I’m Not Retired; I Just Don’t Get a Paycheck Anymore

Retired, or retirement are such weak words for what we are experiencing. They were fine for the lifestyle of 30 or 40 years ago. Most often someone “retired” from an active, productive life and then spent their “golden years” traveling, volunteering, or relaxing on the front porch, watching the world go by.

Today, that is not the normal experience. For many of us this phase of life is more vibrant, more creative, and simply more fun than when we were working full time to prepare for retirement. Maybe we have cut back on our spending habits, moved to a smaller home, or curtailed our physical activities because of an illness or injury. None of that should affect the reality of having the time and freedom to explore other parts of ourselves.

As the title implies, not receiving a paycheck or regular income from gainful employment (interesting phrase) doesn’t automatically lead to an accurate description of where we are in life. It certainly shouldn’t imply we are living a certain way because of how we receive our income.

I imagine you would agree with me that many of the people you know are just as busy and working just as hard as they did while getting a regular paycheck. For many, the cliche about not knowing how “I ever had time for work” is quite true. When the obligations of regular employment end, the freedom to craft each 24 hour day to please and satisfy us can suddenly make a day seem too short.

Of course, good time management can get away from us. We can over-commit, over-schedule, and over-promise our availability. We feel pressure to do more, be more available to others, and to believe an hour on the porch reading a book is a wasted 60 minutes that could have been more “productive.” Time becomes our master instead of our servant.

After several months, or even a few years, the demands on our time tend to find a proper balance. We are able to have the proper mix of “me” time and “involvement with others” time. We learn to say no when necessary and yes when it suits us.

Roughly one-third of retired folks say they have considered going back to work, either full or part time. Boredom, financial needs, loss of community, and a need to contribute are often cited as reasons. While I understand these motivations, I would argue that all but financial considerations can be addressed without rejoining the workforce.
Too often I think these reasons are just the easiest answer, not necessarily the best answer. I would argue that taking a job because of boredom, feeling isolated, or because of the need to feel like part of a team is cheating you out of a much richer, more satisfying experiences. Taking any job comes with limitations on your time, your freedom to make choices, or your inability to react to something spur-of-the-moment. These limitations don’t have to exist when you are not working for someone else.

There is one exception to this: you have turned a hobby, a passion, or an idea into a business of your own. That is fundamentally very different from working for someone else. Because it occurs within your retirement framework, you can control how much time you are willing to give to whatever it is. You decide how far to take something. You draw the lines that prohibit encroachment into the rest of your life.

The previous link between a regular paycheck and what it means to be retired no longer exists. We don’t cash a check every two weeks, but that has nothing to do with how we live our life. We can be as busy or relaxed as we choose. We can spend our days shifting from project to project, volunteer work to grandkids duty, classes at the community college, zumba at the gym, wine tasting class in the evening, or binge-watching Netflix.

Or, we can spend the day on a hike through a nature preserve, bike to a favorite ice cream store, or spend an hour weeding the garden. We can read that trashy summer time novel,  nap in the hammock, and then have dinner at our favorite restaurant by the lake.

None of these choices imply retirement to me. They are simply a full menu of options available when I am not trading my time for money.

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Bob Lowry writes the Satisfying Retirement blog. For the last eight years he has offered practical and time-tested advice on all phases of a fulfilling retirement lifestyle.

Medicare Parts Explained 2018


Are you new to Medicare? Medicare is a federal government program designs to benefit those 65+ as well as those with certain disabilities. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to understand the different parts of Medicare, especially as they exist today. You’ll need to do your research to make sure you’re getting the right coverage and care for your needs! Whether you’re new to Medicare or you want to brush up on recent changes in 2018, this guide is for you!

Medicare Explained
The most complicated aspect of Medicare is that it has many different parts. In order to understand how Medicare can benefit you is to understand the parts of Medicare. From there, you can learn more about the different plans under Medicare and how they provide supplemental coverage as needed. The parts and plans will all make more sense once you recognize the different definitions!

