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If you are now living on a fixed income, you’ll probably need to start spending less. However, cutting costs doesn’t mean you have to make major lifestyle changes. You can make simple changes to your habits and still live a full and satisfying life throughout your golden years.

Declutter Your House

Over the years, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff that you don’t want, need, or use. Older adults should declutter their homes and part with some of their abundance of belongings. Decluttering doesn’t just free up space and make your home safer; it can also bring in some income. Look to sell items on eBay, Craigslist, or local consignment shops, as clothing, decor, furniture, and other items that you don’t want anymore can bring in a little income. The fewer items you have in your home, the less you’ll have to clean, maintain, or store. Decluttering can be a very freeing experience for many people. Once you’ve sold everything you can, then donate the rest to charity or pass items on to friends or family members.

Concentrate on Energy Savings

One way to reduce your monthly bills is to cut back on your energy usage. Combined utilities are typically the second biggest portion of your monthly bills, after your mortgage or rent payment. There are a number of easy ways to reduce utility costs.

  • Go around the house and unplug items that you don’t regularly use. Appliances and electronics that are off but still plugged in will continue to use energy.
  • Switch out your traditional light bulbs to more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
  • Install a ceiling fan to help cool your home and circulate the air.
  • Replace filters regularly so your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work so hard. Vacuum the coils under your refrigerator as well.
  • Use a smart thermostat to adjust the temperature when you aren’t at home. Also, lower the temperature at night when you can use blankets to stay warm.
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels - 1
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Seek Out Discounts 

Restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, movie theaters, hotels, cell phone companies, and various other entities offer discounts for seniors. The Senior List has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of senior discounts, but you also need to check in your local area. You may be surprised which retailers will offer discounts and freebies to older adults. Also, consider signing up for loyalty programs or rewards credit cards to reap even more benefits.

Check Your Insurance

Do you have the best deal on your health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance? Take the payments off auto-renew and start researching better options. For example, a Medicare Advantage plan may be more cost-efficient to you in the long-run than traditional Medicare. When it comes to car insurance, you can save money in a variety of ways. On an older vehicle, you may not need full coverage, but it’s still a great financial safety net to have. Discounts are usually available if you are a safe driver, bundle your policies, have an anti-theft device, and drive under a certain number of miles a year, so find a company the provides competitive savings. Compare prices and get quotes from different companies before it’s time to renew. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars a year.

Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage can reduce your interest or extend your term, resulting in lower monthly payments. If you need more cash immediately, you can do a cash-out refinance. With this vehicle, you get a new mortgage that is higher than your current one, but you also get the difference in cash. Refinancing doesn’t make sense for everyone because there may be closing costs or other fees involved. So, talk to your financial institution and various lenders to comparison shop and figure out if refinancing is right for you.

When you head into retirement and you are suddenly on a fixed income, it can be an adjustment. However, just because you need to change your budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your lifestyle. Small changes can bring in a little income or reduce your monthly costs so you can continue to do all the things you enjoy as you get older.

Contributed by Karen Weeks. Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. She currently resides in Sacramento, California where she enjoys her retirement by trying new things and learning new skills to keep busy and challenge herself.

Kids are like sponges. They’re eager to absorb new information and they’re very good at catching on to new concepts, ideas, and skills. That’s important as they go to school and gain the skills and knowledge they’ll need during adulthood. But what about learning later in life? Is there such a thing as being “too old to learn?”

Sayings like “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and stereotypes about older individuals’ capacity for learning have been around for decades. But these are largely misconceptions that have been disproved by new research.

Think You’re Too Old? Think Again

Contributed by Pexels (Startup Stock Photos) design-learn-pattern-247819

As a society, we often subconsciously put an age limit on learning. We encourage learning in kids, teens, and young adults, but often discourage older people from trying to learn new information and skills.

Fortunately, that attitude is starting to change. More people of all ages are seeking out new information and changing their lives. You’re never too old to learn. In fact, learning throughout your lifetime can have some major benefits for your health and well-being.

There’s a Ton of Retirees Heading Back to School

If you’re self-conscious about the idea of taking a class or going back to school because you think you’ll be the only one over the age of 50, you might be surprised to find that your fellow students are more like you than you’d expect.

