The 15 Most Common Health Concerns for Seniors

Written By: Guest Contributor - Sep• 10•18

Getting older can bring senior health challenges. By being aware of these common chronic conditions, you can take steps to stave off disease as you age.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

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People in America today can expect to live longer than ever before. Once you make it to 65, the data suggest that you can live another 19.3 years, on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For many, then, senior living includes carefully managing chronic conditions in order to stay healthy.
Making healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking and losing weight, can help you avoid senior health risks, though “you also need to be physically active and eat a healthy diet,” explains Jeanne Wei, MD, PhD, executive director of the Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. Including a geriatrician, a doctor who specializes in the health concerns of aging, on your senior healthcare team can help you learn how to live better with any chronic diseases.

1. Arthritis
“Arthritis is probably the number one condition that people 65 or older contend with,” says geriatrician Marie Bernard, MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland. The CDC estimates that it affects 49.7 percent of all adults over 65 and can lead to pain and lower quality of life for some seniors. Although arthritis can discourage you from being active, it’s important to work with your doctor to develop a personalized activity plan that, along with other treatment, can help maintain senior health.
2. Heart Disease
According to the CDC, heart disease remains the leading killer of adults over age 65, accounting for 489,722 deaths in 2014. As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women 65 and older, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. As people age, they’re increasingly living with risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease. Dr. Bernard’s advice for addressing this senior health risk not only helps with heart disease but can improve senior health across the board: “Exercise, eat well, get a good night’s rest. Eating well means eating in a fashion that will allow you to keep a healthy weight with a well-balanced and healthy diet.”
3. Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over age 65, with 413,885 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. The CDC also reports that 28 percent of men and 21 percent of women over age 65 are living with cancer. If caught early through screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and skin checks, many types of cancer are treatable. And though you’re not always able to prevent cancer, you can improve your quality of life as a senior living with cancer, including during treatment, by working with your medical team and maintaining their healthy senior living recommendations.
4. Respiratory Diseases
Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are the third most common cause of death among people 65 and older, with 124,693 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. Among people 65 and older, about 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women are living with asthma, and 10 percent of men and 11 percent of women are living with chronic bronchitis or emphysema, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Although having a chronic respiratory disease increases senior health risks, making you more vulnerable to pneumonia and other infections, getting lung function tests and taking the correct medication, or using oxygen as instructed, will go a long way toward preserving senior health and your quality of life.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 92,604 deaths of people over age 65 in 2014, according to the CDC. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in nine people age 65 and older, which is about 11 percent, have Alzheimer’s disease, but because diagnosis is challenging, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people are living with this chronic condition. Still, experts acknowledge that cognitive impairment has a significant impact on senior health across the spectrum, from issues of safety and self-care to the cost burden of care, either in the home or a residential facility.
6. Osteoporosis
“Osteoporosis can contribute to becoming less mobile and potentially disabled should you fall and have a fracture or as the vertebral bodies collapse,” Bernard said. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 54 million Americans over age 50 are affected by low bone mass or osteoporosis, putting them at risk for a fracture or break that could lead to poor senior health and reduced quality of life. What’s more, they estimate that by the year 2020 that number will rise to 64.4 million.
7. Diabetes
The CDC estimates that 25 percent of people ages 65 and older are living with diabetes, a significant senior health risk. According to CDC data, diabetes caused 54,161 deaths among adults over age 65 in 2014. Diabetes can be identified and addressed early with simple blood tests for blood sugar levels. The sooner you know that you have or are at risk for diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes to control the disease and improve your long-term senior health outlook.
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
Although the flu and pneumonia aren’t chronic conditions, these infections are among the top eight causes of death in people over age 65, according to the CDC. Seniors are more vulnerable to these diseases and less able to fight them off. Senior healthcare recommendations include getting an annual flu shot, and getting the pneumonia vaccine if recommended by your doctor, to prevent these infections and their life-threatening complications.
9. Falls
The risk for falls requiring emergency room care increases with age. Each year, 2.5 million people ages 65 and older are treated in emergency departments because of falls, according to the CDC. That’s more than any other age group. And, one-third of people who go to the emergency room for a fall may find themselves there again within one year, according to a study published in August 2015 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Also be aware that most falls occur in the home, where tripping hazards include area rugs and slippery bathroom floors, according to a study published in January 2013 in the Journal of Injury and Violence Research.
10. Substance Abuse
An analysis of data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions suggests that one in five people over 65 have had a substance or alcohol abuse problem at some point in their lives. Alcohol and tobacco topped the list of nonmedical substances abused by survey participants. Substance and alcohol abuse are a concern for senior health because of possible interactions with prescription medication, their impact on overall health, and the increased senior health risks, such as falls, associated with intoxication.
11. Obesity
Obesity is an important senior health risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer — all chronic conditions that impact quality of life. As the numbers on the scale increase, so does the risk for disease. Of the adults between 65 and 74, 36.2 percent of men and 40.7 percent of women are obese — meaning that their body mass index is greater than or equal to 30 — according to the CDC. It can also be a signal that an older adult isn’t as active or mobile as he or she once was.
12. Depression
According to the American Psychological Association, 15 to 20 percent of Americans over 65 have experienced depression. A threat to senior health, depression can lower immunity and can compromise a person’s ability to fight infections. In addition to treatment with medication and therapy, other ways to improve senior living might be to increase physical activity — 59.4 percent of adults 65 and older don’t meet CDC recommendations for exercise— or to interact socially more — seniors report spending just 8 to 11 percent of their free time with family and friends, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.
13. Oral Health
Healthy teeth and gums are important not just for a pretty smile and easy eating, but also for overall senior health. According to the CDC, 25 percent of adults over 65 have no natural teeth. As you age, your mouth tends to become dryer and cavities are more difficult to prevent, so proper oral health care, including regular dental checkups, should be a senior healthcare priority, Dr. Wei said.
RELATED: 6 Ways Your Body Gets Better With Age
14. Poverty
In 2013, 45 percent of adults ages 65 and older had incomes below the poverty level, according to a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation report. This number takes into account available financial resources, liabilities such as taxes, value benefits like food stamps, out-of-pocket medical expenses, geographic variations in housing expenses, and other factors. Older women are slightly more likely than men to be living in poverty, and that gap widens in those over 80. Single older adults are also significantly more likely to live alone with fewer resources. Poverty affects senior health if you’re unable to afford doctor visits, medication for chronic conditions, and other essential senior healthcare needs.
15. Shingles
Remember that bout of chicken pox you had as a kid? It can come back as shingles when you’re an adult. According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of three people over 60 will get shingles, and 50 percent of all Americans will experience it before they’re 80. It usually affects only one side of your body, starting out with severe pain or tingling and then developing into an itchy rash and possibly blisters. There is a vaccine available, so talk to your doctor about it.

Nearly two-thirds of people age 65 to 80 are interested in sex, new poll says

Written By: Guest Contributor - May• 04•18

sex old

By  GLOBE STAFF

Nearly two-thirds of adults 65 to 80 years old say they’re interested in sex, and more than half say that sex is important to their quality of life, according to a new poll that seeks to shed light on a little-discussed topic.

Forty percent of those surveyed said they were sexually active, according to the new results from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging.

“This survey just confirms that the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn’t stop at a certain age,” Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP, said in a statement from Michigan Medicine, the university medical center.

The poll, sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,002 people in October. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 to 8 percentage points. It’s the latest in a series of reports on healthy aging.
“While sex is an integral part of the lives of many older adults, this topic remains understudied and infrequently discussed,” the study said.

The poll found sexual interest diminishing in later years among those sampled. A third of the people in their late 60s said they were extremely or very interested in sex, but that number dropped to 19 percent for those in their late 70s. Sexual activity also declined, from 46 percent to 25 percent.

The poll found differences by gender. Half of the men said they were extremely or very interested in sex, while only 12 percent of women said they were. Seventy percent of men strongly agreed or agreed that sex was important to their overall quality of life, while 40 percent of women said it was. Forty-three percent of women were extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives, compared with 31 percent of men.

“Gender differences in perspectives on sex may result in differing expectations and challenges, even for long-term relationships,” the study said. “To this end, conversations about sex in a relationship are important.”

Other findings of the poll included:

■ Nearly three-quarters of the total group said they had a romantic partner, while 54 percent of that group said they were sexually active.

■ Forty-five percent of people who rated their health as excellent, very good, or good said they were sexually active, while 22 percent of those who reported being in fair or poor health were sexually active.

■ Eighteen percent of men and 3 percent of women said they had taken medications or supplements to improve sexual function in the past two years.

Written By: Guest Contributor - Apr• 23•18

 

Retirees Often Make This Major Social Security Mistake

Many people take Social Security early and put off tapping into their IRAs and 401(k)s until they must. But that’s the opposite of what most should do, because waiting until 70 to take benefits can pay off in more ways than one.

 

social security

By MICHAEL TOVE, CEP, RFC | AIN Services
April 18, 2018

Most people are aware of the advice “delay your Social Security until age 70.” Many reject it because they created an Excel spreadsheet that seems to contradict it, or they think they won’t live long enough to make it pay off, or because they just can’t stand working past age 65 (or 66 or 67). In addition, they look at the idea of putting off taking Social Security by funding their living expenses with withdrawals from their IRAs or 401(k)s with disdain, because those accounts are 100% taxable upon receipt and they hate “giving money to Uncle Sam.”

Unfortunately, for many people, the decision to start Social Security before age 70 and delay withdrawing money from a traditional IRA until age 70½, when required minimum distributions (RMDs) begin, is completely backward.

Let’s break this down into three main points:

1. You’re giving up on a higher Social Security benefit.

Once you reach your full retirement age, your monthly Social Security check gets 8% larger for every year you delay taking benefits through age 70 (technically, it’s 2/3% per month). Mathematically, the “crossover point” is about 12 years.

