Should You Continue to Invest After Retirement?

Written by Becky Wilcox

How much money is enough for retirement? Although that’s a common enough question, the answer may surprise you. Any number you come up with for your lifestyle will be something of an educated guess. In other words, it’s unlikely to be accurate. While it would be wonderful to establish a figure that defines a comfortable retirement, there is one problem with coming up with anything close to an accurate reckoning: the goal post keeps moving. Some variables that confound any calculation is that the rate of inflation, the cost of living, and confidence in the social security system keeps changing. In addition, with medical science making rapid advances every year, your chances of longevity keeps improving.

It’s unrealistic to simply hope to stockpile enough money to live out your retirement years. Rather than hoping you won’t outlive your money, it makes more sense to continue to generate passive income during your retirement years. Some investment vehicles that would be a good option for continuing to invest in your retirement years include precious metals, real estate investment trusts, dividend-paying stocks, US Treasury notes and bonds and Treasury inflation-protected securities.

Gold Bullion

When you invest in gold bullion, you’ll be joining a trend that has become increasingly popular during the last decade as the US debt has increased at an alarming rate. With the US national debt rising by an average of $3.8 billion a day and government borrowing at the rate of $5 billion every single business day, faith in the stability of the US dollar has been shaken. Consequently, gold is seen as a hedge against hard economic times.

People who are interested in gold bullion find it easy to buy and sell gold and appreciate the accuracy with which gold content can be verified after purchase. They believe that investing in gold has significant upsides in an uncertain economy.

Real Estate Investment Trusts

When you buy Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), you make money as a shareholder. REITs make money by purchasing property and then renting, leasing, and selling them. REITs are made available to the public through IPOs, or initial public offerings. After your purchase, you will be pleased to observe that 90% of a REIT’s taxable income is regularly distributed to shareholders like you.

Dividend-Paying Stocks

When you buy stocks, you will receive dividend payments. The best way to make money from your investments in stocks is to find companies that have developed an excellent reputation for increasing their dividend payments every year. These companies will continue to pump money into your bank account year after year. And, of course, as you add more shares to your portfolio, the more money you’ll make.

Municipal Bonds

When you buy municipal bonds, usually refer to as “munis,” you are lending a government entity money. A muni, then, is a debt obligation issued by a government entity to fund its diverse projects. In exchange for your loan contribution, you will receive a fixed number of interest payouts over a predetermined schedule.

U.S. Treasury Notes and Bonds

When you buy U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, you will be paid interest on a discount bond upon maturity. This is a bond that you can buy for less than its face value. You will then be paid the full value of your bond when it matures.

Treasury Inflated Protected Securities

When you buy Treasury inflated-protected securities, otherwise known as TIPS, you will benefit from inflation protection. The primary disadvantage of TIPS is that you will earn a lower interest rate than if you were to buy other types of government securities or if you were to buy credit securities. In addition, your tax bill will be higher.

In conclusion, you should continue to invest in your retirement years. Although you might expect to only spend a third of your retirement savings to cover your living expenses, this evaluation may not be accurate. In reality, much of your savings will be used to cover costs that you had not anticipated. For instance, the rise in the cost of medical expenses may be much higher than you could have predicted.

Coping With Sleep Disorders Among Seniors

Written by Amy Highland

Aging is often associated with increased instances of memory loss, slowed reflexes, and depression, but one of the most prevalent issues for seniors is insomnia. Seniors need seven to nine hours of sleep just like other adults, but many find themselves up several times during the night or waking too early. You may face some unique sleep challenges because of the aging human body. However, once aware of these issues, you can work to implement habits that will improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest.

Age and Sleep

Circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur on a regular 24-hour cycle, control the sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are heavily influenced by light expo       sure but can also be adjusted through behavior. Special receptors in the eyes called ganglion absorb the blue light that helps regulate circadian rhythms. Over time, changes in the eye such as narrowing pupils and yellowing of the lens can alter the sleep-wake cycle.

Seniors often experience circadian rhythm disruptions due to changes in the eyes. A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology explored the decrease in photo receptivity in the aging eye. Researchers noted that a 10-year-old child’s eye will absorb 10 times the amount of light as that of a 95-year-old. It was found that a decrease in pupil area and changes in light absorption resulted in a progressive loss of the eye’s ability to absorb the light necessary to regulate circadian rhythms. Another study found that patients who’d undergone cataract surgery experienced a better sleep-wake cycle due to the lightening of the eye lens, which allowed more light to regulate their rhythms.

But, but all sleep disorders in seniors do not stem from circadian rhythm problems. Seniors are also at higher risk for disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder. Because of growing medical needs, many seniors may be taking medications that interfere with the sleep cycle including antidepressants, anticholinergics, and blood pressure medications.

