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Happier, Healthier and Younger in Retirement

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By Fred Sievert

We all understand and appreciate the need for sound financial planning during the years preceding retirement. Who among us hasn’t gone online to calculate our retirement “nest-egg” needs and then panicked because accumulating that much wealth seemed inconceivable; especially if we started the process at age 55 or later?

While it’s critically important to solicit financial planning advice from professionals and then to demonstrate strong personal discipline in executing the plan, there is another aspect to your retirement plans that are equally important. My own retirement has proven to be a magnificent experience of feeling happier, healthier and younger than I’ve felt in decades. How did I plan for that and how can you plan too?

While being prepared financially for a secure retirement certainly contributes enormously to our happiness, I have found it even more important to attend to all of the other nonfinancial aspects of post-career lifestyle and plans.

Caught up in the rigors of pursuing a career, many of us dream of a time in retirement when we can relax, pursue leisurely activities, travel more often, and hence we believe, enjoy life more fully. I remember when I was climbing the corporate ladder at New York Life and working 14 or more hours per day (with little reprieve on Saturday or Sunday). A half-hour with family was rare but wonderful and even running errands for an hour or two on a Saturday morning was a welcomed escape from the toil and intensity of the job. How wonderful it was to fantasize about the days when I would finally get some well-deserved rest and relief from that hectic pace.

However, like many people, since embarking on the very real retirement voyage, I have discovered that the formula for success and happiness has little to do with how much we relax, rest and enjoy leisurely activities. A happy retirement comes from continuing to live a life of consequence and impact. In fact, if you’re like me, when the time comes, you will quickly stop describing yourself as “retired” and instead talk about how engaged and energized you are in the pursuit of your most important lifelong passions. The adjective “retired” is a real misnomer for me and for thousands like me.

Whether you’re in your 60s, 50s or even 40s, let me offer some advice on how to begin to explore and plan for your nonfinancial activities in your retirement years. The earlier you do this the better since the planning you do now can position you for greater fulfillment later. 

Perhaps the easiest way to start the nonfinancial planning process is to ask, and honestly answer the following three questions:

  1. What has made you happiest and provided the greatest gratification in your pre-retirement years? In short, what are your greatest passions?
  2. What are your unique gifts and skills that can be best utilized to generate the most satisfaction following your career?
  3. What can you do now to position yourself for the greatest impact on your world when you decide to scale back or retire from your current vocation?

    The answers to questions like these are unique to every individual and will force you to wrestle with elusive concepts like “success,” “satisfaction” and “happiness.” Nonetheless, I think you’ll find it thought-provoking and enjoyable to go through the exercise of contemplation and answering. 

Perhaps it will be useful for you to read about my own discoveries as I navigated through this important planning effort. My financial planning began long before retirement but my nonfinancial lifestyle planning began in earnest just three years before my official transition out of my career and into the next phase of my life. Over that three-year period, I benefited from the advice of a financial advisor, a personal coach, and a spiritual coach. Although utilizing such advisors and coaches can be enormously helpful and I would highly recommend it, I don’t see it as an essential element of the process.

Answering the Passion Question

Most of us are happiest when we are pursuing our passions. So step one for me was to clearly identify those activities and pursuits that left me with the greatest sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and therefore, happiness. “What makes me tick?” I asked myself. I considered many possibilities, but the answer became clear when I thought about my participation in my church and other volunteer activities, my service on nonprofit boards and my coaching, teaching and mentoring young executives and employees. What makes me most happy is positively touching and impacting the lives of other human beings. So as I thoughtfully contemplated doing this in my future, I began to see retirement as a new beginning, a period of significance and impact rather than settling into a slower paced life of leisure. Think about those activities that give you the greatest joy and sense of fulfillment and then attempt to articulate your passions in a sentence or two.

Answering the Gifts and Skills Question 

It’s almost a certainty that there will be a high correlation between what you do well and what makes you happy. However, expand your thought process by reflecting on all kinds of moments in your life — beyond your work activities — when you have felt truly happy and fulfilled. What made time stand still? What were you doing just before that tremendous sense of accomplishment and wellbeing? When you remember, then ask yourself what you personally contributed to that experience and what value you added in the process. 

For me, my ability to impact people’s lives and to add value in interpersonal interactions during my career and in my volunteer activities most often utilized my financial acumen, my storytelling and writing skills as well as my teaching and mentoring abilities; and these abilities were always buttressed by my strong personal faith. 

My passion was in positively impacting people’s lives and the gifts and skills I utilized to do so became pretty evident as I went through this thought process. So I realized that I should continue to pursue my passions post-retirement by effectively deploying my financial acumen, my teaching and mentoring skills and my storytelling and writing abilities, while doing so within the context and value system of my faith. 

Answering the Preparation Question

Having identified your passions and your unique gifts and skills, you need to consider how you will prepare for the next phase of your life and, in so doing, maximize your effectiveness and your ultimate happiness. 

Using my own example, my preparation involved several steps I initiated well before officially retiring — steps that not only set the stage for longer-term impact and fulfillment but also led to future endeavors well beyond my pre-retirement imagination. 

Feeling strongly that I needed to enhance my spiritual education and development, I began to research and then apply for a post-graduate degree program in religion. Because I’d completed this work in advance, immediately upon retirement I commenced a program at Yale Divinity School that I found remarkably enjoyable and fulfilling. 

Before retirement, I also began to construct a business school course on executive management and leadership in which I felt I could impact students’ lives utilizing my teaching and writing skills. As a part of that process, I wrote 16 real-life case studies derived from my career experiences. Since retirement, I have been teaching this course and others as an adjunct professor at two business schools.

In line with my identified passions and skills, I also researched both the nonprofit and for-profit organizations in which I felt I could add value utilizing my business and financial acumen and I now serve on five nonprofit and two for-profit boards where I have been able to do exactly that. 

Most recently I have set up a website, Godrevealed.com, where I have posted stories of my personal encounters with God over the course of my life. The website has attracted nearly 100,000 visitors in less than a year and has proven to be an effective vehicle for expressing my faith and utilizing my storytelling skills. 

It’s both exhilarating and rewarding to know that my gifts and skills have found an avenue for such meaningful expression. The peace of mind that has come from following my passions and impacting the lives of other people has literally left me far happier than I have been in many years. 

And one final thought: don’t forget to remain physically active and take care of yourself. I believe that the combination of meaningful post-retirement engagement coupled with a physical exercise routine, proper sleep, and good eating habits has contributed to a dramatic improvement in all of my vital signs. One of the truly amazing outcomes in this phase of my life has been a sense of youthfulness many years younger than my chronological age. 

If you’ll follow your own passions in a way that effectively deploys your own unique gifts and skills, I’m certain that you too will feel happier, healthier and younger in retirement.

Fred Sievert retired as President of New York Life Insurance Co., a Fortune 100 Company, at the height of his career to attend Yale Divinity School. He is the author of the books: God Revealed: Revisit Your Past to Enrich your Future (Morgan James, 2014) and Grace Revealed: Finding God’s Strength in Any Crisis (Broadstreet Publishing, 2018). 