For example, suppose at full retirement age (which is 67 if you were born in 1960 or later) your Social Security check is $2,000 per month (or $24,000 per year). At age 70, that check would be $2,480 per month ($29,760 per year). By waiting until age 70 to start taking benefits, by the time you reach age 83 you would have been paid a total of $386,880, compared with the $384,000 you would have gotten if you had started at age 67, even though you got income for three extra years. The average life expectancy of a 67-year-old is at least 85, and growing, so any year you live past age 83 is money in your pocket.

Basically, the advice to delay Social Security is correct.

2. You’re still going to have to pay taxes on your tax-deferred accounts no matter what.

Your traditional IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc., is 100% taxable to you or your heirs, and at some point it will be fully liquidated to you or them. Putting off taking withdrawals from it does not change those facts. You get no tax benefit by delaying.

3. It’s not how much money you make that counts, but how much you keep.

Social Security income is never more than 85% taxable, but it could be 0% taxable. The taxed amount is determined by an 18-step calculation in the return instructions for Form 1040. Essentially, the process tells you to take half of your Social Security benefit, add that to all your “other income” and then perform a series of calculations to determine how much of your Social Security (between 0% and 85%) is taxable.

In other words, the bigger your Social Security check and the less “other income” you have (for the same total income), the less your adjusted gross income and the less tax you will pay.

SEE ALSO:The Scary Facts About Social Security’s Future

Putting this strategy to work: One couple’s story

The realization of these three points offers insight into sound retirement planning: If you plan to retire before age 70, consider delaying your Social Security until age 70 and living off your retirement accounts from your retirement date until then.

For example, Bob and Mary, both age 65, have just retired. Together, they receive pensions of $1,500 per month and are eligible (at age 65) for combined Social Security benefits of $3,500 per month ($42,000 per year). They need $5,000 per month for their living expenses. They also have 401(k)s worth $300,000.

Succumbing to “conventional wisdom” myths, Bob and Mary start their Social Security at age 65, justifying that in combination with their pensions, they’ll get the $5,000 per month they need. Over the next five years, their 401(k)s grow at 5% per year. Five years later, they are worth $382,884 with a first year RMD of $13,306. Their gross annual income is $73,306, of which only $13,360 of their Social Security is taxable. Their adjusted gross (taxable) income is $44,366. Bob and Mary are happy.

Conversely, if they delayed their Social Security and instead withdrew $3,500 per month from their 401(k)s until age 70, at that time their 401(k)s would have been depleted to under $140,000 and they would generate a first year RMD of $6,371. But, by waiting, their Social Security has grown by 8% per year for five years and now pays $58,800 per year of which only $14,305 is taxable. Their gross income has increased to $83,171 and their adjusted gross (taxable) income has dropped to $38,676. In other words, while their total income increased by $9,865, their taxable income fell by $5,690. That’s a net improvement of $15,555, and this advantage will continue for the rest of their lives.

Further, whoever dies first, the survivor will get the larger of the two Social Security checks, either of which is now a lot larger by having waited. This is important, because the surviving spouse’s standard deduction just got reduced by half and having more 100% taxable income from 401(k)s (vs. Social Security) may serve to increase the total income tax load. If Bob and Mary are of different ages, whoever passes first, the survivor gets to assume the other’s 401(k) and take RMDs on that account based on the age of the younger spouse.

Finally, if Bob and Mary have any non-IRA type investments, they can grow those without spending them down for routine income. If an emergency arises, they can access that money at a lower tax rate (long-term capital gain) and if they don’t need the money, when they pass that money transfers to their kids with a Step-up in Income Tax Basis, meaning their kids will owe no income tax on that money if liquidated at the time of inheritance. That’s not the case with IRAs.

The value of delaying Social Security until age 70 is far more than just getting “more money per month.” There are tax advantages, surviving spouse advantages, even inheritance advantages when the entire portfolio and estate are considered as a whole. However, there are times and circumstances when this advice is not suitable, and this is the reason for seeking professional financial guidance before implementing decisions about when to start Social Security and when to start withdrawing from your IRA, 401(k), etc.

SEE ALSO:Social Security 101: How to File for Benefits

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

 

 

Tech Gadgets and Older Adults: What Helps, What Doesn’t

Written By: Guest Contributor - Mar• 16•18
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Specialized gadgets–and accessibility features on smartphones–can enhance a senior’s quality of life.

By Allen St. John
March 08, 2018
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New technologies, even successful ones, often seem more like toys than tools—for most of us, telling a smart speaker to turn on the lights is fun but not really life-changing. But digital advances can make a big difference to older adults, making it easier for them to maintain social contacts, monitor their health, and preserve their independence.

Experts in aging say that caregivers sometimes hesitate to introduce new devices to seniors, assuming they’ll resist learning how to use them. But it’s often untrue.

“I’ve seen the opposite,” says Michael Wasserman, M.D., a geriatrician and CEO of Rockport Healthcare Services, which provides clinical and professional support to nursing homes. “Older adults can easily embrace a lot of tech resources.”

The key, according to Wasserman, is finding the right devices. Some general-use electronics, such as smartphones, feature impressive accessibility functions. Other devices, designed specifically for older adults, can ease both physical and social challenges.

However, experts say, a number of gadgets designed for seniors overpromise and underdeliver.

Wasserman and others in his field offered some tips for finding the best electronic assistance, for yourself or for older friends and relatives.

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Look for Mainstream Devices

Seniors don’t always need specially designed technology. Mainstream gadgets are a good place to start because they’re often economical, easy to find, and designed for customization.

Smartphones are a prime example. Some phones, like the Jitterbug, are marketed specifically to older users, but ordinary Android devices and iPhones include a variety of powerful accessibility features, combined with high-quality screens and great performance. And they don’t have to be expensive: There are many good, affordable phones in CR’s ratings (available to members), and you can often find discounts on models from previous years.

On an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Accessibility and you’ll see many options, such as closed captioning on apps that support it and a built-in magnifier that uses the phone’s camera. You can also reduce the potentially confusing animations that play when apps open and close, boost the screen contrast or type size to make things easier to read, and more.

Android phones have a menu of similar functions, including TalkBack (a function that enables the device to speak user-interface commands), which can be found under Settings > Advanced > Accessibility.

Check out other settings, as well, to adjust factors such as the size of icons and the brightness of the screen and to create contact lists for close relatives and medical providers.

Beyond phones, these can range widely, from a Fitbit to monitor activity levels, to a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo to introduce some voice-activated home automation, to cars with advanced safety features such as lane-departure warning. An electronic tracker, like a Tile, can help people keep track of their keys or a TV remote.

And, Wasserman says, the greatest benefit of today’s technologies may be to address the isolation that often accompanies aging. “One of the most important things is socialization,” he says. “There’s nothing like FaceTiming with your grandson.”

Focus on What’s Really Useful

Something like a smartphone or Fitbit may have obvious utility, but how do you decide among the many other technologies clamoring for attention, many of them designed specifically for use by seniors?

“It’s difficult to know what’s going to be the most viable,” says Nancy Avitabile, board president of the Aging Life Care Association, a national group of geriatric-care managers. But, she says, you can start by asking, “Will this enhance the user’s quality of life?”

Wasserman says the most useful products targeted to seniors tend to be those designed for a specific task. He points to practical devices like a stabilizing spoon for patients with hand tremors, or an inexpensive smart blood pressure cuff that reports readings directly to the doctor’s office instead of requiring the patient to keep a log.

On the other end of the spectrum, according to the experts, are devices that are promised to deliver broad, ill-defined benefits—say, a robotic puppy marketed as a device to keep grandma company.

And as in any area of technology, a even a good idea can yield a poorly executed gadget.

“A lot of design for older adults hasn’t been all that good,” says Bruce Leff, director of the Center for Transformative Geriatric Research at Johns Hopkins University. “They don’t understand the needs of adults with physical impairment or cognitive impairment.”

It can be a positive sign if a company already had a solid track record of making elder-care devices—such as ADT and Philips, which are known for their personal emergency response system devices—but it also pays to carefully consider a gadget’s controls and features and imagine how well a product will work for the specific person using it.

“We talk a lot about delivering ‘person centered’ care,” Wasserman says. “We need to understand that everyone is an individual and one size does not always fit all. You need to be willing to try things and see how the individual responds.”

Further, a device a senior finds useful now may become frustrating as his or her condition changes.

Avitabile reminds caregivers to also consider low-tech solutions. For instance, a GPS tracking device could be a vital tool for a loved one with memory loss, but users can forget to charge the devices—or forget them altogether. She encourages caregivers to supplement these beacons with a low-tech “safe support bracelet” with the patient’s address and phone number printed on it.

Finally, she warns against becoming too dependent on the devices. “Technology isn’t a replacement for individual care.”

Safeguard Seniors’ Privacy

Experts say there’s one more thing to consider as you weigh the benefits of technology, for yourself or someone you’re caring for: the delicate question of privacy. This arises with many devices that caregivers may use to monitor the safety and well-being of older adults.

Avitabile notes that many seniors have expectations of privacy—especially as it relates to sharing personal information—that are different from, say, their grandchildren’s expectations.

An obvious privacy challenge comes if there’s a security camera with a motion detector in a senior’s home to help family members monitor their well-being—it may not be obvious to everyone that these cameras can continuously beam video across the internet to other people’s phones or computers.

You may face subtler privacy challenges, too, ranging from how to keep prying eyes from seeing personal information displayed in large type on a tablet, to how delicate information is reported to a medical caregiver.

As an example, Avitabile points to a newly developed urinary tract infection sensor. The device analyzes a patient’s urine and can detect some signs of infection before symptoms appear. (For purely medical reasons, it’s smart to consult a physician before using such a device, Wasserman says, because they have the potential to lead to unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.)

