Category Archives: Health

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)

New Study Shows Meditation Really Does Change the Brain & Body

Advocates of various types of meditation have argued for years that the practice brings a host of mental, emotional and physical benefits. But until now there was no evidence to prove it. Any studies that supposedly demonstrated the benefits of meditation were scanty, relying on small sample sizes and questionable techniques.

But a recent article on the wellness blog site of the New York Times describes a new, comprehensive study that actually seems to prove with scientific rigor the health benefits of what experts call “mindful meditation.”  Click here to read this fascinating piece.

According to the New York Times article, this new study was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. In the study, clinicians recruited a group of 35 unemployed men and women, the idea being to find people who were already experiencing a great deal of stress. Half the group received focused training in the techniques of mindful meditation, which among other things involves being intently aware of one’s present surroundings. The other half of the group received what the article calls “a kind of sham mindfulness meditation” focusing more in distraction and relaxation. Instead of paying close attention to the moment, the “phony” training involved humor and conversation, not concentration.

At the end of three days, the study showed, all the participants said they felt better and more relaxed. But there was a significant difference among those who practiced “authentic” meditation. Follow-up testing showed significant and measurable improvement in various parts of the brain that handle stress. These improvements remained months later.

Why is this important? Doctors and patients alike know that stress can have devastating consequences, emotionally and physically. The medical establishment is just now discovering what naturopaths and others have understood for years: many physical ailments from headaches to backaches to allergies may have emotional, stress-related root causes. Controlling these negative emotions should be a priority for all of us, and especially for aging adults, since aging brings with it its own host of stress-related challenges.

So what’s the take-away from the New York Times article? The practice of mindful meditation seems to bring demonstrable benefits, and you may want to consider learning more about the practice. But as with anything else, make sure you talk to a trained practitioner who will give you unbiased advice on how to proceed. When it comes to medical and psychological needs of aging adults, we strongly urge you to talk to a geriatrician – a medical doctor trained in geriatric medicine. Contact our office and we will provide some names of local geriatric specialists for you to consider.

Speaking of unbiased advice, we welcome the opportunity to provide comprehensive guidance to you as you formulate your own retirement plan, which we call your LifePlan. Why not take the first step by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars? Click on the Upcoming Events tab to find out the dates, times and locations of our next series of these information-packed seminars. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

(originally reported at http://well.blog.nytimes.com)

CDC Official: The Zika Virus May Pose a Risk to Seniors, Too

The reports have swept the news in recent weeks about the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne illness that appears to cause birth defects in women carrying the disease. But according to a recent interview with Thomas Friedan, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a possible link between the Zika virus and the development of a rare but serious immune disorder in senior adults.

The article has just been released on the blog of the AARP. Click here to read the entire piece.

Friedan reports that researchers are looking into the possibility that exposure to the Zika virus can increase the risk of senior adults developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune condition that causes gradual weakness in the sufferer’s arms and legs and can lead to total paralysis. A study of Guillain-Barre in Brazil showed that older individuals have become the largest group of sufferers, with conditions lasting longer than expected. According to the CDC, the syndrome seems to be linked to the spread of Zika.

So far Zika virus has no treatment or vaccine. Even the precise methods of transmission are not fully understood. What is known is that the virus causes a week or so of generally mild flu-like symptoms, but that the dangerous potential side effects on pregnant women – and possibly seniors – make it particularly insidious.

We feel it’s important to let our clients know about this possibility for several reasons. First, maintaining your health as long as you can is an essential part of fulfilling your retirement dreams, and you may want to think twice before taking unnecessary risks that might expose you to illnesses such as the Zika virus. Unfortunately, this goes hand in hand with the fact that 2016 is an Olympic year, and so far Brazil, site of the upcoming games, seems to be the epicenter of Zika (although cases have cropped up elsewhere). If your dream vacation involves a trip to Rio later this year to see the Olympics, some extra precautions may be in order.