Navigating the Holidays Guide

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We all know the holidays are meant to be a joyous time, full of gatherings and parties with friends, coworkers and family. However, for many, the holidays are a time when painful relationship issues, family problems, and toxic topics surface. And this can create some very tense and unpleasant situations. 

Whether you struggle with heated political conversations, dysfunctional family dynamics, substance abuse issues. or other, Dr. Kathy Nickerson, a licensed psychologist has created a quick-tip guide to help you navigate this year’s holidays with ease.

Dr. Kathy’s Guide to Navigating the Holidays:

  1. Avoid super-hot topics. The holidays are NOT the time to hash out your political views with your uncle, debate the pros/cons of Roe v. Wade, debunk your nephew’s wacky views on the flat earth, or convince your cousin that Scientology isn’t a real religion. You may be right, but Thanksgiving dinner is not the time for this kind of chat.
  2. Prioritize feelings over being right. The point of a family gathering during the holidays is to connect and feel good. So make sure your attitude and behavior is in line with that. There’s no prize for being right and proving that Grandma doesn’t understand the nuances of investing. Don’t go down that path. Talk about happy things, reminisce about good memories, tell jokes, or play a game.
  3. Don’t poke the bear. If you know there’s a sore spot or a tense subject for a family member, avoid that topic. You do not need to poke the bear about bring up a painful moment. Even if you feel the matter is important or should be talked about, a family gathering is not the place. Much better to talk about sore spots 1 on 1 and in advance of a family get-together.
  4. Reflect before you react.  Before you head to any social or family gathering, get clear on what your intent is; that is… why are you doing this? Are you heading to your in-laws to show your partner that you love them and support their having a solid relationship with their family? Then act accordingly and do what you set out to do. Are you headed to your brother’s because you want to stay connected to your nephews even after the divorce? Then make that your focus.
  5. Be helpful, don’t cause unnecessary problems. Want to stay out of trouble and look like a hero? Be helpful. Fold napkins, set the table, pick up trash… whatever needs doing. If you’re busy being helpful, it’s hard for people to criticize or pick fights.
  6. Manage the mischief. Look out for moments that are going sideways and see if you can help keep things on track. Is your sister-in-law talking about dead bodies again during dinner? Redirect her and ask her to tell you what positive things she’s learned from all those FBI shows. Or bring up a whole new topic… what’s a great book or show that someone’s seen lately? What new restaurant or recipe has someone tried?
  7. Be mindful with alcohol. Most holiday gatherings include a little bit (or a lot!) of drinking, so pay attention. If you let yourself get too sloshed, you’re at risk of doing or saying something hurtful. Even the most mindful person gets sloppy because, like it or not, alcohol does impair or judgment. Make a deal with yourself before the party; something like, “I’m only going to have two glasses of wine.” Plan a ride home if you’ll need it and help others who are going down the wrong path. If you see your tipsy aunt falling into the Christmas tree, help her sit down, get water, and re-focus.
  8. Remember: Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves. If you ever get stuck trying to make conversation or want to push the conversation in a different direction, remember that everyone loves to talk about themselves. So ask a question about someone’s life or personality or experiences. My go-to is: “What is something really surprising about you that almost no one knows?” Also good, “What is your favorite memory from childhood and why?”
  9. Bring a deck of cards (trust me). I take a deck with me to every family gathering and breaking them out has saved me from many awkward conversations! So has cleaning dishes, but the cards are way more fun.
  10. Take care of yourself!  These are your holidays and your memories too, so take care of yourself. Need a break? Go for a walk. Feeling upset? Go relax in the other room or hideout in the bathroom if you need to. You are allowed to have your feelings and deal with those feelings privately. Feel hurt or disrespected? Try to ask for the change you need in a peaceful, respectful way. And if all else fails, you can leave and say that you all can try again to get together soon. Don’t close the door on family, but do hold your boundaries and insist on being treated with respect. Make a game plan before you go to an event with your partner so that you’ll both be on the same page. I like codeword “Pineapple” to signal, “This is bad, we gotta get out of here.”

Dr. Kathy Nickerson is a licensed clinical psychologist and nationally recognized relationship expert who has helped thousands of couples. Over the past 20 years, Kathy has presented marriage and relationship advice at more than 70 conferences, while authoring more than 85 professional articles and books and is launching the first of its kind Infidelity Tool Kit in November, 2019. She has dedicated her career to helping couples strengthen and repair their relationships and is personally invested in championing love for her clients. She reinforces the belief that any relationship, no matter what state it’s in – can dramatically improve with the right tools, information and strategies.

Kathy has successfully helped thousands of couples in her private practice and via thoughtfully crafted online therapy sessions designed for each couple’s unique needs. Her goal is to help as many couples as possible strengthen and heal their relationships.

Dr. Kathy stays on trend with relationship topics offering tips and advice via her blog including helpful Q&A sessions.

7 Ways to Infuse Love Into Your Thanksgiving Holiday

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By Bridget Fonger

In these divided political times, these days of devastatingly frequent mass shootings and natural disasters, we are being called to love each other in spite of ourselves, in spite of our righteous positions, in spite of all the external and internal crazy going on. Hearts are tender, wounded, and exhausted.  Let’s see how we can help take care of each other’s hearts this holiday season.

Recently, I had the pleasure of producing an event called Love Forward Talks and the theme was “Thanks+Love+Giving.” We contemplated how we can insert more love into the upcoming holiday season and into our daily lives. Six inspirational thought-leaders came together to share how they steer themselves toward love in spite of the unresolved resentment, fear, and sadness that we all carry to some degree:

  • Transgender artist Chick McClure encouraged us to give a wide berth to each other to grow into. Chick gave plenty of space to his previously intolerant, conservative father to transform himself as his daughter transitioned to being his son. 
  • Author Jennifer Pastiloff told us that one of the most loving things we can do for each other is bear witness to the pain of those we love and just be, unflinchingly, with each other’s truth – even if that truth is that a mother has just lost her full term baby.
  • Comedian and Podcaster Ted Lyde talked about how love and fear cannot both be driving the car of your life. He was once full of rage for his beloved wife who had contracted life-threatening MRSA. It was his extreme fear of being left behind with two young kids that steered his car into that ditch.
  • Spiritual coach Jan Casebolt talked about how being healed of life-threatening sarcoidosis led her to the deep forgiveness of her mom who committed suicide and left her when she was just twelve years old. 
  • Author and Shaman Carol Woodliff talked about her quest to express love to a mom who could never show her own love for anyone, and how her generous work of pouring love into her mom’s heart had healing effects on not only her mom, but previous and future generations of her family too.
  • Thought leader and author Debra Poneman showed us that leaving a top-of-her-game career to raise two kids opened her heart and taught her like no teacher ever had.  People thought she was crazy to drop her kick ass career. She followed her own professional advice, followed her heart and grew it even more as a result.

All the speakers at the event had one thing in common: They pointed out the little doors we can all walk through, where we can choose to infuse love into any situation or relationship.  We can’t know the way to touch everyone’s heart, but this holiday season, maybe we can try one new thing to help insert some LOVE into our oft-divided landscape. Here are seven ideas to get us started:

1. A Wide Berth – We sometimes have to allow people to step into their greatness.  We can lock people into tiny boxes with our beliefs about them. If we clear away our own emotional clutter – judgments, righteousness, fear of rejection – they can step into the cleared space and possibly surprise you in who they become.