The Road to Better Sleep

Though seniors face many challenges to getting a good night’s rest, a few behavior changes along with a proper diagnosis of any underlying problems can increase sleep quality. You can also help yourself rest better by:

  • Nighttime Comfort: Seniors often have body aches and pains that get in the way of good sleep. Be sure your mattress offers enough support and is appropriate for your preferred sleep position and weight. This simple change can often reduce nighttime pain.
  • Increasing Natural Light Exposure: Spending more time in natural light can help increase the among of blue light absorbed. It’s this blue light that regulates the circadian rhythms.
  • Using Bright Light Therapy: For some seniors, it can be difficult to get natural light exposure due to mobility issues or weather. Bright light therapy uses a special bulb the gives off light similar to sunlight. Exposure in the morning helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Exercising Regularly: Regular exercise helps to tire out the muscles. It’s also a good opportunity to get outside and increase your natural light exposure.
  • Avoiding Daytime Naps: Excessive daytime tiredness in seniors often results in several daytime naps. While a short nap of 30 to 45 minutes can counteract the effects of sleep deprivation, much longer than that and you could be disrupting your sleep-wake cycle.

Changing habits can take time, but with consistency and effort, you can give yourself a better chance to get the rest you need for improved physical, mental, and emotional health.

Caregiving in Retirement? You’re Not Alone.

Written by James Fleming

Many seniors who invest time in planning and saving for retirement often think about their own longevity and incorporating money into the mix for long-term care they might need down the line. Instead of requiring your own care, however, have you thought about what you would do if you became a caregiver in retirement?

How Many Seniors are Caregivers?

For many seniors in their “golden years”, caring for a family member like a spouse or parent, is a very real and prevalent situation. In fact, the latest report from the National Caregiving Alliance and AARP shares that 34 percent of caregivers in the U.S. are 65 years of age or older. Older caregivers often devote more hours of care to their loved one than the average caregiver, often because it is a parent or spouse with whom they live.

Caregiving duties can range from managing prescription refills and providing transportation to appointments, to more skilled nursing care like administering medicine, changing dressings, and assisting with ADLs. Activities of daily living (or ADLs) include personal tasks like bathing, getting dressed, using the toilet, eating, and transferring out of bed or into a chair.

Over one-third of caregivers in the U.S. specifically provide care to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. For senior caregivers, this ratio is even higher as older adults (like spouses and parents) are much more likely to develop dementia as they age.

In addition to performing typical caregiving duties, caregivers of an older adult with Alzheimer’s also manage a unique emotional toll that comes with watching a loved one lose their basic faculties, memory, and so forth. A large percentage of seniors with Alzheimer’s experience “sundowning” where they exhibit signs at the end of the day including irritability, confusion, and aggression. This can be exceptionally challenging for caregivers.

Tips for Retired Caregivers

While caregiving does provide fulfillment and a sense of purpose to people who have the means and capabilities of being able to provide care for a loved one, it can also be a physical, emotional, and financial burden which sidelines your retirement dreams. If you have taken on the role as caregiver in retirement, keep these tips in mind:

Ask for Help
Are you worried about being a burden on your own friends, kids, or siblings? If you are caring for a spouse or parent and experiencing age-related health issues yourself, the caregiving role can seem even more daunting. Asking for help is tough, however, it is necessary. Instead of hiding the extent of your loved one’s condition, be willing to share it and ask for help.

It can be hard for people outside of the caregiving bubble to understand how they might assist you so request help with specific tasks, i.e. “Can you bring dinner over on Wednesday?” or “Can you stop by the pharmacy and pick up your Mom’s medicine this afternoon?”.

Listen and Learn

Caregiving is as much about getting educated as it is about physical tasks. Learning about your loved one’s condition and training with nurses at the doctor’s office or via home health will go a long way in equipping you with the knowledge and skills to make caregiving easier (and boost your loved one’s quality of life). Not sure where to start? Try:

  • Looking online at high-quality medical information and caregiving sites like MayoClinic.org, Health.Harvard.edu, and DailyCaring.com
  • Writing a list of questions and concerns before each doctor’s appointment that you can take with you and add notes
  • Searching for caregiving classes at your local hospital, Council on Aging, or senior assistance organization.

Practice Self-care
Easier said than done, sure, but self-care is a must as a caregiver. Caregiving is often linked to chronic stress which can manifest itself in a multitude of physical and mental symptoms including headaches, back pain, digestion issues, and depression. Self-care can range from activities like taking a daily walk for exercise to getting a massage, practicing yoga, having friends over for dinner, or taking a relaxing bath before bed.

Local respite services may offer some relief as well, allowing you to take a break from caregiving temporarily to relax and reset. See if there are adult daycare programs available near you or if local resources offer longer-stay respite services (i.e. for a whole week).

Additional Thoughts

The financial burden associated with caregiving can seriously impact retirement savings as well especially if you develop health issues yourself as a result of caregiving. Look into long-term care insurance, set aside enough money to hit prescription plan deductibles each year, update life insurance policies, and make sure you have all your legal documents in place including financial and healthcare powers of attorney. A little forethought goes a long way!