Avitabile says that the sensors could be a godsend for some patients. But for others, a UTI means TMI: too much information.

“It’s a very personal” device, she says. “After all, it’s in your underwear.”

3 Secrets for a Better Retirement in 2018

Written By: Guest Contributor - Jan• 08•18

 

Middle aged African American woman by the sea, vertical

By Elizabeth O’Brien

January 1, 2018

Retirement, like all life stages, is a work in progress. Whether you’ve been out of the paid workforce for days or decades, there’s always room for tweaks to improve your finances—and your fun quotient. “No matter what step you’re at, take some time to say, ‘what’s next?’” advises Keith Lawrence, co-author of Your Retirement Quest.

Here are three steps for making your retirement even better in 2018:

Check Your Spending

It’s common to worry about your spending rate in retirement. A conservative way to ensure your money will last is to avoid dipping into your principal and instead let the income and investment gains your portfolio generates cover your living expenses, along with Social Security and any other income sources.

If your portfolio isn’t big enough to generate enough income, or the markets go into a prolonged slump, a general rule of thumb holds that you can annually withdraw 4% of your nest egg—regardless of its size—and never run out of money throughout retirement. While some financial experts have questioned the sustainability of the so-called 4% rule amid expectations of lower future investment returns, it’s still a reasonable starting point, many advisors say.

It’s important to note that this 4% should be enough to cover both your regular expenditures and one-time items like a new roof or a big vacation, says B. Kelly Graves, a certified financial planner in Charlotte. “Retirees should save up for the large expenses and build a kitty for them,” he says.

A tool like T. Rowe Price’s retirement income calculator can give you an estimate of whether your portfolio is on track to meet your spending goals in retirement. The tool estimates how much of your monthly income will come from your own portfolio versus Social Security, pensions and any other income sources, and projects how long your savings might last.

If your goal is to spend, say, $2,000 each month from your investments, you can ask your brokerage firm to set up a “paycheck”: the firm will transfer the desired amount each month from your investment portfolio to a checking or savings account. (It’s best to create a “cash bucket” for this purpose, so you’re not forced to sell stocks in a down market to generate the needed amount.) It gives many retirees peace of mind to replicate the paycheck they got while working, says Jay Hummel, head of direct sales and service at American Century Investments.

Take That Big Trip

You want to ensure a sustainable spending rate in retirement so you don’t run out of money. But you don’t want to be so conservative that you miss out on the fun that’s your reward for a lifetime of hard work. If you’re not comfortable doing the math yourself, a good financial planner can assess your situation and give you permission to spend. (Certified financial planners have passed a rigorous exam and must adhere to a code of ethics.)

If your budget and your health allow, don’t delay checking big-ticket activities off your bucket list, Hummel says. That means, go ahead and take that wine tour of Italy, or the snorkeling trip to the Maldives that you’ve been dreaming of for years. “Health issues happen, family issues happen,” Hummel says, and folks wind up with regrets: “Boy, we really wish we could’ve done it when we had the opportunity to.” Since research suggests that experiences bring more happiness than things, you’ll be boosting your bliss in the process.

At the same time, proceed with caution on making big purchases, Hummel says. He’s seen retirees rush to buy second homes in places where they enjoy vacationing. But then they feel pressure to spend a lot of time there to justify their investment. This can lead to stress and marital discord, if one spouse wants to spend every vacation at the second home while the other wants to spend time with family members or explore new vacation destinations.

A better bet? Use the 6% to 8% of the home’s value that you would spend in annual carrying costs on the second home and stay in a hotel or a short-term rental instead, Hummel says. If you and your spouse both still love the location after test-driving it for a few years, then you might be ready to buy.

Make Some (Good) Friends

Loneliness can damage your physical health as much as smoking, research indicates. Feeling alone may also contribute to your risk of developing dementia. (It’s thought that loneliness produces an inflammatory response in the body that’s similar to what an illness might produce.)

To combat these health risks, you need “2am friends,” Lawrence says. Not to be mistaken for Facebook friends, “2am friends” are people who, as their name suggests, you can call in crisis in the middle of the night with the expectation that they’ll pick up and do their best to help. You need at least several of these friends and your spouse, while potentially a great source of support, only counts as one, Lawrence says.

Affinity groups are a great way to develop close friends. Choose something you love to do, whether that’s reading or restoring old cars, and chances are there’s a group devoted to it near you. Check the web site Meetup.com for like-minded people. Volunteering is another great way to make friends; volunteermatch.org is a site that connects volunteers with worthy causes.

101 Ways to Make $1,000

Written By: Guest Contributor - Jan• 05•18

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By Alicia Adamczyk, Kaitlin Mulhere, Elizabeth O’Brien and Kerri Anne Renzulli – TIME.COM


We’d all like to finish next year with a bit extra in our pockets. The good news is, when your goal is relatively modest, there are plenty of ways to get there. On the following pages you’ll find our best saving and earning ideas—each with the aim of winning you an extra $1,000 in 2018. Few of these strategies are easy, but none will require a major life change. While you are certainly free to give up your daily trip to Starbucks ($3.65 for a grande latte x 365=$1,332.25), we aren’t even going to ask you to do that.

• Rejigger Your Bills
• Lower Your Cost of Living
• Get a Gig
• Hone Your Health Care
• Eat Right
• Control Your Spending
• Cheapen Your Thrills
• Make Your Hobby Pay
• Get There For Less
• Make It In the Market
• Earn More at Work
• Make Money Off Your Stuff
• Get Ready to Retire
• Tackle Tuition
• Save as a Family

Rejigger Your Bills

Trump James Comey firing Time Magazine Cover
Cover illustration by Adam Hayes

1. Cut the cord

Tens of millions of Americans have dropped ­cable—and for good reason. The average bill hit $103 a month last year, according to the Leichtman Research Group. But there are countless streaming options. A comprehensive package would include HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu, and CBS All Access, totaling around $37 a month, or $444 a year, for a savings of ­almost $800. Go with just HBO and Net­flix and you’ll save $968.

2. Switch your cell phone plan

The average family of four’s cell phone bill adds up to about $2,880 a year. But Sprint’s prepaid Family Plan—the cheapest plan we found—is only $1,260.

3. Switch credit cards

The average household with credit card debt pays $1,292 in ­interest a year, according to NerdWallet. A balance transfer can give you a year of 0% APR to help you catch up.

4. Boost your credit score

Doing it in a year won’t be easy, but you can get there, says Greg McBride, chief ­financial analyst at Bankrate. Paying your bills on time is the first step. Also focus on keeping your “credit utilization ratio”—the amount of your credit limit you use—below 10%. Your new, higher credit score could shave as much as one percentage point off your mortgage rate in today’s market, says McBride. That will save you $1,000 a year on a $150,000 home loan.

5. Refinance student loans

On a $90,000 parent PLUS loan with a 6.6% ­interest rate, you’re shelling out $1,025 a month on a standard repayment plan. Re­finance to a private loan at 4.5% and you could save $93 a month, says Christine Roberts, head of student lending at Citizens Bank.

6. Skip the gym


The average membership costs $50 a month—and much more for boutique classes like SoulCycle. Try a free fitness group like the November ­Project, which is active in over 40 cities, or an intramural team through work. If all else fails, Janis Isaman, a nutrition coach and ­Pilates instructor based in Calgary, Alberta, recommends looking on Facebook and Craigs­list to find people nearby who also want to form an ad hoc fitness club.

Lower Your Cost of Living


7. Think about an ARM

Adjustable-rate mortgages got a bad rap during the financial crisis, but they can make a lot of sense if you aren’t planning to stay in your home long term. Right now the average 30-year rate is 4.1%, according to Bankrate, compared with just 3.6% for a five-year adjustable-rate loan. On a $300,000 mortgage, that half a percentage point should save you about $86 a month, or $1,032 a year.

8. Rethink your remodel

“When we redid our bathroom this year, we couldn’t get many contractors to return our calls for such a small project—so we scaled back our plans. We avoided major plumbing, electrical work, or anything else that would require a permit or that our handyman couldn’t handle. Instead, we had him redo all the surfaces: We subbed in new tile, faucet hardware, lighting, paint, and a new vanity. The bathroom looks brand new, but the end cost was half of the single contractor bid we did receive—a savings of more than $10,000.” —Rachel F. Elson

9. Get a roommate

As many as 14.9 million Americans live with a roommate, according to the U.S. Census. It’s easy to see why: In cities like San Francisco, a roommate can save you more than $1,000 a month, per a 2017 report from SmartAsset, a real estate website. In less expensive markets like Detroit, you’ll save over $300 a month with a roommate, totaling almost $4,000 each year.

10. Sell in May


Homes sold between May 1 and May 15 sell for about 1% more than the average listing, according to a 2017 report from Zillow, translating to an extra $1,500 in your pocket.

Get a Gig

 

11. Get a gig with Postmates

Delivery men and women have lots of freedom with Postmates, which allows workers to walk, bike, or drive to deliver goods and food in major cities across the U.S. Log on whenever you want. The company says that you can earn as much as $25 an hour, plus tips.

12. Get a gig with Uber

Uber drivers make an average of $15.68 an hour, according to the popular RideShareGuy blog, though that varies by city and doesn’t include the cost of maintenance or gas (Lyft drivers make even more, $17.50). Still, a few hours each week will easily net you $1,000 by year end.

13. Get a gig with TaskRabbit

If you really enjoy building Ikea furniture or don’t mind carrying a couch up three flights of stairs, you can make some serious money on TaskRabbit—about $35 an hour, on average, the company says. Many of the in-demand tasks, like installing shelves or moving furniture, require a skilled hand (or a truck), but if you have the know how you can bank a lot of extra money in your off time.

