Thursday, December 20, 2018

Handling net worth during stock market volatility

I had a meeting Wednesday afternoon with a financial advisor, and I did get an idea of how investment planning for retirees based on expected lifespans works.

Planners are likely to expect to see active seniors in their 70s live 20 more years. They will tend to recommend “conservative growth” strategies vs. “conservative income”, that in my case can simulate a lifestyle earning about $80000. This sounds like “Economic Invincibility” indeed.

Because I have a mechanism to move personal annuity income back to the trust to pay it “rent” (though charitable donations) for my condo, there can be a gradual loss of net worth unless the annuity gains value to make up for it.  When the stock market (and derived money markets) rises, this will hide the “rent” and make it appear that net worth is staying steady.  But recently the volatility has wiped out most of the gains prior to this year, making the spending of the past years more conspicuous. .

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Baby boomers buy high-end CCRC condos with large entry fees not considered as part of the "real estate"

Scott James has a “Square Feet” article on p B6 of the New York Times on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, “Retirement Enclaves with 5-Star Amenities”, and the tag-line “Aging baby boomers create a surge in luxury communities that offer a range of heath care”.  Online the title is “Boomers create a surge in luxury care communities”. 

The article starts out by describing a property in the Napa Valley area (maybe exposed to wildfires?) before going to north Dallas.  What struck me as odd was that these were condominiums with entry fees on top (not part of the valuation of the apartment) which provided a deposit on future assisted living needs.

And some of them, even in Dallas, were outrageously expensive.  But the apartments tended to have large square-footages, compared to typical assisted living apartments for rental, as owned by chains. 
In the DC area (northern Virginia) a similar property in Goodwin House (two properties) which I have covered here before as CCRC’s.  But I believe those are rentals. 
A few of these properties, especially in New York and in California, have an outreach to LGBTQ persons. 
Picture: Near Lemon Ave and US 175 in Dallas. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

States are ranked as to their ability to protect senior citizens from caregiver or corporate abuse

The Wallet Hub has an email of the ten states with the best, and ten with the worst, eldercare protections, link back to this url that ranks all the states .   There is also a composite video link in the middle of the page. 

Virginia is in the middle of the pack on Prevalence and protection and low on resources.  Washington DC was second on resources. 

Most states have cities and counties operate “adult protective services” units.  It’s possible for adult children looking after elderly parents to get into trouble with these local regulatory enforcements.  For example, sometimes there are rules to the effect that people on certain memory medications should never be left home alone.

The state with the best overall score is Massachusetts, and the worst is South Carolina.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Elderly in Paradise CA are homeless after assisted living and nursing homes destroyed by Camp Fire

Alexandra S. Levine has a detailed story of the problems of the elderly and retired people around Paradise, CA, since it had been about 25% if the city. 

Five residence places (assisted living centers and nursing homes) were lost in the fire, which could mean they have to go back to live with adult children in other cities.

Also, many caregivers seem to have been lost.
And in many cases the very old will not be able to start over.

Wikipedia attribution: 
By NASA -, Public Domain, Link

Sunday, November 18, 2018

People with dementia can get kicked out of assisted living centers

Melanie Bishop has a story of “Modern Love” in the New York Times Sunday Styles, “I would have driven her anywhere”.  She describes two moves of her mother with dementia from assisted living centers, on in North Carolina that essentially evicted her for being “high maintenance”.  Yup, assisted living centers do have their rules.  I've seen them even for "respite stays" when my mother was alive. Evictions to happen.
The story is here
The story then winds down to a memoir of the car itself, which finally failed suddenly. Being moved back to Arizona and the car did help with memory. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Getting ready for 2018 taxes: how much difference does the standard deviation change mean for retirees?

Laura Saunders has a booklet in the Wall Street Journal, “Everything You Need to Know About the New Tax Law, Before the End of the Year”, link

For single retirees, the have a larger standard deduction (12000) but no personal exemption; so the total is slightly more than in 2017, and slightly lower marginal tax rates.

