How to Safely Travel After Retirement

Written by Nathan Grant

Whether you’ve lived a well-traveled life or not, once you are retired, you most likely have much more personal freedom, free time, and financial security to make your travel dreams come true. While many seniors enjoy traveling by cruise ship, which can have a variety of amenities and accommodations to make traveling for a senior safe and comfortable, more and more retirees are checking off their travel bucket lists by planning trips all around the globe, which studies show has many health and wellness benefits. With more agency being in the hands of the person planning a trip, here are some ways to ensure that as a traveling senior, you can have a safe trip as well as an enjoyable one.

Preparing for a Safe Trip

When planning your destination, only book through trusted agencies, local or online, and if booking your trip online, make sure to look at the URL of the websites you are using to make sure they are secure websites by checking for a lock symbol next to the web address, and a “https” instead of just “http” in the URL. It’s a good practice to check while on any website where you will be sharing personal or financial information, but especially so when you are planning to travel away from home. Scammers can try to offer great and often unrealistic deals and packages, so if something seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.

Another preparatory step you can take is to make sure that you get travel insurance if you don’t already have it with your current insurance provider. There are homeowners policies that cover baggage loss, and some health insurance policies will cover medical emergencies overseas, but not all, so it’s important to look into what insurance provider options you have overseas, in the form of medical, trip cancellation insurance etc. Consider a travel credit card that can offer some of the same benefits as well.

Before you go, also be careful not to post on social media about being gone for an amount of time, or post pictures while you are still on the vacation itself, as you can open your home up to thieves who specifically target seniors and those traveling. If you have close family or friends who live nearby your home, have them check in while you are away just for that added assurance.

Lastly, when planning your trip, consider travel outside of peak times of the years in different seasons to avoid overly heavy crowds. Also, planning weekday trips, as opposed to weekends, can help with the amount of people you may have to deal with, and the good thing about traveling off-peak and during the week is there is often a lot of financial savings in doing so as well.

What to Pack and Navigating the Airport

Making sure you bring the right items to keep you safe and ensure a comfortable trip is important as well. For the airplane, bring a neck pillow and blanket for your seat, and make sure

not to pack or wear too much expensive jewelry as that can make you a target before and during your trip. Pack comfortable, weather-appropriate outfits and supportive shoes so you can fully enjoy your trip without being hampered by discomfort that you could have avoided on your own.

Ultimately, the most important thing you have to pack might be your medications. Before you leave, ask your physicians to provide a letter stating why your medications are necessary. Be sure that the name on your medication bottle matches the name on the letter and on your airline ticket. It’s a good idea to research overseas medical regulations as well so you don’t encounter a problem once you are away from home. According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), medications must be packed in their own carry-on bag and be clearly identified, which means bringing the original packaging with medical information can save you a lot of time and hassle. It is not suggested to pack medications in checked bags, as not to expose them to X-rays. Also, let the TSA agent know right away that you have necessary medications to make your boarding process smoother. Also, larger amounts of medications can always be shipped to your destination as well.

Each airline has its own policy for on-board and in-flight oxygen usage. Contact your airline ahead of time to find out its oxygen policies. Also, if you require a wheelchair or walker, find out ahead of time if the airport you are using has their own accessibility options for seniors, or possibly use an airline credit card that has similar benefits like lounge access, or priority boarding for those with a wheelchair or similar need.

A Safe and Secure Destination

Fraud and identity theft are unfortunately rampant and often targeted to seniors specifically. Be aware that there common scams when traveling such as fake taxi services, tour guides, and even imitation police that can be a danger when you are a tourist. Research taxi and ride-share services beforehand, or find out information at the airport itself as most airports and major travel hubs have taxi stands and information desks so you can be aware of legit services before you even step foot out of the airport. And you can always rent a car to get around so you are 100% in control of your itinerary.

There are a few other tips that can make your trip safe and stress free as a senior. Choosing a centralized hotel can be a saving grace, as while it is obviously important to find a hotel that is accommodating and affordable, choosing a hotel that can act as a sort of home base during your stops on your trip is great, allows you to recuperate and then you can consider not carrying certain medications that you don’t need on your person. Also, spreading out the stops on a trip, and not packing too much bucket list crossing in one day so you don’t overdo it is advised. It can be tiring for a spry young couple on their first trip having a busy itinerary, so pace your trip and stay safe and happy the whole time.

Also, there is no rule that you have to travel alone! Bringing the kids and grandkids along for a family trip will no doubt make you feel younger, create lasting memories with your family, and

make for a safer experience away from home, so buck the trend, check off that bucket list, and show that it is never too late to make those travel dreams come true.

Five Ways to Manage Your Arthritis Pain and Stay Sane During the Winter Months

Written by James Fleming

Winter is coming, and that’s often not a good sign for folks with arthritis. Cold and/or damp weather typically has a pretty profound effect on the joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

If you find yourself dreading the winter months because of what the cold weather does to your body, keep reading. These five tips will help you manage your arthritis pain and stay comfortable and sane as winter rolls around.

Why the Cold Makes Arthritis Pain Worse

There are a couple of reasons why cold weather can make arthritis pain and stiffness worse. One of the main explanations, though, is the change in barometric pressure (the weight of the air) that occurs when the temperature drops.

When it gets cold outside, the barometric pressure tends to decrease. This drop in pressure, in turn, can cause the tissues in the joints to become swollen. The swollen tissues then put pressure on the nerves in the body that control pain signals.

How to Manage Arthritis Pain During Winter

Now that you know why it is that the winter tends to make your arthritis pain worse, it’s time to explain some specific remedies you can utilize to decrease that pain. These five methods are great for managing discomfort and helping you stay comfortable all winter long.

