Medicare News

Earlier this year, Congress passed a last-minute budget deal that included provisions affecting Medicare benefits. Specifically, one provision will permit certain therapies to continue beyond the previous caps, subject to conditions. All therapy (physical, speech and occupational) must continue to be classified as “reasonable and necessary to treat the individual’s illness or injury.” 1

There had been ambiguity in the past as to whether Medicare would continue paying for sessions without measurable improvement. Now, however, therapy sessions may continue per the provider’s recommendation. Retroactive for this year, once therapy billing has reached $2,010 (about 20 sessions at $100 per visit), a provider must add an extra billing code to ensure payment. However, if total expenses subsequently pass a $3,000 threshold, they may be subject to medical reviews and audits.2

The federal budget agreement also accelerated the share-cost reduction during the so-called “doughnut hole” period in Medicare drug plans. Starting one year earlier — in 2019 — Medicare beneficiaries will pay 25 percent (instead of 35 percent) of drug expenses once they reach the stated annual limit (currently $3,750 in 2018).3

Medicare rules are always changing. It’s a lot like trying to make retirement planning decisions throughout your career — the bar is a moving target. One potential solution is to over-plan and overfund your share of expected health care expenses in retirement. If you’re looking for ways to help plan for possible increased health care expenses in the future, contact us.  We’d be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final ruling with updates for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to provide more choices. Specifically, the rule expands the definition of “primarily health-related” benefits to cover products and services not considered direct medical treatments. Examples include air conditioners for people with asthma, healthy groceries, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals. Paid benefits also may include home modifications for mobility and balance, such as installing a wheelchair ramp or bathroom grab bars. Plans may offer benefits to help pay home aides who help with dressing, eating and other personal, daily-living care. MA plans must submit their bids for CMS approval by June 4 to begin offering these benefits in 2019.4

The new CMS rule also includes initiatives to address the national prescription opioid epidemic. Specifically, Medicare Part D plans now limit new opioid prescriptions for acute pain management to no more than a seven-day supply. The Overutilization Monitoring System (OMS) is expanding, increasing pharmacist accountability for patients already taking opioids.5

The CMS rule is part of a hardline approach to combating the opioid crisis. The White House has established a Safer Prescribing Plan initiative with specific goals that include cutting nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years.6

Content created by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 29, 2018. “Scrutinizing Medicare Coverage For Physical, Occupational And Speech Therapy.” https://khn.org/news/scrutinizing-medicare-coverage-for-physical-occupational-and-speech-therapy/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

Ibid.

3 Susan Jaffe. Kaiser Health News. March 14, 2018. “Lifting Therapy Caps Is A Load Off Medicare Patients’ Shoulders.” https://khn.org/news/lifting-therapy-caps-proves-a-load-off-medicare-patients-shoulders/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

4 Bruce Japsen. Forbes. April 5, 2018. “How Trump’s New Medicare Rules Boost Amazon And Walmart.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/04/05/how-trumps-new-medicare-rules-boost-amazon-and-walmart/#600a42d6786c. Accessed May 4, 2018.

CMS. Fact Sheets. April 2, 2018. “2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D Rate Announcement and Call Letter.” https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2018-Fact-sheets-items/2018-04-02-2.html. Accessed May 4, 2018.

6 The White House. Fact Sheets. March 19, 2018. “President Donald J. Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-initiative-stop-opioid-abuse-reduce-drug-supply-demand/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Medicare. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Music Plays Instrumental Role in Healing Ailments

Hearing a familiar song from a happy period in your life, such as childhood, can instantly make you feel joyful. It’s as if you’re right back there — toe tapping, head bopping and singing along. Just as with our sight, smell and taste senses, positive auditory memories can enhance mood and transport us back to a happier time.

The power of music has led researchers to study various applications of music therapy to help people overcome the pain of health conditions, emotional challenges and even the cognitive decline that often accompanies old age.1

It’s not enough to believe we will all grow old gracefully. This usually doesn’t happen without planning. A big part of planning for retirement isn’t just how to provide enough income for the rest of our life, but how to help ensure we still enjoy a high quality of life no matter our age.

As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives; just give us a call. As for creating a plan to help enhance quality of life, consider some of these music therapy applications.