The WSJ recommends wealthy retirees aggregate big donations into fewer years.

It may be harder to justify itemizing to go over the standard deduction.  But state and local taxes still count, it looks like.

In my case, because I sold the house for a cheaper condo, the real estate taxes are much less.
Fidelity has a similar paper here.
The new law is somewhat better for some families with children.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Parents' auto accident causes severe filial problems for adult son ("The Ethicist" in the NYTimes)

Here’s a painful column by the Ethicist, Kwome Anthony Appiah, on p. 34 of the Sunday New York Times Magazine, “What do I owe my severely disabled parents?” 

The situation involves a major car accident overseas that leaves both parents severely disabled, and a sister deceased.  The accident appears not to be the parents’ fault.

The son is pressured by the grandfather to move back to another city even after the parents are finally medically evacuated home.  The son had lived overseas several months after the accident.
I was pressured to move for mother’s surgery in 1999 but did not, as, according to an arrangement, that would have resulted in job loss.

Friday, October 26, 2018

When seniors get challenging medical diagnoses, sometimes less treatment means more productive time left

I’ve talked about resilience on some of my pages. 

There is an importance of people stepping up to challenges and take risks to protect others. That has extended in recent years with the growth of organ donations and the willingness of strangers to participate.  Gay men were kept out of this activity for years with the blood donation ban, but that is slowly being lifted.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his “Skin in the Game” book, even argues that taking risks for others is necessary. And that includes the determination to fight for your own life hard even if that demands of others after an incident.

What about the same idea for the elderly?  

It is true that even in old age people can stay alive much longer than in past generations with modern medicine.  Yet families are smaller with fewer children and much more could be demanded of adult children than in earlier times.

I approach an important annual physical soon, probably in early November.

In time, the probability of finding something challenging increases.  We will all die of something. If we fend off one thing, eventually there will be something else.  This is simply the law of entropy in physics. Cancer, especially, really results from entropy.

Sometimes, there can be situations where doing less may mean fewer years of life remaining but the remaining time may allow more productive activity and independence.  This is especially relevant for single elders or those without extended family backup. 

Being pro-life ought to recognize maintaining independence and activity as a goal.  That could sometimes mean not doing radical surgery or chemo, in some situations.

Oct. 27

Paul Marantz Cohen's comments on Shakespeare's King Lear, which most of us had to read in high school, seem relevant (Wall Street Journal, today). 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Should seniors be "forbidden" to live alone sometimes?

Should seniors be able to insist on a “right” to live alone?
Reader’s Digest weighs in here, with ten warning signs, which includes Internet and social media behavior. 

 As far as unopened mail – there is just too much junk.

A Place for Mom obviously has a commercial motive for this advertorial blog post on the matter, but here it is. 

In various states, other adults (not always just relatives) can plea for court supervision or guardianship (or conservatorship). But for adult children and in states with filial responsibility laws, the adult kids may have no choice.

Here’s another one  .

None of these sources take up the problem of introverted seniors used to solitary intellectual activity.  They may not fit very well into the social climate of assisted living. David Malouf’s comedy short film “The Pharaohs” covers this problem.
For me, downsizing out of a house into a highrise condo (no risk from stairs) is a plus.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Wealth gaps occur within retirement communities, and can be narrowed by shared disasters

The Wall Street Journal, in a booklet article Oct. 3, notes the wealth gap growing within retirement communities, discussing Oakmont in the wine country in northern California.

Fewer retirees have adequate wealth from 401(k)’s after companies started freezing pensions in the late 1990s, replacing them with greater matching savings.
Recent wildfires seems to have brought the retirees together and put them more in one boat.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

You're retired and have assets, and suddenly your bank account is frozen. Can this happen?

Retirees who have parts of their wealth in trusts and other portions in their own name should be cautious in moving money around and “follow the rules” in their documents, even if no one is watching (like an attorney or executor).
Banks can freeze accounts for suspicious activity, as “Investopedia” explains here.   Unusually large deposits from suspicious sources (overseas) could trigger freezes.  It sounds reasonable that large deposits from trusts to individual accounts could be viewed as laundering in some cases.

