Ingredients of a Happy Retirement

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The retirement we ultimately decide to live is personal. Within the parameters of our individual financial situation and current health status, how we choose to live is up to us. We manage our days. We fill the calendar. We are in control.

Retirement affords the unique opportunity to become the person you want rather than the person you are supposed to be. The trick is to figure out who that is as soon as possible. As Zane Grey said, “we’re burning daylight.”

Everyone has advice to give. Friends generously share specifics of their retired life, perhaps bragging a bit, maybe complaining a tad. Books enumerate the good and bad pointing out pitfalls and pinnacles you are likely to encounter. Retirement bloggers share their journey as they learn to navigate their individual retirement jungle. Each source sheds some light on what it means to live retired 24 hours a day seven days a week. Yet none of these sample cases is necessarily how YOU will live your retirement. Your path to retirement is yours to blaze.

When it comes to the manufacturing the perfect retirement I don’t believe there is a generic one-size-fits-all recipe. We are different people. Our interests are all over the map. What excites you may bore the pants off me and visa versa. Each of us is responsible to find our respective way. How we get there is not always easy to predict. Plan on taking some missteps along the way but keep going.

And who wants a “perfect retirement” anyway? Perfect anything requires an attention to detail that has no place in the free flying life we can experience as retirees. It sounds like unnecessary stress if you ask me. I prefer to view retirement as a work-in-progress, a continually changing experience where we weed out what we don’t enjoy and add in what we love. What works one day may not another – that’s perfectly fine. It should be about making the most of each day. And the awesome reality of retirement is you get to decide exactly what that “most” consists of.

Retirement is an evolution. The person we are five years down the line is not the same person we were at the beginning. We learn, adapt, try a little of this, experiment with a little of that, and slowly learn how to make the most of our second act. That intensity and drive that was part of the working me has morphed into a more mellow go-with-the-flow retired me. I think my wife appreciates the change. I know my heart doctor does!

I write this blog from a little two-seater rocking chair, looking out my front door at my recently pruned roses whose healthy shiny leaves are beginning to return for a new season. A wind chime softly tones while a single bird twitters in the tree perhaps chiding the barking dog down the way. After weeks of rain – a rare occurrence in the Valley – the sun is out, the temperature is warm, and the sky is blue. Does it get any better?

Earlier today my wife and I went to Trader Joes – we love that place. We wander the isles finding intriguing new offerings along with our basics like fruit, veggies, bread, nuts, etc. My latest discovery is the Herb Popcorn – talk about addicting. From there I drove a few miles down the road to take a 90 minute walk along the shoreline. The California coast is definitely my sweet spot. Combine one part majestic coastlines strewn with craggy rocks, add a dose of booming waves breaking mercilessly on said rocks, throw in a pinch of riotously blooming cacti, and last but not least include the possibility of spotting a breeching whale lingering on horizon – that is my recipe for inspiration. When at the ocean it feels life just makes sense. One of my favorite quotes: ”the voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”

I think living a happy retirement comes down to figuring out what you most enjoy and then doing it. Sure there are days when you don’t feel 100 percent – that is part of the program. But when you do feel good make the most of it. Don’t worry about what you used to be able to do – do what you can. Be forever curious – the world is amazing in so many unique ways. Take a chance and venture outside your comfort zone. Remember you are not obligated to do anything. If a new direction turns out not to be what you expected, abandon ship! Move on to the next adventure, the next hobby, the next challenge, and the next reason for living.

Living a happy retirement life is something we all hope to experience. Good luck on your journey.

7 Technologies To Help Seniors Avoid Isolation

Written by Trisha Felgar

Humans are social animals. Our social bonds with family, friends, colleagues and community allow us to thrive and prosper. However, as we age, many of us find ourselves alone and isolated, making us vulnerable to negative health outcomes.

Isolation typically happens over time due to the death of a spouse, separation from family, retirement, poor transportation or a lack of mobility. We find ourselves alone, with significant barriers preventing us from interfacing with others.

As a result, isolation often inhibits seniors from receiving the support they need to live healthier lifestyles and from identifying and treating health issues before they become significant. Perhaps that’s why we see higher rates of mortality, depression, high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, heart disease, obesity, arthritis and cognitive decline in people suffering from isolation.