Music therapy is now a board-certified health profession. With approximately 7,500 practitioners throughout the country, the practice has become prevalent in nursing homes and hospices. The American Music Therapy Association reports about 10 percent of musical therapists work with terminally ill patients in a new discipline called end-of-life music therapy.2

 A growing body of research indicates music therapy can help improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.3 It also can be used to aid in stress and pain management, memory enhancement, communication and physical rehabilitation.4

Further, the discipline has been found to help people with psychiatric problems, such as depression, trauma and schizophrenia. Music can help calm patients as well as help them process emotions, trauma and grief.5

Interestingly, the military has used forms of music therapy since the post-World War I era. Trained musical therapists use it as a tool to help wounded, injured or ill soldiers express their thoughts nonverbally. Research also shows music can be effective at increasing neuroplasticity in the brain, which is an important role in helping veterans address symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.6

 Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Sharon Otterman. The New York Times. Jan. 15, 2018. “Music Therapy Offers an End-of-Life Grace Note.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/nyregion/music-therapy-nursing-home-hospice.html. Accessed April 13, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Sherry Christiansen. Alzheimer’s Universe. July 24, 2017. “Quick Alzheimer’s Prevention Pearl: Studies Show Music Improves Cognition in People with Alzheimer’s Disease.” https://www.alzu.org/blog/2017/07/24/how-music-helps-with-alzheimers-prevention/. Accessed April 18, 2018.

4 American Music Therapy Association. 2018. “What is Music Therapy?” https://www.musictherapy.org. Accessed April 13, 2018.

5 Molly Warren. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dec. 19, 2016. “The Impact of Music Therapy on Mental Health.” https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2016/The-Impact-of-Music-Therapy-on-Mental-Health. Accessed April 18, 2018.

6 Frank Otto. Drexel University News Blog. March 20, 2018. “3 Things to Keep in Mind About Music Therapy in the Military.” https://newsblog.drexel.edu/2018/03/20/3-things-to-keep-in-mind-about-music-therapy-in-the-military/. Accessed April 13, 2018.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Cultural Influences From Abroad

They say variety is the spice of life. A variety of cultural experiences may even contribute to a longer life and cognitive sharpness. A new study links cultural activities, including exposure to other languages, as a strong influence in the way we learn, amass and assimilate new information.1

Some cultural influences may well impact longer lifespans. In Japan, which has one of the world’s oldest populations, people live with a philosophy of “ikigai.” Roughly translated, this phrase means “a reason to live,” or identifying one’s purpose in life. To discover one’s ikigai, start by answering the following questions:2

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need from you?
  • What can you get paid for?

This idea of living for something more spiritual than, say, a job or material possessions is also practiced by the people of Costa Rica. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are called, use the term “Pura Vida” to convey a range of greetings, from hello and goodbye to “everything’s cool.” The real value of the phrase, however, is that Pura Vida reflects the way many Ticos live: relaxed and appreciative of the simpler things in life. This attitude toward life has gained the country recognition as one of the happiest places in the world. To live “Pura Vida” means you’re thankful for what you have and do not dwell on what you lack.3

Whether finding your ikigai or living a Pura Vida lifestyle, these influences may be able to enrich an American’s retirement, even if we don’t have the means to travel extensively. Reading, watching documentaries and movies, and listening to foreign music all can help expose us to other cultures and expand our mind and thought processes. Ultimately, this may help us appreciate the lifestyle we’ve created for our retirement years. If you’d like help creating a retirement income strategy to help you pursue your retirement lifestyle goals, please call us for ideas.

In the U.S., perhaps the most influential culture is that of the Hispanic or Latino population, which the U.S. Census Bureau describes as people of “Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” At an estimated 54 million people, Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S., and the Census Bureau expects that number to rise to 119 million by 2060.Their impact can be felt in all aspects of U.S. culture, including language, food and entertainment.

