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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Non-Financial Planning Step 2

5) Know your boundaries
It is inevitable that people will decide that since you are retired, you have extra time, and extra resources.  With this in mind, understand that if you are willing to do whatever, someone will let you.  It goes back to the old adage that your life will have an agenda… if not yours, then someone else’s.  Set your own agenda and do so BEFORE you are asked.
Great!  Help out.  If what you want to do is watch the grandkids while your kids work, that’s wonderful.  You will help your kids, and both you and the grandkids will build some incredible memories together.  But remember that this isn’t your job unless you choose to make it that. 
Make sure that you are getting what you need, and if you do watch the grandkids, make sure that the kids have a backup plan so that you can get away or simply take time off.  A good way to do this for the timid is to set a time period, “I will watch the kids for you for the next 3 months to help you save some money.”  Then do take some time off.  It keeps the kids independent.
Above all, learn to say “no”, and mean it.  You CAN learn to say it nicely and still get your point across. Above all, don’t come up with excuses to say no for you.  Excuses can be overcome, and it says that you simply aren’t resolute in your opinion.  When the excuse is gone, so is the reason you cannot participate.  Then you either get stuck with it or are left floundering for another excuse.  If you aren’t used to saying no, it may sound a bit harsh to others to begin with.  So be it.  They will get over it.
6) Get a hobby
This is probably one of the hardest things for most retirees to get their arms around.  What to do next? As a result, many watch television all day long, read every book they can lay their hands on, increase the sleep to half the day, or sometimes, just sit.  There’s nothing wrong with any of these so long as it is moderation.  Taken to extreme, these can cause depression.  You need to be productive and find something you enjoy.
You might eventually end up with several hobbies to avoid boredom, but start with one.  Learn about it, take classes, read books on it, research the subject on the Internet, and then practice.  Become an expert. Whether you pick up a musical instrument, build wood projects, create stained glass lamps, write, or build the biggest garden in the neighborhood, enjoy!
7) Keep the juices flowing
Very few people who are working actually end up with dementia or slip into Alzheimer’s Disease.  Sure, age is a huge factor, but the biggest factor in keeping away these life-stealers is the fact that they are keeping their minds busy.  It’s a fact – even youngsters who vegetate will lose their ability to creatively think, analyze information, and make well thought out choices.
You are never too old to learn, even if you don’t learn as fast as you used to.  The amazing thing is that you can improve your ability to learn once you start. Even if you prefer to do nothing more, do at least one crossword puzzle a day, keep up on your vitamins, and get a bit of exercise.  Doing just these basic things can help to eliminate confusion and avoid being robbed of your mental acuity. 
SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/larryanderson/Desktop/Non%20Financial%20Planning%20%232.doc     [1]            development/retirement-planning.htm

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1st Four Steps Non-Financial Keys to Retirement Planning[i]

