLine Response

LifelineResponse

LifeLine Response is another one of the best apps for seniors because it serves as a personal alarm system that can be heard a great distance away. The moment your connection with the app is lost, the LifeLine systems sends out an alert. You can even set it to Timer Mode to check in when you're safely home.

 

 

 

Get the app:

 

4. Lose It!

LoseItSmall

Losing weight is a challenge for most people, and can become even tougher with age. The Lose It app simplifies things with all-in-one technology that allows you to set a daily calorie budget and your weight loss goals. Its database includes over 7 million foods, including restaurant items from around the world. And there's more: its barcode scanner enables you to upload nutritional information food labels, while you can even take a picture of your food and receive information about it.

 

Get the app:

 

 

5. Sleep Genius

SleepGeniusSmall

Among the best sleep apps for seniors is Sleep Genius, which works to ensure that you get the healthiest sleep possible. You'll discover your ideal bedtime, while a scientifically created Revive Cycle awakens you with a gentle five-minute cycle that brings you out of a deep sleep gradually with soothing sounds. Sleep Genius also includes a relaxation program designed to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

 

Get the app:

 

6. Motion X 24/7

MotionX

The first complete activity-tracker for the iPhone, Motion X 24/7 measures resting heart rate, advanced sleep cycle monitoring, and alerts that urge you to get active. It also includes an accurate daily step tracker that calculates calories burned, while the heart rate monitor is accessed by                                                                     placing your fingertip on the iPhone's camera.

Get the app:

 

7. Simply Being

SimplyBeing

The benefits of meditation for people of all ages are well documented. The ancient mindfulness practice has even been found to help older adults find more purpose in their lives.

Simply Being, an app by makers of the popular Meditation Oasis podcast Richard and Mary Maddux, brings guided meditations recommended by doctors and therapists all over the world to your ears. Users can choose from a variety of guided meditations from 5-20 minutes long that are designed to foster deep relaxation and stress relief.

Get the app:

 

8. Dragon Dictation

DragonDictationSmall

We all know about the dangers of texting and driving, not to mention the frustrations of trying to type out a text or email even when you're not behind the wheel. Dragon Dictation's voice recognition system allows you to speak and instantly see your text messages - and it's about five times faster than typing on a keyboard!

You can also dictate status updates to your social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and send               notes or reminders to yourself. The app supports a multitude of global languages.

Get the app:

 

9. Yummly

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Launched in 2010, Yummly is the ultimate kitchen tool, giving users access to thousands of recipes. The app comes with a variety of filters so you can search for recipes with or without certain ingredients, or filter by cooking time, nutritional value, allergy information and more criteria. In fact, founder Dave Feller says Yummly was born from his own frustration in searching for recipes that excluded mustard.

 

 

Get the app:

 

10. SideChef

SideChefSmall

Like Yummly, SideChef provides access to thousands of recipes and top food bloggers and chefs. However, it's designed to make things easier for novice chefs. Each recipe comes with step-by-step instructions, along with photos, videos, voice commands and timers.

 

 

Get the app:

 

 

7 Foods that Fight High Blood Pressure

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers

Different food in paper bag on wooden background, close up

 

About 1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure, and the majority are over 65 years old. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is dangerous since it can harden the arteries and raise your risk of heart disease and stroke.

While the likelihood of having high blood pressure rises with age, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. A healthy diet can be a powerful weapon against hypertension -- not to mention a host of other serious health conditions -- along with regular exercise and other smart lifestyle moves.

Most leading health organizations recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet as a way of lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease.

The diet, which emphasizes vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy products and limiting foods that are high in saturated fat and sodium, has been shown to help people lower their blood pressure in as little as two weeks, says

Darshi Shah, a certified nutritional therapist and author of "RIGHT Diet for Autoimmunity."

If you’re like a lot of older adults looking to keep your blood pressure in check, the following DASH diet-friendly staples should be on your grocery list.

 

1.Spinach

spinach

 

Popeye may’ve gotten more than bulging muscles from his regular doses of spinach – many nutritionists agree that the leafy green is an excellent pick for lowering blood pressure.

Registered Dietitian Julie Upton says that the foods most linked to reducing blood pressure are high in potassium. Cooked spinach is loaded with the nutrient, with 813 mg of potassium per cup, she notes.

To keep spinach and other veggies DASH diet-friendly, try steaming and boiling them as opposed to sauteeing and adding spices for flavor rather than salt, suggests Shah.

 

2.Beans and Lentils

BeansLentils1

 

Beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses that not only keep you full, but can also help lower blood pressure. Besides satiating fiber, beans and lentils are also high in potassium and magnesium, a combination that has repeatedly been shown to reduce or prevent hypertension.

Since the DASH diet includes only limited amounts of meat and poultry, beans and lentils provide an excellent plant-based source of protein to replace those foods. Shah recommends adding an extra portion of beans or lentils to meals to satisfy your daily protein requirements healthily.

 

3. Blueberries

SONY DSC

 

Blueberries are among the healthiest whole foods available – packed with fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and disease-fighting antioxidants. Additionally, they’re one of the best fruits to reach for if you’re trying to lower or maintain your blood pressure.

While other berries can also help lower blood pressure, a host of research highlights the effect of blueberries in fighting hypertension. A 2015 Florida State University study, for example, showed that women with mild to moderate hypertension who ate blueberries daily had significantly lower blood pressure after 8 weeks compared to those who did not eat blueberries.

 

4. Celery

Raw Organic Green Celery Stalks

 

Fruits and vegetables are central to the DASH diet, but one produce aisle standout is celery. A 2013 study is among the research pointing to celery’s hypertension-fighting potential – it showed that patients with mild to moderate hypertension were able to lower their blood pressure by taking celery extract. And Mark Houston, medical director of the Hypertension Institute of Nashville at Saint Thomas Hospital, recommends eating more of the veggie as a natural way to reduce blood pressure

Shah suggests snacking on celery with nut butter between meals to curb hunger.

 

5. Cold-water fish

Fresh salmon

 

Cold-water fish are another category of foods that are packed with beneficial nutrients that can help anyone be a little healthier. For those looking to lower their blood pressure, the Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish are the best options.

The Omega-3s found in cold-water fish “inhibit plaque inside the arteries, reduce blood clots and may increase good cholesterol and lower blood pressure,” a statement from the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) reads.

DASH diet recommendations include eating more fish than poultry or red meat, and the American Heart Association advises eating fish twice per week.

 

6. Lowfat Yogurt

Blueberry, raspberry parfaits in mason jars, still life against wood

 

Low-fat dairy products are a key part of the DASH diet, with two to three servings recommended daily. Low-fat yogurt in particular has been shown to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure.

Research presented at the American Heart Association’s annual 2012 meeting showed that women who regularly ate yogurt over two to three decades were 30 percent less likely to have hypertension than those who didn’t eat yogurt.

In case you needed more reasons to stock up on this dairy product, yogurt has also been shown to help strengthen teeth and bones, and it’s high in protein, so it can help you stay full.

 

7. Raisins

Raisins in metal spoons on wooden table

 

Raisins are another type of DASH diet-friendly food that are packed with potassium, a key nutrient in fighting hypertension.

And according to research presented at the 2012 American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, snacking on raisins may help lower blood pressure. In the study, participants with mild blood pressure increases who ate servings of the fruit a few times per day were able to significantly reduce their blood pressure compared to those who snacked on other foods.

Long nicknamed “nature’s candy,” raisins are a healthful yet effective snack to satisfy your sweet tooth, as opposed to cookies, candy and other sugary options that are typically high in calories and devoid of nutrients.