These days, lots of retirees are heading back to school for many different reasons. Some people just want a fulfilling way to spend their time during retirement. Others want to keep their mind sharp, discover new interests, and socialize with other students. And of course, some older Americans want to continue working and take classes to hone their skills or change careers.

Many schools offer free or inexpensive tuition for retirees, typically on an audit basis. Students won’t earn credit, but they will get the opportunity to learn and engage with a community of like-minded people.

Benefits of Learning As You Age

The concept that learning is only for the young is damaging to people as they get older. Learning throughout your life is actually a great way to protect your brain and stay sharp.

Research shows that people who get a college education live longer, make more money, and enjoy mental health benefits. Men who hold a bachelor’s degree live 12.9 years longer on average than those without a degree. For women, the margin is 10.4 years.

Older men and women can also use education to adapt to the job market and enjoy better financial health later in life. Those with a bachelor’s degree earn more and are less likely to be unemployed than people with a lower level of education. In a rapidly-changing job market, more education can make a positive difference in employability long-term.

Learning Later in Life Can Help Against Depression

Mental health is a huge concern for people of all ages. Anxiety and depression are among the top mental illnesses afflicting Americans, affecting well-being, quality of life, and even influencing suicide in some cases. 18 million people struggle with depression each year in the United States, and although there are many resources to help those who need it, stigma and other factors mean that many people suffer in silence.

There are many ways to help reduce anxiety and depression, including exercise, medication, psychotherapy, and meditation. Some people also use remedies like cannabis extract to reduce their symptoms.

Because of the mental health benefits of lifelong learning, we now know that keeping the brain engaged is yet another way to help fight depression. People want to feel fulfilled, engaged, and like they’re doing something important at every stage of their lives. By continuing to learn and evolve, older Americans can help protect themselves against common mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Unsure of What To Learn? Keep it Practical – Study What You Need to Know

You may understand all the benefits of learning at every stage of your life, but you also might be wondering: what should you learn?

Unless you’re interested in a specific subject or you want to pick up a new hobby, it can be hard to decide what to learn next. If that’s your dilemma, try keeping it practical. Even something as simple as learning better financial management strategies can help you stay sharp and allow you to gain the benefits of learning.

Don’t be intimidated! Taking a class, reading a book on a new subject, and even doing daily puzzles are all great ways to keep you learning and enjoying life.

Contributed by Patricia Monson. Patricia is the Research Coordinator at
Applied Nursing Research and enjoys sharing the latest high-level
research on senior health and care.

You may think that only people who can stand on their heads or touch their toes can practice yoga. Well, it’s time to think again! Yoga boasts a slew of benefits for seniors, from managing arthritis pain to balancing mood and emotions. And you don’t have to have been practicing for decades to reap these rewards. Studies show the benefits of yoga can be felt within just a few short weeks of regular practice.

Even though you understand the benefits, there may still be something holding you back. For many seniors, it’s a combination of time, support and money. Yoga classes cost money and take time, often requiring us to catch rides to and from a gym or studio. While these are totally reasonable obstacles, they can be easily overcome. Here are 10 ways to help seniors build a strong, sustainable yoga practice.

Senior Travel-Pixabay(qimono)

Photo by Pixabay (qimono)

#10 Check out Silver Sneakers: Your Medicare plan may cover some or all of the costs of joining a gym that provides yoga classes. Ask your health plan advisor for information on Silver Sneakers, which are fitness classes offered at gyms all across the nation and catered specifically to seniors. All classes are led by a certified instructor to ensure your safety, with the added benefit that they can easily cater the class to your needs and abilities.

#9 Look for Senior Discounts: Gyms and studios often run discounts and specials just for seniors to help them get access to the classes they need for preventative care and health. You can even check out coupon and discount websites like Groupon to find affordable deals, or give them a call to ask about specials. You may also come across some that run ads in your local newspaper. If you have a local studio in mind, stop by and express your interest in learning yoga. They may offer you a free class to help gauge your interest or offer you a coupon or discounted price.

