Procrastinating; The Cost To Your Retirement

by Jayson Cohen American Legacy Solutions

If you are like many other hardworking adults, you may find yourself periodically dreaming about what life will be like after you leave the workforce and enter retirement. Regardless of whether you plan to simply kick back and relax close to home or you have grand dreams of traveling frequently in retirement, you will need to have enough cash on hand to live on. Unfortunately, a report released by Financial Engines indicates that almost one in seven adults who are at least 55 years old have stated that they procrastinated on saving for retirement.

Why Adults Procrastinate on Saving for Retirement

You may think that the primary reason why individuals would not save money regularly for their golden years is because of a lack of funds, but this is not the case. In the same report, two out of five procrastinators said they got a late start because they had other priorities for their money. Half indicated that stress played a role in retirement planning and saving. Some of the other more common reasons for procrastination include the belief that it is too difficult, the thought that they may get taken advantage of or a lack of knowledge about retirement planning and saving.

The Impact of Procrastination on Your Retirement Plans

Many adults who procrastinate in this important area have the intention of playing catch-up later in life. However, this may be more challenging than it may seem at first glance. When you procrastinate, you give up your regular contributions. You also give up employer-matching contributions and compounded growth, and these two factors can have a huge impact on the size of your nest egg. Delaying your retirement planning and saving effort essentially means that you must come up with a tremendous amount of additional money to catch up to a balance that you would have had if you started saving regularly in your 20s.

The Urgency to Get Started Today

Regardless of the reasons or age, now is the time to make a bold change. By continuing to procrastinate, you simply dig an even larger hole that is more difficult for you to get out of. Saving may be as easy as foregoing that fancy vacation that you take every year or downsizing the scope of your vacation. It may mean not redecorating your home as frequently or scaling down your holiday gift-giving efforts. There are many ways that you may be able to simply cut back without detracting from your quality of life, and these steps can have a huge impact on your financial status in your retirement years. Of course, making regular monthly contributions is also advisable. Saving at least some money now is better than not saving any.

How to Get Started

There are various types of retirement accounts that you may have access to depending on your circumstances. A good starting point is to maximize an employer-sponsored retirement account if your employer offers matching contributions. These contributions could essentially double your total account contributions and help you to get back on track more quickly and easily. If this is not an option, carefully review the pros and cons of various retirement accounts. Once you decide which type of account you want to open, schedule automated transfers. By automating this aspect of your finances, your balance will grow without additional effort required.

Some people prefer to hire a financial advisor to assist with retirement planning and account management. If you are confused about or intimidated by any aspect of retirement planning, it is best to seek professional guidance rather than to take chances.  Remember, you see a doctor when you have concerns with your health, why not talk to a financial professional when you have concerns about your finances?   We are here to help.

How to set your fitness goals

Besides swimming and working-out in the gym seniors Ivor Davis and Mark Stienecker (just barely a senior) have made ping pong part of their physical activities at the Pierpont Racquet Club.

Many people find that having a firm goal in mind motivates them to move ahead on a project. Goals are most useful when they are specific, realistic, and important to you. Be sure to review your goals regularly as you make progress or your priorities change.

STEP 1: Write Down Your Short-Term Goals

Write down at least two of your personal short-term goals. What will you do over the next week or two that will help you make physical activity a regular part of your life? Think about the things you need to get or do to be physically active. For example, you may need to buy appropriate fitness clothes or walking shoes. Make sure your short-term goals will really help you be more active.

If you’re already active, think of short-term goals to increase your level of physical activity. For example, over the next week or two, increase the amount of weight you lift or try a new kind of physical activity. No matter what your starting point, reaching your short-term goals will give you confidence to progress toward your long-term goals.

STEP 2: Write Down Your Long-Term Goals

Write down at least two long-term goals. Focus on where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or 2 years from now. Remember, setting goals will help you make physical activity part of your everyday life, monitor your progress, and celebrate your success.

