Home > Archives for Leslie Newlife

How to Tell if Assisted Living Is the Right Choice for Your Loved One

Assisted living is a type of senior housing created for those who need different levels of personal and medical care. If you have a loved one who is reaching the stage of needing extra support and care, it may be time to look into assisted living options. If you’re not sure what step to take next, here is a guide on what signs to look out for in your loved one which could indicate it’s time for them to go into assisted living.

Chronic Health Problems

If your loved one has chronic health problems, as they age, the condition will continue to worsen. What’s more, their immune system may weaken which will make them more susceptible to viruses and illness. Conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s can often lead to urinary incontinence too, which will require reusable incontinence pads. You may find that you’re unable to meet your loved one’s health needs, meaning it may be time to look into assisted living.

Forgetting to Take Medication

We all forget to take medication from time to time. However, this can be a real problem if it’s frequent. If your loved one isn’t keeping on top of their medication, any health conditions they suffer from could get worse. Should your loved one move into an assisted living facility, you can be confident that the staff will be there to remind them to take their medicine.

Change in Behavior

If your loved one has dementia, as the disease progresses, they may start becoming more aggressive. Sadly, this is a distressing effect of the disease, so if you notice a change in their behavior, assisted living may be the right step to take. Should you try and care for a loved one who is physically or verbally abusive, this can have a huge impact on your own health and wellbeing. Therefore, finding a safe place for your loved one with trained professionals will mean they can handle difficult situations and, most importantly, provide the right care.

Recent Falls

As your loved one reaches their senior years, they may have problems with their mobility. Falls are common among seniors and, if they live alone, there are all kinds of hazards in the home where they are at risk of falling. If your loved one has had a fall recently and you are concerned that they may be unable to call for assistance or get up, moving them into an assisted living facility will mean they can be monitored 24/7.

Difficulty Handling Daily Tasks

Whether it’s cooking dinner, grocery shopping, or cleaning, there are all sorts of tasks that we do on a day-to-day basis. As your loved one ages, the simplest of tasks may feel like an impossible challenge. If your loved one is struggling to keep on top of the house or other daily tasks, it may be time to look into assisted living options.

It can be hard to see a loved one lose a portion of their independence. However, when it comes to keeping them safe and in good health, assisted living facilities have the expertise and knowledge to look after them.

How to Support Someone Facing Loss

There comes a time in our lives when someone we love or care about loses a friend or family member. These are sad moments filled with a wide range of emotions and thoughts that can feel overwhelming for everyone involved. We want to be there for the person experiencing loss but we do not always know what to say, what to do, or even where to start. While there are a wide range of possibilities for how we can support someone else, three areas we might focus on include providing support at the funeral or memorial service, providing for short term physical needs, and providing for long term emotional and mental health needs. Using this threefold approach we have a game plan for how we can best be there for someone who has experienced loss.  

At the Funeral

Funerals are sadness-tinged celebrations of someone’s life. Coming to the funeral is a meaningful way to show those left behind that we are there for them during their time of grief and mourning. When going to a funeral it is important that you consider things such as what to wear to the funeral and what to bring to a memorial service which might include flowers, sympathy cards, or pictures. These tokens are physical reminders that you are there to support your friend. Just showing up to the funeral can provide your grieving friend much needed emotional support during this challenging time. Seeing others celebrating the life of the one who passed away as well as mourning their death can help bring closure and comfort to the one who is grieving.

Physical Needs

While the classic casserole might feel a bit impersonal when someone we care about is experiencing loss it is symbolic of the importance of finding creative ways to provide physical or material support especially in the short term. This might look like ordering from someone’s favorite restaurant and having the food delivered. This might look like giving them a gift card so they can choose what would be most helpful. This might even look like coming over and helping with chores such as doing dishes or a few loads of laundry. Taking care of our friends’ physical needs means that they can focus on grieving and not on what to eat or if they have clean clothes left. If you are not sure what you could do to help materially consider what you would do if your friend was homebound with a broken leg. It is also important to know that those who are grieving are often not in the headspace to say thank you, but that does not mean your efforts are not noticed or appreciated. 