#8 Make a Home Studio: Clear out a room in your home for a daily yoga practice. If you have furniture or boxes gathering dust in an unused bedroom, put them in storage. Another idea is to use your dining room for your yoga space. According to Angie’s List, many people have found alternative uses for their dining room as only 23 percent of homeowners routinely eat meals in this room. Once you’ve cleared a space, store your yoga mat nearby so that it’s always ready. Bring in some relaxing additions such as a scented candle, greenery, or artwork.

#7 Watch Yoga Videos: There are hundreds of free online yoga videos from certified professionals. You can follow along as they practice or watch videos that break down poses so you can work on safe alignment. You can also purchase yoga DVDs in the electronics or fitness section at most stores such as Walmart or Target, making practicing yoga as easy as popping in a DVD.

#6 Focus on Your Breath: If you can breathe then, guess what? You are practicing yoga! Try to pair your movements to an inhale and exhale. You can do this when walking, washing the dishes or sweeping the floor. Mindfulness is central to yoga’s mental health benefits. Sit in a comfy chair or in a seated position on the floor and clear your mind of any intruding thoughts so that you can pay attention to nothing but your breathing. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly for 10 minutes to start or end your day.

#5 Download a Free Meditation App: There are dozens of well-reviewed free meditation apps that you can download to your phone or tablet. You can use these to learn more about meditation, start a basic practice and to encourage and track your progress.

#4 There are Yoga Apps, Too! You can download yoga apps for your phone or tablet that you can use for free. Try to make it social by inviting your friends to use the app or practicing with your caregiver or a family member. Once you get the hang of it and learn what moves work best for you, you can create your own routine to follow.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

#3 Focus on One Pose: Instead of jumping into a whole series or flow, just focus on one or a handful of poses at a time. You can do them while watching television or after you first wake up. Keep it simple and move deeper into the pose as time allows. Yoga takes time and practice, so don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first. Start with simple moves and use props such as a chair for extra assistance. Should you decide you’d like to try more advanced moves, attend a class first to make sure you are doing it correctly and aren’t at risk of injuring yourself.

#2 Try a Work Share Arrangement: Many yoga studios and gyms will provide free classes in exchange for help watching the register and cleaning the studio. Talk to studios near you to find one that is interested in this kind of partnership.

#1 Take Classes with Friends: Whether you are paying for a class or going to the gym, practicing with friends can reduce the risk of senior isolation and make yoga more fun—and make it more likely you will stick with it. Plus, you can carpool with your friends, which is especially helpful if driving is a concern for you.

Yoga helps seniors stay healthy in both mind and body, and is also a fun, yet relaxing way to spend time alone or with friends. Try out any one of the tips above to make these your golden years for health and fitness.

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

The heat of summer is here, so this is a good time to review some vital safety tips for seniors.  Elderly persons are more prone to the effects of heat and at greater risk for dehydration. Make sure you or someone you can trust is checking in on your elderly family members. 

• Try to plan activities that require going outside during non-peak hours when it might be a little cooler.

• Move exercise indoors.  Consider exercising at a gym, walking on a treadmill, or “mall walking” instead of outdoor walks or activities. Swimming and water aerobics are good options as well.

• Drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic, caffeine-free as these ingredients have a diuretic effect). Talk with your doctor if you take medications that affect fluid intake, such as Lasix.

• Stay indoors, in cooled spaces as much as possible. Check your loved one’s air-conditioning system, and do a maintenance review. If electricity goes out, or your loved one does not have air conditioning, consider alternative arrangements when heat is at dangerous levels.

• Be aware of signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple

The most common signs of dehydration in the elderly are thirst, confusion, irritability, and poor skin elasticity. Keeping hydrated on a regular basis is the most important preventative measure, and individuals should be encouraged to drink fluids even when not thirsty as thirst may not be triggered until already dehydrated. Heat and dehydration may make seniors more prone to dizziness and falls and can cause or increase confusion. Heat exhaustion is the more mild form of heat-related illness. Warning signs may include the following: Heavy sweating; Paleness; Muscle Cramps; Fatigue; Weakness; Dizziness; Headache; Nausea or vomiting; Fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate may be fast and weak. Breathing may be fast and shallow.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs may include the following: An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); Rapid, strong pulse; Throbbing headache; Dizziness; Nausea. Any indication of heat stroke is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention.