Of course, sometimes debt collection or IRS collection can cause freezes of accounts. 
I found a site called “Daily Reckoning” that sounds a bit like Porter Stansberry, with supposedly “elite” to freeze the financial system, this time in case the Chinese suddenly greatly devalue their currency. I’m not sure I buy the logic of this.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Some active seniors want to end their lives before there is any disabling illness

Here’s an op-ed in the New York Times, Aug. 31, by Paula Span, “A Debate over ‘Rational Suicide’”, link.

My take is that when I was growing up, most seniors didn’t live very long when they developed serious illnesses because not much could be done.  People did not have the expectation of a long period of disability at the end of life, so no one had to think about it this way.  

I had a piano teacher who went into the hospital in May 1958 with colon cancer, apparently.  She died in two weeks.  I do recall that everyone dreaded colostomy and no one lived very long with one.

Now, it’s pretty important to make your wishes known.  The trouble is that malpractice fears and Medicare policies often force physicians to look for developing asymptomatic disease and to treat them. 

But, screening for diseases (like colonoscopies) may really make sense when started early enough in middle age.  But I doubt that aggressive treatment later in life can make much sense.
My own father died of aggressive prostate cancer just before his 83rd birthday (New Years Day, 1986).  But he was ill only for the last four weeks of his life. Until then, he did what he wanted.  He turned down what the most aggressive treatment would have been (essentially castration and feminization) as violating his own sense of sanctity.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

John McCain's mother seems healthy at 106 years of age

Roberta Wright McCain, John McCain III’s mother, is now 106 years old and appears to be in amazing health for the circumstances.

Her biography includes eloping in Mexico in 1933 to a Navy ensign. 

My own mother died shortly after her 97th birthday in December 2010, but had undergone coronary bypass surgery in May 1999.  At the time, at age 85, her life expectancy with the surgery was seven years. She got eleven, eight of them without much decline. The official cause of death would be aortic stenosis.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

PBS examines the growing shortage of home care workers and challenges of unpaid family care

Here’s a rather sobering interview on PBS conducted by Paul Solman on the growing shortage of home care workers. 

It’s obvious that tighter legal immigration would tighten the shortage.

Martha Kwant, in particular, makes a point of the personal aspects.  Americans aren’t as willing to give up their privacy or expressive independence to care for elderly relatives as people in other cultures are.

There is also discussion of giving home care workers higher pay, benefits, and more training and more authority – but how will be pay for it?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Many seniors declare bankruptcy even before Social Security starts; many work in retail or pimpy sales jobs

Tara Siegel Bernard has a booklet-length article in the Sunday New York Times on Sunday Aug. 5, “Too Little, Too Late: Bankruptcy Books Among Older Americans”, link

She notes the numbers of filings in the year or two before Social Security eligibility, which creeps up.  More and more old people are taking minimum wage jobs in retail (with some risk of security to themselves).

I went through the “paying your dues” phase of job interviews for a few of these in the 2000s, even before I worked as a substitute teacher. 

Ironically many of the jobs are cheesy sales pyramids or multi-levels (starting out with hotel weekend sessions) in areas like cash flow.  Many of them are in debt collecting or credit counseling, of people in much worse shape than you are.  They call it, people skills.

Some were in “development” – raising money for non-profits, which has come to seem demeaning.
The established custom in the past of expecting salaried professionals to retire as early as 55, and then freezing pensions and replacing them with 401(k)’s with too much money in an employer’s own stock, is backfiring.  I came out of this OK but a lot of people didn’t.  I came out of 2008 OK because I saw it coming in time.  Is that capitalism?    (No, it wasn’t insider trading.  It was a feeling you can’t get something for nothing forever.)

