Category Archives: Health

New York Times Article says Lack of Geriatricians is a “Crisis Brewing”

Here in the U.S., our population is aging – but the number of geriatric care specialists is declining. And that spells a brewing health care crisis among seniors, according to an article published a few months ago in the New York Times. You can access the article here.

We have repeatedly emphasized how important it is for seniors to have a proper medical team, including the expertise of a geriatric care physician, or geriatrician. The New York Times article provides a dramatic illustration. It describes the author’s aging father and how the care of a geriatrician saved him from empty, drab institutional living. For anyone who wants to avoid unplanned institutional care as they age – and that’s just about everyone – this article and other resources we’ve cited in our Resource archive (click here to access our archive) is both encouraging and sobering.

The encouragement comes from the results geriatricians can achieve for their patients. “Good geriatric care can make an enormous difference,” the Times article states. “Older adults whose health is monitored by a geriatrician enjoy more years of independent living, greater social and physical functioning, and lower presence of disease. In addition these patients show increased satisfaction, spend less time in the hospital, exhibit markedly decreased rates of depression and spend less time in nursing homes.” We’ve been talking about these advantages for years!

But the sobering news is this: there’s a growing shortage of geriatric care physicians in America. The American Geriatric Society suggests that we should have one geriatrician for every 300 aging people. But projections show that, in 2030, the U.S. will have one geriatrician for every 3,800 seniors! There are currently only about 8,000 practicing geriatricians in the country, and that number is declining.

What’s worse is that medical students are chronically undertrained in the needs of seniors. Again quoting the New York Times, “Most health care professionals have had little to no training in the care of older adults. Currently, 97 percent of all medical students in the United States do not take a single course in geriatrics.” This seems hard to believe considering the aging population but it’s true.

Fortunately, here at our practice we have established relationships with geriatric care physicians in our area. Contact us for details, and we’ll be happy to refer you to a health care professional who will treat you with the respect and understanding you deserve.

Of course there’s more to planning for your retirement than picking a good physician. When we work with our clients, we help them develop a comprehensive plan that includes not only your medical needs but also plans for your legal affairs, your housing options, your financial security and the communication with your loved ones. We would love to do the same for you! We call this type of retirement plan a LifePlan, and you can start the process of creating your own by attending one of our free information-packed Life Planning Seminars. We hold these popular events at locations throughout the area.

Space at our LifePlanning Seminars is limited, so we invite you to click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates and times of seminars near you. We’ll see you soon!

(Originally reported at www.nytimes.com)

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? NY Times Article Reviews Some Basics

Alzheimer’s disease can seem frightening, mysterious and daunting. There are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, which afflicts more than five million Americans.” That’s how a recent article we found on the New York Times website begins. We found this article very helpful because it answers some of the basic questions we hear frequently from our many clients.

If you’re worried about Alzheimer’s disease in yourself or someone you love, we suggest you click here and read this timely piece. You’ll also find links to some companion articles in the New York Times that tell the compelling story of a woman who received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, then allowed a reporter to come inside her life for a closer look. (You can access that article directly by clicking here.) We urge our clients to become more familiar with various forms of dementia, since a solid understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and how it progresses is extremely important in retirement planning, especially for those who want to avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones as they age.

This particular New York Times article consists of several frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s disease, beginning with one that many worried seniors ask: does an occasional memory lapse mean they are experiencing the beginnings of serious dementia? Fortunately the general answer is “no.” As the Times piece puts it, “Most people have occasional memory lapses, which increase with age.” The writer goes on to state that “the memory problems that characterize warning signs of Alzheimer’s are usually more frequent, and they begin to interfere with safe or competent daily functioning: forgetting to turn off the stove, leaving home without being properly dressed or forgetting important appointments.” Often the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease can also include mood changes, social withdrawal, and feelings of confusion. Sometimes early sufferers even find the disease affecting the way they walk, causing a shuffling or slower gait.

