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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The Longevity Revolution

How old do you have to be before you’re considered “old”? This number may change depending on the age of the person making the assessment. For example, a child or a teenager might think someone age 40 is old. That view is less likely to be held by a 39-year-old.

History indicates you have to reach a lot more birthdays these days to be considered old. One way to judge this is to look at pictures of your parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents when they were your age. Apart from the improved clarity of photographs in the modern era, many of us have fewer wrinkles and an overall healthier appearance than our ancestors.1

The data backs this up. A study by a Stanford University economics professor found that back in the 1920s, males were considered old if they were age 55 and up, whereas today that’s considered “middle age.”2

Of course, how we feel can change from day to day. Some days we might feel like a teenager, while other days we feel older than our years. We don’t want our clients to have similar feelings of uncertainty when planning for retirement. First of all, we like to help our clients work toward a well-prepared financial future. Second, it’s important to  consider that no matter how old you are, you’re likely to live longer than your parents and thus should plan for that eventuality. That’s why we work with our clients to create retirement income strategies for a retirement income that lasts as long as they do.

From a societal perspective, some of the reasons we’ve experienced a longevity revolution include universal access to clean water, sanitation, waste removal, electricity and refrigeration, as well as vaccinations and continued improvements in health care.3 At the individual level, people have their own take on why they’re living longer. One woman from Maine, 100-year-old Florence Bearse, claims the secret to her longevity is drinking wine. That, and people shouldn’t “take any baloney” if they want to live to old age.4

Another centenarian, Manhattan jazz saxophonist Fred Staton, is still playing professionally at age 102, which gives credence to the notion that creativity and passion lend themselves to a longer life.5 While a healthy lifestyle might be a strong indicator of longevity, it is by no means a definitive measure. Staton admits to smoking up until age 60, and rocker Mick Jagger — not exactly the poster child for a clean-living lifestyle — is still performing at Rolling Stones concerts at age 73.6

As for saving enough money to live comfortably throughout a long retirement, global analysts have noticed an interesting trend in spending among retirees. In wealthier countries, retirees appear to be aware of the potential for outliving their income, with many saving more than necessary.7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Steve Vernon. CBS News. June 29, 2017. “What age is considered ‘old’ nowadays?” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-age-is-considered-old-nowadays/. Accessed July 8, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Time. July 7, 2017. “Secret to 100-Year-Old Woman’s Longevity Likely Wine.” http://time.com/4849191/100-year-old-old-age-secret-wine/. Accessed July 8, 2017.

5 Corey Kilgannon. New York Times. June 29, 2017. “At 102, a ‘Triple-Digit’ Jazzman Plays On.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/nyregion/fred-staton-jazz-saxophonist-plays-on.html. Accessed July 8, 2017.

6 The Economist. July 6, 2017. “Getting to grips with longevity.” https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21724745-ageing-populations-could-be-boon-rather-curse-happen-lot?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/gettingtogripswithlongevity. Accessed July 8, 2017.

7 The Economist. July 6, 2017. “Financing longevity.” https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21724751-lives-get-longer-financial-models-will-have-change-financing-longevity. Accessed July 8, 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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Is Feeling Younger the Secret to a Longer Life?

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

~George Bernard Shaw

While some people accept getting older as a natural part of life, many others are on a mission to fight the aging process and maintain a youthful attitude and appearance. Although we are often reminded to “age gracefully” – to accept our older selves just as they are – research shows those who stay young at heart may just be on to something.

If you’ve ever experienced the feeling that the image in the mirror doesn’t quite match up with how you feel on the inside, you’re not alone. In 2015, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of research conducted over an eight-year timespan.  The initial survey of about 6,500 people ages 52 and older revealed that almost 70 percent of respondents felt three or more years younger than their actual age.1

Eight years later, researchers went back and resurveyed the participants. They found 86 percent of the people who reported feeling younger than their actual age were still alive, as compared to 82 percent of the people who felt their actual age and 75 percent who felt older.2

What’s the lesson here? This study and a variety of others point to the idea that feeling young actually helps us live longer. It’s the idea to stay “psychologically young”: maintaining a positive outlook, staying active physically and mentally, and enjoying a life of quality even into our older years.3 But how can we feel younger? Here are four tips:

  1. Eat right. Maintain a healthy diet, including plenty of veggies, fruits and protein. Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, nuts and seeds. These help prevent inflammation in your body, which affects you both mentally and physically.1
  2. Get some exercise – physical and mental. Feeling younger means moving more. You need to challenge not only your body, but also your brain. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests things like taking a college course, finishing a daily crossword and enjoying an occasional play or performance as ways to stay mentally active.5
  3. Set goals for the future. Goals give us something to work toward and look forward to, no matter your age. Your goals can be related to health, family, career, travel or anything that sounds interesting to you!
  4. Look on the bright side. A positive attitude can help you live longer. For example, a Harvard study of 70,000 female nurses found the most optimistic quarter of respondents had a 31 percent reduced risk of mortality.6 Sometimes keeping a positive outlook on life can keep you going, even when there may be negative external circumstances.

While it pays to think positive and keep a youthful mindset, lifespans of all people in general have gotten longer over the years. If you’re fortunate enough to live many years after retirement, 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 that helps you to live the kind of retirement you’ve worked hard for. Contact us today to get started on your retirement income strategy for a long life.

Content prepared by Amy Ragland.

1 Isla Rippon, MSc and Andrew Steptoe, DSc. American Medical Association.  February 2015. “Feeling Old vs. Being Old: Associations Between Self-Perceived Age and Mortality.”  http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2020288. Accessed June 8, 2017.

2 Heidi Godman. Harvard Health Publications. Aug. 5, 2016. “Feeling Young at Heart May Help You Live Longer.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/feeling-young-heart-may-help-live-longer-201412177598. Accessed June 7, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 Marisa Fox. Fitness Magazine. “10 All-Natural Ways to Stay Young.” http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/mind-body/feeling/10-all-natural-ways-to-stay-young/. Accessed June 7, 2017.

5 Alzheimer’s Association. “Stay Mentally Active.” http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_stay_mentally_active.asp. Accessed June 8, 2017.

6 Deborah Netburn. Los Angeles Times. Dec. 9, 2016. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-optimists-longer-life-20161208-story.html. Accessed June 8, 2017.

 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 provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources 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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Retirement: Loneliness Can Sneak Up on You

Even people who have spent a lot of time planning for retirement may encounter unexpected challenges once they’re in those golden years. They focus on retirement income planning, which is, of course, important and appropriate — and we can help you there. They also focus on things they want to do while they’re still in good health, such as traveling or playing pickleball. They look forward to spending more time with their spouse and good friends.

It can be quite joyful, but the less joyful realization often sets in when a spouse or a close friend passes away. That’s when many retirees truly understand they are facing the reality of their mortality. Apart from that, they’ve also lost a best friend and companion.1

Sometimes the pain of loss causes us to want to avoid that pain altogether, which can lead to an unwitting desire to isolate ourselves. Unfortunately, this can be particularly problematic during retirement, when people are less likely to have scheduled daily interaction with others outside the household.

Studies in the U.S. and Britain show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranges from 10 percent to 46 percent.2 Additionally, people with low levels of social interaction can experience brain changes that cause them to see other human faces as threatening and, therefore, are less likely to seek social ties.3 It’s all kind of ironic, isn’t it? With so many people experiencing the same malady, you would hope we could find each other, since companionship would certainly help.

One social scientist — Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford — summed it up with this observation: “It has become apparent in the last 10 years that the most important factor influencing your health, well-being, risk of falling ill, even your risk of dying and divorce is actually the size of your friend network.” His research shows bonding is strongest when endorphins are released, so he recommends that one way to strengthen friendships is by singing, dancing and working out with others.4

Retirement isolation is being studied from a number of different perspectives, particularly in housing. Although many retirees are reluctant to move to an assisted living facility, the longer they live, the more they will need help. Some have taken to moving into co-housing apartment buildings in which the tenants plan activities and support each other without all the rules and restrictions of a retirement home.5

We’re always happy to get together and chat with you about any retirement income planning questions you might have. Give us a call toll-free at 1-888-272-1099 if we can be of assistance and be sure to spend time with friends and family doing the activities you enjoy.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 1 National Institute on Aging. July 2016. “Mourning the Death of a Spouse.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/mourning-death-spouse. Accessed May 28, 2017.

2 Katie Hafner. The New York Times. Sept. 5, 2016. “Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness.” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/06/health/lonliness-aging-health-effects.html?_r=2. Accessed June 13, 2017.