STEP 3: Revisit Your Goals

A few weeks after you start regular physical activity, you may start to see progress toward your goals. You may feel stronger and more energetic. You may notice that you can do things faster, longer, and more easily.

As you increase your fitness level, you also might find that you need to revisit your goals and make your activities more challenging to see additional results.

New Medicare drug policy is a step down for seniors

by Peter J. Pitts

Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued a shocking pronouncement. They’ve decided to prioritize insurers over patients.

The agency recently released new instructions to insurers that participate in Medicare Advantage, allowing them to require patients to take “the most preferred drug” on the market for their condition first, before trying any other treatments. 

Unfortunately, “most preferred” is often merely a euphemism for cheapest. So even if a doctor has concluded, for sound medical reasons, that a different treatment would be more effective, an insurer can demand that a patient first try — and fail — with the “most preferred” drug. This process, known as “step therapy,” will delay treatments for cancer patients and other seriously ill seniors, putting their health — and their lives — at risk.

Step therapy is a blemish on the otherwise popular Medicare Advantage program, which offers seniors who opt in privately administered health plans. Coverage options can include the majority of beneficiaries’ health needs, including prescription drugs, physician, hospital, and outpatient services.

CMS’ new guidance will impede access to care for Medicare Advantage patients receiving medications administered under a doctor’s direct supervision, which fall into Medicare’s “Part B” category. These include infusion treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases. 

Step therapy can be downright cruel for patients battling chronic and painful conditions. Imagine suffering in agony for weeks, months, or even years trying out different treatments that your physician knows are unlikely to help. With each new drug comes a new set of side-effects, but no noticeable health benefits. 

Previously, a 2012 CMS directive banned step therapy for Part B treatments — and for good reason. Part B drugs are highly specialized. Doctors must take into consideration a patient’s diagnosis, lifestyle, medical history, and more to find the best treatment or combination of medications. 

Lifting this ban puts some of Medicare’s sickest beneficiaries in real danger. 

Consider the cancer patients who rely on Part B for chemotherapy. Such treatment regimens are highly individualized — with some patients responding better to one drug rather than another. 

To combat the disease effectively, doctors must find the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible. That process can be challenging under the best circumstances. Step therapy requirements only add to those difficulties, compounding patient suffering.

In the time it takes to satisfy an insurer’s “fail first” requirements, a patient’s cancer could go from treatable to hopeless. That’s especially true for patients with fast-moving cancers. Those diagnosed with esophageal cancer, for instance, have just a 46 percent chance of surviving six months. For pancreatic cancer, it’s 27 percent.

It’s no surprise that the medical community is overwhelmingly opposed to step therapy. The American Medical Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the American Society of Hematology have all condemned the CMS move as a threat to patient health.

Their denunciations are richly deserved. CMS’ new policy guidance puts insurer profits above the best interests of patients. Introducing step-therapy into Medicare Part B will prolong the suffering of America’s most vulnerable seniors. 

Peter J. Pitts, a former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner, is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Alzheimer’s Association care training

Alzheimer’s Association Savvy Caregiver Workshop Series for 2019 begins in February.

A professional-level dementia care training for the non-professional caregiver.

On Wednesdays in February (6th, 13th, 20th, 27th) from 1 – 4 p.m.To be held at Alzheimer’s Association Ventura County Regional Office located at 2580 E. Main Street, Ste. 201. Park behind the office.

The Savvy Caregiver is a 4-week program for family caregivers offering 12 hours of face-to-face training with dementia experts. This is the opportunity to go beyond introductory education offerings and is designed for those tending loved one in the mid-stage of the disease.

The Savvy Caregiver program addresses your biggest concerns:

  • · Understanding Alzheimer’s & other related dementias.
  • · The toll of caregiving.
  • · Managing daily life & behaviors.
  • · Caring for yourself, while caring for others.
  • · Decision making.
  • · Communicating with a person with dementia.
  • · Taking control.
  • · Goals for caregiving.