Thursday, August 02, 2018

New studies suggest anti-Alzheimer's drugs should be started much sooner; at age 85, 50% of people have symptoms

Science Daily reports on an accepted drug, memantine, which may halt the process of neuron destruction in Alzheimer’s disease long before there are symptoms. 
Moreover, the article explains and diagrams the process where amyloid beta oligomers enter brain neurons and prime the cells for death.

The article makes the startling claim that 50% of people at age 85 have symptoms of Alzheimer’s serious enough to lead to fatality in even five years if they don’t die of something else.

It also describes a loss of 30% of the cells in the cerebral cortex, responsible for “content” (not wakefulness) in brain function, as typical in Alzheimer’s.

My mother took Namenda (memantine) in the last year (2010) of her life (as well as Aricept).
I was told that when adults start on these medications, legally they cannot be left alone for significant periods. However that would not be true if the treatment is started before symptoms.

CNN has a distantly related story that regards Alzheimer’s as a malignant process that can be treated with immunotherapy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More public pension recipients are likely to get stiffed

Public employee pension funds seem to keep drifting into deeper trouble, as Sarah Krouse writes in this article for the Wall Street Journal July 31.   Central Falls RI and San Jose CA get special attention.  The "Pension Hole" is bigger than Japan's economy.

Put bluntly, it looks like more former public employees will get stiffed.

It doesn’t seem as if PBGC  applies.
Charles Murray’s controversial proposal for Universal Basic Income back in 2016 would have eliminated Social Security and all other government handouts.  Not sure about public pensions.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What kinds of necessary elective surgery can be disruptive to productive seniors who live alone?

One big concern for a retired person who lives alone and needs to keep his own systems running (that is, in my case, a set of blogs), a major concern would be any elective surgery that requires any extended hospital stay or rehabilitation away from home (Medicare pays for 20 days, and typically most supplements handle up to about 100).  This can potentially become a very big deal.

Once you reach my age (75) there are really not that many situations where this is all that likely.  I don’t see ever having a bone marrow transplant.  But it is true that invasive procedures (like coronary bypass surgery) can extend lives considerably in many elderly;  when I was growing up they were not possible, so I did not internalize the idea of facing this.

In fact, my own mother had triple bypass surgery at age 85 in May, 1999 and I did not realize this was even possible at her age when it was proposed. She would have eight good years, and three more not so good.

The official cause of her passing in 2010 was aortic stenosis.  That means it is in the family, maybe.
Barbara Walters, former ABC 2020 host, had aortic value replacement surgery in the summer of 2010. She had reported some shortness of breath on climbing.  She reported that after the surgery she was quite weak for some time, and needed the summer before returning to any work.

The condition is likely to be confirmed by an echocardiogram even after minimal symptoms.
Sometimes lathroscopic surgery, which is much less invasive (through the groin) is possible for some of these problems, with a much shorter recovery.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Caregiver supply, paid and unpaid, dwindles with "demographic winter" and immigration issues (WSJ big story)

Clare Ansberry has practically a booklet-length article in the weekend (“Sunday paper”, for all purposes) Wall Street Journal, “The Unprepared: America is running out of family caregivers, just when it needsthem most”.  The tagline is “Smaller, more unpaid caregivers means fewer unpaid helpers; ‘Are you really my daughter’”.   This caught my eye at a Starbucks this morning.
The ratio of caregivers to care recipients peaked in 2010 (my own mother died in December of that year at 97).

“Population demographics” (falling birthrates) and individualism contribute to the coming crisis.  Childless adults are more likely to have set up separate lives and become vulnerable to severe disruption by filial piety.

The immigration crisis could gradually reduce the number of home health caregivers available, as well as work force in assisted living centers and nursing homes.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"Know your customer" rules at banks could trip up retirees or estate holders

Here’s an important article by Telis Demos and Michael Siconolfi explains how “know your customer” forces banks and financial institutions to verify information of  all account holders and possibly question some transactions, as with trusts, if they look improper. 

