A1. CHANGING ECONOMICS/CHANGING HOUSES by Barbara Krueger
Chances are, at the dawn of 2008 your home of many years was at an all-time high. But then you were not a widow/widower living alone, or you and your spouse were still three years from retirement, or your daughter had not yet married and given birth to the cutest little grandchild in all the world - living 2,000 miles away.
So, just like health, family situations and employment may not be the same as in 2008, your economic and financial position has also changed. Your home, which was likely your biggest financial asset has declined in value. Perhaps it is down 40% from its all-time high; perhaps only 20%. But in any case "down in value" is a dirty word to anyone living on - or planning to live on - a fixed income, or to live on assets drawn from a nest-egg not guaranteed to grow, and even known to shrink. "Down in value" is also not good for anyone needing to consider a different home situation due to failing health.
Planning on a proscribed amount of capital in your hands after you sold your house and finding now that amount is gone, feels like a thief broke into your home and stole your valuables. In essence, that is how many view economic downturns and drastic drops in home-resale prices. But is that really what happened? What has been stolen, wasn't really yours. At least not yet. It wasn't yours until you sold the house, and, well, you didn't.
So what should one do about those dreams of retirement, or relocation to sunny or family-close places?
The first thing is to be realistic about how much capital you thought you would get from your home's sale, and how you planned to use that money going forward. Would it all have gone into the next place you bought? Would it have gone into investments drawn-on for monthly living expenses? Would part have gone to a large percentage down-payment and the rest into investments to draw upon as needed?
Next look at what you can realistically get from the present sale of your homeand the amount you "dreamed" of getting. Look at allocating the same proportions as before to where you wanted to place that money. If you "planned" to get $200,000 in cash and to put 50% into a new retirement home and 50% into investments for monthly living expenses over time, then do the same percentage calculation with the $150,000 you might now cash out of your home. Then look at what happened to house prices in the future community.
Perhaps the community to which you want to relocate, or the type of housing you had in mind, is also down in value. Can you therefore put a smaller total amount into the new living quarters and ome out just about as financially comfortable? Investing less for future cash flow could still be okay with a resulting smaller mortgage or with future investment market recovery. Does the loss of value at one end become immaterial against the drop in prices at the other end? How big an impact will it have on not outliving your money?
If the sale of your home and a subsequent move to an Active Age-Restricted Community (ownership or rental) is not need driven, but voluntary, your first instinct will be to delay until house prices recover. But look at it from the point of view of the owner of property to which you would relocate. A realistic home-seller or rental landlord will also expect a lowered price.
If you shop on the opened market (i.e. NOT age-restricted) for a place there will be more competition for that home or apartment. But if it's age-restricted it has a much smaller market from which to attract buyers. All the other seniors are thinking about the money they thought was theirs in their present home that they don't want to leave behind. They are staying put and not home shopping.
This creates a great buying opportunity for you. In some cases it could also create a good renting opportunity.
Yes you may get fewer dollars for your present home, but you may also get more for your money at the other end. In buying a new home (versus a resale) remember the builder has control over a lot more than just the price of the structure. You can often negotiate for him to put in front and back landscaping, kitchen upgrades, better carpeting or tile flooring. Will the builder add motion sensors in hall lighting and at exterior doorways? Can you get the cost of upgrades put into the total selling price so they become part of the mortgage, payed over time from an income-tax-deducted-interest-mortgage? Developers, reluctant to drop the price of new homes below the cost of previously sold ones, are often willing to "throw-in" upgrades, or at least include their price in the mortgage.
A developer of a new age-restricted community Ė for sale or rental knows there is reluctance among retirees to walk away from 2008 profits lost in their present home. Therefore, it's possible the prices of "choice-driven" senior communities are down a larger percentage than is your present home. Your present home, not age restricted, has a wider demographic appeal. An age restricted community has a limited audience of buyers or renters. Perhaps this is NOT such a bad time to sell and relocate?
Another alternative to consider in a down market with a lot of equity in your home is to rent your home out and use the positive cash flow from the rental to pay rent (or a portion of it) in your destination location. This can work if there is a demand for rentals in your present area, and your home costs (mortgage, taxes, insurance) are lower than the rental price.
Renting your home out and being a renter yourself offers some positives:
You can "try before you buy". Do you like the climate, the activities and the type of neighbors? Do you like living close to your grandchildren? How close is too close?
If you want to move to be closer to your children and grands, what if they should be transferred? As a renter you are free to go back "home" or move when they do, to their new location.
Thirdly, temporarily renting can also buy time until home prices in your present area recover and you are happier with the sale price.
Before you put your plans for the future on hold, look realistically at what you dreamed of doing, and what might still make it possible to do it in a depressed market, perhaps in a different way. Your financial value may have gone down, but your age is only going up. Don't waste time on regret and "what-ifs."