3 Olga Khazan. The Atlantic. April 6, 2017. “How Loneliness Begets Loneliness.” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/how-loneliness-begets-loneliness/521841/.

4 Aylin Woodward. Scientific American. May 1, 2017. “With a Little Help from My Friends.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/?WT.mc_id=SA_TW_MB_NEWS. Accessed May 28, 2017.

5 Idil Mussa. CBC News. May 2, 2017. “Seniors in Ottawa look to co-housing to avoid isolation.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/seniors-in-ottawa-look-to-co-housing-to-avoid-isolation-as-they-age-1.4094267. Accessed May 28, 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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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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The Influence of Work

Work offers a confluence of possibilities, ranging from satisfaction to frustration to, many days, a little of both. If you work during retirement, here’s an interesting revelation: Social Security taxes are deducted from your work paycheck even if you’re already drawing benefits. For a lot of retirees, wages from some type of job represent a significant portion of their retirement income.1

This is a scenario in which you may be able to increase your Social Security benefits even if you started taking them early. If the annual income you earn in retirement is higher than the lowest inflation-adjusted year of earnings factored into your current benefit, a new benefit will be calculated for a higher amount.2

The decision to work or not during retirement is a personal one, based on both financial and lifestyle factors. Please contact us to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals.

When you’re making the decision about whether to retire, remember you may have more options than you think. Some people may want to work longer either because they could stand to save more or want to keep their brains engaged — or both. However, if they’ve grown tired of their job, they figure they might as well retire. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Many people go job hunting because they’re frustrated with their boss or company and no longer feel they get the respect they deserve.3 You can do that too, even if you’re older. If you aren’t ready to retire, consider looking for another job.

If that doesn’t appear to be a feasible option, there are other ways to cope with a job that has you down. People often talk about developing hobbies during retirement to occupy their time, keep their minds engaged and nurture a social network. There’s no reason to wait until retirement. Studies show people experience long-term fulfillment when they commit to an activity for the sake of the activity itself.4 This gives you something to look forward to doing outside work, so that the day-to-day grind is more tolerable. A secondary benefit is that once you do retire, the activity could be waiting for your full-time attention.

Then again, you might be considering quitting your job and working for yourself. To get started, human resources professional Liz Ryan offers the following questions to ask yourself:5

  • What services can I sell?
  • What kinds of problems or challenges can I solve for clients?
  • What is the going rate for my services?
  • How can I explore the possibilities as a new consultant while continuing to work at my job?
  • How can I market my new business?

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Tom Margenau. Arizona Daily Star. March 23, 2017. “Social Security and you: Working seniors pay taxes and may see benefit increase.” http://tucson.com/business/social-security-and-you-working-seniors-pay-taxes-and-may/article_d12b59db-5376-549c-a628-e7c569db772c.html. Accessed May 19, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Liz Ryan. Forbes. March 31, 2017. “The Real Reason Good Employees Quit.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/03/31/the-real-reason-good-employees-quit/#4390ea844b4e. Accessed May 19, 2017.

4 Brad Stulberg. New York. March 27, 2017. “Your Job Can’t Be the Only Meaningful Thing in Your Life.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/article/how-to-find-meaning-outside-of-work.html?mid=twitter_scienceofus. Accessed May 19, 2017.

5 Liz Ryan. Forbes. April 2, 2017. “Full-Time Employment Is Great For Employers – Not So Great For You.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/04/02/full-time-employment-is-great-for-employers-not-so-great-for-you/print/. Accessed May 19, 2017.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration 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.

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Considerations for Retiring Couples

Retirement is another chapter in your life; one that requires not only planning but day-to-day maintenance once you get there. And if you have a partner in life, it’s important to remember that your retirement, like a tandem bike, is built for two.

Planning for your own retirement is complicated enough, but doing so at the same time as your spouse can be daunting, with additional details to consider.

For starters, you and your spouse may have two completely different sets of needs in retirement.1 One may have health problems requiring expensive medications and frequent visits to the doctor. The other may live 20 years or more after the first spouse dies. Two people. Two different income needs.

When most people plan for retirement, they figure out how much household income they need. Their income sources may include two Social Security checks, a pension or other employer-sponsored plan, and withdrawals from personal savings accounts. But have you thought about how much income would be lost when one spouse passes away?