2. I Love You – One common theme of the day was how healing these three words can be.  Sometimes we fall into saying “Love you!” and we don’t own it as much as when we insert the “I.” I didn’t notice how much I was dropping the “I” myself until Sunday. It’s a little more vulnerable when you own it fully, it feels all the more powerful.

3. Bust a Move – Sometimes one seemingly small gesture will move the needle in a relationship toward love. The smallest of gifts or a card in the mail can melt away differences and increase a sense of togetherness, no matter what distance or differences may separate you. 

4. Love v. Fear – In spite of everything going on in the world, in spite of all your own insecurities, anger or sadness, in spite of what’s happening in the chaotic holiday kitchen, in spite of what your brother said last year, or what your aunt said last night – in spite of it all – actively choose love like you are grabbing onto a vine in the jungle.  And, hold on, because the wild fears lurking in the jungle will take swipes at that vine.  Choose love over fear and hang on!

5. Bear Witness – The holidays can heighten our already intense emotional states. If people are sad, afraid, or angry, particularly during group events, we so often want to just make it go away, make it better, or solve it.  Sometimes the greatest love we can give to someone is just witnessing their pain and staying with them through it.  Try offering to speak privately if you see someone in pain, and be there to really hear them.

6. Ask – We often expect people to know how we want our love delivered.  So asking one good question can get the ball rolling toward helping a loved one have a happier heart: What would make you feel loved and appreciated? It could be as simple as asking “How are you doing?”

7. Offer – Sometimes I don’t offer things because I’m afraid that my offering (and therefore me!) will be rejected.  Offering and giving is just as vulnerable as asking, but the rewards of a tiny offer can be enormous. People can be overwhelmed during the holidays by internal turmoil coupled with external chaos. These magical four words have put a salve on my heart many times when uttered by dear ones: “How can I help?” or “I’d like to help…”                         

Try one – or all – of these ways to choose love this season. One single gentle touch of someone’s heart can make an everlasting difference for them; it will very likely make your heart feel bigger and better too.

Imagine this: What if we all walked away from our holiday gatherings feeling more loved than before?

Bridget Fonger is a longtime health, lifestyle, and relationship writer, having authored a regular column for Huffington Post, co-authored the book The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Just About Everything, and blogs at superherooflove.blogspot.com

Romance Has No Expiration Date

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So you think marriage is for the young? Check this out: As of the last U.S. Census, more than 16-million unmarried Americans were 65 and older. But these single seniors aren’t willing to sit on their laurels; Between 2006 and 2007 there was a 140-percent increase in senior online dating. 

Clearly the message that marriage makes you live longer has made its way to the over-65 crowd. Seniors also have learned the effectiveness of online dating sites. According to a 2011 international study conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute and funded by eHarmony, middle-aged men and women were the most likely people to use online dating sites, a statistic that particularly holds true for seniors. 

With these glaring statistics to back up entrepreneurs, many new businesses have arisen catering to seniors interested in relationships. Here’s a sampling.

1. Dating Sites

Let’s see; There’s SeniorMatch, SeniorPeopleMeet, DatingforSeniors, SeniorFriendFinder, PrimeSingles, SilverSingles, DatingForSeniors…pant, pant, pant. And we’re just getting started. More commonly known sites, like Match.com and eHarmony, also appeal to the over-65 crowd. And let’s not forget AgeMatch, which targets cougars and sugar daddies seeking companionship out of their age range. 

An interesting aside to this category is the research findings of two Bowling Green State University professors of gerontology. In the early stages of the study, they’ve found indications that seniors market themselves different on dating sites than their youthful counterparts. Appearance and status drop to the bottom of profiles while compatibility and self representation are priorities.

2. Gift Registries

Soon-to-be-wed seniors likely don’t need another blender, so alternative registries are proving just the ticket. CardAvenue is a wedding gift registry that lets them register for desirable gift cards, including those for stores, airlines, gas, etc. Cloud9Living allows couples to register for desired experiences, like hot-air ballooning in the Rockies, taking gourmet cooking classes in Houston, race car driving in Las Vegas, and much more. 

3. Wedding Websites

Personal wedding websites are the latest rage, and WedShare.com in particular has reached out to seniors with it’s easy-to-use message. The company provides a free domain name, customizable website themes and matching eCards, a monetary gift registry with PayPal, and much more. Other similar sites include MyWeddingHosting.comeWedding.com and Momentville.com. To comparison shop, check out WeddingWebsites.com.

4. Therapy for the Kids

Roughly 500,000 Americans over the age of 65 remarry each year, and most already have adult children, according to Grace Gabe, a psychiatrist and co-author of “Step Wars: Overcoming the Perils and Making Peace in Adult Stepfamilies.” Remembering their parent’s former spouse, the kids may have trouble accepting a new relationship. This has opened up an entirely new species of therapist. While many cater to younger audiences, there are those who provide assistance to both young and old alike.

5. Prenuptial Agreements

No longer a legal document solely for the rich, lawyers are creating prenuptial agreements designed specifically for seniors looking to protect their children’s inheritances or not interested in once-again paying alimony. 

Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, “ABC World News,” NBC’s “TODAY” show and many other media outlets.

These Tech Gadgets Help Boomers Live With Freedom As They Age

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By Lisa M. Cini

Senior Safety and Technology

When our loved ones’ age, living alone can be stressful for them and for the younger generation that worries about them. Luckily, there are many solutions to this challenge and more resources available than ever before. This is true whether you want to help them age in place or with their family or want to find a senior living community that suits them beautifully.

Personally, I have been on a mission for the past 27 years to improve how we age by designing senior living environments, curating the best tech in the world to help us age better and providing education on the best choices available to you and your loved ones as we age.  

The issue of aging is not just for the person aging, it impacts everyone that loves them.  Anyone that has an aging parent or spouse can vouch for me on this.  

Aging in Place

If Grandma is still healthy and vibrant, she’s probably insisting on staying in her home until she takes her last breath. Of course, as most people age, they become more forgetful, which probably causes you to worry that she’ll leave the doors unlocked or start a fire by leaving the stove on when she’s done cooking. Great technology is being developed to tackle these types of problems and make it safer for the elderly to remain in their homes longer.

The hot stove problem is averted with the use of automatic stove shut-off devices that turn the stove off after a set length of time or if the smoke alarm goes off. There are also locks available to disable the stove, remote monitoring and text alerts to let you know if something seems amiss. This simple device can save Grandma from burning her favorite pan or setting the house on fire.

Keyless door locks give families piece of mind knowing that their loved one is safe, and sound and the house is locked up tight. They’re also great when you have nurses or other helpers coming in to help care for your relatives, as you don’t need to pass out keys. Even better, the best technology available offers the ability to lock and unlock remote keyless door locks with the passcode from any smartphone, computer or tablet. You can check to be sure the house is locked at night, and you can unlock it yourself when you go to visit.