Fortunately, many new technologies have emerged that can help seniors stay connected and get the support they need despite the very real social, physical and geographic barriers impeding their interaction with others.

1. Communication

Whether it’s a phone call or a voice chat on Skype, Facetime, Google Duo or Snapchat, new communication technologies make it easier and cheaper to stay in touch with family and friends no matter how far apart. Visual calls are especially helpful because they can help family members see any changes in their loved one’s physical appearance, moods or mannerisms that may warrant further investigation.

2. Digital Voice Assistants

Digital voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s Siri, are revolutionizing communication for seniors with vision impairment, cognitive decline and arthritis. By voice command alone, without the need to press a small button or remember a phone number, users can simply instruct Alexa to “call my daughter”, “call Doctor Smith” or “call a taxi”.

Digital voice assistants can also be used to schedule appointments, reminders, summon an Uber driver or make a grocery, pharmacy or Amazon shopping order for delivery – perfect for those with mobility or transportation issues.

3. Medical Alert Systems

A monitored medical alert system with fall detection and GPS can provide a significant level of comfort and confidence for seniors living alone, allowing them to remain independent and active while still feeling protected 24X7, no matter where they are. Some medical alert companies also offer caregiving features like daily check-ins, activity monitoring and live GPS tracking, establishing further connections outside the home.

4. Telehealth

For seniors isolated due to mobility or transportation issues, telehealth is quickly emerging as an efficient alternative to in-person medical consultations. Using simple video chat and/or remote monitoring technologies, doctors can talk to patients more frequently, review test results, fill or re-fill prescriptions, monitor vitals like heart rate, blood, pressure, blood oxygen levels and blood sugar levels all while avoiding the difficulty and expense of unnecessary medical appointments.

5. Medication Management

For seniors with complicated medication regimens, taking the right medications, at the right time, in the right dose can be a monumental challenge. Whether through pill organizers, medication reminders, or monitored medication dispensers helping isolated seniors manage their medications can be a significant health benefit. Some medication dispensers can even let caregivers know when a dose was missed and when a medication prescription needs to be refilled.

6. Digital Games

Seniors can get in on the online gaming revolution as well. Whether playing chess, checkers, backgammon, Scrabble, Mahjong, Canasta or cards online, distance is no longer a barrier to sharing a great game with friends and family. With live chat and video, the experience can be truly social.

7. Robotoics

Artificial Intelligence Robots like Elliq take digital voice assistants to the next level. They keep seniors company by learning their likes and dislikes, habits and emotional needs. With that knowledge their scheduling video chats with family and friends, curating their favorite music, playing stimulating games, sharing photos, scheduling reminders and events and so much more.

Conclusion

While some seniors may be separated from family, have mobility issues or lack transportation, no longer do they have to remain isolated from the outside world. There are more opportunities than ever to live a life of purpose and meaning, to maintain deep connections with friends and family, than ever before.

Technology now allows us to blow out birthday candles and read nightly bed time stories to our grandchildren over video chat, facetime our doctor, schedule delivery for our weekly grocery order, play Scrabble with our friends from coast to coast, and offer protection in the event we fall and no one’s around. Technology now allows us to live alone, without being left alone.

Finding Strength in Solitude

Do you like to be alone? Is there enough variety and thrill within your collection of personal passions, hobbies and interests to be reasonably content on your own? As human beings we all have times when we feel lonely. Some deal with this just fine while others not so much. Could there be anything worse than finding yourself forced into a solitary existence beyond your control with no definitive end in sight? How scary is that? Welcome to these days we live.

Being sequestered against your will – aka sheltered in place – is no easy thing. We are instructed to remain within the confines of our domicile unless absolutely necessary. Should you need to procure food or get some approved exercise, approach no closer than six feet to anyone you encounter. And to make things tougher, throw in an ever changing target end date to this situation. First we must shelter in place until March 8. Then as that target inches closer the date pushes to March 30. But wait, make that May 3. Don’t get me wrong – I fully support whatever effort is required to beat this virus but that doesn’t make the uncertainty any less stressful.

I think it is safe to say we all like to socialize but perhaps on different levels. My daughter thrives on interacting with others whether conducting a barre class or meeting friends at a local farmers market. These days of forced homebound are distressing. She really misses spending time with others, sharing thoughts and feelings and moments with fellow humans.