Other questions asked and answered in the New York Times article include questions about diagnosis, cause and prevention. Doctors will diagnose Alzheimer’s disease using a wide range of cognitive and medical tests. They’ll also check to see if there are other possible causes besides Alzheimer’s disease for the symptoms a patient is experiencing, such as reaction to prescription drugs.

As for what causes Alzheimer’s, in most cases the specific triggers are unknown. Still, other health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression seem somehow connected to an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. As for prevention, the Times reports, “So far there is no clear answer.” Exercise, mental stimulation, a healthy diet and a strong social life have all been promoted as preventatives, and these are good ideas in and of themselves, but no conclusive evidence has yet shown that these can forestall the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Still, researchers keep looking.

The article also explains some of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease – important information for you if you’re caring for a loved one who has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Finally the Times lists several prescription drugs commonly used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Here, however, the news is not so good: of the five major drugs listed in the Times article, “none have been shown to work very well for very long.”

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can certainly cause fear. However, here at AgingOptions our goal is to help you plan for any and all of life’s eventualities as you age, without being afraid of what the future might bring. We can show you how to develop a LifePlan that not only takes your health concerns into account but also your finances, your legal affairs, your housing choices, even your family relationships. Starting the process is as easy as attending a free LifePlanning Seminar. We offer these highly enjoyable sessions frequently at locations throughout the region. It would be a pleasure to welcome you to a LifePlanning Seminar soon.

Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab and register. Then you can face your retirement future with greater confidence, no matter what life may throw your way!

(originally reported at www.nytimes.com)

As Doctor’s Visits Get Shorter, there are Questions You Should Ask

We hear it over and over, from doctors and their patients: because of changes in our health care system, doctors have to see more and more patients in less and less time. This means, when you go to see your doctor, he or she may have precious few minutes to spend with you. For most patients, the days when your doctor would have a leisurely office conversation with you are long gone.

So how can you plan ahead to make the most of your doctor’s visit? What are some of the most important questions you need to ask during the brief time you’ll spend in his or her office?

This new article from the website Grandparents.com provides some helpful answers. It’s titled, “10 Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor.” The idea is simple: since you have less and less face time with your doctor, you need to make the most of it in order to make sure you’re getting the best health care your physician can provide. Here’s a sampling of some of these helpful questions. You may want to print a copy of the article and share it with your physician.

For starters, the article lists some questions you should ask your doctor if this is your first visit, or if you haven’t seen him or her for over a year. You should start with the basics by asking, “What is your schedule?” Don’t assume he or she is there every weekday during “normal” hours – especially if your doctor is part of a clinic where evening or weekend hours are not uncommon. Your doctor’s hours may have changed since your last visit.

A second related question you should ask upfront is, “What’s the best way for me to communicate with you about test results, lab work or general questions?” Some doctors use the telephone, while others rely on email. Some only call with bad news, while others inform patients about everything. You deserve to know exactly what to expect. The article quotes Cleveland Clinic physician Dr. Amber Tull who reminds patients, “You should leave the doctor’s office understanding the [communication] plan. It sounds very obvious, but a lot of patients don’t know how and when results will be communicated.” Asking the easier question up front will save a lot of harder questions later.

Another question we found interesting that a patient might ask a doctor: “What can I tell you about myself that will help you remember me?” As the article points out, your doctor sees hundreds of patients, and the more he or she remembers you, the better your individual care will be. At least, the article suggests, this question will get your doctor thinking!

Some other questions seem obvious, but many patients hesitate to ask them. For instance:

• “What’s my diagnosis?” Make sure you understand the answer.
• “How long until it gets better?” Again, try to get a clear, easy to understand response.
• “Can you explain why you’re ordering a test or prescription?” Your doctor should be able to provide a clear explanation.
• “When do you want to see me next?” Make sure you understand the next step!

