Top Gadgets For Seniors

Nell Bernstein (senior editor) over at Caring.com wrote up an informative post on aging in place gadgets.  Many of these gadgets have been highlighted here on The Senior List, but we wanted to share Nell’s list with our readers too. The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level”.  Many of the gadgets listed below can help aging Americans stay in their home longer, and in a safer environment.

Most adults would prefer to age in place—that is, remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age. One-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older. – Wikipedia on aging in place

Top Gadgets For Seniors

Here are several of our favorite gadgets that can contribute to a safer home environment for your friends or family members:

1.  Big Button Cell PhoneJitterbug 5 Review

Big button cell phones (yup some folks call them dumb phones) have a place in the mobile phone world, especially for aging adults.  When people age their eyes can (and usually do) get worse over time.  This is due to a variety of medical issues like glaucoma, cataracts or (age related) macular degeneration.  Yes, smartphones are all the rage these days, but cell phones like the Jitterbug 5 from Samsung can serve many purposes, including acting as a medical alert system.

2.  House Cleaning Robots

gadgets for seniorsActually we care do differ from Nell a little bit on this one.  Having a fun little “robot” vacuum cleaner like the iRobot Roomba are very cool devices, and we like them a lot.  But let’s face it, vacuum cleaners aren’t all that complex, or difficult to operate (at least not all of them yet).  The key to keeping a clean home, free of dust and/or dander is regular cleaning.  So having an easy-to-use vacuum of any kind is useful.  It should be light, and located in an accessible location.  Also, it might be a good idea to have a cleaning service come in once a month for a deep clean (if one can be afforded).

3.  Automatic Pill Reminders

Medication management systems are a great idea. As people age, they typically end up on a variety of medications like cholesterol lowering agents, high blood pressure meds, and more!  The fact that these medications must be managed for many aging adults accounts for a huge percent of nursing home admissions.  Medication management systems range from simple plastic pill boxes all the way up to smart (electronic) medication management systems that remind users when to take their meds.

4.  Medical Alert Systems

Top Gadgets for SeniorsMedical alert systems are something we know a great deal about.  These handy devices come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common is a pendant style alert system.  These have a single push button that alerts a call center when a person feels like they’re having a medical emergency (or any emergency for that matter).  Some of these devices also come packed with automatic fall detection which senses when an aging adult has fallen down.  If they’re unresponsive the medical alert system will notify the call center automatically.  Medical alert systems with fall detection usually cost a bit more, but they can be worth it in certain situations.  If you need help picking out the right medical alert system, we’ve created a handy medical alert system buyers guide to help navigate you through the many choices offered today.

There a number of other handy gadgets for seniors that can help one stay in the home longer, and be safer as well.  Head on over to Nell’s article for the full list.  Do you have any additions that you’d add to our list?  Any suggestions that you’ve implemented in a home?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

New Study: Americans Anxious About Retirement

Anxious About RetirementA new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) notes that Americans could be on the verge of another financial threat.  That threat is the lack of income to be able to sustain an independent lifestyle as they move out of the workforce and into retirement.  This is a relatively new phenomenon with massive economic implications down the road.

Life used to be a little easier for retirees. In the past retirees could count on 3 main sources of retirement income; Social Security, Pension Plans and 401K’s.  Today many companies have chosen to forgo a pension plan offering, leaving saving for retirement up to the individual worker(s).

In recent years, however, this retirement infrastructure has degraded dramatically. A large portion of the workforce lacks access to or is not participating in retirement plans, making future retirement security prospects—especially for middle class employees—challenging at best. – Diane Oakley & Kelly Kenneally (NIRS)

Anxious About Retirement

CBS News reports that “medical expenses are a major and realistic worry, with Fidelity estimating a couple who retired in 2014 needing an estimated $220,000 to cover future medical costs.”  It doesn’t take long for a savings account to dwindle down to nothing when dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia related issues, or when faced with Nursing Home costs.  These issues and more are further causing Americans to be anxious about retirement.