This would seem to set an example in the future for Internet hosting account holders, I wonder.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Seniors and volunteer village associations; nursing home and home care staffing undermined by immigration crisis

A couple of stories for senior “lifestyles”:

The Boston Globe, in a story by Robert Weisman, reports “For some seniors, a cultural shift and vital volunteerism”. 

The article reviews “village associations” which help seniors live independently, especially in Boston and on the cape or coastal Massachusetts. They do cost something to join.  They seem to give help in, for example, the inevitable break down of systems (appliance, heating) in seniors’ homes, storms or emergencies, as well as other matters such as social activity and security.

And the front page of the Sunday New York Times July 8 features a big story by Jordan Rau, “Nursing homes routinely mask low staff levels”, at least in New York State. This is particularly the case on the weekends, where some are almost deserted and where some patients have no family visiting them. The article doesn’t get into the difference between Skilled Nursing, where Medicare pays, and long term care, where it doesn’t.  But even SNF’s sometimes have problems, especially when family is distant. The problems are likely to get worse because of Trump’s crackdown even on legal immigration. A large portion of personal care aides are immigrants, although reputable agencies, assisted living centers and nursing homes do check on legal status.  But the people could get even harder to find. In my mother’s case, most of the caregivers were legal (often for many years) immigrants.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Another writer on the FEE site implicitly warns current beneficiaries of Social Security

Brenton Smith has another warning article about the pressure on Social Security on Foundation for Economic Education, link here. Paul Ryan has called it “the most predictable crisis in history”.
In this article, the Social Security administration reportedly partially agrees that raising FICA taxes would “help”. 

Smith, like the previous writer, refutes the idea that the money was borrowed or spent on other federal programs.
Even back in 2009, Obama had criticized “kicking the can down the road”, but the possibility of means testing even for existing beneficiaries seems to grow.

Update:  July 16

Business Insider has a similar story now. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Social Security could have to cut benefits suddenly, according to Trust Fund Report for 2018 (as interpreted by some)

A bold article by James D. Agresti on Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and Intellectual Takeout, takes the position that Social Security really is a welfare program (which technically the Supreme Court said it is in 1960), “Social Security has been swelled, not looted”.  Population demographics – longer life spans and fewer children (after the baby boomer generation) is the basic mathematical cause.
It links to the Social Security Trust Fund report for 2018, which warns that expenses (payouts) will exceed intake in 2018, and become insolvent by 2034.
The report notes the actuarial deficit, which could require an immediate benefit cut of 17% for all current and future beneficiaries, or an increase in FICA taxes of 22%, or some combination of the two. Oddly, there has been no coverage of this development in mainstream media in the past few days, given all the distractions.  It's pretty obvious you could put means testing into such a balance (either based on other income or total accumulated wealth). 
The writer mentions the privatization proposals during the Bush years but seems surprisingly dismissive.

Update: June 30

Charles Blahous has a similar article on FEE, "Seven Social Security Myths". 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Elder Pride exhibit in Baltimore shows older gays understand history much better than millennials

Today, the ElderPride pavilion in Druid Hill Park at Baltimore LGBT Pride weekend showed that eldergays understand the long reach of history a lot better than most millennials.

Today’s young adults really often don’t get how things were, like in the days that we had the Vietnam era draft, student deferments, war protests.  They also don’t understand how earlier anti-gay policies were seen as intrusions on individual privacy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Alzheimer's risk may be increased by rapid brain development in youth; Y chromosomes may protect some men from dementia

Here’s a rather shocking article from “The Scientist” by Sukanya Charuchandra, “Aging[Related Diseases May Be a Natural Result of Human Evolution”, link
The theory is that fast-track developments in the brain to enable performance up through the reproductive years may make the brains more vulnerable to early deterioration after reproduction si impossible, especially with Alzheimer’s.  That sounds like plaque formation may result as an aftermath of earlier development.
There were some comparative studies with chimpanzees and gorillas.
Furthermore, however, Y chromosomes contain some genes that may help protect some men but not women from plaque formation. Previously, the higher incidence in Alzheimer’s in women has been attributed mainly to longer lifespans.
Back in 2010, I had been told by one assisted living center (when looking for mother) that 70% of the Alzheimer’s unit residents were women.
Jack Andraka retweeted this story Tuesday. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Conservative sites claim that China is plotting to undermine dollar and destroy US retirees