Finally, here’s one of our favorites. When you’re feeling scared, uneasy or confused during a medical appointment, look your doctor in the eye and ask, “Can I stop you for a minute?” As the article puts it, “Save this question for when you don’t understand what the physician is saying to you or when you are feeling scared. This lets the doctor know that you need a minute to collect your thoughts.” You deserve as much information during your appointment as possible, so don’t be afraid to insist on clarification.

Here at AgingOptions, the best recommendation we can make for seniors to ensure optimum health care is to make a geriatrician part of your health care team. A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in senior health care. When you consult with a geriatrician, you’re talking with a professional who already has a deep understanding of your health care needs. If you’ll contact our office, we can recommend a geriatrician in your area.

What about understanding your retirement needs? Working with clients to develop a personalized retirement plan is our professional specialty. We call it a LifePlan, and it would be our privilege to help you create a comprehensive, personalized roadmap to guide you into a retirement that is secure and fruitful. The best way to start is by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, held frequently throughout the region. To register for a LifePlanning Seminar near you, click on the Upcoming Events tab on our website.

And make sure to bring your questions! We’ll do our best to provide you with helpful answers.

(originally reported at www.grandparents.com)

Surprise! Ten Services Medicare Part A and B Probably Won’t Cover

The popular financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com) always covers a wide range of stories in a clever, sometimes irreverent style. We like how the site tries to put things in down-to-earth terms, which is why we were drawn to a just published article about Medicare. Not only does the article briefly (and helpfully) describe each of Medicare’s four parts, it also lists ten common medical services that – generally speaking – original Medicare does not cover.

Clearly this is important information for retirees who may be operating under the wrong assumptions about their future medical insurance needs. Click here to access the Motley Fool article.

It’s no secret that medical costs keep rising, and so does the value of Medicare benefits – benefits which affect virtually every senior adult in America. The Urban Institute recently released a study estimating that, by 2030, the value of Medicare’s lifetime benefits to the average 65 year old couple will exceed $650,000. But in spite of its critical importance in the lives of seniors, much about Medicare remains misunderstood. As the Motley Fool article puts it, “if consumers don’t understand a program, they won’t be able to take full advantage of it.”

For example, a study by United Healthcare in 2013 showed that at least one fifth of American seniors called Medicare “confusing.” People still don’t fully understand which of Medicare’s parts (A, B, C and D) covers what, and which ones carry a premium. With typical understatement, the Motley Fool says, “It would appear that the biggest obstacle the program faces is an educational shortfall.”

The article then briefly describes which part covers what. We won’t go into further detail here, but if this is something you’ve wondered about – as many of our clients have – this article is a good place to start.

Then the Motley Fool piece lists ten medical services seniors may have thought would be covered by “basic” Medicare (parts A and B) but which in most cases will not be. (There are some exceptions.) For example:

• If you’re traveling or living outside the U.S. your medical needs will almost certainly not be covered by Medicare A or B.
• For hearing aids and routine eye exams and glasses you’ll be on your own – these are not generally covered by original Medicare.
• Don’t count on Medicare A or B for routine dental care or foot care.
• If you prefer alternative treatments such as acupuncture or homeopathy, those services will not be covered by Medicare A or B.
• Cosmetic surgery is generally not covered if it’s elective. It may be covered as a result of disease or accident.
• Unless you’re recuperating in a skilled nursing facility, you shouldn’t expect Medicare A or B to cover custodial care – in other words, the kind of care an assisted living facility or home health care worker might provide. Odds are you’ll be responsible for these costs.
• Some diabetes supplies may not be covered, or may be covered only partially.

The point is clear: if you haven’t thought about medical costs as you age, you may be in for a shock. So our question is, have you considered how to meet your medical needs in retirement? A surprising number of seniors have not – which is why we strongly urge you to attend one of our LifePlanning Seminars where we review all five of the essential facets of a solid retirement plan. We’ll help you consider medical needs, financial plans, legal affairs, housing options and family relationships, so you can protect your assets and avoid becoming a burden to those you love.