      Much time has been spent talking about retirement planning but most of it has to to with the financial aspects of it.  Financial planning however, is only one part of planning for retirement - how you afford it.  The rest of retirement planning has more to how you run your life and your relationships.  The answers are not necessarily as easy as you might think.   
1) Why are you always here?
     Let’s face it, you’ve spent the last 20, 30, maybe even 40 years away from each other 9-10 hours per day 5-6 days per week.  You’ve lived together, but you haven’t lived together all day long.  You’ve developed habits, your way of doing things, and most of all, you have acquired and learned to live in your space.  You eat lunch your way and your spouse eats it another way. 
Discuss your ideas of retirement with your mate, and maybe even consider some pre-retirement counseling.  Getting used to being around each other could take months or a year.  You will learn to communicate in different ways.  This is a huge adjustment, so give it the consideration that it requires.  Most of all, give each other some space… before you need it!
2) What do you mean you want to golf?
        What does retirement mean to you?  What does it mean to your spouse?  Have you discussed what retirement means to each other?  If not, you may both be operating with completely different expectations.
Chances are that each of you will have different ideas.  The husband may have been looking forward to golfing every day while the wife has been looking forward to spending much time together, sleeping in, or traveling.  The day after the retirement party, both of you are going to run into some surprises and disappointment.  Most of all, make room for each other’s ideas and learn to compromise.  In many ways, you will find that the beginning of retirement is much like the beginning of marriage was because you will be learning to live together all over again.
3) Get exercise – join a gym together
        You’ve heard the phrase, ‘use it or lose it’.  What they are probably talking about is your physical fitness. When you were 20, you could have sat down for 3 months and then got up and recovered quickly.  Not so now.  Every day, your body gives you one more chance.  If you pass on it, you may not get another one.
Keep moving, join a gym together or at least find the local high school track or a jogging trail and start walking.  Not only is it good for the heart, muscles, blood pressure, and bones, it’s also good for the brain and the libido.
4) Show me the money
         If you don’t have a financial advisor, get one.  It’s never too early to start to plan financially for retirement.  People are living longer these days but yet still retire at the same age.   If you are going to retire longer, you obviously need to have more financial reserves and/or learn how to stretch it out better.  Take a look at your life and health policies, update your will, and above all, consider a living will. It’s amazing how much peace of mind you will have at having all these things updated and out of your worry box.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Knowledge of Memory and Aging Questionnaire”[i]

The correct answers, true or false will be at the end of the questionnaires.

1. “ A picture is worth a thousand words” in that is easier for both younger and older people to remember pictures than to remember words.
2. Older people tend to have more trouble concentrating than younger people. That is, older people are more likely to e distracted by background noises and other happenings around them.)
3. Regardless of how memory is tested, younger adults will remember far more material than older adults.
4. Confusion and memory lapses in older people can sometimes be due to physical conditions that doctors can treat so that these symptoms go away over time.
5. Becoming disoriented (such as getting lost or losing track of what day it is) happens to person with Alzheimer’s Disease, but only in the later stages of the disease.
6. Older people remember to do future planned activities (such as returning a book to the library) better than they remember past actions that they have already completed.
7. Medications that are prescribed by doctors for heart and circulation problems do not affect memory in older adults.
8. Sometimes the effects of intense grief over the loss of a loved one may be mistaken for early Alzheimer’s Disease in older adults.
9. A complete physical exam by a doctor is routinely recommended, it a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is suspected.
10. Older people tend to remember specific past events in their daily life better than they can remember the meanings of words (vocabulary) and general facts (such as the capital of the United States)
11. Frequent complaining about memory problems is an early sign of Alzheimer’s Disease.
12.  The only way to tell for sure if and individual has Alzheimer’s Disease is to do an autopsy after the person has died.
13.  If an older adult is unable to recall a specific fact (e.g. remembering a person’s name), then providing a cue to prompt or jog the memory is unlikely to help.
14.    When older people are trying to memorize new information, the way to study it does not effect how much the will remember.
15.  If one has lived to be 85 years old and shows no signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, then the chances are very high that this person will live out the rest of his or her life without developing the disease.
16.   For older adults, the ability to remember something is unrelated to the number of other thoughts or issues on their mind when trying to recall this information.
17.   Memory for how to do well-learned things, such as reading a map or riding a bicycle, does not change very much, if at all, in later adulthood.
18.   Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease show up gradually and become more noticeable to family members and close friends over time,
19.   When an older adult comes in for a check up, doctors and psychologists can now clearly tell the difference between symptoms of mental health problems and symptoms of physical illness
20.   Immediate memory (such as repeating a telephone number) is about the same for younger and older people, but an older person’s memory for things that happened days, weeks, or month ago is typically worse than that of a younger person.
21  If an older person has gone into another room and cannot remember what he or she intended to do, going back to the place where the thought first came to mind will often help what he or she had intended to do,
22.  Alzheimer’s Disease is the only illness that leads to confusion and memory problems in older adults.
23.   For older people, education, occupation and verbal skills tend to have little influence on their memory
24.    Modern day memory improvement methods that are based on organization (e.g. grouping several items together) and association (e.g. linking new information to what is already known) can actually be traced back to ancient Greek scholars, such as Aristotle and Plato.
25.  Healthy older adults have trouble remembering how to use familiar gadgets (e.g. like a key chain) and appliances (like a can opener).
26.  Dramatic changes in personality and relationships with others may be seen in person who has Alzheimer’s Disease.
27.  Memory training programs are not helpful for older persons, because the memory problems that occur in old age cannot be improved by educational methods.
28.     Lifelong alcoholism may result in severe memory problems in old age. 