Be aware of other summer dangers. Talk with your loved one about alternatives if he/she handles maintenance around the home, such as yard work or cleaning gutters. This may be especially dangerous in the heat, but may also pose general risks for falling and safety. Be vigilant about sunscreen and protect against insect bites. If you or someone you know has a bite that seems abnormal or you notice any unusual symptoms, seek medical attention.

Contributed By Caren Parnes, for The Senior’s Choice

Has your loved one recently transitioned into the care of a hospice agency? While a hospice agency may alleviate some of your caregiving duties, you may notice that additional support in the home would be beneficial. This is where enlisting the help of a personal care agency may be the perfect solution.

Personal care agencies like Aspen Senior Care often get confused with hospice care, but they aren’t the same. It’s important for families caring for elderly loved ones to know the difference and how both agencies complement each other.

What is the difference?

Personal care services provide one-on-one non-medical support in a person’s home which allows them to stay safely at home while under the care of a professional caregiver. Professional caregivers provide assistance 24/7 with activities of daily living, personal care, companionship, night care, and respite care for family caregivers. It is customized care to fit the needs and desires of the person and their family. This type of care is usually paid privately and/or by long-term-care insurance.

The purpose of hospice is to provide the highest quality of medical care and comfort to those who are chronically ill, terminally ill, or seriously ill and to relieve or lessen the discomfort they may experience. This may include medical care to alleviate pain, counseling and grief support for the patient and their family. In most cases, hospice care for seniors is covered by Medicare and includes several 1-hour visits per week by CNA’s, nurses, and other professionals.

How do they work hand-in-hand?

Personal care companies like Aspen Senior Care provide a few of the same services that hospice agencies provide, plus a lot of services they do not provide. When hospice care sends a CNA 2 to 3 times a week for an hour to help with bathing, personal care agencies like Aspen Senior Care can fill in the gaps and provide consistent care and peace of mind 24/7. Hospice care provides a nurse to visit each week to answer medical questions and help stay on top of pain. Personal care agencies provide trained caregivers who can be there day and night to provide encouragement, reduce loneliness, and give extra assistance as needed. Both agencies usually work together to ensure their patients’ needs are met.

Personal care agencies 24/7 services include:

  • Shower assistance
  • Hygiene care
  • Medication reminders
  • Homemaking
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Errands and transportation
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia care
  • Peace of mind for all involved

The most important thing to remember is that both of these agencies are on your side. They want to provide the best care for your loved one, and working hand-in-hand with one another provides the best support across the board. If your loved one is in need of hospice care services and you feel they would benefit from additional care and assistance, don’t hesitate to call on a good personal in-home care agency in your area.  

Learn more about Aspen Senior Care by calling 801-224-5910.

Nearly 1 in 3 adults currently suffer from joint pain or immobility. Of those afflicted, 3 in 4 are diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as arthritis. The alternative source of joint pain is principally tendonitis. Since these conditions are difficult to treat post-offset, the proactive adult would be clever to take preventative measures before symptoms present.

Both arthritis and tendonitis differ in cause but are similar in prevention and treatment. Therefore, the same protocol can be strictly followed for both conditions. Smartly consult your primary care physician and establish a clean bill of health before starting any new physical or dietary regimen.

Pursuing joint health begins with risk factor identification, such as:

  • Obesity
  • A family history of joint pain
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Type II diabetes
  • A diet high in refined sugars or gluten
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)

It would be surprising if anyone reading this didn’t have at least one or two of those risk factors. However, by simply replacing refined sugars with natural sugars, and carb-rich foods with vegetables it becomes possible to reduce several risk factors straight away. Second to this would be habitual exercise, especially in water, which is without impact on the joints.

You may be thinking now, ‘well that all sounds good, but I just don’t have the time to do all that.’ So, take a moment to consider this: if you cannot make time for being healthy, you will have to make time for being sick. It is easy to forget about your health when you’re not currently with disease or illness, but when a chronic condition presents itself, it may be too late to go back.