Space at our LifePlanning Seminars is limited, so register today. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. LifePlanning Seminars are offered at no cost, but the information is priceless. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a future seminar.

(originally reported at www.fool.com)

Medicare Won’t Cover Your Prescribed Drug? Fight Back!

An interesting article on the popular financial website www.kiplinger.com talks about a troublesome trend affecting a growing number of retirees. You get to the pharmacy counter and ask to fill a prescription, only to be told that your Medicare drug plan won’t cover that particular drug. You walk away confused and empty handed.

Do you have any recourse? The answer is yes. Click here to read this important and helpful article that describes how to fight back when coverage of your prescription is denied.

According to Kiplinger, “More and more seniors are finding themselves in this confusing and potentially dangerous situation.” The article states that questions about pharmacy-counter denials of coverage – and what to do next – are among the most common questions brought to the attention of the Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline. Unless seniors know how to fight back, they may end up paying out of pocket unnecessarily, or going without medication entirely.

But here’s the statistic that most surprised us: according to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in 2013 nearly 80% of drug denials that were appealed were subsequently approved. In other words, persistence pays off!

So what’s going on? Why are drug denials on the rise? The simple answer, says Kiplinger, is cost control. Medicare drug plans are imposing what are called “utilization management restrictions” on a growing number of drugs, forcing patients to try cheaper alternatives and in some cases limiting quantities the patient can get at any one time. Kiplinger quotes the Kaiser Family Foundation who reports that, in 2015, almost 40% of drugs listed in the Medicare formulary had such restrictions, more than double the percentage from 2007.

We won’t go into the details here, but the Kiplinger article includes a series of helpful steps to follow and key terms you’ll need to know if and when you decide to appeal a drug coverage denial. First, if your drug is denied, you are usually entitled to a “transition refill” to get you through at least 30 days of use. Then you should contact your plan and ask for a “coverage determination” which provides a written explanation of the reasons behind the decision to deny coverage.

You’re supposed to get a reply within 72 hours, but you can request an expedited decision in an emergency. The article goes on to explain how to ask for an “exception,” and, if needed, a “redetermination.” Sound frustrating? It certainly can be. But remember, if you persist, the odds are in your favor that you’ll get the coverage you need. That’s what happened eight out of ten times.

Persistence and planning are two of the key elements we emphasize with our clients here at Aging Options. When we put together a personalized retirement blueprint, called a LifePlan, we help our clients work through all aspects of a carefully thought-out plan tailored just for them. We help you answer a host of key questions: Will you have adequate medical coverage? Where and how will you want to live? Do you have all your legal affairs in order? Is your family fully informed of your wishes so there will be no unpleasant surprises or “family feuds”? And finally, do you have a sufficient financial plan to make sure you won’t outlive your assets?

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Let us guide you through the process of developing your own LifePlan. Sign up today for one of our free, information-packed LifePlanning Seminars. You’ll find a complete listing of dates, times and locations here on this website, on the Upcoming Events tab. Space is limited, so register now, and we’ll look forward to working with you to help you chart a course for a fruitful and secure retirement future.

(originally reported at www.kiplinger.com)

Mixing Supplements & Prescription Drugs Could be a Dangerous Idea

A recent article on the CNN website points out a growing danger that could be affecting someone in your family – or maybe you.

Researchers have pointed out that a growing number of older adults are combining dietary supplements with prescription drugs in ways that could be dangerous to their health. Click here to read the CNN article which summarizes a recent report in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

According to the article, two-thirds of all older American adults are taking five or more medications and supplements. This number has risen dramatically in recent years, from just over half of all adults in 2006. But along with this rise in consumption come new hazards as seniors unknowingly combine drugs and supplements in ways that were never intended.

One common example is the blood thinner warfarin. Many seniors are taking this often-prescribed drug. But combining warfarin with omega-3 fish oils, which have soared in popularity, can dramatically increase bleeding risk among some patients. The researchers in the study looked at 20 of the most common drugs and supplements and found 16 different combinations of drugs and supplements that together increased the risk of adverse reaction, most commonly bleeding.