Medicare Part A
Part A of Medicare is your hospital coverage. It will pay for things like inpatient hospitals, skilled nurses, blood care, home health, and hospice. Under Medicare Part A, during a hospital stay you will receive a partially private hospital room, 3 meals a day, skilled nursing care, blood transfusions, and hospice care. In basic terms, this is your room and board should you ever need a hospital stay. Even if you’re in the hospital, some additional care might be covered under Medicare Part B which is what we will take a look at next!

Medicare Part B
Part B of Medicare is your outpatient coverage. Though room and board and a small selection of care during a hospital stay is covered under Part A, additional treatment is included under Part B coverage. This coverage includes things like doctor visits, physical therapy, surgeries, ambulance rides, lab work, chemotherapy, and more complex testing. You can think of Part B as your traditional medical coverage.

Part C Medicare
Both Part C and Part D Medicare came later to include additional coverage. Part C is known as Medicare Advantage and it’s an optional form of coverage. Under Medicare Advantage, you can get your Part A and Part B benefits under a private insurance provider rather than through Medicare. Because Medicare Advantage isn’t a part of Medicare, you don’t have to enroll in this through your social security office.

As you’ve seen above, Medicare Part A and B don’t necessarily cover the full extent of your medical care. Because of this, many Medicare-eligible people choose to purchase supplemental coverage through a Medicare Part C plan with a private insurance company. By enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll receive Part A and B coverage through a private network of providers. To learn more about how to qualify for Medicare Advantage, see: What Is Medicare Part C?

Part D Medicare
Part D is essentially your pharmacy card. This is your coverage for any prescription drugs that you might need from your local pharmacy. Like Part C, Medicare Part D is a voluntary program that isn’t necessary for all Medicare members. Some members are able to receive prescriptions through another service, for instance, if they are a veteran, and they choose to opt out of Medicare Part D. It’s important to note that if you fail to enroll in Medicare Part D at your initial enrollment, you might be subject to a late penalty should you choose to enroll at a later time.

Medicare Benefits
Above are the 4 parts of Medicare! Once broken into its parts, it’s much simpler to understand how Medicare functions today! In addition to the parts listed above are supplemental plans. It’s worth looking into supplemental options if you feel you’ll need them over the course of your Medicare coverage! Most people spend their lives receiving insurance coverage through an employer, so it’s understandably intimidated when approached with Medicare coverage for the first time! Luckily, it’s possible to not only understand Medicare but to make the best enrollment choice for you!

Traveling Seasoned Citizens

by: Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and I have been on the road meandering through continents for almost three decades. While we like to think of ourselves as spry, flexible and ready to take on the world, truth is, we are no longer twenty or thirty years old. Traveling at our age of 65 presents challenges that we didn’t have when we were younger. Energy levels have changed and our bodies require different comforts in order to feel well.

If you are in your fifties and sixties with active wanderlust, independent journeying is still possible. Take advantage of what we have learned over the years.

The Importance of Sleep

The value of sleep is a priority that we protect, since its absence is felt for the next day or two – creating havoc in moods, energy level and even decision making. Whenever possible, we no longer take red-eye flights. Air travel has become more complicated in recent years and it’s enough to handle the new requirements, the lines, and the disorientation of time zones without adding severe sleep schedule interruptions.  Besides, what’s the rush?

In years past we’d blow into a new location without a care, knowing we would find some kind of hotel arrangements. Now, we are more inclined to reserve a room for our first night in a new city or town, or at least have a definite address where our taxi can take us. Once we arrive, we can scout out a more suitable hotel if we aren’t pleased with our first choice. We also check the beds for firmness, get a quiet room off the street if possible and we pay a bit more for better quality.

Sometimes an afternoon nap is the height of luxury and can be the pick-me-up needed for the rest of the day, especially if there is an evening event planned. We’re retired, so why not enjoy it? Allowing time for rest instead of continuous motion can be delicious.

                  With our gear traveling through Asia

Fueling the Machine

We don’t skip meals and run on empty. Solid, quality, protein-based meals and snacks have always been a focus for us. We’re the machine that makes our lives run, and this machine needs proper fuel.

Light-headedness, indecision and fatigue due to lack of nutrition contributes to needless bickering and is something we avoid at all costs. Why make things harder on ourselves? We are sure to eat at regular intervals and to bring travel food with us on buses, trains, planes and even if we are out day-tripping. Dehydration is another important consideration and we remember to bring bottled water with us wherever we go.

