Hassle-Free Tips for Taking Care of Loved Ones

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Dear Rich Lifer,

Becoming a caregiver can happen when you least expect it.

Say a parent trips, breaks a leg, and can’t get around any longer. Or suppose you visit over the holidays and discover rotting food in the frig, the range with a burner still on, and a mountain of unopened mail on the dining room table.

Now the responsibility of providing the care has fallen on you.

You’re not alone. Families provide 80% of the long-term care in the U.S.

And according to a recent study by the Family Caregiver Alliance, about 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older.

All this care takes a toll on the caregiver, especially for those caring for family members with dementia:

  1. More than half said their social life has suffered
  2.  45% feel alone
  3. Physical and mental health has declined for many
  4. Many feel a financial burden

It can be the most stressful job you’ve ever had and can trigger emotions like guilt, resentment, and anger. Burnout is frequent. So you’re going to need all the help you can get.

Potential Resources

Experts recommend that the first step is to create a team. That could include: other family members, a circle of your loved one’s friends, and neighbors.

Plus there are tons of places where you can go for assistance. And the sooner you ask, the better.

Here are a few:

  1. Community Resource Finder lists events and support groups in your area
  2. AARP’s online Caregiving Community where you can post questions and comments, and read advice from experts.
  3. Caregiver Action Network provides practical help, support, and information for caregivers.
  4. John Hopkins University’s online course on caregiving
  5. American Cancer Society
  6. Family Caregiver Alliance offers information, support, and resources for family caregivers.
  7.  National Alliance for Caregiving is a coalition of national organizations focusing on advancing family caregiving.
  8. Alzheimer’s Association’s Training and Education Center

You May be Able to Get Paid

Latest figures show that the annual economic value of informal care provided by family members is $470 BILLION.

And the financial toll on caregivers can be life changing …

A study by Merrill Lynch found that 68% of family caregivers spend $190 BILLION a year for out-of-pocket, care-related expenses.

Among those:

  • 67% had to reduce their own living expenses
  • 63% had to withdraw money from savings or sold assets to provide care
  • 34% spend between 21% and 100% of their monthly budget on caregiving expenses
  • 32% stopped or reduced contributions to savings/retirement plans
  • 21% borrowed money to provide care

What’s more, there are lost hourly wages, reduced Social Security benefits, and forgone retirement plan contributions.

But depending on where your loved one lives, you might be able to get paid for the care you provide.

Medicare, the health insurance for people age 65 and older, does not pay for long-term care services, such as in-home care and adult day-care services.

Some states, though, have programs that will pay family members who are providing care to someone who is on Medicaid — the government health insurance for low-income Americans.

More information on programs that may be available to help ease the financial strain of caring for a family member can be found at:

Organizations that offer financial help with specific diseases. Go to the Family Caregiver Alliance site and scroll down to Disease-Specific Organizations.

And if your loved one is a veteran, he may be eligible for home and community based services. Contact your County Veteran Service Office for specifics.

Before It Happens…

Parents are living longer. With that though, comes a greater chance of chronic illnesses and a higher probability of needing your help as a caregiver … a task for which you probably have no training or experience.

But by taking a few steps beforehand, you’ll be much better equipped if that time ever comes.

Find out where your parents keep important documents, such as Powers of Attorney, health care proxies, Wills, trusts, and insurance policies.

Where do they bank, do they have a safe deposit box, where is their checkbook?

Who is their attorney, accountant, doctor, insurance agent, and financial advisor?

Discussing finances and caregiving with parents can be a challenge. Some may see it as a taboo subject. In fact, 75% of family caregivers have never discussed their financial role with their care recipients.

However, understanding your loved one’s finances and wishes while they are still able to communicate clearly can mean all the difference in the care you are able to provide … without turning your world upside down.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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6 Tips for Powering Up Your Brain

This post 6 Tips for Powering Up Your Brain appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Between 2000 and 2017 deaths from heart disease have decreased 9% while deaths from alzheimer’s have increased 145%.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2019.

By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may grow to a projected 13.8 million, barring no medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure the disease.

Not only is it difficult coming to terms with a loved one’s memory loss, but it can add additional stress to everyday activities around the house.

This is why dementia is such a difficult road to navigate for so many people and families around the world. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s dementia yet, a lot of research is being done to try to find treatments and practices that can slow or prevent cognitive decline.

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Ohio is one of the leading research centers for dementia. And so far, they’ve found six lifestyle changes that can improve brain health.