14. Take surveys

Blogger Jason Wuerch says he’s earned $10 to $15 an hour filling out online surveys. While Survey Junkie and SwagBucks are the best known, you can maximize your haul by signing up for 10 to 15 and rotating among them, focusing on each site’s most lucrative offers. (Find a list on Wuerch’s site, FrugalForLess.com.) Spend an hour or two a few mornings each week—or work on them during your commute—and you’ll reach $1,000 by year end.

15. Test websites

Make money from home by providing feedback on new websites at sites like UserTesting.com, TryMyUI.com, and Userlytics.com, through which you can earn $10 per testing session. SideIncomeJobs.com is another option that has a user fee but guarantees you’ll make $100 in your first 30 days. You won’t be eligible for every testing session, so this is a less steady stream of income than surveys, according to blogger Scott Alan Turner, but it could add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

16. Try freelancing

Whether you’re a writer, designer, or coder, you can sell your skills in your free time at sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Some of the most popular services on Fiverr’s marketplace are graphic design–oriented like creating logos, as well as copywriting and translation services, says a spokesman. Prices vary per project, from $5 for a simple WordPress bug fix to hundreds or thousands of dollars for something like website design.

17. Help Santa

Retailers hire tens of thousands of extra workers for the holidays, with some gigs paying as much as $16 an hour (although $11 to $14 is more common).

18. Mind your neighbors’ kids

Nationally, babysitters earned $13.97 an hour on average last year, according to a Care.com survey. That means by working 6 p.m. to midnight one Friday night a month you can earn $1,006.

19. Take an extra shift


For everyone from retail clerks to housekeepers, job website SnagAJob focuses on hourly work. You can search for part-time jobs and specify when you want to work, like nights or weekends.

Hone Your Health Care

Stethoscope and heart
BrianAJackson—Getty Images/iStockphoto

20. Get a high-deductible plan

Workers with health insurance through their employer pay an average family premium of $467 a month for a PPO vs. $321 for a high-deductible health plan, according to Mercer. That’s $1,752 a year in premium savings. The strategy can pay off even if you aren’t in perfect health. Just make sure you have enough cash on hand to cover your higher deductible.

21. Open and fund an HSA

Paired with high-deductible health plans, these portable accounts allow you to set aside pretax dollars for medical expenses now or in the future. A single person making $60,000 (in the 25% federal tax bracket) who puts away $288 a month in an HSA would save $863 a year in federal income taxes. Once you’re retired, you can use HSA money for Medicare premiums.

22. Deduct your health care costs

You need to itemize, and your medical costs must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. You can then deduct any amount you paid above that threshold. If you’re dealing with an illness or injury this year or if your income is particularly low because of retirement, job loss, or a break from work, you’re best poised to claim this deduction.

23. Sign up for a wellness program

Nearly all large employers offer wellness programs, and about three-quarters of those offer financial incentives to employees to participate. You can earn money for activities like getting your cholesterol checked or signing up for a workplace exercise program. The average employee incentive adds up to $742, according to the National Business Group on Health. Make a healthy salad for dinner instead of getting takeout a couple of times a month, and you’re up to $1,000.

24. Quit smoking

“You don’t have to be a heavy smoker to waste big bucks on the habit. In New York, the cigarette minimum is $10.50 a pack (some brands cost $14 or more), which at two packs a week carries an annual cost of $1,000. Last year, I left the smoking section for good and saved more than $900. And not a moment too soon: In 2018, the minimum price for a pack in New York City will jump to $13.” —Kristen Bahler

25. Use Groupon for wellness visits

You’ve probably already heard about Groupon’s restaurant, fitness, and beauty deals, but did you know you can also use the site for discounted eye, dental, and chiropractic exams? If you visit the chiropractor twice a month, and your insurance doesn’t pay the average $68 fee (as per Chiropractic Economics magazine), you’ll save around $1,000 by using packages advertised on Groupon—which often work out to $25 or less a visit. Just be sure to research each office on Google, Yelp, and social media beforehand. Groupon doesn’t vet its merchants, so if a business doesn’t have a solid Better Business Bureau rating and plenty of good customer reviews, it’s probably worth skipping.

26. Sign up for Medicare on time

Generally if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B by age 65¼, your monthly premium increases by 10% for every 12-month period that you’re late. This penalty lasts as long as you have Part B. Most new beneficiaries paid $134 a month for 2017, which means that enrolling a year late will cost you $1,000 extra after just six years.

27. Shop around for Medicare Part D


Prices for medications under Part D drug plans vary widely, even within the same zip code, according to a study by the Senior Citizens League. The price of Ventolin, an inhaler used to treat asthma, varied by $119 a month, for example. Choosing carefully during open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 each year, could save you $1,400 annually for that one drug.

Eat Right

 

171120-101-ways-meal-kits-dinnerly
courtesy of Marley Spoon US

28. Eat at home

Want restaurant-quality fare without spending the money for a meal out? Budget meal-kit services, like Dinnerly, can take the hassle out of cooking and save you money if you are willing to skip dining out. A couple spend about $3,000 a year in restaurant and takeout expenses. Dinnerly charges $38.99 for three meals a week—saving almost $1,130 a year.

29. Buy the store brand

The typical family of four with school-age children spends $1,054 a month on food, ­according to the U.S. Department of ­Agriculture. On average, store brands are 30% to 40% cheaper than ­famous name ones, says food marketing analyst Phil Lempert. That means, over the course of a year, shaving $1,000 from your ­grocery bill should be well within reach. One tip: Compare ingredients and nutritional ­information on the packages. If they are the same, chances are both products are being made by the brand-name company and are basically ­identical, according to Lempert.

30. Stop ordering alcohol when you eat out

The average menu price for an imported beer is $5, according to Numbeo. In other words, treating yourself and a date to two drinks with dinner once a week will cost you $1,040 a year. Skipping those drinks won’t just save you money, but also thousands of calories apiece.

31. Stop wasting food

The average American household throws out between $1,350 and $2,275 in food each year, according to the Natural Resources ­Defense Council.

32. Cut out meat

Vegetarians save $750 a year, according to the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. Those figures still include plenty of pricey ingredients like olive oil. Want to save a bit more? Swap in cheaper alternatives like canola oil.

33. Pack your lunch


People who buy lunch every weekday burn through serious cash—about $2,500 a year, if you spend $10 on an average meal. Mona Meighan, author of What Are You Doing for Lunch?, estimates that brown bagging can cut your costs by 80%. You don’t even have to go that far. Swap your $10 lunch-out habit for a meal from home that costs $4, Monday through Thursday, and you will save about $1,200.

Control Your Spending


iStockphoto/Getty Images

34. Just say no to impulse buys

84% of us have bought something on a whim. Many of these purchases are $25 or less, but 54% of people say they have spent more than $100, and 20% more than $1,000, according to ­CreditCards.com. Set up a rule, say a 24- or 48-hour hold period, before you buy anything over a certain price threshold. “We tend to provide a greater weight to current payoffs than future ones, so waiting 24 or 48 hours before making a bigger purchase is an excellent way to overcome our present bias,” says Joe Sterf, a CPA and founder of Average Joe Finance. “Instituting a holding ­period gives us time to think about the future and not impulsively react. With that extra time, we’ll be less likely to make the purchase.”

35. Use Mint

You can’t save if you don’t know how you’re spending your money. “By seeing how much money is going in vs. going out, you will be able to make better buying decisions to help reach your financial goals,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer finance expert. Apps like Mint or PocketGuard help because they make it easy to see which needless purchases you can eliminate in the future. Woroch says most of the wiggle room will probably come from clothing, grocery, and entertainment spending.

36. Put savings on autopilot

“With Digit, you select a goal and a time frame in which to accomplish it (mine is to save $2,000 in the next year for a vacation), and the app saves small amounts of money for you. Digit has a monthly fee of $2.99 after a 100-day free trial, which is something to be aware of, but so far I’ve saved over $400 in just a few months, which I just wouldn’t have done on my own. Plus, I get daily text messages with my bank balances and how far I’m progressing toward my goal.” —Alicia Adamczyk

37. Check your banking app more often

Research by economists Shlomo Benartzi at UCLA and Yaron Levi at USC found people who downloaded a financial app looked at their account 12 times each month, compared with going to the website twice a month. The results: Spending fell 16% in the four months after people loaded the app, led by less discretionary spending. Dining out expenses dropped by 19%, and grocery bills by 21%. Annual savings on the average grocery bill alone could net you over $880.

38. Make it fun

The 52 Week Money Challenge is simple: Save an extra dollar every week of the year—$1 the first week, $2 the second week, and so on, until you reach $52 saved in the last week of the year, for a total savings of $1,378. “So many of us don’t deal with money, because we have negative associations with it,” says Kristin Wong, author of the forthcoming book Get Money, who led a similar challenge for Lifehacker.com. “If you can make it fun and empowering to save money, you’re going to actually want to deal with it.”

39. Make it fun (part II)


Try a “no spend” month, or a day each week, by picking a time in which you pay bills but buy nothing except the necessities (groceries, gas, etc.). It may seem difficult, but there are plenty of forums on the web for support—try Reddit’s 12-million-­subscriber-strong ­Personal Finance subreddit, or NPR’s Your Money and Your Life Facebook group, where commenters update their “no spend” challenges daily. “Small challenges lead to small wins, and it’s ­super empowering to see that you’ve actually saved some cash,” says Wong.

Cheapen Your Thrills

40. Book holiday flights in advance

For a family of four, booking flights before Halloween saves about $1,200 on average if you are planning to travel for both Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah, based on price estimates from Hopper.

41. Drive instead of flying

Booking early doesn’t save enough? With the average cost of a roundtrip U.S. flight hovering at $367, the rule of thumb is to drive if the destination is less than 500 miles away. A family of four can save more than $1,200—even when you include an overnight stopover.