Tip: There is no need to purchase expensive bottled water at the airport concessions. When traveling by plane bring an empty water bottle with you through security. Once through, find a drinking fountain and fill it up there.

Divide up Duties

We travel full time, and it’s more pleasurable when duties are shared. Destinations and travel routes must be determined and figuring out which sort of transport we’ll take and whether or not visas are required all needs to be researched. Tickets might have to be purchased ahead of time, lodging located, and arrangements for financial management to cover expenses while on the road has to be thought through. Even packing travel food is an essential element of successful journeying. In your partnership, decide who will take care of what, realizing that each of these categories is important.

              Enjoying a sunset at Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand

When we leave our hotel room we have a system that prevents sour surprises. Billy goes down to firm up our bill, and I do a ‘room check’ or ‘walk through’ before we turn in our keys. I look under the bed, in all the drawers, in the bathroom, and on all the shelves to be sure we haven’t left something important behind. This prevents lost and forgotten items from becoming an issue and interrupting our travel plans.

When we traveled through both islands of New Zealand on the Magic Bus, Billy would stay with the crowd to grab our luggage while I went ahead to choose our room and pay for it. This allowed us to get both the best choices of rooms and our bags without wasting time waiting in two lines.

Tip: Although it might be different in your partnership, when searching for a hotel room, I’m usually the one to decide on where to stay. With most men, all they need is a bed and bathroom, but we ladies seem to have other requirements. So, to prevent disappointment or needless fussing, we have found that it’s best to let me decide.

Commit to Paper Instead of to Memory

Making notes of where we have hidden our valuables in our home base location while we are on the road has proven important several times. We write things down on lists instead of committing them to memory and we’ll email that list to ourselves so we don’t lose it. Being away from our home bases for months, even a year or more at a time, can cause us to forget our best and most secret hiding places. If we put our treasures or documents in such a good place that even WE can’t remember where they are, returning home can be a stress-filled event. Now we simply check our list and refresh our memories.

Less Is More

We are the ‘Less is More’ type of traveler, and it is our emphasized style even today. We don’t have to pack all the action into one day just so we can say we did it. Instead, we like our time to be leisurely, not jammed-packed with something new to do every 2 hours on the clock. Staying longer in one location and allowing more room for an event on our calendar can provide many rewarding surprises and allow pleasant detours to occur

Consciously deciding to make our travel days shorter when we are on the road has proven to be rewarding also. It still takes us close to thirty hours to get to Asia from our place in Arizona, but if we are traveling on the ground, we break up our destinations into manageable time bites to make it possible for us to enjoy the journey itself. It’s not a race, and we’re not in competition with other travelers. We prefer this easy-going approach. For instance, while traveling by bus in Mexico we’ll split up a 13-hour bus ride into a couple of days. This way we are not worn out for our destination, we don’t arrive late at night with all the problems that it entails, and we get to experience another town along the way.

                                    Joking around in a Jak-ka-ran

We utilize public transport or hire a driver wherever we go. Leaving the driving to others reduces our stress. We don’t have to worry about vehicle maintenance, where the next filling station is, if there will be a break down, how to fix our vehicle in a foreign country, or whether we have taken a wrong turn someplace.

Packing Makes Perfect

Through all these years of traveling from country to country we still utilize backpacks for their rugged practicality and ease of transport. Today’s durable, light weight and comfortable backpacks have come a long way from those of years past. Weight is distributed evenly on our backs instead of lugging something one-handedly on either side of our bodies, and it leaves our hands free for paying fares or reading maps. For efficiency and convenience, we place the same items in the same location in our packs each time. There is no jumble. In this way we maintain a sense of order while on the road and it cuts down on any mental confusion allowing us to enjoy our travels. We are less likely to forget an item or misplace it, because it has its own spot.

If for health reasons you cannot carry your luggage weight on your back, be sure your baggage is built lightweight yet sturdy, with compartments inside and has wheels on the bottom for moving your belongings quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask your taxi driver or someone at the hotel desk to help you with your cases. It’s worth the tip and will save wear and tear on your body.

