September 8, 2019 — As promised, our series on Medicare continues with an analysis of the competing forms of Medicare: Original Medicare + Medigap insurance vs. Medicare Advantage (Part C). This seems like a particularly good time for it, since the Medicare Open Enrollment Period begins on Oct. 15. We are grateful to Tom Cretella, CLU, an insurance broker with almost 50 years of experience and know-how in this field, for answering these frequently-asked questions. You can find the other articles in this series listed at the end. As always, we welcome your comments and questions on this complex and important topic.
Q. What is the significance of the Open Enrollment Period (AEP) which begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7?
A. The Annual Open Enrollment Period happens each year from Oct 15- Dec 7. During this time people can change coverages without fear of pre-existing conditions not being covered. If they have a Medigap plan and original Medicare they can change plans or elect a Medicare Advantage plan. This enables a Medicare beneficiary to buy a plan that suits their utilization habits and pocketbook. All changes become effective on January 1. On Sept 30 each plan is required to send a Notice of Change to Medicare Beneficiaries outlining any changes for the following year. More Blog articles like this…
September 3, 2019 — Lately we have had a mini-avalanche of comments and questions about Medicare. They are mostly to do with which is the best plan to choose – Regular Medicare, or one of the many choices under Medicare Advantage? With plans ranging from A – N, it can all be downright confusing. So, to help you prepare for the upcoming Medicare Open Enrollment period (starts October 15 and runs through December 7), we are fortunate to have a Q and A article with a real Medicare insurance expert (now available). Tom Cretella of Cretella and Belowsky will try to answer many of the questions we have seen come up on this issue. Stay tuned, it should be very helpful! (Also, see list of related articles in our Medicare series at end)
New Medicare Comparison Plan Tool Announced by Medicare.gov.
August 21, 2019 – New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that the magical goal of 10,000 steps a day might not be the right number. The research, conducted among women aged 62 to 101, found that the quartile that averaged 4,400 steps a day had a 41% increase in longevity compared to the lowest quartile, which averaged only 2,700 steps. There were modest longevity gains in the third quartile (average of 7,500 steps), but no noticeable improvement in the 4th quartile (more than 7,500).
The magic number of 10,000 steps appears to have little if any scientific basis. It appears to have been started by a Japanese company that manufactured a pedometer, whose Japanese name meant 10,000 steps meter in English. One thing that 10,000 steps would do for you is to get you closer to an average of 30 minutes of exercise per day, although it is not clear that would result in an improvement over a more modest amount.
June 9, 2019 — America’s seniors are a little bit healthier than they were a few years ago, even though obesity and excessive drinking are on the rise. America’s Health Rankings; put together by the United Health Foundation, an affiliate of UnitedHealth Group, and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, rated the states with the healthiest people over 65. Some of the states that ranked the highest were a bit surprising.
Top ranked for the healthiest older people ranged geographically all over the country: Hawaii, Utah, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Colorado. States in the South brought up the rear: Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Rhode Island earned most improved honors, going from #30 to #7. Going in the unhealthy direction were Kansas and Nebraska, which both fell 10 places, from 18 to 28 and 13 to 23.
May 14, 2019 — The government isn’t quite ready to slap warning signs on retirement contracts like it did on cigarette packages, but maybe it should. The Wall St. Journal recently reported on several studies showing that delaying retirement can improve your longevity. While most people look forward to pursuing their hobbies, traveling, and spending more time with the grandchildren, there are some downsides. Many folks watch too much TV, don’t exercise, and lack the mental stimulation to keep them sharp. The studies seem to find that policies that encourage people to keep working result in fewer health problems and longer lives.
According to a WSJ article, “The Case Against Early Retirement”, researchers for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, using an idea from a Dutch study, “concluded that delaying retirement reduced the five-year mortality risk for men in their early 60s by 32%”. Women experienced less of a mortality risk. The study in Holland used a series of increasing incentives to get workers to stay on the job longer.
“The only reason that I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.”
Editor’s note: Thanks to Dan J for making this suggestion about a fitness article: “Fitness…particularly since other apps or websites are geared towards younger folks. How about featuring a few tips here and there from fitness folks who may hold classes at some of these retirement places?” Leigh Pujado has been kind enough to help us carry out this suggestion, sharing the valuable insight she has gained as a long time personal trainer at WeBeFit.com.