42. Shop around for lodging

For your next trip, check out a vacation rental through sites like Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway. A recent study found that in 16 of the top 22 cities for travelers, Airbnb stays were cheaper than hotels by an average of $56 a night. That may net only the heaviest travelers $1,000 a year. But in some cities, like London and Paris, the savings were much greater—eclipsing $100 a night. In other locations, including Toronto, Vienna, and Madrid, you could save $90 to $100 on average by renting a room in an apartment where guests share the kitchen and bathroom.

43. Stay as a family

For a weeklong vacation with kids, consider skipping a conventional hotel where you’ll have to book two rooms and instead take advantage of an ­extended stay hotel like TownePlace Suites or Candlewood Suites. On average, you’ll save $157 a night at this type of lodging—which usually includes a kitchenette and a sofa bed for the kids.

44. Play the rewards game

For frequent travelers it can pay to rack up points on a rewards card. Put all of your purchases, especially on dining and travel, on a card like Chase ­Sapphire Preferred or American Express ­Platinum, and your miles should save you $1,000 or more a year on flights.

45. Stop playing the lottery

Americans spend more than $70 billion a year on lottery tickets, well over $1,000 per household in some states like Massachusetts ($1,976) and Georgia ($1,211), according to data site Metrocosm. Your chances of winning Powerball: about 1 in 292 million.

46. Skip gadgets

The new iPhone X is priced at $999 and up. Don’t buy it.

47. Use all of your beauty products

The average American woman spends $8 a day on makeup and other skin care products, according to retailer SkinStore. The good news: Most women have plenty of unused makeup at home—more than $2,000 worth, according to beauty site escentual.com.

48. Get cash back


“Ebates.com­, a ‘cash back’ site—you can also try FatWallet.com and ­TopCashback.com—has become part of my online shopping routine. Many brands’ discounts are in the 2% to 3% range—hardly worth my time. But Sephora, one of my favorites, routinely offers 8% off. Next year I’m planning a family wedding—and the 23% off from Flowers.com could save me several hundred dollars. By shopping strategically and taking advantage of other perks ($25 for each friend I sign up) I am targeting $1,000 cash back.” —Veronica Quezada

Make Your Hobby Pay

close up view of colorful decorative handmade flowers isolated on white
LightFieldStudios—Getty Images

49. Pen greeting cards

Publishers pay anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars for a “complete concept”—the text and the idea for an illustration, says Ron Kanfi, president of gag card company NobleWorks. Carefully research the publisher ahead of time, so that you can write in the house style, then send six to 10 of your best ideas, he recommends.

50. Sell your crafts on Ebay or Etsy

Whether you cross stitch or handcraft jewelry, the trick to selling your stuff online is promoting it with frequent social media posts and beautiful photos, says Debby McClain, who operates two Etsy shops. “In a huge sea of sellers, you have to make sure you are seen,” adds McClain, who has sold crafts online for 19 years.

51. Become a high school referee

Youth sports officials make around $20 a game, says Barry Mano, president of the National Association of Sports Officials. High school referees can earn between $50 and $70, while college game pay starts at over $100. As an initial step, join your local officials association, which will provide training, and begin scheduling games.

52. Sing in a choir


Many churches and synagogues pay singers to perform as part of their regular ensemble or for special events. While rates vary, common listings offer anywhere from $50 to $200 for each practice and performance. The easiest way to find such gigs in your area: Reach out to local institutions, and search online ads such as those at choralnet.org.

Get There For Less

53. Get some carpool buddies

At $3.08 a gallon—the five-year national average for gas—a 25 mile commute costs about $2,000 annually in gas alone. And while gas prices have been low recently, gas price researcher GasBuddy predicts they will go up in 2018. By alternating the days you drive to work, you stand to save roughly $1,000—and that’s before you factor in tolls, depreciation, and any parking costs. Bring in a third buddy, and the savings climb to $1,300.

54. Scale back on car insurance

Check the value of your car via Kelley Blue Book. If you’re driving an older model that is worth less than 10 times your insurance premium, consider dropping comprehensive and ­collision coverage, ­suggests the Insurance Information Institute, which could save you between $375 and $1,500 a year on that item alone, ­the group estimates. And always shop around for a new policy: According to J.D. Power, consumers who switched insurers saved an average of $388 in 2015.

55. Wait a year

These days the average car is on the road for more than 11 years, up from nine in 2000, ­according to the Transportation Department. Resisting the urge to trade in for a newer model will easily save $1,000 in payments.

56. Improve your mileage

Keeping your tires inflated could save you $112 a year in gas money, according to one survey by Edmunds—or as much as $800 if they’re severely deflated. Additionally, aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by anywhere from 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic, according to SAE International, an auto industry trade association. With the average American estimated to spend more than $1,500 on gas this year, that’s another $156 to $624 in your pocket.

57. Buy a ‘dark horse’ car

Buying the most popular model of a vehicle—commonly a Honda or Toyota—may mean you’re paying more than you need to, according to car site Edmunds. There are often comparable, less popular vehicles that cost much less after cash-back incentives.

58. Be very patient

“We broke down and bought a new car this summer, but only after three months of waiting out dealerships. We wanted a Honda Pilot, and dealers had plenty of models, but all with extra features we didn’t want and which cost $5,000 to $7,000 more. So instead we waited. Two dealers eventually got the base model we were looking for—and one offered to sell it for $1,000 less than the other.” —Brad Tuttle

59. Sign up for pretax transit programs if offered by your employer


Do you spend up to $255 for parking and/or transit a month? For someone making $37,950 to $91,900, that translates into savings of more than $750. If you park and ride, or make more than $91,900, you can easily surpass $1,000.

Make It In the Market


iStockphoto/Getty Images

60. Trade your broker for a robo-advisor

Ditching your human advisor can save you some money if you’re comfortable with an online, technology-first solution. Robo-advisors like Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and WiseBanyan don’t charge a fee to manage your money, compared with the 1.1% fee, on average, charged by human advisors. If you have $100,000 saved up in your retirement piggy bank, switching could easily net you an extra $1,000 a year.

61. Index your 401(k)

The average actively managed stock fund charges investors 1.02% of assets a year, according to Morningstar. Popular large-cap index funds, including versions from Vanguard and Fidelity, routinely charge less than 0.1%.

62. Get your dividends abroad

Sick of U.S. stock funds’ anemic 0.8% average yield? International stock funds boast 1.7%.

63. Harvest your losses, part 1

If you sell now and lock in the loss, you can count it against gains realized on your winners. You can’t buy back the loser for 30 days, but you can buy something similar, a large company stock fund, say, instead of a midcap one. Workers making $37,950 to $418,400 (15% capital gains bracket) will save $1,000 for every $6,667 in gains they offset.

63. Harvest your losses, part 2

If your market losses exceed your gains, you can also deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses from your income. You need to make more than $190,000 to net $1,000. But even if you earn $91,900 to $191,650 you will still save $840.

65. Invest in value stocks


Boost your investment returns by tilting your stock portfolio toward small value stocks, which tend to outperform blue-chip names over the long haul. Just remember it’s not a free lunch. Small value stocks tend to be more volatile, meaning steeper bear market drops.

Earn More at Work


iStockphoto/Getty Images

66. Get your boss to hire your buddy

“Most companies will give you a referral bonus if you recommend someone for a job and the company does indeed hire her. The most common referral bonus is between $1,000 and $2,500, according to a 2016 report from WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association. (Referrals for clerical positions are typically lower, from $500 to $1,000, the report found.) In 2015 an average of 13% of new hires came from referrals. I recommended a friend from my college paper. She got hired just as I was moving apartments, and the bonus paid for the movers and some new furniture.” —Alicia Adamczyk

67. Provide social support

While you may think getting a raise is the key to making you happier, research suggests it actually happens the other way around: Fostering a positive attitude in your day-to-day work could help you move up in your company or land a big project. According to the Harvard Business Review, an easy way to do so could be through simply helping your coworkers. A 2011 study found that people who coordinated lunches and organized office activities were 10 times as engaged at work—and 40% more likely to get a promotion (and a raise)—as those who didn’t.

68. Look elsewhere

Job switchers averaged a 4.5% wage increase in 2017, according to ADP. Workers between the ages of 25 to 34 in full-time jobs saw their wages increase the most. Chris Martin, lead data analyst for compensation data company PayScale, says a lot comes down to your job—those in “hot markets,” like software development, will likely see an increase if they switch, while pay for administrative assistants depends on how long they have been with a certain company.

69. Exercise

A recent study by Cleveland State economist Vasilios Kosteas found that frequent exercise led to 6% higher pay for men and 10% higher pay for women, on average. Kosteas attributes the wage ­increase to a boost in productivity that results from hitting the gym routinely.

70. Job hunting? Save receipts

If you’re looking for a new gig in the same line of work, you can deduct search-related expenses, from résumé prep to travel costs like mileage and lodging to job placement or employment agency fees. The only catch? First-time job hunters, those looking for a position in a different occupation, and those with a large gap between the end of their last job and their current search don’t qualify.

71. Get a cost of living increase

In some cases, earning an extra grand could be as simple as doing nothing but continuing at your current job. Salaries are expected to increase 3.2% on average next year, according to the Economic Research Institute, meaning if you make the average U.S. wage of $49,630, you’ll bank almost $1,590.

72. Get a merit raise


Consider yourself a top performer? In recent years more and more companies have been favoring merit raises as a way to get the most out their employees, according to payroll company ADP. The average merit raise for full-time job holders was 4.3% in 2017—or $2,134 for the average earner.