Be sure to have a daypack with you when you travel. In this manner you can carry anything of importance close to you at all times. This may be your medicines, your digital equipment, your maps or travel food. And if you go to the market while on your trip, you can easily carry the items back to your room.

Over the years, we have found that what we pack has changed also. Now we make room for our digital equipment and cords, cell phones, netbook computer, vitamins, personal medications and health aids like a TENS unit. We have a calendar to mark important dates like visa renewals or when to catch that plane. And our online Yahoo! Calendar is used for reminders to send checks so that we can stay financially current.

                                  Catching up on email and checking our guide book

Tip: When looking for a practical travel bag, simply Google ‘lightweight travel luggage’ to clarify what your choices might be. You can order online, or at least have a solid idea of what you want when you go to your favorite travel shop to purchase.

We’ve had 27 fruitful years of world travel and look forward to many more. Even though we have aged, and some of our methods and equipment have changed, we’ve adapted so that we can continue our chosen lifestyle with both pleasure and ease.

Remember, if we can do it, you can too!

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

10 Things to Know About your New Medicare Card

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has begun an initiative to protect Medicare Beneficiaries from identity theft by switching their member id number to a non-personal identifier. Instead of Social Security Numbers and Health Insurance Claim Numbers, this unique number is expected to protect over 150 million users. Considering 2.6 million seniors were victims of identity theft in 2014, it’s no wonder the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General has been pushing for this switch for several years.

The change will begin April 1, 2018 and runs through December 31, 2019. By January 1, 2020, all Medicare Beneficiaries will have received their new cards. As with any change meant to protect, the criminals will crawl out of the woodwork looking for persons to victimize. A few reminders, Medicare will never call you uninvited nor will they call you and ask for private or personal information. Medicare will not ask for money or threaten to cancel your health benefits. Scams artists may try to get your personal information by contacting you about your new card. There are only a few situations in which Medicare will call you.

Your new Medicare ID card will come to you automatically and will look almost identical to the card you currently carry. Medicare uses the name and address you have on file with Social Security, so be sure to advise them of any address changes. The card will be paper and easy for many providers to use and copy. The obvious change will be your Medicare Number. Instead of your Social Security Number, it will be a new unique identifier. Once you receive your new card, destroy your old card. Start using the new card right away.

Don’t share your Medicare Number or any personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or in person, unless you have given that person permission in advance. For example, Medicare customer service will only call you if they are returning your original call or promised to call you back. If you have a Medicare Advantage or drug plan, that company can call you, as can the agent that helped you sign up for the plan. Only give your personal information to those entities that you can trust to work on your behalf. Familiarize yourself with Medicare and how they use your personal information.

Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same. Your doctors, providers and facilities all know that you are getting a new unique identifier. So, you will want to carry your card with you and update your records with those health care providers you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.

10 things to know about your new Medicare card:

  1. The new card will be automatically mailed to you.
  2. You new card will list your new unique Medicare Number.
  3. Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
  4. The new cards are being mailed at different times. So, your card may not arrive at the same time as your friend’s.
  5. The new card will be easier for provider to use and copy because it is paper.
  6. Destroy your old card as soon as you receive the new card. Start using your new card right away.
  7. If you are in enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as an HMO or PPO, that Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card. If you have a Medicare plan, be sure to keep that card as well. Remember that your health care provider may still ask to see your Medicare ID card, so keep it with you.
  8. Facilities, doctors and health care provider know you are getting a new Medicare card, they will ask for your new Medicare Id number, so carry it with you.
  9. Give your new Medicare ID number to those health care providers your trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
  10. If you forget your new Medicare ID card, your doctor or health care provider may be able to look up your Medicare number online.

If you believe that you may have been targeted by scam artists trying to steal your Medicare ID number, contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE. (1-800-633-4227) If you need help paying the out of pocket costs that Medicare leaves up to you to pay, check out this list of the best Medicare Supplement Plans for 2018 here.

 

Preventing, Detecting and Treating Dehydration in Seniors

Now that the summer is upon us, there is no better time to be on the lookout for the signs of dehydration among the elderly. Seniors are at a greater risk of dehydration than younger adults for a number of reasons. Their bodies simply need more water on a daily basis, they may have chronic issues that can make them reluctant to drink and many seniors are on medication that can actually cause dehydration.