For more information on Housing, see http://www.seniorresource.com/house.htm
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A2. MAKING THE NEW DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS WORK
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services' 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide a path to improving public health and reducing chronic disease. They come "when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese, and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. The main focus of the 2010 guidelines is on weight management through reducing calorie intake. Here are some key recommendations:
Enjoy your food, but eat less of it.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits. Fill half of your plate with them.
- Eat more whole grains. Whole grains should constitute at least half of all the grains you eat.
- Switch to and increase your intake of fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Increase the amount and varieties of seafood you eat as a substitute for meat and poultry.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals; opt for those with lower numbers.
- Cut back on solid fats, using oils if possible.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
- Balance calories with exercise.
Few Americans will read the government's entire dietary guidelines report, so here is some easy-to-follow advice from some registered dietitians on how you can achieve some of the key recommendations:
Consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). If you're 51 and older, African American or have hypertension (more than half the population does), cut that to 1,500 milligrams (about 3/4 teaspoon).
Why? It's estimated Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams a day (about 1 1/3 teaspoons), mainly from processed foods.
Dietitian Aarti Batavia, Henry Ford Health System, says to get creative with herbs and spices as a way to reduce sodium and provide flavor and health benefits. "Herbs and spices are excellent antioxidants and work to neutralize attacks made by free radicals against the body," Batavia says.
Recipe: Baked Fingerling Potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut 1 pound of fingerling potatoes into rounds and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Toss to coat. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and roast potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes more or until crisp.
Americans should consume 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day, raw or cooked. When planning meals, your plate should be half full of vegetables.
Dietitian Susanne Consiglio, St. Clair Shores, Mich., says if you think you dislike certain vegetables, try them again. Eat veggies without salad dressing so you keep the sodium down. And keep bags of veggies already cut up, ready for snacking.
"If you're not used to eating them without dressing, try dipping them in hummus," Consiglio says.
For dinner, have fresh or frozen varieties on hand. But Consiglio recommends buying only what you can use within five days.
Recipe: Veggie Sandwich. Spread 2 tablespoons hummus or low-fat ricotta cheese on a whole-grain wrap. Sprinkle with Italian parsley flakes. Layer with thinly sliced cucumbers, red and yellow pepper strips, red onions, spinach or romaine leaves.
Americans eat enough total grains; unfortunately, we're mainly eating refined grains, not whole grains and, at 6.3 ounces a day, too much of them.
The recommendation is no more than 3 ounces of refined grains a day plus at least 3 ounces of whole grains.
Dietitian: Kathleen Poore, Ann Arbor VA Health System, says one way to get more whole grains is to simply include rolled oats.
"it's a pantry staple for many, and all by itself, it's a quick, easy and nutritious breakfast," Poore says. "Added to cookies, quick breads and other desserts, it can boost the nutritional value of almost anything--even meatloaf."
Poore recommends rolled oats because they contain soluble fiber, which she says "is very good for helping to keep your cholesterol level healthy, and it's low in sodium, fat and calories."
Recipe: Apple Crisp. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch- by- 8-inch baking dish. Place 4 cups peeled and sliced apples in the dish and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar; toss to coat. In a small bowl, mix together, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup old-fashioned oats, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter and 1/4 cup canola oil. Sprinkle oats mixture over the top of the apples. Make sure the apples are covered with the dry mixture so that they don't dry out. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the apples are tender and the topping browns.
Dietitian: Letitia Warren, Children's Hospital of Michigan, says an easy way to eat more fruits every day is to have them readily available and easy to grab.
"Many times I clean the fruits, such as grapes, apples, pears, berries or bananas, and have them in a bowl on the kitchen counter," Warren says. Have more perishable fruits cleaned and ready to grab out of the refrigerator.
Recipe:Grape Salad. Mix together 8 ounces softened low-fat cream cheese, 1 cup low-fat sour cream or nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix in 1 1/2 pounds each of green and red grapes. Top with 1/2 cup toasted pecans and sprinkle, if desired, with brown sugar.
Replacing some meat and poultry with seafood is a top recommendation. Look for seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. It's estimated that Americans consume just 3 1/2 ounces of fish a week. Try to increase that to 8 ounces.
Dietitian Bethany Thayer, national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says omega-3 fatty acids are associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease.
And if you are worried about seafood and mercury, Thayer says, there is evidence that the health benefits of eating a variety of seafood outweigh the risks.
Find additional Health information at http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
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B. DID YOU KNOW...?
1. Arthritis Awareness
Expanding waistlines, inactivity and an aging population are contributing toward an arthritis epidemic that will impact the lives and wallets of all Americans. Already the nation's most common cause of disability. Nearly one in five U.S. adults (46 million people) has arthritis and an estimated 67 million people will be affected by 2030. The Arthritis Foundation along with other organizations bring a focus on adults 55+ who are currently living with or are at risk for osteoarthritis and empowers them to take simple steps that can change the course of the disease and improve the quality of their lives. This campaign by the foundation demonstrates that "moving is the best medicine."