By Leigh Pujado
April 29, 2019 — You know you are supposed to exercise. Practically everyone in your life, from your doctor, to your spouse, your kids, to your annoyingly fit at 70, tennis playing neighbor has consistently reminded you of the importance of getting in shape. So why is it that only 35% of you Baby Boomers are working out regularly?*
March 23, 2019 — This is the 5th module in our “Retirement Preparation 101” online course. The social aspects of retirement was one of most frequently requested topics for the series. Here is where you can see all of the Modules and all the Member suggestions for the course.
Here is a sample suggestion which led to this Module:
Katie: Loneliness in retirement. Whether single, divorced or widowed, loneliness is something that many of us will face as we retire from our work lives. Many of us spent our lives with people at work and any free time with spouses, children or other family. Friendships may have been with neighbors, our kids’ friends’ families, spouse’s work friends, etc. With retirement and a loss of the people around us, retirees can find themselves alone. Surely there are other good ideas and stories from people who have gone through this.
Overview – one step at a time
One short article cannot possibly address all the strategies or be a magic bullet to solving the problem of feeling alone. We encourage you to to view these tips as something to experiment with. A lifetime of habits cannot not be overcome in a day or a week or a month, but if you gradually apply some of these ideas in your daily life you just might be able to make a difference. Here we go:
Singles vs. married couples. A later module in this series will specifically address loneliness for singles. But we firmly believe that the strategies presented here are useful no matter what your state – single or married.
March 19, 2019 — If you have been on the campus of an active adult community or near a city park lately, you might have heard a repetitive loud sound – that of a composite racquet hitting a softball sized whiffle ball. What you are hearing, along with many cries of joy and frustration, is the game of pickleball, and it is expanding everywhere. Unless you have mobility or other serious health issues, we recommend you get it a “whack”.
Pickleball got started in 1965 on a modified badminton court. Kids in gym class sometimes play it because it can be played indoors in a fairly limited space with minimum equipment. Since then it has expanded around the globe, but has really taken off as an activity in 55+ and active adult communities.
What is it the game and how is it played Pickleball is played on a court that is roughly half the size of a tennis court. There is a net and there are different lines marked to indicate the playing area. Watch the Youtube video above to see a championship match in action!
The game can be played as singles (2 opponents) or more commonly doubles (4 players). It starts by a player serving a plastic ball with holes in it from the baseline across the net and to the diagonally opposite opponent. It must land in the box on the receiver’s side and bounce once before being hit back across the net. The small honeycombed racquet is several times the size of a ping pong paddle. When the racquet hits the perforated plastic ball there is a distinctive “whack”. To counter complaints about noise, newer, quieter racquets are coming in to play.
February 4, 2018 — Millions of Americans are getting on their bicycles in retirement. Bicycling gets you outside, provides cheap transportation, and is great exercise. Your editor loves it and bikes almost every day. Unfortunately there is a dark side to biking; it can be dangerous. This article will talk about how can you can be safer while riding your bike, and what you can do to encourage your town or city to make biking safer for everyone. Most of these tips also apply to walkers as well.
Where it’s safe, and not so much
Lists published on the towns and cities which have the most bike accidents abound, but they differ. The first and second most dangerous biking cities as reported by Your Local Security, a blog for home security company ADT, wouldn’t shock anyone – New York City and Los Angeles. But the remaining 23 “worst” places would surprise you – almost all of them are in states like Iowa, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, places not known as biking centers. The safest cities were in states like California and Oregon (Davis, CA, was the safest city). BillBoneBikeLaw.com reports a very different most dangerous cities list, and most of those are in Florida. Orlando/Kissimmee, Tampa/St.Pete, and Jacksonville head up that list. One big reason why these lists are so different – they don’t seem to take into account the number of miles biked. Places like New York have tens of thousands of bikes on the road every day, so of course there are going to be a lot of accidents.
January 1, 2018 – What better time of the year to think about this project than the first day of a New Year. Josh Walker over at NextAvenue.org wrote about their 2016 Facebook challenge to create a very short memoir. The challenge was to write down in six words or less a phrase that summarizes your life or philosophy. While a touch narcissistic, is a very good way to reflect on who you are right now, what you have accomplished, what and who you care about. Better than that, it is a chance to mindfully consider how you want to change.