Space is limited and registration is required. To register call the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900 (24 hour line). Material fee only $25.

Getting started with long-distance caregiving

Anyone, anywhere, can be a long-distance caregiver, no matter your gender, income, age, social status, or employment. If you are living an hour or more away from a person who needs your help, you’re probably a long-distance caregiver.

What can I really do from far away?

Long-distance caregivers take on different roles. You may:

  • Help with finances, money management, or bill paying
  • Arrange for in-home care—hire professional caregivers or home health or nursing aides and help get needed durable medical equipment
  • Locate care in an assisted living facility or nursing home (also known as a skilled nursing facility)

I’m new to long-distance caregiving—what should I do first?

  • Ask the primary caregiver, if there is one, and the care recipient how you can be most helpful
  • Talk to friends who are caregivers to see if they have suggestions about ways to help
  • Find out more about local resources that might be useful
  • Develop a good understanding of the person’s health issues and other needs

Where can I find local resources for my family member? to find local services for older adults and their families.

As a caregiver, what do I need to know about my family member’s health?

Learn as much as you can about your family member’s condition and any treatment. This can help you understand what is going on, anticipate the course of an illness, prevent crises, and assist in healthcare management.

Get written permission, as needed under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, to receive medical and financial information. To the extent possible, the family member with permission should be the one to talk with all healthcare providers.

Get tips for caregivers to make doctor’s appointments easier.

How can I be most helpful during my visit?

Talk to the care recipient ahead of time and find out what he or she would like to do during your visit. Also check with the primary caregiver, if appropriate, to learn what he or she needs, such as handling some caregiving responsibilities while you are in town. This may help you set clear-cut and realistic goals for the visit. Decide on the priorities and leave other tasks to another visit.

How can I stay connected from far away?

Try to find people who live near your loved one and can provide a realistic view of what is going on. This may be your other parent. A social worker may be able to provide updates and help with making decisions.

Don’t underestimate the value of a phone and email contact list. It is a simple way to keep everyone updated on your parents’ needs.

Where can I find local resources for my family member?

Searching online is a good way to start collecting resources. Here are a few potentially helpful places to look:

Eldercare Locator, 1-800-677-1116 (toll-free)

National Institute on Aging website

Family Care Navigator

Your state government’s website

You might also check with local senior centers. Learn more about long-distance caregiving.

Life insurance- it is better to be prepared

by Jayson Cohen American Legacy Solutions

Life insurance is one of those things that many people prefer to avoid thinking about because it often conjures up dark images.  Many people are jarred into realizing the importance of buying life insurance after a close friend or family member has passed away or even after hearing a news story about a tragic death that hit close to home. The reality is that it is better to be prepared and know that our loved ones will not be left to fend for themselves. Consider these important questions to determine your need for life insurance.

How Will Your Loved Ones Live Without Your Income?

Some households are run on a paycheck to paycheck basis. Some people may have a modest amount of savings, but it may take two incomes to pay the monthly bills. Your spouse and children may quickly run out of money without your income to support them. Life insurance benefits are most commonly used to supplement lost wages and to eliminate debts after an income-producing adult passes away. By eliminating debts with insurance proceeds, your loved ones will need less money to live off of each month. Some people will purchase enough insurance to pay off all outstanding debts including the home mortgage. The surviving spouse may even be able to support the family through his or her income alone after the debts have been eliminated. Others will purchase enough coverage so that the proceeds can be invested to generate supplemental income.

How Will Your Spouse Be Able to Retire?

While some life insurance is needed to help your loved ones to survive on a monthly basis, you also need to think about the future. Your income may currently be instrumental in your spouse’s ability to fund a retirement account. Without your income, your spouse may be forced to work for many years past the traditional retirement age, this can create an unnecessary hardship on him or her. It can be wise to purchase extra coverage to fund a retirement account.

Do Your Kids Need Financial Assistance Getting Their Adult Lives Started?