In some cases, the household income may go down to one Social Security check, less pension income and reduced personal savings once lingering medical bills and funeral expenses have been paid. In this situation, it’s helpful to know that a surviving spouse may be eligible for a lump sum death payment of $255 from Social Security to help pay for funeral or burial costs.2

Married couples frequently enjoy savings from shared costs by living in one house with one set of utility and cable bills. However, when one spouse passes away, those costs usually remain static; it’s not as if they’re reduced by half because only one spouse lives there going forward.

Consider this situation and ask yourself — will the surviving spouse need less money to maintain the household? In many cases, that person will likely need more money to hire someone to do some of the chores previously handled by the deceased spouse. Will the survivor have lower medical bills? Not likely if he or she lives into their 90s or beyond. What about housing? Will there be enough money should the survivor need living assistance or full-time nursing care down the road?

With all these questions to consider, it may be worth exploring various ways to help protect a surviving spouse’s financial situation, such as buying life insurance3 and/or working with a qualified attorney to establish a trust. Please keep us in mind if you and your spouse could use some help planning for retirement income. 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.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. May 17, 2017. “Investing Advice for May-December Marriages.” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2017-05-17/investing-advice-for-may-december-marriages. Accessed May 26, 2017.

2 Wesley E. Wright, Molly Dear Abshire. Laredo Morning Times. May 18, 2017. “Elder law: Social Security – Many fail to apply for death benefit.” http://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/Elder-law-Social-Security-Many-fail-to-apply-11156931.php. Accessed May 26, 2017.

3 Jamie Hopkins. Forbes. April 27, 2017. “Why Life Insurance Is Essential for Retirement Planning.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2017/04/27/why-life-insurance-is-essential-for-retirement-planning/#4b15989b31cd. Accessed May 26, 2017.

Life insurance policies are contracts between you and an insurance company. Life insurance product guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency.

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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Can Longevity Truly be Predicted?

Every morning, Emma Morano ate a raw egg and biscuits. When she died at age 117 in April of this year, she was the oldest person in the world. She lived in Verbania, a picturesque town situated on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.1

Violet Brown, who was born in 1900 and lives in Jamaica, now holds the mantle as the world’s most senior senior.2 Like Morano, she resides in one of those beautiful locales that most of us only dream about. Could picturesque surroundings be a factor in longevity?

Surely happiness, time spent with good friends and family and a high quality of life can be factors. But no one really knows how long they’re going to live, which makes it particularly difficult to plan accurately for retirement income.

According to the Society of Actuaries, men who reach age 65 can expect to live to an average age of 86 and women to 88 — but those are just averages.2 In reality, some won’t make it to their predictive age and others will live longer. Which will you be?

As financial advisors, we understand the dilemma of planning for the unknown because it’s what we do every day. If we can help you develop a retirement plan, please contact us for a financial review.  We can help you stay focused on your long-term goals and work with you to design a specific plan using a variety of insurance and investment products that help you work toward your desired financial future.

One tool to estimate your lifespan is the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator. Based on a few simple questions regarding health and demographic characteristics, it offers a series of percentages predicting your chances of living to various ages.3

If that’s too broad in nature, you might enjoy completing a more detailed questionnaire at the Biological-Age calculator. Based on how healthy a lifestyle you lead, this calculator knocks years off your current age for an estimate of how well your body is holding up.4

The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator (livingto100.com), which was developed by Dr. Thomas Perls, of the New England Centenarian Study, asks 40 questions about health and family history to help estimate how long you may live based on researched medical and scientific data.5

If you’re concerned about getting older, here’s a bit of good news: People tend to get happier as they age. In a poll earlier this year, people age 70 and older said their quality of life has improved as they’ve aged.6 This could reflect the sentiment many people feel who either never enjoyed working or are simply happy to stop.

Either way, it’s probably more uplifting to stop thinking about the limitations of getting older, and reflect more on the advantages we can enjoy that were denied us at younger ages.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Sean Rossman. USA Today. April 15, 2017. “World’s oldest person, last known to be born in 1800s dies.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/04/15/worlds-oldest-person-last-known-born-1800s-dies/100501238/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

2 Mark Miller. The New York Times. Feb. 18, 2017. “How to Make Your Money Last as Long as You Do.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/your-money/retiring-longevity-planning-social-security.html?_r=0. Accessed April 18, 2017.

