weekly blog--one for the ages
A new experimental Alzheimer's disease vaccine showed promising results during recent testing in mice, and researchers are hopeful the vaccine will make it to human trials soon. The vaccine works by prompting the body to produce antibodies that reduce the buildup of amyloid and tau. Both proteins are typically indicative of the degenerative brain disease's presence in the body. According to the Alzheimer's Assocation, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. About 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's and researchers predict that number will rise to 14 million by 2050. Between 2000 and 2015, deaths related to Alzheimer's disease increased by 123 percent. (Newsweek)
Earlier this week, the Trump administration proposed changes to Medicare’s prescription drug benefit in an effort to lower costs for beneficiaries and modernize the program that covers about 60 million people. The changes focus on private Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans offered by private insurers, and would not take place until the year 2020 at the earliest.
One change would give more leeway for insurers to exclude a specific drug in Medicare’s six protected classes of medication. Those classes include antidepressants, drugs to treat psychosis, anti-seizure medications, cancer drugs, medications to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, and HIV-AIDS drugs. The power to exclude a drug gives insurers more leverage to obtain lower prices from drug makers. These proposed changes could run into strong opposition from patient advocacy groups, which derailed a similar effort by the Obama administration. (AP)
Somewhat new to the insurance market: hybrid long-term care plans that feature life-insurance benefits. In this scenario, a policyholder would withdraw funds from the policy when they are needed for long-term care, and the insurance company pays for care when those funds run out. And if the policyholder dies without having needed expensive long-term care, the heirs receive a death benefit. (WSJ)
A key finding from a report recently released by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (Tilda): the quality of life for older people peaks at 68 and then gradually declines until age 80, after which it decreases at a significantly faster rate. The study has tracked 8,000 adults aged 50 and above since 2010. Adults who have the highest levels of social integration, such as large social networks and positive supportive friendships, reported the highest quality of life. The study also found that women were twice as likely to report positive supportive friendships compared with men. (London Times)
Feeling down? Struggling to cope? Stop those negative thoughts! There’s plenty to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. However, we realists at ConfrontingAging recognize that there is plenty to be unthankful for too. And that’s why we have chosen this holiday to give the bird to a deserving person or group.
Last year’s bird was shared by President Trump and Congressional Republicans for supporting a new tax bill that had the potential to cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. With the new tax plan now in effect, ConfrontingAging was heavily leaning on giving them the bird for a second time.
But that would only be half of it. The bickering between Democrats and Republicans this past year could not have been more pronounced. That’s why we are giving the bird to both parties this year.
Projecting that the increased budget deficit from the tax cuts will make it harder to grapple with the financial challenge posed by 10,000 baby-boomer retirements a day, we urge our elected officials in Washington to refocus their energy and come up with bipartisan solutions to America’s most pressing problems. You might say our future depends on it!
And in that regard, ConfrontingAging envisions a compulsory tax on the earnings of middle-aged (40+) and over-65s to create a long-term care fund that can be used to pay caregivers, and pay for stays in rehab and assisted living facilities not covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans. The UK is considering such a measure; Germany already has one in place, taxing participants 2.5% of their wages.
Pass the gravy and stuffing, please!
On Tuesday, my wife and I met with her mother’s financial advisor to review her investment portfolio to make sure she would have enough money to live out her remaining years in comfort, and to pay for any unforeseen medical bills. And then I thought about what my wife and I have saved to date, and how much money we frittered away paying for our children's education.
According to the experts, the average person will generally need about 80% of pre-retirement income to live comfortably as a senior. And while Social Security might, in theory, provide about half of that, the rest frequently needs to come from savings. Enter the 4% rule which states that if you begin by withdrawing 4% of your savings' value during your first year of retirement, and then adjust subsequent withdrawals for inflation, your nest egg is likely to last 30 years. Though it's not perfect, the rule's value lies heavily in helping people establish solid savings targets to work with.
So how much should one save for retirement?