Emotional Support

When someone we care about has suffered a loss one of the best ways we can provide long term support is by simply being present. All too often we allow our own discomfort to keep us from reaching out to the person who has suffered a loss. We are not sure exactly what to say, so we say nothing at all. But oftentimes this lack of communication can feel like being forced to grieve all alone.  Supporting someone who has experienced a loss can look like simply giving the person grieving supportive space where you simply listen to the mixed emotions they are experiencing. Sometimes simply having someone who says I see you and will sit with you during this time can make all the difference to someone who is grieving.

It is also important that we keep an eye on the person grieving because grieving can slip into more serious issues such as depression. In our role of providing emotional support it is also important that we are able to see how our loved one is doing. If someone’s grief seems to be worsening instead of getting better we may have to step in with various mental health supports such as info about a local grief support network or information about a good therapist who might be able to help our loved one process their loss. Loss is experienced differently by each person and there are moments when we need an outside support network to help us process our loss and help us move into the world while carrying loss.

How to Lessen Back Pain at Night and Wake Up Smiling

Most people may experience more back pain while they sleep than during the day while they move around performing their normal daily duties. There are numerous causes for back pain, such as injury, chronic illnesses, arthritis, and more. Some types of backaches can significantly interfere with your quality of sleep and rest.

Some people are generally fine during the day and only experience pain just when they lay down to sleep.  This can be attributed to poor sleeping positions and can be solved by adopting better sleeping styles and avoiding harmful sleep habits.

Additionally, you can try to reduce the amount of pain in your back by incorporating some healthy practices into your lifestyle. Such that when you go to bed at night, you get to enjoy undisturbed rest. Let’s take a look at what you can do to lessen back pain at night.

How Can You Improve Your Back Pain At Night?

Start Sleeping On Your Back

As ironic as it may seem, the best way to improve the pain in your back is by sleeping on it. You can further improve this position by taking some pressure off your back by placing a pillow underneath your knees. Back pain can be worse due to poor sleeping positions, especially for stomach sleepers. Sleeping on your stomach places a lot of pressure on your spine which can be harmful.

Get a Better Mattress

Having a good mattress is essential in helping you decrease different types of body aches. A thin old mattress might just enhance your back pain and muscle sores. You need a mattress that will help align your spine to provide you with comfort while you sleep.

If your mattress is not comfortable enough, consider replacing it with a not-too-firm and not-too-saggy medium mattress that will be a perfect fit for an aching back. You also need to replace your mattress in time, lest it results in long-term back effects.

Do Some Workouts

Physical exercise can be really helpful in relaxing the body. You can improve your sleep, back pain, and stress by doing some yoga, stretches, and minor workouts in the evening. Such exercises help stretch your back muscles which eases off some pressure from the spine.

If your back pain is a result of injury or illness, you can ask your doctor before trying out any workout routines just to be safe.

Heal with Heat

You can loosen up your back muscles to lessen your back pain by applying some heat. Do this by placing a heating pad on your back or by just taking a warm bath or shower. This can help loosen stiff or sore muscles.

Try Medication

Ask your doctor about some pain-relieving medications if your back pain persists. Although painkillers may not permanently solve your back pain problem, they can help you sleep better and develop a healthy sleeping pattern. Without muscle aches, you will be able to sleep better and longer than you would while in pain.

You can also use some over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen for better sleep. Take some just before bed to help reduce just enough pain to help you fall asleep and wake up feeling well-rested.

Go the Extra Step

If you experience back pain at night that disrupts your peace and rest, your bedtime routine should involve at least one of the above tips. You can also talk to your doctor about improving your treatment if your symptoms fail to improve; you can be enrolled for therapy and other pain management sessions.

The Best-Kept Secrets to Happy and Healthy Aging

Getting older brings with it a few extra challenges, but your golden years can also be your best. They’re called golden years for a reason! You have decades of life experience and time to relax and enjoy yourself. Bring extra confidence to your aging process by learning the best-kept secrets to happy and healthy aging.

Maintain a Social Calendar

Make sure you see your friends and family often, whether virtually or in person. Loneliness causes physical health problems such as inflammation and an increase in stress hormones, as well as clinical depression. If you live in a community that sponsors activities like book clubs and movie nights, then be a part of them! Make new friends and keep in touch with your longtime loved ones.

Make Healthy Eating Fun

Keeping your diet packed with nutrients is important no matter what age you are, but it’s particularly important as you grow older. Eat as many whole foods as possible—nuts, legumes, fresh fruit, and veggies. Make a game out of it! See how many natural colors of the rainbow you can fit into what you’re eating. For example, bananas, blueberries, fresh spinach, and tomatoes are all colorful and rich in vitamins.