The researchers discovered one more sobering statistic: the number of adults presently taking one of these potentially dangerous combinations is estimated at one in six.

So what’s the solution? Researchers say that pharmacists can be one line of defense, alerting seniors to potential interaction between the prescription drugs pharmacists dispense and the supplements a senior might be taking. Unfortunately, this will not solve the problem, since some seniors get prescriptions from multiple pharmacies, and many don’t tell their pharmacists about all the supplements they may be taking.

Doctors also need to alert their senior patients of potentially dangerous effects of drug combinations. But another study revealed that about one-quarter of all U.S. adults do not tell their physicians about all the supplements and herbs they’re taking. The most common reason for this nondisclosure, says the study, is that the doctor didn’t ask about supplements, so the patient didn’t consider the information important.

We have two recommendations to help you and your loved ones avoid this hidden danger. First, practice full disclosure. Make sure you know everything that your Mom or Dad may be taking, or talk about your own drugs and supplements with your adult children and your physician. Don’t assume! You may not know what combinations could be endangering your health.

Second, make a geriatrician part of your health care team. A geriatrician is a physician who specializes in health issues involving seniors. With a geriatrician assisting with your care, we think you’re more likely to get the kind of medical advice that’s tailored specifically for you, including a review of supplements and drugs that could cause you problems. We can recommend a geriatrician in your area if you’ll contact our office.

For all aspects of retirement – your health, your finances, your housing choices, your legal affairs and your family relationships – you need a plan. We call it a LifePlan, your blueprint to help you build the secure, fruitful retirement you’ve always hoped to have. To get started in developing your LifePlan, come to one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. Click on the Upcoming Events tab to register for a LifePlanning Seminar near you.

(originally reported at www.cnn.com)

Want to Avoid Unplanned Institutional Care? Control These 3 Things

Through the years we’ve worked with clients to prepare thousands of retirement plans. Almost every client has told us the same thing: they want to do all they can to avoid unplanned institutional care.

We agree. That’s why a recent article on the website Market Watch caught our attention.   It said that “successful aging in place involves preparation. And that preparation is best begun in middle age.” In other words, there are things you can be doing now to lower the risk of being institutionalized against your will as you age. Click here to read the Market Watch piece.

The article is called “Tackle these three risks to avoid a nursing home.” While we don’t want to oversimplify, we do agree that controlling these three risk factors can help you avoid, or at least delay, the need to move to a nursing facility. If “aging in place” is your goal – staying in your home and living with maximum independence – you can’t start preparing too soon. As the article puts it, “The more we can retire in good physical and emotional health, with plenty of friends and hobbies, the better our chances of staying at home. These habits and relationships take time to develop, so now is a good time for boomers to get started.”

The first risk factor to control is a sedentary lifestyle. The short way to put it is that staying active means staying healthy. In spite of the fact that everyone knows exercise is good for you, in every possible way, it’s amazing to us how many seniors spend far too much time on the couch, getting next to no exercise. Tragically, leading a sedentary life tends to feed on itself: the longer you go on doing nothing, the harder it becomes to start doing anything.

Here’s one exercise tip from the article: if regular exercise on a treadmill or in a pool isn’t what you enjoy, try something fun, like dancing. Even gardening helps, involving lifting, bending and stretching, all valuable aids to physical fitness. Walking also has proven health benefits.

The second risk factor, one commonly associated with nursing home care, is dementia. While definitive proof remains elusive, doctors believe healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the onset of some forms of dementia. These choices include not only exercise (since good circulation benefits the brain) but mental stimulation. If you’re a boomer contemplating an active retirement, and you don’t already have a hobby, think about starting one – tests have shown that hobbies such as quilting or photography actually improve cognitive skills better than crossword puzzles. A good diet also benefits the brain.