If you have kids, you may be well aware of their financial dependence on you, and this will often not simply evaporate when they turn 18. Many children need financial assistance buying their first car, paying for their wedding, paying for college and more. Some parents will purchase additional death benefits so that their kids’ lives are not financially impacted by a death.

How Much Coverage Do You Need?

This is a complicated question that often requires you to create a solid financial plan for the future. Funds can be used strategically in different ways, such as to purchase income-producing assets, to pay off debts and more. Your current lifestyle, debts and assets all must be taken into account. It is wise to work with an experienced life insurance expert to review your financial needs.

Remember, life insurance has evolved over the years and there are many benefit programs that can come to your families rescue even if you don’t pass away but are too sick to work.  Now can be a great time to review what coverage you currently have and what coverage is available to you. Some people will live well into their 90s or beyond, but others have a life that is cut short far too soon.

Fitting exercise and physical activity into your day

“The problem is I keep stopping to shop.”

Don’t let a busy day stop you from exercising! There are many ways to squeeze a little physical activity into your day. To get the most out of exercise and physical activity, they need to be a regular part of your life.

Here are some ideas to help you fit physical activity into your day:

  • Make it a priority. Remember that being active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve health.
  • Sticky note that says “exercise”
  • Make it easy. You are more likely to exercise if it’s a convenient part of your day.
  • Walk the entire mall or every aisle of the grocery store when you go shopping.
  • Try being active first thing in the morning before you get too busy.
  • Join a gym that’s close to your home and easy to get to.
  • Take one or more flights of stairs up and two down.
  • Make it social. Many people agree that an “exercise buddy” keeps them going.
  • Take a walk during lunch with coworkers.
  • Try a dance class—salsa, tango, square dancing—it’s up to you.
  • Use family gatherings as a time to play team sports or do outdoor activities.
  • Make it fun. Do activities you enjoy to make exercise more fun, if you love the outdoors, try biking or hiking, or try listening to music while you garden or wash the car.
  • Make it happen. Plan to be active in many places and many ways.
  • Be realistic based on how physically active you are now.
  • Be specific in the details.
  • Include a weekly worksheet that details your activities.

Begin the New Year with hope and insight on Parkinson’s Disease

by Patty Jenkins

Start the New Year with hope for better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s Disease! Join the Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group as we kick off the New Year with Wayne Pickerell, Vice President and Clinical Research Manager of Neurosearch, Inc., at our meeting on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at The Lexington Assisted Living at 5440 Ralston St, Ventura.

Wayne has been involved in Parkinson’s Disease for over 18 years and has managed Clinical Research for Neurosearch for well over a decade. Thanks to participating clinics like Neurosearch and experts like Wayne, and also in large part to the leadership role of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, research continues to advance rapidly and there is more promising work being done to improve treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. Wayne will give us an overview of Parkinson’s Disease and the typical treatments that we currently have, update us in new treatments that are being studied and he will also discuss progress in the search for a cure to Parkinson’s disease.

The Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group also welcomes the public along with our members, their care-partners and new friends who find themselves navigating the challenges of Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions. For those interested in attending the event, there is a drop-off/loading and unloading driveway in the front of the Lexington Assisted Living building. Extra parking is graciously available across the street in the Baptist Church parking lot. Reservations are not required. Attendees are invited to check in at the front desk for directions to the 3rd floor and sign-in at the meeting so we can keep in touch with you. For more information, call Patty at 805-766-6070.

The Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group is an independent and volunteer-organized group, not affiliated with or a part of any other organization or group. Thanks to the generosity of the Lexington Assisted Living, we host our meetings every second Wednesday of the month from 1 to 3PM.

Does a full house beat 4-of-a-kind?

Wanted 1-3 retired men to play nickel, dime, dealer’s choice fun poker with very nice retired men at my home on Tuesdays noon to 4 pm. Our ages are 65-80. Great way to pass time and enjoy bunch of fun guys. If interested call Al at 954-987-6670, my home is on Pierpont Beach.