The AARP article describes what some of those precautions may include. The article contains links to a Consumer Reports test of the best insect repellents to keep you as safe as possible in areas where Zika-carrying mosquitoes are prevalent. We highly recommend that you read and follow their recommendations if you have travel plans that might put you at risk, or if your circle of friends and acquaintances includes people who have recently traveled to places where Zika is known to exist.

As with so many things involving maximum enjoyment of our retirement years, the key is preparation. Avoiding unnecessary danger from disease is just one example. But there’s far more to a good plan than just avoiding life’s dangers. We advise our clients to create a “LifePlan” to help them in every aspect of retirement: health, finances, family affairs, legal matters and housing choices. Creating such a plan is definitely something you can do! We’ve helped thousands of clients make a LifePlan to help lay the groundwork for the retirement they’ve always hoped for.

A perfect place to start is by attending one of our LifePlanning Seminars, held throughout the Puget Sound area. To find out upcoming dates and times, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. These information-packed seminars are free! Sign up today, and we’ll look forward to meeting with you soon.

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

Are You Ready to Retire? It’s About More than Money

We found this interesting article just published on the US News “Money” website. It points out something we frequently tell our clients: preparing for retirement is about much more than money.

The article is called “How toTell if You’re Ready to Retire.” It poses five simple questions you (and your spouse if you’re married) should be asking yourself when deciding the right time to take the retirement leap. Here’s what we found especially interesting: of the five questions, only one is directly related to your income, even though financial preparation seems to be the number one thing most retirees focus on. So – besides money, what else should you be thinking about?

The first question this article asks is a simple one that too many retirees overlook: “Do you have something else to do?” In other words, how will you fill your days once you’re no longer heading off to work five days a week?  The time to consider how to use those leisure hours is now, before you find yourself aimless and bored with too little activity filling up too many hours. Part-time work, volunteering or a time-consuming hobby can all be part of the solution.

The second question involves money – indirectly. But it actually involves a trade-off of income versus freedom by asking, “Are you ready to pass up more money for more freedom?” There are many ways to calculate the income you’ll need in retirement, and we’ll be happy to help you work through those calculations, but the real issue is how much your retirement freedom is worth to you. This can make a big difference in deciding on your income goals.

The third question in the “retirement calculus” involves family. The question is, “Do you want to spend more time with your family?” In this case “family” may include your spouse, your adult children and – perhaps most likely – your grandchildren. The US News article quotes one Stanford University study that showed “spending time with grandchildren” as a major reason for retirement for 60 percent of adult respondents. It also points out one caution: make sure you and your spouse have the same ideas about spending more time together, because this can create marital friction after retirement unless you’ve talked it through. Generally husbands want to spend more time with their wives, but wives don’t necessarily feel the same!

The fourth question may seem counterintuitive: “How is your health?” The answer to this question can cut both ways. Some choose earlier retirement because a chronic health condition may reduce their life expectancy and they would rather enjoy their remaining years free from the rigors of regular work. For others, employer-provided health insurance for oneself or a spouse is a major reason to keep working. One thing’s for sure: more than two-thirds of retirees, according to the article, say stress is a significant factor in deciding when to retire. That can have a major impact on your health, perhaps making retirement a more attractive choice.

The last question is the one that seems most obvious, and it’s both the simplest and the most complex: “Can you afford to retire?” No need to go into detail here.

As with every one of these questions, along with a host of others, the best way to chart a course into your retirement years is to make a carefully-considered plan – or as we call it, a LifePlan. It’s your blueprint to help you build a happier, healthier future as you age. A LifePlan can help you avoid unplanned institutional care, and allow you to preserve and protect your assets no matter how long you live. It can also help you avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones. But where do you start? How do you prepare your own individualized LifePlan?

We have the perfect starting place: simply attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. We conduct these information-packed seminars frequently, at locations throughout the region. You can find out dates, times and locations by clicking on the Upcoming Events tab found on this website. Bring your questions! At the end of the seminar, you’ll have a much better view of the road ahead.

We’ll look forward to working with you!

(originally reported at http://money.usnews.com)

Seniors: Looking for More Joy and Better Health? Try Gardening!