The third risk factor is loneliness. Quoting a professor of medicine from UCLA, the Market Watch article warns that “Our bodies perceive loneliness as a threatening state… launching an inflammatory response” (a proven link to many illnesses) while simultaneously reducing the helpful antibodies that fight disease.  Loneliness, the article points out, is not the same as solitude, which many people enjoy. Loneliness is also not the same as depression, although the two can be linked. But in any case, it’s essential that we stay engaged as we age.

The article quotes Pamela Wilson, a Colorado-based caregiving professional, “Depression, isolation and anxiety are the nail in the coffin for an older adult.”

Of course, avoiding unplanned institutional care is just one part of a fully developed retirement plan – or a LifePlan, as we call it. We have also helped our clients avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones and shown them how to protect their assets as they age. We can do the same for you! As a first step, we invite you to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar where we’ll go over many of the elements you’ll want to have as part of your retirement plan.

To register, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon!

(originally reported at www.marketwatch.com)

Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s Creates a Dilemma for Families

A recent article in the New York Times posed a fascinating and troubling question: if a genetic test could reveal with relative certainty that you would suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, would you want to know?

The article is called “Screening for Alzheimer’s Gene Tests the Desire to Know.” We read it recently on the New York Times website. Click here to read the article. It tells the story of two Denver brothers whose extended family carries a mutated gene that, if present, will with certainty lead to early onset Alzheimer’s, probably by age 50. One brother is 37, the other 41. One brother has chosen to be tested for the gene while the other prefers not to know.

This dilemma – to be tested or not – extends well beyond Alzheimer’s disease. As the article point out, “It’s a dilemma more people are facing as scientists discover more genetic mutations linked to diseases. Often the newly discovered gene increases risk, but does not guarantee it.”

One example where genetic testing can be useful is colon cancer. The article points out that those who may have a genetic predisposition to this type of cancer can be flagged for more frequent colonoscopy screenings that can alert doctors to trouble in time to treat it. In that case genetic testing poses little emotional risk.

But what if the disease has no known treatment? What if the genetic test might show that one who carries the defective gene will definitely experience the illness? In that case, is it better to find out that you do carry the faulty gene or better not to know? The New York Times article suggests that each person must make his or her own decision.

The article from the New York Times describes a clinical research project in which researchers are tracking family members with the mutated Alzheimer’s gene. One of the Denver brothers attended a recent meeting of study participants where he asked how many had been screened for the genetic defect. Half of those in the room raised their hands. Then he asked how many regretted having been tested. “He was met with ominous silence,” said the Times.

Among those who eventually answered his question, the responses were decidedly mixed. One man carrying the Alzheimer’s gene reported that on some days he was glad to know, but on others he had deep regrets. The burden of knowing you’ll become incapacitated at a relatively early age carries with it a special kind of anguish – but not knowing brings anxiety, too.

Once again, this article reminds us of the importance of a plan that takes into account as many eventualities of aging as possible. As we advise our clients on how to plan for retirement, we do our best to help them develop this type of comprehensive plan (we call it a LifePlan) that will help them avoid becoming a burden to those they love. Certainly knowing your family’s health risks and planning accordingly makes sense. But a solid retirement plan also takes into account the other aspects of retirement: your finances, your legal affairs, your housing choices and your family dynamics. Imagine how much more confident you would feel heading into your retirement years with a plan like this in place!

Where do you begin? We invite you to come to one of our free LifePlanning Seminars where we’ll help you take the first steps. Click on the Upcoming Events tab where you can register for the date, time and location that works best for you. We’ll look forward to seeing you soon.

(originally reported at www.nytimes.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AARP Report: Prescription Drug Prices Doubled Over 7 Years!

A recent study by the AARP reveals sobering statistics about the cost of prescription drugs. It shows a trend that we think every senior needs to take into account as they plan for retirement.