While dehydration can happen at any time, during any season of the year, especially in seniors, it is the most prevalent during the summer. If you are looking after a senior loved one, then it is essential that you know how to prevent, detect and treat dehydration in elderly adults as it can go a long way in helping keep them safe and healthy no matter what weather may be like.

Preventing

The first and most important thing to remember when it comes to keeping seniors hydrated is that drinking enough water is the first line of defense. It is recommended that seniors drink between 7-8 cups of water every 24 hours in order to stay hydrated. In addition to drinking water, seniors should avoid sugary drinks, sodas, coffee and alcohol—all of which can actually dehydrate the body.

Seniors who engage in strenuous physical activity or who are sweating from being outdoors in the summer heat should drink even more water.

Detecting

Steps to prevent dehydration are important, and they are the best way to make sure that seniors don’t fall victim to dehydration especially during the warm summer months. However, it is just as important to make sure you are able to detect the early signs of dehydration and get your senior loved one help, should they need it. The earlier you are able to help your senior loved one the better. Remember, dehydration in seniors is a serious problem and is one of the leading causes of hospitalization in seniors.

Here are some of the signs to look for that can help you detect dehydration:

  • High heartrate
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Low systolic blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dry skin in the armpit area
  • Delirium
  • Infrequent urination
  • Dark colored urine
  • Sunken in eyes

These are all signs that your loved one needs more liquids in their system and may be dehydrated.

Treating

Dehydration is treated in different ways depending on whether the dehydration appears to be mild, moderate or severe.

Mild dehydration is typically treated by the individual taking more fluids in by the mouth. Typically, this means drinking water and something with some electrolytes like a sports drink.

Moderate dehydration is typically treated with intravenous hydration or IV therapy. This can be done in a hospital, emergency room or in urgent care. There are some nursing homes that also have infusions and IVs available.

Severe dehydration may require additional support along with IV therapy to support kidneys that may be struggling from severe dehydration.

The more you know about dehydration in seniors, the better. It is extremely important that all senior caregivers are aware of how to prevent, detect and treat dehydration so that they can continue to keep their loved ones healthy and hydrated.

Tips For Seniors Who Want to Beat the Heat This Summer

Summer is finally here, which means for many seniors from all areas of the country, it means dealing with the stifling and difficult heat that comes with it. It can be difficult for seniors to try to beat the heat and stay safe and healthy in the summer. This is because seniors are more prone to dehydration, can struggle to cool themselves down naturally and are more prone to issues with overheating.

While summer can bring some risks, the best thing that seniors and their caregivers can do during this time of year is to be fully aware of the different ways they can stay cool, comfortable and safe during the hot summer months. Here are a just a few tips to get your started.

  • Avoid the peak heat times. During the summer months, seniors don’t have to stay indoors all of the time, but they should avoid the times of day when it is the hottest. Seniors should stay indoors from 10 AM- 4PM, when it tends to be the warmest out.
  • Drink plenty of water. Seniors should always be drinking around 7-8 glasses of water every day to stay hydrated, but this is even more paramount during the summer. During this time of year, seniors shouldn’t just drink plenty of water, but avoid dehydrating liquids like alcohol, coffee and soda.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. What seniors wear during the summer is extremely important. There are many seniors who feel cold during the day, but they should still dress in lightweight layers that can easily remove as needed, and so they can easily go from outdoors inside to air conditioned rooms.
  • Avoid strenuous activity. A walk in the warm heat may not seem like a big deal, but in the summer, this can be stressful on older adults and cause them to overheat. Activity that causes sweat can really take a toll on any senior and should be avoided at all times.
  • Try to limit switching temperatures. Going between extreme heat and extreme cold can seem like a good idea but it can actually cause a great deal of stress on the body, especially for seniors.

Remember, during the summer, it is always important to play it safe and be extra cautious during this time of year. It is better to be safe than sorry during the summer and make sure that seniors aren’t putting themselves at risk for dehydration or over-heating. Remember, issues with dehydration are one of the top reasons that people, especially seniors, end up in the hospital—so the more you can do to prevent this from happening this summer, the better.