This site sounds a little bit like Porter Stansberry stuff, but Augusta Precious Metals is claiming (out of self-interest) that China is scheming to undermine the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, greatly undermining the portfolios of many retirees.
Here is the link

The advertorial was sent by email by “RedStates”.  Yet the threat to reserve currency seems to say mostly in the world of conservative websites.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Baby Boomers: don't give money to your kids

Susan Moeller of the Boston Globe has a stinging list of tips for “baby boomers” in retirement, here.

The attention-getting headline is to give less (maybe nothing) to your kids. (That probably means leaving everything to a surviving spouse for starters; when both are gone, the advice literally doesn't follow.) 

Boomers have more problems than they expected, both with divorce and employer stinginess with retirement benefits, a winner-take-all economy, and especially their being caught in the “sandwich generation”, having to care for elderly parents, who lived longer than expected.
Keep working and stay competitive as long as possible.  But does that mean, pimp?

Friday, May 25, 2018

Top 11 jobs for seniors is not all that remarkable

Senior Living has an 11-point list of top senior occupations in quasi-retirement, link , These statistic are based on the BLS of the Department of Labor. This link arrived by email Thursday. 

Number 2 was “sales and related occupations”.  Personal care was #9..

But very few seem to pursue their own agendas.

Monday, May 21, 2018

CNN explains: no, the federal government is not "stealing" from Social Security

Max Richtman on CNN has an important article, “No one is stealing from Social Security”.

This op-ed addresses conservative claims that the federal government raids Social Security for its profligate social benefits spending.
No, Social Security buys treasury bills like any other investor, and by law the treasury has to pay interest on these and redeem them when mature.

This analysis could be important should another debate on the debt ceiling erupt. 
The article does not address the problem of paying benefits to dead people (previous article).

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Social Security payment benefits to dead people, over 112 years old

6.5 million people over “112” have active Social Security accounts.  The government doesn’t seem to have a good system to be notified about deaths,

Relatives are still collecting their money, according to “7 on your side”. One woman was on a year;s probation with home detention and an ankle bracelet.  
People have been prosecuted for failing to notify SSA to stop the payments.

I notified them immediately at the end of 2010 and one payment was recovered.
(The video won’t embed because WJLA hasn’t gone to https!)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Senior Citizen Handbook for Virginia has a warning about guardianship

The Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia (MCCNova) hands out, on its hospitality table, a “Senior Citizen Handbook, Laws and Programs Affection Senior Citizens in Virginia”, a project of the Senor Lawyers Conference of the Virginia State Bar.  It is good to see this offered at a “gay” church, since elder LGBT persons are often living alone and may have less ties to biological family than others.

Several important topics attracted my notice. On p. 62, revocable living trusts (which I had for mother, who passed in 2010) are discussed. The usual advice that family members appointed as trustees need to be careful and not comingle their own assets (before death and authorized distributions) is well noted.

The booklet mentions a “special needs trust” on p 64, set up with a beneficiary’s own money.  But it is also possible for a beneficiary to receive funds from an irrevocable trust after the original elder has passed.  A beneficiary typically has a fiduciary interest in the trust and may receive regular income from it, which is not the same thing as a distribution.  The executor may be legally required to continue the income.  Or a special needs beneficiary might get benefits from the eventual death of the executor (if elder) early in the way of some income, if the special needs are clearcut enough.  What gets interesting is that a beneficiary could be a non-profit organization that assists others.  Then there could be a question as to whether it is appropriate for that beneficiary to ask for payments early.