Make Money Off Your Stuff

73. Rent out your house

Though not everyone has extra space to rent out, those who do can earn a decent amount of money via platforms like Airbnb. “I pulled in over $800 a month—all from renting out a spare room that was getting no use,” says Kevin Han, who writes the Financial Panther blog. Earnest, a lending company, reports that Airbnb hosts make an average of $924 a month, although the median, which may reflect a more typical experience, is $440.

74. Rent your home for 14 days or less

Cash in on a tax exemption by renting your house for two weeks or less. Doing this keeps you from having to pay taxes on any of the income from your short-term rental. Go up to a 15th day and you’ll owe taxes on the whole sum you earned from all rental days. This move can be a major boon to your budget if you live in an area that hosts ­popular annual sporting events like a major golf tournament, says Draper, Utah, CPA Troy Lewis.

75. Rent your car

Similar to Airbnb, sites like Getaround and Turo provide marketplaces where individuals can rent out their vehicles. Again, how much you make will depend on your car: A Honda Civic can earn over $367 a month, according to data provided by Turo, while the average monthly earnings for all users is $539, which accounts for insurance costs.

76. Rent your boat

You don’t have to have a super-yacht. Catamarans, sailboats, motorboats, and even kayaks are in demand. Renting your bowrider in Miami could earn you $39 an hour, while a weeklong rental of a deck boat in Seattle could net you $5,000, according to listings on GetMyBoat.

77. Rent everything else

There’s no shortage of sites that want to be the Airbnb for your other stuff. On ShareGrid, professional photographers offer gear for as much as $1,000 a month. If you have a parking space or driveway in a city like Chicago or New York, CurbFlip and JustPark help you find renters—about a third of parking space owners earn $1,000 a year or more, according to CurbFlip. Omni is a San Francisco–based company that stores your extra stuff—from bikes to camping gear to Halloween costumes—and rents it out for you if you opt in.

78. Hold a garage sale


“Of course it’s possible to make $1,000 at a yard sale,” says YardSaleQueen.com author Chris Heiska. Her tips: Make sure to advertise properly, and if your home is in a remote area, consider renting out space at a location with more foot traffic, such as a local church or synagogue.

Get Ready to Retire


iStockphoto/Getty Images

79. Avoid the procrastination penalty

It may not seem like much at first, but if you were to fund your IRA on Jan. 1 of each year—and not wait until the IRS deadline on April 17 of the following year—that 15½ months of additional tax-free compounding will boost your nest egg by around $30,000 in additional savings after 30 years, or $1,000 a year.

80. Get a bonus from your retirement account

For middle-income savers, squirreling away money in a retirement account like an IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) can result in big benefits not only for your retirement but also your tax bill. You can claim a saver’s credit for such contributions equal to either 50%, 20%, or 10% of the total you put in this year up to $2,000 (or $4,000 if married, filing jointly) depending on income.

81. Put off taking Social Security from 66 to 67

Each year you wait to start collecting Social Security checks, your benefit grows by 6.5% to 8%. If your monthly benefit was $1,300 at 66—the average for that age—waiting one more year will result in $104 more each month or about $1,248 in total for the year.

82. Get your company match

Most large employers now automatically enroll employees in 401(k) plans, but about a fifth of workers still don’t participate, according to Vanguard. Even agreeing to sock away 1% to 2% of your salary each year can easily net you $1,000, considering most plans boost your contributions with a match—worth up to 4% of your salary, on average.

83. Defy the default

Merely being enrolled in a 401(k) is a great first step. But it’s not enough to secure your retirement (or maybe even get the full match). A majority of employers auto-enroll workers at a savings rate of 3% or less, Vanguard reports. Up that to 6% and you’ll finish the year with an extra $1,000—plus a lot of peace of mind.

84. Seniors, use age-related tax breaks


Owning a home past age 65 comes with a host of state tax perks. In nearly every state, tax exemptions can lower your home’s assessed value. Most states offer “circuit breaker” credits to give pensioners back some of the real estate taxes they have already paid throughout the year. And finally, in more than 40 states, seniors can capitalize on limits to annual increases in their property’s assessed value, caps on property tax rates, or freezes on assessments.

Tackle Tuition

85. Fill out a FAFSA

About 60% of high school seniors filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid last year, according to the National College Access Network. But every college-bound senior should be filling out the form. Why? It’s the gateway to billions of dollars awarded in federal and state grants each year, including the Pell Grant for low-income families. The average Pell Grant is about $3,700 a year.

86. Don’t overlook community scholarships

These tend to be less competitive than larger national ones, and checks worth $500 to $1,000 a semester can add up quickly. Start by looking at nearby Rotary clubs, veterans groups, American Association of University Women chapters, Elks clubs, and church groups. Ask your high school’s guidance office for more ideas.

87. Ditch your dorm

Room and board now cost more than tuition and fees at public four-year colleges, according to the College Board. Reduce the average $10,800 expense by searching for bargains off campus. Even better? Look for a co-op, where residents do weekly chores in return for lower rent. The North American Students of Cooperation says this option can save 20% to 50% off the cost of private market rent in your college town.

88. Get your employer to pitch in

Many large companies offer up to $5,250 a year in tax-free tuition reimbursement. That money can pay for part of a second degree or for one-off courses to develop skills in high-demand areas like coding, data analytics, or entrepreneurship. Even if your employer doesn’t have an official program, ask your boss about subsidizing your training. Make sure your pitch includes program costs, an outline of what you’ll learn, and how that will ultimately pay dividends for your team.

89. Hit the books overseas

“Considering study-abroad programs? Think about going as a foreign exchange student instead. While you may get less handholding, you can avoid the hefty program costs and even tuition in some countries. In college, I attended the University of Southern Denmark through an exchange program. Because higher education is free in Denmark, I spent only $5,000 for five months of housing, food, transportation, and other necessities—less than a third of the $18,000 the International Institute of Education estimates the average study-abroad experience costs per semester.” —Megan Leonhardt

90. Take the American Opportunity Tax Credit

Recoup tuition costs by cutting up to $2,500 off your tax bill. Don’t owe that much? You can have 40% of the remaining amount, or up to $1,000, refunded to you. One catch: You can use this credit only for a student’s first four years of college.

91. Take the Lifetime Learning Credit

Offset 20% of the first $10,000 of qualified education expenses you or your family rack up and reduce your tax bill by up to $2,000. The best part: This break can be applied to any courses at an eligible school that go toward a degree or credential, or simply to improve job skills—and there is no limit on the number of years you can use the credit. To qualify, your modified adjusted gross income must be below $65,000 for single filers or $131,000 or less for married joint filers.

92. Deduct your student loans


Deduct up to $2,500 of interest paid if your modified gross income is below $65,000 for singles or $135,000 for joint filers. Singles earning up to $80,000 ($165,000 for couples) can claim a partial deduction. This means the most you can expect to save each year is $625. Still, if you hit the max, you can stretch the savings a bit by signing up for auto­pay with your loan servicer, which should shave 0.25% from your interest rate, netting an extra $10 to $15 a month for heavy borrowers.

Save as a Family

93. Potty train your kid

With diapers costing 33¢ a pop (Pampers, size 5, on Amazon.com, for example) you can easily save $1,000 by potty training your child at age 2 instead of 3. As recently as the late 1950s most Americans did this, and parents in many other countries still do, says Michelle Swaney, who runs the website thepottyschool.com.

94. Share baby-sitting duties

Set up a local babysitting co-op. Amy Suardi, the mother of five behind the blog Frugal Mama, says aim to enlist about five families, at least at the start. It’s “kind of like a fire,” she says. “You have to fan the flames a lot in the beginning to get it going.”

95. Say no to the wedding

Average cost to attend an out-of-town ­wedding: $1,184 per couple, says American Express. Take the newlyweds to a Champagne dinner instead, suggests relationship ­expert April Masini.

96. Hire an au pair

The average weekly cost for a nanny: $556, says Care.com. Willing to try someone with a bit less experience who perhaps speaks a foreign language? You can save about $200 a week with an au pair, according to the website.

97. Get discounts on kids’ sports

Activities like gymnastics can easily top $1,000 a year. But you don’t always have to pay full freight. “Call and ask,” says Elisabeth Leamy, host of the Easy Money podcast. “It’s not always on the website.” Leagues that don’t offer aid may still know about government grants. Local city councils near Leamy’s home in the D.C. suburbs offer grants for both low-income and military kids, she says.

98. Wedding tip #1: Change days

“If a venue costs $7,000 on a Saturday, you can most likely negotiate [to lower] that price on a Friday, a Sunday, or a Thursday,” says Norfolk wedding planner Crystal Salazar. For instance, the Kimpton Hotel Eventi in New York City offers promotional packages discounted for weddings on Fridays and Sundays by $36 to $66 per person—meaning for weddings of 100 guests, this could save you $3,600 or more.

99. Wedding tip #2: Cut back on flowers

Flowers can cost upward of $5,000, according to ­TheKnot.com. Lower your bill by hanging colored linens on the walls and tables, then combining the flowers you do buy with eclectic vases or a centerpiece, says San ­Diego wedding planner Nahid Farhoud. Doing so can save about $2,000 for weddings of 100 to 200 guests.

100. Wedding tip #3: Serve wine and beer

Mixed drinks typically cost $10 to $12 at the bar, while beer costs $6 and wine around $8, according to Farhoud. That means for a wedding with 150 guests, skipping hard liquor can easily save you about $1,000, assuming three drinks per guest. Another tip: Serve tap water instead of bottled—which can run up to $6 a pop at high end venues.

101. Hire an accountant

“As a personal finance writer I always took pride in doing my own taxes. But my wife is a priest, which adds a lot of complexity. A pro cost us several hundred dollars, but he not only handled my wife’s situation, he also pointed out deductions I missed—like my union dues.” —Ian Salisbury

5 Benefits of Technology to Share with Seniors and Their Caregivers

Written By: Guest Contributor - Dec• 01•17

 

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Technology has come a long way over the course of older adults’ lifetimes. They have witnessed everything from men landing on the moon to dramatic medical advances and the rise of an Internet-dependent society.