The easiest lifestyle changes to make are dietary. To be specific, there are foods that promote joint health, and others that are to the detriment of our joints. Before listing these foods, remember to only eat in moderation—even healthy foods can be overconsumed.

Foods to eat:

Foods to avoid:

  • Fast foods
  • Processed sugars
  • Bread
  • Alcoholic drinks

A good rule of thumb is to have every meal be two-parts vegetables, one-part fruit, and one-part meat, fish, or nuts. Ideally, nobody would ever eat unhealthy foods or drinks, but it shouldn’t cause any noticeable harm to have these things on occasion, say once per week.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

Daily exercise is also vital to the preservation of the kinetic apparatus, especially the joints. The most optimal exercises being ones with little to no impact, such as walking, biking, and exercises in water. Exercising half an hour per day is a fantastic preventative measure for joint degradation.

The actual stretches, which should be performed twice daily, and should be held for 30 seconds each, unless otherwise specified, are as follows:

  • Place your right hand on your left shoulder from the front, as if you were patting yourself on the back, and then use your left hand to push your elbow up and towards your back, then switch arms.
  • Place both hands behind your back as if being handcuffed, then slide your hands up towards your mid-back to form chicken wings. Hold this position for up to a minute.
  • Push your palms against a wall, with arms straight, and legs in a lunging position. Then, flip your hands so the backs of your hands are against the wall, and hold the position again. This is excellent for the wrists and elbows.
  • Put your fingers through a thick rubber band and open your fingers, spreading the band apart. Perform on both hands.
  • Get into a lunge position and hold, then switch legs.
  • Lay on your back with your feet together. Now, slide your feet up towards your butt before spreading your legs and trying to put your knees on the floor. Do not at any point allow your feet to lose contact with each other. Your legs should be forming a triangular shape.

Repeat these stretches three times each session, with a minute rest or so between each stretch. At no point should you feel exhausted doing these stretches—and if that happens, allow yourself as much time as you need to calm your breathing and nerves. Following this protocol, joint problems should never develop or should be much less severe if already present.

Guest Contributor: Victoria Ward has always been very passionate about psychology and health. She is a recent graduate with a major in psychology and a minor in neurobiology, focusing on Alzheimer’s, learning, and memory.

Have your good health habits slowly turned into bad ones as you’ve aged? Eager to jump over that rut and start anew?

Thankfully, humans have the free-will to make of life what we can, when we can. Breathe easy, senior netizens. There are changes you can start making today to improve your overall health for the coming years.

Eat healthy

Digestion slows with age, so adding fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables can be particularly effective for seniors. However, it is important to keep in mind that anyone who eats more fiber should also drink more water, as it helps flush waste and keeps joints lubricated. Need a guide? This graphic from the AARP shows what your plate should look.

FYI: Senior centers often provide a healthy lunch, either free or at a greatly reduced price, via state or municipal programs. Check if yours does – it’s a guaranteed healthy meal during the week!

Get more sleep

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(Pexels)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(Pexels)

If you wake up tired or have insomnia or sleep apnea, it is imperative to change your sleep habits. You need 7-8 hours each night, so turn off smartphones, tablets, and TVs two hours before bedtime, as the blue light mimics daylight and tricks your body into thinking it should be awake. It is also important to keep your room temperature cool (68 degrees) and to make sure your bed is comfortable enough for a good night’s rest.

QUICK FIX: If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for at least 7 years, consider looking into a new one that’s more accommodating (i.e. less harsh on joints) for seniors.

Focus on disease/illness prevention

Don’t wait until you’re sick to address your health – which is great advice for seniors and caregivers alike. It’s easier to prevent illness than to heal it. Caregivers should do this by helping elders stay on top of appointments, medications, screenings, and vaccinations.

REMINDER: Seniors are more likely to develop pneumonia or shingles. Ask for those shots the next time you are seeing your doctor.