The booklet also distinguishes a “supplemental needs trust”.
On p. 67, the booklet takes up the subject of guardianship and conservatorship. There is an astonishing statement. “Under Virginia law, any adult person may petition the city or county circuit court to obtain guardianship or conservatorship of another person.”  It’s easy to imagine how a Medicare-reimbursed physician could feel tempted to abuse this. Later it reads “Guardianship deprives the incapacitated person of many civil rights.”

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Family denied visitation to father by guardian for asking questions of provider (northern Virginia)

Recently, I relayed a story from Nevada about apparent abuse of the legal process of guardianship.
Now WJLA reports a major case from Virginia in its “7 on your Side” series, here. The story was aired at 6 PM tonigjt, Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Apparently, a certain family in Fairfax County, VA had turned to the courts for a father (retired military veteran)’s care. 
The guardian wrote strict rules of visitation, and insisted that the family not ask any questions of the facility directly.  One of the family members emailed the facility and the visitation rights were suspended.

Monday, May 07, 2018

In some states, court-appointed guardians run a racket, gaslighting seniors

Rachel Aviv (“Reporter at Large”) has a particularly disturbing article (Oct. 9, 2017) in the New Yorker, “How the Elderly Lose TheirRights” with the tagline “Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent – and reap a profit.”

The article relates the story of an elderly married couple in Las Vegas (the wife had recovered from lymphoma) who had bought a retirement home in a planned community, and was suddenly ordered out of it by a court-ordered guardian into assisted living, apparently without due process. The term “gaslighting” is used to characterize the racket.

Apparently this happens when a court receives notification from a physician, in some states.

Physicians have become more aggressive in demanding that seniors make visits more often, and possibly submit to disruptive medical tests, under theories concerning longevity. And providers may have a financial incentive to do so.  In my own case, a physician is demanding more frequent monitoring of my own blood pressure medication, which I find I can stretch out.

Some seniors may do better by keeping their momentum with little monitoring.  Remember some seniors had long lifespans in the past without the regular colonoscopies and prostate or breast exams. But the medical establishment thinks it can “do good” in some cases that it couldn’t do before, and rationalize heavy-handed behavior.
This is a very serious matter that doesn’t seem to be adequately reported by the media (like filial responsibility laws).

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Altanta group "Chess for a Cause" sees the game as a way to delay dementia in some seniors

The May 2018 issue of USCF’s magazine Chess Life has a major article on p. 9 “Chess for a Cause”, about the Atlanta group by that name that brings chess into senior centers as a form of recreation that can encourage mental sharpness and possibly delay dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms.

The site for the group appears to be here.
There have been numerous efforts to provide chess for lower income youth in different cities (see movies blog for “The Dark Horse” (New Zealand), April 26, 2015, and “Brooklyn Castle”, Nov. 5, 2012)). But I haven’t heard of a major effort for seniors before.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New low cost blood test may detect tendency for Alzheimer's decades in advance

David Nield reports on “ScienceAlert” on a new blood test that can detect a propensity for Alzheimer’s Disease three decades early, by finding plaque markers in the blood.  
It appears that this may be a relatively inexpensive test, along the lines of Jack Andraka’s pancreatic cancer test.

But it is not clear what someone with a positive test would do about it.
There are genetic diseases like Huntington’s with tests that can predict early dementia. 

Friday, April 06, 2018

Employers find they need older workers -- really

Employers are finding that an aging workforce can benefits them, according to a story by Kerry Hannon, March 2, 2018.
Some are willing to transfer older blue collar workers into office positions.
When I was in the main part of my career, there was a mentality that retirement could be encouraged as early as 55.  This is obviously an idea that nation could not afford, due to fewer children being born here and fewer workers and longer life spans.
Furthermore, companies lost the perspective of older workers who had grown up under different situations and challenges (including dealing with a military draft).  When it came time to designing the Affordable Care Act and testing its implementation, the idea of careful stages of systems developments had become less strong than it used to be. 
You can even wonder about workplace maturity and Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.  Had she hired more mature persons running her IT, she might not have gotten into so much trouble. 
Older workers may have a better grasp of how to handle customer service and of the legitimate expectations of consumers for support (like how to manage stand-ins when a normal agent is out).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Baltimore holds forum on housing LGBT elders

Baltimore Outloud has a detailed story on housing problems for LGBT seniors, with a meeting on March 21, link here
The largest problems may occur in assisted living and nursing homes with foreign caregiving staff that is not concerned about LGBT issues.