Constipation and Aging—Everything Seniors Should Know

There are so many different health complications that seniors need to deal with as they age. One of the most common unfortunately is constipation. While this can be a delicate topic and one that is difficult to discuss, it is one that is very important for seniors to be fully informed about, especially as they age. While some elderly adults simply think that bowel issues are part of the aging process, constipation is not normal and should be treated accordingly.

If constipation is not treated in a timely manner, it can cause more than mild discomfort. This includes substantial problems such as:

  • Extreme irritability, which may even be mistaken for dementia or early Alzheimer’s
  • Severe abdominal pain that can impact a senior’s quality of life or cause hospitalization
  • Hemorrhoids which can be painful and cause bleeding
  • Aggression in certain seniors, especially those that already have signs of dementia
  • Extreme stress that can cause to delirium
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Avoiding medications, including pain medication due to fear of constipation

Constipation issues should not be taken lightly. So, the first thing that seniors should do is talk to their healthcare provider about their issues. While there are some over-the-counter laxatives and treatments available, these are not going to get to the root of the issue and determine what is causing regular constipation issues. A healthcare provider will not only help prescribe something to treat the constipation, but help make sure that these issue don’t return again in the future.

Common treatments include pain killers, dietary changes, diuretics, calcium supplements, iron supplements and more. A senior’s doctor may also look at potential medications that are causing issues with constipation and determine if those medications can be changed or alter to prevent chronic issues from occurring.

Some of the most common causes of constipation in older adults include the following:

  • Side effects from medication
  • Dehydration
  • Insufficient fiber in the diet
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Nerve issues
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pelvic floor issues
  • Depression or anxiety obstructions

It can be difficult for seniors to want to talk about constipation or to feel comfortable enough discussing it with their caregivers, healthcare providers or loved ones. However, seniors need to understand that constipation isn’t normal and it should be treated right away to prevent further issues from happening. Seniors should feel comfortable enough with their health care provider to not only talk about potential treatments for their constipation, but to discuss dietary and lifestyle changes that can actually help prevent constipation issues from forming in the first place.

 

My Parent Just Fell… Here’s What You Should Ask The Doctor

It is every adult child’s fear. Being away from their senior parent and finding out they have fallen and hurt themselves. Falls are extremely common in seniors and are the top reason that older adults end up in the emergency room. Falls can be a complete accident, a sign of a serious medical issue or an indication that a senior may need help at home. No matter what the cause is, the more you can do to ask questions when your loved one falls and get as much information as possible—the better.

While no one ever wants their loved one to fall, the more informed you are and prepared you are the better. This is why we have listed some important questions to ask your loved one’s doctor after they have fallen, no matter how serious it was, or not.

  • Have you performed a full examination to make sure there are no new underlying illnesses developing? This is something that every doctor should do after a fall and something that you should be fully informed of. Some common illnesses include dehydration, anemia, pneumonia, strokes and UTIs.
  • What is my loved one’s blood pressure? Many falls are associated with fainting or light-headedness and if your loved one is taking blood pressure medication, they should make sure that their blood pressure isn’t dropping when they are standing. All doctors should be checking both sitting and standing blood pressure in these seniors.
  • Have you done a blood test? This is always a smart idea after a fall, especially to check sodium levels, and particularly in seniors who have had diabetes or who take insulin.
  • Are there any medications that may have caused the fall? Medications commonly increase the fall risk in seniors. Doctors should look at these medications and consider eliminating or reducing certain items if they think that this may have caused the fall. This may also be a way to find out if your loved one accidentally mixed medications.
  • Does my loved one need a walking aid? Many times, falls can be blessings in disguise because they show seniors and their loved ones that they need a walking aid in order to get around safely. Your doctor should check your loved one’s gait and balance and determine if they need a walker, cane or other type of support.

While we hope you will never have to use this information—the more prepared you are the better. Seniors who have fallen before are at a higher risk of falling again. However, if you make sure that you get to the bottom of the issue, ask the right question and have your doctor check everything out for you, you can lessen your loved one’s chances of having another accident.

Loneliness in Older People: What You Need to Know

Loneliness can have a devastating impact on a person’s health and quality of life. Although loneliness and social isolation can affect people of all ages, it is especially common in later life, with research supported by the AARP Foundation showing that almost half (48%) of older people in the U.S experience at least some degree of loneliness. Why is this the case, and what should you do if you believe someone is at risk of loneliness?