As a rule of thumb, most experts recommend an annual retirement savings goal of 10% to 15% of your pretax income. High earners generally want to hit the top of that range; low earners can typically hover closer to the bottom since Social Security will usually replace more of their income. However, one of the savings dilemmas many American families face: does building up the college fund or saving for retirement take priority?
T. Rowe Price asked a thousand parents what they would do, as part of its annual Parents, Kids & Money survey, and 74 percent said saving for college was the higher priority for them. A senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price says that’s an understandable, but well-intentioned miscalculation. The bottom line: if you delay contributing to your retirement savings in order to fund college, you could run out of money in your golden years.
What then? Many parents assume their grown-up kids will be there to help.
A recent survey by NerdWallet found that:
However, relying on your children to help finance your retirement can jeopardize their independence and financial welfare.
It’s time to take a short break after Tuesday’s nail-biting mid-term elections. According to Harvard Medical, back pain most often results from inevitable tissue failure caused by age-related deterioration. As many as 80% of adults report at least one episode of back pain. The other 20% never experience back pain at all. But it's not because their spines are normal. Imaging tests on these pain-free adults show as much degeneration in their lower spine as everyone else has.
The oddities of back pain are likely due to the fact that a neurological healing process, not a physical one, is at work. As the theory goes, when a problem occurs and triggers pain, it's your nervous system that actually adapts to the pain, and that's what makes discomfort go away. The bottom line: exercise and movement may help your nervous system to make this adjustment more rapidly.
Meanwhile, a new study suggests that drinking caffeinated and de-caffeinated coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have identified a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, which emerge as a result of the roasting process for coffee beans. Phenylindanes are unique in that they are the only compound investigated in the study that prevent – or rather, inhibit – both beta amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, from clumping. As roasting leads to higher quantities of phenylindanes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.
Alas, substituting one serving a day of any type of nuts in place of one serving of red meat, processed meat, French fries, desserts or potato chips was associated with less weight gain. According to a recent study, once people reach adulthood, they start to gradually gain about one pound a year of weight, which seems small. But if you consider gaining one pound over 20 years, it accumulates to a lot of weight gain. In particular, the study found that Brazil nuts and pretzels significantly increased a sense of fullness and reduced feelings of hunger, with the greatest sense of fullness experienced by the group eating Brazil nuts compared to those eating pretzels. Pretzel consumption caused a significant increase in blood glucose and insulin at 40-minutes after they were eaten.
With the world’s population getting older and more urban, the needs of older residents will play an increasingly important part in the shaping of cities. Currently more than 700 cities in 39 countries are signed up to the World Health Organization’s global network of age-friendly cities and communities to promote healthy active aging and improve the quality of life for people over 60. Membership doesn’t necessarily denote an age-friendly city, but that it is committed to listening and working with its older population to create one.
One imperative is building new houses or upgrading existing ones to meet the needs of older residents. People approaching old age now tend to be more design-aware than their parents. According to several surveys, Baby Boomers want comfortable living spaces that create lasting impressions. In particular, many boomers want good views to the outdoors, foyers to welcome guests, and kitchens with lots of space for entertaining and storage. They also prefer sunrooms, screen porches, a room for an office or hosting guests, a media wall, gas fireplace, and an art wall.
Not surprisingly, the trend for seniors to age in place has created a glut in the number of senior-housing facilities. The supply of senior housing has soared in recent years. The market has added 84,727 units since the end of 2012, up from 59,136 units during the six years before, according to the nonprofit National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.
However, much of that senior housing hasn’t been needed. Many in the generation born between 1946 to 1964 have remained fitter, more independent or stayed closer to their families than many developers anticipated. And since recent demographic data suggests people tend to move into senior-living facilities after they reach 82 years old—the oldest boomer won’t turn 80 until 2026—many of these facilities have arrived ahead of their time.
The glut also reflects some developers overestimating the number of seniors who can afford these residences, which cost around $3,000 to $8,000 a month. Seniors older than 80 are part of the so-called Silent Generation, which suffered through the Great Depression and World War II. Many remain more frugal and independent and resist moving into group housing, analysts say.