While the U.S. is influenced by other cultures, it also wields cultural power of its own. In a 2017 survey by U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. was ranked as having the third most influential culture in the world, largely due to popular contributions in music, movies and television. In first place was Italy, followed by France, with Spain and the United Kingdom rounding out the top five.5 In a separate portion of the survey that ranked overall influence, the U.S. ranked first, followed by Russia.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Science Daily. Aug. 4, 2017. “Cultural activities may influence the way we think.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170804103911.htm. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

2 Laura Oliver. World Economic Forum. Aug. 9, 2017. “Is this Japanese concept the secret to a long, happy, meaningful life?” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/is-this-japanese-concept-the-secret-to-a-long-life/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

3 Vacations Costa Rica. 2017. “Pura Vida! Costa Rica Lifestyle.” https://www.vacationscostarica.com/travel-guide/pura-vida/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

4 CNN. March 31, 2017. “Hispanics in the US Fast Facts.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/20/us/hispanics-in-the-u-s-/index.html. Accessed Oct. 27, 2017.

5 U.S. News & World Report. 2017. “Cultural Influence.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/influence-rankings. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

6 U.S. News & World Report. March 7, 2017. “Most Influential Countries.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/international-influence-full-list. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

How Losing Sleep Could Translate to a Loss of Money

Some teenagers seem to sleep a lot. As parents and grandparents, we can find this rather aggravating. But the fact is, as we get older, our sleep patterns may change, and our sleep can be less restful.1 Perhaps it’s a good idea to let young people sleep in peace while they still can.

Scientists say young adults require about nine hours of sleep a day, on average. If they get less than eight hours, they may have a harder time paying attention. Full-grown adults, on the other hand, need an average of seven and a half hours. Unfortunately, studies show about one-third of adults in Western societies get less than that on a regular basis.2

A recent study by the University of Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich found a correlation between chronic lack of sleep and increased risk-seeking behavior. Scientists trace the link to the brain’s right prefrontal cortex, which is directly connected with higher risk-seeking behavior. The researchers theorize that when a person persistently does not get enough sleep, this area of the brain does not recover properly, which prompts behavioral changes. Interestingly, the researchers found that study subjects did not notice they engaged in riskier behaviors and therefore were not cognizant of this relationship with sleep patterns.3

The study’s authors observed that sound sleep, of the appropriate duration, is critical for good decision making — especially for political and economic leaders whose daily decisions impact the larger society.4 This advice is also worth pursuing in our own lives. In other words, avoid making important decisions when you haven’t been sleeping well.

As financial professionals, we are here to help guide you. We’ll give your retirement income goals our full attention; just give us a call to set up an appointment to discuss how we can help you create a retirement income strategy through the use of insurance products.

Although we often hear that everyone needs a full eight hours of sleep each night, the actual amount varies by individual — usually between seven and nine hours.Just one night of insufficient sleep can make us cranky and too tired for healthy activities — like engaging in exercise or preparing a nutritious meal.6

Over time, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing a variety of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It may make us more vulnerable to getting sick when exposed to a cold virus. Chronic lack of sleep also can make us more susceptible to experiencing depression and anxiety.7

Women are 40 percent more likely to suffer from insomnia or symptoms of insomnia compared to men, but the reasons for this are unclear. Some researchers hypothesize that women’s traditional role in society as caregivers could be a contributing factor. Furthermore, single parents who serve as both caregivers and financial providers are at higher risk of insomnia. Some scientists speculate the sleep circuitry for women could be different from men and, when combined with social roles as both worker and caregiver, this may result in a higher risk for sleep disorders.8

While the length and quality of sleep is a personal matter, it cumulatively has an impact on the economy. According to a study by RAND Europe, the United States loses approximately $411 billion a year due to workers who sleep less than six hours a night — which represents around 2.28 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. However, if those poor sleepers got one extra hour of sleep each night, the data suggests about $226.4 billion could be added back to the economy.9

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

National Sleep Foundation. “Aging and Sleep.” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep. Accessed Dec. 29, 2017.