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is best defined as the negative feelings, stress and sadness caused by a sense of lacking desired affection or social interaction with other people.

It is important to say that being “alone” is not the same as being “lonely.” If you are comfortable with it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending time alone and enjoying your own company!

In addition, it is possible to be surrounded by lots of people and still feel lonely. Loneliness is not necessarily about how much contact someone has with other people, but rather the quality of those relationships.

Why are older people more likely to be lonely?

Although loneliness can affect anyone, it is especially prevalent among adults of an older age. Losing loved ones, retiring from work and the increasing likeliness of health issues are just some of the reasons why older people are more likely to feel lonely or isolated:

Retirement – Leaving the workplace can cause feelings of isolation and a sense of lacking in purpose. They may miss daily interaction with work colleagues and/or the routine of going out to work.

Poor health or mobility – Illness or mobility issues can make it a lot more problematic to get out and about. In some cases, it may be difficult or even impossible to leave the house.

Bereavement – It can be extremely difficult to adapt to life following the bereavement of a partner or close family member, leading to feelings of loneliness, isolation and despair.

Relative going into a home – Being left alone at home can cause intense feelings of loneliness and sadness.

Location – Loneliness may be caused by living far away from friends or relatives. This may be compounded by a lack of mobility or not having easy access to transport.

Financial pressures – A lack of money can make it more difficult to travel or engage in social activities, which in turn increases their isolation and contributed to feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

In addition, people who are lonely often find it difficult to reach out for help – and this only makes things worse. There is still some stigma surrounding loneliness, with many older people feeling like they have too much pride to ask for help.

What are the consequences of loneliness?

Whatever the cause, loneliness is a serious problem that can lead to many major health problems including depression, alcoholism and even malnutrition. According to recent research, loneliness can be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

Depression

Depression is a debilitating mental health issue that is closely linked with loneliness and isolation. Feeling lonely is often accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and sadness that can soon turn into chronic depression. In addition, many people then start to withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed, which only increases their loneliness.

Whether someone’s depression is caused by a specific event like a bereavement or the result of feelings built up over time, it is vital for them to get the right help and support to overcome their problems and start to feel more like themselves.

If you feel worried that a relative or friend is showing signs of being depressed, now is the time to encourage them to get help from a doctor. In addition, organisations such as Mental Health America and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America can provide help, advice and support to anyone who is struggling. When depression strikes, the worse thing they can do is to bottle things up and keep it to themselves.

Alcoholism

Many people suffering from loneliness or depression turn to alcohol in an attempt to escape from their feelings. Unfortunately, this usually makes things a whole lot worse – and it is surprising how quickly things can begin to spiral out of control!

If you are concerned that a friend or family member is drinking too much, you should talk to them about it and, if you feel there is a problem, encourage them to speak to their doctor. Many people will find this a difficult subject to talk about, so try to approach it with sensitivity and empathy. Charities such as The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence can provide additional help and support.

Malnutrition

People experiencing loneliness and depression may have a reduced appetite, which in turn means they might not eat as much as they should. In addition, those living on their own might skip meals because they feel like there is little point in cooking for one, or they might have mobility issues that make access to food more difficult.

If you are worried that someone might not be eating well enough, the first step is to talk to them about it. If you can, try to assist them– perhaps by helping them to plan their own meals, arranging for them to be taken to a grocery store on a regular basis, or by teaching them how to order food online.

What are the signs of loneliness?

Many people don’t like to admit that they are feeling lonely and may try to hide it from other people by pretending that everything is OK. On the other hand, loneliness is also something that can creep up on us over time – so someone might be feeling down, but they might not necessarily attribute it to loneliness.

If you are worried that a relative is at risk of becoming lonely, it is important to know the signs to look out for so that you can step in and ensure they get the help and support they need. Some of the most common signs of loneliness include:

• Verbal signs – such as telling you they feel lonely or expressing a desire to see people more often.

• Behavioral changes – like withdrawing from activities they usually enjoy or not wanting to socialize.

• Unexplained aches, pains or illnesses.

• Appearing sad or miserable.