The news: between 2006 and 2013, the average retail price for prescription drugs most commonly used by seniors – including brand name, generic and specialty drugs – more than doubled. Costs soared from an average of $5,571 in 2006 to $11,341 in 2013. What’s more worrisome is that this price spike seems to be increasing, with 2013 showing markedly higher increases than previous years.

“If these trends continue, more and more Americans will simply be unable to afford the medications that they need to get and stay healthy,” said Debra Whitman, AARP’s chief public policy officer, quoted in the article.

Click here to read the AARP piece which also contains a link to the full report.

The average cost of a prescription drug, now more than $11,000, can represent an impossible financial hurdle for many seniors. That dollar amount equals about three-fourths of the average Social Security benefit, says AARP. In 2013 alone the price hikes soared at six times the rate of inflation, and the trend does not appear to be slowing.

It’s true that most of that sky-high cost is for specialty drugs to treat conditions including cancer and other diseases. But the cost of brand-name drugs actually increased at a faster rate in 2013, rising almost 13 percent. And the skyrocketing cost increases affect everyone. Those on some Medicare plans may find their share of the drug costs rising beyond their reach. Meanwhile employers will have to deal with rising drug costs as they negotiate new insurance plans each year. When that happens, shared out-of-pocket costs for employees generally tend to rise while benefits are often reduced.

How does this affect you? We have a few recommendations. First, you should do all you can today to stay as healthy as possible. Starting an exercise regimen, stopping unhealthy habits like smoking, and making changes to your diet are all excellent places to begin. You may wish to follow our advice and consult a geriatrician – a physician who specializes in aging. Contact us and we’ll provide some suggested names.

Second, if you’re on a prescription drug and feeling the pinch, make certain you find out about generic substitutes. Generic drug prices are also on the rise, says AARP, but their cost remains far less on average than name brands. Your physician or pharmacist should be able to suggest some lower-cost alternatives in many cases.

Finally, as we always remind our clients and radio listeners, you need a plan – a blueprint for your retirement that will help you protect your assets and avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones.  We call it a LifePlan. It will help you plan for your medical needs so that you won’t have to be so worried about rising costs. A LifePlan also takes into account all the other aspects of your retirement: putting your legal affairs in order, putting a financial plan in place, making sure your family knows your wishes, and exploring the best housing options for your retirement years.

You can take the first step toward establishing your own LifePlan by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. To find out the dates, times and locations, and to register, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We will look forward to meeting and talking with you at one of these popular events. Then if you wish to meet with us for a personal consultation, we’ll be happy to arrange a time. Our desire is for you to be able to experience a joyful, independent retirement, free from the worries that plague so many seniors. It can be done! Let us show you how.

(Originally reported at http://blog.aarp.org)

 

Seniors: Even a Little Movement Every Day Can Add Years to Your Life

What’s one of the best and least expensive ways to live a longer life? The surprisingly simple answer: move around! Adding even a little bit of physical movement to your daily routine can have a dramatic effect on your longevity.

That’s the surprising conclusion from a very recent study authored by a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in cooperation with colleagues from several other major institutions. We found this eye-opening article on the website SeniorJournal.com, and it’s definitely worth the read.

The comprehensive study looked at data from some 3,000 people in the 50-79 year old age group. Each participant wore a sensitive tracking device called an accelerometer every day for one week to measure even the smallest types of physical movement. Once this data was collected, researchers tracked mortality rates for participants for the next eight years.

The results, says the article, were striking. The people who were the least active had a mortality rate five times greater than the most active people. Even compared to those in the middle range of daily activity, the mortality rate among those who moved the least was three times greater. This difference was still evident even when researchers took into account diseases such as diabetes and heart disease that tend to impede physical movement.

The study’s lead author, Ezra Fishman, made it clear that simple daily activities help. “The folks who were walking around, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor tended to live longer than the people who were sitting at a desk,” Fishman said.

This study is considered more accurate than previous surveys because movement was measured electronically, with devices calibrated to gauge even minor amounts of activity. Past studies have relied on self-reporting and self-monitoring, which tends to result in participants exaggerating the amount of exercise and other activity they actually perform each day.