The NIRS study confirmed that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe there is a “retirement crisis”, and that 3 out of 4 Americans are highly anxious about their retirement prognosis. Further, many Americans see retirement benefits “almost as important” as a salary! It’s clear that we need to continue to protect the retirement programs we do have, while creating easier access to retirement plans for those that don’t have access at work. An estimated 10,000 baby boomers per day are leaving the workforce and entering into retirement.

Americans continue to feel that policymakers need to do more, and are quite supportive of state initiatives to shore up retirement savings. As the policy debate continues, we hope that these research findings help inform deliberations and serve as a valuable tool for government officials, experts and the general public. – Diane Oakley and Kelly Kenneally (NIRS, March 2015)

photo credit: Flickr/401(K) 2012

Need to start saving right away? Here’s our BIG LIST of Senior Discounts for 2015.  Feel free to pass it along to your friends!

Best Places To Retire 2015

Best places to retireIn January International Living published their list of best places to retire for 2015.  It wasn’t just their personal favorite places, the “best places to retire list” was based on a set of metrics that looked at the housing market, cost of living, entertainment, healthcare and climate.  They also factored in some other metrics, but these seemed like the biggies to us.

The list is very interesting because what it allows you to do is focus on what means the most to you.  For example if climate was important to you, you might want to take a good look at Ecuador, Colombia or Mexico.  If having access to excellent healthcare was important to you, you’d want to consider Malaysia or Costa Rica.  And if it was cost of living that you were most honed in on, well Nicaragua and Vietnam are good bets.

Retire in Ecuador

Best places to retireRight now International Living says Ecuador is the worlds #1 retirement haven.  World class medical facilities, great weather and low cost of living make it highly desirable.

A doctor’s visit will set you back around $10, while a main course in a restaurant can be had for as little as $2.50. The bus trip from Cotacachi to Otavalo will cost you 25 cents. For big-ticket items like real estate, you can get a lot more for your dollar here than in the U.S. A couple can live well here on $1,400 a month, including rent. – IL Ecuador Highlands Correspondent Wendy DeChambeau

Retire in Colombia

Best places to retireAnother great place to consider retiring is in Colombia. Sure we’ve all heard stories of drug cartels and the like, but Colombia boasts one of the finest healthcare systems in the region.

You can get health-care treatment comparable to that in the U.S. in any large or mid-sized city,” says Michael. “In a 2014 survey, 18 Colombian medical institutions ranked among the top 45 in Latin America. According to the World Health Organization, Colombia actually has better health care than the United States or Canada. – IL Colombia Correspondent Michael Evans

If you’re considering retiring abroad, or have tips for our readers – Please give us a shout in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!  Extra: List of Travel Discounts for Seniors

7 Financial Moves Before Retirement

Retirement PlanningU.S. News and World Report published a great list of money moves you need to make 5 years BEFORE you retire.  These moves can make a huge difference in your quality of life if you’re one of the millions of Americans getting ready to retire in the next few years.  The Huffington Post says Americans are not remotely financially ready for retirement and noted a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which advised “For Americans ages 55 to 64, net worth, the equity they own in their homes, and the value of other assets they own are each falling at precisely the time in their lives when they should be rising.”

HuffPost said:

Net worth for the middle 20 percent of soon-to-be-retired Americans has fallen every year since 2004, and it is now just under $170,000. (The median is $165,700.) That might seem like a lot, but it’s just enough money to live at the median U.S. income of $52,000 for a little over three years. And when most of that wealth is tied up in a home, it’s unclear how many of those in their upper 50s and early 60s plan to stay afloat without working or selling their home for what could easily be 20 or more years of retirement. – Ben Walsh, Huffington Post

Best Financial Moves Before Retirement

Here are U.S. News & World Report’s 7 best financial moves you can make before retirement:

  1. Take advantage of your last chance to improve your retirement portfolio
  2. Make sure you arrive at retirement debt-free
  3. Look for other ways to trim your living expenses
  4. Plan to reduce the risk in your portfolio
  5. Start working on a post-retirement career or business
  6. Plan to delay your retirement by a year or two
  7. Make getting and staying healthy a lifestyle

What does this mean for you and me?  It means we need to save, save, and save more.  Additionally, we need to keep ourselves in the best health possible.  Financially, we need to keep in mind that we need more than home equity to feel good about our retirement future.  “Homeownership should not be a retirement plan” says Ben Walsh of the Huffington Post. And we agree!