Exercise

No one is saying to sign Grandpa up for a 5K after a hip replacement. What we are saying, however, is that there are exercises that can be extremely beneficial, at any age. Walking is a great example, and there are exercise routines (on a chair, in a pool) that will keep limbs moving and hearts pumping regardless of mobility level. The National Council on Aging recommends 30 minutes per day, five times per week, devoting two days to muscle strengthening.   

BONUS: Exercise relieves depression. Seniors can feel lonely and isolated, so it is important that we all are aware that exercise is a wonderful, free, effective antidote.

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)
Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

Make new friends and stay busy

Many seniors experience losing friends due to age or illness, or because it’s harder to get around. They’re retired or unable to work. Without stimulation, their bodies and brains can atrophy. They need friends and activities: Sudoku, crossword puzzles, playing chess with children or grandchildren. Regular interaction at a senior home or center. Help them make connections in both their brain and the world.

Aging is not always going to be easy, but it is important to keep in mind that there are some helpful tips and tricks to staying healthy as we do get older.

Guest Contributor:

Elise Morgan has always loved writing and enjoys covering numerous topics. She got into writing about seniors, aging, and caregiving because she was a volunteer caregiver in Asheville, NC. She enjoyed it so much she started writing helpful tips and for seniors and caregivers alike.

You worked hard to put money away for retirement, so it is important that you understand the various strategies available to you to make sure you maximize that savings by minimizing taxes and avoiding penalties. Here are several tips to maximize your retirement savings:

Avoid early withdrawal penalties. Over and above the income tax due on your withdrawals, you must wait until age 59 ½ before tapping your retirement savings to avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, you can take penalty-free 401(k) withdrawals beginning at age 55 if you leave the job associated with that 401(k) account at age 55 or later.

Roll over your 401(k) when changing jobs. If you withdraw money from your 401(k) when you change jobs, 20 percent will be withheld for income tax, as well as paying a penalty for early withdrawals. The mechanism to avoid these costs is to roll over your 401(k) into either a new 401(k) or an IRA.

Mixing your types of retirement accounts. If you qualify for a Roth IRA, these accounts have a variety of benefits a traditional IRA does not, including more flexibility on penalty-free withdrawals and no required minimum distributions. However the biggest difference between the two types of accounts is how they are taxed. IRAs are tax-deferred, so they provide you with an immediate tax benefit, but you must pay taxes when you withdraw the money during retirement. Roth IRA accounts require paying taxes when you deposit the savings, but that means you don’t pay taxes on them during retirement. Diversifying your money in a traditional IRA as well as a Roth IRA will allow you to moderate your tax burden during retirement. Also, if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement, maximizing your retirement funds in a Roth account will allow you to lock in today’s low tax rate.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay-1(stevepb)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (stevepb)

Understanding minimum distribution. You are required to withdraw money from your traditional 401(k) and IRA after age 70 1/2. If you miss a required withdrawal, you must pay a 50 percent penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn. Make sure you mark your calendar for that cutoff date and make arrangements with your financial institution to remind you automatically about your required distribution.

Understanding the rules on your first distribution. Your first required minimum distribution is due by April 1 of the year after you turn 70 ½. All subsequent distributions must be taken by Dec. 31 each year. If you delay your first distribution until the same tax year as your second distribution, you will be required to take both distributions in the same tax year, which could result in an unusually high tax bill.

Start withdrawals in your 60s. While you must begin traditional retirement account withdrawals at age 70 ½, you can lower your tax burden by take smaller distributions starting at age 59 ½, which can spread the tax bill over more years, potentially allowing you to stay in a lower tax bracket and reducing your lifetime tax bill. Check with your financial advisor to find out if this option would make sense for you.

Calculate your tax burden with added Social Security or Pension Benefits. If you’re going to be receiving Social Security benefits or regular payouts from a pension, it’s important to incorporate them when planning your withdrawal strategy. Even if you’re receiving a relatively small amount each month from these sources, the extra income may increase your tax burden.

Keep tax-preferred investments outside retirement accounts. Investments that generate long-term capital gains receive preferential tax treatment when held outside of a retirement account. However, if you put them in a retirement account, you will pay your typically higher regular income tax rate when you withdraw the money from the account. In contrast, you can lower your tax bill by holding more highly taxed investments, including Treasury inflation-protected securities, corporate and government bonds and funds that generate short-term capital gains, inside retirement accounts.