A few arthritis facts:
- Arthritis is not only a disease that affects the elderly. Symptoms of osteoarthritis can begin as early as age 40 and progress slowly.
- Being overweight and physically inactive can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis by two-thirds in your lifetime.
- Even small amounts of weight loss and physical activity can decrease the pain and disability of osteoarthritis.
- For every one pound of weight loss, there is a four-pound reduction in the load exerted on each knee.
- Physical activity keeps joints flexible and maintains or improves muscle strength.
- Osteoarthritis typically affects only certain joints, such as the hips, hands, knees, low back and neck.
To learn more about this disease visit www.arthritis.org
Seniorresource.com provides online current coverage of a broad spectrum of health care issues, including cancer, cardiovascular, transplant, and infectious disease developments.
Find these news stories and additional health information tips here: http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
2. Women And Retirement Saving
Planning and saving for retirement may seem like goals that are far in the future. Yet saving, especially for retirement, should start early and continue throughout your lifetime. Here are some reasons why saving matters to women.
- Women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't qualify for a retirement plan. And working women are more likely than men to interrupt their careers to take care of family members. Therefore, they work fewer years and contribute less toward their retirement, resulting in lower lifetime savings. If you work and if you qualify, join a retirement plan now.
- Of the 62 million wage and salaried women (age 21 to 64) working in the United States, just 45 percent participated in a retirement plan. Remember, even small amounts can earn interest and add up over time.
- On average, a female retiring at age 65 can expect to live another 19 years, 3 years longer than a man retiring at the same age. Savings can increase a woman's chances of having enough money to last during her retirement.
- By and large, women invest more conservatively than men. Choose carefully where you put your money and learn how to make your investments grow.
Here are eight questions to help you think about retirement and take charge of your financial future:
- Do you work for an employer that offers a retirement plan?
- Have you worked at the job long enough to earn retirement benefits?
- Do you keep copies of the documents that define the provisions of your retirement plan?
- What happens to your retirement benefits if you change jobs?
- Do you know how you can save for retirement even if you donít belong to an employer-sponsored retirement plan?
- Are you tracking your Social Security earnings?
- Are you entitled to a portion of your spouseís retirement benefit if you and your husband divorce?
- Are you aware of the rules that govern your retirement plan and the retirement plan of your spouse if either of you dies?
Learn more about retirement considerations at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/women.html
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C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with birth dates during this 2 month period.
Fred Astaire - "The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any."
Salvador Dali - "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
Holly Valance - "I never kill insects. If I see ants or spiders in the room, I pick them up and take them outside. Karma is everything."
Katharine Hepburn - "I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun."
Yogi Berra - "You gotta be careful if you don't know where you're going, otherwise you might not get there"
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
1. Desktop Museum Tour
Haven't been able to et to that special museum you want to visit? Well, its Google to the rescue. They have initiated their Google Art Project. The project allows site users to tour 17 world famous museums from their computer. Here are a few to take some time and appreciate the art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC - USA
Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid - Spain
National Gallery, London - UK
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - The Netherlands
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg - Russia
Google objective for the project is to allow more people to discover and appreciate the finer pieces of art in the world.
The site navigation is simple and straight forward. Project participants can use directional buttons to view gallery rooms, zoom in on paintings, and save images to personal "albums," which can be emailed and shared.
Explore museums with Street View technology: virtually move around the museumís galleries, selecting works of art that interest you, navigate though interactive floor plans and learn more about the museum
Artwork View: discover featured artworks at high resolution and use the custom viewer to zoom into paintings. Expanding the info panel allows you to read more about an artwork, find more works by that artist and watch related YouTube videos.
Create your own collection: the 'Create an Artwork Collection' feature allows you to save specific views of any of the 1000+ artworks and build your own personalised collection. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends and family.
Enjoy the Google Art Project at http://www.googleartproject.com
2. OnLine VA Health Tools
My HealtheVet is VA's award--winning e--health website, which offers Veterans, active duty soldiers, their dependents and caregivers anywhere, anytime Internet access to VA health care information and services. Launched nationwide in 2003, My HealtheVet is a free, online Personal Health Record that empowers Veterans to become informed partners in their health care. With My HealtheVet, America's Veterans can access trusted, secure, and current health and benefits information as well as record and store important health and military history information at their convenience.
To register for this service visit http://www.myhealth.va.gov/
For other health items of interest to Seniors visit: http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
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E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
1. Cogent Quotes from Officer Ashburn
"Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."
"In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC."
"Just how big were those two beers?"
"No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to have quotas but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we want."
"I'm glad to hear the Chief of Police is a good personal friend of yours. At least you know someone who can post your bail."
"You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't. ....Sign here."
2. The Idiosyncrasies of English:
- What if there were no hypothetical questions?
- Is there another word for synonym?
- Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"
- What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at: http://www.seniorresource.com/jokes.htm
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