Senior Living Communities

Today’s senior living communities have evolved. Some facilities have swimming pools, fitness centers and doggie runs for furry friends. Technology is also integrated into the newest projects, like Tuscan Gardens of the Palm Coast in Florida. This community is under construction and will offer elegant private suites for independent living/assisted living, great grounds with gardens, a media center and a library, chapel, and a salon/spa. They are integrating smart ways for families and residents to communicate through products like Alexa.  

Vista Springs in Ohio and Michigan offer luxury lofts with bidet toilet seats that are heated, wash and blow-dry you and are antimicrobial. They have also implemented a clean air technology. Their communication and tele-medicine platform is smart and easy, it allows residents to communicate with their family’s while walking around with a robot that streams family member on a screen (think a roving facetime or skype).  If you’re sick, no more waiting for the doctor to come visit or having to leave the building in bad weather, the doctor can “beam-in” real-time, anytime.   

It is now common for senior facilities to have Wi-Fi to help keep seniors connected and sharp, and there are ways for them to access the internet that make it simpler for them. For instance, computers with large buttons and easy-to-read screens, like those built by My Gait and Its Never 2 Late, are easy to set up and use, while Wi-Fi-ready Smart TVs now allow access to social media accounts, making it easy for seniors to interact with their loved ones on Facebook. Tablet computers are also great for seniors, as they can Skype with their kids and even get a peek at the newest grandbabies. 

I highly recommend using earbuds with Facetime, Skype and Facebook.  When you can hear well and see a loved ones face the experience is so much better.

Nightlight surface trays sit on top of night tables and are well lit so seniors or the visually impaired can access their glasses, water, phone or medication. Large button phones and picture phones make it easier for seniors to call their loved ones. 

Health monitors let you make sure your loved one is sleeping, getting some exercise and keeping track of vitals like blood pressure, heart rate and pulse oxidation. There are even light devices to help you sleep better and help with depression.

There are even companion devices for seniors to love, whether they are a cat or a dog lover. These companion pets act and react like real animals, with simulated heartbeats and even authentic barks or meows without the need to feed them or take them outside.

Today’s technology makes senior living easier, more connected and much safer, regardless where your loved one chooses to live. For lots more great ideas and tech solutions, look to Mosaic Design Studio for what the best senior living homes in the country.  Best Living Tech for the best products to age in place at home and Lisa M Cini for all the latest and greatest on everything senior.

Lisa is the author of BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, The Future is Here: Senior Living Re-imagined and Hive, which describes her families multi-generational social experiment (4 generations living under the same roof in her own home); and is regarded as the nation’s leading senior living design expert, helping baby boomers prepare for their own retirement and caring for aging parents and grandparents with the state-of-the-art senior technologies she features on her website BestLivingTech.com, and one of the 100s of projects she’s designed with seniors in mind in the last three decades.

5 Ways Retirement Is Changing

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enjoying retirement

Forty years ago, retirement abroad looked much the same as retirement at home—but today, retirees are living longer, staying healthier, and remaining more active into old age. That’s brought change to the way people retire, according to a new report from the editors at InternationalLiving.com, who have identified five retirement trends to watch.

“At International Living, we’ve been tracking trends in retirement for four decades—and we’ve spotted some new developments today,” says Dan Prescher, International Living Senior Editor. “It used to be that retirement meant winding down after a working life took a toll on body and spirit. But that’s changing. It’s easier than ever to retire overseas, and we’re seeing people embrace the possibilities in all sorts of new ways.”

These days, according to the report, the outlook for retirement is much more life-affirming. Retirees are living longer, staying healthier, and remaining more active into old age than their parents’ generation could ever have hoped for. They’re pursuing new goals, developing existing skills, and making retirement a time to flourish.

For some, that simply means seeking out a tranquil spot in which to relax and recharge. For others, it involves re-inventing themselves in thriving cities, or re-tooling their life skills as a way to fund a life spent exploring the globe.

This change has resulted in five new, important retirement trends. The stories below illustrate each trend from the perspective of real-life retirees living abroad.

Trend 1: Multi-Generational Expat Living

In June of 2018 Linda, 65, and John Norman, 72, moved from Athens, Georgia, to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Soon after, their daughter Corrinne Gilbertson, 40, and her family came to visit. Scott Gilbertson, 44, is a freelance writer for technology publications, and Corrinne teaches English online to children in China. Having online careers enables them to live and work wherever there’s a decent internet connection.

“We came to visit my parents for six months,” says Corrinne. “We enjoyed it so much that we decided to stay. We returned to Athens to sell our house and belongings.”

Both families soon found a comfortable balance, and Linda relishes seeing her grandkids absorb Mexican culture. “They were a bit intimidated at first. But now they’re confident walking around town. We love going with them to the many cultural parades and events that San Miguel has to offer. Together, we are observing and experiencing the beautiful rituals of the Mexican people.”

Now that Corrinne’s family has comfortably transitioned, the Normans have the best of both worlds. “John and I were both so busy before we retired. Now we can spend plenty of quality time together. We explore the city and places close by. We volunteer at church. I take yoga classes. John enjoys his photography. We have a fulfilling family life, and social life.”

Trend 2: Roving Retirement

When Todd Hilton and his husband, Damon, started their roving retiree lifestyle, their friends and family thought they’d had lost our minds.

“We sold everything we owned: the cars, the house, even the silverware. We packed two backpacks each, bought one-way tickets to Costa Rica, and didn’t look back. That was February of 2016, and we haven’t stopped yet,” says Todd.

“For us, being roving retirees is definitely a lifestyle choice. We enjoy being in different locations for one to three months at a time. We started in Central America, moved through South America, and we’re currently traveling through Indonesia and Southeast Asia. We usually plan our next location a couple of months in advance, which helps bring the cost down when you’re purchasing airline tickets.

Todd says they base their locations on a few necessities, primarily: Are there cultural activities nearby? Are there shops, restaurants, and coffee shops within walking distance? Is the WiFi decent? Are the neighborhoods safe? Is there an established expat community already?

“While we travel, we always keep our eyes and minds open to possible retirement locations,” says Todd. “Eventually we will need to put down roots once again. And we have decided that living somewhere abroad will be our best choice, financially. Our retirement incomes go so much further than they do back home in the U.S.”

Trend 3: The New Urbanites

When Chele Cassebohm and her husband, David, moved to Penang, Malaysia, they went from owning a large home with a yard to a condo right beside the city.

“Before, we had to plan for everything. We couldn’t just lock up the home and travel; who would take care of the dog, get the mail, water the garden? Having a condo gives us the freedom to get up and go.”

“We live right in the center of downtown Kuala Lumpur, and we walk everywhere. We’re healthier for it. In Houston, we had to get in a car to do anything,” says Sharla Thomason of her Malaysian retirement with her husband, Jim. “And we don’t cook as much, because living in the thick of it all means you can walk out your door and be at a dizzying array of restaurants. Eating out is so much cheaper here.

“Bars, restaurants, concerts, theater, galleries, parties. They were always there, right in the city. But for most of us, life got in the way. In the sophisticated, low-cost urban retirement hubs International Living covers every month (think Cuenca, Ecuador; or Phnom Penh, Cambodia; or Lisbon, Portugal…and more) you don’t have to drive into the city for a night on the town…you just walk out your door.”