                       The Answers:

1.True 2.True 3. False 4.True 5. False 6.True 7. False

8.True 9.True 10.False 11.False 12.True 13.False 14.False

15.False 16.False 17.True 18.True 19.False 20.True 21.True

22.False 23.False 24.True 25.False 26.True 27.False 28.True                    

[i]  Hawley, K.S. & Cherrry, K.E. (2006).  Knowledge of Memory of Aging in             Adulthood,  Int’L J. Aging and Human Developments, Vol 63 (4) 317-334

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Memory Problems What can we do?
         Over the last 6 months or so I have become aware of some of my memory problems. Two major ways to think about is are recognition and recall.  Recognition is no problem for me; but recall is becoming more problematic.  I am currently consulting a neurologist in a local community.  As always I find myself searching through the literature. I  decided to share the ideas with visitors to my blog. The worst and scariest memory problems is  Alzheimer’s Disease
         Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease Each person with Alzheimer’s may experience different symptoms, and symptoms may change over the course of the disease. Some of the common ones are described below.

• Profound difficulty in recalling names, objects, places, times, and          dates
• Not recognizing family and friends, or not recalling their names
• Forgetting one’s own phone number or address
• Difficulty finding your way to or from a familiar place
• Tendency to wander from home or place where you work
• Forgetting to eat or maintain one’s hygiene
• Day/night disorientation with difficulty sleeping
• Noticeable language and intellectual decline
• Poor judgment, inability to follow simple instructions or stay focused          on a task
Progressive sense of distrust
• Dulled emotions or interest in activities

• Depression

• Unusual agitation and irritability

• Hallucinations or delusions

Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp

What may seem like a faltering memory may in fact be a decline in the rate at which we learn and store new information. Practice these memory skills to enhance learning and make remembering easier.

RELAX: Tension and stress are associated with memory lapses, and managing stress improves memory.

CONCENTRATE: Your teachers were right: if you want to recall something later, pay attention.

FOCUS: Try to reduce distractions and minimize interferences.

SLOW DOWN: If you’re rushing, you may not be focused or paying full attention.

ORGANIZE: Keep important items in a designated place that is visible and easily accessed.

WRITE IT DOWN: Carry a notepad and calendar, and write down important things.

REPEAT IT: Repetition improves recall; use it when meeting new people and learning new things.

VISUALIZE IT: Associating a visual image with something you want to remember can improve recall.
Source: The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (Press Office)

STAY ACTIVE:  Everything from regular walking to using a stationary bike

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Friday, June 15, 2012

Looking to the Future

Being Positive about Self and Aging[i]

         “Once individuals become older, they may lack the defenses of other groups to ward off the impact of negative stereotypes on self-perceptions.” Further “The depth and breadth of self-stereotypes of aging may be explained by their focus on cognitive decline which conveys a sense of the ultimate outcome: death.”  Further, “.the knowledge of  the inevitability of death is the underlying sense from which all other fears are ultimately derived.”  Next week I have an appointment with a neurologist  to discuss my declining memory function.  I don’t know whether this decline is “normal” or a path to serious factors including Alzheimer’s. 
         Recently my younger brother Reynolds died from a heart attack. It has caused me to have additional stress, which is a major factor in brain memory decline.
         The researcher go on to explain that “The following study examines for the first time whether positive self-perceptions about one’s aging influence survival….”
         Their tool was the Attitudes Towards Own Aging subscale, which contains the following items:
1.    Things keep getting worse as I get older.
2.    I have as much pep as I did last year.”
3.    As you get older you are less useful.
4.    I am as happy now as when I was younger,
5.    As I get older things are (better, worse, or the same) as I thought they would be.