3 Society of Actuaries. 2017. “Actuaries Longevity Illustrator.” http://www.longevityillustrator.org/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

4 Biological Age. 2017. “Find Your Biological Age.” http://www.biological-age.com/#. Accessed April 18, 2017.

5 Dr. Thomas Perls. 2017. “Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator.” . Accessed April 18, 2017.

6 Matt Sedensky. The Detroit News. March 22, 2017. “Poll: As people move toward old age, optimism sets in.” http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/wellness/2017/03/22/poll-old-age-optimism/99485000/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

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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As You Age, Keep Looking Forward

Many people spend a large portion of their lives taking care of people like their spouse, children, siblings and older parents. Here’s a message for those in their later senior years: Don’t stop now.

As we age, our concerns start to change. Some people may become preoccupied with ailments and difficulties in their living situations, and others gradually may stop taking care of themselves or their homes. Some of us start looking back instead of forward. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Certainly, every stage of life has its challenges and issues. From forging a career to buying a home, raising a family and juggling a myriad of financial priorities, each stage seems to bring a new focus to the foreground while others subside. During retirement, many people face health and financial challenges. We work with pre-retirees and retirees to help them develop a retirement income strategy, adjust the strategy if needed, and help address the challenges of making money last and leaving a legacy for family. Please let us know if we can help you with any or all of these stages.

It’s important to get much of your retirement and estate planning completed as early as possible. This planning includes documents like a basic will, durable power of attorney and health care proxy.1 You should work with an attorney to ensure all aspects of an estate plan are covered.

However, other pressing matters can create day-to-day concerns and stress. Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, conducted a study to find out what the biggest concerns are for those age 75 and up. She found they had less to do with completing a will and were more about how seniors would be able to live at home if they developed health issues.2

Dr. Lindquist also discovered that many older adults hadn’t made plans to address such concerns. As a result, she created a website, www.planyourlifespan.com, that helps seniors start talking and thinking about their future by prompting them to address such questions as:

“Who will take care of my dog if I am hospitalized?”

“Who will shovel our sidewalk and driveway when it snows?”

“Who will go to the pharmacy now that I can no longer drive?” 3

It helps to have a strong support system to deal with these types of practicalities. If you don’t live with or near family or friends who have the time to help, perhaps it’s worth considering exploring community resources for transportation, errands, meals and household help, or moving into a senior community.

One of the keys to successful aging is letting other people know what you want or need. While many seniors don’t wish to burden their children, they may be surprised to learn their children want to talk about these issues. Knowing your wishes in advance can reassure them that they are doing the right thing if they need to make decisions for you at some point.4

Another issue older seniors confront is a feeling of no longer being able to contribute to the lives of loved ones or their community. It’s important for seniors of all ages to reflect on their personal strengths and find ways to continue to contribute. For example, retirees who have enjoyed cooking throughout their lives should continue to do so; find friends and neighbors with whom to share meals and baked goods. Moreover, tell children and grandchildren first-person life stories and the lessons learned. It is important not just for seniors but also for societies to benefit from the resilience, wisdom and experience of the elder population.5

Many of the oldest of the elderly may be able to continue their lifelong love of taking care of someone — a pet. Dogs make wonderful companions and encourage exercise with daily walks. Less mobile retirees may benefit from the quirky affection of an independent cat. Pet/retiree relationships are truly symbiotic: Both enjoy immense quality of life in the company of each other.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 National Institute on Aging. “Getting Your Affairs in Order.” May 2, 2017. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/getting-your-affairs-order#important-papers. Accessed May 9, 2017.

2 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 9, 2017. “A Playbook for Managing Problems in the Last Chapter of Your Life.” http://khn.org/news/a-playbook-for-managing-problems-in-the-last-chapter-of-your-life/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 PlanYourLifespan.org. 2015. “Why Should I Talk With Others?” http://www.planyourlifespan.org/step/talk/why/intro?s=d313940ba9e44ef934baedfcfc163adf. Accessed April 18, 2017.

5 David Boyd Williams. 3BL Media. April 13, 2017. “Quality of Life Is Not One Size Fits All When It Comes to Experienced Adults.” http://3blmedia.com/News/Quality-Life-Not-One-Size-Fits-All-When-it-Comes-Experienced-Adults. Accessed April 18, 2017.

6 Saffron Alexander. The Telegraph. March 2, 2016. “Why Getting a Pet in Retirement Might Just Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/goodlife/living/why-getting-a-pet-in-retirement-might-just-be-the-best-thing-you/. Accessed April 18, 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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