Beyond 2017: Medical Technology for Seniors

Written by Sally Perkins

In recent years medical technology has been advancing at a swift speed and fortunately it has not left the seniors amongst us behind. In this digital age there are in fact a variety of technological medical devices available to seniors that many people are not even aware of.

According to Laurie M. Orlov, a technology industry veteran, writer, speaker and elder care advocate, ‘Aging in Place’ is the ability to live in one’s own home – wherever that might be – for as long, as confidently and as comfortably as possible. This livability can be extended through the incorporation of universal principles, telecare and other assistive medical technologies. In addition to renowned services like Life Alert and surgical advancements such as spinal fusions using titanium wire, there is a wide selection of ingenious products available to seniors to make their day-to-day lives easier, healthier and happier.

Popular Medical Advancements For Seniors

Let us take a moment to step away from the cold and clinical medical advances and have a look at the creative and innovative medical devices available to aid the elderly in the comfort of their own homes.

Here are 6 stand-out medical products that seniors and their families should be using today:

TabSafe

The TabSafe device stores multiple days’ worth of pills ahead of time in rows of cartridges behind a secure container. These cartridges are each fit into modules that are electronically controlled by a timer that will remind the user every time he/she has to take one or more medications. By the simple press of a button the pills are dispensed out of the device. Each cartridge is able to dispense up to 13 medications per day. The best thing about TabSafe? It is protected by a PIN which allows you to control who has access to the medication.

BeClose Wellness Alarm

Have you ever wished that you could keep an eye on your elderly loved ones from afar? Well you can with the innovative technology of the Wellness Alarm. The system comes complete with motion detectors that can be placed around your loved one’s home in order to monitor their movement. This will enable you to check that they are mobile and not spending too much time in one area. The sensors report to an application on your smartphone and can track patterns to alert you of odd movements within the house and also whether someone enters or leaves the house at odd hours. The system can be integrated with electronic pendants to alert the authorities in case of break-in, fire or fall etc.

Bellman & Symfon Clock Pro

By revolutionizing the normal alarm clock, Bellman & Symfon have designed a lustrous device that is a perfect fit for a senior’s lifestyle. The capsule-like device sits on the nightstand or bookshelf and offers a large digital display for easy reading. The bright LED lights will also make it easy to navigate the bedroom at night thus minimizing bumps and falls. The alarm operates at over 100 decibels spanning various frequencies making it a must-have device for people with hearing problems. In addition to all of this the adapter allows the connection of a home phone, amplifying its ring across the premises.

Jawbone UP System

This device is similar to a Fitbit and tracks the movement and sleeping patterns of the wearer. It connects to a mobile app allowing the user/caregiver to input exercise, eating and hydration information pertaining to the wearer. Data will be compared to healthy patterns recommended by experts according to the wearer’s age group. The aim of the device is to help individuals make subtle lifestyle changes to best benefit the wearer in terms of comfort and health.

Life Alert

The original, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” device has been modified over the years to become compatible not only with home systems, but with smart mobile devices as well. The Life Alert system can be worn as either a wristband or a pendant that is connected to a receiver. With the simple push of a button, the system automatically speed-dials through the user’s phone carrier to alert the authorities and selected loved ones of any medical emergencies and home-related crises like fires.

Connect America

The Connect America system acts as a database that can be placed in a senior’s home. The computerized device will allow caregivers to input a lot of information pertaining to the patient. This information can range from birth dates, medical conditions, allergies, current medications being taken, and much more. As soon as an emergency occurs, the device can be accessed by EMTs to gather vital information on the patient and help them in taking appropriate courses of action regarding the patient. An added advantage is that it is mobile, and it can be used outside of the home.

When selecting medical technologies to assist you in retirement it is important to consider cost, usefulness and your abilities. New technologies are created just about every day to help seniors stay in touch, keep track of health and remain safe at home. Choose the ones that will be most beneficial to yourself or those you love!

Smooth Your Transition Into Retirement

Retirement is something to look forward to. Most of us envision a well-deserved escape from the stress and strain of working life, a new chapter where we will have the free time to pursue all those interests we were forced to shelf while laser focused on making a living. If we can somehow survive today’s struggles we just might get there.