2 ScienceDaily. Aug. 28, 2017. “Chronic lack of sleep increases risk-seeking.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170828102725.htm. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 William Kormos, M.D. Harvard Medical School. May 2016. “Ask the Doctor: The right amount of sleep.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

6 Julie Corliss. Harvard Medical School. July 2017. “The health hazards of insufficient sleep.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-hazards-of-insufficient-sleep. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

7 Ibid.

8 MedicalXpress. Dec. 18, 2017. “New guide aims to unmask unique challenges women face in getting healthy sleep.” https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-aims-unmask-unique-women-healthy.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

9 Sandee LaMotte. CNN. Sept. 27, 2017. “Sacrificing sleep? Here’s what it will do to your health.” http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/health/dangers-of-sleep-deprivation/index.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Why It’s Important to Care for the Caregivers

If you picture yourself receiving long-term care at some point, you likely envision a medical professional sitting bedside, tending to your needs. However, the bulk of long-term care in the U.S. is actually provided by family caregivers.1

According to a recent Merrill Lynch study, 20 million Americans become caregivers each year. Moreover, family caregivers collectively spend $190 billion a year of their own money on adult care recipients. And the toll doesn’t end there. In addition to 92 percent of caregivers using their own money and/or coordinating or managing finances to aid loved ones:2

  • 98% provide emotional support
  • 92% provide household support
  • 79% provide care coordination
  • 64% provide physical care

Women usually do more caregiving than men, the study found, averaging six years of caregiving in their lifetime compared to four for men. As a result, caregiving can bring more of a financial burden for women because of the time they may need to take away from their careers to care for loved ones.3

The financial burden of caregiving, for both men and women, should not be underestimated. The study shows 53 percent of respondents have made financial sacrifices as caregivers, and 21 percent have dipped into their savings.4

If you’re in a similar situation and are concerned about having enough income in retirement, please contact us. We work with clients to create retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that help them work toward their long-term retirement income goals.

Increasing attention is also being given to the psychosocial burden experienced by family caregivers. The responsibility and stress can contribute to their own physical conditions, including chronic diseases caused by unhealthy eating habits, sleeping poorly and not getting enough physical activity.5

Caregivers have twice the incidence of heart attack, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes compared to non-caregivers. Their chronic stress can even lead to cognitive reduction such as short-term memory loss and attention deficits. To cope with their complex lives, caregivers also may be prone to develop dependence on alcohol, smoking, prescription drugs and psychotropic drugs for mood enhancement. Caregivers also tend to have higher obesity rates.6

To help family members who are caring for a loved one with cancer, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York developed a support program that included webcasts with staged therapeutic interactions between therapists and informal caregivers, and a message board where study participants could post responses to experiential exercise questions. Initial results found that program participants experienced reduced symptoms of depression.7

Technological advances may also help ease caregiving challenges. For example, wearable devices can monitor heart rate and blood pressure, among other vitals. These devices can be linked to mobile phone apps, alerting a caregiver of any changes that might trigger a serious health issue.8

Some wearable devices use GPS and geofencing technologies to track patients, allowing them more mobility while also helping caregivers monitor patients’ locations. Newer devices use artificial intelligence to recognize trends in vital signs or movement that can lead to health or injury concerns.9

Regardless of what innovations the technology industry creates to aid caregivers, there is some comfort in knowing that the primary skills necessary in a caregiver cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence or a robot. Human caregivers not only offer compassion, empathy and the ability to meet retirees’ emotional needs, but these soft skills can be learned and improved — which will prove to be a critical sector of our workforce in years to come.10

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Advisor News. Nov. 1, 2017. “92% Of Caregivers Are Financial Caregivers.” https://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/92-caregivers-financial-caregivers#.WgOptLaZOfU. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Kathy Birkett. Senior Care Corner. “How Are YOU, Family Caregiver — Are You Caring for Yourself?” http://seniorcarecorner.com/family-caregiver-caring-for-yourself. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 Meg Barbor. The ASCO Post. April 25, 2017. “Attrition High but Positive Trends Observed in Web-Based Intervention Addressing Caregiver Burden.” http://www.ascopost.com/issues/april-25-2017/attrition-high-but-positive-trends-observed-in-web-based-intervention-addressing-caregiver-burden/. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

8 1-800-HomeCare. Oct. 12, 2017. “What Are the Top Emerging Tech Trends for Home Care In 2017?” https://www.1800homecare.com/homecare/new-tech/. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

9 Ibid.

10 Harry Welchel. ChirpyHire. July 31, 2017. “Senior Care and The Future of Work.” http://blog.chirpyhire.com/senior-care-and-the-future-of-work/. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Working Longer

Ah, the life questions we face. Young adults contemplate which college to attend and how that might affect their future. Women – and increasingly often, men – ponder whether to stay home and raise children, work or both. People contemplate job changes and relocations. And then, of course, a big question: When should I retire? One report observed that these days, about a third of adults ages 65 to 69 are continuing to work, and one-fifth of people 70 to 74 years old are working as well. The majority of them are working full time.1

If you get to make the decision to continue working all on your own, you are fortunate. Many people are forced to retire earlier than they’d like due to health reasons or because they are let go by their employer.2 If you can continue working, there can be many benefits, such as more time to save for retirement, employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, access to a social network, intellectual engagement and a place to go every day where you feel needed and important.