Trend 4: A Solo Retirement

Bonnie Hayman says, “On the last night of the best vacation I’d ever had, watching a glorious sunset with an ice-cold beer in hand, something snapped. I bought a house in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, the next day, went back to the States, closed my technical writing business, got my San Diego house ready to rent, and was back living full-time in Nicaragua 90 days later.

“Now, almost 12 years later, I can say it was the best decision of my life.

“Personally, I think it is easier for singles to make friends than couples when you live abroad. Mostly because two people must both like the friends they are making. When you are alone, it’s just your decision. There are expat hangouts everywhere. Just walk right in and ask someone a question to start a conversation.

“Another crazy thing when you move abroad solo: you don’t feel lonely,” Bonnie contends. “It’s hard to explain. In San Diego, if I didn’t have plans on the weekend and I had to sit home on a Friday or Saturday night alone, I did feel lonely. But not here. Often, I’m happy just to be in my cute little oceanview cottage by myself. I can paint, watch four episodes of a Netflix show straight through, settle down with a glass of wine and a good book, etc. I never feel obligated to do anything here.

“Don’t be scared about how you will manage, how you will accomplish things. Especially if you are a woman alone, people will bend over backward to help you. If you learn the language, you will also have local friends and usually they help you the most. If you want to move to another country solo, I can’t think of one reason why you shouldn’t. In fact, if it’s anything like my experience, it will probably be the most exciting and happiest time of your life.”

Trend 5: Best of Both Worlds With Part-Time Living

Louisa Rogers and her husband, Barry, share two very different lives: one in an apartment in Eureka, on California’s North Coast, and the other in a home in the colonial city of Guanajuato, in central Mexico.

“Probably the biggest advantage is the variety and stimulation each environment offers,” says Louisa. “For example, I enjoy living by a bay in California, where I paddleboard. But we also love hiking right from our front door in Guanajuato, which we certainly can’t do from our apartment in Eureka.

“Expenses can add up when you maintain two homes, like the flights back and forth. But we offset the cost by renting our Guanajuato home when we’re away.

“Another advantage of being part-time is that when we’re not in Mexico, we make our house available on a home-exchange website. I’m typing this article in Medellín, Colombia, where we’re staying.

“The mental shifts required are trickier than the logistics. I’ve learned that I’m the one who has to take the initiative with friends; I can’t expect them to keep up with my crazy schedule. But I haven’t lost any friends due to my itinerant lifestyle. In both towns, our friends (and even the clients of my communications training business) seem to accept our rhythms.

Why Lower Interest Rates Aren’t Good News for Retirees

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lower interest rates

By Nahum Daniels

Interest rates keep dropping, causing rising concern among some retirees, financial experts say. That’s because, while cutting lower interest rates can stimulate the economy by making it cheaper to borrow, consumers usually earn less interest on their savings. Falling interest rates are part of what economists call “financial repression,” which can pose challenges to retirees and to those who are nearing retirement, says Nahum Daniels (www.integratedretirementadvisors.com), author of Retire Reset!: What You Need to Know and Your Financial Advisor May Not Be Telling You.     

“Our banking system does not shoulder a specific mandate to provide financial security to America’s retirees,” says Daniels. “In fact, some of its actions may actually prove harmful. “Retirees need to know how financial repression will affect them, and what, if anything, they can do to counteract its consequences without creating even bigger problems for themselves.” 

Financial repression, a term coined by Stanford economists Edward S. Shaw and Ronald I. McKinnon, means that governments essentially use the private sector to service public debt. The tie-in with interest rates is that governments effectively reduce the burden on public debt by keeping interest-rate levels below inflation. Low rates could lead to more business borrowing and economic growth. 

But Daniels adds that the downside of falling interest rates is it effectively taxes the country’s savers. “Shrinking interest rates work to the detriment of retirees,” Daniels says. “Low rates also mean the Social Security trust fund earns even less on money it lends to the government, worsening the growing shortfall as baby boomers retire. “It’s crucial for retirees and those nearing retirement to protect their portfolios against the whipsaw effects of interest-rate volatility — i.e., falling rates that drive stock and bond prices higher, followed by rising rates that drive those same prices lower.” Daniels explains three ways retirees can counteract the effects of financial repression:

  • De-risk the portfolio. Losses in or near retirement can be hard to recover from, especially if you’re taking annual withdrawals from your nest egg, so avoid those losses by de-risking your portfolio,” Daniels says. “The traditional way of de-risking is rebalancing your asset allocation, which means scaling back on stocks and investing more in safer vehicles like CDs or annuities.”
  • Think short-term with bonds. “Returns on bonds are critical to achieving future income objectives,” Daniels says. “If you’re buying bonds, keep to minimal-risk investments that have maturities of two to five years. Individual bonds are one of the best-known types of fixed-income securities, and you can avoid possible capital losses on the fixed-income portion of your portfolio by keeping bond duration low. The trade-off for stability, however, is low yield.”
  • Consider a fixed-indexed annuity. “You can anchor your nest egg to the fixed-indexed annuity, which is a form of longevity insurance that seeks to deliver returns that are competitive with investment-grade, or minimal-risk bonds, but are built to avoid the ups and downs,” Daniels says. 

Investors in retirement or very close to it need to recognize the potential risks imposed by a banking culture that serves its own purposes,” Daniels says. “Financial repression represents that. This is a banking culture that is not particularly focused on the needs or future well-being of America’s retirees, so it’s critical these people know what their alternatives are to stabilize their hard-earned retirement funds.”  

About Nahum Daniels 

Nahum Daniels (www.integratedretirementadvisors.com) is the founder and chief investment officer of Integrated Retirement Advisors, LLC. He is the author of Retire Reset!: What You Need to Know and Your Financial Advisor May Not Be Telling You. A Certified Financial Planner and Retirement Income Certified Professional, Daniels has served mature investors for over 30 years. 

Keep Winter Weather, Crowds from Ruining Travel Plans

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By Chris Holbert

November and December tend to be two of the busiest months to travel. It was reported that around 54.3 million people traveled for Thanksgiving and 112 million people traveled for Christmas last year. Crowded airports, crowded roads, people in a rush and bad weather all make traveling during the holiday season stressful and potentially dangerous. But, planning ahead, packing the right gear and having the right travel strategy can help make sure you arrive at your destination safely and still in the holiday spirit. 

Travel at Off Times – If possible, plan on traveling to your holiday destinations at off-peak times. Build a few extra days into your trip if necessary or book a flight when the airport is usually less busy, late at night. If you are driving to your destination map out alternative routes you can take to avoid traffic jams. Don’t always rely on GPS to find you the best route once you’re already in heavy traffic. And, in case you hit bad weather that prevents you from driving any further, identify hotels along your route that you can stay at, especially if you are traveling with pets. 

Keep Friends + Family Informed – Everyone has a cell phone, but you never know if you might get caught in a situation where you have no signal or the battery dies. It is best to provide friends and family with your travel itinerary before you leave home. And then if you have to make any changes update them along the way. A check in every few hours with an updated location is a good idea when driving so that if anything does go wrong, people know a general area of where to look for you. 