Unfortunately once one arrives at retirement’s doorstep things don’t always go as planned. Making the switch from full time employment to full time retirement can be challenging. And since we have no experience to draw upon launching our second act is an unfamiliar adventure where to excel we must learn as we go.

I retired five years ago. After an initial adjustment period I am pretty satisfied with the life I now live. However there were times I struggled, stumbled and made mistakes. As long as you learn from your mistakes it’s okay, right? Here are a few important lessons I have learned along the way.

Realize an identity beyond your job

At a cocktail party when asked “what do you do?” a typical response tends to describe your role on the job. Often what you do is a major influence on your perception of who you are. Many are so absorbed with their job they have no real life outside the career. Now you are retired – who are you?

If you find yourself with no identity outside your job retirement can leave you feeling lost and without purpose, disconnected from a reality where until now you played a significant role. Once retired it is important to establish new roots to grow and nurture the post-job you. You were and are someone beyond your employment. Retirement allows that person to surface and take control, to make the best of what can be an exciting inspiring stage of life.

Don’t just keep busy, find meaning

Boredom is a real threat to the unprepared retiree. If you retire at age 65 you can hope to live 20 or 30 years in retirement. That is a whole lot of days and months and years. Playing golf or volunteering a few hours a week is not going to be enough. At the end of the day wouldn’t it be nice to look back on your activities and feel some degree of satisfaction, some small bit of accomplishment?

When I first retired I was fine with doing nothing. After 30 years of the old grind I deserved it. No one was telling me what to do. I was finally my own boss. I slept in, attacked a mountainous stack of books I had accumulated, took a few trips, revisited some long forgotten hobbies, and was happy basically watching the grass grow.

That lasted about six months. Now what? What was I supposed to do with the rest of my second act?

How we choose to spend time as retirees is a personal decision. Activities that excite me might bore the pants off you. What helped me was trying to stay open to the many possibilities that came along while building up the nerve to step outside of my comfort zone.  After five decades of life I was pretty set in my ways. Then here comes retirement, a blank page waiting for me to paint my own unique picture.

So I tried some new things, things I always wanted to do or had recently become interested in:

– I always wanted to be a writer so I started a blog “Retirement – Only the Beginning” where weekly I share my journey in search of a meaningful fun retirement. Taking things one step further I wrote and self-published two books handling everything from the content to the cover.

– After a few trips to Paris I thought it would be cool to learn a little of the language (at least enough to read the menu) so with the help of an app I downloaded to my iPhone I am learning to parle francais.

– My dad always loved gardening so I am giving that a try nurturing our plentiful roses and growing some veggies. There is something special about saving the seed from a favorite tomato then sprouting it, growing it and eating the fruit all over again!

You don’t have to be productive all the time

You cannot be good at your job if you waste time. Many become so accustomed to giving 110 percent they find it hard to gear down for even a weekend. Don’t be surprise to find you feel guilty “wasting time” in retirement. But it is okay to do so. With the job behind you are allowed to slow down. Every moment need not be productive. A good healthy mix of activity and downtime rids your day of stress and anxiety, neither welcome in any retirement plan. I learned an important ingredient to a happy retirement is finding a pace you are comfortable with and going with the flow.

Dedicate part of the day to fitness – mental as well as physical

It’s wonderful to no longer deal with the hectic stressed-out pace of full time employment. On the other hand your mind will probably never as sharp as when you were making snap decisions or dealing with unexpected events that populate the typical work day. The job keeps you on your toes. When you remove that from the equation you might lose a step or two, perhaps slow down a bit from that top-of-the-food chain whirlwind you had become. In retirement it is important to find new challenges, try new things, and keep the old mind engaged. Like any muscle if you don’t work it out your brain will atrophy. My wife and I partake in a myriad of brain games including cards, backgammon, jigsaw puzzles, remembering names, discussions with smart friends, and revisiting specific details of past trips and experiences.

As for the physical side I recently discovered a guideline that helps me stay on track. The goal is to take a minimum of 10,000 steps each day. Mileage may vary according to the length of your stride but for me that works out to close to five miles a day. At first the distance sounded unrealistic – how can I possibly walk five miles every day? So I picked up a “fit bit” and began tracking my steps. Soon I found myself “taking the long way” whenever possible – walking instead of driving to the nearby store (2 miles round trip), using the stairs rather than elevator, happily strolling to the far side of the house to retrieve some forgotten item. At the end of the day it all added up and I was pleasantly surprised how often I hit that 10,000 step target.