These are all good reasons to work longer. But whether you do so or not, you’re going to need a well-thought-out retirement income strategy. Using a variety of insurance products, we can help you create a strategy designed to help you to live the kind of retirement you’ve worked hard for. Contact us today to get started on your retirement income strategy.

If you are planning to work longer, consider that you don’t necessarily have to keep your current job. If you like it, that’s great. But if not, you might be able to phase into another role at your company, work in a similar position at another company or even take a completely different job in another industry. As we get older, we sometimes reflect back on what we’ve done, or didn’t do, and what we would do differently. If you’ve always been interested in another field, find out what it would take to break into it. If you’d like more time to pursue a hobby, figure out if there’s a way to turn it into a career.3

For example, if you love football, consider announcing for games at a local high school, coaching or refereeing. Apply to be an intern in a different field, write movie reviews for your local newspaper or work in a friend’s shop. While these jobs may not pay all that well, they may pay more than the retirement alternative of no outside income. By stringing together a variety of paying and volunteer gigs, you not only can supplement your retirement income but pursue passions and hobbies, and create quite a busy and engaged retirement lifestyle.

If you’d like a different job that can potentially pay substantial income, consider becoming a real estate agent. Many mature adults have the right qualities for the role – they know their community and neighborhoods, have a broad network of local contacts, have experience buying and selling their own homes, and understand the concerns and issues of new buyers. Furthermore, real estate is a relatively easy field to enter, and you have a certain degree of flexibility so you can work as much as you need for your income requirements.4

Another flexible job in which you may be able to use your previous work experience is as a freelance writer. Whether writing for your local paper or industry trade journals, writing is something you can practice on your own time to improve without extra schooling or training.

The point is, you may enjoy working longer and benefit from all of the associated advantages. However, if you don’t want to continue working in your current job, your options aren’t limited. You have knowledge and experience to rely on, which, when you think about it, is a whole lot more than you had when you started your career.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 The American College of Financial Services. Aug. 2, 2017. “5 Things to Tell Clients about Working Past Retirement Age.” http://knowledge.theamericancollege.edu/blog/5-things-to-tell-clients-about-working-past-retirement-age. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
2 Marlene Y. Satter. BenefitsPRO. Dec. 4, 2015. “What is forcing workers to retire earlier than they planned?” http://www.benefitspro.com/2015/12/04/what-is-forcing-workers-to-retire-earlier-than-the. Accessed Sept. 29, 2017.
3 Robert Powell. USA Today. Feb. 27, 2017. “How to keep earning a paycheck in retirement.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/retirement/2017/02/27/how-keep-earning-paycheck-retirement/98266500/. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
4 Maryalene LaPonsie. US News & World Report. May 8, 2015. “Real Estate: The Ultimate Second Career for Seniors.” https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/05/08/real-estate-the-ultimate-second-career-for-seniors. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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A 100-Year Lifespan: Ways to Help Increase Enjoyment

The average life expectancy of a baby born in the U.S. today is 80 years. However, this prediction assumes prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of birth stay the same throughout a person’s life.1

In reality, patterns of mortality improve over time thanks to discoveries and innovations in nutrition and medical science. If you extrapolate the data to represent the same pace of mortality improvement in the future, people up to age 30 today can reasonably expect to live to an average age of 100.2

However, just as important as how long you live is how well you live. Below are some ideas on steps you can take to help ensure you enjoy your retirement years.

One way to prepare for an active retirement is to engage in work-life balance early in life. Many people work long hours and don’t take enough vacation time. Over time, this can lead to mental and physical exhaustion. If we don’t take care of ourselves when we’re younger, we have less chance of enjoying a higher quality of life when we’re older.