Seniors also bear witness to the ways technology is changing the face of aging. Impact your clients’ quality of life by sharing these five tech solutions that may help to keep older adults healthy, safe and socially connected while making caregiving tasks less stressful for their family members.

1. Social Connection – Video Chat and Social Media Keep Seniors in Touch with Long-distance Loved Ones

According to UnitedHealthcare’s 2012 100@100 survey of centenarians, staying socially engaged is just as important to healthy aging as genetics and maintaining a healthy body.

While no technology can take the place of in-person human interaction, video chat services like Skype, or Internet-based communication channels such as email and social media, can supplement seniors’ social interactions when visits with friends and family aren’t possible or too infrequent. Seniors can check with their local senior center for Internet how-to classes, or they can have a tech-savvy grandchild get them set up and show them the ropes.

2. Safety – Seniors Living Alone Can Get Help with the Push of a Button

Surveys consistently show that 80 to 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own home as they age. A number of technological solutions can make doing so safer for them. Any senior that lives alone should have a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS). A PERS device allows the wearer to call for help with the simple push of a button. Both seniors and their families can have peace of mind knowing the PERS can facilitate a call for help in any emergency situation.

Safety is also a paramount concern for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, especially those prone to wandering. A number of GPS tracking devices that can monitor a senior’s location and send alerts are great tools to keeps caregivers’ worries at bay and prevent potentially dangerous or deadly situations. Check out these innovative GPS gadgets for Alzheimer’s wanderers.

3. Exercise – Video Games Get Seniors’ Bodies and Minds Moving

Many nursing homes and assisted living communities have already recognized the recreational and exercise benefits that Nintendo’s Wii sports games offer for elderly adults. Seniors living at home could also benefit by owning a Wii or other video game system controlled by motion. The games offer a fun opportunity for seniors to engage in light physical activity from the comfort of their own living room.

For mental exercise, seniors could try games such as Tetris (spatial recognition), Trivial Pursuit (fact recall), or Mahjong (memory and matching).  Encourage seniors to practice on their own and then challenge their grandkids.

4. Medication Management – Smartphone Apps Can Help Prevent Medication Errors

Many seniors find it challenging to keep track of their medications. The reason why is clear: According to a 2009 survey by Medco Health Solutions, more than half of the older adult respondents said they took at least five different prescription drugs regularly, and 25 percent said they took between 10 and 19 pills a day.

Pill boxes help, but technological solutions that also provide reminders and “time to refill” alerts could potentially aid adherence to the prescribed medication schedule. Seniors and their caregivers can take advantage of the RxmindMe or Personal Caregiver medication reminder smartphone apps to reduce missed medications and prevent medication errors.

5. Health Tracking – Online Tools Simplify the Process of Maintaining and Accessing Seniors’ Health Information

Smartphone apps and cloud-based health information tracking systems can help seniors and their family caregivers keep information such as medical history, physician contacts, medication schedules, and health conditions organized and handy.

Senior health tracking tools such as Me and My Caregivers also make it much easier for senior care professionals like you to have access to a complete set of information about a senior patient, thus helping you make the most informed treatment decisions.

Discover additional benefits of technology for seniors by learning how technology can help seniors stay home longer and reduce senior depression.

9 Discounts Seniors Get Only If They Know

Written By: Guest Contributor - Oct• 27•17

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There are many special discounts that are available to seniors. Retirees are offered discounts at most retailers, restaurants, parks, on public transport and at hotels. But you won’t get these discounts unless YOU ASK for them. Simply ask the question, “Do you offer a senior discount?” and see how much you can save. You’ll be able to save money every time you find yourself reaching for your wallet or purse. Here is a list of nine discounts seniors get only if they know about them in 2017.

1. Cruise Deals

Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Costa Cruises

Is there any better way to celebrate life than to venture out at sea? Cruises are wonderful with their all-inclusive travel options where you get to sit back, have a drink or two for free, soak up the midday sun and enjoy some high-class cuisine along with various live music performances. Cruise lines offer a huge variety of discounts for senior citizens, and this includes some of the most well-known companies like Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, offering exclusive deals to citizens over the age of 55. You will be able to get a cruise deal anywhere in the world, be it the Caribbean or even the icy Alaska.

2. Discount on Mortgage and Car Insurance

It’s not just burgers and fries. Seniors are eligible for discounts on financial services as well. if you use these, it can potentially save you thousands of dollars. Here are the best we’ve found:

Discount on Mortgage

Seniors can get special discounts and terms if they decide to refinance their mortgage. There’s a forgotten government program passed by Obama to help the middle class senior Americans reduce their monthly payments by as much as $3,500 each year. Click here to learn more about this mortgage bailout program.

Discount on Car Insurance

Did you know that depending on your age and other factors you could get a huge discount on car insurance? Most seniors don’t even know these discounts exist. Click here to read how seniors can save $400+ on car insurance.

3. Save on Groceries

Albertson’s, Kroger, Publix, Fred Meyer & New Seasons Market

Once you’ve used your senior discount at all of your favorite restaurants, you’ll need to buy some groceries. Lots of stores give a senior discount – you just need to ask. Albertson’s and Kroger will take 10% off your bill on the first Wednesday of each month if you are over 55.

Publix offers up a weekly Wednesday discount to over 55s, but be sure to check as it’s the managers call on whether the store offer discounts and when. At Fred Meyer on the first Tuesday of every month, seniors can get a 10% discount, and New Seasons Market give a 10% senior discount every Wednesday. At Compare Food Supermarket, select location offers a 10% discount, just get in touch with your local store to find our which days. Piggly Wiggly also offer discounts at various locations, you’ll need to contact them to find out more. And, at Fry’s Supermarket seniors can take 10% off every single day.

4. Save on Prescriptions

CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart and Rite Aid

Medication is an essential part of human life, and the costs of the prescriptions add up more and more as you age. Most retirees need to take some type of medication, so it’s only right that you should be able to get a discount on your pills. You can get a discount at the pharmacy section of lots of retail stores including CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart, Rite Aid and also on websites like Narcup.com.

If you’re a AARP cardholder, you can get a great 38% discount on qualified prescription medication. Also, some pharmaceutical companies will send seniors a discount card that you can show when paying for prescriptions. Just remember to check with your local pharmacy to see what discounts are available to you.

Get Your Prescription Drugs Covered With Medicare

Many seniors may be able to get extra benefits like prescription drug coverage and don’t even know they’re available. You can check if you are eligible to get vision, dental, hearing or prescription drug coverage included in your plan at BestMedicarePlans.com

5. Go Shopping

Kohl’s, Banana Republic, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Stein Mart

You might be surprised to learn that a lot of trendy shops give a senior citizens discount. At Banana Republic, if you over 50-years old you can get a 10% discount at stores, simply by asking for it. At Kohl’s on Wednesdays, over 60s can get 15% off. And on Tuesdays, outlet stores Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Ross will offer up a 10% discount for seniors – though the exact age is determined by each store.

Walgreens hold a “Seniors Day” once a month too – which varies by location. Discounts of 20% are available for Rewards card members and AARP member that are over 55 years old in store, and if you’re shopping online you can get a 10% price reduction. If you are 62 or older, you can get a 10% discount every Tuesday and Wednesday at Dress Barn. If you need to buy new shoes Clarks will give a 10% discount to over 62s when asked.

And that’s not all, Stein Mart are treating over 55s with their clearance offer. On the first Monday of each month, you can get an extra 20% discount on clearance items.

6. Eating Out

If you don’t feel like cooking be sure to turn to these places for good senior dining deals. From fast food to steak restaurants, our compiled 10 restaurant list will definitely help you make your choice.

  • McDonald’s – discounts on coffee and colas when dining in
  • Arby’s – 10% discount or discounted drink (ages 55+)
  • Piccadilly Cafeteria – 10% discount with “Prime Time for Seniors” card.
  • Subway – 10% discount (ages 60+, may vary by individual franchise)
  • IHOP – 10% discount (55+)
  • Applebee’s Bar and Grill – 15% discount just by asking
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – free donut with purchase of large or extra large beverage
  • Chili’s – 10% discount (ages 60+)
  • Taco Bell – 5% discount on food, free beverage if aged 65+
  • Chick-fil-A – 10% discount or free drink (ages 50+) may vary by franchise location

7. Hotel Rooms

Clarion, Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, Motel 6, Best Western & Marriott

If you want to settle down for the night some place away from home you can be sure to get a discount at Clarion, Comfort Inn, Motel 6 and more. You can receive 10% off at Clarion, Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge and Motel 6 if you are over 60. On top of that, Best Western will also give 10% off to over 55s and Marriot’s will give you 15% off if you are 62 or older. The discounts get even larger at these following hotels, too.

At Hyatt’s you can receive up to 50% off of the nightly rate if your 62 or above. And, Quality Inn will give you a 30% discount for those of you 60-years old and above. If you are an AARP member you can get 20% off your hotel bill at Super 8, Travelodge and Wyndham hotels. Hilton Hotel will give you a 5% saving and at La Quinta Inns over 50s can save 10%.

8. Take a Trip to the Movies

AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas & CineMagic

It’s lovely to visit the cinema every so often. Lots of theaters offer a senior discount too. AMC Theaters offer a generous 30% discount to over 60s. While Regal Cinemas are going one better and will give you 35% off. With the money you’re saving you can treat the grandchildren and get a bag of candies to eat while you all enjoy the movie. Carmike Cinemas and Georgia Theatre Company offer senior discounts, simply check their websites to find out more.