Loneliness And Isolation Put You At Risk

Loneliness and IsolationA new study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science is shedding new light on loneliness and isolation. The study was conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and found some alarming trends when it comes to loneliness and isolation. In short, researchers found that “Actual and perceived social isolation are both associated with increased risk for early mortality”. That means a life cut short by being lonely… and that is a shame.

Several lifestyle and environmental factors are risk factors for early mortality, including smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and air pollution. However, in the scientific literature, much less attention has been given to social factors dem- onstrated to have equivalent or greater influence on mortality risk (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010).

Loneliness and Isolation Study

The study was a meta-analysis (a study of many studies) involving millions of data-points.  Researchers concluded that there is substantial evidence that indicates people lacking social connections “are at risk for premature mortality”. The risk associated with social isolation and loneliness are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality, like obesity.

The data in this meta-analysis should make researchers call into question the assumption that social isolation among older adults places them at greater risk compared with social isolation among younger adults. Using the aggregate data, we found the opposite to be the case. Middle-age adults were at greater risk of mortality when lonely or living alone than when older adults experienced those same circumstances. – Julianne Holt-Lunstad et al

In an surprising twist, there was greater risk for those individuals 65 and under vs their older counterparts. I would have thought just the opposite, but the risk is there nonetheless.  I think it further confirms the need for awareness and caring for others, and the importance of connectivity to family and friends. Technology helps us stay connected, as do social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In my mind, nothing can take the place of personal visit to family or a phone call that reaches out and touches someone you care about.

People and Products on Twitter this week

products on twitterThis week saw a lot of interesting eldercare news out on the Twittersphere.  If you’re on twitter and want to have your tweets featured on The Senior List make sure you follow us there.  You can find us here @SeniorList.  Same goes for Facebook, if you’re on Facebook make sure we’re connected up so we can talk there too.  You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheSeniorList or just put The Senior List into your search bar.  OK, here are your Sunday morning tweets that caught our eye… Oh and enjoy your day!

The Pic Scanner App is a new “old photo scanner” that makes it easy to digitize your family pictures that are sitting in the shoe box. This might be one of our favorite products on Twitter this week.  Here’s the description in the App Store: Love old photos? Then you will love this app. Scans up to four pics simultaneously, and crops them automatically. So easy! Preserve & share memories with friends and family. A “must-have” app for tbt, craft, genealogy, ancestry and digital scrapbooking lovers.

If you needed inspiration this week (after digging out of all that snow), this sign may have done the trick for you. I love these kind of anonymous gestures!

If that weren’t enough, here’s some more inspiration for your Sunday morning!

Given today is the first day of March, this tweet seems appropriate!

I never thought of Bangkok at an optimal retirement destination but apparently some think it is!

Unless you were buried in snow, and just dug out… You know that we lost generational icon Leonard Nimoy this week. He lived long, and he prospered.

You’d be surprised to know how many people are afraid to discuss real issues that affect aging adults. Topics like urinary incontinence and hemorrhoids affect a lot of people as they age, no reason to hide from these things… Let’s learn about them!

Finally – I found a nice one to end on. One of our favorite posts of all time. You’ll want to click through and read this letter if you haven’t already. Also, feel free to RT!

Healthiest Cities Ranked

Healthiest Cities in the U.S.Ever wondered where your city ranks in terms of fitness?  Living here in Portland Oregon, we know that PDX is one of the healthiest cities around.  Portlanders are generally very fit and (if you believe Portlandia) very weird… Of course this is just the way we like it!  By the way, if you’ve ever watched Portlandia and wondered – are Portlanders really like that? We are.  