Or, consider your perspective – are you pursuing your own happiness or trying to find meaning in life? Studies have demonstrated that the pursuit of happiness may not be as good for our well-being as the pursuit of a more meaningful life. In other words, being directed and motivated by valued life goals, which often can take more effort and cause more stress, may be more rewarding. To illustrate, consider the rewards of raising children versus embarking on a series of exotic vacations. Researchers have found that, over the long term, people who pursued more meaning and purpose were more deeply satisfied than those chasing temporary happiness.3

Another study even found a correlation between greater engagement in day-to-day life with a higher degree of financial success, possibly because this type of person tends to place a high value on pursuing long-term goals.4

Exercise is also key. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 32 percent of older adults do not engage in any physical exercise. Understandably, people who don’t prioritize exercise when they’re younger are not likely do so in retirement, so it’s important to make it a habit early on.5

It’s also important to choose activities you can continue as you age. Classes growing in popularity among the over-50 set include dance, strength training, gentle yoga, “gentle stretch,” “Pilates fusion,” ballet barre and tai chi. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, programs for older adults are among the top 20 fitness trends for 2017.6

Retirees may be familiar with the SilverSneakers program, celebrating its 25th anniversary. The program is free for adults over age 65 who are covered by Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and many other plans.7

In addition to things you should do to enrich a 100-year life, there are things that would make it less enjoyable. One of those things is dementia. While there are many risk factors for dementia, including age, alcohol use, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and genetics, a recent study discovered a few other common triggers that can increase the risk of cognitive decline:8

  • Taking anticholinergic drugs, which includes over-the-counter sleep aids, sedating allergy meds (e.g., Benadryl), sedating pain meds (e.g., Tylenol PM) and prescription meds such as some antidepressants and urinary incontinence treatments. The study also found that once people stop taking these meds, their risk dropped back to normal levels.
  • Lack of vitamin D
  • Heartburn medications with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec and Prevacid (complete list here)

We can help you prepare for longer life expectancies by utilizing insurance products within your overall retirement income strategy. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Peter Vanham. World Economic Forum. Sept. 15, 2016. “You’ll Probably Live to Be 100. Here’s How You Need To Prepare For It.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/you-ll-probably-live-to-be-100-here-s-how-you-need-to-prepare-for-it/. Accessed March 3, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Emily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer Aaker. New York Magazine. Dec. 30, 2016. “In 2017, Pursue Meaning Instead of Happiness.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/12/in-2017-pursue-meaning-instead-of-happiness.html. Accessed March 3, 2017.

4 Drake Baer. New York Magazine. Jan. 4, 2017. “Living with Purpose Yields a Longer Life and Higher Income.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/living-with-purpose-yields-a-longer-life-and-higher-income.html. Accessed March 3, 2017.

5 Lynn Langway. Next Avenue. Jan. 30, 2017. “Boomers Took Fitness and Made It Their Own.” http://www.nextavenue.org/boomers-fitness-trends/. Accessed March 3, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Beth Levine. Next Avenue. May 25, 2016. “3 Surprising Things That Raise Your Dementia Risk.” http://www.nextavenue.org/3-surprising-things-raise-dementia-risk/. Accessed March 3, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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How to Help Avoid Struggling with Caregiver Burnout

Serving as a caregiver for a loved one can be a wonderful thing. It often allows ill or disabled individuals to remain in their own home, surrounded by familiar surroundings. However, it can often take a toll on the person providing care, and can sometimes lead to the caregiver feeling depleted or exhausted. This feeling is commonly known as caregiver burnout.1

The National Alliance for Caregiving reported an estimated 43.5 million adults provided care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged loved one in 2014. The organization also reported the average caregiver spends nearly 25 hours per week providing assistance, the equivalent of a part-time job.2

While being a caregiver can be rewarding, it can also be emotionally, physically and mentally taxing. Burnout tends to happen when the caregiver neglects his or her own needs — often without realizing it’s happening.

If you are providing care for an ill or disabled loved one, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of burnout in the early stages. The ALS Association reports some of these patterns as signs of burnout for caregivers:3

  • Irritability and impatience
  • Overreacting to small things or comments made by others
  • Problems sleeping
  • Abuse of food, tobacco, drugs or alcohol
  • Feelings of isolation, alienation or resentment
  • Increasing levels of stress

The time and money dedicated to helping someone else can also be a drain on the caregiver. While retirees in particular may feel they have the time available to take care of a friend in need, it’s important they consider how that kind of time commitment could affect their own energy levels and financial resources.