There is no universal blueprint for how to transition into a fulfilling retirement. Each of us needs to find our own path. But we might learn from the experiences of others. And if we are fortunate we may avoid repeating mistakes endured by those who have gone before us.

LoveBeingRetired.com

Tax Tips in Retirement

Written by Sally Perkins

Many retirees may assume that they don’t have to pay as much income taxes since they don’t work. Though a single or married retiree may be in a lower tax bracket, certain retirement vehicles are still taxable. In fact, you may have to pay taxes on social security if you are in higher tax bracket. But if you plan ahead and learn the tricks of how to manage your taxes, you can be prepared for that dream trip to Europe or the extra indulgence you’ve been hoping for. So when tax planning year to year, consider the following:

Manage Your Expenses

It has been said before, but managing your expenses is a key element to a successful financial retirement. If you can keep your adjusted gross income below $37,500 in 2017 your tax burden will only be 15%. So try your best to avoid a higher tax bracket when you are withdrawing from any of your savings accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, etc. Follow a budget, a retirement income strategy, and how you are going to pay for potential healthcare costs.

If you are considering retiring, try to have your house paid off as you can then avoid using retirement money for this expense.

Life Insurance Legacy

If you want to leave a legacy or if your dependents may have debts to pay on your estate, consider a life insurance policy. The death benefits and payout are not taxable. However, if you borrow against the policy you may be subject to taxes.

Withdrawal Strategy

Some retirement income is taxable. As mentioned earlier, social security is taxable if you are in a higher tax bracket. But, for example, if you are withdrawing money from a Roth IRA it isn’t taxable if you contributed the money over 5 years ago. The general advice given by many financial planners is to withdraw money from your retirement income in the following steps:

  • Taxable accounts, like investments
  • Tax deferred accounts, traditional 401 (k)
  • Tax exempt accounts, Roth IRA

The idea behind this tiered strategy is 401(k)s and Roth IRAs can continue to grow without any tax penalties. In your investment accounts there is no tax shelter, so you might as well use investment money first. Then, if you are going to have a year where your expenses are going to increase, use the tax exempt money so you won’t have to pay income tax on the withdrawal.

This is an important concept and may be worth talking to a financial planner about.

Annuities

Annuities have a tax benefit as well. Annuities are an insurance product where the individual purchases an investment and the price paid is converted into periodic payments to the retiree. There is a lot of flexibility on how often you get paid (monthly, quarterly, annually), when payments start to occur, how long you want the payments for, etc. Setting up a payment plan can take out some of the guess work.

If you have to cash out the annuity because of an emergency, you will have to pay income taxes on all earnings. But if you hold onto the annuity and paid for it with pretax money, then the payments will be taxable. If you use after tax income to buy the annuity, then you will only be taxed on the earnings.

Deductions

Of course all taxpayers want deductions! Individuals over 65 used to be able to itemize for medical expenses that were over 10% of their adjusted gross income, but that changed in 2017 to 7.5%. Keep this in mind when it comes to tax time, but stay organized and track your medical payments as you never know when your medical expenses will be high. Medical expenses include health and long term care premiums, dental care, prescriptions drugs and other health care expenses.

Another deduction that some people miss is dividends from investment income which are taxed lower than regular income, and you can still invest as a retiree. If you still run a business, even part time, your business expenses are deductions. Downsizing houses can be attractive and if you sell your home and you’ve lived in your home at least two of the five years before you sell the property, the equity won’t be taxed.

And if you are considering selling and moving…

Tax Free States

Florida may be infamous for having many retirees, and for good reason, there is no state income tax. There is also no state income tax in Nevada and Texas. The weather is warm in all three! So though there may be an expense to moving, you could recoup that by saving on taxes. If you are considering moving to warmer climates, look into these states and research the cost of living.

Finally, with a little strategic planning, you won’t be giving all your hard earned retirement income to the IRS. Have a budget, try not to have a mortgage, plan how you are going to withdraw income, look at different income vehicles, and consider your tax deductions. It will be worth the time investment to carefully plan your income streams.