         What I’m doing about the memory process is 1. Taking a daily supplement entitled Unforgettables and I munch on Coconut Oil each day. But more than that I have learned that the best way to remember something is to stop trying to remember.  I find that let go of the pressure; in several second the word I was looking for “pops” up.  It’s funny that while I have always had trouble remembering people’s names my forgetfulness has expanded and I can’t take anything for granted.
         Another study I want to include [ii] examines the fear of death in dying in relationship to Aging. Agreeing with much of the other material on the subject the Dr. Roth says; “First of all this country is oriented toward youthfulness.  Aged people are generally not held in high regard.”    Further he goes on to say that “The major assault on the mental health  of older people comes from diminished self-esteem.  Further. “ The person who feels that his self-esteem is irretrievably shattered does not want to live and soon dies. It must be emphasized that self-esteem is the psychologic  equivalent of self-preservation in the physical sphere.” 
         “There are of course, older people who face death without trepidation.  They are generally kindly, loving, people who live life fully to the last possible moment. They want to continue learning. When the time comes, the feel ready for the final step of life, which is death.” Finally “Does it all boil down to the idea that life is so interesting?”
           Well I used to watch a TV show called The Highlander and the primary song by the song group Queen was “Who wants to live forever.  I’d like to take a shot at living ten thousand years into the future ( maybe I’m being over optimistic regarding global warming)
         Finally the author tells us that “Just as we do not know the nature of death, we do not know the purpose of life, but we must live as though we do in order to face death with a measure of fortitude.”

[i] [i] B.R. Levy, M.D.Slade, S.R. Kunkel & S.V. Kasl (200).  Longevity Increased by Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging , Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol 83, No.2,261-270.  DOI 10.1037//0022-3514.83.2.261

[ii] N. Roth (1978) Fear of Death in the Aging, American Journal of Psychotherapy  Vol 32, 4, pages 552-559

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is The "Post Parental" Stage of Life

Bereavement when Children Leave Home[i]

       Mrs. S.C.'s youngest daughter, and third child, 22 years old, just left home to set up her own apartment, not too far away. With the departure of her two older children, she felt a deepening sense of threat to her feeling of being needed by them. When her third left—not for the socially approved reason of marriage, but to assert her own independence—a pervasive sadness deepened into depression. While overtly, her concern was for her daughter's welfare ("How will she manage?"), actually, she felt a profound sense of rejection at this step. She became overwhelmed by feelings of failure and unworthiness.
       The major cognitive components of the depressive affect clustered around irrational beliefs and demands that reflected: self-blame, guilt and unworthiness ("It's all my fault", "I should have done differently"," I       failed them", "I'm not a good mother", "I'm a rotten person"); self pity ("If they cared for me, they wouldn't leave me", "Poor me!"); anger and condemnation ("They shouldn't do this to me", "They're selfish"); magical thinking and the need for order and control ("If they had listened to me, everything would be all right", "That's not what I wanted for them", "I'm helpless, therefore I'm no good"); perfectionism ("Nothing seems to work out right any more"); low frustration tolerance (It's not fair", "I can't stand it!").