How do you avoid caregiver burnout? Here are five suggestions from the Caregiver Action Network:4

  1. Seek support. Providing care can be isolating. Reach out to family and friends, and tell them exactly what you need. Many of them want to help, but they aren’t sure how. Also explore online options. The AARP provides a list of resources for caregivers,5 including online communities where people can share experiences.
  2. Take breaks. Letting someone else provide care can be difficult, since others don’t do things quite the same way and it might be challenging for the person receiving care to adjust to someone new. Taking a break, however, is important for both mental and physical respite.
  3. Don’t neglect your own health. It might take some creativity, but find ways to work in activity, even if it’s taking a 15-minute walk. Pay attention to your own nutrition. Try not to let go of all the things that bolster your mental health; it can be easy to neglect your own hobbies and interests.
  4. Get the paperwork in order. Organize medical records, legal paperwork and other items so they’re easy to find. Introduce yourself to your loved one’s lawyer, accountant, financial professional and other service providers. Provide them with a copy of a power of attorney so you can have access to records if needed. If you have questions about how taking the time to care for someone else could affect you financially, don’t hesitate to reach out to your financial professional.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Caregiving is a tough job. Recognizing that you also have physical, mental and emotional needs will help you avoid burnout and continue to provide the best care to your loved one.

Content prepared by Amy Ragland.

 1 Senior Helpers. “Caregiver Burnout.” http://www.seniorhelpers.com/resources/family-caregiver-burnout.  Accessed May 21, 2017.

2 National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP. June 2015. Pages 6 and 33. “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.” http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Final-Report-June-4_WEB.pdf. Accessed May 21, 2017.

3 ALS Association. “Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout.” http://www.alsa.org/als-care/caregivers/caregivers-month/symptoms-of-caregiver-burnout.html. Accessed May 21, 2017.

4 Caregiver Action Network. “10 Tips for Family Caregivers.” http://caregiveraction.org/resources/10-tips-family-caregivers. Accessed May 21, 2017.

5 AARP. “Resources Caregivers Should Know About.” http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-08-2012/important-resources-for-caregivers.html. Accessed May 21, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Preventing Elderly Financial Abuse

A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College concluded that many retirees who do not suffer from any cognitive impairment can still manage their money through their 70s and 80s.1 The study reports that financial capacity relies on accumulated knowledge and that knowledge stays mostly intact as we age.

However, the study points out that it generally is not a good idea to start managing financial decisions in your late 70s and 80s if you haven’t had experience doing this before — such as after the death of a spouse who handled the finances.2 We work closely with our clients to help them develop financial strategies designed to last a lifetime, with the goal of reducing the need to make dramatic financial changes later in life. However, we are here to address any questions or concerns of our clients no matter what stage of their financial planning. Please give us a call; we’re here to help.

Having a plan for late-stage financial management is important due to the increase in elderly financial fraud. With more than 45 million seniors in America, this is a large and tempting market for scammers. One study estimated that about 5 million older Americans are financially exploited each year. In New York state alone, allegations of elderly financial abuse spiked by more than 35 percent between 2010 and 2014.3

In response to this growing problem, several government regulatory agencies have stepped up efforts to help prevent and address elder financial abuse, including the following:

  • The SEC requires brokers to make “reasonable efforts” to identify a “trusted contact” for investment accounts and allows them to prevent the disbursement of funds from the account and notify the trusted contact if the broker suspects abuse.4
  • The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, set up a senior help line at 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577)5
  • In 2016, four state legislatures approved a rule requiring advisors to notify adult protective services and state regulators if they detect abuse; 10 more states are expected to adopt similar rules this year, and three other states already had such rules in place.6

According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, some of the most common ways the elderly are taken advantage of financially are: forging their signature; getting them to sign a deed, will or power of attorney through deception, coercion or undue influence; using their property or possessions without permission; and telemarketing scams. Some of the most likely perpetrators of elder financial abuse are: family members; predatory people who seek out vulnerable seniors; and unscrupulous business professionals.7 If you believe you are a victim of fraud, contact your local law enforcement, state agency on aging and/or a community senior services group.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Anek Belbase and Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. January 2017. “Cognitive Aging and the Capacity to Manage Money.” http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/cognitive-aging-and-the-capacity-to-manage-money/. Accessed June 22, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Christine Idzelis. Investment News. April 23, 2017. “Advisers on front lines in battle against financial abuse of the elderly.”  http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20170403/FEATURE/170339977. Accessed June 22, 2017.