Call Ahead – Before you hit the road call the non-emergency number for highway patrol, the local police or forest service in the areas you’ll be driving through that day. Talking to a real person will give you better insights into road and weather conditions in real-time than you will get from searching online. 

Pack the Right Gear – If you will be driving through freezing temperatures, rain, sleet or snow during your trip, having the right gear in your car is essential. Blankets, snacks, a shovel, flashlight and water are basics. You might also want to consider throwing in some kitty litter if you go off the road and need traction. And extra bottles of windshield wiper fluid. There’s nothing worse than running out on wet slushy road with trucks driving past. For air travel, make sure that you put any cell phone chargers, medication, travel paperwork, identification, etc. in your personal item instead of a checked bag or carryon. This way there is no chance of you being separated from it if luggage is lost or overhead bins are full, and your bag must be checked.

Rely on Technology – Portable power is a must for the road or air travel to ensure your phone is always powered. And, keep any mobile personal emergency response devices, or SOS button, you may have in an accessible garment pocket. This way if you have an emergency and cannot dial your phone it is within easy reach to call for help. Consider downloading helpful weather, route guidance, gas station finders and airline or airport apps to your phone. These can give you alerts about bad weather, where to find gas, if your flight is delayed or let you check how long lines are at security checkpoints. 

There is always a lot to get done during the holiday season. Between holiday get-togethers, endless trips to the grocery store and holiday shopping, taking the extra time to prepare for travel can help to make the process a little easier. While you cannot completely avoid heavy traffic and long lines this winter, you can minimize the frustrations of dealing with them by being ready ahead of time. 

Chris Holbert is the CEO of SecuraTrac. As the CEO, he is responsible for leading the company’s vision of developing, marketing, and selling a suite of mobile health and safety solutions that bring families closer together and improve employee safety through state-of-the-art location-based services and mobile health technology. 

Top Tips to Get Your Home Fall-Ready

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By Kelley L. Moore

Cooler temperatures, darker mornings and falling leaves are reminders that autumn has arrived. Now is a great time to dive into some necessary seasonal maintenance tasks at home, so you aren’t left unprepared when the weather swings more dramatically. While many of those tasks are laborious, you can also have some fun with interior seasonal decorating. A few fresh throw pillows and the use of scent can transform your home instantly to suit the new season.

The Seasonal Grind

We always dread the exterior jobs, so get these done first. 

–          Outdoor Furniture: Wipe down the outdoor furniture and tuck it away in a garage or cover with tarps. Be sure to remove all cushions and pillows and wash the covers so they will be clean and ready for the next spring/summer season.  

–          Flower Pots: If you re-plant each spring, now is a great time to empty out the pots and store them away. For those who plant perennials, remember to bring the pots inside to your garage or a shed for the winter.  

–          Faucets and Hoses: Turn off all exterior faucets and cover. Disconnect and drain all hoses, wind them up and store them inside so any remnant water will not freeze. 

–          Roof: At the very least, do a visual scan of your roof from upstairs windows and any place that affords you a good vantage point. Or, climb up if you have a sturdy ladder and a spotter to get a good look from above. Check for loose shingles, any damaged areas or piles of leaves that need to be removed.  

–          Chimney: Commit to having your chimney inspected if you utilize your fireplace often throughout the winter months and clean out your fireplace.

–          Furnace: Depending upon your type of furnace, clean out the air filters or order new ones and replace. 

The Interior Fun

Now that you have tackled the tedious jobs, it’s time to have some interior décor fun. 

–          Entrance: Pick up a pumpkin and a few seasonal gourds and put them at your entrance. 

–          Blankets: Bring your blankets out of storage, wash and make them accessible in a well-placed basket or folded over the couch. 

–          Throw Pillows: Pull out, or splurge on a few new throw pillows in autumn-inspired colorways that tie in nicely with your blankets.  

–          Fall Décor: Pull out any favorite fall décor such as elements for the mantel, table centerpiece or an autumn wreath for the front door.  

–          Scent for the Season: Adding seasonally inspired scent to your home immediately transforms the atmosphere to Fall. Change soaps and candles to autumn colors and aromas and get a diffuser, such as Aera for the Home. Choose from a wide range of fragrances from log fires, to fresh linen, citrus, or lavender or essential oils promoting tranquility and calm to match the changing season.  

Kelley has been sharing tips and tricks in interior design and entertaining as a Lifestyle and Entertaining Expert for over 15 years.  She began with her own show on the NBC Affiliate in Seattle and has since appeared on, and worked with, the Food Network, HGTV, A & E, KING 5, KOMO, the Today Show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Rachael Ray Show, The ViewBetter TV, and the Steve Harvey Show. She continues to do entertaining and segments on television, and on multiple digital platforms. 

Entertaining with Ease

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Hosting a crowd can be exciting and rewarding, but it can also come with plenty of challenges. One of the simplest ways to make mealtime stress-free when entertaining is to focus on ingredients that can be incorporated into a variety of different dishes.

From quick appetizers to grab-and-go snacks, you can crowd-please with ease by using Eckrich Smoked Sausage and Deli meats. Whether you’re celebrating an occasion, hosting a family gathering or watching a game, using a convenient option like deli meat means all you have to do is add it to your favorite recipes for an extra boost of flavor. This season, whip up some delicious Quiche Cups in Muffin Tins for a combo of deli ham, eggs and other simple ingredients for a speedy dish that can ward off your group’s hunger and allow for more quality time together.

Find more recipes for entertaining with ease at Eckrich.com.

Quiche Cups in Muffin Tins

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 18 thin slices Eckrich Deli Ham
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In bowl, whisk eggs. Add milk, cheese, onion, thyme, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  3. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place one slice ham in each chamber.
  4. Spoon about 3 tablespoons egg mixture into each chamber so each is three-fourths full.
  5. Bake about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and tops begin to brown.
  6. Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes.

SOURCE:
Eckrich

Checklist: Do This Fall Yard Work Now and You Will Reap Benefits Next Spring

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Autumn is no time to ignore your lawn and landscape. “What you do now will determine the quality of your family yard next spring and summer,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.

“People know to plant flower bulbs in the fall, but this time of year is perfect for mowing, mulching, aerating, trimming and patching your yard,” said Kiser. “You might use a lawn mower to trim the grass, mulch the leaves, or pull an aerator attachment around your yard. Leaf blowers can help corral those troublesome leaves, and string trimmers can help you make your yard tidy.”

It’s important to take care of your yard, says Kiser. “After all, your living landscape does a lot for you. It produces oxygen, reduces the urban heat island effect, filters and captures runoff, improves air quality, controls erosion, absorbs carbon dioxide, and supports biodiversity. You benefit when your yard is in top shape.”

OPEI offers the following checklist to make sure your yard is ready for relaxing and fun outdoor activities next year.

#1 Keep mowing. Grass that is too high may attract lawn-damaging field mice. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf will turn brown in the winter. However, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest settings for the last two cuts of the season.

#2 Aerate your lawn. Compressed soil hurts grass health. Aerating punches holes into the soil and lets oxygen, water and nutrients into a lawn. Use a walk-behind aerator or get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.

#3 Mulch your leaves. Many mowers can mulch leaves with an attachment. Since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. Together, they return nutrients to the soil.