• Wanting extra physical contact – like hugging you for longer when they see you.

• Unexplained weight loss or weight gain.

• Increased use of alcohol.

• Spending time with someone you feel may be untrustworthy. Remember: Scammers often prey on the old and vulnerable.

Conclusion

While a growing number of older adults experience loneliness and isolation, there are many things that friends and family members can do to help.

If you notice that someone is displaying signs of being lonely, it is important to step in and do what you can to help them. In many cases, it is the little things that can make all the difference – like popping in to talk to them or arranging to take them to the grocery store.

You can also do things to help prevent someone from becoming lonely in the first place. For example, you may encourage them to get out and participate in social activities. Joining clubs and societies is a great way for people to meet new friends and can help ensure that they maintain a good social life.

In addition, charities such as Friend to Friend America provide vital help and support to those suffering from loneliness in older age.

About the Author

Jorden Immanuel is a social psychologist and certified NLP practitioner from the Netherlands. He is also the founder of www.adrenalfatiguecoach.com – a specialized informative website dedicated to stress.

Why Baby Boomers Need Sex Education

As you get older, life can still be filled with things you never thought you would be doing.

For example – I never, ever imagined that one day I might be a blogger. Having now written over 100
posts, I guess I could now say I’ve flown past that expectation. Secondly – in addition to the fact that I
never thought I would be a blogger, what was even further from this thought was that I would ever
write about the topic of sex.

You would think that by the time we all hit 50+, we would be quite knowledgeable about sex.

Afterall, baby boomers were the ones that came up with the whole idea of “free love” and were the first
generation to truly embrace “the pill“. We were also the generation to have had the most number of
sexual partners (baby boomers average 11 partners – compared with millennials average of 8). And
chances are we have even educated our own children about the topic.

So why do we need to talk about sex now?

With the increase in older people dating (often due to later divorce or death of a partner), many older
people are now having unprotected sex. As a result, the increase of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
for older people is skyrocketing.

In a report by Global News about sexually active seniors, they shared the following statistics:

“According to Health Canada, national rates of STIs for people 60 and over are relatively low, but
since the early 2000s, the number of cases of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased
significantly among seniors….. They represent a five per cent increase in syphilis, a 142 per cent
increase in chlamydia and an 87 per cent rise in gonorrhea.”

And the situation isn’t any different in the US. STDAware also reported some significant increases in the
rates of STD’s for individuals over 50:

“…recent studies have shown that STDs in the 50 to 70 age group have increased 38 percent
from 2014 to 2017…. people over 50 years old made up 21 percent of new HIV diagnoses.”

So, why is this happening?
There are a number of reasons being cited:

No Longer a Fear of Pregnancy
When baby boomers started having sex, pregnancy was often the first and only issue that was
considered. Now that this potentially is no longer a concern for older couples, protection is often not
thought of as being necessary.

Previous Sexual Partner History
Often many older people had previous long term sexual relationships where protection was not
necessary. They are taking these same assumptions from old relationships into new sexual encounters
without considering the possible consequences.

Unaware of Symptoms
Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) often can be existent without any specific symptoms. So if
someone is infected, they may not even know it.

Physicians Don’t Ask
Many times discussion about sexual health and activity is not discussed by healthcare professionals.
There can sometimes be a preconceived belief that older individuals are not sexually active.

So what needs to be done?

Use Protection
Think about it. What advice would you give to someone else considering having a new sexual
encounter? Chances are you would say something like “be sure that you use protection“.

We need to now re-embrace that same philosophy ourselves. As much as we might want to believe that
we either know someone or think there is no way that they could possibly have an STI or pose a risk to
us, there is still a possibility. We wouldn’t be seeing these increasing rates in STI’s if there wasn’t.

And what if your partner doesn’t want to use protection? The UK National Health Service (NHS) provides
some suggestions on how to manage that situation here.

Get Tested First
If you are wanting to have unprotected sex, get tested first (and make sure your partner has been tested
as well). And if you think that the testing is part of your general physical conducted by your physician
that is more than likely not the case. You will need to request the test.

Having a healthy, happy, fulfilling sex life at an older age can be a wonderful thing. We just need to
make sure that we keep it just that – healthy.