4 Mark Schoeff Jr. Investment News. April 3, 2017. “Advisers taking steps to protect elderly.” http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20170403/FREE/170339979?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social. Accessed June 22, 2017.

5 FINRA. “FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors.” http://www.finra.org/investors/highlights/finra-securities-helpline-seniors. Accessed June 22, 2017.

6 Mark Schoeff Jr. Investment News. April 3, 2017. “Advisers taking steps to protect elderly.” http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20170403/FREE/170339979?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social. Accessed June 22, 2017.

7 National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. “Financial Abuse.” http://www.preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse/fin_abuse.html. Accessed June 22, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Checking Up on Health Care Expenses

If there’s one thing every adult demographic in America values, it’s maintaining good health.

People with medical conditions may be interested in topics like new medical technology, pharmacology or national changes to health care insurance. Meanwhile, those without serious medical issues want to know how they can stay that way, through nutrition, exercise, weight loss and preventive screenings. It’s a national conversation, and not one that’s likely to diminish any time soon.

The 6.5 percent growth rate in medical expenses has plateaued recently, according to business consulting firm PwC, but the company’s researchers see signs the rate will increase again in the near future.1

This isn’t just a reflection of the cost of health care insurance, but also the prices charged by facilities, physicians and specialists for the drugs and therapies necessary to treat medical conditions. Escalating health care usage and prices contribute to the increase of insurance premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.2

Whether you’re working or retired, the issues of finances and health care are inextricably interwoven. You can’t really think or plan about one without considering the other. This is true whether you’re covered under employer-sponsored insurance, a plan from the individual market or a government-sponsored plan. As financial professionals, we work with clients in each of these situations to help ensure their retirement income plan takes into consideration current and potential medical expenses in the future. If you need help assessing your retirement income needs, please contact us for help.

Ultimately, the message the health care industry is promoting is that people need to take better care of themselves. They need to research and understand their health care options, and also work on improving their overall health now to prevent problems — and related expenses — in the future.

When it comes to individuals taking responsibility for their own health, there’s no need to wait for the government to step in and pass legislation. There’s plenty of knowledge available at our fingertips to help maintain health, from advice on healthy eating away from home3 to using diet to manage indigestion problems like acid reflux.4

For older Americans, taking on new fitness activities may be worrisome since they can increase the likelihood of injury. On the other hand, when done correctly, moderately and consistently, exercise can also help decrease the likelihood of injury.

Plus, it may be easier than you think to catch up on today’s fitness trends. Many are simply rejuvenated from the workouts of yesteryear.5 Like today’s trendy Pilates exercises, which were quite popular in the 1950s and 60s,6 one thing that will never go out of style is taking strides to maintain health.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

 1 PwC. 2017. “Medical Cost Trend.” https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/health-research-institute/behind-the-numbers.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.

2 NBC News. Nov. 4, 2016. “Why Health Care Eats More Of Your Paycheck Every Year.” http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/why-health-care-eats-more-your-paycheck-every-year-n678051. Accessed May 5, 2017.

3 Harvard Medical School. 2017. “Tips for healthy eating away from home.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tips-for-healthy-eating-away-from-home. Accessed May 5, 2017.

4 Jane E. Brody. The New York Times. Mar. 20, 2017. “Pop a Pill for Heartburn? Try Diet and Exercise Instead.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/well/pop-a-pill-for-heartburn-try-diet-and-exercise-instead.html?_r=0. Accessed May 5, 2017.

5 Jessica Smith. Shape.com. 2017. “Then & Now: 7 Retro Workouts That Still Get Results.” http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/then-now-7-retro-workouts-still-get-results. Accessed May 5, 2017.

6 Balanced Bodies. 2017. “Pilates Origins.” http://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/pilates/origins-of-pilates.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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