How much activity is ideal? According to the article, there’s no simple answer. “Though the scientists didn’t discover any magic threshold for the amount a person needs to move to improve mortality, they did learn that even adding just 10 minutes per day of light activity could make a difference.” According to lead author Ezra Fishman, “You didn’t have to even get a good sweat to experience the reduced likelihood of mortality.” That’s great news for all of us as we age.

Here’s more great news: if you’re worried about planning for your retirement, thinking that the process has to be complicated, take heart. Here at Aging Options we stand ready to serve as your guide, helping you put together what we call a LifePlan, a roadmap leading you to a secure retirement in which you are able to protect your assets, avoid unplanned institutional care, and stop worrying about becoming a burden to those you love. As a first step, we cordially invite you to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar at a location near you. You’ll come away with valuable information to help you start developing your LifePlan. Then if you would like to meet with us to complete the planning process, we would welcome the opportunity.

So all you have to do is get moving! Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website, and register online. We’ll look forward to meeting you soon.

(originally reported at www.seniorjournal.com)

Category Archives: Health

New York Times Article says Lack of Geriatricians is a “Crisis Brewing”

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What is Alzheimer’s Disease? NY Times Article Reviews Some Basics

“Alzheimer’s disease can seem frightening, mysterious and daunting. There are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, which afflicts more than five million Americans.” That’s how a recent article we found on the New York Times website begins. We found this article very helpful because it answers some of the basic questions we hear…

As Doctor’s Visits Get Shorter, there are Questions You Should Ask

We hear it over and over, from doctors and their patients: because of changes in our health care system, doctors have to see more and more patients in less and less time. This means, when you go to see your doctor, he or she may have precious few minutes to spend with you. For most…

Surprise! Ten Services Medicare Part A and B Probably Won’t Cover

The popular financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com) always covers a wide range of stories in a clever, sometimes irreverent style. We like how the site tries to put things in down-to-earth terms, which is why we were drawn to a just published article about Medicare. Not only does the article briefly (and helpfully) describe each…

Medicare Won’t Cover Your Prescribed Drug? Fight Back!

An interesting article on the popular financial website www.kiplinger.com talks about a troublesome trend affecting a growing number of retirees. You get to the pharmacy counter and ask to fill a prescription, only to be told that your Medicare drug plan won’t cover that particular drug. You walk away confused and empty handed. Do you…

Mixing Supplements & Prescription Drugs Could be a Dangerous Idea

A recent article on the CNN website points out a growing danger that could be affecting someone in your family – or maybe you. Researchers have pointed out that a growing number of older adults are combining dietary supplements with prescription drugs in ways that could be dangerous to their health. Click here to read…

Want to Avoid Unplanned Institutional Care? Control These 3 Things

Through the years we’ve worked with clients to prepare thousands of retirement plans. Almost every client has told us the same thing: they want to do all they can to avoid unplanned institutional care. We agree. That’s why a recent article on the website Market Watch caught our attention.   It said that “successful aging in…

Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s Creates a Dilemma for Families

A recent article in the New York Times posed a fascinating and troubling question: if a genetic test could reveal with relative certainty that you would suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, would you want to know? The article is called “Screening for Alzheimer’s Gene Tests the Desire to Know.” We read it recently on…

AARP Report: Prescription Drug Prices Doubled Over 7 Years!

A recent study by the AARP reveals sobering statistics about the cost of prescription drugs. It shows a trend that we think every senior needs to take into account as they plan for retirement. The news: between 2006 and 2013, the average retail price for prescription drugs most commonly used by seniors – including brand…

Seniors: Even a Little Movement Every Day Can Add Years to Your Life

What’s one of the best and least expensive ways to live a longer life? The surprisingly simple answer: move around! Adding even a little bit of physical movement to your daily routine can have a dramatic effect on your longevity. That’s the surprising conclusion from a very recent study authored by a researcher at the…