If you’re struggling with memory problems or you have a family history of dementia, it’s never too late to make some simple changes to your lifestyle that can improve your chances of fighting memory loss.

Here are the Cleveland Clinic’s six pillars of a healthy brain:

Pillar 1: Physical Exercise

“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain.”

People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Exercise improves blood flow and memory; it stimulates chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, mood and thinking. Even if you’ve never exercised, any physical activity is better than none at all.

What kind of exercise is best?

Endurance exercise, like running, swimming or biking, has been shown to foster new brain cell growth and preserve existing brain cells.

Strength training, like lifting weights or using resistance bands, builds muscle, strengthens your bones, and improves your mood. It can also enhance concentration and increase your decision-making skills.

Flexibility/balance training, like Yoga and Tai Chi can improve your posture, reduce risk of injuries and falls, and improve your overall movement and ability to do things better throughout life. Even simple exercises like standing on one foot or walking backward have proven helpful.

Pillar 2: Food & Nutrition

“Eat smart, think better.”

As you age, your brain is exposed to more harmful stress due to lifestyle and environmental factors. This leads to oxidation of your brain cells.

Imagine what a cut apple looks like after it’s left on a counter for 5 minutes. That browning is oxidation and the same general idea is what’s happening to your brain as you get old.

Luckily, there are lots of antioxidants available in food that can help protect your brain from these harmful effects.

Research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts helps maintain brain health and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.

The MIND and DASH diets are also good options to consider. Of course, if you’re at risk of developing diabetes, follow the diet your doctor recommends.

There is a high correlation between diabetes and dementia. Some researchers have even referred to dementia as Type 3 Diabetes. To protect your brain, you need to keep your blood sugar levels in check and that starts with what you eat.

Pillar 3: Medical Health

“Control medical risks.”

Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, head trauma, higher cholesterol, and smoking all increase the risk of dementia, says the Cleveland Clinic. However, you can control and reduce almost all these risks if you’re proactive.

Getting your annual check-up, following your doctor’s recommendations and taking medications as prescribed can all help lower your risks.

If you have diabetes or are on the verge of becoming diabetic, you can reduce the risk by following these tips says the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Avoid white sugar, white flour and hydrogenated fat.
  • Eat more fiber.
  • Eat some protein with every meal.
  • Control portion size.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
  • Include aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.

Another major risk factor for dementia is high blood pressure. The Cleveland Clinic recommends following these tips to reduce hypertension:

  • Cut down on salt (less than one teaspoon a day).
  • Check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Keep active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take your medication.
  • Aim to keep blood pressure under 120/80 mmHg.

Pillar 4: Sleep & Relaxation

“Rest well.”

Sleep energizes you, improves your mood and your immune system, and may reduce buildup in the brain of an abnormal protein called beta-amyloid plaque, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night is a must. And to ensure a good night’s sleep, you need a completely dark, quiet, and cool bedroom. You should not be able to see your hand five inches away from your face with the lights out.

Meditation is also a great way to relax and has been shown to reduce cognitive decline. Other ways to reduce stress are saying “no” more often, writing down all the things that bother you, and using imagery to anchor your emotions.

Pillar 5: Mental Fitness

“Use your mind, or lose it.”

You have something called “brain reserve,” which helps your brain adapt and respond to changes and resist damage, says the Cleveland Clinic.

People who continue to learn, embrace new activities, and develop new skills and interests are building and improving their brain reserve. That’s why working at a challenging job, going back to school, or taking classes can all expand your brain reserve.

Other mentally stimulating activities, like crossword puzzles, chess, puzzles, and card games have all been shown to help improve brain health. Even playing electronic “brain games” may help improve your reaction time and problem-solving ability.

Pillar 6: Social Interaction

“Stay connected.”

A rich social network provides sources of support, reduces stress, combats depression and enhances intellectual stimulation. Studies have shown that those with the most social interaction within their community experience the slowest rate of memory decline, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Leading an active social life is the key to protecting your memory. Joining clubs and volunteering are great ways to keep your network alive. Even adopting a pet can improve your brain health.

Pets can calm us down, boost our immunity, improve our heart health, keep us moving, and enhance our social life, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Overall, lifestyle has a profound effect on your brain health. What you eat and drink, how much you exercise, how well you sleep, the way you socialize, and how you manage stress all play important roles in keeping your brain healthy. It’s never too late to make some of these small changes, you can even start today.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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Could Retiring Later Make You Live Longer?