This month BetterDoctor.com published their list of the fittest cities in the U.S.  BetterDoctor.com, a website that helps consumers find the best doctor for their needs, gives us some interesting statistics to ponder.  These statistics rank-order cities on either how “fit” cities are, or how “sedentary” they are.  Some of the cities on the “fit list” are my favorite places to visit, and where many of my friends and family have settled in.  (*Special Note – These cities would also be great considerations for retirement for active adults.)

Here are the criteria themes they considered when ranking the fittest cities:

  1. Do other people in the city exercise?
  2. Are other residents fit?
  3. Do residents have access to high-quality parks and outdoor spaces?

Top 20 Healthiest Cities

Here are the top 20 fittest cities in the U.S. as ranked by BetterDoctor.com. The score you see following each city is their “fit cities index score”.  How does your hometown rank?

  1. Aurora, Colo., 75.2
  2. San Francisco, 73.6
  3. Oakland, 72.3
  4. Albuquerque, 70.9
  5. Seattle, 70.9
  6. Denver, 70.5
  7. Portland, Ore., 70.0
  8. Sacramento, 68.4
  9. Irvine, Calif., 66.8
  10. San Diego, 66.5
  11. Scottsdale, Ariz., 63.8
  12. San Jose, Calif., 63.5
  13. St. Paul, Minn., 63
  14. Minneapolis, Minn., 62.8
  15. Honolulu, 62.2
  16. Colorado Springs, Colo., 62.2
  17. Reno, 61.9
  18. Washington, D.C., 61.2
  19. Virginia Beach, Va., 58.4
  20. Boston, 58.3

All About (Healthy) Portland

Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

Leonard Nimoy dead at 83

“Live Long and Prosper”

News outlets reported earlier today that Leonard Nimoy (Spock) died this morning of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  The New York Times noted that Leonard Nimoy attributed his disease to years of smoking which he had given up many years ago.  Simply said, he was an icon for several generations.  Outpourings of support have rolled in from his friends, co-workers and family on social media networks, and in the news.  You lived long and you prospered Mr. Nimoy.  You shall be missed.

Photo Credit: ABC News

Tips For Those Considering Retiring Overseas

Retiring Overseas - Expert Tips

Ever thought about retiring overseas? If you answered yes, you need to read this great article by Kathleen Peddicord (of Live and Invest Overseas fame). In Kathleen’s HuffPost write-up, David and Cathy Thompkins tell their story of how a rock-solid western US couple moved from Northern Idaho to Cayo, Belize just a year ago.

Retiring Abroad

Retire Overseas

If you’re going to consider retirement overseas, you should probably make a few test runs first.  Spend some extended-time in the locations you’re considering.  This is a good rule-of-thumb even if you’re considering a domestic move right here in the good ole USA.  Just a few of the big challenges that David and Cathy faced included; What to do with all their stuff back home, where to find food, and how to build new relationships.

As you can imagine, the people in Belize are great – and things seem to be working out swimmingly (pun intended) for the Tompkins’.  If you’re looking to retire in Belize, or anywhere else for that matter – Do your homework. Click here for a direct link to the article or find it on our Facebook page where you’ll find all kinds of great boomer/senior related resources.

10 Stars Turning 50 in 2015

Guitarist Slash: Stars turning 50 in 2015

We recently posted a Happy Birthday to Chris Rock on The Senior List Facebook Page.  I mean he’s the voice of Marty-the-Zebra (my favorite Madagascar character) for goodness sake!  Thinking about Chris Rock getting his senior discount at McDonalds not only gave me a coffee craving, but it really got me thinking about time marching on.  I know, turning 50 is no big deal, but it’s a milestone, and you can’t argue that one.

Stars Turning 50

I’m amazed at how well time has treated some celebrities (and how it’s betrayed others).  Probably no different than the rest of us eh?  (Have you seen how great Chris Rock looks?)  Let’s take a look at 10 mega stars that will be turning 50 in 2015.  How is it that some of my favorite celebs are already eligible for their AARP discounts?

(Click Image For Gallery)