#4 Trim and shore up trees and bushes. Use trimmers, chainsaws or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs and plants. Make sure branches are safely trimmed back from overhead lines, and not in danger of falling on a home or structure in winter weather. You may need to tie or brace limbs of upright evergreens or plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Call a professional arborist for big trees or hard to reach spots.

#5 Repair bald spots. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture (found at most garden shops and home centers). Use a garden rake or de-thatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.

#6 Ready your outdoor power equipment for winter storage. Drain fuel tanks before storing your lawn mower, leaf blower or string trimmer for the winter. Service and winterize your outdoor power equipment before storing in your garage or shed. Taking these simple steps now, will ensure that in the springtime when you are eager to get back outside, you’ll be ready to start your equipment and get to work right away. 

For information on safe fueling go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com

As Hunting Seasons Approach, Navicent Health Physicians Encourage Safety

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ATV Accidents, Falls from Stands, Snake Encounters Contribute to ER Visits Each Year

As the days grow shorter and the temperatures grow cooler, many Georgians are preparing for an autumn tradition – hunting season. Regardless of the game sought and the weapon of choice, physicians at Navicent Health encourage hunters of all ages to observe proper safety precautions to minimize risk of common hunting injuries.

“Living where we live, often whole families enjoy hunting as a fall pastime. While hunting can be fun, parents and children should take safety precautions, particularly with their weapons and their modes of transportation, and always be aware of their surroundings. Taking a little extra time to ensure safety can prevent potentially life-threatening injuries,” said John Wood, MD, Director of Emergency Care for The Medical Center, Navicent Health and Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health. 

Physicians at Navicent Health’s emergency centers typically treat injuries during hunting season that fall into one of four categories – all terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents, accidents with weapons, falls from tree stands and encounters with snakes. 

ATV Accidents

ATVs are quick, heavy, and usually travel on unpredictable paths. Minimize risk of accidents and injuries by following these tips:

  • Wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, while operating an ATV.
  • Choose an ATV that is appropriate for the rider’s size and age – adult ATVs are often too heavy and too fast for an adolescent to safely manage. 
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Avoid paved roads. ATVs are not intended for streets, and collisions with cars are possible.
  • Never operate an ATV while consuming alcohol. 

Weapons Accidents

Whether hunting with a bow or a firearm, it is important to remember the following safety tips:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Do not place your finger on the trigger unless you are preparing to take a shot.
  • Doublecheck to ensure the bullet’s caliber is appropriate for the firearm.
  • Archers should identify a safe background before releasing an arrow. No skyline shots.
  • Archers should fully secure arrows before moving, even if they are only repositioning for a better shot.

Stand Falls

Falls from tree stands are a leading cause of injury among hunters. If using a tree stand, bear the following in mind:

  • Inspect the ladder steps and tree attachments prior to ascending the stand.
  • If the stand is attached to a tree, inspect the tree prior to ascending the stand. The tree should be alive and healthy, without any visible rot or damage. 
  • Use a safety harness. Hook into the harness prior to leaving the ground and leave it attached until you return safely to the ground. 
  • Use a haul line to pull your unloaded weapon into the stand. Do not carry a firearm or bow into the stand or attach it to your body. 
  • Tell a friend or loved one where you will be, and when to expect you home. If an accident occurs, someone should know where to find you. 

Avoiding Snake Bites

Forty snake species are found in Georgia, and of those, six types are venomous. Hunters who spend time outdoors will likely run into a snake from time to time. Follow these tips to avoid potentially life-threatening encounters:

  • Wear bite-proof boots and chaps.
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Do not place your hands or feet into any area where you cannot see.
  • If you encounter a snake, back away slowly. Do not approach or provoke the snake.
  • If you or someone you love is bitten, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

In all instances, adults should always supervise younger hunters.

“While hunting can be a pleasant and enjoyable experience, it poses real risks. These risks can be avoided by taking a few simple measures. Adults should keep these safety tips in mind and train the next generation of hunters to do the same,” said Dennis W. Ashley, M.D., Director of Trauma Services at The Medical Center, Navicent Health.

If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Navicent Health offers emergency care at the following locations:

  • Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health (888 Pine Street, Macon)
  • The Medical Center, Navicent Health (770 Pine Street, Macon)
  • Medical Center of Peach County (1960 Hwy 247 Connector, Byron)
  • Navicent Health Baldwin (821 North Cobb Street, Milledgeville)
  • Monroe County Hospital, Navicent Health Partner (88 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Forsyth)
  • Putnam General Hospital, Navicent Health Partner (101 Greensboro Rd., Eatonton)

For non-life threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Navicent Health provides urgent care at three Macon-Bibb County locations. Visit ExpressVisit.org to check in at a Navicent Health urgent care center before you arrive. You can also visit www.navicenthealth.org to learn more.

Rethinking Menopause: Turning The Change Of Life Into Your Best Life

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Menopause can be a physically challenging and emotionally trying time for a woman.  But with the right information and outlook, the so-called “change of life” phase can also become the bridge to the best time of a woman’s life, says Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas (www.tulawellnessmd.com), author of The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor, And Friends Haven’t Told You About Life After 35, and the founder of Tula Wellness Center in Tucson, Ariz.   

“It’s a myth that menopause is the beginning of the end,” says Sholes-Douglas. “Menopause is a journey toward your best, authentic self. Menopause is not a dirty word. It’s time we use it, reform it, and own it.” 

A long-time OBG-YN, Sholes-Douglas says she missed her own perimenopause diagnosis, thus she dedicated her career to helping women through a difficult stage that she thinks is largely neglected by most of the medical community.  “Women are blindly struggling, and often, no viable solutions are offered by their medical providers,” Sholes-Douglas says. Sholes-Douglas offers advice on how women can empower themselves to better cope with menopause and not let it diminish their quality of life: 

  • Separate the myths from reality. “A common myth is that menopause doesn’t affect women until after menstrual cessation,” Sholes-Douglas says. “The reality is that perimenopause — one of the most emotionally and hormonally tumultuous times of a woman’s life — precedes menopause and starts as early as age 35. This journey is not only heralded by the fluctuations of hormones, but also by a ‘personal awakening’ that starts to occur. No wonder women have traditionally avoided the ‘M’ word like the plague. But this avoidance of information, resources, and conversations does a disservice to women and their families.”
  • Embrace the change. Feelings of dread and confusion often accompany the onset of menopause. “So many women start to focus on the signs of aging that we all experience,” Sholes-Douglas says. “But there is technology available to push back the hands of time. The real work, however, starts with the mental and spiritual. At midlife, we are forced to take inventory of our lives. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to do you; the best part of your life is waiting for you to show up, which takes courage.”
  • Have a real menopause conversation with your doctor. “Forty years ago, nobody really recognized perimenopause as a significant issue worthy of understanding, much less of research and conversation,” Sholes-Douglas says. “Women just dealt with it and suffered in silence. Unfortunately, the current healthcare model still doesn’t allow time for doctors to truly assess a woman’s physical and emotional symptoms. Fortunately, there is a new generation of women who demand understanding and validation of their bodies and their sexuality after midlife. We need to start the real menopause conversation and open it up so that it is destigmatized, demystified, and accessible to all women. It’s an exciting time because there are new therapies and options available so women can continue to lead vital, pleasurable, fulfilled lives.”