This post Could Retiring Later Make You Live Longer? appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

If you ask most people when they’d like to retire, they’ll tell you ‘yesterday.’

However, there’s an interesting argument to be made for delaying retirement just one more year.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the number of workers reporting that they expect to work past age 65 rose from 16 percent in 1991 to 48 percent last year.

It seems like more workers are getting the message that in order to boost their retirement security they need to work longer.

But boosting your retirement nest egg is not the only benefit to delaying retirement. In fact, I’ve got six reasons why putting off retirement just one more year is not such a bad idea.

Reason 1: You’ll Live Longer

It’s counterintuitive to think that working a stressful 9-5 job will increase your chances of living longer but that’s the truth.

The Center for Retirement Research found that delaying retirement reduced the five-year mortality rate for men in their early 60s by 32%.

Another study of half a million retired self-employed workers in France found that dementia was significantly less common among those who retired later than those who retired earlier.

Researchers hypothesize that the reason why early retirement has such negative effects on the brain is due to a decrease in mentally challenging tasks.

Reason 2: You’ll Save More

The longer you work, the more time you have to save for retirement. And, as you get older, the opportunity to set aside even more money increases.

Here’s how: If you’re under 50, your contribution limit to a 401(k) is $19,000 and $6,000 for an IRA this year. But, once you’re older than 50, you can add an extra $6,000 and $1,000 to your 401(k) and IRA contribution limits, respectively.

On top of that, the money you have saved and invested gets a chance to grow one more year without you touching it.

For example, if you have $500,000 in a retirement account today by delaying just one year, that $500,000 could grow to $535,000, assuming a 7% annual rate of return. And that’s not including any additional contributions you make to your retirement accounts during that time.

What can you do with an extra $35,000? That leads us to my next reason…

Reason 3: You’ll Have a Better Quality of Life

The reason why your quality of life will improve if you work just one more year is due to the fact that your retirement will be one year shorter.

If you estimate your yearly expenses in retirement to be $35,000, then delaying just one year lowers your required savings by that same amount. Couple that with an extra $35,000 from compound growth and you now have an extra $70,000 to spend how you please.

Reason 4: You’ll Have Bigger Social Security Checks

If you delay retirement, you boost your Social Security benefits in two ways.

First, it’s likely that you’re at the peak of your earning potential so because your Social Security check is based on the average monthly income during your 35 highest-earning years, delaying retirement could make up for the early years in your career where you earned less.

Second, depending on your age, you might be able to delay your Social Security benefits, which further increases your checks. Everyone can begin claiming as early as age 62, but you give up a significant amount versus if you waited until your full retirement age. How much exactly?

You’ll earn 124% more with a full retirement age of 67 and 132% for a full retirement age of 66. Plus, the longer you wait to claim benefits, the less of a burden you place on your personal savings later on.

Reason 5: You’ll Have Better Health Care

One more reason to delay retirement is company benefits, especially health insurance. Depending on the size of your company, your employer’s health insurance plan could be cheaper than Medicare and provide better coverage.

Here’s what you need to know: At 65, you qualify for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital services. Because Part A is free, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enroll. At that point, you can also enroll in Medicare Part B (for doctor visits), Medicare supplemental coverage and Part D (for prescription drugs).

If your company has less than 20 employees, you need to sign up for Medicare as your primary insurance, even if your employer offers its own coverage. Failing to do so could mean you’re not covered at all. Talk to your Human Resources department to find out what’s best for you.

Reason 6: You’ll Make a Difference

A commonly cited reason for staying in the workforce is meaningful work. If there’s a project you’re working on that you enjoy, it might be fulfilling to stick around and see it through to the end. Capping off your career with a big project could be the perfect way to cruise into retirement.

Lastly, working one more year is not always going to be your call. Sometimes your boss has a different timeline for when he sees you retiring. Take what I said today with a grain of salt and decide what’s best for you and your family when the time comes to make the call .

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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The Truth About Brain-Boosting Supplements

This post The Truth About Brain-Boosting Supplements appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

The signs of memory loss can be scary: misplaced keys, forgetting where you parked, a task you suddenly can’t remember, repeating a question over again that was just answered.

Five million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a figure that’s projected to grow to 13.9 million by 2060.

To date, there are no drugs that have been shown to prevent or reverse diseases like Alzheimer’s, which is leading many people to seek out questionable treatments with false claims.