  1. Layer Up

Both indoors and outdoors, make it a point to dress warmly and wear plenty of layers to help trap body heat. It’s especially important to cover up the extremities (head, hands, and feet).

Some tips for dressing warmly and staying comfortable include:

  • Wear a hat, beanie, or headband
  • Wear a scarf to keep your neck warm
  • Wear thick, waterproof socks, especially when you’re going outside
  • Wear gloves

You can also benefit from wearing compression clothing. Items like leggings, socks, and arthritis gloves relieve pain with mild compression. These items improve your blood flow and will keep you nice and warm.

  1. Stay Inside to Exercise

Research shows that exercise can be very beneficial for people who suffer from arthritis. However, when the weather’s cold and your joints are aching, the last thing you probably want to do is lace up your sneakers and go for a run.

Try to find ways to exercise indoors instead of braving the harsh winter weather. Good at-home indoor exercise options include:

  • At-home aerobics videos
  • Household chores like mopping and vacuuming
  • Dancing while listening to music
  • Stretching and doing body weight strength training exercises
  • Climbing the stairs
  1. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

Many studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and arthritis pain. During the winter, it’s not easy to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D, which your body makes when it’s exposed to the sun.

Vitamin D plays a major role in bone strength and muscle health. Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory benefits. As you probably know, inflammation is at the heart of arthritis and arthritis pain.

If you tend to experience more severe joint pain in the winter, try taking a vitamin D supplement to help boost your levels.

  1. Take a Warm Bath

Sometimes, the most important thing to do when you’re struggling with arthritis pain is to simply kick back and relax. Soak in a warm bathtub to ease your stiff joints and promote better blood flow.

You can make your bath extra luxurious with Epsom salts and essential oils. Peppermint oil is especially good for joint pain since it provides a nice cooling sensation that distracts from your discomfort.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water during the winter. When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to skip over your eight glasses of water a day and turn to drinks like hot chocolate and coffee instead.

You can still have these staple winter beverages, of course. However, it’s also important to make sure you’re staying hydrated with water, too.

Research shows that dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain.

If you can’t bear to drink cold water, remember that there’s nothing wrong with drinking it warm. You can also get your hydration from herbal tea or naturally flavored water, too.

Alternative Methods of Paying Cancer Medical Bills

Written by Lacey Ellison

Cancer is expensive. You have to pay for medical appointments, lab tests, imaging, radiation therapy, surgery, medications, and countless other big and small costs. Tragically, a third of cancer survivors go into debt, and 3% file for bankruptcy after the ordeal is over. If you’re in the midst of paying for cancer treatments and you want to protect your retirement account, there are options. From viatical settlements to government programs, check out these tips on reducing and covering your bills.

Get a Little Help From Your Friends

In tough times, people need to band together. Although it can be hard to ask for help, you may want to reach out to your friends. Consider creating a fundraiser on a site such as GoFundMe. Then, share it on your social media pages and ask your friends to share as well. Alternatively, try some in-person fundraising ideas. If you live in a small town, shops in the community may be willing to put out a collection jar, or your church or social group, may host a fundraiser on your behalf.

Leverage Your Home

If you have equity in your home, there are several ways to tap into that equity to cover cancer treatments. Depending on your financial situation, you may want to try the following:

* Refinance your mortgage — this can lower your payments so you have more money for medical bills

* Apply for a reverse mortgage — you need to be at least 62 years old. Essentially, the bank buys your home from you. You get to stay in the home, but the bank sends you monthly payments.

* Take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) — like a credit card, you can spend a line of credit as needed, and typically, you just need to make small monthly payments.

* Downsize — you may even want to sell your home, move into a smaller place, and use the proceeds to cover your care.

* Rent out space — In lieu of downsizing, you may want to rent out some space in your home to get extra money. If you don’t want someone in your home, consider renting out a garage stall to someone with a boat or RV.

Put Your Life Insurance to Work

You don’t have to put your home or your retirement accounts in jeopardy. If you have a life insurance policy, a viatical settlement can turn your policy into cash. Viatical settlements work for term and whole life insurance policies. You sign over your policy to a viatical settlement company, and they give you a one-time, tax-free payment in exchange for the policy.

Upon your death, your heirs receive your home, retirement accounts, and any other assets, but they don’t receive your life insurance benefit. The trade-off is that you get to use the funds from your viatical settlement to cover your cancer bills or any other expenses you have.

Use a Flexible Spending Account

A flexible savings account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) won’t necessarily cover your medical bills, but these accounts can help you save money. If you put funds in an FSA or an HSA, your contributions are non-taxable. In other words, you don’t pay any income tax on the money you put into these accounts. Then, you can take out the money plus any interest that has accrued and use the funds to cover treatment costs. Note that anyone can use an FSA, but only people with high-deductible health insurance plans can use an HSA.

Apply for Government Assistance

Consider applying for government assistance. In many states, Medicaid income thresholds were increased when the Affordable Care Act became law. Alternatively, you may want to look into government programs to help with other expenses. For instance, if you qualify, food stamps can cover your grocery bill to help free up extra money. So, you may qualify even if you didn’t in the past. In some cases, you can get financial assistance from cancer organizations.

Cancer is physically and emotionally difficult, but there are ways you can reduce the stress of the cost. Consider the above ideas, and reach out to viatical settlement companies, lenders, and government programs for help.

Lacey Ellison is the Marketing Director for American Life Fund a viatical settlement company located in Atlanta, Ga. She is passionate about making connections with audiences seeking help funding for their cancer financial assistance.