THE HEADLINES SCREAM that retirees should learn a new skill to stave off dementia. Start playing a musical instrument. Learn a new language.
The reality: Gender in languages baffles me. I can’t carry a tune. I have no rhythm. Which is why you’ll find me on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons in a repurposed warehouse learning tai chi. I was drawn to tai chi since it’s a form of meditation, and I’m aware of meditation’s medical and mental health benefits.
MANY YEARS AGO, a Wall Street Journal article quoted a source as saying, and I paraphrase, “Young-old age should last as long as possible, while old-old age should last 15 minutes.” Those of us who have visited nursing homes can all relate to this.
Public health initiatives and medical breakthroughs have extended lifespans significantly over the past 100 years. In his bestselling book Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity, Peter Attia argues that we should focus not just on lifespan,
I’M STILL KICKING myself for not getting a new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan during the enrollment period for 2023, even though our premium had gone up significantly. Most people, it seems, are like me: They stick with their current plan, rather than shopping for one that meets their needs at a lower cost.
For 2024, I vowed to do better.
Medicare’s open enrollment period ran from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2023.
WHAT’S VERNON SMITH been doing since he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics at age 75, and why should you care?
At 97, Smith is still on the faculty of the business and law schools at Chapman University. When he’s not traveling the country delivering lectures, he usually spends 10 hours a week writing and researching.
I read about Smith in a recent article in the AARP Bulletin devoted to super-agers, defined as those over age 80 with the brain of a person 20 to 30 years younger.
MY DAD LIVED TO BE age 92 and my mom is going strong at 95. I was involved with my father’s care as he struggled with dementia, and I continue to assist my mother, who still lives independently.
Helping an elderly family member? Here are 16 important lessons that I’ve learned.
1. Don’t be blind. My dad started developing dementia five years before his cognitive ability totally fell off a cliff. No one in the family wanted to recognize his deterioration,
HERE’S ONE OF THE most important lessons I’ve learned in retirement: Bad health will limit what you can do—or feel like doing—no matter how much money you have. Good health is the biggest determinant of how rich and fulfilling your retirement years will be.
You and you alone are responsible for your health care. It’s not your spouse, your children, your friends or your doctors. It’s you. Nobody should have to beg you to see a doctor.
HEALTH SAVINGS accounts (HSAs) were introduced in 2003, and have since become commonplace in employee benefit plans. My experience with HSAs dates to 2004, when my employer offered $400 in one-time seed money as an incentive to sign up.
HSAs differed from existing health-care flexible spending accounts, and offered some features I preferred. To me, the HSA’s most appealing feature was that I controlled the money. There’s no “use it or lose it” rule,
I FIGURED IT MUST have been the spaghetti from dinner at the dining hall. What else could have given me such sharp abdominal pains? Perhaps I had food poisoning that would eventually pass. That night back in the apartment, I couldn’t sleep due to the pain. I got up every half hour or so and headed to the bathroom. Strangely, I was unable to relieve myself. In addition to severe pain, I felt constipated.
MY WIFE AND I JUST finished watching the Netflix documentary Live to 100, which I highly recommend. The four-part series focuses on Dan Buettner’s study of pockets of people around the world who achieve amazing longevity, including many residents who live to age 100 and beyond.
The seven longevity locations include Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California. These locations of long-lived people have been labeled “blue zones” based on the seminal demographic work on Sardinia by Giovanni Mario Pes,
I’M 64 AND PREPARING to sign up for Medicare next year. I’ve done extensive research, including earning the Retirement Income Certified Professional designation. I’ve also written articles for HumbleDollar on Medicare coverage, Medicare premiums, Medigap and health savings accounts.
In addition, I’ve befriended Medigap salespeople, advised others on which plans to choose, and asked those on Medicare for advice on their experience with the program. I feel as if I’ve been preparing to take the Medicare filing “exam,” and I’m excited to sign up.
ONE OF THE MORE challenging changes that comes with retirement is the loss of your employer’s health care benefits—and I’m not just talking about regular health insurance. Two other benefits that employers commonly provide are dental and vision coverage.
Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover common dental procedures, such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, dentures, dental plates and other dental devices. Medicare also doesn’t cover the cost of eyeglasses, lenses or contacts, which many of us were used to obtaining using our employer’s vision coverage.
I DON’T REMEMBER when my hearing started deteriorating. I suppose it came on gradually. I definitely remember when I developed tinnitus—ringing in the ears—and it was tinnitus that sent me to an audiologist in 2012.
She confirmed the information I’d already found on the internet: There’s no cure for tinnitus. While I would always miss the complete silence I’d previously enjoyed, at least mine was a tolerable background hum, unlike some horror stories I’d read.
MOST PEOPLE ON Medicare report that they’re very satisfied with their health care coverage—but the program is undoubtedly complicated. There’s an alphabet soup of plans, coverage choices, premium levels and enrollment rules.
While it’s easy to be flummoxed by the ins and outs of Medicare, think of it as “eating an elephant.” The only way to start is one bite at a time. Learn the basics first—by deciding whether you want original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.
PERHAPS YOU’RE TOYING with seeing a therapist to help you cope with, say, the transition to retirement or the loss of a loved one. How can you get the best return for the time and money you’ll invest? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.
Early in my career, I was an academic psychologist whose area of specialty was the effectiveness of psychotherapy. I published many papers on the topic, and also presented several at the proceedings of the Society for Psychotherapy Research.
I JUST HAD ANOTHER reminder that, when managing our health and the costs that come with it, we need to be our own best advocates.
Last September, I started developing headaches. Every day, I’d wake up with a dull ache in my left temple area. The headache would often build during the day and, by evening, I was feeling washed out and pretty miserable.
I’m fortunate not to suffer from migraines, but tension headaches have been the bane of my existence for many years.