Demystify Exercise

Maybe you’re not quite up to a half-marathon or pickup basketball game anymore, but you can still have fun moving your body and keeping it in shape. Take up swimming or do your exercises in the pool; the water supports your joints as you move and keeps the impact low. Water aerobics classes are a great way to get your blood pumping while taking care of your body.

Keep Your Mind Sharp

None of us is exempt from the occasional “senior moment,” but keeping your brain active can help stave off symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Join a book club to incentivize yourself to read more. Hone your chess skills by challenging a friend to a game. Even playing puzzle games on your phone can keep your mind moving.

Enjoy your golden years and stay healthy by making a few simple choices every day. These are a few of the best-kept secrets to happy and healthy aging. Be sure to let your older friends in on these tips, too!

How To Be An Executor of Someone’s Will

As seniors get older they may find that their friends or family members are asking them to take on the responsibilities of being the executor of their wills. These requests can seem out of the blue, and can feel like you are being put on the spot so it is important to have some understanding of what an executor does before agreeing to be one for a friend. 

Being an executor involves a lot of moving pieces and involves a number of complex challenges that are not for the faint of heart. While seniors want to support their close friends and family, especially when faced with the possible end of their lives, being an executor is not a role that everyone is cut out to perform. Seniors will only find heartbreak if they agree to such a role when they are not able to perform all the tasks nor are able to deal with all the paperwork and drama that sometimes can occur. 

Let us explore some common questions you might have about being asked to be an executor of a will or trust.

Do Executors Plan Funerals?

While an executor does not necessarily take on financial responsibility for the deceased’s funeral arrangements depending on what other arrangements have been made executors might need to determine how such a funeral is going to be paid for either out of the estate or out of other funds. Funerals are complex affairs that occur when those involved are in the middle of grieving and may find that making choices is challenging. Some of these moving parts can involve finding a local funeral home, arranging the program for the funeral, as well as arranging who will speak at the funeral or at the gravesite. In addition, understanding what plans someone has for their funeral can help you gain an understanding around what executing their will might look like. If someone has no plans for their funeral it may mean that other documents are also not in order.

What Do Executors Do Exactly?

The exact roles and responsibilities of an executor vary depending on the particular context but in general an executor is the person who administers a person’s estate upon their death. The primary duty is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person based on instructions spelled out in their will or trust documents, ensuring that assets are distributed to the intended beneficiaries. This involves a wide skill set including financial knowledge, understanding the tax code, knowledge around selling a house or other assets, and communicating with a wide range of groups and individuals who may or may not be forthcoming with information. Executors are required to end up wearing many different hats over the course of their work.

What Mistakes Do Executors Make?

Being an executor requires a large amount of financial and tax code knowledge. Even the best intentioned executor can find themselves making mistakes that open them up to financial costs or even lawsuits. There are a number of mistakes that executors can fall into such as paying bills in the wrong order, mishandling real estate, or losing tangible assets. Being an executor can be complicated even for experts so being asked to be an executor without such background is only going to lead to legal complications. If you do not have working knowledge of the law you might want someone more qualified to step in to help you navigate the process.

What Challenges Might Executors Face?

Even if the deceased has all their will or trust documents in order, being an executor can still be a challenge. For example, one challenge is disputes with co-executors that arise when they have different levels of knowledge or understanding about their roles. Another challenge is disputes with heirs, because when processing the loss of a family member heirs sometimes fall back on old family conflicts or want to do something different from what the will or trust dictates, and struggle to understand why legally they can’t do that. Being an executor is also a major time drain and even relatively simple estates can take months and sometimes years to execute. Finally being an executor means someone might face personal liability exposure or have to pay out-of-pocket costs they were not expecting to pay. No one should agree to be an executor unless they understand the possible challenges they might face and feel like they can handle them.

How to Help a Senior Citizen Sell Their Old Car

Sometimes, growing older is a slow and demeaning process of losing the comforts and freedoms you took for granted in your younger years. A big one is the ability to drive. As vision dims, decision-making processes falter, and a senior prepares to enter home care, it becomes clear that it’s time to put away the car keys. When the senior in your life admits it’s time to stop driving, you both need to decide what to do with their car. To help get it out of the garage, here are a few suggestions on how to help a senior citizen sell their old car.