The shear number of LGBT people without children in retirement is increasing.
I think there is a tendency, however, for many to be more vigorous and independent in elder years than average because they have had to be so all their lives.

Picture: from 2016

Monday, March 12, 2018

A plan to relieve student loan debt by foregoing future social security benefits

Elliott Harding of National Review proposes “a solution to the student-debt and social security crisis” The idea is to forgive some student load debt in return for considerable postponement in eligibility to receive social security benefits.

Rick Sincere, with the Libertarian Party of Virginia and in the past Gays and Lesbians of Individual Liberty, shared it today in his daily paper in Charlottesville.
The plan would set a limit of forgiveness of about $40000, but about 90% of students could discharge their debt. 

Monday, March 05, 2018

Workers with 401(k)'s have a lot less economic "free speech" than people still earning pensions

David Webber explains “The Real Reason the Investor Class Hates Pensions” today in the New York Times.

Reason:  when public pensions are reformed and sustained, then workers have more “economic vote” impinging on only non-worker owners.

401(k) owners are much quieter as investors than are future pensioners.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Enzyme might provide a breakthrough on Alzheimer's

At an Exxon station video on a gas pump, attached to a 7-11 store, a very mundane place for a Sunday morning, I spotted an ad claiming that a newly explored enzyme called Bace could really help Alzheimer’s patients with memory. Here is a typical story in Science Daily. 

I noted yesterday on the LGBT blog how LGBT seniors who do wind up in Assisted Living or nursing homes face rather unsympathetic staff, especially in rural areas.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

"The 4% Rule": How much money do you need for the rest of your life?

I “retired” in terms of my old IT career ending at the end of 2001, at age 58. I had about three times my annual salary saved in liquid assets (at the time I owned no real estate).
I got lucky, somewhat, with family circumstances nine years later with the passage of my mother and the creation of a trust.  The total amount under my control is about 14 times what that annual income had been.
Still Anne Tergesen’s piece on p. B5 of the weekend Wall Street Journal, p. B5, “It’s time to rethink some common beliefs”, with some particular attention to the 4% rule, which is supposed to make a million dollar nest egg last for 30 years.
In an increasingly unstable world, that may be risky.
Also, hear this (after the volatility in the past week on Wall Street), on how dangerous some investing is, even after the 2008 fiasco with credit default swaps and derivatives. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

AARP outlines job hunting mistakes by seniors, with some surprises

The AARP has a valuable slide show on Job Hunting Mistakes by seniors, that is well worth a look, here. 

A couple points stand out. 

One is outdated email addresses.  AOL (which I have) and Yahoo look bad, gmail and Outlook (I use gmail) look good. That’s a little odd, that AOL and Yahoo are not trendy companies.

Another is insufficient digital presence.  But many seniors don’t find a social media presence socially necessary.
It does recommend blogging about your field.  Because mine had been “mainframe programming”, which hollowed out, that would have been hard for me to do seriously. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Should retirees invest in Bitcoin? Only if they have lot's of cash

Should retirees consider investing in Bitcoin or digital currencies?

Michelle Singletary has a stinging column in her “The Color of Money” series, where she interviews several financial planners. 

Generally they agree that in a practical sense, bitcoin seems like gambling and that the underlying “value” is hard to grasp. But digital currency has a huge potential in literally eliminating the need for banks.

Retirees should never borrow to invest in bitcoin.

You can buy bitcoin in relatively few locations, given in the article for the DC area.
There is a coordinated post on the Issues Blog Jan 23.