When we think about staying healthy as we age, we tend to focus our attention on medical insurance, prescription drug benefits and finding a physician who understands the medical needs of seniors. These are important, of course – but let’s not overlook one of the most basic, most important aspects of healthy aging: staying active. Maintaining an active lifestyle can be the number one prescription for a healthy retirement.

And one of the best ways to stay active? The answer may surprise you. It’s gardening.

Do an Internet search for “Gardening and Senior Health” and you’ll find article after article extolling the benefits of digging in the soil, planting seeds, pruning and weeding. We liked this article from the website Caregiver Stress.com, called Gardens Brighten Seniors’ Lives. It’s a few years old, but the information is timely and clear: for many seniors gardening can be the key to both physical and mental well-being.

Anyone who loves gardening – an estimated three out of four Americans – knows that part of the benefit is emotional. The article quotes Rebecca Kolls, host of a nationally syndicated gardening show on television. Kolls says, “There’s a nurturing aspect in gardening where you take a seed and coddle it.” She adds, “Seniors have given up child rearing, so gardening gives them baby plants and seedlings again. It’s a new way of caring for something.”

Then there are the physical benefits of gardening. Thanks to the bending, stretching and kneeling of gardening, you’ll discover health advantages including improved muscle tone, lower blood pressure and a gently increased heart rate. Another article cited the benefits of activities like planting seeds, pulling weeds, and pruning flowers, calling them “great occupational therapy activities.” Seniors who rake leaves or plant trees and shrubs enjoy improved balance better heart health. (Of course you should check with your doctor before you begin physical activity.)

If there are so many benefits, why don’t more seniors garden? Many feel they no longer can, because of increasing frailty. But one of the wonders of gardening is that the gardener can still enjoy the seeds and the soil and the flowers even if the garden is a tiny plot, a window box or a pot on a deck or patio. If you’re interested in learning how seniors can keep on enjoying the relaxation, the joy and the beauty (not to mention the health benefits) of gardening, here’s another article you’ll find helpful: it’s called Gardening Tips for Seniors. Click on the title to read the piece.

Our goal here at Aging Options is to counsel our clients in every aspect of a healthy, secure retirement. That includes maintaining your independence as long as you can, so that you can enjoy the quality of life you’ve always dreamed about as you age. Your physical health is, of course, just one aspect of a retirement plan that can stand the test of time: you’ll also need to consider your housing options, your legal affairs, your family dynamics and your financial preparations.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be, when you have the right guide to help you prepare your plan. For a perfect way to find out more information, plan to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, held throughout the area. Click on the Upcoming Events tab for dates and times. Or if you prefer a personal appointment, contact us. It will be our pleasure to work with you to plant the seeds for a fruitful retirement plan.

(Originally reported at www.caregiverstress.com)

 

 

Category Archives: Health

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…

New Study Shows Meditation Really Does Change the Brain & Body

Advocates of various types of meditation have argued for years that the practice brings a host of mental, emotional and physical benefits. But until now there was no evidence to prove it. Any studies that supposedly demonstrated the benefits of meditation were scanty, relying on small sample sizes and questionable techniques. But a recent article…

CDC Official: The Zika Virus May Pose a Risk to Seniors, Too

The reports have swept the news in recent weeks about the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne illness that appears to cause birth defects in women carrying the disease. But according to a recent interview with Thomas Friedan, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a possible link between the Zika virus…

Are You Ready to Retire? It’s About More than Money

We found this interesting article just published on the US News “Money” website. It points out something we frequently tell our clients: preparing for retirement is about much more than money. The article is called “How toTell if You’re Ready to Retire.” It poses five simple questions you (and your spouse if you’re married) should…

Seniors: Looking for More Joy and Better Health? Try Gardening!

When we think about staying healthy as we age, we tend to focus our attention on medical insurance, prescription drug benefits and finding a physician who understands the medical needs of seniors. These are important, of course – but let’s not overlook one of the most basic, most important aspects of healthy aging: staying active….