Contributed by:

Caren Parnes for the Senior’s Choice

What is long-term-care insurance?

Long-term care insurance covers a range of supportive services (medical and non-medical) that an individual may need when they are no longer able to perform many day-to-day activities or tasks on their own. Activities of daily living, commonly known as ADL’s, include tasks such as feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing, or transferring from a bed to chair.

Additionally, long-term-care covers services that may help individuals with other everyday essential tasks. These supportive tasks include medication reminders, house cleaning, errands, and meal preparation.

LTC covers care services whether it be in the individual’s own home or in a facility. Who provides care may depend on the individual’s needs, but many times can come from a family caregiver, a homecare company, an adult day service, or a facility.

How do you know if long-term-care insurance is right for you?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(skeeze)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(skeeze)

LTC may be right for you if:

  • You want to be able to pay for your own care when it is needed down the road.
  • You like the idea of being independent as long as possible.
  • You are able to afford the premiums and have a good income and amount of assets.

LTC may NOT be right for you if:

  • You have a limited amount of income or assets.
  • You struggle paying for day-to-day necessities such as housing, rent, food, medications, etc.
  • Your only income is through a Social Security benefit or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and you can’t afford the premiums.

Companies like Aspen Senior Care, an in-home personal care agency, want to help make sure seniors get the most bang for their buck. Cindy Harris, a LTC Claim Specialist with Aspen, says that many people don’t utilize their long-term-care options as well as they could.

“My job is to work with LTC insurance companies and get them to pay claims on our clients’ behalf,” says Cindy. “That way they get the full care they need and don’t have to worry that they won’t get the coverage they’ve paid for!”

Four Ways to Enhance Your Elderly Loved Ones Quality of Life

Statistics indicate people are busier than ever in today’s modern world. Finding time to ensure aging loved ones get the care they need is challenging.

A professional caregiver can address your loved ones basic needs and help them avoid things like slip and fall injuries or in-home accidents. Family and friends, on the other hand, can provide the social support and compassion necessary for them to remain both mentally and emotionally healthy in their later years.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between getting work done and caring for a family member. You simply need to keep the following points in mind. They’ll help you strike the delicate balance between tending to a loved one and using your time productively.

Stay in Touch Regularly

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Silviarita)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Silviarita)

Seniors who have frequent opportunities to socialize typically enjoy a better quality of life than those whose personal contacts are limited. Thus, you should make a point of regularly staying in contact with an aging loved one.

That doesn’t mean you have to visit them three times a week. A phone call every few days can be sufficient. The point is to make this part of your regular schedule to ensure they can depend on regular interaction with you.

Find Social Events for Them

Visiting your aging family members when you can is still important. However, you’re not the only person who can offer them in-person support. It’s also necessary for them to have friends in the community with whom they can spend their time.

That said, they may be reluctant to pursue these friendships on their own. You can help by looking into community events they may be interested in participating in. Encourage them to attend, and maybe even bring them to a few yourself at first to help them strike up bonds with others.

Bring Them to Your Events

Odds are good there are some out-of-the home activities you participate in fairly regularly. They can be simple errands, such as buying groceries for the week, or fun experiences, such as going to the movies or shopping for clothes. Either way, consider bringing an older loved one along.

Seniors’ brains need stimulation in order to guard against cognitive decline. Sitting at home all day doesn’t provide the proper degree of stimulation. They need to be out in the world to stay sharp.

Introduce them to Technology

(StartupStockPhotos)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(StartupStockPhotos)

A recent study indicates seniors who use social media are generally less lonely than those who do not. Unfortunately, some are unable to take advantage of social networks because they are not comfortable using the necessary technology. You can teach them to use it, providing them with another way of keeping in touch with others.

Of course, it may still be necessary to hire a caregiver. Having someone on hand to keep a watchful eye on an aging loved one will give you peace of mind. In the meantime, these tips will help you care for them too, even if your lifestyle is busy.

Guest Contributor: Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.