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Story of Joe and Nancy

An Empty Nest? [i]

"Our twin daughters were the spark plugs that kept our family lively," Nancy told us. "When they left for college, everything changed. It was so quiet. Actually I had looked forward to a little peace and quiet, but it seemed so weird to be just the two of us again like we really didn't know each other any more. I began to realize that our marriage was stagnant. We had little in common, few things to talk about. It's not that either of us had intentionally ignored the other, but with the demands of two very active and social children, over the years, we had drifted apart." Joe added, "I didn't have a clue as to what to do, so I reacted by spending more time at work and more time with my golf buddies." “I felt so alone," Nancy continued. "I was disoriented. My major focus in life was the girls. Now they were gone, and so was my job. No more college applications to help with or track meets to attend. No more impromptu teenage parties. I realized my own personal interests were limited. No wonder Joe didn't want to spend time at home; I was boring. And I was bored. Wasn't the empty nest supposed to be more fun than this?"

Coping with the “Empty Nest”
Among researchers there is debate about the empty nest. (…when children are grown and are no longer living at home) 
Two questions are; how frequent is it and how strong is it?

  1) Empty nest reactions to the end of childrearing are not well understood
  2) First of all it is better to refer to it as the “post parental period”.
  3) Parents, especially mothers, may experience overwhelming, grief                  and sadness. Why is it just about women? 
  4) Overall, relatively few women (about 10%)  experience an overflow of feelings and adjustment difficulties that are diagnosed as the “empty nest syndrome”. Even then strong reactions are short lived” (about 2 years)
  5) In addition “meaningful work” is relative to adjustment to in the“ post             parental” stage and may be seen as an alternative to the “mother  role            “.

[i] Fighting for Your Empty Nest Marriage Reinventing Your Relationship When the Kids Leave Home   David H. Arp, Claudia S. Arp, Scott M. Stanley, Howard J. Markman, Susan L. Blumberg

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Mask of Old Age

Images And The Mask of Old Age[i]

         Early images of aging reflected in the model ”Ages of Man” are represented as the stages of human existence on the Earth traced back to Greek mythology during the 6th Century BC. In those times the end period of human beings was seen as “… one final stage of physical decrepitude, symbolized by a stick or a crutch, as well as a close proximity to death usually portrayed as a skeleton and a tomb.”[ii]  This was followed by Medieval Europe’s notion of life as a cycle going between pleasures of youth to the “woes of old age.”  The Ideal of those days was that a person could live to be 70 yrs old although almost all people didn’t. Considering mankind’s growing longevity, at 73 years of age I am happy to be active and energetic, even if it’s not quite the same as when I played football during the years of my post secondary education. Along with others I am inclined to say, “I don’t feel old.”[iii]  “
         As we become chronologically older, we discover that a subjective grasp of the meaning of old age is equally elusive.  Although our bodies may display signs of passing years the subjective self is not experienced as correspondingly old, and in a society where the dominant images of old age are negative, this tension between the inner personal and the outer social identity may cause us considerable distress.”[iv]
         I’ll share a simple example. When I look in a mirror and use my fingers to tighten the bags under my eyes, to me, I look a lot younger and I have thought about asking my doctor if it’s possible and healthy to empty the bags. It’s like they are a “mask” which brings us to last topic; the “mask” of old age. “The image of the mask of old age implies that the physical changes which accompany the life of 70 (plus) years are superficial or surface changes that conceal from the casual observer or untrained eye essentially unchanging qualities beneath.”[v]
           Perhaps my thoughts are strongly influenced by the Western societies’ strong consumer culture, which emphasizes the activity of youth. For example, motion pictures focus on the beauty and strengths of youth and, even though there is a growing body of research regarding positive aging they rarely portray seniors.
         In research and some popular culture we do seem to be making some progress in regards to the inner self and wisdom. I guess I would rather continue to develop insight and wisdom rather than pay a couple of thousand dollars to have my bagged eyes “fixed.


[i]  Handbook of Communication and Aging Research  John F. Nussbaum &             Justine Coupland (Eds)  ISBN 0-8058-4070-2
[ii]   page 14
[iii]  page 19
[iv]  page 20
[v]   page 21