On the other hand my lifestyle is such that I am not so adversely impacted when left to my own devices. I will say my wife and I are blessed living where we do – in the country but still close to “civilization” with parks and beaches easily accessible. Were I not able to head outdoors for a neighborhood hike or stroll along the ocean whenever so inclined things might be different. But that luxury, that freedom allows us to break up an otherwise boring day with a beautiful wander in nature. 

No matter how much you love your spouse, 24/7 togetherness might be a tad disquieting. It is amazing how quickly you begin to miss that alone time you took for granted not long ago. If you are a neat freak you may discover your significant other is not quite so obsessed. I tell my wife that I tend to graze throughout the day, eating a little here, a little there, never too much but pretty much constant feeding. Now she gets to experience this first hand, “Are you eating again!” What if you like it quiet and he/she prefers continuous background music/noise? Every couple is composed of unique individuals, each proud possessor of innumerable habits and foibles. Our individuality makes us who we are. 

On the positive side learning to compromise and respect each other’s need for space can strengthen a relationship. Living elbow to elbow you become aware in minute detail how your other half fills the day, what they enjoy, what they don’t like, that cadence and rhythm that is uniquely their own. Perhaps you come to better understand their motivations. This is valuable information now and in the future.  If you can get through more than a month cut off from the rest of humanity future challenges might not feel so monumental. 

Another positive is we hear from the kids more frequently! Text messages and shared videos keep us up to date on each other’s lives. Facetime calls help us feel a little less isolated. And you gotta love technology with video conferencing options galore. Last night we did a virtual cocktail hour celebrating our son’s birthday. Not quite like being there but we make the best of our forced separation.

We will get through this – together. It is a wonderful thing to see people step up during times of crisis. Whether delivering food to at risk seniors or temporarily waiving rent for small businesses or paying your cleaning person despite the fact they cannot come to your home. All those little things we do add up. All those little things help make desperate times less desperate. We are in this together. And we can get through this together.

Be kind and be well.

How to Select the Best Credit Card as a Senior Citizen

Written by Alison Lurie

As one approaches their golden years, all one can dream of is maintaining healthy financial wellbeing. In due time, credit history begins to fade as one might not be making any payment or clearing a debt. It’s easy to conclude that age might be a factor in the denial of credit card approval. However, that isn’t the case; you can still get a credit card approval irrespective of your age. Here’s how to select the best credit card as a senior citizen.

· Annual charges

Here’s an essential fee that you ought to look at while choosing a credit card. Various credit cards charge different prices to suit their business plan. Thus, you ought to be extra vigilant before committing to a particular credit card. Some credit cards charge zero annual fees, while others not so much.

However, if you are scouting for extra perks such as travel insurance covers, among others, you need to check if paying the annual fee is worth it.

· Have a look at your mortgage plan

Did you know that one who pays off their mortgage is one of the ultimate financial achievements? However, such a prudent move can affect your credit in the long haul. If you intend to approach any credit card issuer, you ought to know they like seeing a credit mix in your report.

Thus, if you have some auto loans or mortgage loans to pay, you might have a chance to continue building your credit score. You can even get access to credit cards to build credit ultimately.

· Apply for a credit card online

Save yourself the hassle of moving from one credit card issuer to the next on foot. You can easily search online on the best credit cards for senior citizens. It’s a seamless procedure that will enable you to have a look at multiple credit cards in one sitting.

You can have someone assist you in finding a secure credit card that you can apply. Thus, you can get a reply instantly and know where you stand in getting the credit card.

· Income requirement

As one is enjoying their retirement, the chances are that your income might have gone low. Thus, if you need a credit card, you need to check on the minimum annual income requirement for you to get approved. It will enable you to filter the numerous credit card offers to one that suits your current state of life.

· Rewards choices

During your senior-most years, it’s best to reward yourself now and then. Thus, you need to choose a credit card that offers you the ideal benefits that you fancy. It could enable you to redeem some shopping discounts or travel bonuses.

However, don’t get carried away by the fascinating offers and fail to check if they are affordable.

As a senior citizen, the last thing you’d want is to have your debts pile up. It’s a tiny factor that might lead to rejection of your credit card application. As you apply for various Credit cards to build credit, you ought to know that your needs might keep on shifting. Thus, you ought to take time to select credit cards that will suit your current lifestyle.