Offer Your Assistance

Support the senior during this trying time, and let them know that you’ve available to help. Make it clear that selling a car is easier these days. If they’re not Internet-savvy, offer to help them navigate online sources they may be familiar with, like the Kelley Blue Book and NADA guides. Review current asking prices for their vehicle, and advise them about listing an ad on online marketplaces like Craigslist, Cars.com, eBay, and others. It should make the process less scary and intimidating for them.

Give the Car a Last Checkup and Cleanup

More than likely, your senior is part of the generation that took the time to look after and maintain their vehicles. As such, it should still be in pretty good shape. Even so, bring it in for an all-points inspection and update. Perform some basic maintenance on the vehicle. Change the oil and filter one last time, and inspect all the tires for imperfections and damage that can lead to future flats or blowouts. Replace any filters, and top off all fluids. Your senior should participate in the process since they know the car better than anyone. Take them out for a few last spins. It’ll be good for them and the car, keeping it from sitting idle.

Gather All the Papers

Before you can sell the car, all the paperwork needs to be in order. Work with the senior to create a binder with the car’s title, warranty (if it has one), a bill of sale (if they sell it themselves), a history of repairs, and other relevant records. If it’s been a while and your senior is having trouble recalling where things are, this may take a little longer. Be patient.

Other Alternatives

When deciding how to help a senior citizen sell their old car, you may both realize that selling online isn’t an option. Not to worry; there are other ways to sell or otherwise hand off the vehicle to someone who will put it to good use. Most car buying services offer something, even if it’s not market value. Still, consider it if the car is a beater and in poor shape. Junking it might be an even better option. Don’t dismiss donating it, either. Many nonprofits and charities can make good use of the vehicle, and your senior will get a deduction on their taxes.

How CareCard Saves Seniors Money

Many seniors find that saving money is important since many sadly find themselves on a fixed or limited income. At the same time that their income is shrinking, many seniors find that as they age they end up having to take more and more prescriptions. Without a program such as CareCard these prescription costs can quickly grow out of control. No senior wants to have to choose between paying for food or paying for prescriptions. Instead all seniors would prefer to have extra money in their pocket so they can enjoy their family, friends, and passions more fully since they often find themselves having more free time once they have reached retirement. CareCard helps seniors enjoy their lives to the fullest and have less financial worries which is what we all hope for.

What is CareCard?

CareCard is a program that helps seniors keep more of their own money. CareCard is useful because it is a discount card for prescriptions that allows seniors to save upwards of 85% on the prescriptions they use every day. While this might sound too good to be true, in truth CareCard really is able to find the best available prices for all the prescriptions that a senior might have. These deep discounts mean if a senior has even one prescription (and many have many more) CareCard can make a big impact that they can see in their bank balances.

How Does CareCard?

CareCare works by finding the best possible price for each prescription, often even beating the prices that insurance plans offer. CareCard is a free coupon card that does not require approvals or paperwork so seniors don’t have to defend why they need a particular prescription from their doctor nor have to worry about choosing a formulation that works with their insurance instead of a formulation that works the best for them and their body. Seniors and their doctors are able to put their health first instead of putting the cost of a prescription first. 

All seniors need to do is show their coupon to their pharmacist and save up to 85% instantly. CareCard partners with major pharmacy chains including over 35,000 local pharmacies nationwide to find seniors the best prices. This also means they will know the cost ahead of time so therefore decreasing situations where seniors are unable to pick up a prescription simply because the cost is too great.

How Does a Prescription Discount Program Improve Health?

Many seniors find that as they age their bodies do not function as well as they used to. Seniors often experience more aches and pains and can later experience more chronic conditions that need to be managed so that they can have the best standard of living possible. There are a number of ways seniors can stay healthy including staying active, reducing stress, and getting enough rest. In addition seniors can make sure that they take all prescriptions they have been given by their doctors in the amounts they have been told to take. When the prescriptions they need cost too much, seniors can be tempted to skip days or take half doses so that their medical budget can stretch a little further. Having affordable prescription drugs means that seniors can make healthy choices and put their own health above all else.

What About Medicare?

Most seniors get their insurance through Medicare. In this case they often need to get an additional Medicare Part D plan for prescriptions. Determining what is the best Medicare Part D plan for a senior can be a lengthy process depending on the number of prescriptions and often in the end the prescriptions still cost a lot of money. This is why having an additional prescription discount card such as CareCard can make such a difference.