 “The journey is ultimately about balancing the emotional, physical, and spiritual components of coming into your own,” Sholes-Douglas says. “Embracing and understanding it can have truly transformative effects on women’s lives.” 

About Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas, MD, FACOG

Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas (www.tulawellnessmd.com), author of The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor, And Friends Haven’t Told You About Life After 35, is the founder of Tula Wellness Center, a unique medical practice in Tucson, Ariz., focusing on women’s health and beauty. Sholes-Douglas is board certified in obstetrics, gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine and has been practicing for over two decades. She specializes in integrative women’s health, a subspecialty of gynecology that incorporates evidenced-based alternative medical therapies to promote healing. An innovator in the medical community for much of her career, Sholes-Douglas developed the High Risk Pregnancy Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., in 1997 and has served as clinical faculty at multiple prestigious institutions, including UCLA, University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Retiring Without An Income Plan Is Like Flying Without GPS

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After decades of work, easing into retirement can be an exciting time. But the luster can wear off quickly if there’s not a good retirement-income plan already in place when those weekly paychecks stop, especially if it becomes clear that retirement savings and Social Security aren’t enough to cover expenses. “Some people retire with no income plan at all, but that’s like flying without GPS and still expecting to hit your target,” says Jay Sharifi, an investment advisor at Legacy Wealth Management (www.lwealthmanagement.com) and author of Building a Better Legacy: Retirement Planning for Your Lifetime and Beyond. “Maybe they think since they’ve saved some money, they will be okay.

But saving money for retirement and planning your retirement are two different things. When you fly, you want to know exactly where you’re going and how you will get there. The same is true when you’re planning your retirement.” Sharifi says there’s plenty of territory to cover when trying to work out how you will pay monthly bills, handle unexpected emergencies, and hopefully have some money left over for a little fun.

But perhaps a good place to start is to ask yourself these three questions: 

How much money do you need? This can vary widely – and wildly – by the household. “The general rule of thumb is that retirees will require 70 to 80 percent of their pre-retirement income to maintain their lifestyle,” Sharifi says. So, if you had an annual income of $100,000 pre-retirement, you need to shoot for about $80,000 in retirement. Once you decide what that number is, the key becomes matching your income need with the correct investment strategies, options, and tools to satisfy that need, he says.  

How long does your money need to last? The No. 1 fear that haunts retirees is the possibility they will outlive their money. It’s a legitimate concern because people are living longer than they used to – which means they need to stretch that money out to meet their life expectancy. Look at it this way, Sharifi says. The average man in 1950 lived to be 65 and the average woman 71. Today, men are averaging about 19 additional years, and for women, it’s an extra 15 years, according to the Social Security Administration. “You need to plan for at least 20 more years of income,” Sharifi says. 

What happens when life plans change? Part of income planning involves taking into account what happens when one spouse gets sick or dies, potentially resulting in the loss of a pension check and definitely the loss of a Social Security check.

“Poverty after the loss of a spouse is more common among women than men, which isn’t surprising since women live longer,” Sharifi says. “The income goes down, but the bills coming in remain the same.”

Retirees have a few options to alleviate this concern, such as life insurance plans, living benefit options and joint-income riders that can be purchased when designing an income portfolio. A financial professional also can provide advice on how to maximize Social Security benefits.  

“Leaving your retirement up to chance is inadvisable by nearly any standard, yet millions of people find themselves hoping for a happy ending instead of planning for one,” Sharifi says. “With information, tools and professional guidance, creating a successful retirement plan can put you in control of your financial management. And as a result, you won’t be flying blindly.” 

About Jay Sharifi

Jay Sharifi, author of Building a Better Legacy: Retirement Planning for Your Lifetime and Beyond, is founder and investment advisor with Legacy Wealth Management (www.lwealthmanagement.com). He has passed the Series 65 securities exam and holds a life and health insurance license in Virginia. He has an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and a Certificate of Financial Planning from Georgetown University.

Tips to Ensure Your Retirement Savings Last for Your Entire Life

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Regardless of age, most individuals share a common financial goal: to retire with the confidence that they have enough money to last a lifetime. With some smart planning, simple steps and useful tools this goal can be achieved.

The problem is that the anxiety caused by uncertain variables can chip away at confidence quickly. In fact, just three in 10 people say they are very confident they will always feel financially secure, including during retirement, according to TIAA’s 2019 Lifetime Income Survey. Uncertainty about the future of social programs and market performance, concerns about unexpected expenses and investment losses, and fear of saving too little are all major detractors of confidence.

Regardless of your age or where you are in the process of saving for retirement, there are simple steps you can take to increase your financial confidence today.

Secure income for as long as you live

One of the best ways to improve your financial security is by guaranteeing that no matter how long you live, you will receive monthly income that will cover routine costs. Fixed annuities are the only product that guarantees a regular stream of income in retirement that cannot be outlived. They provide guaranteed lifetime income to give workers saving for retirement a method for insulating themselves from financial risks, such as the impacts of stock market volatility, longevity risk and even cognitive decline.

Of those who participate in a company retirement plan, the 2019 Lifetime Income Survey found that nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) cite guaranteed income for life as one of their top goals for their retirement plan and almost half (45 percent) say that guaranteed income for life is their very top goal. TIAA offers fixed annuities that are guaranteed to grow every day during your savings years regardless of market fluctuations and provides guaranteed monthly payments that never run out

Seek professional advice

In order to effectively address financial uncertainty, you should seek professional advice to build a plan and cultivate the skills needed to deal with adverse events or circumstances. A financial planner has important insight that can help you determine the best plan for reaching your goals. In fact, those who rely on a financial adviser express more confidence in their ability to always be financially secure, never run out of money and maintain their lifestyle in retirement than those who do not rely on one.

Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to work with someone you trust to provide a personalized plan and unbiased guidance. A financial professional will help to ensure that your investments and savings strategies are diverse to help protect you from market volatility and other uncertainties. Just like eating a variety of wholesome foods to stay healthy, you need a variety of investments — beyond the traditional focus on stocks and bonds to support your financial health. Explore all options, including products with guaranteed payments.

Stick to the plan

Once you have a plan in place, keep your eye on the prize: retiring with confidence. Stay the course and work with your financial adviser who can help answer any questions. If available, always participate in employer ­sponsored retirement plans and take advantage of company match programs to increase your investments. Review your plan regularly and make adjustments as needed. Finally, don’t withdraw any funds from your retirement savings early or you could set yourself back significantly and incur a penalty.

To learn more about how much you should save for retirement and options for how to build a retirement plan that will provide lifelong income, explore the Retirement Advisor Tools at www.tiaa.org.

Guarantees are subject to the claims paying ability of the issuing company. Annuity contracts are issued by Teachers Insurance Annuity Association of America. Any guarantees under annuities issued by TIAA are subject to TIAA’s claims-paying ability. TIAA Traditional is a guaranteed insurance contract and not an investment for federal securities law purposes.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice under ERISA. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, FINRA Member, distributes securities products.

Annuities issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), New York, NY.

© 2019 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017