One AARP analysis on spending found that 50-plus adults spend more than $93 million a month on six different supplements marketed for brain health.

“The people taking these pills are spending between $20 and $60 a month and flushing dollars down the toilet that could be better spent on things that actually improve their brain health,” says AARP Senior Vice President for Policy Sarah Lock.

Study after study seem to reveal the same conclusions: there’s virtually no good evidence to suggest that brain health supplements can prevent or delay memory lapses, mild cognitive impairment, or dementia in older adults.

In fact, some are even doing more harm than good. Here’s what the science says about taking brain boosting supplements, and what you should do instead.

What the Research Says

The three most popular supplements marketed for memory enhancement are fish oils, B vitamins, and ginkgo biloba extract, made from the dried leaves of the ginkgo tree. But decades of studies on these three supplements have all come up short.

Fish oil pills are probably the best studied and the results are not encouraging. When all the studies are pooled, we find very small improvements in recalling lists of words soon after they’ve been learned, and the effect doesn’t last.

The only encouraging evidence is people with diets high in omega-3s, found typically in fatty fish like salmon, may have a lower risk of dementia. But similar benefits are not linked to omega-3 in pill or supplement form.

Ginkgo biloba extract is another popular brain booster and the research is not hopeful either. In one landmark trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers followed more than 3,000 people age 75 or older for six years.

Half were given 120 mg doses of the herb twice a day, while the others took a placebo. The ginkgo did not decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. 

B vitamins are also in question when it comes to improving cognition. A 2015 review of studies found that supplementation with B6, B12, and/or folic acid failed to slow or reduce the risk of cognitive decline in healthy older adults and did not improve brain function in those with cognitive decline or dementia.

The only instances where B vitamins had any significant effect on brain health was in people with B vitamin deficiencies.

Blame Advertisers and Loose Regulation

A 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report analyzed hundreds of ads promoting memory-enhancing supplements online and identified 27 making what seemed to be illegal claims about treating or preventing diseases like dementia.

Supplements are loosely regulated, and you should be extra careful as some even contain undisclosed ingredients or prescription drugs. Several brain boosting supplements should not be taken with medications.

For example, ginkgo biloba should never be paired with blood thinners, blood pressure meds, or SSRI antidepressants.

Supplements that need to be metabolized by organs like your kidneys and liver can compete for limited metabolic function, potentially messing up the levels and performance of your medication.

What Should You Do Instead?

Two things: get active and get on a brain-boosting MIND diet.

Exercise is one of the few things within your control that has shown to protect against cognitive decline. Set a weekly goal of 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

Second, get on the MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet includes lots of veggies, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, some beans, fish, and poultry, plus a daily glass of wine. A quick Google search and you’ll find all sorts of recipes.

The foods chosen in the MIND diet have all appeared to have brain-protecting effects. The researchers who invented the diet studied almost 1,000 elderly people, and followed them for an average of 4.5 years.

Those with diets most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7.5 years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.

A follow-up study showed that the MIND diet also cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in half. So although there seems to be no signs of miracle supplements or drugs for the treatment of cognitive decline just yet, your best bet is still the most simple: stay active and feed your brain good foods.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post The Truth About Brain-Boosting Supplements appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Protect Your Elders from Being a Target of THIS

This post Protect Your Elders from Being a Target of THIS appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

As we age we eventually reach our Golden Years. It’s a point where we expect to do things we couldn’t do earlier in life due to factors such as family, work, or financial obligations.

It’s a time when we hope to continue growing as individuals by pursuing personal interests, hobbies, or even second careers, as our health permits.

If nothing else, old age should be a time that is worry-free, peaceful, and stable, where independence is retained as long as possible.

Unfortunately that’s not how it works out for many…

Seniors: Prime Targets

Some 5.8 million older adults lose more than $37 BILLION each year to financial fraud. That number is expected to soar as baby boomers retire and their ability to manage trillions of dollars in assets declines.

Victims can be left without money to pay for medications, food, and long-term care. Many get evicted. And they don’t even know what’s happening until they’re left homeless.

Someone else has to pay, which usually means family members or taxpayers.

And the psychological and social costs can exceed the financial ones. Scammers convince victims to keep the promised profits a secret. So they don’t tell anyone… not even close family members.