The cost of prescription drugs can be a major hindrance to seniors being able to live their best lives as they reach their golden years. CareCard can help make prescription drugs affordable for seniors allowing them to have access to the medicines that they need to thrive. Seniors should be able to enjoy themselves surrounded by family and friends and not spend all their time worrying about how they will pay for their prescription drugs. CareCard helps make this a reality.

Pneumonia in Seniors: Prevention and Treatments

There are many benefits that come with getting older, and there are also factors to be aware of when it comes to our health and wellness.

As we age our body’s natural defenses become less reliable and as a result, seniors are more susceptible to infection – including pneumonia.  Pneumonia is an infection that affects one or both lungs and can range from mild to severe.

The additional steps that older adults take to protect their health can have long-lasting physical and mental effects. And staying healthy is the best way for seniors to continue living the highest quality of life.

Why Pneumonia is More Common in Seniors

Changes to the lungs as we age: Because of changes to the respiratory system that happen with age, seniors can’t always effectively clear secretions as well from their lungs. Those secretions can go down into bronchial tubes, causing the infection.

Weakened immune systems: A senior’s immune system has a harder time fighting off infection. And, some health issues can an even greater negative effect on a senior’s ability to fight off an infection – issues like an organ or bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy (treatment for cancer), or long-term steroid use.

Senior health conditions: Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, chemotherapy, and HIV put seniors at a higher risk for pneumonia, as well as cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and bronchiectasis. Surgery can also expose seniors to infections that can lead to pneumonia.

Signs of Pneumonia

Symptoms can include coughing, fever, chills, shortness of breath, chest pain, green or yellow sputum that comes up during coughing, fatigue, and the sudden worsening of a cold or the flu.

Pneumonia Treatments

Typically, a physician will do a chest X-ray and/or blood test to determine if a senior has pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia, it is usually treated with antibiotics. If the infection is viral, an anti-viral medicine may be prescribed. In addition to medication, doctors may give the patient fluids, oxygen, pain relief and medical support.

Reducing the Risk of Pneumonia in Seniors

Seniors should discuss pneumonia prevention with their physician to determine the best plan. Some options to help reduce the risk of pneumonia include:

  • Get vaccinated. All people over age 65 should get an annual flu shot, as well as a pneumococcal vaccine, a one-time shot that protects against the pneumococcus, or pneumonia bacteria.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t Smoke or Take Steps to Quit: Smoking negatively impacts just about everything in our bodies, but the lungs obviously receive a significant amount of damage. Those who smoke are at a greater overall risk of pneumonia because the lungs’ defense mechanisms become compromised.
  • Practice a Healthy Lifestyle: Seniors should follow a physician-approved diet and exercise regimen. This will help bolster their immune system and reduce the risk of pneumonia.

By Martha Swats, Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers

About Comfort Keepers
Comfort Keepers is a leader in providing in-home care consisting of such services as companionship, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, bathing, mobility assistance, nursing services, and a host of additional items all meant to keep seniors living independently worry free in the comfort of their homes. Comfort Keepers have been serving New Hampshire residents since 2005. Let us help you stay independent. Please call 603-536-6060 or visit our website at nhcomfortkeepers.com for more information.

References

American Thoracic Society. “Top 20 Pneumonia Facts.”

Mayo Clinic. “Pneumonia -Symptoms and Causes.

Web MD. “What is Bacterial Pneumonia.”

Aging.com. “What Causes Pneumonia in the Elderly?

American Lung Association. “Lung Health and Diseases: Learn About Pneumonia.”

Everyday Health. “Pneumonia 101: What You Need to Know.”

Don’t Tarnish Your Golden Age with Debt

What is considered the retirement ideal?

Living your best “golden years” is perceived as being completely free of work, and having the money and health to do exactly what you want exactly when you want.

That can mean being on-the-go traveling the world, or mirroring my parents, happily ensconced in The Villages in Florida, acting like kids at Disney World, staying up late watching movies, and scheduling tee times for noon!

But if you’re worried about how the gap between your retirement dreams and your reality has widened, you’re not alone. Senior debt has been increasing over the past two decades.

We’ll look into the reasons why, and we’ll point out the signs of financial decline so you can catch it early. Then we’ll share ways you can avoid a crippling amount of debt as well as get back on track, including getting a car insurance quote without a credit check.