If you’re over 60, you can get discounts from Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas and get $1 or $2 off at B&B Theatres and $2 off all evening shows at Celebration Cinemas. Fridley Theatres offer a Bargain Day every Tuesday for all ages – why not take the grandkids? And at Marcus Theatres seniors can watch matinees for just $5 on Fridays before 5:30 p.m. Showcase Cinemas offer $7 tickets on Senior Wednesdays and $4 for popcorn and a soda. If you’re over 65, you can get a discount of between 10%-25% off your ticket price at CineMagic.

9. Visit Amusement Parks

Busch Gardens, SeaWorld Orlando, Disney Land & Dollywood

If you’re up for an adventure, you can use your discount at theme parks too. While your days of riding the rollercoaster might be over, there are still some other great attractions on offer. Busch Gardens in Tampa will give senior citizens a $13 discount on a one-day pass and SeaWorld Orlando will give you a $3 discount if you are over 50. If you’re an AARP member you can get a $40 saving on the entrance price to Disney Land. You can also get a senior discount on one-day tickets and seasonal packages at Dolly Parton’s Tennessee-based park, Dollywood, that includes activities for all of the family.

Are you a fan of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory? You can visit the next best thing, Hershey Park. This chocolate-themed park will offer seniors aged 55-69 a one-day pass for $36.95 and ages 70+ can get a ticket for just $23.95.

 

These New Gadgets Could Be Game Changers For Senior Living

Written By: Guest Contributor - Aug• 16•17

A sophisticated depth sensor hanging over the front door of an elderly couple’s home in eastern South Dakota tracks their walking speed and even recognizes if either falls. Inside the home, infrared motion sensors monitor the couple as they move from room to room. Even their mattress is fitted with sensors — one on each side of the bed — that monitor their heart rates and sleep patterns at night.

At ages 93 and 96, the pair are still healthy enough to live independently. But their daughter, Dr. Marjorie Skubic, lives a nine-hour drive away in Missouri and had always worried about them. Were they going about their day as usual? Were they sleeping well? Getting enough exercise?

In the seven months since their home has been equipped with all those sensors, however, Skubic worries a lot less. She knows that if there’s a fall or some worrisome change in her parents’ behavior, she’ll get an email alert.

Peace of mind for family members is just one benefit of the sorts of devices used in Skubic’s parents’ home. More important is this: more and more seniors — even those with health problems ranging from frailty and limited mobility to loneliness and mild cognitive problems — will be able to live independently for longer as a result of sensors and other digital devices.

Sensors will also eventually be able to take better care of seniors by enabling homes to take care of their own infrastructure, notifying occupants or even calling a family member or repair person when a faucet drips, a bulb goes dark, or a ceiling-mounted smoke alarm needs a fresh battery.

At the same time, digital “personal assistant” devices — like Amazon’s Alexa — will become more integrated into the home and thus more useful. Alexa can already store grocery lists, but someday it or something like it might, for example, monitor milk consumption in the home and order more to be delivered just before the carton is empty.

And virtual reality (VR) systems, which are popular mostly with gamers, are now being adapted just for seniors. New systems enable them to take virtual vacations and make nostalgic visits back to places they used to visit without being overwhelmed by buttons.

“Technology has enabled us to live longer,” says Dr. Joseph Coughlin, founding director of the Age Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. “We researchers are now making it a priority to ensure that technology helps us all live longer, better.”

SPOTTING TROUBLE BEFORE IT HAPPENS

Skubic’s parents are early adopters of sensor technology because she directs the Center for Elder Care and Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Missouri in Columbia and is a national leader in the development of household sensors. Skubic is using data from their home as part of her research.

Her computerized systems, now used in a growing number of assisted living facilities across the U.S. — and eventually, she hopes, in more private residences — can do more than track motion. They use a sophisticated algorithm to identify an unsteady gait, nighttime restlessness, or other subtle changes in behavior that might be evidence of a developing health condition.

The sensors are unobtrusive — in the case of her parents’ home, they’re mounted in little white boxes in corners of rooms — and their output is continuously analyzed by computers running in her parents home and at the University of Missouri. When they detect anything suspicious, they trigger those emails to Skubic.

Skubic’s mom says she barely notices the sensors. And she isn’t particularly worried about losing her privacy by being tracked in her own house.“If somebody can make use of this information,” she says, “it’s worth it.”

The sensors showed that Skubic’s mother’s walking speed had slowed slightly following a recent stint in the hospital; her father spends a lot of time out of bed at night. Skubic shared the information with her parents, though in these cases no corrective action was required.

Data suggest that the sensors can predict falls up to three weeks before they happen. That gives family members and caregivers time to intervene, perhaps by taking with doctors about an adjustment to medication or adding physical therapy sessions, according to Skubic’s research collaborator Dr. Marilyn Rantz.

“There’s so much revealed in way we walk — in the gait speed, the step time, the step length — about how we’re feeling and how our chronic illnesses are,” says Rantz, whose own mother died some months after a fall that left her stranded on the floor for eight hours. “The system automatically detects that ‘I’ve changed and I need to have somebody take a look at me.”

Sensor technology, Rantz says, can help people safely stay in their homes for two full years longer than they would be able to otherwise.

Sensors may make it possible to track movements within and around homes, but, of course, they do nothing to improve the mobility of seniors. Arthritis, balance problems, and other medical conditions can make getting around especially difficult for seniors living in multi-floor homes.

But researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are working to solve that problem. Under the leadership of Dr. Karen Liu, a professor of interactive computing, they’re developing a staircase that reduces the effort needed to climb it. Liu says she took up the challenge to develop such a system after her 70-year-old mother complained about climbing stairs.

As you can see in this video, Liu’s prototype staircase uses springs to capture and store some of the energy a person expends walking down the stairs and returns it to them on the way back via an under-the-foot boost. The team’s device would rest on top of each tread in the staircase, reducing the energy needed to climb each step by an estimated 37 percent.

The group believes its system will be easier to use — and cheaper to install — than an elevator or seated stair climber. And because it doesn’t remove all the effort required to climb stairs, it should help people maintain some level of fitness. Dr. Lena Ting, a professor of biomedical engineering at both Georgia Tech and Emory University and a collaborator on the project, says physical exertion of this sort is “really important for people to maintain their health and live independently.”

New gadgets will also help combat isolation and loneliness, which are among the biggest problems facing seniors. Isolation and loneliness have been shown to compound health problems — even cause them. In fact, one 2015 study showed that feeling lonely causes as many premature deaths in people over 65 as smoking or being morbidly obese.

A tiny Boston-based company called Rendever is betting that virtual reality may offer one solution to the isolation problem. It’s recording 360-degree video of tourist attractions around the world and developing easy-to-use virtual reality systems.

Company cofounder Kyle Rand says the videos can remind users of places they visited when they were younger and take them on virtual “group tours” of places they’ve always wanted to go. Users of Randever’s systems — which are already in assisted-living facilities across New England — have ridden Mardi Gras floats, trekked across the Sahara, and returned to quaint New England towns they haven’t visited in years. “Reactions are just like magic,” Rand says of the seniors who have tried the system.

The number of videos Randever offers is limited at this point, but Rand hopes eventually to shoot every major cultural site and event in the world, enabling seniors to take virtual trips just about anywhere they want to go.

And VR makes it possible to enjoy the jaunts with others using VR gear — whether they’re in the same room or on the other side of the country. All the participants can talk to one another as they explore the virtual world.

10 Apps to Help Older Adults Stay Connected to Family & Life

Written By: Guest Contributor - Aug• 16•17

As more seniors than ever before own smartphones, connect to the internet and use social media , they’re exploring a whole new world. Americans age 50 and older are quickly catching up to younger smartphone users, according to the Pew Research Center . About three-quarters   of people age 50 to 64 owned a smartphone last year, up 16 percentage points from 2015.

Mobile technology can make daily life easier, simpler and more fun. Check out these 10 free mobile apps with that goal in mind.

CarZone: This comprehensive app combines medication and caregiving management. Upload documents and photos; schedule care and medicine through a calendar; track health metrics; and create a journal, a to-do list and contacts. It’s all shareable, and email help is available.

Elevate: Studies show mental stimulation may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This brain-training app lets you customize a game-based program to strengthen analytical and communication skills. Plus, it’s fun.

bSafe: Create your own personal safety social network. The app’s GPS-based features include asking friends, family or co-workers to walk you home; letting people know where you are; and sending out an SOS in an emergency.

AARP Now: View daily news briefs, videos and local events (music to sports). Some features, such as discounts, are only for AARP members. The app has been downloaded more than 1.2 million times since launching a year ago.

Shopwell: Created by dietitians, this app helps you find healthier food at the supermarket. Use it to scan barcodes, and then the app will score food and suggest better alternatives based on your profile. You can track purchases and get email notifications, health news and tips.

MapMyWalk: The app uses GPS to track your workouts (walking, cycling and more) over time. Using an interactive map, create routes or find existing routes worldwide. It’s a great way to explore new areas at home or when traveling.

Lyft: This ride-sharing app has programs geared to seniors, providing an alternative to public transportation that may be limited or nonexistent. If you’re not comfortable creating an account by credit card or you don’t have a smartphone, Lyft collaborates with GreatCall so seniors can book rides by calling a person. Uber is another option.

Skype: Research shows a strong link between social interaction and well-being as we age. Talk face-to-face with your kids or grandkids anywhere in the world with Skype, which makes Internet calls using your device’s web camera.

Personal Capital: This read-only, money management app links all your accounts and bills and provides email notifications, cash-flow reporting and customer service. It has a retirement fee analyzer and retirement calculator. A demo shows how it works.

Rain Rain: Sleep is important to maintaining your health. Choose from an impressive library of sounds — including thunderstorms, waves, a cat purring and a dishwasher — to help you snooze better. Simply select the sound, adjust the audio level and set the timer.