Once they realize they’ve been betrayed, they’re emotionally devastated. And they’re less likely to report fraud because they are embarrassed about being targeted. When a family member is the perpetrator, victims don’t act because they don’t want their dirty laundry out there.

Also, elderly victims might not report crimes because they’re concerned that relatives may think they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.

In fact, a study by New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services estimates that for every case reported to authorities, as many as 44 are not.

And it’s not only Nigerian princes who scam the elderly. Research revealed that almost 60% of cases of elder exploitation were committed by a family member.

A small sampling of how telephone pitchers, online scammers, and even people they know and trust steal from the elderly in what may appear as giving consent…

  • In Maine a former lawmaker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for defrauding two elderly widowed women out of more than $3 million.
  • In Pennsylvania a man whose elderly mother was among his victims of a $1.5 million investment scam has been sentenced to 17 years in prison. 
  • In California an unlicensed investment advisor faces 35 years if convicted of defrauding $8 million from trusting families and senior citizens.

The FBI cautions that senior citizens are most likely to have a nest egg, own their home, and/or have excellent credit — all of which make them attractive to con artists.

As the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) puts it:

“Financial fraudsters often attempt to evoke strong emotions in their victims to convince them to hand over money, and seniors may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of heightened emotions on decision making.”

Furthermore…

Alzheimer’s Makes Them Even Easier Prey For Criminals

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. And it affects up to five million Americans. That number is expected to hit 14 million by 2060.

Symptoms begin with memory loss and possibly lead to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and carry out daily activities such as handling money and paying bills. They may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers and other scammers.

Several factors can cause Alzheimer’s. Including:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Education, diet, environment
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol

There is no cure, although physical, mental, and social activities may reduce the risk of getting the disease.

No Test for Alzheimer’s

Although there’s no single diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s, a recently published study by Rush University Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center analyzed 935 folks in their 70s and 80s to determine whether a higher susceptibility to financial scams was an early sign of dementia.

All of the participants were initially free of dementia and were given a questionnaire to test their awareness of scams.

The test had five questions to determine their openness to sales pitches, their attitudes regarding risky investments, and what they knew about scams focusing on the elderly.

Over the following six years, participants had annual neuropsychological tests to check for Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment.

Researchers also performed brain autopsies on the 264 participants who had died during the study. 

They found that someone who had scored low on the scam awareness questionnaire had a greater chance of later being diagnosed with a cognitive impairment.

The point here is that a scam awareness test might one day help diagnose Alzheimer’s.

How to Protect Your Older Adult Loved Ones

In an editorial accompanying the Rush University study Dr. Jason Karlawish of University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine added,

“This problem [financial scams on the elderly] has

the same urgency as opioids and gun violence.”

And Dr. Mark Lachs, co-chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Pallitive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said,

“It’s a public health crisis.”

If you are concerned about a loved one being victimized, FINRA has an easy-to-use tool to determine their vulnerability. 

FINRA’s risk meter is meant to see if they share characteristics and behavior traits that have been shown to make some investors vulnerable to fraud.

And if you think an investment being offered smells fishy, FINRA has four-question Scam Meter that could help your loved ones avoid getting scammed.

Also look for uncharacteristic behavior, such as asking to borrow money from you. This could be red flag especially if they were noted for being financially independent all their lives.

Have they given away a large amount, say to another family member, a friend, a religious organization or charity you’ve never heard of? Or was there a complex transaction that’s completely out of the norm, for instance a reverse mortgage when they didn’t need the funds?

Yes, they have the right to do whatever they want with their money. But when suffering from dementia, they may no longer have the ability to judge whether another person has their best interests at heart.

Nor do they understand the consequences of their decisions.

Keep an eye on who calls your elderly loved ones. If you see a large number of telemarketer calls, they’ve likely been scammed at least once. Victims are put on lists that are bought and sold on the black market.

Watch their mailbox, too. Older folks are accustomed to opening, reading, and responding to direct mail solicitations.

And with your loved one’s permission get a free report on their credit from the three reporting agencies. Read them carefully, looking for questionable activities.

What to Do if Scammed…

Report it.

Start with the local police and your state attorney general, even if your loved one was scammed by a global criminal. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center wants to hear from you, too.

You can find a government agency that handles the type of fraud involved at https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds.

And if it was investment fraud, FINRA has an Investment Fraud Victim Recovery Checklist to help your loved one cope with the aftermath.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post Protect Your Elders from Being a Target of THIS appeared first on Daily Reckoning.