Seniors and Debt

Older adults have more debt than prior generations. In fact, a large debt burden is the new normal. A Congressional Research Service report in 2019 found the percentage of elderly households with any type of debt increased from 38% in 1989 to 61% in 2016. The amount of debt owed jumped from approximately $7,500 to over $31,000.

Let’s look at the major factors behind these alarming statistics, which previous generations didn’t have to contend with. 

Causes of Senior Debt

Increasing costs combined with diminishing liquidity have given rise to a host of reasons that debt for older adults has become such a problem:

Medical care: Costs have soared just as employers have been trying to cut their costs by shifting toward high-deductible health insurance plans.

Corporate culture: There has been a shift from defined benefits retirement plans (pensions) to defined contribution plans (401k).

Student loans: Skyrocketing education costs have led to older Americans co-signing loans to help their kids and grandkids attend college. And many of them didn’t fully realize that when the borrower struggled to make payments, they were responsible for paying the loan.

Auto loans: Car prices have risen and buying them has been made more appealing with more affordable auto loan rates having longer terms. But while you have lower monthly payments, you’re paying considerably more over the life of your loan.

Mortgages: The recent series of economic downturns, changes in income, and the factors above have contributed to older Americans holding on to their mortgages longer. But some seniors also continue to carry mortgage debt based on the advice of financial planners, for the tax incentives, and for the opportunity to get a home equity line of credit.

Credit card debt: With the cost of living rising at a faster rate than income, compounded by soaring costs they’re dealing with in other areas, seniors have mirrored younger generations by turning to credit cards to make ends meet.

Pandemic: There has been a 50% increase in the number of baby boomers who’ve retired since COVID-19 gripped the globe. Job loss, wage reduction, illness, and the discouraging job-search process for older workers are factors that have caused many near-retirees to prematurely retire.

Signs of Financial Trouble

If you want to stop the negative effects of having debt as early as possible, it helps to know the signs.

It’s time to take action on making some major changes if:

  • You’re only making minimum monthly payments on your credit cards.
  • You’ve started using one credit card to pay off another credit card.
  • You’re putting off needed car repairs, home maintenance, and medical appointments.
  • Your savings account balance is dropping.
  • Your emergency savings fund is shrinking.
  • You dread getting the mail because you’ve started getting collection notices and past-due bills.
  • You’re refusing to answer calls you suspect are from creditors.

How Seniors Can Avoid and Rebound From Debt

Now that we’ve identified problem areas, let’s review the large number of solutions to deal with debt and to avoid adding to it.

Ask for Help With Finances

If working on your finances to avoid debt or to dig yourself out of debt feels too overwhelming a task to take on yourself, don’t be afraid to lean on others.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign that you’re strong enough to admit you need assistance and resourceful enough to carry through on it. No one has all of the answers, and collaboration can lead to a better chance of success.

If you’re not comfortable sharing financial issues with family, then seek a financial professional. They can provide you with the starting tools you need to handle your debts, and their objectivity and experience will guide you to debt-reducing options that will work the best for your lifestyle and goals.

Focus on Specific Types of Debt

Prioritizing your debts will help reduce your overall debt burden. Paying off most personal debt loans can be done with hard work and determination.

Your types of debt matter. Mortgages, auto loans, and student loans tend to be lower interest, so they’re of a lower concern than other types of debt.

The debt you want to prioritize is credit lines, which carry significantly higher interest rates.

If credit card debt is what’s eating most of your cash, call each of your credit card companies — starting with the card that has the highest interest rate — and negotiate a lower rate. This way you’ll be paying more on the principal.

If you have several credit cards, look into refinancing, either to a low-interest credit card or through a personal loan.

Other ways to help pay down debt include selling your home and downsizing to a smaller home, selling other assets, and generating passive income.

Prepare for Retirement

Approaching your golden years with your eyes wide open will help keep them golden. Having a preparation checklist for retirement will lessen the chance of financial surprises. 

It’s never too early to plan for your retirement. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Have 80% of your annual salary for your retirement per year.
  • Aim to save 15% of your salary for retirement. If that’s not doable, start with a percentage you can manage, then increase that by 1% every year until you reach 15%.
  • Take full advantage of your 401(k) by contributing the maximum percentage allowed or at least the percentage of any employer-matched contribution.
  • Look into refinancing your mortgage as a way to ease the burden on your retirement nest egg, help pay for rising medical costs, or take mortgage payments off of your retirement budget sooner.
  • Create a budget focused on living below your means and stick to it.
  • Maintain a good credit score as well as a debt-to-income ratio of 30% or less to secure better interest rates and pay less on interest long term.

Tips for Reducing Expenses

With many Americans having a hard time living within their means, how do you live below your means?

Here are a few cost-cutting measures you can pursue:

Create a Budget and Stick to it

Just as keeping track of when you exercise and what you eat can help you achieve fitness and weight goals, keeping close tabs on money coming in and how it’s going out can help you achieve your financial goals.

You’ll most likely be shocked by the amount of your discretionary outlays. This will help you make decisions on what you can curtail or reduce altogether, such as little-used subscriptions and memberships.

Comparison Shop for Insurance

You can save hundreds of dollars on your auto and home insurance by checking out free online quotes from other insurers. I did it recently and I’m saving $700 a year.

If you find your debt has impacted your credit score, your auto insurance rate won’t be affected if you live in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, or Washington, which do not allow credit score as a factor in determining your rate.

For those in other states, you can offset the rise in a premium due to a low credit score by not only comparison shopping, but also opting for pay-per-mile insurance, especially if you’re a good driver who doesn’t drive a lot, or taking advantage of senior discounts, as well as dozens of other discounts.

The best auto insurance for seniors can be found at The Hartford/AARP, Geico, and State Farm. And the best home insurance companies for seniors are The Hartford/AARP, Allstate, and Amica Mutual. 

Research and Negotiate for All Your Spending

Don’t stop with credit cards and insurance. Research all of the companies providing you with services for specials and discounts, so you’re armed with information when you call to negotiate a lower rate.

I saved 66% on my SiriusXM bill by noting my reduction in driving and then receiving a loyalty discount and a multi-car discount. And I’m saving $40 a month on my T-Mobile bill by pursuing their 55 plan.  

While the ideal retirement of having all your debt in the rear-view mirror doesn’t work out that way for most of us, we hope we’ve given you enough actionable tips that you can at least better enjoy your ride into retirement thanks to a lighter debt load.

About The Author: Karen Condor writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com. She is a finance and insurance expert who enjoys helping people of all ages plan ahead for their retirement.

The Best Exercises to Help to Your Prostate

We all know that regular exercise is one of the best ways to look after our health and ensure that we stay as fit as possible. Although general exercise and workouts are always good, there are also routines that we can implement that have specific benefits – for example, you might do weight lifting if you want to gain muscle or swimming if you want to improve your stamina. If you have had problems with your prostate or want to try and avoid issues in the future then you should consider how to lower the prostate-specific antigen level – and some exercises can help with this.

Try Kegel Exercises

There are easy exercises that you can do if you have experienced issues with your prostate such as prostate cancer. They help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and therefore the control your urine flow. This helps to manage incontinence, which can be one of the long term side effects of having issues with your prostate. Your pelvic floor muscles, like many of the muscles in our body work on a use it or lose it basis and as such, to strengthen them back up you just need to get into the habit of using them again. The best way to do this is to stop yourself urinating for a few seconds each time you go –  you only have to hold it for a short time and then you can go again. After a while, you’ll find it much easier to do this and find that you can hold your urine for much longer – and this is a sign of a strong set of pelvic floor muscles.

Up Your Levels of Physical Activity

If you are able to then you should up your physical activity and try to be active every single day – it is recommended that you try to undertake around 30 minutes of exercise each day. Don’t worry if you don’t feel up to doing that all at once – even 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day can make a big difference. Start off by walking and as you build up your fitness and strength you can try jogging and running, as you start to feel more confident.

Although it is recommended that you avoid anything like cycling which means you’re sitting down for long periods of time any other exercise that gets you moving and breaking a sweat is a good thing – swimming, dancing and even going to the gym all work. You just need to find the right set of exercises that work for you.

There doesn’t have to be a specific exercise routine that you undertake or a set of exercises that you must do. The important thing is to be more active and increase your overall fitness. Statistics by Harvard University show that you have a 61% lower chance of dying from prostate cancer if you did at least 3 hours of exercise a week. That should be motivation enough to get your trainers on and start moving your body more.